Archive for May, 2012

1st Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Lower Court Ruling That DOMA Unconstitutional

Posted on May 31, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

In a 3-0 decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management which found the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional:

An appeals court ruled Thursday that the heart of a law that denies a host of federal benefits to gay married couples is unconstitutional.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against married same-sex couples by denying them federal benefits.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court judge who ruled in 2010 that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.

The court didn’t rule on the law’s other provision, which said states without same-sex marriage cannot be forced to recognize gay unions performed in other states.

2012 May 31 Gill v Opm First Circuit Ruling

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

MEA Fires Back: “LePage’s (LD 1781) veto is a nonsensical attack on MEA”

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

From a press release issued this afternoon:

Over the last month Governor Paul LePage verbally attacked the Maine Education Association (MEA) three times. Each time he berated the Association for not paying for teachers’ professional development-a nonsensical idea that has no basis in history or pedagogical practice.

He even used it as a spurious justification of his veto of LD 1781, a bill that would provide financial support for teachers seeking certification by the prestigious National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

What is really going on?

It is clear from his public record is that LePage attempts to intimidate those who do not agree with him; he dislikes both public and private unions; he is not a big supporter of public education; and, he berates the MEA on a regular basis.

The governor demands agreement and obedience and he is not getting it from the MEA.

He is still mad at our opposition to his raid on the teacher retirement plans, our opposition to charter schools, our opposition to his wide-open school choice bills, our opposition to LD 309 his anti-labor bill, our opposition to his proposed budget cuts in higher education and MPBN, and our opposition to the legislative attack on educator-managed health insurance plans.

The bottom line is that this is a campaign designed to weaken and discredit the Association or bully us into submission.

The governor claims he has a guiding principle of doing “what is best for the student.” Yet, his budget made harmful cuts in the highly effective Head Start program that provides underprivileged children with an important foundation for learning and he vetoed a bill promoting best teaching practices through certification by the NBPTS.

He further claims an interest in enhancing the prestige of Maine teachers by raising their status to that enjoyed in Finland and Singapore. Yet, teachers in those countries are well-paid, well-respected professionals who are empowered to be educational leaders-something the governor does not support.

Both Finland and Singapore have long traditions of strong teacher unions that give educators a voice. Yet, the governor has repeatedly attacked the MEA for being the voice of educators and sharing our views on what matters most to our members-meeting the needs of the students in their classrooms.

For public education to succeed and fulfill all of society’s expectations, we need parents, school boards, administrators, educators, and political leaders, like the governor, to work together and do their part.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

(New DNC Video) Mitt Romney: Little to Like

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

From the accompanying letter:

In honor of Mitt Romney securing the delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination for President – after six years of trying and millions of dollars spent – we’re releasing a new video of our version of Mitt Romney’s Facebook time line for the last year. In that time we’ve learned that Mitt Romney and his brand of Romney Economics is wrong for the middle class.

From declaring “corporations are people” and we should let the foreclosure process hit bottom to saying he isn’t concerned about the poor and likes firing people Mitt Romney’s time line shows he would return to the same failed policies of the past and is out of touch with the needs of the middle class. And Mitt’s time line, in the words of his fellow Republicans, shows that Romney Economics – whether his time as a corporate raider dismantling companies and jobs for profit or his abysmal record as Governor of Massachusetts where he finished 47th out of 50 in jobs – would be a disaster for the American people.

And of course, there’s Donald Trump – liking an article on Mitt’s time line… about himself, naturally.

Yep, when it comes to Mitt Romney’s time line and what we’ve learned over the past year, there is little to like.:

Bonus: Find the following within the clip.

–Romney speaking to an empty Ford Field in Detroit
–A car elevator
–Romney telling CNN that Russia is “without question our number one geopolitical foe”
–Rick Santorum wielding an Etch a Sketch
–Romney telling the AP “I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners”
–Romney squirming with Bret Baier
–Reuters analysis: Romney Is Clear Favorite of Washington Lobbyists

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Wednesday Tidbits/ Open Thread

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

Good morning.

Head of UN observer mission to Syria: ‘Deeply disturbed’ by discovery of 13 more executed bodies.

Senate Republicans are now echoing the House GOP’s shift towards favoring some “Obamacare”/ Affordable Healthcare act provisions, a sign that the party is uniting behind the strategy ahead of November’s presidential election. In a related note, Mitt Romney’s win in Texas last night gave him the GOP’s nomination.

