MPW’s Top 13 of 2013
(As every other site seems to being doing a year in review round up, it seemed appropriate to take a look back at what stories hit your fancy. So here is the list- enjoy the trip in the WayBack Machine! ~AP)
- The commission’s unanimous vote was seen as a victory in the redistricting process. Decisions often have been left to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, including in 2003, when lawmakers couldn’t settle on a Senate map.
“We have reached a map that I think is reasonable and fair to both sides,” said David Emery, a consultant for Republicans who has been involved in redistricting debates in Maine dating to 1973. “It’s impossible to make everyone happy in a negotiation of this kind, but both caucuses should be congratulated for their work.”
Greg Olson, a Democratic consultant, agreed.
“Overall, this is a true compromise,” Olson said Friday of the new House map. “This is a map both sides and the people in the state can be proud of. This represents the first time in many decades that we’ve come to an agreement on both chambers of the Legislature as well as the county commissions.”
Maine law requires legislative district and county commission maps be updated every 10 years based on population changes. The new maps are based on the 2010 census, which shows a shift in population from Northern to Southern Maine.
Expounding on the theme of the “ladder to success,” Jackson said that LePage had “pulled the ladder up behind you once you climbed it,” and that:
“We will do better. THAT is why we are Democrats!
Because, Brothers and Sisters, we are the party of Allagash’s proud loggers, just as we are the party of the entrepreneur in the renovated mills of Biddeford. We are the party of the creative economy on Congress Street in Portland, just as we are the party of the tireless mill workers in Rumford. We are the party of the lobstermen in Rockland and the Maine Guide in Jackman.
It is we who are, the party of the potato farmer in Caribou and the teacher in Waldoboro. It is we who are, the party of the HARD WORKING state employees here in Augusta and the abused Decoster workers a few miles north. We are the party of children, whether they’re in Jay or Machias, and we are the party of the elderly whether they’re in Greenville or Belfast.
Brothers and Sisters – we are going to go forth together and win in November. And when we do we will make damn sure that the ladder of success is there for every Mainer. We are on the right side of this fight, we are on the right side of history, we are the party of the people of Maine – we are the Democrats AND we have your back!”
Compare that with, at the Maine Republican Convention weeks’ prior, we heard this from Governor LePage:
“This November represents a real choice at the ballot box. Do you want to remain a sinking welfare state? Can we revive the American dream? Remember Eliot Cutler? He’s still running for governor. He mocked me. He said I was pandering. But we did what Eliot Cutler and the liberal media said wasn’t possible: We passed the largest tax cut in Maine’s history… I understand welfare because I lived it. I understand the difference between a want and a need. The Republican Party promised to bring welfare change. We must deliver on this promise. Maine’s welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government.
To all you able-bodied people out there: Get off the couch and get yourself a job.”
3. July: Governor LePage’s Mulligan
Yesterday after the House (114-34) and Senate (26-9) delivered crushing blows to Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1509, the FY 14-15 fiscal budget bill and in doing so avoided the first statewide government shutdown in over twenty years, the governor held a press conference in which he was a far, far more subdued man than just last week:
“I’m very disappointed on this budget. Until we start understanding what makes an economy drive and why the southeast and the southwest and the Atlantic states have such good economies, until we emulate some of their behaviors we are not going to be anywheres but 50th place in the country for doing business.”
“It’s a real sad day for the state of Maine. We took, I thought, with the 125th Legislature, that we took two steps forward for the state. Today, I think we took three steps back. I really feel bad for today.”
- While Governor LePage was speaking at an Americans for Prosperity rally in the Maine State House’s Hall of Flags threatening to veto the budget and shut down the Maine state government, Senator Troy Jackson was chairing the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee.
As such, Jackson was unable to hear the Governor’s highly offensive comments about him, as reported by multiple local media sources (WARNING: Not safe for work). Via WMTW’s Paul Marrill:
“Sen. Jackson claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.” LePage added, “He is bad. He has no brains, and he has a black heart.”
Jackson, who serves in the Senate as Assistant Majority Leader, was joined after the conclusion of his 11 am meeting by Majority Leader Seth Goodall (D-Sagadahoc) for a 2pm press conference today.
