Spending priorities

I volunteered to join Sue Mackey Andrews, a Democratic candidate for Senate District 4, going house to house talking with residents in Piscataquis County. I was so moved by the number of people who needed to work two jobs just to keep up with health care and medication expenses. Folks over 70 were still working and struggling with everyday household expenses. Concerns about neighbors’ need to depend on food cupboards were voiced. And others spoke about the need for broadband connectivity to enhance business growth.

I heard so much false information such as Democrats being out to take away our guns. Coming from a large family of hunters and gun owners, I know this is not true. And rumors about Democrats being fiscally also are not true.

How taxpayer money is spent differs among us but efficiency in spending is not a partisan debate. Clearly, today’s issues of funding for farmers’ to offset trade war woes, building a great border wall, allocating more money than the Pentagon requests, and planning a large military parade to show off our weapons are questionable Republican plans.

Instead, we must invest in our business-associated infrastructure of superior education, health, transportation and technology.

Gloria Zela

Bowerbank

Herbig for Maine Senate

I write in support of Erin Herbig’s candidacy for state Senate District 11. I have known Herbig since her high school days. I had a front-row seat watching her train, compete and lead as a first-class student athlete. She was incredibly hard working, organized, enthusiastic and goal oriented — characteristics she continues to exhibit today in the Maine House of Representatives, helping to improve the lives of her constituents and all the people of Maine every day.

Having worked in the local school district for nearly 20 years, I have been keenly aware of the pressure put on property taxes because of the unwillingness to fully fund education at the state level. I have also watched as our students leave for college and rarely come back because of a lack of viable jobs. Herbig is working hard to bring quality employment opportunities to this area, so our children can stay and grow their lives here.

It has been said that all politics is local. I agree. Every decision made in the Legislature has an impact at the local level. Herbig is local. She understands the importance of including all parties in the decision-making process. She also believes that lifting the least fortunate among us elevates us all.

Please join with me and vote for Herbig for state senator — a local voice for all of Waldo County.

Anna Wood-Cox

Morrill

Brakey a fighter

With the swamp getting bigger everyday, Maine doesn’t need another pushover. Maine needs a strong leader in Washington. This is why I support Eric Brakey for U.S. Senate.

Brakey and I worked together in the Maine Legislature over the past two years. We worked together on many issues, such as welfare reform and fighting tax hikes.

When we discuss issues, Brakey, a state senator, has always been cordial and kind, but he stands up for what he believes in.

When the Legislature wanted to raise the lodging tax, he stood up against his peers to protect the Maine people from another tax.

This November, Maine has a choice. I hope you all join me in choosing Brakey for U.S. Senate, because Maine needs a fighter in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Chad Grignon

Athens

Flawed nursing home rankings

From the sensational headline to questions about flawed data, the story “ Maine nursing homes receive lowest score in new national ranking” disappoints and provides a disservice to the BDN’s readers. There has been a steep learning curve as nursing homes comply with the new way the federal government requires the reporting of staffing levels. The system, known as Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ), requires homes to submit census and payroll information, a process that has been unclear as to which staff should be included and cumbersome in correcting errors identified by homes.

A comparison of how Medicare used to collect this information compared to PBJ shows discrepancies that Kaiser Health News acknowledges in its methodology of an analysis of this data, going so far as to say some of their calculations defied common sense but were used anyway because that’s what the submitted data showed. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to determine why it doesn’t make sense? We believe mistakes in reporting, Kaiser’s omission of certain positions and averaging averages lead to more questions about the rankings.

What we do know is that Maine nursing homes provide 4.5 hours of nursing, compared with 4.1 nationally. They receive an average of 4.3 inspection deficiencies, compared with 8.8 nationally. Maine has the fifth highest direct care staffing standards in the country.

Rankings have a place, but for a true picture of staffing and other quality indicators, readers are best served by visiting a nursing home at different times of the day or week, reviewing inspection reports and talking with staff, residents and family members.

Nadine Grosso

Vice president and director of communications

Maine Health Care Association

Augusta

Block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

No one in the U.S. should be above the law, but the president seems to think he is. The Justice Department has presented overwhelming evidence that Russian spies secretly interfered in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, an independent special counsel investigation is examining possible links between those attacks and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Now, President Trump wants to end the investigation before it finishes its work. Sen. Susan Collins has rightly criticized Trump’s call, but words are empty. We need her to act to safeguard our democracy.

For a start, Collins should refuse to consider any Trump-nominated candidate for the Supreme Court. The president is under federal investigation for possible obstruction of justice and collusion with a foreign adversary. He may be innocent or he may not, but either way he should not be allowed to hand-pick judges for the nation’s highest court who may soon have to rule on his actions.

Nominee Brett Kavanaugh is especially worrying since he is on record as suggesting that sitting presidents should not be subject to criminal prosecution. Collins would be undermining the rule of law if she approved his nomination.

Henry Laurence

Brunswick