Newspaper Archive of
Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
February 9, 2018     Quoddy Tides
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February 9, 2018

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9 February, 2018 THE QUODDY TIDES " Page 5 EASTPORT TAXPAYERS FOOTING BILLS DUE TO MISMANAGEMENT To the editor: Last fall a Disadvantaged Business En- terprise (DBE) proposal, for work to be done at the Eastport airport, was an- nounced to be available for public review and comment at the City of Eastport of- rice. This seemed to be a state document concerning work funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), state and city. Upon my arrival at city hall I was told [City Manager] Elaine Abbott had it somewhere and she was away at a meet- ing. I pointed out The Quoddy Tides an- nouncement indicating the mandated public review process. The city manager was contacted by telephone, and the docu- ment was found for me. Then, while I was reviewing the pro- posal, a city secretary informed me that Elaine Abbott had called and told her to tell me the DBE plan had already been approved by the FAA. I was curious about why an "approved" document was avail- able for public comment, and I called the telephone number in the announcement. A supervisor in the state office responsible for the DBE publication responded to my inquiry the next day and indicated the doc- ument would only be approved after the review period ended. A few hours later I called Elaine Abbott to relay this information, and she accused me of contacting the attorney general. She then said the Maine Attorney General's Office had just called and warned her not infringe on my civil rights by interfering with the public review process. Ms. Ab- bott next informed me that in the future I would need to go through the city attorney prior to reviewing any other documents because I was "causing too much trouble by commenting on city projects." I then called the state office I'd previ- ously contacted, but they wouldn't give me any information about their communi- cation. I called Elaine Abbott back and said that she needed to check with her sources prior to making accusations about me. She then rescinded her comment about my needing to go through the city attor- ney prior to reviewing documents during the public review and comment process. I'm glad the state had figured the East- port city manager could be interfering with citizens' rights by dissuading a person from participating in a "public review pro- cess." I had wanted to review the DBE proposal because of the opportunity to work on airport-associated projects. Taxpayers are footing huge airport ex- penses, as city council is aware. Taxpayers are also paying more than twice when city projects aren't completed correctly and need to be redone - incorrectly installed riprap. Because of poor project management, at the airport and on other projects, and lack of professional oversight, the East- port taxpayers are suffering to pay large consultant bills. I know because I have successfully managed about $80 million in civil works projects and about $7 mil- lion in Washington County enterprises that employ over a hundred people - Machi- asport and Deblois. Bob Costa Perry HEALTH HAZARD HEROES More opinions - page 6 To the editor: We wish to compliment the Maine De- partment of Environmental Protection (DEP). Matt Levesque, oil and hazardous materials responder from the Maine DEP, came to our home in Quoddy Village from Bangor on a Friday afternoon to assist us with noxious gasoline fumes in our home. The City of Eastport was called first, but the numerous department heads who showed up primarily just stood around and could not smell what we did. Matt Levesque, with his odor-detecting meter, came up with high readings throughout our home. He contacted his supervisor due to the readings, who then also traveled the two hours to Eastport. Matt went to our neighbors to determine if they had gasoline smells and checked under our home. When the supervisor ar- rived in Eastport, he and Matt found an uncapped old sewer pipe in the ground beneath our home. They worked until af- ter 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, two hours from their office, capping the sewer pipe and putting a fan in the crawl space to vent the fumes. Matt Levesque and his supervisor were our heroes, and we com- mend their assistance and concern regard- ing this health hazard. Susan Weaver Kristina Smith Eastport THE IMPORTANCE OF A FREE PRESS To the editor: We have access to so much knowledge, so many scientific papers, so many doc- toral studies, so much history, infinite ac- cess to learning about geography and the cultural mores of other countries. We have many fine journalists who know they have to research the good, the bad and the ugly about every story. Let them speak and write, and let us read and listen before we speak, before we vote. All too commonly, politicians tell us what we want to hear to get our votes, independent of what they actually believe and will do. There is no need to make any judgment or decision in a vacuum. We can pick the brains of experts in all fields in order to reach conclusions on the best way to solve problems, form policies, seek justice for all. Why then do we as a people insist on taking shortcuts and making decisions in ignorance or based on the latest unre- searched tweet or what is heard from the next barstool or rumormonger in the gro- cery store line? Why propagate theories based on ideas solely because they have been spouted by one or the other political party without fact-checking their veraci- ty? Why do we seem to identify ourselves as Republicans or Democrats ahead of de- claring ourselves Americans? Should our loyalty to country not be ahead of blind loyalty to a party? Do today's representatives and voters get their information from unbiased news sources and from doing their homework reading lots of in-depth joumalistic re- porting or does it come from sources un- checked for facts or reasoning? Politics have been around forever, but how many bad decisions over the centuries have been made out of inflated egos or loyalty to a party rather than to our fellow human be- ings? How many politicians weigh a poli- cy or vote for a bill based on its merit as best for the people, not whether it will get them reelected or their dependence on cor- porate support? Is it any wonder that such a high i ercentage of Americans now de- clare themselves independents? The public and our representatives need solid information, researched, unbiased, fact-checked from a free press