When money talks, democracy walks

Last November on Election Day I volunteered to help Maine Citizens for Clean Elections gather signatures at the polls in my town from voters who support a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of overturning the Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. I have thought a lot about my experience that day.

That decision three years ago struck down some of the last limits on money corporations and unions are permitted to spend in support of or in opposition to a candidate or ballot issue. It severely weakened the ability of Congress and the states to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections at all levels. One outcome was that we saw a substantial increase in money spent this past year from larger entities, not all of which has been traceable. Another outcome is that citizens are pushing back with proposals of remedying constitutional amendments.

I was thrilled back on Election Day to find so many voters eager to record their support for such an amendment, but I’ve had a sobering thought since then. Could it be that we will sign anything we think might bring relief from the deluge of campaign mailings, media ads and phone calls? Yes, we want relief from that, but I hope we realize there are much more serious issues here.

Elections do cost money, and having money helps to win. Public for-profit corporations have an obligation to act to maximize profit for their shareholders, which is not the same as acting in the public interest as we expect of our legislators. If it takes a constitutional amendment to clarify that corporations do not have the right to spend money in our elections, then that is what we need to have. A bonus will be relief from numbing campaigns when our legislators are free to craft rules for fair and open campaign funding.

Supporters gathered at the State House at a Jan. 22 rally to hear about the ongoing amendment process in Maine and elsewhere. The rally was organized by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections in Portland. I and 13 other Knox County voters attended, including local Reps. Chuck Kruger and Jeff Evangelos. Sen. Chris Johnson, who represents Washington and Friendship, also attended. Rep. Evangelos is a co-sponsor of a resolution calling on Congress to overturn the Citizens United decision by means of a constitutional amendment. Sen. Ed Mazurek, Rep. Joan Welsh and Rep. Elizabeth Dickerson will also support a resolution.

At the rally we heard about states, 11 so far, and municipalities across the country that have passed resolutions in favor of an amendment. Camden and Thomaston have recently become the 24th and 25th Maine municipalities that have done this. Friendship voters will take up the issue at town meeting March 19.

Please join me in supporting this nonpartisan citizen movement to keep big money out of our elections.

Bill Michaud



No value to you

To the person who came into my work place for a haircut and walked out with my iPod Touch this past Friday, Feb. 22, between the hours of 2 to 4:30 p.m.: I know you have been unable to access it, if you had then the GPS would have been activated. As you was able to tell once you got a chance to look at your prize, the screen was cracked and taped up, home button didn't like to work and my name was engraved in the back. So really, no value to you. For me on the other hand, I have pictures of friends and family, my daughters artwork and videos of special events. So, if you could so kindly return it, you can even place it in my mailbox on Camden Street. It will be very appreciated, no harm, no foul.

Laurie Cole



Cut spending or raise taxes

The Courier-Gazette article of Feb. 28 left out several key points during the discussion or debate with Ed Mazurek and Jeff Evangelos at the Union Town Office. Our elected representatives seemed bent on riling up the citizens against Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget, and getting citizens to drive to Augusta in opposition.

My point with our elected officials was not personal although I can be blunt. When I pointed to the fact that elected officials only know how to tax but not cut, Mazurek was ready to leave and said so. If he is so thin skinned he may question why he ran for office. The state and federal government are bankrupt now. Both Mazurek and Evengelos can only think of raising taxes. My experience as a dairy farmer is, if income is short you cut expenses. I told them both, government officials can’t come to grips with cutting. It will be painful, but if we go through a financial collapse there will be more pain. All public sector employees represented by federal, state, town and school unions, etc. are supported with taxes from the private sector which produces something. Those receiving government assistance now out number those who are working in 11 states and Maine is one of them. Government state and federal has made a lot of promises they will never be able to keep. We are broke.

Gov. LePage is faced with a budget which he needs to balance. He has made his proposal to put it back on the towns since state officials are unwilling to make hard choices. When town taxes go up maybe the taxpayer will have the incentive to make these choices, since the effects of higher real estate property taxes will hit them. Nearly all of our financial problems can be traced back to government and to expect government will solve the problem is idiocy.

Lee Houghton



Safety first

Medical exams should be called for before he or she is hired as a bus driver — tour buses or school buses for the safety of his or her passengers.

I may be wrong but perhaps it is a rule already. I know the parents of school children would feel much better if they know the driver was in good health. Exams should start at the age of 50.

Gordon Wotton