Rockland library cuts

The Friends of Rockland Public Library, a nonprofit that works to enrich our library, raises and donates to the library on average $30,000 a year. The money is used to purchase books for the children’s collection, buy computers for public use, pay for interlibrary loans and so much more. We raise funds to enrich the library further, not to just keep it at status quo. So far, we’ve had some wonderfully successful events.

In June, the Rockland City Council proposed to cut the library budget by $144,000. To stem the bleeding, the Friends gave an additional $15,000 on top of the $30,000 budgeted. This, combined with $37,000 from the Rockland Public Library Endowment Association, totaled about $52,000, which the City Council agreed to match. This reduced the funding cut to just under $50,000. That’s still unacceptable, in many minds, but not as bad as it could have been. Do you miss Sundays at the library? My family does. Are you seeing fewer books and magazines? Thank the budget cut for that.

With the severe budget cut, the Friends must do more fundraising to both support the library and raise public awareness of its importance. I wish to thank the many volunteers who work on behalf of the library. The value of our dedicated volunteers can never be understated. We look forward to our next election cycle, when we can elect officials who feel tax dollars should support the library.

Rebecca Albright

Board Member

Friends of Rockland Public Library

Rockland

Protect 401(k)s

Mainers work hard for their money and deserve a new standard of accountability to help them choose the best investments for themselves, their families and their future. Along with millions of Americans, they depend on 401(k)-style plans for their retirement savings. These plans allow workers to invest a portion of their paycheck before taxes are taken out. Such plans often involve complex financial decisions, so many of us have to use and trust investment professionals for guidance.

The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a new rule requiring anyone giving financial advice to individuals saving for their retirement to only recommend investments in the best interest of their clients. AARP supports best interest advice, and we are asking our elected officials to vote against any efforts to slow down or stop this rulemaking.

Some financial advisers already meet a higher, unbiased standard. Due to loopholes in the current law, however, too many bankers, brokers, fund managers and insurance agents are permitted to take advantage of hard-working Americans by recommending investments with higher fees, unnecessary risk and lower returns to make the highest commission or fee.

Last year alone, hidden fees, unfair risk and bad investment advice robbed Americans of as much as $17 billion. Mainers deserve investment advice based on what’s truly best for them and their families.

We deserve a new standard that requires anyone who gives financial advice to recommend only those investments that help their clients live with freedom and independence in retirement.

Roberta Downey

Communications Volunteer

AARP Maine

Bangor

Make the park a reality

“Why would anyone not want a national park in the Katahdin region?” is the initial question people ask when the park is inevitably brought up in conversations. Visitors from Holland, Washington state, Massachusetts, Topsham, Allagash, Stonington and so on are baffled at the resistance of many residents in the Katahdin region to accept such a wonderful gift of up to 150,000 acres of land and a $40 million endowment to help run a park.

Many in the forest products industry are misguidedly believe a national park and recreation area cannot exist beside a working forest. Lucas St. Clair, employees of Elliotsville Plantation Inc. and others have repeatedly tried to reassure people the forest products industry and a national park can coexist. We need to learn all the facts and work out the obstacles together.

As a lifelong resident of the Katahdin region, a retired school teacher and a co-owner of various real estate and business ventures in the past 40 years, I strongly support a new national park and recreation area along the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

Today, Millinocket has a population of around 4,500, an unemployment rate of 15 percent and a median age of 54 years old. It is a dying community. We need to act.

We are relying on Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin to deal with the facts, lead Maine residents and submit legislation to make a national park and recreation area a reality.

Colleen McLaughlin

Indian Purchase Township

Follow Obama’s lead

In the coming weeks, Congress will vote on the Iran nuclear deal. While it would seem unlikely that Congress would vote to kill the deal, the possibility remains. Republicans have almost unanimously taken up positions against it, and recently, some Democrats have begun to waver. This despite both Brent Scowcroft’s, who served as National Security advisor to presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, and former CIA Director David Petraeus’ support for the deal, as well as the support of more than 29 former generals and nuclear scientists who voiced their support in an open letter to the Congress.

It is my role as a professor of ethics — not as a scientist or general — at Husson University that convinces me to speak up. Sure, the deal is flawed, difficult and even brutal in places. At points, it represents a capitulation of sorts on our part. And yet, in global diplomacy, as in a democracy, we have to, at times, accept less of what we think we deserve, and we have to be willing to be flexible. We cannot insist our perceived right on others. An attitude like this never works. Rather we must seek the compromise, find the path that allows the most chance for peace and not war, for agreement and not strife, and, this agreement succeeds at that.

History is littered with those who insisted they were right and refused compromise — Hitler and Pol Pot spring immediately to mind. President Barack Obama has provided us with a subtler, more quiet form of leadership on this issue. Our leaders in Congress would do well to follow his lead.

Nico Jenkins

Sargentville