Archive for September 27th, 2012

Mainers United Issue Information to Correct Opponents’ Deliberate Lies About Existing State Laws

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

(The briefing memo is below, shared in its entirety. The title is mine alone. ~AP)

Opponents of Freedom to Marry Sow Confusion on Domestic Partnerships

Opponents of allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license have begun an effort to create confusion about current Maine law, domestic partnerships and civil unions.

In op-eds placed in daily newspapers around the state, opponents of marriage have incorrectly claimed that “same-sex couples have been able to join together in legal matrimony in Maine for eight years with the same rights and benefits of everyone else.”

This information is false.

Additionally, there has been an effort to confuse domestic partnerships with civil unions. Maine does not allow civil unions, nor does the state allow same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license.

Instead, Maine has a limited “Domestic Partnership Registry” that grants certain eligible couples a small handful of legal rights in terms of probate, guardianships, conservatorships, inheritance and protection from abuse.

“Parents don’t dream of the day that their children will enter into a binding legal contract or have their domestic partnership papers filed. They dream of the day their children will marry the person they love and begin a life together, with all of the responsibilities and joys that come with marriage. Loving, committed couples don’t hope for the day they will be protected in probate court,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “In form and function, domestic partnerships do not have the same meaning or protections that come with civil marriage.”

Apart from legal rights, marriage carries profound personal meaning, for the couples and for others who instantly grasp its significance. Because it is understood by all, the word “marriage” is itself is a protection.

From the Department of Health and Human Services domestic partnership registry website: “Effective July 30, 2004, Public Law 672 regarding Domestic Partner Registration will allow individuals who have been legally domiciled together in this state, for at least 12 months, to submit a notarized registration form (Declaration of Domestic Partnership) to the Maine CDC vital records office to have their partnership legally registered. The Domestic Partner Registration allows individuals to have rights of inheritance (as specified in Title 18-A M.R.S.A.) as well as the right to make decisions regarding the disposal of their deceased partners remains (Title 22 M.R.S.A. §2843-A).”

“Does that sound at all like a marriage,” McTighe said. “Marriage matters to thousands of Maine families. Marriage is the strongest and most stabilizing bond the state can confer on any couple, and it’s something that should be encouraged, not discouraged. Domestic partnerships are no substitute for allowing all loving, committed couples to marry.”

Opponents of marriage around the country have outlined a strategy that Mainers will recognize from 2009, the only other time the issue of allowing same-sex couples to marry has been voted on in Maine.

Opponents falsely claim – as the referenced op-ed above makes clear – that same-sex couples already enjoy the legal rights of marriage.

And Mainers United expects, in the closing days of the campaign, to see a television ad similar to the one aired in 2009, which says: “We want to be tolerant of gays. Maine’s domestic partnership laws provide substantial protections for gay couples. Any problems remaining can be addressed without dismantling traditional marriage. It’s possible to support civil rights of all citizens and protect traditional marriage at the same time.”

The goal of the advertisement is to create a false equivalence between two things that are not alike.

Alternatives to marriage also fail as a matter of principle. Other states that have passed domestic partnerships or civil unions have found that they just don’t work and can be harmful.

Massachusetts: The Massachusetts high court rejected an attempt by some to substitute civil unions after its landmark marriage ruling in 2003. The Court said in an Opinion to the Justices of the Senate that the differences “between the terms ‘civil marriage’ and ‘civil union’” [were] “not innocuous; [but]… a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex … couples to second-class status. … The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal.”

New Jersey: After New Jersey enacted civil unions, in 2008, an independent Civil Union Review Commission issued a unanimous report to the Governor and Legislature with urgent findings, calling the negative effects of civil unions “striking”: “In a number of cases, the negative effect of the Civil Union Act on the physical and mental health of same-sex couples and their children is striking.”

The Commission found that “children would benefit by society’s recognition that their parents are married” and called for the state to amend the civil union law “without delay” to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The Commission also wrote in its final report: “Even if, given enough time, civil unions are understood to provide rights and responsibilities equivalent to those provided in marriage, they send a message to the public: same-sex couples are not equal to opposite-sex married couples in the eyes of the law, that they are ‘not good enough’ to warrant true equality. This is the same message that racial segregation laws wrongfully sent. Separate treatment was wrong then and it is just as wrong now.

