Sen. Olympia Snowe’s new press officers, John Gentzel and Kurt Bardella, came for a visit, after digging out from Monday’s storm. It was the first taste of Maine winter for Gentzel, from Pennsylvania, and Bardella, from California.

And despite lodging issues – a heater blowing cold – and a rental car wholly unequipped for winter travel, Snowe’s men arrived on time, and made a good first impression. They seem eager and enthused to serve one of the Senate’s most influential members.

Eyes darted around the room when the newcomers were queried about Snowe’s potential vice presidential possibilities. Politically it makes some sense, they agree, but practically, they believe Snowe’s heart is with legislating, through-and-through.

She’s more concerned, they maintain, about helping a disabled constituent, such as George Sidebotham of Poland, enter his home, than sitting at the right hand of the president.

“She spoke to me for an hour-and-a-half about building [that] ramp,” says Gentzel.

Thanks, Doctor

The discord about naming a bridge between Lewiston-Auburn after Dr. Bernard Lown, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Lewiston High school graduate, was always strange.

If we cannot honor a native son who has benefited mankind, who should we honor?

We’re thrilled to see the Legislature’s Transportation Committee agrees. This week, the panel endorsed the christening of the “Bernard Lown Peace Bridge,” following the footsteps of our local city councils. The bill was ushered by Rep. Dick Wagner, D-Lewiston. It now goes to the full Legislature, where we heartily urge its passage.

Dr. Lown is a celebrated cardiologist, defibrillator developer and medical diplomat, who has saved countless lives through his efforts as a doctor, scientist, advocate and philanthropist. His lifelong opposition to nuclear proliferation earned him the coveted peace prize.

L-A has bridges named for local politicians and veterans, in recognition of their public service. Dr. Lown’s profile, admittedly, is higher outside Maine, but his achievements have touched us all, just the same.

This great man more than deserves this simple, local honor.


River Valley gambling

An item published Jan. 16: only 31 players appeared for a recent fundraising poker tournament in Mexico, despite the event being licensed for 100 players. Proceeds were meant to benefit the Moontide Festival’s fireworks show on July 4, but the festival lost $345 on its license fee.

“It took a long time for the state to pass a law…to have poker tournaments, but it is up to the poker players to attend in order to make it work,” a spokesman said.

The same principle applies for the Oxford County casino, petition signatures for which were delivered to the Secretary of State’s Office this week. We endorsed the Calais racetrack/casino, but have serious reservations about the plan for Oxford County, because we don’t believe this casino will develop as advertised.

From its backers to its business plan, there are way too many questions.

Now there are empty poker tables in its backyard.

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