Attorney general funding

Gov. Paul LePage wants the taxpayers to give him more money to fight his legal battles when the attorney general’s office won’t back him. If the AG’s office has the option of not working for the taxpayer if they choose not to, then why not take the extra money out of their budget?

If all government workers had the same option, including our troops, perhaps there would be less flag-draped coffins returning to our shores.

Jim Barrows


No Fast Track

President Barack Obama has been telling people “don’t fight the last war” when it comes to trade policy. What he means is that, while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other pacts have cost jobs in Maine and around the country, his trade agreements are going to be different. Unfortunately, the results of the president’s recent Korea and Colombia Free Trade Agreements prove that’s wishful thinking at best.

The White House told us the Korea agreement was going to support 70,000 American jobs through increased exports. Instead, our exports to South Korea are down under the pact, our bilateral trade deficit has skyrocketed and, according to the Economic Policy Institute, we’ve already lost a net 60,000 jobs as a result.

The Colombia deal was supposed to protect the rights of workers routinely murdered if they dare advocate for better working conditions, but a recent Government Accountability Office report found, “threats of violence against unionists have been increasing [and that] of the 100 unionist murders that have occurred since 2011, Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has obtained only one conviction.”

Mainers will stop fighting trade agreements when our elected representatives stop delivering ones that encourage a race to the bottom in jobs, wages and working conditions. I hope Rep. Bruce Poliquin will have the good sense to oppose Fast Track for the pending Trans-Pacific trade deal with Vietnam, Malaysia and other child and forced-labor abusing countries.

Emery Deabay


Column wrong on Muslims

It is deeply disappointing that the BDN editors chose to print Mike Bond’s inflammatory column about Islam, “It’s time to speak the truth about Islam” (BDN, Jan. 14). Bond’s column shows little understanding of Islam, the Koran, or Muslims. His column makes no mention of the Muslim leaders, scholars, Imams and average people who speak out everyday against extremism and violence, and who preach a religion of peace, love and tolerance.

His column is an affront to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed by extremists for practicing forms of Islam that do not meet their extreme worldviews. Bond’s view of Islam doesn’t match my reading of the Koran; neither does it resemble the practices of my Muslim friends, or what I saw of the Middle East when I traveled there with the U.S. military. On the contrary, his Manichean views only bolster the cause of al-Qaeda, ISIS and BoKo Haram, who preach that the Western world is incompatible with their interpretation of Islam.

Would the editors have printed an article that referred to the The Book of Mormon as “disgusting” or to Catholicism as a religion of child molesters? There are voices out there that combine honest critique of the Middle East and of Islam with knowledge and understanding instead of spewing ugly stereotypes. The BDN editors should seek out such voices and banish this sort of language to the blogosphere where it belongs.

Jeff Sychterz


Raise minimum wage

We hear attacks on poor people who rely on welfare payments such as food stamps to survive. Our governor leads the way in Maine. But whose fault is it that so many working people can’t earn enough to support their families without welfare?

I suggest we look first at those corporations that, while making huge profits, refuse to pay many of their workers a living wage. If they would pay decent wages, their employees wouldn’t need the subsidies that we taxpayers are now providing through welfare. Consumers might need to pay a nickel more for a burger, but that’s better than paying through taxes.

The best way to reduce the welfare rolls is to raise the stingy minimum wage to a realistic living wage. That will also help balance the budget and grow the economy by giving people more money to spend locally.

Peter Rees


Rural Maine ‘call to action’

The recent critique of Millinocket was a “call to action” for both and local and state government. While many will believe that the critique is aimed at Millinocket, I suggest it’s worth reading for most of Maine governmental entities (state government, county government, and local government)that make policy west of I-95. The indifference of the governments to its citizens in the described area is appalling. The indifference of the citizens to their own habitat is appalling. If you want documentation of the attitude, I direct your attention to “Downeast Dickering,” a disgrace to Maine.

Maine is going through a transition now as did other places such as textiles in Biddeford and the U.S. Air Force in Portsmouth. These communities have or are on the trail of resurrecting themselves because they welcomed new ideas, new people and made themselves inviting by both word and deed to new ideas and influences.

The governor’s new budget, whether you like it or not, emphasizes an economic development strategy that relies on policies to make Maine more competitive. Throwing money only at the issue goes nowhere without a change in the attitude of people in the rural area.

Much of the coast is thriving. while the interior struggles. Who has welcomed change the most? Who has accepted investment from all sources? who has accepted new people the most? Who has accepted new ideas the most?

I conclude by citing an old cartoon character from 1970 where he says, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Fred Muehl


Police coverage biased

On Monday, a police officer shot another human being in Augusta. Tuesday’s print BDN had zero coverage. Wednesday’s paper had a short article that was 75 percent about the victim’s past criminal record. On Thursday, we get a letter to the editor and an OpEd piece praising police officers.

We still know little about what happened in Augusta. The public would be better served by the BDN and all media outlets if they would report news and not run puff pieces or the attorney general’s spin on police shootings.

Chuck Arrigoni