Archive for August 25th, 2012

2012 GOP Convention Delayed by TS Isaac; Party “Working with Fed Agencies, State” Employees to Ensure Safety of Attendees

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

No sense of irony in the GOP!! Some days you can’t make this stuff up… So much for “the party of small government”!

The GOP 2012 convention, originally planned for Monday, is now scheduled to convene on Monday, but adjourn immediately until Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Isaac located about 135 miles south-southwest of of Port au Prince, Haiti with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph. The system continues moving northwestward at 14 mph. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Haiti, while a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Hispaniola and the northern Caribbean Islands. Heavy rainfall and strong winds are expected to develop across the Caribbean Islands as this system continues moving northwestward and into the eastern Gulf of Mexico over the weekend.”

So now what was supposed to be a four-day event will be condensed into three, leaving organizers to juggle the logistics and pack as many speakers and other party business, including the formal nomination of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus:

“Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention and citizens of the Tampa Bay area,” Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement.

“R.N.C. convention officials and the Romney campaign are working closely with state, local and federal officials, as well as the Secret Service, to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac and preserve Florida’s emergency management resources. Officials have predicted participants may encounter severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain.”

Statement of RNC President and CEO Bill Harris echoed that of Priebus:

“Our chief priority is the safety of the residents of Florida, of those visiting the Convention, and all those in Gulf Coast states who may be impacted by Tropical Storm Isaac. We have been working closely with the campaign, the party, and state and local officials for months to ensure a successful, enjoyable convention. Federal, state and local officials assure us that they are prepared to respond, if needed, and the scheduling changes we are announcing today will help ensure the continued safety of all participants – our foremost concern. We are also committed to keeping the delegates and guests of the convention well informed about the situation, and we will continue providing updates in the hours and days ahead.”

More via CNN, with Gov. Rick Scott giving us the trifecta:

GOP officials expect 50,000 people to attend the convention where Mitt Romney will officially accept his party’s presidential nomination and make the final turn to the November election.

Before the RNC announcement, Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott announced that he was cancelling his activities at the convention but would remain in Tampa to monitor and coordinate the state’s response to the storm. “I declared a state of emergency for the state of Florida,” Scott told reporters Saturday morning. “That’s standard protocol to make sure we can coordinate our efforts with federal, state, and local so we can have the proper response.”

There is a remarkable irony in a national party, the governor of the host state and a presidential candidate that all together look down upon the federal government as a whole, as well as state employees and their unions, now working with those same people, when there is a potentially life-threatening disaster looming.

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Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon, Has Died at 82

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Breaking news.

Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who became first to walk on the moon as commander of Apollo 11, has died. He was 82 years old.

He was born in the small town of Wapakoneta, Ohio, on Aug. 5, 1930.

On July 20, 1969, half a billion people — a sixth of the world’s population at the time — watched a ghostly black-and-white television image as Armstrong backed down the ladder of the lunar landing ship Eagle, planted his left foot on the moon’s surface, and said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Twenty minutes later his crewmate, Buzz Aldrin, joined him, and the world watched as the men spent the next two hours bounding around in the moon’s light gravity, taking rock samples, setting up experiments, and taking now-iconic photographs.

“Isn’t this fun?” Armstrong said over his radio link to Aldrin.

I remember being sat down in front of the television at age 4 with my infant sister by our mother, being told that I “would want to remember this day”. This clip of that moment still gives me chills:

Back in late 1988, my future husband took me to Washington DC for my first visit to the nation’s capitol and one of our stops was to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. There we saw the Apollo 11 module, encased in plexiglass to preserve it. Somehow he found the smallest separation of one of the seams, where I was able to sneak a finger in to touch the craft. It took a moment from my childhood etched permanently in my mind and made it more real- that 3 men were able to go to the moon and back (at that point) almost 20 years.

When one considers the advances in technology over the past half century that have benefited so many, due to the scientists, visionaries and brave pioneers of NASA, it is mind-boggling. Common place items found in over 90% of American households owe thanks to the space program.

I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams what it must have been like to have experienced what Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins did in the years leading up to the launch, the journey and mission itself, or the years since. I am just grateful to them and all who have served in this vital program over the years.