It is now being reported that Mitt Romney’s “certificate of live birth” shows that while he was indeed born in the United States, his father and former presidential hopeful George was not:

One wonders when/if Donald Trump will demand to see Mitt’s long form birth certificate…

Governor LePage has now said that even if Maine voters do approve the bond packages in November, he won’t issue said bonds until “we get our spending problem fully under control.” Even with the voters’ authorization to borrow this money, my administration will not spend it until we’ve lowered our debt significantly. That could be several years,” he said in the statement.

David Farmer has this column out today: “The Treasurer, the Secretary of State and the AG Walk into an Election”.

Mike Tipping shared his recent experiences as part of Mainers United’s statewide Day of Action: “Volunteering for equal marriage has been a rewarding experience”.

An open thread.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

UPDATEDx2: Another LePage Veto; Another Swipe at MEA’s Support of Mainers United

Posted on May 29, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Governor LePage today vetoed LD 1781, An Act To Restructure the National Board Certification Program for Teachers, citing that he believes a more coordinated state-wide solution is required.

But a simple glance at the press release itself reveals that the Governor’s problem with the bill has more to do with last week’s announcement of MEA’s support for the Mainers United marriage equality campaign than about the bill itself.

In his accompanying veto message (see below), he said: “LD 1781 requires teachers to partially fund the program, while simultaneously paying union dues which are squandered on a host of activities not even remotely related to professional development.”

The press release goes deeper and clarifies LePage’s statement (emphasis mine):

‘Meanwhile, the MEA announced its endorsement recently of the same-sex marriage proposal on the November ballot. This announcement is an example of what the union is choosing to focus on rather than expanding and enhancing opportunities for teacher development.’

A reminder: The 125th Legislature will be back at the State House on Thursday. No word yet on whether this latest action will be brought up at that time.

Update: Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), member of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee (LCRED) and strong union supporter, sent this statement regarding Gov. LePage’s veto:

It is just another thing that the Governor has said that he has no clue about. We have a saying that goes, “I would like to buy you for what you know, and sell you for what you think you know.” I would be a rich man with this Governor.

The laws of the United States bars anyone from being forced to join a Union. At the same time the Supreme Court has upheld “service fees” to be constitutional. This has been argued to no end by lawyers that were well funded by big business (Koch Brothers). It is well established, but the Governor continues to play in his own playground and argue that it isn’t legal. The Unions have to be very careful when they collect money from non-union, fair share payers that the money isn’t spent on political activities. They are subject to audit at anytime. His claims are just untrue, but that is what he does best.

Updatex2: The sponsor of LD1781, Sen. Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland), had this via a press release:

Maine students deserve every opportunity to succeed. This bill was an investment to ensure we have the best teachers in every classroom. Instead of strengthening our classrooms, improving our teachers, and giving our students a fair shot, the governor complained about the teachers’ union. He is putting politics ahead of what’s best.

Teachers are the foundation for a successful public education and we know that the most effective teachers are also life-long learners. The governor’s veto essentially sends a message to teachers that their learning is not important.

More from the release from the Maine Senate Democrats: “out of an estimated 15,000 public school teachers in Maine, only 158 are National Board Certified. National Board Certification is administered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As part of the certification process candidates complete 10 assessments that are reviewed by trained teachers in their certificate areas and spend up to 400 hours completing the program.”


LD1781 Veto Message

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Mainers United For Marriage Hold Statewide Day of Action

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

Today is a statewide Day of Action for Mainers United with activities planned in numerous locations. From their press release:

Volunteers around Maine will turn out for a statewide Day of Action on Saturday, May 19, in support of the campaign to allow same-sex couples to receive a marriage license.

More than 250 people are expected to spend part of Saturday volunteering for Mainers United for Marriage, the campaign to win the freedom to marry for all loving, committed couples in Maine.

Activities are currently planned in at least 15 locations around the state and include door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, distributing literature, office open houses, trainings and house parties.

