Archive for March, 2012

Friday Night Music: Remembering Bluegrass Legend Earl Scruggs

Posted on March 30, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

2006 video.

The death of Earl Scruggs, the virtuoso banjo player, in Nashville on Wednesday was mourned throughout the tight-knit bluegrass music world.

Fellow musicians, many of whom had grown up listening to him or were lucky enough to meet and learn from him, remembered Mr. Scruggs as a shy but giving player.

Reached at his home in Los Angeles via Skype, Steve Martin, the humorist and banjo player recalled learning to pick the song “Sally Goodin’” from Mr. Scruggs after a show in the late 1960s.

“I couldn’t believe he took time out to teach a young kid how to play his way of playing,” said Mr. Martin. “It was a very lucky world to have lived in, to have known Earl,” he said.

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Mainers United for Marriage Campaign Officially Launched

Posted on March 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Video just released of ACLU of Maine Executive Director Shenna Bellows and Legal Director Zach Heiden, discussing the launch of MainersUnited.org and the announcement of Matt McTighe as campaign manager of Mainers United For Marriage.

More on this morning’s announcement, via Bangor Daily News:

“Mainers United for Marriage will build upon the incredible grassroots support that made it possible for our coalition to gather more than 105,000 signatures and place a question on the ballot in November to allow same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license,” Betsy Smith, executive director of EqualityMaine, a member of The Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition, said in a press release issued Tuesday morning. “Mainers United for Marriage is the campaign organization that will lead us to victory in November.”

Smith also announced that Matt McTighe of York has agreed to lead Mainers United for Marriage and will serve as the campaign manager.

“Matt knows the marriage issue as well as anyone in the country and he’s been on the ground in Maine for the last two years,”
Smith said. “He is the best person to lead the campaign in Maine. He’s committed to public service, dedicated to winning marriage equality and has the skills and experience necessary to organize and lead an effective statewide campaign.”

McTighe is a longtime advocate for the freedom to marry, according to the press release. While working for the Human Rights Campaign, he helped to defeat the federal marriage amendment. He served as the political director for MassEquality during the Massachusetts marriage campaign. For the last two years, he has been the public education director in Maine for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

“Our goal is to make it possible for all loving couples to have the opportunity to share in the commitment and responsibility of marriage,” McTighe said in the press release. “Public support for allowing same-sex couples to marry is growing in Maine. We’ve seen it in the polls, and we’ve heard it as hundreds of volunteers have had more than 50,000 conversations with people around our state. Hearts and minds are changing.”

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BERRYBLOG: Amendments Will Be Offered to TABOR Bill

Posted on March 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

LD849 as amended, An Act To Provide Tax Relief for Maine’s Citizens by Reducing Income Taxes, is now a bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Courtney (R-York). The amendments can be found here.

—–

From Rep. Seth Berry’s blog; crossposted with permission:

Amendments Will Be Offered to TABOR Bill

When the TABOR proposal called LD849 hits the House floor — possibly this morning — Democrats will offer alternatives adding fairness, fiscal responsibility, and property tax reductions.

We strongly object to this far-reaching measure to do what Maine voters have rejected three times, by increasing margins, but feel it can at least be made better before it is rammed through without public input.

I am also releasing the latest analyses by Maine Revenue Services (MRS) today, showing a vast disparity between winners and losers if this bill is fully implemented:

Mary Adams via Bangor Daily News

Mary Adams, the mother of Maine TABORs – from The Bangor Daily News editorial. By ratcheting down the income tax without paying for it, MRS shows LD849 would give an average tax reduction of only $1 to the bottom 20% of income earners. This group includes, for example, a single parent of two working full-time at minimum wage. It also includes many low-income seniors without pensions, who depend on Social Security.

By comparison, the tax cut would give an average reduction of $21,638 to the wealthiest 1% of Maine residents. This group makes an average adjusted income of roughly three quarters of a million dollars.

“Maine’s tax code is already unfair to the hard-working coastal families I represent,” says my colleague, Rep. Walter Kumiega of Deer Isle. “We should be making work pay and lifting families out of poverty, not passing another gift to high income earners.”