“I don’t know if it’s where I’m from or the way I speak or something, but it comes up that maybe I’m not the smartest guy. I don’t know if I am or not. Maybe I am the country bumpkin, but that doesn’t bother me. What’s in my heart is good and I feel comfortable about that. I’ll go back in the woods any time I have to. That’s where I made my name in my district. … I feel comfortable that my district supports that. He just keeps going on with things that don’t seem to be accurate and [are] delusional. When he talks about working class people, I think that I represent working class people because that’s who I am. People I know very well are concerned very much about what the governor’s budget is going to do to them.”
- Some excerpts of Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos‘ share:
“As the only independent in the Maine House of Representatives who does not caucus with either party, I am pleased to announce that I am supporting U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for governor. I plan on campaigning for Michaud during the 2014 election season.
Mike Michaud will make a terrific governor of our state. He has the two characteristics that are sorely lacking in the current administration in Augusta: humility and common sense. He’s a good listener, thoughtful and respectful. It will be such a breath of fresh air when Michaud is elected as our next governor.
Why am I throwing my support to Michaud rather than fellow independent Eliot Cutler? Cutler’s successes have come on the wrong side of the economy at the expense of common people. His relationship as a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud, and his employment and association with the Dallas-based international consultancy Akin Gump, where outsourcing jobs to China is part of the mission, disqualifies Cutler as a person who can lead Maine out of this serious recession Maine people are experiencing.
Contrast this with Michaud, a paper mill worker who understands what it means to keep and develop good paying jobs in Maine.”
- ORONO– State Senator Emily Ann Cain of Orono today announced her intent to run for U.S. Congress in Maine’s Second Congressional District following news that Congressman Mike Michaud is running for Governor.
In her announcement Cain said that securing the economic future of the Second Congressional District is her reason for entering the race. Cain’s priority is to continue creating good-paying jobs across Maine.
“During my nine years in the Legislature I have fought to protect and create jobs, make college more affordable, increase accountability in government, and support Maine workers and their families. I will take those same priorities with me when I go to Washington.”
Cain has a track record of working across party lines to benefit Mainers.
“I believe government exists to make sure everyone is treated fairly and has a chance to succeed,” Cain said. “I believe it is the responsibility of our elected leaders to work together to create opportunity and make sure the playing field is level for hard-working Maine people.”
The Senate chairwoman of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee spurned Gov. Paul LePage’s surprise attempt to speak Sunday during an emergency meeting called to address the governor’s recent claim that the Department of Health and Human Services won’t be able to pay MaineCare providers come May 28.
LePage asked to address the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee as it was preparing to recess. Sen. Dawn Hill, D-Cape Neddick, told the governor that she didn’t want to inject politics into a meeting during which lawmakers had agreed that the shortfall could be fixed by the end of the week.
- At long last, Governor LePage has finally chosen to directly address the ever growing number of local municipal and school district voter passed resolutions against his administration’s biannual budget with its zero revenue sharing scheme- by essentially throwing his hands in the air and telling the towns to figure out the problems among themselves.
What is going to be interesting to watch is how the GOP in the 126th Legislature react- as the governor insists on dragging them down with him.
- “The problem is there are only three large budget areas – education, welfare and revenue sharing,” wrote Governor LePage. “We cannot cut $200 million from debt service – the State must pay its bills. The Judicial Branch costs $100 million – courts are already behind, and I will not cut them further. Other core state functions – State Police, Corrections, our Natural Resource agencies – have been cut to the bone to feed continued growth in education and welfare spending, and they cannot be cut further without reducing public safety or our future economy. That leaves only the three large pots of money, and I chose revenue sharing.”
9. July: Veto Day Scorecard (UPDATED W/ FINAL RESULTS) : 2 Overridden, Rest Sustained
11:30 AM UPDATE: One of the first votes in the House was on LD 1572, “An Act To Correct Minor Technical Errors and Inconsistencies in the Unified Budget Bill”. It failed to pass that chamber by a 92-50 total vote (9 absent); among those who flipped their vote was House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport).
