Support ranked-choice voting
I encourage all Maine voters to consider supporting the ranked-choice voting ballot question this November. If Maine had ranked-choice voting during the last two gubernatorial elections, Paul LePage may not have been elected governor. It also will enhance democracy and more accurately reflect the will of the voters.
E. Jeff Barnes
Slash energy use
Gene Lynch, former chair of the board of trustees at The Aroostook Medical Center, wrote in a March 9 BDN OpEd how the medical center has taken on several initiatives to increase energy efficiency throughout the hospital. As the largest health care and employment provider in the region, the continuation of their efforts in the last five years toward reducing their energy consumption is crucial.
A new interactive online map created by Environment Maine shows that approximately 1 million Mainers live in a county that was affected by at least one weather-related disaster in the last five years. Extreme weather is expected to worsen with global warming.
Extreme weather often leads to increased health care needs, as well as increased costs. Maine must continue to act boldly in slashing global warming pollution by strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce regional power plant pollution by more than half in the next 15 years.
Invest in early childhood education
Not only are early childhood programs essential for crime prevention, as Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton and Bangor police Chief Mark Hathaway wrote in their March 24 BDN OpEd, but, as a small businessman and board chair of Penquis CAP, I also know these programs help to create a quality workforce, a strong economy and the next generation of business leaders our state needs.
Quality early child care and early learning programs are critical, as they lay the foundation for our kids to learn math, verbal and other skills they must have to be ready for kindergarten. This foundation of learning helps Maine’s young people graduate from high school on time, have a better chance to access higher education and develop the educational tools they need to succeed in the workplace.
These programs make fiscal and economic sense as well. Research highlighted by ReadyNation, a national organization of business leaders who support high-quality early childhood education, shows that such programs actually can average a net return of nearly $30,000 for every child served.
Our state needs to continue to grow and expand these early childhood care and education programs, such as the ones Morton and Hathaway mention. They will benefit our communities, workplaces and economy. Early childhood programs are important investments to make if we want to help our kids become productive members of Maine’s workforce and society.
LePage’s disservice to needy families
It’s very generous of the BDN editorial board in its March 19 editorial to characterize Gov. Paul LePage’s decision to hold onto $110 million in federal TANF funds instead of offering a “hand up” to struggling families and hungry children as a “grave disservice.”
The purpose of TANF is to “help needy families achieve self-sufficiency.” One of the stated goals is to promote job preparation and work.
I’m imagining $110 million could go a long way toward job training or child care and transportation support so parents can attend school and work. How can it make sense to let families languish in poverty when money is available to empower them? It’s not only cruel; it’s fiscally short-sighted.
We need to call this move by LePage and all the cuts to mental health services that this administration is proposing what they are: immoral.
It’s so much easier to demonize the poor and blame those in need for the state’s problems than to do the hard work of creating broadly shared prosperity.
Mary Ann Larson
Play portrays Iranian women’s struggles
On March 23, a friend and I had the privilege of attending a performance of Reza Jalali’s ” The Poets and the Assassin” at the Gracie Theatre at Husson University. Sadly, this enlightening portrayal of five courageous Iranian women was attended by fewer than 20 people.
The Bates College students performed each extensive monologue with unique interpretation of their characters’ historic significance, creative expression and struggle to survive. The choreography and music that punctuated each transition held us spellbound. Equally entrancing was the stage lighting that cast shadows to create a minimalist set for the dramatic tension of each woman’s story and the exploration of feminism across time and culture.
During the talk back with the actors, writer and director, we learned several of the students have been performing their roles for several years. Their commitment contributed greatly to the success of the production. In these times when stereotypes and prejudice abound, I found it reassuring to learn that at least one group of students at one Maine college is exploring a little-known and too often vilified culture and inviting discussion.
“The Poets and the Assassin” will be performed again at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at Minsky Recital Hall at the University of Maine. It deserves a full house.
Incivility weakens democracy
As Unitarian Universalists, we stand for our fifth principle, the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in our congregations and in society at large. We work to promote a strong democracy and to ensure the active participation of citizens in the democratic process.
Therefore, we decry the presence of hate speech, vulgarity, extreme incivility and other dangerous and unseemly words and behaviors in the current political campaigns of some presidential candidates. We believe such conduct weakens democracy, alienates voters and disillusions young Americans who await entry into full participation as voters.
Such conduct demeans the office of the president, undermines our democracy’s standing in the world and diminishes aspirations for democratic participation worldwide. We unequivocally condemn candidates’ hate speech, comments that demean the humanity of our country’s international neighbors and partners and public conduct that flies in the face of decency.
We call on Unitarian Universalists and all Americans of conscience to speak out and stand up for a vision of democracy that unifies our country and strengthens the inclusion of all to learn about and participate in the democratic process.
Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network