Use savings to reduce municipal budgets

As a former chairman of the Bath City Council, I challenge the councilors and selectmen of Maine’s towns and cities to make public, indeed proactively publicize, their public works overtime savings and the dollar figure of salt and sand reserves resulting from the very light winter of 2015-16.

I would then request that they use those savings to actually reduce next year’s annual municipal budget by the appropriate amount. Simply letting those savings quietly lapse into this year’s general fund or fund balance, or worse, spending the money elsewhere by June 30, is not in the best interest of those of us who pay increasing property taxes.

John W. James IV


Naloxone key to solving opioid epidemic

In response to N. Laurence Willey Jr.’s May 10 Bangor Daily News letter to the editor about the consequences of drug use, I wanted to point out a few common misconceptions.

“Street drugs” is a problematic distinction. Oxycodone and similar prescription opioids are legal versions of illegal drugs. Eighty percent of people using illicit opioids began with a legal prescription from a doctor. Until 2015, accidental overdoses were consistently because of pharmaceutical opioids, so charging someone with the possession of illegal drugs doesn’t address the problem. The problem is that we have a population with a treatable medical condition and not enough evidence-based treatment. We don’t arrest diabetics or people with cancer, we give them medical care.

The mandatory charge of possession sounds good until it is weighed against the facts. Drug courts are not widely available in the state and are used inconsistently. Court-mandated treatment would require more treatment resources in the state. So why push people into an already overburdened court system when we can simply increase treatment resources? Willey’s position adds another level of complexity and bureaucracy while involving the judiciary system in what is clearly a public health issue.

The commonly touted mantra of “individual responsibility” fails to take into account the neurobiological advances in the brain disease model of addiction. Addiction is a mental compulsion paired with a physical dependency. Naloxone is one part of the solution that includes increasing access to education, evidence-based treatment, recovery supports and funding for harm reduction programs.

Ross Hicks


Naloxone saves lives

In his May 10 BDN letter to the editor, N. Laurence Willey Jr., a candidate for state Senate, proposed an unworkable provision that he would need in place to support over-the-counter availability of the life-saving drug naloxone. He suggests that those whose lives are saved should be charged with a crime and undergo court-mandated treatment. This approach is unsupported by medical experience with this drug. When naloxone is made more available, without attached penalties, it is used more frequently and more lives are saved, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Reintroducing the “war on drugs” approach in which the person suffering with opioid use disorder is deemed a criminal is unworkable. Who would report the successful use of naloxone? The parent or friend who administers it? The pharmacist who sells it? Every rescue would be evidence of a crime. The result would be less use of naloxone and unnecessary loss of life. No other chronic disease is approached with such a punitive and harmful bias.

In the past legislative session, many legislators made the effort to learn more about the disease of addiction and its treatment. They realized the importance of making naloxone more easily available and voted overwhelmingly to override the governor’s veto. Their wisdom was evident, and their action will save lives.

Noah Nesin, M.D.

LePage’s baffling accusation

As a student from Deering High School, I am both greatly offended and confused by the governor’s recent accusation that a student at my school overdosed multiple times in one week, and that no one reported it.

First, this is extremely unlikely because the people in this school building are responsible adults who would have called 911. For Gov. Paul LePage to accuse us of having a student that overdosed multiple times when this hasn’t happened is very insulting.

As a government official, LePage should be more careful as to what he says because he is an authority figure, and his words affect a lot of people. This accusation is extremely baffling, and I am confused as to why a government official would create a story that is so bizarre and offensive.

Fadumo Adan


Music education beneficial

One thing that I don’t understand about high schools in Maine is why music education is so underrated and overlooked. Too many school systems in the state are cutting funds for music, and think that music is not essential to learning, like English or math. But one thing that most people don’t know is that music involves a little of each core subject (yes, even history is tied into music in a way). Music programs in the state should be considered as a beneficial subject in schools.

Emily Dunlap

Old Town

Save Orono garden club

I never thought I’d see the day when the Town Council would order the Garden and Cooking Club club to stop their activities now. This club was a wonderful opportunity for our children to learn so many life long skills from planting, harvesting the crops, cooking and preparing delicious meals for their senior pals at the Birch Street Senior Center.

All of these were nurtured by the talents of many University of Maine students and graduate students — helping the students hone their skills in botany, agronomy, dietary information, elder respect, proper table settings and making lifelong friends.

We senior pals treasured and always looked forward to seeing and getting to know these sweet, talented, young people. Their visits made both of our lives happier and very rewarding. The only reason given to these students was a need for space at the senior center.

I’ve always thought that the goal of these young students was to nurture their educational needs and to be extremely proud of all their accomplishments. Please ask Orono council members for an honest explanation for this puzzling and sad situation.

Rosemary T. Sullivan Sidelinker