Another clip:

“To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, NASA released partially restored video of a series of 15 memorable moments from the July 20 moonwalk. The source material for the restoration project is the best of the available broadcast-format video. Lowry Digital, Burbank, Calif., is significantly enhancing the video using the company’s proprietary software technology and other restoration techniques. The video is part of a larger restoration project that will be completed in September and provide a newly restored high definition video of the entire Apollo 11 moonwalk. The completed restoration will provide the public with the highest quality video of this historic event.”

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Weekly Address of President Obama: Preserving and Strengthening Medicare

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Hi, everybody. Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about Medicare, with a lot of accusations and misinformation flying around. So today I want to step back for a minute and share with you some actual facts and news about the program.

This week, we found out that, thanks to the health care law we passed, nearly 5.4 million seniors with Medicare have saved over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs. That’s an average of more than $700 per person. And this year alone, 18 million seniors with Medicare have taken advantage of preventive care benefits like mammograms or other cancer screenings that now come at no extra cost.

That’s progress. It means that seniors everywhere are getting the care they need for less. And if you have questions about what benefits you’re entitled to, you can go to http://www.medicare.gov to find out.

This news is also a reminder of what’s really at stake when we talk about the future of Medicare. It’s not about overheated rhetoric at election time. It’s about a promise this country made to our seniors that says if you put in a lifetime of hard work, you shouldn’t lose your home or your life savings just because you get sick.

Over the last 47 years, millions of Americans have worked for that promise. They’ve earned it. And for many seniors, the care they’ve gotten through Medicare has made all the difference in the world.

Growing up as the son of a single mother, I was raised with the help of my grandparents. I saw how important things like Medicare and Social Security were in their lives. And I saw the peace of mind it gave them.

That’s why, as President, my goal has been to strengthen these programs now, and preserve them for future generations. Because today’s seniors deserve that same peace of mind. And the millions of Americans who are working hard right now deserve to know that the care they need will be available when they need it.

That’s why, as part of the Affordable Care Act, we gave seniors deeper discounts on prescription drugs, and made sure preventive care like mammograms are free without a co-pay. We’ve extended the life of Medicare by almost a decade. And I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies – reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.

Republicans in Congress have put forward a very different plan. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. That means that instead of being guaranteed Medicare, seniors would get a voucher to buy insurance, but it wouldn’t keep up with costs. As a result, one plan would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year for the same benefits they get now. And it would effectively end Medicare as we know it.

I think our seniors deserve better. I’m willing to work with anyone to keep improving the current system, but I refuse to do anything that undermines the basic idea of Medicare as a guarantee for seniors who get sick.

Here in America, we believe in keeping our promises – especially to our seniors who have put in a lifetime of hard work and deserve to enjoy their golden years. That’s what Medicare is all about. That’s why we need to strengthen and preserve it for future generations. And as long as I have the honor of serving as your President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Andy O’Brien (Lincolnville): Rep. O’Brien: Rural Maine farms critical to state’s economy

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Listen here.

Good morning, I’m State Rep. Andy O’Brien from Lincolnville.

Thank you for tuning in.

This morning I wanted to talk about an issue that is critical to our state and our future – our farms in rural Maine.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to experience first-hand how important our farms are. I spent most of my life living on a small farm in Lincolnville – raking blueberries almost every summer since my childhood.

The blueberries, sweet corn, and tomatoes we love to purchase on the side of our rural roads are part of our state’s lore and heritage. More importantly, our farm stands, farms and the families that run them are critical to our economy and food security. A thriving rural economy depends on them.

This past week’s celebration of the Annual Maine Farm Days highlights the direction our state needs to move in order to bring back our rural economy. We have an opportunity to grow our local food and farm industry, which has a $1.2 billion impact on our state’s economy.

Unfortunately for the past two years, we’ve seen one policy after another that hurt rural Maine.

The governor and Republican allies have made it harder to live and work in rural Maine.
They refused to make needed investments in fixing our roads and bridges and undercut dedicated funds for road repair. Farmers can’t get their goods to market, if they don’t have good roads to travel on.

They made health care more expensive by passing a law that allows insurance companies to charge higher prices to those living in rural areas.

While several small rural schools in Waldo County were facing closure, they proposed using public dollars to fund private religious schools. If we want young families to farm in rural Maine, we need strong local schools for their children.

