Shade the asphalt

Several weeks ago, Camden celebrated Arbor Day and its 17th year as a Tree City USA, honoring the urban canopy provided by the nearly 50 years of planting shade trees along town streets. The Camden Garden Club, the town itself and many residents and donors have contributed these many trees, inspired by the loss of the town’s great elms in the mid ’70s.

The trees provide many services to the town: green-ness, fresh clean air, beauty, softening of the hard lines of brick and mortar. They add value to the homes on the town streets. But most significantly, and sometimes forgotten, they provide a cooler town in the summer, when they shade dark roofs and asphalt streets, driveways and parking lots, sheltering the dark surfaces that otherwise absorb and radiate the sun’s heat into the surrounding air. The difference in surrounding air can be as much as 45 degrees F — sun on black asphalt versus shade on grass. Try walking along a shady street on a hot day and feel the heat blast when you come to an open treeless area.

We are talking about becoming an even more “walkable” town than we already are, so it will make sense to work on getting more shade trees into our downtown area and along our streets, especially on the more southerly sides of streets. We can be thinking about where we need them this summer, on the hot days.

Beedy Parker


False statements

In the weekend BDN, May 26-27, Maine Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth claims a letter-writer lied about her position on firearms ownership. Then Dill makes plenty of false statements, herself.

First, she says she never called Maine gun owners “vigilantes” and that she supports the Second Amendment. Oddly, everything she says in the letter from that point does, indeed, call Maine gun owners dangerous vigilantes.

Dill claims that special interest groups (read here “the NRA”) hijack government for their own purposes, and that our legislative priorities should not be “widening access to assault rifles designed to rapidly kill people.” Those are strange words, coming from a supporter of the Second Amendment.

If that were not enough, Dill speaks of her fear of “allowing Mainers to take the law into their own hands during an ’emergency’” or “carry guns into workplaces or public buildings such as the State House.”

I doubt very much that any Maine law allows a person to carry a firearm in the State House. But Dill has tried to paint gun owners as dangerous extremists likely to run amok. Considering Maine is among the safest places to live in the U.S., I doubt that gun owners will go on rampages. Dill’s verbal attacks show me that she would be dangerous if she were to hold the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe. I am voting for Matt Dunlap — or just about anyone other than Cynthia Dill.

John Hubbard


Open for business

Great news: the proposed east-west highway will not be a state tax-dollar-funded project. It will be an effort of private enterprise! Maine is truly open for business!

Of course, to have real competition, we can’t have just one east-west highway. There should be several. I’m guessing there will be at least three: the Cianbro highway, the Irving express and the Great Northern Paper route. They’ll try to attract customers with lower tolls, more convenient access and better pit stops with cheaper gas, faster food and cleaner restrooms.

There won’t be any messy interference from state or local governments. My town won’t condemn my neighbor’s property so I can expand my woodlot, so why should the state or any town condemn anyone’s property so some corporation can build a highway? Let the business people negotiate for their land in the open market. Many landowners stand to become rich.

Maine’s pro-business governor will let freedom ring by declaring that all state environmental, construction and traffic regulations do not apply to private roads. There will be no annoying truck weight limits, no pesky state police, no unnecessary speed limits. Vehicle collisions will be prevented by the Invisible Hand.

Isn’t free enterprise great?

David Paul Henry


Wind agreement

Finally, I have something about Gov. LePage with which I can agree. The May 28 A1 article relating his stance on wind power is what many Maineiacs, including my wife and I, have been saying for a long time. Angus King, First Wind and the others are in it for the government subsidies, not to earn money selling electricity.

We bought hydropower from First Wind for about 10 years, and then without notice they switched us back to the Standard Offer. We called. No explanation, just admitted they had cancelled it.

Because First Wind took away our hydropower, we’re back to purchasing a typical mix of power. First Wind’s dropping us has made it impossible for us to buy clean electricity.

Milton M. Gross


Chemical act

Last week I was privileged to be part of the “Stroller Brigade,” a group of mothers and activists from Maine and other states who traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for stronger protections from toxic chemicals. We met with Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to discuss our concerns, as well as staff from Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud.

As the mother of two children, including a young adult son with autism and developmental disabilities, I am very concerned about the fact that we are exposed daily to toxic chemicals such as flame retardants and BPA. Americans are getting sicker as a result — rising rates of asthma, cancer and autism have been linked to chemical exposure. While I cannot be sure what caused my son’s autism, one possible cause was my exposure to the pesticide Sevin while I was three months pregnant, when the woods in my apartment complex were sprayed from a large tanker truck.

I was shocked to learn that only 200 out of the 80,000-plus chemicals currently being used in the U.S. have been systematically tested for safety. We also need clear consumer information about what chemicals are in the products we buy.

I felt especially hopeful after our meeting with Sen. Snowe that there could be a bipartisan solution to this serious problem. Please urge Sens. Snowe and Collins to take an active leadership role by co-sponsoring and supporting the Safe Chemicals Act of 2012. Our health and well-being depends on their willingness to take action.

Valerie Carter