Letter writers have Tuesday election on their minds

16 years ago
Rep. Ayotte is always there for us

To the editor:
When devastating flood waters submerged parts of northern Aroostook last spring, Rep. Bernard Ayotte took a proactive role in tending to those impacted. Whether helping Red Cross volunteers in raising needed funds, providing helpful contact information to constituents, or coordinating with local, state and federal officials in working toward a quick reopening of the international bridge in Van Buren, Bernard Ayotte was on the job.
Not only did Bernard lend a hand during the tragic event, but he was there when The County was on the mend as well. It was Bernard Ayotte who took the time to recognize the Red Cross Pine Tree Association volunteers for their selfless efforts in bringing comfort to the unfortunate victims.
Bernard Ayotte deserves our thanks for being there when the people needed him. He serves us well in Augusta and further proves his commitment by working hard right here at home.

Malachi Anderson


Vote to move forward

To the editor:
After following several letters to the editor during the past weeks, I feel it is now my turn to voice my ideas and concerns. We are currently living in a stressful economic time for everyone. The economy is affecting our jobs, our retirement incomes, our homes, our children’s educational choices and our community. In addressing these problems, the city council should represent all of the members of the community in finding solutions that work for the city. This is not the time to allow bickering to get in the way of serious and necessary discussions.
I think it is especially important in this election to vote for candidates who can discuss all sides of the issues and respectfully disagree without resorting to name calling and unsubstantiated accusations. It is important to elect council members who may have individual opinions, but will support the decisions of the community on items put out for vote. Vote for members who are committed to service, who will faithfully attend the meetings for committees to which they have been appointed, and who will prepare for meetings by examining the agenda documentation prior to the start of the biweekly meetings.
Vote for those who can be productive and effectively work together to compromise rather than argue to the point that the scheduled meetings balloon from 26 to more than 50 as they did during the past year. Vote to move forward.
I would appreciate your support on Nov. 4, as I choose to move forward.

Mary Kate Barbosa


Open and honest discussion is best for City Council

To the editor:
The upcoming local election will provide us an opportunity to set the direction for our community for the next few years. This is a critical time for the city of Caribou; the current economic situation that is affecting our nation will also affect our community. We need to be prepared to weather this downturn.
Being fiscally conservative and maintaining a sound policy is necessary. However, suggesting that we arbitrarily cut 10 percent across the board as a way to deal with it is somewhat shortsighted. Community spending decisions need to be centered on the well being of the entire community, and councilors need to take the time to determine how these cuts will affect the community.
Ask yourselves why people continue to choose Caribou as the place to call home. Is it because of a mall? No, it is because Caribou provides a wonderful environment in which to live and raise a family. By doing our best to maintain quality education, recreational activities, and the city infrastructure, we are providing reasons for families to continue to choose Caribou as the place to call home. When you have a stable population, you create an environment for economic growth. On the other hand, if we marginalize the very reasons people choose to live in our community, we run the risk of a declining population and limited economic opportunity.
Our community faces many challenges, and city councilors must work constructively with one another, even though they may have different views. Legislative bodies tend to be more effective when individuals with opposing views work together to find common ground. The polarization of the community that some continue to promote, and the animosity it creates, does nothing to advance the well being of our city. Open and honest discussion as the basis for decisions will benefit the community far more.
One recent topic of discussion has been the Wellness Center and whether or not to proceed with the next phase of the project. This question is significant and should not be decided by seven individuals alone. The citizens of Caribou should decide this through a referendum. To that end I will make one promise: unlike some councilors, I will support the decisions of the voters, regardless of my individual vote.
I would appreciate your consideration on November 4.

Chris Bell


Photo doesn’t tell true story

To the editor:
I’m writing to clear up any misconceptions regarding a campaign flyer used by Tyler Clark, candidate for House District 6. The flyer, which was mailed a couple of weeks ago, featured a photo of me shaking hands with the candidate taken during the Potato Blossom Festival parade. The photo may leave the impression that I am supporting his candidacy. To clarify, I am not in a position to endorse his campaign or any other. In fact, I didn’t realize a photo was taken and it was used in the political materials without an attempt to receive my authorization or consent.
In my former position as News Director of WAGM TV and in my current position as Communications Director for the Diocese of Portland, I have never been allowed to publicly support any candidate. I also believe people should be asked before their name or likeness is used prominently in a political promotion.
Since it’s important that I remain non-partisan, I am sending this letter to correct any false impressions.

