Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, June 14

Jun 14, 2018

Telling the story VillageSoup wouldn't

After seeing the front page of last week’s paper with its sensationalizing headline and photos of an orchestrated protest about a conservative activist training, I feel the duty to set the record straight.

[Reporter Stephen] Betts’ error-filled story, "Rockland citizens protest group with anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant views," was a one-sided display of attack “journalism.”

Betts ignored one of the most basic rules of journalism when he slandered Maine First Project without ever reaching out to the organization for comment. Anyone interested in learning an objective truth could easily look up Maine First Media's website online to see its list of 20 objectives, four of which relate to immigration. Let’s keep in mind that advocating for legal immigration does not make one racist.

Having attended the activist training course in question, I can attest to Betts’ complete misunderstanding of the event and the organization.

A group of about a dozen conservative activists who love Maine and want to put her residents first met at a hotel conference room.

We had an opening prayer and pledged allegiance to the American flag. How radical of us!

Next, legislator Rep. Paula Sutton of Warren spoke for several minutes on the urgency of defeating Question 1. Of course, Question 1 is the Ranked Choice Voting scam funded by out-of-state dark money to force a failed California system down the throats of Mainers.

From there, a team of Maine First Project political experts detailed the best techniques to magnify our voice to lawmakers and to influence policy change for the betterment of the hardworking men and women of our beautiful state.

Then they provided us with examples of these techniques succeeding.

Throughout the presentation, we were updated about the threats of, and the eventual protest taking place at the Rockland Public Library.

The meeting was made private solely for the purpose of keeping out individuals who would only attend with the intention of disrupting. The Maine First Project team had a lot of ground to cover. Liberal outbursts would have wasted the time of all the patriots who dedicated a gorgeous Saturday to discovering new methods to help the state we love so much.

It was a room full of love for Maine and America. There was no hate in that hotel conference room.

The only hate I saw last weekend was at the library protest and in the words on the VillageSoup.

Linda Bodnar

St. George

Another view about Another View

A recent Another View column lauded the 2017 federal tax cut legislation as a boon to the American economy and its workers. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office — the official scorekeeper in these matters — projects a bump in economic growth over this year and next due to the tax cuts. However, the reduced tax revenues, coupled with new spending approved by Republicans, Democrats and President Trump, will result in increased annual federal budget deficits for the next 10 years. Together, these deficits will add more than $12 trillion to the national debt.

The Economist newspaper estimates that American businesses will realize a savings of $100 billion in taxes this year. Will that extra money go into productive investment and higher wages? It’s too soon to tell for sure. Many well known companies announced bonuses for employees shortly after the tax act was signed into law. While I would be the last person to minimize the importance of an unexpected $750 or $1,000 in anyone’s paycheck, it’s important to note that this is a one-time payment. There’s no commitment on the company’s part to do this again next year. A bonus is not a wage increase.

Nationally, wages have begun to creep upwards by 2 to 3 percent. This is as likely to be due to declining unemployment as to corporate generosity. We shouldn’t expect cost-conscious executives to offer higher wages than necessary to hire the people they need to run their businesses.

Investment in buildings, equipment and training raises employee productivity, which leads to higher wages. Corporate investment appears to be up this year, but it is concentrated in the large tech companies, such as Microsoft and Apple. Relatively less is going into blue-collar industries.

In fact, a good deal of these newfound corporate earnings have gone into share buybacks and dividend payments. That’s great if you happen to be among the 10 percent of households which, together, own 84 percent of stocks.

No, I’m not a fan of "trickle down" economics, whereby the tax bills of corporations and high income earners are reduced with the expectation that these folks will invest and spend more to the benefit of everyone. There is no historical or theoretical evidence to support this proposition.

Rather, tax cutting is the one-size-fits-all solution to all economic problems, according to a certain segment of political conservatives. Their goal is to pare back the size of government to the bare minimum of functions, such as defense and domestic safety. In most other matters, you’re on your own. This isn’t an inspiring vision for a wealthy, developed nation.

Steve Mansfield


Union spending articles deserve scrutiny

Residents of the town of Union will have the opportunity to let their votes count at the annual town meeting Monday June 18, at 7 p.m. at the William Pullen Municipal Building. The meeting warrant can be found online at

Sometimes, increases in spending are necessary for town government to function. However, we believe in responsible spending in order to keep property taxes in Union affordable. We have concerns about the following warrant articles being voted on at town meeting. These issues are important to the future of our town.