Some of the events include:

  • Augusta – May 19 – The Augusta Area’s ‘Day of Action’ Event
  • Norway – May 19 – The Norway Area’s ‘Day of Action’ Event
  • Ellsworth – May 19 – Ellsworth Day of Action phonebank
  • Bar Harbor – May 19 – Bar Harbor Day of Action phonebank
  • Brewer – May 19 – EQME Bangor New Office Open House
  • Fort Fairfield – May 19 – Aroostook County Day of Action
  • Trenton – May 19 – Hancock County Day of Action House Party

    On Tuesday, Mainers United opened new field offices in Brewer, Lewiston and Portland and re-launched the campaigns door-to-door canvassing effort. The new field officers are located at 256 State St. in Brewer; 675 Main St., Unit 6, in Lewiston (the old Caswell parking lot); and 343 Forest Ave. in Portland. A fourth field office in York County will open in June.

    Campaign manager Matt McTighe: “Volunteers are critical to our effort to win the freedom to marry for all loving, committed couples in Maine. Activities around the state will give volunteers a chance to get involved, talk to their neighbors and friends about why marriage matters for same-sex couples and learn about our campaign.”

    *Related: Mainers United Launches $100K Matching Gift Challenge

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
  • UPDATED: Moody’s Downgrades Maine Bond Outlook from stable to negative

    Posted on May 18, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    Exactly what Commissioner Millett and Democrats in the Legislature such as Rep. Seth Berry feared and warned us has now come to pass:

    Citing issues related to Medicaid spending and a dearth of reserves, Moody’s Investors Services lowered its outlook of Maine’s $498 million in general obligation bonds from stable to negative.

    The company gave the debt, as well as $55.8 million in general obligation bonds Maine plans to issue, the rating of Aa2, the third highest, according to Bloomberg. In a press release, Moody’s said the state has manageable debt levels, improving revenue performance and has recently resolved budget shortfall issues.

    However, it called out the state’s spending in its Department of Health and Human Services and “chronically negative…combined available reserves, a large portion of which is related to Medicaid reimbursements due to hospitals.” Those factors, plus a weak general fund liquidity due to a lack of reserves, led to the negative outlook.

    Update: It is important to note that Moody’s did not downgrade the ratings of Maine bonds, just the outlook – but explained what would lead to a ratings downgrade:

    The negative outlook reflects Maine’s recurring challenges on the spending side of its budget, primarily in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) which includes Medicaid; minimal budget stabilization fund (BSF) balances and chronically negative GAAP-basis combined available reserves, a large portion of which is related to Medicaid reimbursements due to hospitals; and a weak General Fund liquidity position reflecting the lack of reserves.

    A rating downgrade could be triggered by: the emergence of further significant budget gaps in the current biennium or future fiscal years; the absence of a clearly articulated plan to achieve meaningful improvement in the state’s available reserve position in the near term; cash-flow strain stemming from reduced liquidity; or a slower than average economic recovery that hinders revenue growth.

    This last budget enacted by Republican legislators is based on waivers that the Federal government has already said it will not grant. When the waiver requests are rejected (as happened with Arizona last year), this will lead to an immediate $22 million shortfall.

    Further, should LD849 (the TABOR bill) become law, it will automatically cut revenues to the State, making the State’s reserve position worse than it is today.

    *Related: Commissioner Millett “Concerned” About TABOR Bill Affecting State Bond Rating- Same as AFA Committee Democrats

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    Commissioner Millett “Concerned” About TABOR Bill Affecting State Bond Rating- Same as AFA Committee Democrats

    Posted on May 16, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |


    Department of Administrative & Financial Services Commissioner Sawin Millett:  My concern about the bill (LD 849, the TABOR bill) is the last statement in the fiscal note that, acknowledges that the cascade methodology allows one time savings, to trigger ongoing permanent reduction in revenue. That’s where I get concerned and I know that it can be, as I just heard, gradual and not, you know, particularly aggressive at the outset, but um, I like to keep my focus on ongoing revenues tracking ahead of ongoing expenditures.

    That’s what I hear, every time I go to meet with the bond rating agencies, so I think it’s important to keep the two sides of the equation always in balance, always in focus. We try to do that in this committee, and my questions and answers to you have always been with that in mind, that when you look downstream, and you take a long term view, that you try not to make one side of the equation get out of sync with the other.

    So that is a concern that I have expressed to you on multiple occasions and, um, I would reiterate it here today.

    Chairman Rep. Pat Flood (R- Winthrop): Thank you very much. Representative Keschl…

    Rep. Dennis Keschl (R- Belgrade): In response, it’s been talked about here before. One legislature can’t bind uh, another legislature in the future, and if we were to see, obviously, that things were getting out of balance, I’m sure that appropriate action would be taken by members of the committee to, uh, to bring it back into balance.

