Retirement shell game

About Gov. LePage’s plan for retired state employees including teachers – a subject dear to me, since my husband is a retired college professor drawing benefits from another state:

Over the years, we’ve been employed by several different states, and Maine’s teacher retirement system seems to be like the ones we know. The state withholds from each paycheck a certain amount, which the state matches; the employee and state each contributes half of the money set aside for that persons’ retirement.

The state is supposed to put its portion into a special fund which is invested in stocks and bonds. However, this pot of money tempts legislatures, and often the state will dip into it for other expanses which should have been covered by current taxes. This goes on for years, in Maine as well as in other states, and so the retirement fund drops farther and farther behind.

Since the money which should have been invested is not only not there, but is not earning the dividends it should have, the fund often falls way behind.

These retirement funds are owed by the state to retirees. They were promised to retirees, and should have been invested and used for their benefit.

How is it fair to make retirees pay what the state owes them? And how is it fair to reduce state taxes for the wealthiest taxpayers at exactly the time you’re trying to make state retirees pay the debt the state owes them?

Beth Kidder

Bar Harbor

They’re coming for you

Liberals. Immigrants. Mainstream media. Homosexuals. Unionists. Public sector employees. Muslims.

“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.  “Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

The America I knew understood the meaning of Martin Niemoller’s warning.

Michael Smith


Democrats’ true nature

The true nature of the Democratic Party and its legislators is clearly on display for all to see today. Even though they took a shellacking at the polls in November they refuse to admit defeat.

Running away in Wisconsin like cowards to avoid carrying out their duties to vote and dismissing their oaths of office shows their disregard of the democratic process. Using the ruse that they are for the working people, they are supporting the unions, especially the unions that have ruined our education systems and forced our states into fiscal debt, the unions that protect public employees. These unions are not for the people, they are partisan supporters of the Democratic Party. It’s union money and support the Dems want, not the care of you and me.

Using union thug-like tactics, they display signs depicting Gov. Walker of Wisconsin as a Hitler or a Mussolini. One Massachusetts lawmaker calls on his followers, saying, “sometimes we need to get out there and get blood on our hands.” So much for civil rhetoric.

The behaviors of Wisconsin and Indiana legislators shirking their elected duty is in stark contrast to our democratic process and they should be recalled, impeached and sent home. The teachers who participated by lying about being sick should be fired.

These actions show the Democrats’ true nature. The Dems lost and should get over it. The message is out there. We do not want you anymore. The voting public wants representation not union tactics.

Howard Cutler


Divide and conquer

In his March 8 BDN op-ed, Presque Isle Republican Hayes Gahagan said he observed a recent demonstration by a Maine state employee’s union on one side of the State House and a large gathering of “taxpayers” on the other side. What he conveniently neglected to acknowledge is that there were taxpayers on both sides. Every one of those state employees pays federal and state income taxes, state excise taxes, and probably property taxes, just like the folks on the “other side.”

His talk about “class warfare” is off the mark. At the State House were middle class government workers and middle class private sector workers pitted against each other because of the successful manipulation of information by some ultra-conservative wealthy owners and managers of big companies. These rich business people have somehow hoodwinked one group of workers in Maine to blame other workers in Maine for the state’s fiscal problems. This accomplishment is a lesson in how the wealthy can use their power to shift responsibility and attention from their own greedy behavior by pitting one group of the struggling middle class against another.

Wealthy conservatives have made it their mission to convince hardworking middle class Americans to oppose other hardworking middle class Americans so that the wealthy can keep their wealth. Rather than trying to take away the decent health care and retirement benefits teachers and state employees have managed to hang onto, our representatives should be trying to figure out how to ensure that all workers regain those lost benefits.

Michael Fasulo


In praise of Gateway 1

It is sad to see volunteers of the Midcoast communities who have given their own time in pursuit of more cost-effective, innovative, sensible solutions to land use and transportation matters are another casualty of the haste to quickly solve financial problems with a butcher’s cleaver.

Over more than six years, the people of the Gateway 1 process gathered data, questioned and pursued the real facts over perceived bogey-men, sought out experts, collaborated with representatives of the 20 towns in our Route 1 corridor, and learned of our differences as well as commonality.

Gateway 1 participants worked hard to involve our community residents in this process. It was difficult. The concept of planning is not one we learn well in school, nor do we often use it in our everyday lives. We watched the consensus-building process evolve, with very few angry words.

Concepts such as “context-sensitive solutions,” the psychology behind placement and width of turning lanes and the unintended consequences of projects not carefully thought through were all introduced. We saw many “ah-hah!” moments. Always on our minds was finding more cost-effective ways for our state and communities to survive and thrive.

The concepts, the cooperative attitude and the wealth of resources we now understand that do exist will not go away. Civility, trust, honest well-informed dialogue and respect work. Hard times bring opportunities. They have in the past.

Pat Felton