Article 4 is a request for $15,000 for an engineering study of the Thompson Community Center building. We do encourage residents to vote for this article. The information gained from an engineering study will be critically important to understanding the building’s integrity, as well as identifying any needed repairs. Having these facts will help Union residents in making informed decisions concerning the future of the town’s community center. The engineering study of this town-owned community center needs to be completed before moving forward on any new property purchase (see Article 38, part D).

Article 7 is a request for $35,000 for the purchase of an electronic informational sign at the Town Office. An electronic sign is not needed, as a functional informational sign is currently in place.

Article 38, part D, asks Union residents to approve taking funds from the William Pullen Trust in the amount of $222,000 so the town can purchase the Brooder House property at the corner of Barrett Hill Road and Route 17 for the purpose of building a recreational complex for the town. Although we do support increased recreational opportunities for both children and adults in Union, we feel that Article 38, part D, should be rejected by the voters. The proposed recreational complex would duplicate existing facilities: ballfield, multipurpose field and walking track.

Loss of tax revenue, safety and cost of building and maintenance are all issues for consideration. Additionally, no estimate of the total cost of this project has yet been provided by the Union Town manager or the Select Board. This article will be discussed late in the meeting, but we hope you will be able to stay until this article comes up.

These important issues need to be addressed by the residents of Union. Please plan to attend the Union town meeting and make your voices heard.

Erik Amundsen

Amy Cornell

Ann Donaldson

Ann Johnson

Martha Johnston Nash

Joe Patricia

Karen Poulin

Carol Watier

Sybil Wentworth


Hunting in the United States of America

Human society has a paranoid-driven history with weapons. NRA members are frightened of losing their "right to bear arms." "HuntKill" jargon explains weaponry's importance: "ChildKill" as children hunted and killed in schools by humans with weapons; "LibidoKill" by sexual predator hunters; "SpeciesKill" as human hunters with weapons to kill other species; "RoadKill" as weapons on wheels.

Hunting in Maine promotes weekly species of choice, including hunting smaller target-practice beings (woodcock, squirrel, porcupine, raccoon, woodchuck, etc.) for hunting bear, moose and deer using inhumane practices (baiting with junk food, leg-hold trapping, and hounding with dogs). Coyotes and crows are hunted 24/7/365. All these concepts use the same sadistic drive, from Linkin Park's "The Catalyst" = "God bless us everyone, we're a broken people living under loaded gun."

Second Amendment zealots refuse to follow the intention of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment rights of others. The Second Amendment cannot supersede, precede or preclude the First Amendment; therefore, the welfare of all U.S. citizens comes first, with the rights of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When hunters are foraging in state and national parks, forests and "refuges," they preclude the rest of us from using these spaces. No single human interest must supersede another/other human interests.

Human hunters want to be Earth's sole predator; they suffer "predatoritis." Other predators have dwindling habitats; a ski-area map of Maine proves this. Human foibles are missing from any debate on guns (anthropocentric attitudes, alcohol, drugs, hormones, misplaced anger, political posturing, and ideology). Fish & Wildlife wardens keep track of bear sows to make sure there will be enough bear offspring to hunt. Human noise machines (ATVs, snowmobiles and watercraft) spew gas and oil 24/7/365 on earth and waterways.

Guns don't kill people; people with guns kill people. Not quite the NRA's "OK Corral-fueled" mentality. The NRA uses donations to legislators to run the United States of America with "MindKill." Guns have become more important than life on Earth. It is time to deal with the realities of gun paranoia, destruction of life and "militia" madness.

Jackie Freitas


Favors Fortman for state Senate

I have known Laura Fortman for many years and worked with her on several projects. Laura is running for state senator in District 13, which includes most of Lincoln County and the towns of Windsor and Washington. She is an honest, thoughtful, intelligent and hardworking woman who cares about the people of Maine. She will work to improve the economy, create good jobs and establish quality health care, child care and elder care.

Most recently, Laura was the deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor, where her objective was to help people receive a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. Gov. John Baldacci appointed Fortman as commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor in 2003, where she had responsibility for almost 500 department employees and chaired the governor’s Workforce Cabinet. Among other things, by 2010 the gender pay gap was decreased and the state created more nontraditional employment services for women. She understands the need for young people to have the education and skills, including technical training, needed to get good-paying jobs.

Laura understands the legislative and policy arena and was a leader in the nonprofit community. Laura knows how Maine state government works and how the federal government works. She works well with others and will work hard in Augusta to improve jobs and the Maine economy. Vote for Laura Fortman for state senator of District 13 in November.