Vermont: A commission in Vermont drew similar conclusions in 2008, nearly a decade after it passed its civil union law. Vermonters with civil unions testified saying that there are “deficits in the civil union law, with clear and negative financial, economic, and social impacts on their lives and the lives of their children and families.”

Connecticut: Also in 2008, the Supreme Court of Connecticut struck down a statute that prohibited same-sex marriage, finding that civil unions and marriage “are by no means ‘equal.’”

The court explained in its opinion: “Despite the truly laudable effort of the legislature in equalizing the legal rights afforded same sex and opposite sex couples, there is no doubt that civil unions enjoy a lesser status in our society than marriage.”

Mainers United for Marriage is the coalition to win marriage for all Maine families. A “Yes” vote on Question 1 in November will allow marriage licenses for loving, committed same-sex couples in Maine while also protecting religious freedom.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.mainersunited.org.

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Maine Democrats: “LePage Must Take Responsibility For $4.8M Compliance Error”; Furious Admin Plans to Appeal USDA Decision

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

Things are heating up in Augusta! From MPBN:

    DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew is furious at the Food and Nutrition Service and its demand for payment, and said the state will appeal. She said her office sought to recover the money from the recipients in the first place, because it was told to do so by the Food and Nutrition Service.

    “We will be appealing this decision, it is not only inconsistent with the practice of FNS, it is inconsistent with a letter we received from this same federal agency six months prior demanding that we collect the overpayment,” Mayhew said.

    Mayhew is upset at the assertion in the letter that the state has a systemic problem in how it handles the food stamp program. The very same letter, she said, praises the state’s administration of the program.

    “In the exact same letter, that they issued this week, they are commending the state of Maine for our system in administering this federal program and that we are eligible to receive bonus funding for how well we have administered the program,” she said.

Earlier today, State Senator Justin Alfond and House Minority Leader Emily Cain responded to the news with a joint press release:

    “The Administration’s ongoing neglect of the law and mismanagement is costing Maine tax payers,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Senator Justin Alfond of Portland. “As seen here, the Administration’s arrogant approach is harmful to Maine families and now it’s costing all of us.”

    “We are relieved to hear that struggling families won’t have to pay the price for the LePage administration’s mismanagement,” said House Democratic Leader Emily Cain of Orono. “The administration must take responsibility for its mistakes, not shift costs to Maine people.”

    Alfond added, “This $4.8 million mistake is only what we know about today. Who can guess at what other ‘errors’ have yet to be uncovered.

A fair question. Maine must file any appeal within ten days and then must file arguments with an appeals board set up to hear state appeals of rulings within 30 days. The appeals board then has another 30 days to issue a ruling, which can be appealed to the courts if necessary.

*Related: (UPDATED) USDA To Mayhew, DHHS: $4.8M SNAP Overpayment Cannot Be Recouped From Affected 70k Maine Families

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Second New Obama Ad Today Attacks Romney on 47%: “My Job”

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

Take a look– this is an effective body punch that is going to further hurt Mitt Romney.

Sidenote: Nate Silver of 538 has an interesting read today in the NYT with great interactive polling chart graphics; the latest shows Obama with a solid 316 electoral college votes to Romney’s 222. Some snippets:

    Accounting for all of the data, including the Rasmussen Reports poll, the FiveThirtyEight forecast showed Mr. Obama making gains. His probability of winning the Electoral College is now listed at 81.9 percent, his highest figure of the year and up from 79.7 percent on Tuesday.
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Maine League of Young Voters Announces 2012 Official Candidate Endorsements

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

The Maine League of Young Voters has released their list of candidate endorsements 9see below); one surprise was that they chose not to endorse a US Senate candidate at all. Via email blast:

    We have officially made our endorsements for the November 6th election!

    Just scroll down for a full list of our endorsements for each issue and race.

    Our Process:

    All volunteers who’ve given us eight hours of their time over the past year were invited to vote on who we decided to endorse at our annual Project Vote meeting, held last night.

    Our elections committee formulated a questionnaire and only candidates who answered that questionnaire were eligible for our endorsement. We’ll have all of the questionnaires available on our website early next week.

    If you have any further questions, we have tons of great resources over on our website, as well.

    Want to help make our endorsements next year? Then come hang out and volunteer with us for eight hours over the course of the next year — and get started today!

