RCV and conservative thought

I’m not surprised Rep. Bruce Poliquin tries to change the rules after losing the election. More disturbing is the corruption of conservative thought. In his Nov. 14 column Matthew Gagnon attacks Maine for creating its own instant run-off election law. Ranked-choice voting is Federalism in action, with Maine leading the nation, a “laboratory of democracy.”

Gagnon cheers Poliquin’s lawsuit, compounds it in a Nov. 28 column by supporting the waste of time and money of a second election. Ranked-choice voting is the most economical way to decide a majority winner in an election. But conservatives thoughtlessly abandon fiscal responsibility for Poliquin.

They make the remarkable assertion that people who support them are too stupid to list a first choice, a second choice and a third choice. The voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District can count to three. For them, only a method that stops counting when Poliquin takes a lead will do.

If you can never win a majority, you have to be creative. It’s a shame they also have to abandon American values like majority rule and conservative values like fiscal responsibility to do so.

James Kocot


Keep America great

I am writing to share what are, to me, glaringly unmissable observations and thoughts regarding the current political situation. First is the constant delegitimizing and criticism of the free press (guaranteed by the First Amendment), the federal judicial system and the federal legal system.

Then, there is the inappropriate use of the political system to delegitimize and ultimately gain control of the political independence and impartiality of the free press, the federal judicial system and the federal legal system.

Third is the creation and enabling of division, fear and hatred using vilification and/or stereotyping relating to: “other” religious beliefs; “other” races and “other” skin color; “other” political parties or politicians; “other” sexual orientations; peaceful protests, private and/or personal health and body choices; and criticism.

Finally, add in additional elements: misogyny, racism, paranoia, habitual lying, alternative truth, character assassination, name calling, half truths and innuendo, policies and tax structures to favor the wealthy, and voter suppression.

When a democracy is weakened or destroyed, most of the above mentioned tactics and elements are the first steps that authoritarian leader wannabes use to foster nationalism. Nationalism is not equal to and never should be equated to patriotism and/or democracy.

America is the greatest country and democracy the world has ever known. As currently brought to bear, “Make America Great Again” is undermining and rotting away the foundations of our nation. Instead of continuing down our current path, we should all (including our elected officials) work toward “Keeping America Great.”

John Gross


Loon count clarity

I am writing in response to the Dec. 5 letter from Karen Holmes about the 2018 annual Loon Count. I would like to reassure Holmes that count data from the Down East region is indeed included in our estimate of Maine’s loon population.

Maine Audubon’s annual estimate of the loon population is based on a statistical analysis and extrapolation of data collected by volunteers during the count. Our estimate is based on count data from a random subsample of all lakes and ponds south of the 45th parallel (roughly the southern half of the state, south of a line between Rangeley and Calais), stratified by seven different lake size classes. Because many of the lakes in northern Maine are too large to survey in a half hour, are often remote with no volunteers nearby and can be difficult to access, we don’t include those lakes in the estimate.

In addition to our annual estimate, we also record all data submitted from every lake in a master database that shows the number of adults and chicks counted each year since 1984. The full count data are available for review by anyone on the Lakes of Maine website.

We count on our growing list of citizen scientists like Holmes (we had 1,350 volunteers this year) to complete the count each summer in order to help us determine loon population trends. We deeply value our volunteers and the data they collect — and I invite everyone to learn more (including how to help with the 2019 count) by visiting maineaudubon.org/loons.

Sally Stockwell

Director of Conservation

Maine Audubon