Archive for June 2nd, 2013

Michaud at Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) Celebration: Maine’s Public Libraries Doorways to Economic Opportunity

Posted on June 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

mslMaine state, congressional, business and community leaders gathered in the State House’s Hall of Flags last Friday to celebrate the completion of the Maine State Library’s $1.9 million Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) project which increased publicly available computer workstations at 107 public libraries by 40 percent and invested in a state-of-the-art video conferencing system that now links 14 public libraries across the state.

Map of 107 Public Libraries Who Built Out Broadband Technology Under the Maine State Library BTOP Grant

Map of 107 Public Libraries Who Built Out Broadband Technology Under the Maine State Library BTOP Grant

Maine is the nation’s second most rural state with 59.9 percent of the population liveingin rural areas. While an increasing number of services and employment opportunities are available online, many Maine residents lack available or affordable high-speed Internet access.

100_5633Maine State Librarian Linda Lord introduced the speakers, thanking those assembled and commenting of her own regarding the importance of the project.

    “We are here today to say thank you to everyone who has supported Maine’s public libraries. We are grateful for your support and together, with librarians across the state, we are working hard to ensure Mainers know their local public library is a place where they can find a book, a video – and also get free access to high-speed Internet and good, practical help finding a job.”

    “National research tells us that at least 40 percent of American public library visits are for employment-related needs,” Lord said, referencing an American Library Association report released May 2, 2013. “Here in Maine, local librarians are absolutely committed to being on the front lines of economic recovery and opportunity, helping our neighbors access the tools, training and bandwidth they need to succeed in today’s economy.”

Patrick Therrien, flanked by GWI's Fletcher Kittredge and US Congressman Mike Michaud.

Patrick Therrien, flanked by GWI’s Fletcher Kittredge and US Congressman Mike Michaud.

Patrick Therrien, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran and the training and education specialist who developed state-of-the-art employment-related courses under the BTOP initiative, spoke of his own experiences of being unemployed and working with MSL to develop the very tools and programs of online, video and in-person training courses being utilized in now over 100 libraries statewide.

“The reality is that the old system of searching for opportunities – “Click, Review, Apply and Pray,” does not work anymore,” said Therrien. “What the Maine State Library created with the Information Commons project and Learning Express is a state-of-the-art, easy-to-access, easy-to-use ‘one-stop shop’ of common sense tools that can help any Mainer, in any part of the state, finding and landing employment and career opportunities.”

Statements of congratulations and support for the program were shared by staff of Maine’s Congressional delegation. U.S. Representative and possible 2014 Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud was in attendance and spoke to those assembled.

    “Libraries have always been places of study, community, and creativity. Now, thanks to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the hard work of the Maine State Library, public libraries across our state are also doorways to economic opportunity. I am particularly pleased to see the special attention that has gone into reaching out to serve our Maine Veterans. We must do everything we can to help those who have served our country so honorably.”
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TV-Gate, AKA “The Case of the Disappearing Transom”, Has Been Solved!

Posted on June 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

tv hall of flagsAs one who tends to be-bop around the State House a fair amount in my capacity as press, it was inevitable that my sharp eyes would notice a wee lil change in the back of the Hall of Flags recently, to wit: A 46″ TELEVISION SET. Which according to BDN, set the Maine taxpayers back almost $1500 bucks.

Not bad, considering just a few weeks ago the Governor didn’t seem to know such funds were available

Apparently the new entertainment center of LePage’s was also noticed by the Legislative Council, who informed the Governor that he could not watch his soap operas out in the hallway at his leisure and that if he “wanted his M-TV”, it would have to be somewhere else.

In fact, there is even a law about it. Who knew?

(Well, BESIDE Governor LePage, that is…)

So, utilizing all of the gentile, polite manners and compromising abilities have have become a standard trademark for Paul LePage nigh these past few years, his administration sent out a press release that read in part:

    As the final weeks of the State of Maine 126th Legislature approach, a disturbing trend is underway by Democratic Leadership within the walls of State House. For the second time this week, Democrats have attempted to silence the Governor and violate his right to freedom of speech.

    In their latest act of censorship, Democrats have told the Governor that he cannot have a television in the Office of the Governor lobby area, which is on the second floor of the State House. In a letter, Governor Paul R. LePage informed Democratic Leadership today that the television is placed in the reception area of the Governor’s Office. Senate President Justin Alfond today told Governor LePage in a morning meeting that he could not have the television on display.

    lepage afa dawn hill“The repeated attempts by Democrats to stifle debate on bills and to prevent me from speaking in front of the Appropriations Committee is a disturbing pattern of censorship that should concern all Mainers,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Now they are saying that the Governor of Maine cannot have a TV in the waiting area. Maine Democrats are taking their cue from the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C., which has violated the free-speech rights of American citizens and used the power of the government to silence those who disagree with them. If I have to remove myself from the toxic climate of censorship by Democrats in the State House to defend the taxpayers of Maine, then that’s what I will do.

Ah. So to quote Billy Joel: “And if that’s what you have in mind, Then that’s what you’re all about, Good luck movin up cause I’m movin out…”

Well, at that point not just our local Maine news outlets but some national media picked up on the story, including Washington Post, Boston Globe, to name a few.

Wait a minute… did Governor LePage really just blame President Obama for TV-Gate?

Oh, let’s look at that clip.

All over a TV. Oh, and stifling the LePage Administration in their efforts to speak to the Appropriations Committee on matters pertaining to the current budget process.

Got it.

The Governor went further:

    lepage concealed weapon permitLePage compared Democrats’ refusal to let him address the committee to national controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, September’s terrorist attacks in Libya and the U.S. Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press emails.

    Asked why the issue is so important, the governor replied, “It’s freedom of speech. You folks should understand that better than I. It is the First Amendment, then there is the Second and I love them both.”

    He later said, “The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out.

Blink. Is there anyone else concerned with the threatening tone here? Or has it just become acceptable pro forma practice within the Tea Party to threaten to shoot those politicians with whom one has a disagreement?

100_5565Determined to get his message out to folks one way or another, the Governor then ordered that his TV be placed in the transom window space above one of his office’s many doorways. Yet it did not stop the controversy, as some asked whether the historic nature of the State House was in some way violated by the removal of said transom to accommodate the television set.

And this- THIS– was when my photojournalist instincts kicked into high gear. Steeling my nerves, stiffening my spine and taking a deep breath, I approached a member of the Governor’s staff…

And asked if I could see the other side of the doorway.

100_5571What I found- was that the transom windows are double-hinged. That the window was deliberately opened and folded down, as they are intended to do on occasion. That this doorway has been used as space for a large file cabinet and as such, presumably was previously cleared by the state fire marshall as not a necessary fire escape.

I immediately decided to get to the heart of the matter and ask some hard-driving questions, to seek out the truth. It’s a technique press-like, journalistical people such as myself sometimes like to use.

Walking into the office, I approached the receptionist, who called Governor LePage’s press secretary Adrienne Bennett on the phone to come out and speak with me. I introduced myself and demanded to know:

    “So, the transom window was merely folded down as its hinges are designed to do and not removed at all?”

    “Yes,” Bennett replied and added, “The wooden oak supporting bar behind the unit was even attached by screws utilizing existing holes in the door frame and that we (the Governor’s office) obtained permission from the Legislative Council before putting it into place.”

andi pressSensing an opportunity, I requested to take a few photos, as to show the awful carnage and vast, wanton destruction of the People of Maine’s State House.

As she said that of course; it is a public place, Ms. Bennett smiled nicely and added, “that no one else from the press had yet asked to come in, see the window and take photos of it.”

SCOOP!! And now the mystery is solved.

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