A wake up call for Collins
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins needs a wake up call. She has a huge shield around her that protects her from contact with most of her constituents. She is still operating as though this were 2015 and things are routine. Everything changed in January, and residents of Maine and elsewhere are more engaged in civic involvement than during the Vietnam War.
Calls to her Washington, D.C., office often go to a recording. She has yet to meet with various citizen groups in town hall settings or in groups larger than a few people. Even then, topics and questions are limited, and she dominates the discussion. U.S. Sen. Angus King recently held a ” listening session” at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Although limited in scope he allowed people to speak for two hours before he spoke. It was orderly and without violence.
The activists who want to meet with her are mostly ages 40 to 75 from all walks of life and simply love and care about what happens in our state and in our country. If she can’t meet with these constituents, she has no business representing our state in Congress. A change in policy focusing on listening for a change would be most welcome.
Implement ranked-choice voting
Article 1, Section 2 of the Maine Constitution reads, “All power is inherent in the people; all free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their benefit; they have therefore an unalienable and indefeasible right to institute government, and to alter, reform, or totally change the same, when their safety and happiness require it.”
When Maine people voted in favor of ranked-choice voting last November, we asserted our unalienable right to alter, reform and change a system that no longer makes us happy. It no longer makes us happy that politicians can win elections by appealing only to their loyal base and downplaying or ignoring the needs of the majority of the electorate.
It no longer makes us happy that negative attack ads with misleading, out-of-context information dominate the airwaves for the months and weeks leading up to the elections. It no longer makes us happy that politicians who receive 39 percent of the popular vote make decisions that affect us all.
Ranked-choice voting allowed the people of Maine to reassert our powerful voice and our right to have government work for the benefit of all Maine people. It is the job of our elected representatives to uphold that right. We expect them to fully support the implementation of ranked-choice voting in a timely manner and not to work to delay, amend or repeal our decision.
Trump’s attack on the press
Being a citizen of a democratic republic requires participation and vigilance. It’s hard work. And it’s work we can’t accomplish without legitimate news.
Our Founding Fathers thought freedom of the press was so important that they placed it in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
President Donald Trump’s practice of calling any news he doesn’t like “ fake news” undermines freedom of the press. He is confusing gossip and opinion outlets with news organizations that check their facts and have been trusted for decades. We are all responsible to evaluate the news we hear and read. If it seems unbelievable, don’t believe it.
Trump also has called the press “ enemy of the American people.” No, the press is on our side. Reporters are witnesses, an integral part of the checks and balances of a democratic republic. Without them, we have no way of knowing what our elected officials are doing. Trump’s statements discredit news outlets that challenge him.
The next steps could be to ban certain outlets or have a government takeover of the press. We must make sure that doesn’t happen. In countries where all the news comes from or is sanctioned by the government, people are not free.
Glenburn not welcoming to guests
The Penobscot Sheriff’s Office has more important things to do than to be the Glenburn Town Council’s parking lot attendants for Lakeside Landing. Its residents-only policy is a slap in the face to any Mainer whose town welcomes all guests to their recreational sites or public facilities. None of the other towns patrolled by the sheriff’s office requires parking stickers except this parking lot for picnic tables and a boat launch.
I spoke with the dispatcher, and I was told their patrol was “only seasonal.” Perhaps enough tickets have been handed out to try a security camera or two and a “no pets” sign to begin addressing actual issues. This is not the only boat launch in the state, so surely other towns have come up with friendlier solutions they’re willing to share.
Respect the will of Maine people
I’d like to thank everyone who worked to help get ranked-choice voting on the ballot last November and everyone who voted for it. As of Jan. 7, it’s state law. We need the Maine secretary of state to begin work immediately on an implementation plan for ranked-choice voting so we can have a smooth and successful election in 2018.
Right now, opponents are resisting implementation of the law, claiming that there are questions about its constitutionality. The first delaying tactic has been to ask the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to review the law via a “solemn occasion.” In 1996, the court declined a similar request concerning the constitutionality of the Maine Clean Elections Act. Law professors at the University of Maine and other prominent Maine attorneys have already stated publicly that the legislation is constitutional.
If the constitutionality isn’t really in question, one must suspect this is an effort to block the implementation of the law that we voted in. We’ve seen this in Augusta with other ballot initiatives from last year’s election, too. I ask all our legislators to respect the will of the people. Implement ranked-choice voting now. We’ll be watching and expect them to represent us well.