Sue Bernard


Proud of accomplishments, grateful for opportunity

To the editor:
I am honored by the trust the people of Maine have placed in me. During my years of service in the United States Senate, I have always been guided by the best traditions of the State of Maine: independence, moderation, and hard work.
Throughout our nation’s history, we have solved problems and met challenges as great as those we face today. We have done so by engaging in civil, constructive debate. We have done so not by viewing ourselves solely as Republicans or Democrats, as liberals, conservatives, or moderates, but as Americans. In Congress, we often speak of our colleagues “across the aisle.” It is my belief that the aisle is not a barrier, but an avenue. And bipartisanship is the bridge that is essential to pass major legislation.
I am proud of my accomplishments in the Senate. I have worked hard to strengthen our national security, to improve access to quality, affordable health care, to help young people afford the high cost of education, and to create good-paying jobs. I am proud of my 98-percent lifetime voting record of support for small business, which is the backbone of our state’s economy.
I am an independent voice for Maine because I know neither party holds a monopoly on good ideas. In keeping with the example set by my inspiration in public service, Margaret Chase Smith, I have never missed a roll call vote. I work hard for you day and night.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I have been given to serve you in Washington. I ask for your support on November 4th.

Susan Collins
United States Senator

The truth on Question 1

To the editor:
Question 1 wording: Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that change the method of funding Maine’s Dirigo Health Program through charging health insurance companies a fixed fee on paid claims and adding taxes to malt liquor, wine and soft drinks?
A campaign on behalf of Question 1 is inviting Mainers to give themselves a very small tax break — at the expense of Maine’s efforts to reform health care. Taxes are always criticized, and some people will vote to repeal any tax — no matter what it is for. This seems to be the approach pursued by Fed Up With Taxes, an advocacy group bankrolled by Pepsi, Coca-Cola, the alcohol industry and other special interests.
Their advertisements leave out some important information. The money raised by the beverage tax will go directly to Dirigo Health, a program that has already successfully reduced health care costs and provided health coverage to uninsured Mainers. The state’s approach to health care isn’t perfect, but Dirigo’s accomplishments are real, and they offer a striking contrast to the endless bad news from the commercial health insurance market.
For instance, the state has seen its proportion of uninsured residents decline over the past five years – while other states saw their number of uninsured residents rise. During this same period, cost-cutting at Maine hospitals has saved the health care system more than $110 million. Also, Dirigo is now set up to protect everyone who buys health insurance in the open market from drastic price hikes. And to some extent the DirigoChoice plan is a competitive force in Maine’s very small health insurance market.
For 18,000 adults and children, Dirigo’s most significant accomplishment is making health insurance available to those who otherwise might not have it. Those who lack health insurance are much more vulnerable to chronic and preventable ailments, and the cost of a serious illness can very easily bankrupt a family and tear it apart. Unfortunately, enrollment in DirigoChoice is capped because it’s short of funds. This has meant that the program can reach only a limited number of people.
Speaking of pennies, the beverage tax enacted by the Legislature this spring will cost consumers little – 1 cent on a glass of wine, 3 cents on a bottle of beer, and 4 cents on a can of soda. Convenience stores, pizza parlors and distributors complain that they have been unfairly singled out, but this is a group that has no problem passing on beverage price increases. An economic study funded by Fed Up with Taxes claimed the tax would cost Mainers about $40 million a year, but opponents put the statewide cost of the beverage tax at less than $17 million.
Dirigo’s other source of funding will be from health insurers who have benefited from health care savings achieved by the program.
Overturning a law of the Legislature should not be done lightly. Dirigo funding was studied at length, and in 2007 a Blue Ribbon Commission recommended the beverage tax as one of several options. The issue was discussed further at legislative hearings and enacted this April.
Fed Up With Taxes can pretend that this is an expensive mandate passed by the Legislature in the dark of night. However, the reality is that it provides modest funding to continue Maine’s important work on health care reform. Remember: 1 cent for a glass of wine; 3 cents for a bottle of beer; 4 cents for a can of soda. More health care coverage for working Mainers.

    This article was originally published by another writer in the Biddeford Journal Tribune. It is brought to you by ASAP Coalition. For more information about ASAP Coalition, call 521-2408 or visit www.asapcoalition.com

Facts on Wellness Center

To the editor:
I am writing regarding the letter in the October 22 edition of the Aroostook Republican by Reginald Reed concerning the completion of the Wellness Center. He stated that the Wellness Center would be 99 percent paid off by 2009. That “in fact, it could possibly be totally paid off in 2009.”
This statement is not a true statement. In July of 2006, voters approved a 5-year payment schedule for the Wellness Center of approximately $270,000 per year. The first payment was made in 2007, second in 2008, third to be in 2009, fourth to be in 2010 and fifth and final payment in 2011. Remember when past city councilors told us “it wasn’t going to cost us a dime to build,” and yet we still have over three-quarters of a million dollars left to pay. There is the idea by some past and current councilors that we can all have something for nothing. No, we still have three-quarters of a million dollars to go.

