December 20, 2013

OUR OPINION: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Quick takes on the issues making news this week in central Maine.

THUMBS DOWN to the drivers who fail to move over for emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road.

This newspaper on Sunday reported that Maine State Police troopers are afraid for their safety after two troopers were injured and their cruisers destroyed in recent accidents, in part because passers-by failed to move over and give the stopped troopers space. The day after the story ran another parked cruiser was hit, on Route 202 in Manchester, though the trooper was not injured.

Twenty-four cruisers have been hit while parked in the last three years, with 12 troopers injured, state police said.

“We as troop commanders almost cringe when the phone rings during a snowstorm,” state police Lt. Aaron Hayden, commander of Troop D in Augusta, told the paper. “We can almost guarantee the loss of a cruiser somewhere in the state. We just hope we don’t have an injured trooper with it.”

These accidents have occurred despite a 2007 law that requires drivers passing a stationary emergency vehicle, such as a police cruiser or ambulance, to slow down and move over to a non-adjacent lane if possible. Enough time has passed that Mainers should be aware of the law, which becomes particularly important when ice and snow make the roadways slippery during the winter.

Give the troopers space, both for the sake of their safety and the health of vehicle fleet.

THUMBS DOWN to Gov. Paul LePage for sending layoff notices to 58 state employees even as Congress looked poised to pass a budget to avert a government shutdown and avoid the layoffs.

LePage said the layoff notices were sent in order to comply with the state’s contract with the Maine State Employees Association. The contract says LePage must give state workers at least 10 work days notice if they are going to be laid off.

But the shutdown, and the layoffs, would not have occurred until Jan. 15, giving LePage until at least Dec. 30 to send the notices. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives already had passed a budget by the time the notices were sent, and the Senate was preparing to do the same. The Senate passed the budget by a 64-36 vote on Wednesday, making the notices moot.

LePage has sparred frequently with state workers, including during the federal shutdown in October. The governor temporarily laid off more than 50 workers despite assurances from the federal government that the state would be reimbursed for costs incurred by keeping those employees working during the shutdown.

The early layoff notices are either a continuation of that antagonism or another way for LePage to highlight what he sees as the federal government’s unreliability, which has been a central part of the governor’s argument against Medicaid expansion.

Either way, the governor’s petty actions served only to unnecessarily unnerve a few dozen state employees just before Christmas.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)