thumbs down

THUMBS DOWN to the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to erect proper memorial markers at North Carolina’s Salisbury National Cemetery, the final resting place for 3,501 Union soldiers, including more than 200 Mainers.

Salisbury was the site of a Confederate prison camp, where lingering injuries and rampant disease caused the death of thousands of prisoners of war. They were buried in mass graves, which remain unmarked despite the decade-long efforts of Mark Hughes, a Civil War historian and author from North Carolina.

Hughes has run up against a frustrating bureaucracy clinging to ridiculous rules as he has lobbied the VA to place at the cemetery a group marker listing the names of the dead.

Hughes has an ally in Tracey McIntire, whose great-great-grand uncle, Joseph Herrick, is buried at the site.

Herrick, at age 19, left behind his parents and 14 siblings in Greenwood in 1864 to fight with Maine’s 32nd Regiment. His father had been injured and left disabled fighting with the Maine 14th Regiment in Louisiana in 1861, leaving Joseph as the family’s primary means of income.

The younger Herrick, sending his pay home so his family could pay the bills, fought at the Battle of Cold Harbor, then the Battle of Peebles’s Farm, where he was caught and sent to Salisbury Prison. He died seven weeks later.

Herrick’s story is likely similar to that of hundreds, if not thousands, of the other soldiers who share his grave. They deserve recognition.

THUMBS UP to the results of a recent consumer survey showing Mainers have a real taste for local food.

We wrote yesterday that the survey, conducted by the Muskie School of Public Service as part of the Maine Food Strategy Initiative, demonstrated the potential of growing the market for Maine seafood beyond lobster.

But it also shows that Mainers already buy significant amounts of locally farmed food where it is most often found, at the popular farmers markets held throughout the state.

The key now is to get more local food where the majority of people eat and purchase food. Establishing additional “food hubs,” regional collectives of small farmers and producers, would help get more local food into grocery stores and institutions, such as public schools and universities.

A bill that would have facilitated the creation of more food hubs was vetoed last legislative session by Gov. Paul LePage, and the Legislature failed to override the veto.

The effort can’t die there, if Maine is going to continue to grow its burgeoning agriculture industry.

THUMBS DOWN to a report this week showing average pay for chief executives has hit a record $10.5 million.

According to a study by the Associated Press and Equilar, an executive pay research firm, the pay for a typical CEO has increased by 8.8 percent since 2012. At the same time, average weekly wages for workers rose just 1.3 percent in 2013.

Median CEO income has increased by more than 50 percent through the last four years, following a period of slight decline at the beginning of the recession. The average CEO now makes about 257 times the salary of an average worker, up from 181 times in 2009, the study found.

That’s the latest evidence the economic recovery is benefitting the so-called “1 percent” while leaving behind the rest.

Another inequity: Out of the 337 chief executives polled in the survey, just 12 were women.

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