Letters to the editor, The Courier-Gazette

Feb 22, 2013

Legally compromised

After doing some investigation on a letter sent to the citizens of the town of Union, dated Oct. 13, 2012, a procedural discrepancy was noted and the following letter was sent to the town manager and the selectmen:

"Last fall the select board sent a letter to the citizens of the town of Union. The letter, dated Oct. 13, 2012, advocated for an affirmative vote on a ballot article regarding the elected or appointed status of the treasurer's position. It is my opinion, based on the following supporting materials, that this decision of the selectmen was poorly advised.

A variety of state and federal courts have held that government officials may not spend public funds to advocate for or against a ballot issue unless there is an opportunity for other groups or persons to express an opposing viewpoint utilizing the same resources. Please review the following court cases in support of this issue.

*Bonner-Lyons v. School Committee of City of Boston, 480 F.2d 423 (1st Cir. 1973)

*Greenberg v. Bolger, 496 F. supp. 756 (E.D.N.Y. 1980)

*Citizens to Protect Public Funds v. Board of Ed. Parsippany-Troy Hills TP, 98 A.2d 673 (N.J. 1953)

Based on these decisions, the use of town funds (letterhead, postage, etc.) to support the ballot question that was coming up for a vote places the town in a legally compromised position. Going forward, I hope the town of Union will consider how it might appropriately keep voters informed while keeping in mind the propriety of, and risks associated with, advocating for or opposing a ballot issue."

Doris Vertz

Union

Lottery system flawed

What a good idea the state of Maine has come up with this time. Now the state has decided to make a lottery for the elver/eeling fisheries. Which one will be next?

I, as others, have been commercial fishermen all our lives. We have been paying taxes and buying commercial fishing licenses in Maine and putting up with the increases in fees every time they wanted more money and did not want to officially raise taxes. Some of us pay thousands of dollars to obtain the many licenses needed to make a living in a year. Some times we can't afford all the licenses we need so we have to make choices on the ones most valuable for us in a specific year. Never thinking we would have to make choices on the ones most valuable in a specific year. This, because the state's Department of Marine Resources only lets you know of the loss after, not before with the excuse of when a fishery can handle it you can then get back your license. This has led to a lottery system instead and opens the fisheries to anyone and not to just fishermen that have fished all their lives. Fishermen depend on being able to fish from fishery to fishery to make fishing work and to make their livelihood and therefore to be able to pay their fees and taxes.

To be fair then why don't we make all state of Maine jobs a lottery system also. It costs $27 to get into the elver/eel lottery, which gave you a chance to become a commercial fisherman. What would the prices of the lottery tickets be work for the governor's job and for the jobs of his cabinet members? How about for other state jobs? We could hold the lottery once a year for all the state's jobs. This would more than likely do away with taxes as money would roll in when the state jobs board was posted. What the jobs were paying could be run on the news channels to ensure lots of public participation. Then maybe career fishermen would be considered as having a real job like state job holders are!

Dale "Jap" Witham

Bremen

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