that actual- ly offers retractions when it does err. It needs to hear the ramifications of policies once established. The future of our coun- try and our world depends on a free press. It must never be quieted. Marged Higginson Eastport MEDICARE THERAPY CAP PUTS SENIORS AT RISK To the editor: We are happy to see that Maine's feder- al delegation unanimously supports bipar- tisan legislation to end an arbitrary cap on the annual amount Medicare will cover for those who need outpatient therapy ser- vices. These arbitrary spending limits are preventing older Mainers from receiving the rehabilitation care they need from their therapists. Strokes, surgeries and trauma from falls or other injuries sometimes re- sult in patients' needing exten- sive care by physical, occupa- tional or speech therapists. Un- fortunately, due to the existing therapy caps, many seniors on Medicare are facing expensive out-of-pock- et costs for treatments they need. A failure by Congress to repeal a harsh limit on therapy treatments poses very real financial and medical threats to seniors already struggling from strokes or debili- tating conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Some could be forced to ra- tion care. Others may simply not be able to afford as many therapy sessions as they need, putting them in danger of new inju- ries. Rehabilitation services are critical for seniors to maintain their independence so they can remain in their homes. Therapy also helps to avoid costly nursing home I care or hospitalizations that can bankrupt those who are already struggling with high healthcare costs. Seniors have worked hard and paid into Medicare their whole lives. Congress needs to immediately fix this harmful pol- icy so seniors can get the rehabilitation services they need. We look forward to hearing more from our federal delega- tion on their work to repeal these heartless caps, which will only hasten the ill-health of our most vul- nerable neighbors. John and Vilene Farina AARP Maine outreach volunteers Brewer ALL THINGS MUST PASS To the editor: It seems to me that the McCurdy brin- ing shed has had a long and eventful life. Can't we just let it go? As George Hard- son so famously observed: All things must pass. Tom Alford Harrington Medicaid expansion or bust by Karen Burke access hospitals - expands the local econ- Medicaid expansion became the law in omy rather than detracts from it. Maine on January 3. Voters approved Insurance premiums, in states with Medicaid expansion by an 18% margin in Medicaid expansion, had lower increases November. Governor LePage has insisted in the cost of premiums on their exchang- that he will not implement the law without es, potentially affecting tens of thousands the legislature funding the expansion at if not hundreds of thousands of Mainers. twice the esthnated cost. So those of us purchasing insurance The govemor and Department of Health through the healthcare exchange may see and Human Services are required to meet a decrease in premiums. an April 3 deadline for submitting a state To punctuate the economic discussion, plan amendment to the federal govern- I reference the state's non-partisan Legis- ment. This is three months in advance of lative Office of Fiscal and Program Re- the July 2 Medicaid expansion implemen- view (OFPR). The fiscal note provided by tation date. OFPR estimates cost for this year at I would like to first explain some of the $13,585,221, as this is a partial year. Ac- economic benefits of this law, since the cording to the OFPR these funds are al- cost of providing healthcare to more of ready available! our neighbors is occasionally cited as un- The second and I believe poignant is- feasible, sue which I will shed some light on is the Providing medical coverage to approxi- reduction in barriers to receiving health- mately 70,000 to 80,000 Mainers would care, which the law creates. For example, be primarily paid for by a 94% federal research shows that low-income patients match during the first year of implemen- with cancer in expansion states weremore tation and decline over time to a 90% likely to be insured. Studies show that in- match, in 2021. The net general revenue dividuals with serious illness are provided expense is projected, by 2021, to be an with diagnosis and treatment sooner and estimated $54 million, 5% above current receive better care. Isn't that what wewant state of Maine Medicaid (Mainecare) ex- for one another? pense. The 5% increase, rather than 10%, Relevant to all is the impact of drug will be realized due to savings from pro- addiction on our community. The law is grams which the state currently pays for, an important source of coverage for treat- i.e. healthcare for prison inmates, state ment of drug addiction, including detox, funded only treatment of uninsured per- outpatient treatment, treatment of addic- sons with mental illness or other services tion with medications as well as treatment such as substance use disorders, for underlying conditions such as pain. And, the reader may ask, "Who is go- Early intervention saves not only lives, ing to pay for even a 5% increase in Med- but also families and communities. icaid expense?" I urge fellow healthcare providers and Multiple studies have concurred that the residents of Washington County to call or net increase in government revenues in write to the governor or your legislator, many Medicaid expansion states, generat- demanding implementation of the law by ed by the economic stimulus created by meeting the April 3 deadline. federal dollars coming into the state, off- The people have voted for more afford- sets the state revenues required to expand able healthcare, not less. The people of in many states, the State of Maine, by a wide margin, Rural communities, like ours, are af- want to provide healthcare to more of its fected the most. A higher proportion of citizens. Compliance with the law is never low-income rural residents gain coverage, optional, without consequences that is. An increase in healthcare and other jobs - (This column references research by the yes, jobs in Washington County - due to Kaiser Family Foundation and Elizabeth healthcare workforce expansion is an eco- H. Kilbreth, PhD.) nomic benefit to our area and state, with- Karen Burke, RN, MS, has lived and out a doubt. As well, the broader impact worked in Washington County for 24 of those workers who generate more in- years, developing healthcare programs, come for local businesses and an increase including caring for the sick, creating jobs in hospital revenues - helping our critical and teaching health profession students.