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  Letters to the Editor  

RUN, JOHN, RUN

Last week, Al Diamon used up his space in this paper writing about the Maine Green Independent Partyís prospects for the governorís race in 2006 (see "5-4-3-2 (Yo! Time is Up)," Dec. 10).

Although much of what Al wrote was wrongheaded and just plain dumb, he did make one good point.

State Representative John Eder is the Green Partyís best prospect for a 2006 run. I live in Ederís district and think he would make an awesome governor. Eder is smart, caring, and the hardest working officeholder in Portland. Ask anyone in the West End Ė Eder makes himself available to his constituents day and night.

On Election Day this year, I was outside the polling place where John Eder was greeting voters. A man in front of me had brought his son with him. He said to his son, "Do you see that man? Thatís John Eder. Heís going to be governor some day."

People are starting to get the message.

Joy Scott

Portland

HEMP YOU

I take exception to your characterization of people who wear hemp in your story "5-4-3-2 (Yo! Time is up)," by Al Diamon:

"On the bright side, the funeral will provide those with the foresight to have preserved their hemp-fiber suits and earth shoes a rare opportunity to dig them out of their organic cedar chests and do a little politically correct styliní."

Hemp is not only a fiber from history, but it is also a modern fiber with many uses. Many kinds of people wear hemp clothing besides Maine Greens. You may want to take a look at this story for more information about hemp in Maine: "The Case for Maine Hemp," Portland Phoenix, April 23, 2004.

In the future please refrain from using hemp for the cheap "giggle factor" laugh at otherís expense.

Tom Murphy

National Coordinator, Vote Hemp

36-26-40-33-23 .... OH AND 51!

Nope, not measurement for a new hemp suit and not the metric size of a pair of earth shoes ó these are the percentages of the vote Portlandís Green Independent candidates won in races for state house seats this fall. In fact, over 9000 Portlanders voted for Maine Green Independents. Although Al Diamon (See "5-4-3-2-1 (Yo! Time Is Up)," Dec. 3], points to some vital issues, donít bother opening your cedar chests for your Green Party funeral clothes, as he suggests, because help is on the way.

Green Independent Representative John Eder is putting forth a bill linking party status to party membership numbers. This is a sensible approach to assigning party status.

In Portland, itís interesting to note that Greens could have taken as many as four state legislative seats had a Republican not been on the ballot in each of these districts. Any political party in a three-way race can be characterized as a "spoiler." However, reducing choices on the ballot is akin to limiting air, water, and food for the voters. Itís time to be able to vote for the candidate you want instead of against the one you donít want. With instant run-off voting, the voter ranks the candidates on the ballot according to preference and the "spoiler effect" is eliminated. This style of voting is already being used in Europe and Australia.

Portlandís Green Independentsí success is unique nationwide. With more than 9000 total city-wide votes for Green Independent candidates Mike Hiltz, Jack Safarik, Elizabeth Trice, Jeff Spencer, re-elected Representative John Eder, and myself, and the largest per capita registered Greens anywhere, it is ó well, letís say, incumbent on the legislators from Portland to assure there is life support for the second most popular political party in town.

To the 1503 people who voted for me ó thank you for the honor of receiving your vote. Your generous enthusiasm, unique perspectives and rich conversations on your door stoops was worth all the effort and more. At a time when national politics couldnít be more bleak, the possibilities for local politics couldnít be more vibrant.

Pamela Cragin

Portland

GUNS ARE BAD

A few comments about your article "After the Ban" (by Elizabeth Kear, Dec. 3). The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban banned the manufacture and distribution of specific models of military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, and weapons with certain combinations of features designed for military use. These guns are civilian versions of military-style guns specifically designed to spray-fire bullets in order to kill human beings efficiently and without having to aim carefully. The ban also limited ammunition magazine size to 10 rounds. While it is true that the ban grandfathered pre-existing guns and ammunition clips, that hardly made the law merely symbolic. The simple economics of supply and demand will tell you that by stopping the manufacturing of these military-style weapons, not only will you decrease the supply but the price for existing weapons will increase. Higher prices and lower supply helped to keep these guns out of the hands of gangs and drug dealers, those who sought these weapons the most.

Just look at what has happened to the price of large-capacity ammunition clips since Congress and President Bush allowed the ban to expire in September. A clip holding 20 rounds of ammunition sold for around $150 during the ban. The same clip may be purchased today for $20. Recently in Wisconsin a fight over a deer stand led to the shooting death of six people. The man accused of the killings was using an SKS Chinese assault rifle equipped with a 20-round clip.

As for buying a gun for protection, a gun in a home actually makes the occupants less safe. Study after study concludes that a gun in the home increases the risk of murder for family members. A gun in the home increases the risk of suicide. A gun in the home increases the risk of unintentional firearm injury.

The homicide rate in the United States is five times that of other developed nations. What accounts for the difference? Guns. Guns are used in more than two-thirds of the homicides in this country. Easy access to firearms makes homicide easy.

More guns in our community mean more homicides, more suicides, more armed robberies, more assaults, more accidental shootings. What were Congress and President Bush thinking when they allowed the assault weapons ban to expire? These guns are specifically designed to make it easier to kill people. Why would you want to make access to these military-style weapons easier? The Legislature in Augusta will be considering a state assault weapons ban in the upcoming session. I urge all Mainers to contact their legislators and tell them to get these guns off our streets!

Cathie Whittenburg

Executive Director

Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence

Archive of Letters to the Editor.

Issue Date: December 24 - 30, 2004
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