Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor Jan. 14

Jan 15, 2021

Collins should resign

Sen. Susan Collins should follow the lead of other principled Republicans like Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan and former N.H. GOP Chair Jennifer Rios and resign from the Republican Party.

As an Independent, she could represent the people of Maine without allying herself with a party that has become synonymous with Donald Trump and his hateful legacy. Trump is not an outlier in the party: more than half of the Republican representatives and more than a fifth of Republican Senators in Congress supported the President's unfounded claims of an illegitimate election, and he was twice nominated by the party to be their presidential candidate. Almost the entire Republican congressional delegation defended Trump vigorously when he was impeached a year ago for.

Sen. Collins needs to distance herself from a party that has become disreputable, and that by her own admission does not represent her values. She needs to declare herself an Independent.

Steve Lindsay

Tenants Harbor

Rockland Planning Board and cell tower approval

It is my understanding that the Rockland Planning Board did not grant approval for the cell tower to be built on Camden Street. This action comes after a public report by the City Manager of lawyer’s advice that the cell tower company had the right to build a tower at the Camden Street location. This opinion was prepared by two lawyers and in consultation with City Council.

It might be safe to say that few people living in Rockland want a huge cell tower at the Camden Street location. But our City regulations were not prepared to prevent this.

The Planning Board still wants to prevent the cell tower from being built and has asked City Council to provide them with funding for more lawyer fees to argue their position.

This is not the time to fight a losing battle and certainly not to use City funds to do so. We are a small city already struggling with budgets and taxes. Now, we are facing pandemic levels of struggle for everyone. We do not need to waste money going up against deep pockets.

Why is the Planning Board rejecting City advice and requirement? They have now caused the cell tower company to sue the city, forcing the city to spend our tax dollars to defend itself because the Planning Board could not agree with what two lawyers saw earlier; the City cannot win this battle.

The citizens of Rockland need to know the Planning Board’s obstinance means spending taxes on lawyers for a long battle against deep pockets determined to build what they are allowed by law and ordinance. Our City Manager and Council settled this issue to avoid wasteful spending.

If this argument is a power struggle among the Planning Board, the City Manager and City Council, it needs to stop. Does the City Council have the power to dismiss or appoint members of the Planning Board? Is this an extraordinary situation that warrants such an action to prevent unnecessary spending for this battle of wills?

How do we stop futile spending now? Do we talk to the Planning Board members to convince them to approve the tower? Does the City Council dismiss the appointed Planning Board members that do not agree to approve the tower and appoint new Planning Board members?

Is this a compelling argument to hire a full-time city planner to promptly bring the comprehensive plan to completion, review the ordinances and guide City Council to pass protections we need for the future?

Or do we limp along and wait for the next oversight, still using old regulations, old ordinances and old codes that will allow someone to build something else we do not want in a place that we do not want it?

In the meantime, the Planning Board has put us in a real pickle that is about to cost us a lot of money, unless they approve the cell tower on Camden Street, even though we do not want it there.

Connie Hayes

Rockland

Aiding asylum seekers in Maine

Eighty-five families of asylum seekers from the tropical-climate countries of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have arrived in southern Maine since the pandemic began, and these families are now coping with their first Maine winter. Of the 296 individuals in the families, 162 are children.

The families came to America because of civil turmoil and violence in their home countries. They traveled to Maine because of our state's reputation for hospitality and caring, and to join Maine’s growing community of recent immigrants. By federal law, asylum seekers are not permitted to work until one year after filing an official asylum application.

The restriction on work means all of needs of the recent arrivals must be met by voluntary community efforts, such as food pantries, soup kitchens and municipal General Assistance, which provides aid in voucher form.

Because of great need on the part of so many during the pandemic, asylum seekers are moving into housing without basic household items like bedding, pots and pans, that many of us take for granted. They also do not have ready access to the nutritious foods they are familiar with from Angola or the DRC, such as cassava, plantains and dried fish.

The New Mainers Coastal Task Force, formed by residents of Camden, Rockport, Rockland, Thomaston and other nearby communities, is teaming up with the Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition (MIRC) to raise funds for asylum seekers to ease their transition to apartment life.

MIRC’s Executive Director Mufalo Chitam has suggested that gift cards from Hannaford Supermarkets or Renys department stores would help relieve distress among asylum seekers. Most reside within walking distance of these stores, and the Hannaford store in Portland sells food the recent arrivals yearn for. MIRC is the convener of an organization of 70 nonprofits and community groups working on behalf of immigrant communities across Maine.

The New Mainers Coastal Task Force is a recent iteration of a group formed in 2016 to support a family of 15 DRC refugees who were resettled in Thomaston. That family is now fully independent, working, paying taxes and fluent in English. The New Mainers Coastal Task Force is committed to working to help other New Mainer families.

Camden and Thomaston libraries agreed to be drop-off points for the gift cards. Bring them before Friday, Feb. 26, to these locations. Or mail checks or gift cards to NMCTF, c/o Squibbs, 24 Central St., Camden ME 04843. Checks should be made out to St. John’s Church with “New Mainers” on the memo line. Thomaston's St. John's Church serves as the treasurer for NMCTF.

For more info about this effort or the New Mainers Coastal Task Force, contact Brenda Squibb at bjsquibb@gmail.com.

Stu Kantor

Camden

The time to protect our democracy is upon us

This is a dangerous time for the future of our nation and for the democratic principles and constitutionally defined framework that are its foundation.

After lying repeatedly about the outcome of last November’s presidential election, President Trump recently attempted to convince the Georgia Secretary of State to falsify vote counts to help himself stay in power.

On Jan. 6, Mr. Trump incited right-wing extremists to violent acts of domestic terrorism and insurrection in a coup attempt against Congress. Those terrorists gained control of the House and Senate chambers and offices, only failing because the power of Congress rests not in the halls but in its elected members, who were removed to safety as control of the building was lost.

Our democracy survived that failed coup attempt, but the danger to our nation does not end there. If we fail today to hold a sitting president answerable for his attacks on our democracy and for undermining our Constitution instead of defending it, then we are telling the world our Constitution is a nice idea, but not one worth defending.

Failure to act makes a mockery of every elected official’s oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Sen. Susan Collins famously voted against impeachment last year, saying that the president had “learned a pretty big lesson.” Unfortunately, the lesson he learned was that he could continue to act against the nation’s interests with impunity. We urge Sen. Collins to show she has learned a lesson, that this president will not stop his dangerous behavior and must be removed from office before the damage is irreparable.

It is the sworn duty of the vice president, other Cabinet members, and both houses of Congress to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The time has come in which inaction is a failure to honor that oath.

Only by exercising the constitutionally provided means for the Cabinet through Article 25, or for Congress through impeachment and conviction, can we make clear to every person in these United States, and to the rest of the world, that our Constitution is worth defending, and that insurrection and treason will be answered swiftly and justly in defense of our nation.

It has been reported that the vice president has indicated a lack of interest in pursuing Article 25. We thank Sen. Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree for publicly calling for that action.

We call upon Sen. Susan Collins to join them in taking a stand for her country and urging Vice President Pence and the president’s Cabinet to do their duty under Article 25 immediately to find the president unfit to fulfill his duties, thus transferring power to the vice president. Failing success in that endeavor, we ask that all our members of Congress support impeachment and removal of the president through the impeachment process.

We cannot have a person occupying the office of the presidency of the United States who has encouraged acts of sedition and treason against our country.

Submitted by Chris Johnson

On behalf of 168 signed area residents

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