Cheers and jeers from around the news:
• Cheers to public service. An Eagle Scout from Paris, Justin Cummings, is proposing to bestow a proper monument for Officer Tim Willard, a policeman from Paris who was murdered in the line of duty. Willard, 22, was shot and killed during a traffic stop, a few days after Christmas 1978.
With only a fading sign on town athletic fields bearing Willard’s name, Cummings thinks it’s overdue for a permanent reminder of Willard’s sacrifice. He foresees a granite monument, engraved with Willard’s image, and a plaque. The idea drew applause from Paris selectmen this week.
We’re clapping, as well, and wish the Eagle Scout the best of luck in seeing it through.
• Cheers to Gov. John Baldacci, for swiftly signing legislation to allow Mainers who’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits to become eligible for added benefits from the federal stimulus bill.
Maine was one of a handful of states whose laws would have disallowed this expansion. With unemployment creeping toward 9 percent, Baldacci was right to fast-track his signature.
• Jeers to failing to recognize a common planet. Lewiston and Auburn have separate schedules for spring cleanup. Lewiston starts its annual week today, with fee waivers at the solid waste facility. Auburn is having its big cleanup shindig on Saturday, April 25, in observation of Earth Day, which is Wednesday. Two cities, two clean-up programs, but they share one planet.
We think they could share one awesome plan for cleaning it up, too. Well, at least their small part of it.
• Cheers to medical transparency. (No, not X-rays.) There is a slew of legislation before lawmakers to make the costs of medical procedures, insurance and hospital operations open to greater scrutiny and evaluation. We agree there is a barrier to information between providers and public.
Yet with medical information — especially the Byzantine world of insurance companies — knowledge isn’t necessarily power. The corollary to this information overload must be the education of consumers and patients to make more informed choices about their health care.
Transparency is a crucial, but introductory, step in that direction.
• Jeers to highways to nowhere. Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, was upset this week when a Kennebec Journal headline described his bill to expand I-95 past Houlton, using stimulus funds, as a “highway to nowhere.”
Jackson thought the headline was a slap to the County. To our eyes, it was an appraisal of how stimulus money can be misused in noble, but insensible, endeavors. The highway isn’t a road to nowhere, but the thinking behind it is.
We all want the big transportation upgrades in our front or backyards — Lewiston-Auburn is still waiting for that big downtown turnpike spur, after all — but the stimulus is too important to be spent that way. Where will the money go furthest for Maine?
The answer is unlikely to be north of Houlton.
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