Be your own voice

I am an American woman, and I was offended and appalled by the ugly, nasty, hateful speech at the Women’s March on Washington. Do not presume that they speak for all women. And ladies, if you disagree with the tone and views presented there, now is the time to speak up. Do not let a group be your voice, be your own voice.

Laura Boutin

Old Town

Democracy needs ethical journalists

I want to thank the BDN for its commitment to investigative reporting. Now, when rigorous journalism is increasingly critical, many newspapers are cutting back on exactly these types of probes.

The BDN, thankfully, seems to be stepping up. One of many examples is the Jan. 11 article examining Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew’s insistence on photo IDs on electronic benefit cards for WIC recipients, thus forfeiting more than a million dollars in federal aid to transition the program to EBT cards.

Democracy relies on an informed electorate, which in turn relies on honest, ethical journalists.

Laura Levenson

Carmel

Alternative facts just lies

I was horrified that during his first press conference, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told lies about the size of the crowd at the presidential inauguration. As press secretary, Spicer speaks for and represents the White House. His audience is the entire world. It is completely unacceptable that the White House would deliberately try to mislead the country and the world on any issue, particularly as it was so easy in this instance to see the lie for what it was.

To add to the problem, Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to the new president, described Spicer’s comments as “ alternative facts.” This is an oxymoron: according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a fact is something that “truly exists or happened. A true piece of information.” Alternative (noun) is “something that can be chosen instead of something else.” You cannot “choose” what exists or has happened.

I urge people to speak out each and every time that the White House chooses to lie. During the campaign, Donald Trump frequently made statements that were lies. The name for this in the context of politics is propaganda: ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader or a government.

This is the stuff of dictatorships, not democracy. It is the responsibility of our elected officials to call this out.

Lisa Buck

Orono

DeVos would undermine public schools

Matthew Gagnon’s Jan. 12 BDN column about Betsy DeVos nomination to serve as education secretary misses the point. As he says, it is possible for someone with zero experience of public education to become an effective leader of public education.

But the problem with DeVos is that her entire career has been devoted to undermining the schools most of our children attend by leading efforts to create and support publicly-funded alternatives to public schools.

In her confirmation hearings, she refused to support the need for charter schools to comply with federal regulations, such as access for students with disabilities. In other words, she believes in separate but unequal schools.

And need we even mention her statement that she supported ending gun-free school zones in case of grizzly bear attack?

Anita Kurth

Bangor

Obamacare repeal would damage nation

Republicans are not only acting without true compassion for the needs of millions of people in the country, but they are also choosing to rob our country of greater success in the future. By working to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having a solid replacement that will provide better coverage for more people and improved care for all on hand, they are risking our country’s future. What drives them? It must not be compassion or common sense.

Even if they cannot find in themselves compassion for individuals who rely on the Affordable Care Act to be healthy, I would hope they could in the least see that their actions are damaging to what we as a country can accomplish today, tomorrow and years from now.

There is a simple truth that any society’s potential is driven by the potential of the people. To deny this you must be taking the value of the country’s people for granted and not understand that this country is built on the backs of the people and not the egos of the wealthy and powerful.

Perhaps they are having a hard time understanding how an untreated illness or injury can limit a person’s ability to do and be their best for themselves, their employers and their family and children, since they are able to rely on federally funded health care.

We need to stop cheating ourselves of this country’s brightest future and start taking care of the people that it relies on to get there.

Thomas Griffith

Orono

Strengthen Maine’s solar policies

William Behrens’ Jan. 17 BDN OpEd perfectly described why making rooftop solar more accessible and more affordable in Maine is necessary to diversify Maine’s electric grid and create new jobs.

Growing up in New England, I’ve enjoyed Maine’s beautiful landscapes. But climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels are immediate threats to our environment and our society. Luckily, solar power is a growing success story across the United States. The barriers to solar are falling faster than ever, with more cities, states and companies adopting innovative pro-solar policies.

But Maine is lagging behind other states on these policies. Despite the high interest among Mainers to support and develop solar, Maine is the only state in New England that does not have a comprehensive solar plan and, according to recent data, Maine ranks 27th for solar capacity per capita.

Stronger solar policies solar can create hundreds of local jobs for young people like myself while protecting our beloved environment. Policymakers are working to put forth bills that would make solar more affordable for homeowners and business owners, while also creating local jobs.

As policymakers in Maine consider policies that support solar, I urge them, and Gov. Paul LePage, to make solar energy a priority in our community. Together, we can bring more solar power to our homes, our communities, schools, our workplaces and our lives — and leave a cleaner, healthier world for kids growing up today and future generations.

Emma Rotner

Portland