Make economy work for Maine families

Coming off a divisive election, it’s clear the views of voters remain far apart. But there are bridges over these differences. One such bridge concerns working families. Voters who supported sometimes very different candidates, ideologies and parties are fed up with a socio-economic system working against their interests.

Last week, House Speaker Sara Gideon revealed appointments to the Legislature’s policy committees. I am grateful to be named House chair of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee. I am the son and grandson of textile mill workers who moved to Biddeford from Quebec in 1964. Their hard work and that of those who joined them on the worn-down wooden mill floors is not lost on me.

Nearly 50,000 hardworking Mainers hold down more than one job to make ends meet. More than 140,000 — nearly a quarter of the state’s workforce — work in low-wage jobs. These families don’t all share the same politics, but they share the conviction that enough is enough.

In the 128th Legislature, it is time to meet these hard-working Mainers where they are. We need to invest in vocational schools for the first time since 1998. We must protect a minimum wage increase to $12 per hour. We should reject proposals that seek to weaken collective bargaining and protections that make workplaces safer. Finally, we should support economic development programs that empower “home-grown” jobs and small businesses, which are known to contribute more than 80 percent of total job creation.

Hard-working Maine families are counting on us.

Rep. Ryan M. Fecteau

Biddeford

Riverview plan needs oversight

The staff at Riverview who take care of the patients who would be housed in the proposed step-down facility applaud the bipartisan agreement to hold public hearings on this important matter.

The decision of whether to privatize one of Maine’s mental health facilities is a major policy decision that legislators need to be involved in making. So far the administration has not answered key questions about what this facility would be like, who would run it, how much it would cost and what the standards of care and staffing would be.

The mental health workers, acuity specialists, doctors and nurses entrusted with this work have serious concerns about a potential private prison corporation running a public health facility. There has been a disturbing national trend of private prison corporations seeking to privatize mental health institutions and undermining transparency and accountability.

Workers at Riverview look forward to a full discussion and an open and transparent process for moving forward and ensuring the best care for their patients.

Cynthia Phinney

President

Maine AFL-CIO

Augusta

Electorate to blame for nasty politics

Donald Trump released another of his endless tweets on New Year’s Eve. It was what we’ve come to expect. Instead of taking to the time to wish everyone a happy New Year, he taunted people he referred to as “ enemies.” Is there anyone left who is shocked or even mildly surprised?

No one should be. This is what we’ve all been used to seeing for the last year and a half. Trump can’t be defended for behaving like a shallow child as an act anymore. There’s no Trump that’s going to take the high road and act like a leader. This is who he is.

But we’re to blame because we’ve come to expect so little of our politicians that this behavior doesn’t seem far from the norm. Lying, stealing and abuse of power have become accepted to a degree that even though Congress has an approval rating in the teens, 97 percent of House members and 90 percent of Senate members were re-elected.

It almost could be admirable as brilliant if it weren’t so nauseating. Our politicians have engineered a situation in which they literally couldn’t sink any further in our estimation. They can do whatever they want. What is there to lose? Hardly any of them ever pays for their misdeeds and ignorance.

And if anyone thinks Trump isn’t going to win re-election, think again. Unless we smarten up and start expecting our elected leaders to act like adults, this is what we’re going to get from here on. Get used to being embarrassed and ashamed.

Ed Woods

Newport