Missing Meara’s humorous columns
Reading columns written by talented writers who share their perspectives on the way we think and talk and experience life is an important part of the Bangor Daily News. I always looked forward to Kent Ward’s columns, and it is disappointing to find that now Emmet Meara’s humorous column is missing as well.
Donna Bennett Golding
Let science inform decisions
The BDN’s coverage of the March for Science on Earth Day shows citizens giving an important message to our elected representatives: They must use scientific data to inform decisions they make on our behalf. The current administration’s assault on agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency; the apparent abandonment of science in favor of ideology and political gain; and a president who calls climate change a hoax, all underscore the importance of the impetus behind the March for Science.
While the media spotlight rightly shines a light on these troubling trends, it’s also important to recognize that there are cooperative, science-based efforts underway on Capitol Hill. One such effort is called the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan House group that seeks to find solutions to climate change with which we all can live. The caucus, which has tripled its membership since the beginning of the 115th Congress, now has 36 members, half Democratic and half Republican. This is good news. It’s an excellent model for bipartisan decision making informed by science.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, who spoke at the Portland March for Science, would be a great addition to the caucus. And since it’s a requirement of the caucus that each new member brings a member of the other party with them, she could tap Rep. Bruce Poliquin to join her in supporting this bipartisan work. Please send messages to Pingree and Poliquin encouraging them to join the Climate Solutions Caucus.
Don’t cut legal aid for low-income Mainers
The Trump administration proposes to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, which has provided federal funding for civil legal aid since 1974. If this terrible proposal becomes reality, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, would lose $1.4 million, almost one-quarter of its budget.
Pine Tree provides free legal aid to help low-income and vulnerable veterans, elders, children and families. When these Mainers are involved in civil legal cases (as opposed to criminal cases), the law does not require that they must have a court-appointed lawyer. The Legal Services Corporation provides federal funds so that when their livelihood, health and families are on the line, they have representation and a fair shot.
Civil legal aid makes fiscal sense and is a good investment. For example, everyone benefits when someone remains housed. Housing stabilizes families and helps them remain self-sufficient, ultimately saving taxpayers’ money. The public costs of sheltering families that become homeless are significant, as are the increased costs of providing public assistance, transitional housing and health care for families in crisis. Helping survivors of domestic violence reduces shelter costs. Early legal interventions prevent more serious problems down the road.
Funding for the Legal Services Corporation is a miniscule slice of the federal budget — roughly one-hundredth of 1 percent. But eliminating it would be devastating to many. Our nation’s extremely modest investment in the Legal Services Corporation is an essential building block for assuring social stability and fairness in the justice system.
Across our nation, civil legal aid has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support for a reason: Americans believe in justice for all, not just for those who can afford it.
Maine Justice Foundation