And more and more families in rural areas are facing higher property taxes, as the state shifted more and more costs to small towns during the past two years.

These policies will hurt rural Maine and some have already started to take their toll. Maine was among only a handful of states where the economy moved backwards last year.

Our local farm and food policy must be part of the economic equation to move us forward. We are seeing some promising trends in Maine farming.

There’s a huge growth in interest on the part of people in buying more food locally, whether it’s going to farmers markets, shopping directly at a farm, or joining a community agriculture program.
The average age of our farmers in Maine is going down because more young people are engaging in farming or staying on the farm. And the number of farms under
cultivation is actually increasing.

That’s why it is so important for our leaders to support policies that will help Maine farms and our rural economy prosper. That means supporting local roads, local schools, and hard working farm families across the state. We need to create more opportunities for accessing our food. During the past two years, I was proud to be part of an effort to ensure our Maine fruits, vegetables, meat and fish are used in school lunch programs.

We need the leaders of our state to support policies that help move rural Maine forward, not backwards.

Join me in urging our leaders to support rural Maine.

Thanks for listening I’m State Rep. Andy O’Brien.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Job Creators have Positive Outlook on Maine’s Business Climate

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Listen here.

Small businesses in Maine are the backbone of our economy.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Last month, my administration introduced the Governor’s Business Survey in an effort to learn more about the needs of our job creators throughout the State.

So far, nearly 500 businesses have provided feedback that will help us develop policy that will spur job creation and economic growth.

While this survey is not yet conclusive, I am sharing with you a snapshot of what we have learned from those who have responded. The final analysis will come this fall.

The results thus far identify what businesses see as benefits that they currently enjoy here in Maine and that which they would like to see prioritized for change.

Quality of life was most consistently rated as the best part of doing business in Maine, while businesses clearly stated that workforce issues are what they would like see the biggest focus on in the future.

In every question where workforce issues were raised it was immediately clear that businesses feel this should be a top priority for the administration. Forty-four percent of respondents said that they are not confident they have access to a quality workforce here in Maine.

Attracting and recruiting talent, retaining talent, and access to trained workers were all rated as “critical” or “very important.” Fifty to sixty percent of respondents listed these areas as challenges faced by their business, all of which are major workforce issues.

While most workforce needs will, for the most part, remain relatively consistent for the future according to respondents, the largest growth will be seen in the need for employees with technical and vocational certificates and bachelor’s degrees. The need for employees with these credentials will increase by 25 to 30 percent.

Other challenges that businesses consistently stated they faced were managing in an unpredictable economic climate, identifying growth opportunities, and healthcare costs.

Infrastructure concerns were also raised, specifically natural gas is an area that businesses would like to see improvement. Currently, my administration is seeking to lower the State’s energy costs by expanding natural gas. The estimated savings by converting state buildings in Augusta could be $1.5 million per year and reduce oil usage by 1.2 million gallons per year based on current prices. This important infrastructure will also help lower prices for homes and businesses along the way. Pellet heating technology will also generate savings for Mainers.

During our latest round of job creation summits across Maine all of these concerns were raised. Additionally, job creators keep telling us that government regulations continue to hinder job growth.

Businesses are pleased to see an administration with a different attitude, and have noticed positive changes when dealing with state agencies. That being said, they also emphasized that adding new requirements mid-way through a project can be costly, and burdensome. They agree that they are more than willing to be presented a list of requirements and regulations up front, so everyone is clear on expectations and they can avoid additional requirements half way through a project. Our job creators are right. They should have clear expectations from start to finish and this is something our departments are working on now.

Some more positive feedback we’re receiving points to the fact that the Department of Environmental Protection is becoming more helpful in working with businesses to bring common sense to Maine’s regulatory environment. When it’s done in a balanced manner, we can make the economy and the environment work together to benefit Mainers.

It’s reassuring to hear that my administration overall has been a welcome change for business-owners and they feel as though we have made great steps to change the culture and the relationship between the public and private sectors.

For more information about Maine’s Business Survey please visit Maine.gov and click on the Department of Economic and Community Development link or the Governor’s website. Let us know what you think, we’re listening.

Maine has 40,000 small businesses and I’d like to see every single one take part in the survey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent. It will take us all working together to improve the business climate. I’m asking for your help to continue to turn Maine around.

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