According to a study released by Maine Revenue Services last summer, Maine’s wealthiest 1% already pay an effective tax rate that is 14% lower than average.

Rep. Kumiega’s amendment would use the mechanism in LD 849 to reduce income taxes, but would do so more fairly. The amendment increases Maine’s Earned Income Tax Credit, based on a federal program created by President Reagan to reward work and lift families out of poverty. In addition, it uses LD 849’s funding to adjust the income tax brackets for all taxpayers, benefiting more families more fairly.

Two other amendments will also be offered on the House floor.

The second, sponsored by my colleague Rep. David Webster of Freeport, would require that the tax cut for each future year be fully funded by surplus revenue, as supporters of the bill have claimed it already does. In reality, the bill pays only for the initial year, locking in and ratcheting down revenues into the future.

“As written, this bill is as irresponsible as taking on a car payment after winning a $100 on a scratch ticket,” said Webster. “Maine’s families and businesses don’t buy what they can’t afford, and neither should we.”

Our third compromise amendment, which I will offer, would put property tax reductions ahead of income tax reductions. As mandated by Maine voters in June 2004, my amendment would put money first towards funding 55% of K-12 education.

According to the nonpartisan fiscal office of the Maine Legislature, full implementation of LD 849 as written would cause losses to Maine schools, roads, bridges, and towns totaling over $1.2 billion per biennium.

As written, this TABOR measure would enact future tax breaks, take credit for them now, and let others make the tough choices to pay later. We’ve done that enough lately, and we hope our amendments may offer viable alternatives to moderates who still do believe in fairness, paying as you go, and putting people first.

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Nate Libby Announces Run for HD 73 (Lewiston)

Posted on March 22, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

From his press release:

Nate Libby has announced his candidacy for the Maine House of Representatives, district 73, which includes the neighborhoods surrounding St. Mary’s Hospital and Bates College, along with the Sunnyside, Webster Street, College Street, and lower Sabattus Street neighborhoods.

He seeks to replace outgoing Rep. Richard Wagner, who served three terms in the House and in his third term as the ranking member of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

Libby, 27, is married to Andrea and has a three year old son, Jude. He is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in History & Economics and of Skowhegan Area High School in Skowhegan, Maine.

He serves on the Lewiston City Council representing Ward 3, the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, and the City of Lewiston’s Community Development Block Grant Committee. He is the past director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, a
non-profit small business advocacy group. Self-employed, Libby works as a property manager, carpenter, and political consultant.

Libby’s top three areas of interest include: supporting and strengthening Maine’s small, independent business community through targeted tax credits and expanding small business loan programs; expanding access, lowering costs, and improving the quality and outcomes in Maine’s health care system; and fighting for Lewiston’s fair share of resources and revenue from the state.

“For the last couple of years, the Legislature has seemed more concerned with pushing an ideological agenda rather than coming up with real solutions to help Maine people who are struggling,” said Libby. “I will bring new energy and a new perspective to Augusta, and, most importantly, I will be a fierce advocate for the people of my district and for the city of Lewiston.”

His Facebook page link.

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League of Young Voters “Launch ME” Project: VOTE before MARCH 28th for your favorite projects

Posted on March 21, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Launch Maine brings Community Support + Publicity + Money to youth-led projects that are working to make Maine a better place. Each of these projects is led by a young Mainer who is committed to improving our communities.

VOTE before MARCH 28th for your favorite projects!

The top 5 winners will get:

  • Money- An invite to our fundraiser on April 6th where they can collect donations from attendees.
  • Publicity – Finalists will have the opportunity to be featured in local and state media
  • More Money – On April 6th, join us to vote for the grand prize winner who will receive $500 toward their project.