    Chairman Rep. Pat Flood (R- Winthrop): Senator Hill.

    Senator Dawn Hill (D-York): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Commissioner, for sharing with us that you maintain that concern. What I heard were questions asked that weren’t answered, and the question was, has anyone from the committee spoken to the bond houses, on their reactions to the…

    Chairman Rep. Pat Flood (R- Winthrop): Has anyone from the committee spoken to the bond houses? No. The answer is no.

    Senator Dawn Hill (D-York): So, well, I get here that no one reached out, but I’m not sure that they are supposed to reach out to us; I think we should be reaching out to them. So that’s why I’m asking the question.

    Chairman Rep. Pat Flood (R- Winthrop): Representative Martin.

    Rep. John Martin (D- Eagle Lake): I’m not sure it if relates to this issue or not, but I, as a person who, you know, when I served as a presiding officer did a number of trips to the bonding houses in New York, um, not always pleasant I might point out, over the years, and the one thing that, and I’m not sure that, I think the Commissioner referred to it. The Legislature’s not always in session. So that very often, if something happens, sometimes the Legislature’s not in a position to react to it. And the one thing I remember most from those meetings was the constant comment about automatic things taking place.

    I don’t know if there’s a… I don’t know the answer to the question you just posed, because obviously this is not something that I dealt with and certainly not talking with the bonding houses about, in ten years. But I don’t know if there is a mechanism that could be structured to be added to this.

    And I’m not necessarily opposed to it, per se, but that could be added to make sure that we don’t get into trouble, when we’re not here. And maybe, but we’ve got plenty of time before we… not a lot of time, but we’ve got time if the Commissioner maybe would think about it, if there is a mech- something at could be done at some point, added, whatever, that would make some sense. And I’m not going to put you into a-  I don’t have an answer-  I say move on. But in the meantime, if something were developed, before we adjourn, it might be worth thinking about.

    Chairman Rep. Pat Flood (R- Winthrop): Thank you for the advice. That’s good council. And thank you, Commissioner- thanks for your good council as well. Any further discussion on the bill, as amended? All in favor of the–

    Rep. Ken Fredette (R- Newport): Can we just have a very brief corner caucus, real quick?

    Chairman Rep. Pat Flood (R- Winthrop): That’d be fine. We’re going to try to keep those brief, as we have a commitment to be ready in the Legislature shortly.

    (End of tape)
    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    (UPDATED) Senate Passes Bill 19-16… Tweeting LD 1746 Maine Senate Debate

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

    UPDATED: The Senate passed LD 1746 19-16 in a straight party vote.


    Compilation of Tweets, news links and observations regarding the Governor’s controversial DHHS supplemental budget, as the Maine Senate reconvenes to take up LD 1746.


    Laura Harper ‏ @MWLobbyist

    Senate is taking the budget up now #mepolitics

    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    The Senate is now debating the supplemental budget…


    Andrea Parkinson ‏ @andiparkinson2

    @WorkingMaine Sen Rosen suggest that AFA Dems not supporting budget due to pressure from advocacy groups. Why Flood not support? #mepolitics

    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Dawn Hill (D-York): “I consider this budget a sham, a shift, a shame”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Hill: “Where is the crisis?”


    Andrea Parkinson ‏ @andiparkinson2

    Sen Dawn Hill: LD 1746 a sham, a shift, a shame #mepoliticsDiscusses fed waivers unapproved as part of GOP proposal


    Laura Harper ‏ @MWLobbyist

    Sen Hill calls budget sham, shift, shaft & shame. Bold words in support for working families, seniors, and children. #mepolitics

    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Hill: “There will be $24 million in unfunded tax breaks in 2014 and no plan for payment, I feel it irresponsible”








    Andrea Parkinson ‏ @andiparkinson2

    Sen. Hill: LD 1746 “Bean counter budget” #mepolitics

    Gerald Weinand ‏ @DirigoBlue

    The letter from HHS Sebelius re denying MOE waiver that Sen Hill refers can be found here #mepolitics

    Megan Hannan ‏ @meganhannan 

    DHHS budget cuts to harm women, children, elderly –


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Hill: “This is a bean counter budget. It’s all about the numbers, it’s not about people… It indiscriminately removes people’s healthcare…”



    Gerald Weinand ‏ @DirigoBlue

    @andiparkinson2 @WorkingMaine Perhaps there’s more to the DHHS cuts – Sen Rosen is Maine ALEC chair #mepolitics

    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec): “This is not the Governor’s budget, this is the Legislature’s budget.”