Mark Goughan

Can we afford Wellness?

To the editor:
Well folks there isn’t much more one can say before election that hasn’t already been said — that we haven’t heard in past elections. Clearly we are all going to be living in utopia if all the promises made by the politicians are kept. Finding the money to support these promises is another story.
That being said I’d like to respond to Mr. Reginald Reed’s article in last week’s paper. We all know that Mr. Reed is running for city council again with a carved-in-stone agenda to get phase II and III of the recreation center come hell or high water regardless of whether we need it or not. His philosophy may work well in places like Westmanland where they don’t have a recreation center and their economy could use a jumpstart and also which may inspire a lot of professional people who may be attracted to their little community by such an enterprise. Also he doesn’t have much regard for the businesses out there in the private sector who already provide these amenities and pay a large portion of the property taxes in this community that support its infrastructure. This project would be in direct competition with them thus affecting their income to the point where they may have to go out of business.
One only has to look at Presque Isle who is now supporting an indoor pool that they would gladly give to Caribou because of the exorbitant cost and underused facility that is a drain on their coffers. The addition of an indoor pool at the University of Maine also added to their problem due to client loss to that tax-supported facility.
Yes the so called professionals at Cary Medical Center have indoctrinated Mr. Reed well with what they wanted him to hear. Having always worked in government services which are paid for with private sector hard-earned dollars, Mr. Reed has never worried about where his next paycheck would come from. As a typical government servant, he thinks the private sector can afford anything and everything they want.
I also want to say that this discussion about the recreation center came up one day in my doctor’s office. My doctor, who I consider my friend, stated his affirmation for the need of this project and that in his eyes it was essential to attract doctors to this community and that my way of thinking reflected that it was very apparent that we traveled in different circles. This took me by surprise and I sensed an implication that my friends were of different quality than his.
I was at a loss for words. Can you imagine Wilfred Martin at a loss for words? I should have said to him that maybe, once in a while if he could come down to our level and break away from his circle of confidants, this exposure may enlighten him to the realities of what is important to our way of life in the real world and what we can afford and enjoy.
There are three things we have to consider here. Do we want to take the socialistic attitude and take away from the private sector using hard earned tax dollars? Do we have access to the same product in the private sector that serves us well? Can we afford to go down this road without future repercussions of a lot higher taxes?
I think we can all sit down and think rationally about what we are considering on doing and may come up with a different view about this situation. Contrary to what some might think, I’m very open minded about this undertaking by some special interests in this community. It should not cost the property taxpayers who don’t use it one cent. It should be pay-as-you-go.
This constitutes a business plan that would establish feasibility. Organization such as the YMCA who have extensive background in this area of expertise may provide such a service to us to see if it’s really feasible due to our circumstances. It must also not be in direct competition with the private sector who have enough competition out there without more government interference. Then and only then would I offer a compromise.
I realize my opinion may not mean much but you got it anyway. Only in this great land of America can we do this without repercussion. Don’t forget to get out and vote, and think about those who sacrificed a lot of their time without the benefit of pay in a lot of cases. I for one will proudly vote for Doug Morrell, Mark Goughan, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Danny Deveau, John Frary etc.

