Bring back 1-Minute Hikes

My one wish for Christmas is for the return of Aislinn Sarnacki’s 1-Minute Hike column. I miss learning about cool places in Maine. I miss the great writing. I even miss Oreo, her dog. Please, Santa, please.

John Contreni


Tax reform strategy

Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine, speaker of the House of Representatives (1889-91; 1895-99), once said: “The best system is to have one party govern and the other party watch. The rights of the minority consist of answering a roll call and drawing a salary.”

Speaker Reed would have approved of his party’s strategy to enact its 2017 tax reform bill.

Michael Hastings

Bar Harbor

Monument succeeding despite obstacles

The Nov. 30 BDN article on visitation to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument unfairly dismissed the economic benefits that the monument has brought to our region. In communities like mine that are gateways to Katahdin Woods and Waters, we don’t consider quadrupling the number of visitors to be insignificant. The BDN should have listened to more of us, like state Sen. Jim Dill, who have witnessed more robust real-estate markets, business expansions and openings, and community-wide excitement that has emerged in the year since the designation.

A balanced article would have called more attention to the fact that these first-year successes happened despite a misguided federal review process that has only served to stall our momentum. The governor still hasn’t allowed the National Park Service to put up road signs to help visitors get to the monument, either. I encourage the BDN to further investigate the LePage administration’s failure to support this unique opportunity that has been and will continue to be a job creator.

It is irresponsible to frame our new monument’s successes as failures through an arbitrary comparison to Maine’s state parks. Maine’s state parks have been around for decades, and there are good signs helping people find them. The past year has given the Katahdin region many reasons to be optimistic, and this is only the beginning for a monument that I believe is here to stay forever.

Richard H. Schmidt III


Tax bill a nightmare

The tax bill before Congress has been misrepresented by the Republicans. It will not help the economy as promised because tax cuts to the wealthy, which it delivers, do not help the economy. Tax cuts to corporations have not, in the past, been used either to increase wages or to grow jobs, which would help the economy, but rather have gone to stockholders and already rich CEOs.

Tax cuts for the middle class are also promised, but those will be be offset by provisions which eliminate our personal exemptions — $4,000 per person — and other tax breaks used primarily by the middle class. In addition, the provisions that do benefit the middle class will disappear over the next few years while the corporate tax cuts are permanent. Why would they give a tax cut to us only to take it away a few years later? By the time that happens, there will be an increase in taxes for people making less than $75,000, and the decrease for people making $75,000 to $100,000 will be gone.

This bill will profoundly change our nation, and yet, the Senate does not seem to think that time for discussion and thoughtful study should be taken. Right now, it is simply a free-for-all in which senators’ votes can be bought by putting something into the bill to make them happy. This bill does not serve the people of our nation. It is a nightmare.

Carolyn Bower


Collins’ tax vote

In a statement on Sen. Susan Collins’ website justifying her vote for the GOP tax bill, she begins: “I don’t think there is a single American who thinks that our current tax code is fair, simple, or promotes economic growth.”

I don’t think there is a single American who thinks that a 479-page bill affecting every person in this country should be handed to senators minutes before the vote, with crossed out pages and illegible additions scribbled in the margins with a pen.

I don’t think there is a single American who thinks that a senator who votes for such a bill really knows what she is voting for. Some Americans may believe the promises of the president and Senate majority leader that measures will be taken to see that millions do not lose affordable health care because of this bill.

This American certainly does not.

Lee Warren


Collins must explain tax vote

I am so truly disappointed in Sen. Susan Collins’ vote for the current Republican tax plan, or should I say, her gift to the wealthiest Americans and sentence of insurmountable debt to every Mainer in my neighborhood, especially my children of 7 and 11.

How is it moral to remove the student loan interest deduction from our tax code, while reducing taxes for the wealthy. Pay attention: the “trickle-down effect” only creates additional greed, corruption and, ultimately, disdain for our beautiful democracy. President Ronald Reagan was so pointedly and now, retrospectively, incorrect about trickle down economics. This nefarious policy failed to prevent “ Black Monday,” and the housing crisis nadir that President Barack Obama’s administration had to solve. Does the senator realize it costs nearly $24,000 a year, including room and board, to attend the University of Maine in Orono? Collins’ message by voting for this tax plan is higher education is not worth the price.

My wife and I, who are teachers, lose our student loan deduction and our teacher deduction for purchasing materials and books for our classrooms. What are the wealthy sacrificing? What are big businesses sacrificing? Nothing. Where is the Mainer in Collins? Where is the decency of humanity?

I would like the senator to explain how this tax plan specifically benefits Maine and my children. I must say, I am furious to know that Collins seems to be ignoring the future of our hard-working, loyal, and Maine-centered little boy and girl.

Collins has a great deal of explaining to do.

Steve Crowe