No idling policy

The Camden Select Board should be commended for its unanimous support this week of a proposal to establish a no idling policy for those driving in Camden. This policy will help ensure better air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save people money, and make the town a more pleasant and healthy place.

Whenever you expect to wait more than one minute with your vehicle stopped, turn off your engine (and you’ll improve your fuel economy up to 19 percent, according to the Edmunds.com Web site). Later this year, if Camden’s no idling policy is adopted, signs reminding people not to leave vehicles idling will be posted at the transfer station, post office, banks and other settings.

For those who want to quit idling now, winter is a great time to start. There’s no need to warm up your car on chilly mornings. Tom and Ray Magliozzi of the “Car Talk” radio show say “all you’re doing with a long warm-up is wasting gas, increasing pollution, raising the temperature of the planet and making yourself 10 minutes late for your … appointment.” They advise starting the car, putting it in drive (or first) and driving gently for the first few minutes. If the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can let it idle for a minute or two (to thin out the oil) but that’s the longest you ever need to idle before driving.

Marina Schauffler

Camden

 

Giving Tree

We at The Owl and Turtle Bookshop would like to thank all those in the community who contributed to the success of the Giving Tree this year. With your help every book requested for a child was provided.

Lerner family and staff at The Owl and Turtle Bookshop

Camden

Excellent article

Congratulations to Richard Saltonstall for his superb guest column “The ice is never safe” [see Jan. 6 Herald Gazette].

It is the most comprehensive article on ice safety I’ve ever read, and is a must read for anyone who ventures out on our ponds and lakes.

This article should be published every year in order to make all of us truly safety conscious. We all need to follow his recommendations. Excellent article!

Pen Williamson
Warren


MaineCare limits

The recent debate about MaineCare limits by the Appropriations Committee needs the following input. This letter was sent to each member of the committee.

For the past 20 years, I have worked in the psychotherapy and public mental health field, and I have watched the degradation of the social services safety net. The boom of the 1990s was a time of cutbacks in social services across the nation. The states saw Medicaid as an expense instead of a savings. Maine is now trying to go down this unhealthy path claiming the need to save money. It is one gigantic mistake. Every time a cutback is proposed, mental health and social service providers expound on the need to provide services to difficult to treat populations. The chronically mentally ill will not improve with reduced services. The chemically dependent will not get recovery with less treatment. The most persuasive argument is that these mentally ill and chemically dependent individuals will cost the society more if they are left untreated.

This time the alarm is sounded about the dire straits of the state budget, and the old arguments just don’t matter in the current crisis. The traditional understanding is that every dollar spent the federal government matches that dollar, so spending less money means you lose out on that money. An alternate understanding of losing money is that less treatment means the burden of taking care of our less fortunate falls more and more on the local citizenry.

If a drug addict or a mentally ill person does not get treatment, they get worse. These people end up incarcerated at higher rates than the normal population. Our jail system is a state system and inmates lose their Medicaid while incarcerated. Not only do the citizens lose federal dollars toward treatment, the citizens lose by spending additional money incarcerating them. That is not a savings. A national survey conducted by Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness highlights how economic downturns spike the symptoms of mental illness and chemical dependency. With the current economic downturn being compared to the Great Depression, the numbers of those in mental distress are four times worse. Cutting Medicaid dollars will cost all of us more than we can afford.

Stop the craziness. It is downright insane to think that reducing the number of treatment episodes per year to 18 will save money. People are suffering at the current level of treatment episodes allowed. Now is not the time to make the mistake of cutting the services to our fellow citizens. If not for moral reasons, then for economic reasons. It will not save money, and it will cost more than we can afford.

Paul J. Kemberling

Camden

 

Maine’s future: satisfying non-growth

Dan Bookham, the director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce, gave a provocative talk recently at the Camden Library. It was titled “Is Maine Going Anywhere?” For me, the talk brought up the vision of a different future for our beloved state. Imagine Maine, alone among its 49 siblings, going out on a limb and publicly committing to becoming a non-growth state. We don’t want to grow our GNP. We don’t court hot-shot companies from away. These MBNAs are exactly the sort of phony bubble we don’t want. We tax like heck, on the state level, everything we don’t want to consume more of, like fossil fuel. We subsidize everything we do want more of, everything that adds to our true quality of life.

Imagine that we stop judging ourselves by the usual economic buzz words, but we do pay close attention to one of them: employment. We are committed to allowing everyone living here to have an adequate income. Not big bucks to consume throw-away goods,
but adequate jobs that add quality to our lives.