Wilfred Martin

Elected officials misguided

To the editor:
Many years ago I read an article that stated, when elected officials realize they can appropriate money for themselves, their friends and pet projects, a democracy cannot survive. The powers of a democracy are divided into three distinct departments: legislative, executive and judicial.
It appears to me that a large percentage of our elected officials do not understand what their duties are. I learned early in my political career that the people that elected me were my boss and it was very important to keep in touch with them all on important issues. I also learned that the legislative department was the most important part of government. The legislature makes all the laws and controls the money.
When both the legislative and executive departments are controlled by one party it results in the equivalent of a dictatorship. During the Great Depression back in the 1930s,  a law was passed that gave low-income people a new home based on no money down, no money to pay the mortgage and absolutely no regulations. At that time we had a Democrat President.
During the Clinton Administration, President Clinton was in favor of putting regulations on the mortgage program. A bill was introduced to regulate the program – the Republicans voted for the bill and the Democrats voted it down. When President Bush was elected eight years ago, he found serious problems with the mortgages on the homes that were given to low-income people. Shortly after President Bush was elected, Senator McCain introduced a bill to regulate the mortgage program. The Republicans voted for the bill and again the Democrats turned it down. At this point in time, who was responsible for the mortgage problem?
When President Bush asked for permission to put troops in Iraq, Republicans and many Democrats voted in favor. Since that time many Democrats voted in favor of funding the war and played politics by blaming President Bush for spending the money and everything else he has done. While President Bush was taking abuse for working to win the war, Senator Barack Obama served in the Senate and received a large amount of money from the mortgage program and millions from the Pork Barrel. Where did the money go? He also gave Acorn, a large organization paid by tax dollars, $800,000. Presently Acorn is using taxpayer dollars to register Democrats in an attempt to help Senator Obama win the election. They are presently being investigated for registration fraud.
When the mortgage program ran out of money, without any regulations, the banks that were handling the mortgage program sold mortgages to banks in other countries. Finally, many banks went bankrupt both in the United States and other countries. When this happened, without regulations to go by, the people running U.S. banks took millions for themselves and closed the banks. This left the banks holding a trillion dollars in mortgages and no money to loan and keep the economy going.
The U.S. Government has borrowed $700 billion dollars and loaned it to banks so that they could loan money to businesses and keep the economy going. If what has been done does not work we may be heading into another depression. If you follow through what I have written, you will find that a bill that was passed during the last depression during the ‘30s without any regulations may be responsible for another depression in 2008.

Jim McBreairty


Sutherland is effective

To the editor:
Last week I had the pleasure to work with Rep. Patricia Sutherland on an issue facing our Main Street Mobil on the Run store in Presque Isle.
We were contacted by the Maine Department of Transportation and told our permit applications for a similar convenience store in Augusta, as well as projects in several other Maine communities, were going to be put on hold until we undertook significant and expensive changes to Main Street in Presque Isle. And we had less than a week to agree to their demands before the lack of permits in Augusta would scuttle the project.
The changes being requested by MDOT were against the city of Presque Isle’s wishes. And we believed they were unnecessary as well. But without MDOT’s permits, we couldn’t move forward in our plans for business growth in Maine.
Because of her past support on other issues, I mentioned our problem to Rep Sutherland. She said, “I think I can help.” And she did. She vigorously attacked our problem, working out the nuances between the city of Presque Isle’s wishes, our needs, and the request of MDOT. She even called the Governor’s office to request Gov. Baldacci’s support in helping us clear the hurdles that were going to limit our Maine-owned, Maine-based company from continuing to invest in the economy of Maine. Rep. Sutherland immediately understood our predicament and worked diligently to protect our long-term growth strategy.
Pat Sutherland was a great help last week. Her involvement meant a reversal in MDOT’s demands before our Augusta deadline passed. And because of her understanding and commitment to business development and expansion, we are able to move forward with our growth strategy across Maine this year and next.
You have a great advocate for your community and for Maine business in Rep. Sutherland. If I lived in District 7, I’d be voting for Pat. She is the type of leader this state needs in Augusta.

