Letters to The Editor
As a collector of vintage Maine travel and tourism brochures, I enjoyed your April article "America's Summer Playground." I was struck, however, by your use of the term "refined vacationers" to describe the type of patron sought by (and drawn to) certain summer colonies.
You may be unaware that in the 1930s and early '40s many Maine hotel and resort ads used such code phrases as "refined clientele," "select clientele," and "select patronage" not to woo potential guests on the basis of social class but, rather, to publicize (oh, so discreetly) their practice of discrimination on the basis of religion, i. ., Gentiles only. Some hotels were less coy and stated clearly in their ads: "Christian clientele."
After the war, when this type of overt discrimination became unfashionable, many ads substituted the subtle phrases "near churches" or "Catholic and Protestant churches nearby," but the message remained the same: No Jews Allowed. So much for refinement.
The new bridge in Augusta is not a "splendid" addition to the state's transportation infrastructure, as your April issue states. The purpose of this bridge was to alleviate vehicular congestion; in this aim, the project will be unsuccessful. More roads and more lanes, as Augusta now has, paradoxically induces congestion and causes more traffic volume, not less. For example, since the Maine Turnpike widening commenced in 2001, the number of automobiles on the road has increased at a rate that is 7.9 percent faster than it was in 1990s.
In addition, while the Capitol City has made provisions to prevent sprawl along this new road, increased development - read destruction - of the lands in other towns along Routes 1 and 3 will undoubtedly be the result of this auto-oriented project.
Any project which lays more asphalt not only further destroys what we all love about Maine - the natural environment - but also makes the state further resemble our neighbors to the south. The Maine Department of Transportation desperately needs to invest more in public, not auto-centric, transportation, such as extending Amtrak's Downeaster service to Bangor.
Westby, Montana, and Cranberry Isles, Maine
I find your articles about the state of Maine's tax reform interesting, including the most recent article "Tinkering with Our Taxes," which appeared in your February issue. I am originally from Lincoln County, Maine, but am now working as a municipal finance director in suburban Chicago, and while I am certainly not an expert on Maine's taxation problems, I was interested to learn about how complex the sales tax is in Maine. I am shocked that Maine municipalities do not have the right to impose a municipal sales tax. In Illinois, municipalities receive 1 percent of sales tax collected by the state (including food), and different types of governments are able to impose different amounts in addition to the 1 percent to which all municipalities are entitled. Some Illinois governments must pass referendums in order to have the right to tax over the 1 percent. Some of these communities sell these referendums by reminding the residents that the people being taxed are those who are passing by to shop or wine and dine in their downtown districts. This is not like property tax, which only affects residents. We think of it as a pass-through tax; tourists are funding our roads and infrastructure, and helping us afford new police cars.
I am surprised that Maine, with all of its tourism, has not caught onto this logic. If the municipalities could tax sales, this may aid property tax relief, and the tourists (who probably come from states where the sales taxes are higher to begin with) are the ones footing the bill.
"Tinkering With Our Taxes" is correct in regard to finding another way besides property taxes to pay for education and other things inside a particular county. The consumption tax is something that needs to be looked at, but in your article someone along the coast said it should be all right for the counties along the seacoast to raise their taxes for whatever purpose was needed.
To some extent I agree with that notion, but what of the people in Maine's northern and western counties that don't have that luxury? They are already having tax problems. If the population along the coast is consuming, residents there should be more than willing to share the spoils with those less fortunate. It must be understood that the more enriched parts of a state need to help the less enriched parts. It makes no sense for a county to raise or lower its taxes because it is more enriched or less enriched either with people or other taxable resources.
The southern counties must help the northern and western counties. It is the existence of the great state of Maine that must be paramount in the minds of all its citizens.
-Michael D. Szekely
I very much enjoyed the article titled "Cracking the Code" in your April 2005 issue. Speaking for DeLorme, we certainly appreciated your kind words about The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. However, I should point out that our atlas does in fact provide definitions for seventeen of the twenty-six acronyms you listed. You'll find the definitions in our Legend of Abbreviations, located in the top left corner of Page 4. The nine acronyms in your list that we don't define do not appear in our atlas. Thanks again for the favorable description of our The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, and for the interesting article.
Marketing Manager, DeLorme