Mary Sheldon


Trekkers says thanks for fifth Thomaston Trek

On behalf of the Trekkers staff, students and the Thomaston Trek 2018 planning committee, I want to express my sincere gratitude to all the local businesses and individuals who helped make our 5th Annual 5K/10K Run & 5K Walk event June 3 such a success. The 36 participating Trekkers students raised more than $8,000 in pledges toward their annual dues. The proceeds from this event will help our students participate in experiential learning programs this year — including life-changing expeditions, community service projects and adventure-based education.

We had 94 registrants, ages 8 to 81, who ran or walked to support our students through this event. We also had 64 volunteers who helped with setup, registration, route monitoring, finish line, photography, timing, the pancake breakfast and cleanup duty.

With all that support, there are lots of people to thank, including: Hank Carey and the Thomaston Academy, Pine Tree Race Services -Wendy Buretta, Knox County EMA, the Thomaston Select Board, Thomaston Police Department, Ann Craven, and all of the other wonderful volunteers, including a small army from First National Bank who worked the registration tables and helped make the entire event run so smoothly. Our thanks also go to Scott Yakovenko and The Slipway Restaurant for providing such a wonderful venue for the pancake breakfast. Many thanks to Sidecountry Sports and Bayoga for providing gift certificates to the prize winners.

This event is made possible through the generous support of our lead sponsor: Applewood Dental. Our supporting sponsors are as follows: Atwood Lobster LLC; Bayoga; Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate – The Masiello Group; Brooks Trap Mill; Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home; Eastern Tire & Auto Service Inc.; Epifanes, NA; FIORE Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars; Fisher Engineering; Glen Cove Dental Associates; Grasshopper Shop; Harbor Builders Associates; Harbor Road Veterinary Hospital; Horch Roofing; Jeff’s Marine; Lonza Rockland Inc; Monhegan Boat Line; Mount Pleasant Dental Care; Mr. Tire Co.; Ocean Pursuits; Once A Tree Inc.; Rockland Savings Bank, FSB; Schooner J. & E. Riggin, Sidecountry Sports and The Slipway. Trekkers truly appreciates the generosity of all our sponsors. We encourage everyone to support these local enterprises.

And, of course, we want to thank all the Thomaston Trek participants, along with the student and parent volunteers, the Trekkers staff and board, and the event committee who helped plan and organize this fundraising event: Michael Hersom, Alli Young, Dee Megna, Paula Coyne and Shari Closter.

As Trekkers celebrates its 25th year of mentoring youth from the Midcoast, we continue to be humbled and amazed by the outpouring of support we receive from the community. It is through the community’s steadfast support that we are able to achieve the Trekkers’ mission of connecting young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and for helping to make this fifth annual Thomaston Trek so amazing.

Amie Hutchison

Executive Director



Comments (2)
Posted by: Lynn Snow | Jun 19, 2018 21:25

I never received a reply from this email sent to Dan Dunkle on June 9, 2018.
Dear Editor,
I understand that there is a lot of news to cover in our area, yet I must admit, I was disappointed that a Village Soup reporter did not personally come to the June 1st event at Thomaston Grammar School.  I had alerted Village Soup about the story several days before.
I have been a teacher at Thomaston Grammar School for many years. I have invited your reporters to come and cover several stories over these years, but it seems that most every time, I'd need to do the press release myself if I wanted coverage.
The event last Friday was special.  The Maine Commissioner of Education attended, our RSU #13 Superintendent was there, and several prominent Thomaston employees and citizens found the time to come.  WABI TV came and featured the story on the Monday night news.  Pen Bay Pilot sent a reporter and the Maine Educator's editor showed up.
Since I wanted the home community to know about the story, I wrote the press release.  I submitted it along with several photos of the event.  With school coming to and end for the summer, things are very busy right now, yet, I took the time to write the release and confirm that the students in the photos were correctly named and able to have their pictures in the paper/online.  I don't know why these photos aren't included with the story. I'm hoping that they'll be printed in the Thursday, June 14th edition of the Courier Gazette.
Furthermore, the last few sentences of my press release was omitted. It recognized Rockland Dunkin Donuts, Rockland Hannaford, and the Thomaston Grammar School parent group as they all were generous to provide complimentary doughnuts on the day of the event which happened to be National Doughnut Day. Why would this information be omitted?
I look forward to your response.
Lynn Snow

Posted by: Stephen Betts | Jun 14, 2018 09:38


In response to your letter, I strongly disagree with your assertion that the article on the Maine First Project was filled with errors.

I contacted Rep. Paula Sutton of Warren who was a participant in the activist training session. Her comments were included in the story. So the story offered balance.

And on the issue of whether Maine First Project -- and its media arm Maine First Media -- is anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim, well I would say the public can judge for itself by going to their web pages and reading their articles and links.

The story was a balanced article with both the protestors and a local participant quoted.

Steve Betts

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