Robert Tracy,
executive vice president
RH Foster Energy


Voter apathy everywhere

To the editor:
Last week I was “lunching” with some friends and we got to talking about the upcoming election. One of my friends announced that she has never registered nor has she ever voted. I couldn’t believe it. I said, “Don’t you know there are people living in certain countries that would love to have this right and this privilege to vote?” She said to me, “And it is my right and my choice not to vote. I don’t complain and I don’t care.” I knew then that was one battle that I was not going to win, so we moved on.
Later that day I thought about voter apathy, not just in Caribou, but really just about everywhere. A lot of people don’t complain and just don’t care, and the numbers usually show that. Now I know this election should be a whopper, so I don’t think turnout will be the issue here. But, there is another kind of voter apathy among us. One that is not really apparent.
As I have mentioned before, my father served on the Caribou City Council for many years, and with the exception of one election where the first woman who ever ran for council beat him, he won every election. In fact, the very next year after his loss (and we did kid him about it a lot) he ran again and won handily. I asked him how come he kept winning. He didn’t campaign, didn’t put up signs, just put his name on the ballot. He told me it was because his last name began with A, so he was on the top of the ballot. I got to thinking, “Wow, can it be just that simple?”
I Googled this scenario, and I found information that this is, indeed, a voting practice. I found this 1910 quote from Woodrow Wilson: “When a voter does not know a great deal about the derivation and character and association of every nominee, then, in nine out of 10 cases, he will simply mark the first name under each office.” Other research I found supported this theory. Isn’t this a form of voter apathy?
There are three excellent candidates whose names are listed towards the middle of the ballot for the City’s local election: incumbents Mark Goughan, Doug Morrell, and former city councilor Phil McDonough. I have had many conversations over the years with Mark and Phil, and I know that they take the time to study the issues, and their votes are cast with the greatest of care. In fact, I once chided Mark for voting “no” so many times on items such as the financials. I told him I wished he wouldn’t vote “no” just for the sake of voting “no”, and he told me that he would never do something like that. Often times there are discrepancies in the financials, and until they can be explained or corrected, he will never vote to accept those financials.
And Doug Morrell has worked diligently toward protecting the interests of the taxpayers of this city. Now, maybe you may think that his actions can be a little unorthodox, or that he and Mark can be argumentative at times, but, as Mark has pointed out many times before, when one is in the minority, trying to get one’s point across can be very, very frustrating. And sometimes that frustration shows, whether they want it to or not.
I would love to see our city government follow protocol and not make up the rules as it goes along. If a councilor wants to explain a vote, he or she should be allowed to do so. It is our right as the taxpayer to hear the reasons for this vote, whether we agree or not. I certainly do not always agree with my three choices.
I would also love to see a city government that is transparent, one in which all councilors and the public will know about any and all meetings being held, whether “special” or not, and votes being cast. And hopefully, we will be able to see and hear each meeting clearly, as has not been the case of late.
I would love to see a city government that works toward making our community appealing and inviting, one that welcomes new businesses and new residents and helps, rather than hinders, their efforts to make Caribou their home. I truly believe that these three are our best bet for just such a government.

Joan Theriault


City staff deserve respect

To the editor:
On September 19, 2008, my employment with the City of Caribou as Community Development Director was terminated by City Administration when I was unable to return to work after several months as a result of medical issues, which I hope and believe will be resolved in the near future. While I agree that the workload associated with my position needed attention, I do not understand why I was not given temporary assistance while out on medical leave as has been done for other employees.
However, I believe that it was no coincidence that I was forced to hire legal assistance (at my own expense) twice over the last two years when salary increases were given based upon “formulas” and “studies.” The first time it happened in 2006, it was explained as an “oversight” and the second time was this year and no explanation was given except that the formula did not “work” for me. Although I was successful in obtaining an equitable raise after a long and expensive process in both instances, such conflicts are not conducive to cultivating a working relationship with Administration. Whatever the truth may be, the end result remains the same and one can draw their own conclusions as to the reasoning behind the decisions that were made.
I do want to take this opportunity to thank my co-workers, businesses, citizens, various committees (most especially the Downtown Committee), contractors, consultants and engineers who have assisted me over the last eight years, as well as the employees of the various federal, state and local agencies (especially Maine Office of Community Development and USDA Rural Development) whom I have had the pleasure to work with in obtaining over $6 million in grant funding (which leveraged over 100 percent of that amount of funding from other public and private sources) for various projects that benefited the city and its residents.
I would be remiss if I did not also mention the Congressional Delegation (Senator Collins, Senator Snowe and Congressman Michaud) and especially their local staff (both former and present) who have guided me through the oftentimes cumbersome “bureaucratic red tape” that is necessary to obtain Federal funding and who have untiringly supported my ideas and efforts. I have made many life-long friends and I hope to be working with them again in the future.
I love my community and loved my job and it is difficult to accept that I will no longer be working on behalf of the community. I would like to think that my contributions have made a difference over the years because it has been more than just a job to me and I have enjoyed the successes as well as the challenges along the way. I have no immediate plans for the future except to regain my health and then to find employment that will allow me to continue to advocate for the communities and businesses in making the area a better place to live.
In closing, I ask that you please take the opportunity to vote on November 4th; not only in the Presidential race, but as importantly, for your local governance. Although I will not publicly endorse any candidate, I ask that you take the time to educate yourself about the candidates and what they will do for you as a taxpayer. I do not believe in micromanagement, but I do believe that the City Council is our voice and they need to be asking questions and obtaining answers about the city’s operations that are being funded through our hard earned tax dollars. Every citizen has a responsibility to know their leaders and the management philosophy and practices of our government.
Lastly, I believe that although Caribou may have nearly all of the physical attributes of a great community, it’s often overlooked that its greatest asset is the employees on the front lines and they should all be treated with respect and recognized for the value that they bring to the operations of the city on a daily basis.
It has been a pleasure and an honor to work for you on your behalf and I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve you.

Mary A. Walton