    Gerald Weinand ‏ @DirigoBlue

    Note Katz’s slippery stats: More people on MaineCare than families paying taxes Mixing single persons with groups – nice job!#mepolitics

    Gerald Weinand ‏ @DirigoBlue

    This after Katz uses analogy of baseball stats #mepolitics

    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Katz: “It’s easy to say don’t cut. It’s hard work to make targeted changes.”


    Gerald Weinand ‏ @DirigoBlue

    Perhaps @SenRogerKatz will explain why – if State can’t afford to fix roads or fund public schools – why he supports tax cuts #mepolitics

    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Phil Bartlett (D-Cumberland): “This budget is nothing more than an attack on good hardworking families in Maine…”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Bartlett: “It’s an attack on youngsters when you reduce funding for early childhood education”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Bartlett: “It’s an attack on our seniors… this bill leaves no one behind.”


    Gerald Weinand ‏ @DirigoBlue

    Sen Bartlett “This violates Fed law in at least 4 ways” #mepolitics

    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin): “We all know where the money is… it’s not going to anybody in the working class.”


    MaineWomen’s Lobby ‏ @MEWomensLobby

    Thanks for sharing! RT @MECEP1: @MEWomensLobby ED Eliza Townsend blasts #LePage admin latest #DHHS budget cuts


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland): “This budget cuts Head Start… why as a state would we make this a priority?”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Alfond: “This budget is reckless”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Nancy Sullivan (D-York): “The home visitation program has reduced domestic violence by 50% in this state……


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln): “Reckless, irresponsible, penny wise and pound foolish.”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Johnson: “You’re making very real decisions with people’s lives here, it’s not just numbers”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen Katz: “This is a reasonable setting of priorities…”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Katz: “These cuts are reasonable, targeted, and puts us in the mainstream.”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Seth Goodall (D-Sagadahoc): “We shouldn’t be cutting taxes to cut children’s programs… We should have done better”


    Maine Breaking News ‏ @bangordailynews

    Dozens protest DHHS cuts in Augusta as Maine Senate deliberates budget #mepolitics

    Sun Journal ‏ @sunjournal

    Portland mayor: DHHS budget cuts are ‘penny wise, pound foolish’


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Johnson: “I can’t support this budget because it’s irresponsible for us to make a dimmer future for working people.”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook): “Some people in this chamber make $10,000 in a month… these people make $10,000 in a year.”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Jackson: “Somebody’s going to get screwed in the end… And I gotta tell you, I never signed up to be the person who decides who lives and dies in this state, to say ‘I’m sorry, you don’t have health care anymore.'”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford): “Every morning we start our session with a prayer and we always hear we should take care of the less fortunate, the needy and the poor.”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Patrick: “This budget is harmful, hurtful, short sighted and extreme.”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    Sen. Patrick: “I’m extremely happy with the minority party, and they’re all here… and right now there’s 13 majority party seats at this point not here listening to the importance of what’s going on with this budget for the people of Maine.”


    Working Maine ‏ @WorkingMaine

    The Senate passes the supplemental budget 19-16, party line vote.


    Laura Harper ‏ @MWLobbyist

    Maj report on state budget is accepted in a vote 19 to 16. Sad day for working families. Amendments just starting #mepolitics

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    Romney, Paul Supporters Brawl: OK GOP Convention or OK Corral?

    Posted on May 14, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

    You decide.

    If the Oklahoma state convention is any indication, mainstream Republicans have plenty to worry about come this summer at their convention in Tampa. What happened in Oklahoma made the brouhaha at the Arizona convention also held this weekend look tame, even though Mitt Romney’s son Josh was booed off the stage by Paul enthusiasts.

    Oklahoma turned decidely ugly when the Republicans decided to take a voice vote to determine which candidate would get the 25 national delegates and 25 alternates rather than using the traditional and longer method of roll call.

    Tensions exploded after the controversial vote went against Paul and a Romney supporter allegedly punched a Paul supporter in the back of the head. In another incident, two women got into a hitting match over the vote.

    The convention was then abruptly shut down when the dividers began to close and the lights were turned off, forcing everyone outside.

    And from there, the convention reconvened in the parking lot:

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    « Previous Entries

    Liked it here?
    Why not try sites on the blogroll...