 

The Launch ME Contestants:

The Launch ME Contestants:
Art Van
Grunt Match
Keep York County Warm
OccupyME TV
Shift News
Girls Unlimited
Tree Street Youth
Rhythmic Cypher
Vote Local
Zip Line Physics
Leave No Trace
Portland Theater Collaborative
X-City Running
Transit Hub
Lucid Stage Youth Theatre Experience
Think Tank
Budget Badger
The Neighborhood Housing League
Fast Food Prints
River Valley Community Garden
Cool Happenings on Lisbon Street
Blunt Youth Radio Project
Take Action Portland (TAP)
Basic American Sign Language Course
Hollaback!
Refill ME
Let’s Can Hunger
Cycle Smoothie
Reaching College Together
545 & Co. // Rabbit, Rabbit Exhibitions
Maine Artist’s Collective

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Nichole Stevens Announces Candidacy for HD 105 (New Gloucester, Durham, part of Lisbon)

Posted on March 21, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

From her press release:

Nichole Stevens has announced her candidacy for the Maine House of Representatives for District 105, which includes New Gloucester, Durham and part of Lisbon.

Stevens is a 2003 graduate of Husson University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. She has been employed by Pierce Promotions, a Portland-based marketing firm, for the past five years.

Stevens resides in New Gloucester with her husband, Mark, and her stepdaughter Kerrigan. She has been an active volunteer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine, mentoring two different “little sisters” for the past nine years.

“A good work/life balance has always been extremely important to me. I have always worked multiple jobs, starting back in college, and I have always made the time to give back to my community in some way, be it serving warm meals at the Bangor homeless shelter or cleaning cages for the humane society,” Stevens said.

She added, “I want to take the scare tactics out of politics, and work with my neighbors to ensure we are all able to move ahead, not just a select few. I believe Maine needs to expand its educational opportunities, which will enable more of our best and brightest to stay right here at home. If we can better train people for what the future holds, we have no place to go but up, and I want to make that happen.”

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UPDATED: BREAKING: Bill to Repeal New Hampshire’s Same Sex Marriage Law Defeated in House, 211-116

Posted on March 21, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Photo courtesy of GLAD

(7 pm UPDATE: The proper vote count was 211-116, not 202-133 as previously reported.)

Moments ago, the NH House defeated HB 437 by a 211 to 116 vote:

“It failed to even pass, let alone reach a veto-sustaining majority it would have needed to get around Gov. John Lynch’s desk. The failure to even sustain a majority of House members votes can only be seen as a crushing defeat to religious right’s grip on the agenda of the Republican party, which controls 74% of the seats in the NH house. The party should have been easily been able to reach 50% +1.

An attempt to amend the original bill to add civil union recognition also failed 82-266.”

Link to HB 437 here.

Earlier, National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown went on MSBNC to debate against Craig Stowell of Stand Up For NH Families regarding NOM’s last minute “bait and switch” supportive move for the failed civil marriage amendment, among other aspects of today’s legislative session. Watch:

Statement by GLAD executive director Lee Swislow:

“Today’s victory affirmed the equality of New Hampshire’s gay and lesbian citizens,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD. “After the last election where Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate, some thought that marriage equality was doomed. But many, many Republicans courageously stood up against repeal. We thank them and we congratulate Standing Up for New Hampshire Families and all the organizations and individuals who worked so hard to protect the freedom to marry.”

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Ed Legg Announces Candidacy for HD 141 (Kennebunk)

Posted on March 19, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

From his website:

LEGISLATIVE RESUME

1. Over two years, 6 out of 7 of my Lead Sponsor bills became laws in Maine. These laws include:
a. Before a water utility can enter into a large water extraction contract with an outside private entity, there must be fully-noticed public participation hearings.
b. Increased requirements for education, reporting, diagnosis, awareness and research on the dangers we face from the startling epidemic of Lyme Disease. York County has more Lyme Disease victims than any county in Maine.
c. Created a State fund and facilitated the successful federal grant application for state-of-the-art Lidar topographical floodplain mapping for the entire coast of Maine, including Kennebunk. Currently our local floodplain maps are useless regarding accuracy.
d. Led the successful effort to remove FEMA’s unreasonable deadline mandate to reconstruct the flood plain maps in York and Cumberland Counties until the new Lidar maps were in place.