Can’t you feel us poised, as a state, at a crossroads? We have lots of empty buildings and factories, whose owners wait for the good times to reappear. We have a fairly passive population, without creative leadership, waiting for another economic jag. Perhaps we could goose the machinery into another half-hearted round. But let’s not. Let’s retrain ourselves — our skills, our expectations, our interdependence — to bring us a different future. It will look different. The growth-mongers will call it “stagnation” if the heat isn’t rising.

I used to live in England. From World War II until the late 1970s, you could call it a pretty stagnant place, from an American point of view. But I loved its poky quality of life. People went bowling, rode on trains and buses, fixed their old cars, drank good beer in pubs, had children, dandled grandchildren on their knees. Was that life without glitter frustrating to those who lived it for decades? I was an outsider, taking a three-year break from American craziness. But I wonder.

There’s so much to do. There are so many exciting things. And they all involve switching our thinking. They involve a coming together for a common cause, looking less at our beloved computer screens and DVDs. They require leadership, being moved by a different vision. For instance, why aren’t we in an all-out war against fossil fuels? Why aren’t there free energy auditors cruising the streets, ready to help every single one of us save money by thinking long term?

Can a “free economy” ever prod us to shift gears? Isn’t it always the public sector, as we see in Scandinavia, for example, that champions quality of life? Does it take public money, social overhead, better schools and libraries, public hang-out spaces, free preventive health care and elder care? And what does that mean for a state with a multi-hundred million dollar shortfall?

I don’t know the answer to that puzzle. But I believe that if we want to solve it — if we can see the social bankruptcy of our present norms — we’ll find a way.

Jory Squibb

Camden

Thanks from food pantry

The Come Spring Food Pantry in Union has benefited from several local group efforts to collect food and money again this holiday season. The youth group at the People’s United Methodist Church had a Halloween jack-o-lantern fundraiser. The Medomak Valley Middle School conducted a large food drive that benefited several food pantries in the area. People brought donations to the Union Christmas tree lighting that featured a visit from Father Christmas. The Union Boy Scouts had a food drive that benefited the Thanksgiving baskets from the People’s United Methodist Church, with the overflow coming to the food pantry. In addition the People’s United Methodist Church of Union and the Appleton Village School provided Thanksgiving baskets to families in their towns. There have also been individual donations of food and money brought to the food pantry.

I would like to thank all of the young people, donors, parents, school teachers and youth group volunteer leaders who make all of this possible and provide this positive experience for the young people. You make my job of providing food to our neighbors who need it that much easier through these group efforts.

Thank you.

Carol Watier

Come Spring Food Pantry

 

School consolidation

This is a response to Mr. Betts’ editorial piece [see Jan. 8 Herald Gazette] as it pertains to school consolidation (health care is another debate):

Mr. Betts said that several attendees were concerned about the athletics and the last time this many people turned out for a school board meeting was when Maine School Administrative District 5 wanted to cut football. I must remind Mr. Betts of a few years back when SAD 50 wanted to cut field hockey, a science position, a librarian/aide and a nurse. We too had quite a turnout, and granted some were there for field hockey, but our citizens were just as upset at the cuts to the staff.

About that concern for athletics: What is it that gives one a great sense of community? But to rally around that hometown football, soccer, field hockey, basketball or any other sports team? It is that loss (or potential loss) of community that most folks are sad to lose and are in fear of losing. So please, Mr. Betts, don’t diminish the concern of the people by saying it’s all about sports teams. You, the board and others need to look past those superficial aspects.

I applaud those in the Five Town Community School District who have formed a citizens committee to look at saving the schools, but also saving the towns money, and they are not looking so much at academics and sports, but administration. It seems as if no one is looking at the administration in the regional school unit … but in fact it is increasing the upper level spending (i.e. bus garage, pay increase for the superintendent, two payroll folks).

Let’s get serious, and do what is really right for the children and our communities. It’s not going to be easy, but the outcome of serious hard work is always worth it.

Angela Vachon

St. George

 

Midcoast Community Chorus

What a local treasure we have in the Midcoast Community Chorus! Sunday afternoon at the Strom Auditorium, Mimi Bornstein directed this chorus of all volunteer singers on an exciting musical journey with wonderfully blended voices, providing a full range of energizing, creative and embracing music. She welcomed audience participation, which personified her vision of engaging the entire community. Applause! Applause!

Mary Holt
Camden

 

Pingree’s future

What’s next for House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven? Twelve miles from Rockland by ferryboat, she has already served four consecutive terms. What does she have in mind for the future? Will she plan to still be in the public eye in the year 2010 — somehow serving the public in her district? She will be missed by her fellow lawmakers in Augusta.

Gordon Wotton

Thomaston