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Rail study suggestion
This letter is in response to Richard Rudolph’s Bangor Daily News OpEd of Feb. 15, “It’s time to take the first step toward restoring passenger rail to central Maine.” I fully agree with Rudolph and with the purpose of state Sen. Joe Baldacci’s bill LD 227. For all of the reasons stated in Rodolph’s piece, passenger rail makes sense. My fear is that when Baldacci’s feasibility study is finished that passenger rail, by itself, might prove to be considered cost prohibitive with the small population that will be served and the rates that could be charged to make it economical for the population.
So, at the risk of being accused of mixing “apples and oranges” let me suggest that this study be expanded to include the cost of the rail necessary to connect Eastport to the rail running up the Penobscot River. For the cost of the small amount of additional rail to make this a reality, it would open up the deepest port on the east coast to a huge economic development project.
The west coast ports are full, the east coast ports are either almost full or need constant dredging to keep them functional. Adding Eastport would provide a huge financial stimulus to shipping and the state of Maine. In addition, there would be the financial source to subsidize the passenger rail that we all want.
Maine needs online voter registration
As the co-coordinator of the Bates College student voting effort in the fall of 2020, I sincerely encourage our elected officials to pass online voter registration in Maine. This fall I was responsible for registering more than 1,000 students on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paper registration deeply complicated this work, as it meant I had to coordinate many hundreds of pieces of paper, including following up with those who made errors on their cards. There was also confusion about when students had or had not officially been registered, and I was responsible for mediating many of these conversations with the city clerk’s office, often having to track down a series of documents that are easily lost.
Online voter registration would make this process much less tedious. Future coordinators of the voting effort on campus would have a much easier time reaching the college’s registration rate goals. Students would more easily be able to verify their registration, correct mistakes and, most importantly, online registration would reduce the amount of work the city clerk’s office has to do when students show up to vote.
Online registration will boost the number of students who register early, meaning lines on Election Day at the polls or at City Hall for in-person absentee voting will be greatly reduced. Thank you for taking the time to consider my perspective.
Questions for Collins
Why the recent LGBTQ hypocrisy from Sen. Susan Collins? As background, I have a transgender family member. As such, I am fully aware of the devastating problems that trans people go through in today’s world in their attempt to be accepted as functional, caring, talented human beings.
As a Mainer, I was proud that Collins was the only Republican to co-sponsor the Equality Act in the past. I was also proud of her letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell last year, stating “The need for these critical protections is clear.” However, that pride has evaporated with her backing out of her agreement to support the Equality Act and help improve the lives of the LGBTQ community.
Does she no longer believe these people need those “critical protections” she previously supported? What changed? I see she has stated, “There were certain provisions of the Equality Act which needed revision.” What are the revisions she deems so critical but refuses to define? What are we to think of her apparent flip-flop if she is unwilling to divulge problems she considers so grave that she would back away from her ostensible support for the basic human rights of the LGBTQ community?