2. Was an active Co-Sponsor on two of Lead Sponsor Rep. Gary Connor’s bills, which were passed by the Maine Legislature in 2009-2010:
a. Ensured that funds for a first-ever Dental School in Maine and for a state-wide network of dental clinics which would provide needed access to dental care, especially in rural areas, were part of a bond package which was approved by Maine Voters.
b. Expanded health care insurance coverage for children with disabilities under the age of three. This critical period of early child development is especially important regarding the diagnosis and treatment of disabilities.

3. As an active member of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee (I.F.S.) worked closely with other Lead Sponsors on bills I Co-Sponsored including:
a. Ended the practice of health insurance companies of placing life-time and annual caps on insurance policies. This law now protects those Mainers who suffer from severe medical problems and who incur catastrophic debt because of their condition.
b. Led efforts to pass groundbreaking legislation to require mediation between a lending institution and homeowners who face foreclosure on their residence. This law requires that the entity which institutes foreclosure proceedings must now prove that it actually owns the mortgage and that the individual (s) representing the mortgage holder has the authority to accomplish a work-out with the homeowner. The successful model which implements this law was developed right here in York County.

4. Approximately 95% roll call voting record over two years, including 100% in the second year session.

5. Appointed to represent Maine on National Legislators’ Committees on Health Insurance, Insurance Regulations, and on the Environment.

PERSONAL RESUME

* As Vice-President at University of New England (U.N.E.), led fundraising campaigns which resulted in bringing to York County multi-millions of dollars in the areas of biomedical and marine research and development.
* Led state-wide biomedical and marine research coalitions for state bond funding and election campaigns and for U.N.E.’s new School of Pharmacy.
* Led fund-raising efforts at U.N.E. which resulted in over a decade of steady contracts for businesses and jobs for hundreds of workers from Southern Maine. “Jobs for today, jobs that will stay” was a slogan I created for all these fundraising and bond campaigns.

Education: Harvard, A.B., Cum Laude in American History
University of Texas School of Law, J.D.

Family: Wife, Ann, professional artist and Realtor.
Past Chair of Kennebunk Land Trust Board of Directors.
Board of Directors, Art Guild of the Kennebunks

4 children, 7 grandchildren

Professional Experience:

1. National administrator with Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy
2. CEO & Litigation Manager of a diversified private corporation & charitable foundation.
3. Served on Managing Board of a successful venture capital company
4. Private School Headmaster
5. Athletic Director and Head Coach
6. Teacher of American History and Government

Past Local Boards and Positions:
1. U.N.E. Board of Trustees
2. Kennebunk Land Trust, Board of Directors
3. Katahdin Institute, Board of Directors
4. President, Kennebunk High School Athletic Boosters
5. Kennebunk H.S. – Head Coach of Wrestling
6. Corporator, Webber Hospital Association (Southern Maine Medical Center).

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(VIDEO) Barack Obama: The Road We’ve Traveled

Posted on March 15, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

From the video description:

Are you in?

Remember how far we’ve come. From Academy Award®-winning director Davis Guggenheim: “The Road We’ve Traveled”.

This film gives an inside look at some of the tough calls President Obama made to get our country back on track. Featuring interviews from President Bill Clinton, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Elizabeth Warren, David Axelrod, Austan Goolsbee, and more. It’s a film everyone should see.

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Sunday Tidbits/ Open Thread

Posted on March 11, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami disasters.

PPH reporting that the site of President Obama’s planned March 30th fundraising reception in Maine has been moved to a larger venue because of a high demand for tickets.

The KJ has this story of how Maine’s 70 year old pension system for state employees may be facing some major changes in the next few years.

The story of GOP head Charlie Webster’s surviving a confidence vote at yesterday’s Maine Republican Party state committee meeting took on a new direction and life of its own, with many weighing in on the Bangor Daily News story in a lengthy comment thread. It is well worth a read and illustrates deep fissures among the party, both from the standpoint of long registered Republicans and of those on state and county committees.

The “As Maine Goes” live blog itself written by Waldo County GOP member Matt MacDonald was at first allowed by AMG’s Scott Fish, but late last night removed by Naran Row-Spaulding. She claimed that MacDonald contacted AMG and requested its removal. Dirigo Blue has confirmed this to be the case.

An open thread.

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