Clean Power Plan good for climate

Many people have kept an eye on the strange winter we are having, from weather professionals to sportsmen and environmentalists. As a Maine resident who is an avid hiker and outdoorsman, I am concerned about the effects this strange winter will have on the other seasons. My mind always drifts back to global warming and climate change somehow being at fault for the strange weather Maine and the rest of the country is experiencing.

I believe that Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King have made the right choice in supporting the Clean Power Plan. Maine needs their continued leadership because we know in Maine that we are often on the wrong end of carbon pollution, whether that is the air quality from the Midwest or our warming coastal waters affecting our fishing industry. The Clean Power Plan can’t be talked about and supported enough because as of now it’s our nation’s, and Maine’s, best chance at combating the effects climate change is already having on our state.

Andrew LaVogue


More gun control will turn Mainers into criminals

If voters pass the upcoming referendum on universal background checks for gun sales, Mainers would lose freedoms they have historically and responsibly exercised. Inevitably, some Mainers would be turned into criminals because they were either unable or unwilling to comply, or simply ignorant of the new law. It is fair to ask what impact, if any, these newly created criminals would have on the criminal justice system in Maine.

This could put greater pressure on the state’s district attorneys who, according to a 2011 report by the Maine attorney general’s office, in 2010 handled “an annual caseload three times the recommended maximum standard set by the American Bar Association.”

Given the realities of current caseloads, how would prosecutors prioritize low-level “victimless crime” background check violators for prosecution? If, due to these heavy workloads, the law were to be ignored, or selectively enforced in a capricious manner, what affect would that have on the public’s respect of the judicial system? If there is no intent or realistic possibility to enforce this law, what is the point of it?

Voters have an opportunity to keep their freedoms and avoid these consequences by voting no on the universal background check referendum.

Alex Giger


A better way to handle dementia

As the oldest state in the nation, dementia is a growing concern for Maine. For many people suffering from dementia, a hospital stay can worsen this horrific disease, leaving them more confused and on paper appear like a “behavioral” nightmare. The kicker is that places that “specialize” in dementia care are also frightened of who they allow into their buildings. So many times the answer is “there’s no available bed.”

But dementia should not be labeled so negatively. Some dementia specialists find ways to work with them and create a failure-free environment, with redirection, distraction or validation of patients’ feelings.

When people, especially those with dementia, are taken out of their normal routine and environment and put in a strange and new place, such as a hospital, they have a pretty high chance of experiencing fear, anxiety and depression. They may also be prone to yelling and wandering. One thing that may help is getting them out of the hospital and back into a familiar environment.

We need to take the chance that reintroducing dementia patients into familiar environments with a high level of care would allow some of these so-called negative behaviors to subside. Health care professionals need to refocus, ask the right questions and work with the community so we can take care of those who rely on us to see them succeed.

Lea Rust


Support for ranked-choice voting

The more I learn about ranked-choice voting, the more I like it. When we look at Maine’s political climate over the past 40 years, we see why ranked-choice voting makes sense for our state. Of the past 11 gubernatorial elections, nine were decided by less than half the voters, reducing the strength of leadership in the State House and increasing the gridlock and partisanship that hurts the progress of our state.

I am confident that ranked-choice voting will help us elect more leaders who value consensus-driven public policy and represent the best ideas from both sides of the political spectrum rather than the all-or-nothing system we have today.

As we saw in the Iowa caucuses last week, both sides suffered from the winner-take-all format. Ted Cruz won with just 28 percent of the vote in a crowded Republican field, while Martin O’Malley’s 1 percent of support on the Democratic side prevented either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders from crossing the 50 percent threshold.

Ranked-choice voting already has been used successfully in municipal elections across the country. I am voting for ranked-choice voting with confidence that it is a better system for all voters, candidates and political parties.

Nancy Alexander


Maine is a sharing economy

Maine has been since its early days a sharing economy. We shared public schools, public roads and public libraries. Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to cut programs that actually share responsibility for every resident would further erode the very fabric of Maine society by putting further strain on the most vulnerable. We already know that we are the oldest state in the nation. Why would we slap low-income seniors in the face?

Our public schools and students are some of the best in the nation. LePage has been the most influential voice responsible for the low morale of our entire educational system. We could have a world-class system if we invested in education technology and put the world at our next generation’s fingertips.

LePage touts that Maine is “open for business.” Yet he refuses to put his money where his mouth is. Instead of tax breaks for corporations or companies to come to the state, why doesn’t he put his efforts into training workers to fill the jobs that are vacant because of a lack of skilled workers? Our young adults are leaving the state. We should raise the minimum wage so they won’t need a second job to live here and can work on building a strong family.

We do not live in an isolated state. We all use public venues, be it roads or schools. We are a sharing economy.

Sheryl Lee