Local teens continue to show leadership, engagement

May 16, 2019

The Maine Teen Advocacy Coalition has shown that it was not a one-issue, one-moment and then forgotten organization.

This group, which started in Camden, has been active for more than a year now, staging protests around important issues, including climate change and gun violence, and sending representatives to the Statehouse to provide testimony on key bills. It has a Facebook page that provides regular updates on the causes it is involved in.

We first started writing about the coalition in March 2018 after group leader and now Camden Herald columnist Pearl Benjamin, then 16, delivered a speech at the State House calling for more to be done to protect teens from school shootings.

This is the definition of grassroots political engagement, and we continue to commend the efforts of the coalition and its leaders. Our society faces tough challenges, and it is important that people educate themselves on the issues, speak out for what is right and vote. A strong youth movement could do great things in this country and around the globe.

On Friday, May 10, Maine Teen Advocacy Coalition co-founders Iris Luce and Pearl Benjamin went to the Statehouse to testify on bill LD 379 - An Act to Protect Children by Requiring the Safe Storage of Loaded Firearms, according to the group's Facebook page. Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, put forward this important bill.

"This is an extremely important common sense gun control measure that would support gun owners taking responsibility for their weapons and keeping all children safe," the group states. "Every day, 8 children are killed in an accidental shooting from unsecured firearms in the home. 4.6 million children live with unlocked, loaded guns in their homes, and 1 out of 3 homes with kids have guns. It’s time to take action and protect children and teens like us who are in danger every day. We cannot lose momentum on gun control issues, especially as school shootings continue across the country. Please stay updated on gun control movements in the legislature, and SHOW UP to public hearings! We need support on these issues now more than ever, as so many gun control bills are finally entering the legislature!"

Our form of government only works if you stay engaged and participate. Our local smart, articulate, active teenagers offer us bright hope for the future.


We don't need another war

As we were going to press this week, report after report was showing escalating tensions with Iran.

The question we find ourselves asking is who would benefit from a war with Iran?

We know from our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan that war is costly in lives and money, money that could be used at home to fund schools, health care, infrastructure and better lives for Americans. What do we have to show for these wars, and what does strategic victory look like in the Middle East? Are we more secure? Are we in better standing on the world stage? Have we supported and gained allies?

How many of our sons and daughters who have been going to their proms and are looking forward to graduation in a month will have to die in the Middle East?

The most obvious benefit of war with Iran is that it would make it easier to reelect Donald Trump, who could then be seen as a wartime leader and argue "Now is not the time to change drivers."

When you are talking about sending thousands of people to their death, we need to have a better reason than consolidation of political power. There are diplomatic solutions available to us. Let Trump instead run on the slogan, "I kept the peace," or step aside for someone who seeks to preserve human lives around the world.

Let your leaders in Washington know you do not support war with Iran.


RSU 13 should look at administrative costs

RSU 13 will go to the voters with a budget that will mean steep tax increases this year.

As it ncreases our costs and makes it harder for those on fixed incomes or low incomes to remain in the Midcoast, it is also cutting the quality of the education provided by laying off teachers.

The question we have is, have RSU 13 leaders looked hard enough at administrative costs? Rather than removing teachers on the front lines of education, maybe the time has come to eliminate costly administration positions. How many assistant principals or curriculum coordinators are really needed?

Until the budget is brought into a more reasonable rate of increase, local residents should vote against it at the polls.

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