Here’s a full list of our endorsements!

President – Barack Obama/Joe Biden (D)

US Senate – no endorsement

US House – Chellie Pingree (D)

State Senate District 7 – Rebecca Millett (D)

State Senate District 8 – Justin Alfond (D)

State Senate District 9 – Anne Haskell (D)

State House District 113 – Mark Dion (D)

State House District 114 – Peter Stuckey (D)

State House District – Erik Jorgensen (D)

State House District – Denise Harlow (D)

State House District – Richard Farnsworth (D)

State House District – Matt Moonen (D)

State House District – Ben Chipman (I)

State House District – Diane Russell (D)

State House District – Terry Morrison (D)

State House District 123 – Scott Hamman (D)

State House District 124 – Candidates did not return questionnaire

Portland City Council At-Large – Wells Lyons

Portland City Council District 1 – Kevin Donoghue

Portland City Council District 2 – Dave Marshall

Portland School Board At-Large – Sarah Thompson

Portland School Board District 1 – Jenna Vendil

Portland School Board District 2 – Holly Seeliger

Portland Water District – Nisha Swinton

Ballot Question 1 – YES

Ballot Question 2 – YES

Ballot Question 3 – YES

Ballot Question 4 – YES

Ballot Question 5 – YES

Local Ballot Question – YES

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(UPDATED) USDA to Mayhew, DHHS: $4.8M SNAP Overpayment Cannot Be Recouped From Affected 70k Maine Families

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

Oh dear; here we go again! From a press release via Rep. Pingree’s office this morning:

    Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that federal officials have informed the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that 70,000 Maine families should not be required to repay approximately $80 in SNAP (food stamp) benefits that the state erroneously handed out over the course of several months.

    “We heard from dozens of food stamp beneficiaries who suddenly, out of the blue, were informed that they owed the state $80. For people struggling to put food on the table, that represents a big hit to their budget,” Pingree said. “These families didn’t do anything wrong, the overpayment was due to an administrative mistake, and there was no way they could have possibly known they were getting a few dollars more a month than they should have.

    The error, according to federal officials, came when state officials failed to follow federal guidelines in applying the “Standard Utility Allowance”— the estimate of a household’s utility costs used when calculating the need for food stamp benefits.

Federal officials also expressly prohibited the state from trying to collect the overpayment from Maine SNAP beneficiaries. Maine law as reported in the Bangor Daily News, back in July, states that DHHS, which administers the program, was prohibited from reducing benefits until a formal rule change in the program was made.

One wonders how many times the LePage administration, Mayhew and DHHS have messed up their numbers- it seems to happen on a fairly frequent basis. It’s hard to not agree with this opinion piece from last March, making the case for Mayhew’s firing- certainly she has not helped build a rebuttal case for retention.

Suffice to say, we will see much more of this sort of mismanagement in the year to come, now that the waiting is over, SCOTUS has upheld Obamacare and Maine is now asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to force the Obama Administration to allow the state to reduce the amount it spends on Medicaid.

The letter from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, addressed to Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, can be seen below.

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Another Bad Day for Romney! Dems Ask Feds Look into Bain Ethics Filings, 1985 Romney Clip Emerges: “Bain to ‘Harvest’ Companies for Profit”

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

This video is going viral, just as news that a Democratic group is requesting that the Justice Dept look into Romney’s Bain Capital ethic filings.

More from Mother Jones, who released the clip:

    At Bain, Romney’s top priority wasn’t to boost employment. As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, creating jobs “wasn’t the aim of Bain or other private-equity firms, which measure success by returns produced for investors.” And, the newspaper reported, Romney’s 100,000-jobs claim is tough to evaluate.

    Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain’s formation, showed how he viewed the firm’s mission. He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then “harvest them at a significant profit” within five to eight years.

    The video was included in a CD-ROM created in 1998 to mark the 25th anniversary of Bain & Company, the consulting firm that gave birth to Bain Capital.

Here is the letter filed with the Justice Department:

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President Obama Addresses Nation in New 2 Minute Ad: “Table”

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

New 2 minute address/ ad this morning from the Obama campaign, laying out specific plans for the future. It is set to air in the swing states of New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado.

Give it a look.

A link to the plans laid out by the President and comparisons to those of his opponent, Mitt Romney.

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