Save Pickering Square

During my tenure as Bangor’s city engineer (1960-1992), I, along with the late Walt Luro, my assistant, conceived and designed almost all of the downtown Urban Renewal-era infrastructure improvements, including Pickering Square. I was surprised to read of the little “ping” that we inadvertently incorporated into its design when one claps his or her hands in the center of the park. It has apparently laid silent or at least unnoticed all these years. Perhaps it has become aware that it may soon be destroyed, never again to “ping,” and is putting up a mild protest.

I would also offer a mild protest, because I believe the park has served the downtown well during the 30-odd years of its existence — during the early Folk Festival years, summer concerts, political and other group rallies, sidewalk art shows and even outdoor movies. I see no reason why it can’t continue to do so, with a little perimeter updating.

It’s my understanding that the future of the square hinges to a large extent on what happens to the bus terminal, with one scheme moving part of it nearer to Water Street, but still requiring the “pinging park” to be removed. There are other alternatives, such as splitting terminal locations to maybe three or more on-street locations, as was done when the Hudson Bus Lines operated a system in Bangor back in the 1950s.

One final note: Kudos to the City Hall staff, city councilors, downtown property owners and others responsible for creating a vibrant downtown. Back during the “demolition days” of the 1960s we never thought we’d see the day. Long live the “ping”!

John Frawley


Watch out, Estonia!

As he has amply demonstrated, President Donald Trump is capable of monumental duplicity. During the past week, the clamor over immigration, Supreme Court turnover and tariffs hid an alarming development: the resignation of the U.S. ambassador to Estonia.

Most Americans do not know where Estonia is. They may soon enough. Ultranationalist Russian President Vladimir Putin chafes at the loss of the Baltic states to the free world, and he intends to recapture them. He just does not know how. He certainly is aggravated by the thousands of Russians who stream over the bridge every day to work in a robust neighboring economy.

Enter our president. He has consistently broken treaties and criticized alliances while toasting autocratic rule. He shows absolutely no understanding of first tenet of homeland protection: maintenance of a defensive perimeter through agreements with allies. The most obvious deterioration is with our NATO allies whom he denigrates at every turn. Ominously Trump has moved quickly for a July 16 “summit” with Putin.

Trump will be just leaving the July 11 NATO conference, and his behavior could have dire implications for the region. It is entirely possible that Trump believes that Estonia and the Baltics belong to the Russians, and where ego inflation is possible, he is fully capable of signaling approval for any Russian action.

In the week ahead, Trump may bully NATO members telling them that they are on their own, and then abruptly leave. If so, look out Estonia. And for the third time in a century, the world will be faced with the abyss.

Sandy Ervin


Collins right to support farm bill

I am writing to express my thanks to Sen. Susan Collins for voting in favor of the Senate farm bill that passed on June 27. This bill differed dramatically from the harsh and unworkable version passed by the House the week before. The nation’s farm bill is not only concerned with agricultural issues, but also regulates the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.

One in seven Maine residents participates in SNAP to get enough to eat. Some SNAP participants are of working age and may be unemployed or underemployed. The Senate farm bill, unlike the House version, includes resources to enhance current employment and training programs to help SNAP participants find work in high-wage, in-demand jobs. And while most participants in the program are working, their wages are frequently insufficient to cover their basic needs. Increasing their employability will not only promote their ability to fully provide for their families, but also strengthen Maine’s economy.

Another part of the bill that will particularly help older Mainers and those with disabilities is a state option to remove some of their paperwork burden. From past research I know that paperwork and administrative barriers may keep older adults from getting food assistance when they need it. SNAP is a lifeline for many Mainers on fixed incomes, and reducing the red tape is a worthy goal of the Senate farm bill. Thank you to Collins for doing the right thing.

Sandra Butler


Protect the Constitution

The framers of our Constitution and Bill of Rights considered life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness God-given rights — rights which should not be controlled by those in power whether it be kings or presidents. The Constitution was a gift — it was a transfer of power from the government to its people. It was unique and powerful — the lion, in grace, surrendered to the lamb. No people on earth have a more powerful document protecting their freedom.

History is populated with the record of people who collectively surrendered their rights for the good of the collective. You may recognize the names of their trusted leaders: Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse-tung and, closer to home, Fidel Castro. The future of our country depends on protecting the Constitution.

We the people — all the people, Democrats, Republicans and independents — should agree on this. To weaken the Constitution weakens us all and puts the government and politicians in charge of our lives. Issues such as gun control, women’s rights, immigration, health care and others can be debated and settled at the polls, by legislation and at the state level.

We the people should never surrender our protected freedoms — it is a fool’s trade — because we will never get them back. Protecting the Construction is protecting ourselves. Supreme Court judges should hold the Constitution as sacred. That belief, and that belief only, protects our freedom.

Joseph Grant