It later passed the Senate (3 PM) by a 24-9-2 (Senators Craven and Millett are absent today) vote and will go back to the House this evening.
4:30 PM: So far, only 4 vetoes have been overridden: LDs 415, 1132, 1263 and 1390 (see below).
UPDATE: By the end of the evening and conclusion of the session, only LDs 415 and 1132 were overridden in both chambers, of the 31 vetoes taken up by legislators.
- As the country awaits SCOTUS’s decision regarding DOMA, ten happy couples decided to tie the knot before family, friends, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and thousands of their closest supporters at this past weekend’s 27th Annual Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival at Deering Oaks.
The theme of this year’s event, “Marry Me”, was in honor of the 2012 marriage equality law that went into effect last December and the first same sex couple married in Maine, Portland’s own Michael Snell and Steven Bridges, were honorary marshals of the parade proceeding the wedding ceremony. The grand marshal for this year’s parade was Bethel resident Richard Blanco, who was the inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in last January.
Rob Hopkins of Pennsylvania, who had been in a relationship with his fiance for 18 years, said the couple decided to travel specifically to Maine to exchange vows: “We came to get married because Maine recognizes gay marriage. Maine is a beautiful state.”
- UPDATED: Late Friday came word that the Governor now intends to be the one to testify before Appropriations in the future- and no one else from his administration:
- Gov. Paul LePage has instructed state department commissioners to stop appearing before the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.
If someone from the administration is asked to speak before the committee, according to the governor’s office, it will be LePage himself.
The administration’s order is in direct response to a clash last Sunday when the committee’s Democratic chairwoman refused to let LePage address the members.
- “I wanted to tell the Appropriations Committee that I sent a balanced-budget proposal to the Legislature that did not require supplemental budgets or increased taxes,” said the Governor. “I also submitted a bill to pay the hospitals, which could have saved jobs and put Mainers to work. But Democratic Legislative leadership and the Dems on the Appropriations Committee are playing games.
“Instead of taking care of the 3,100 disabled and elderly Mainers on a waiting list for MaineCare services, Legislative leadership is trying to tie another expansion of welfare to paying the hospitals. They have rejected all of my proposals to crack down on welfare fraud, and they are pushing for a budget that will have to be paid for with tax increases. I told them months ago that the supplemental budget was not balanced, but they passed it anyway.
12. July: Theater at Monmouth: “Our Town” (REVIEW)
- “It goes so fast; we don’t have time to look at one another.” Hannah Daly, “Emily”
Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town” opened on July 19th and is set in a fictional town called “Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire” in the early 1900’s.
It is impossible not to see striking similarities between that location and so many other small New England towns- in fact, the cast photo used for the play’s online promotion was taken in the large Monmouth Center Cemetery which borders Cumston Hall, the Theater’s home. Within that cemetery lie the remains of many generations of families eerily similar to the Gibbs, Webbs, Herseys, Crowells and Newsomes of Grover’s Corners, right down to those who served and died in the Civil War, and no doubt some of their lives mirrored those of the characters in this play.
TAM’s exceptional cast and crew worked their magic with transforming the past back to life in the telling this simple tale; it was surreal during the intermission to step outside for those few minutes and into what appeared to be a future version of the tale currently being told inside.
Oh, those “Liberal Elitists in Augusta”– Governor LePage just today tried to warn us all about them! Now, look at the no-good, very bad thing they did!
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette had the following reaction:
- “This is symptomatic of some of the problems we’ve been seeing in committees,” said House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport). “Add to that Democrats continuing to use the one big thing we all agree on, the hospital bill, as a bargaining chip and a lack of credible solutions coming from them on balancing the budget, and we’re bound to have a very rushed final two months of session,” Fredette said.
Assistant Minority Leader Alec Willette concurred:
Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapelton) said the Democrat’s decision does not bode well for the creation of sound public policy.
“Anytime you stop advertising public hearings, you’re hindering the public’s ability to weigh in on important issues and, as a result, hindering our ability to craft good public policy,” he said.
Oh, that is terrible! Awful! How dare they?!?
Hey, wait a minute… what? Could it be that the Maine Wire/ GOP is trying to score cheap political points out of nothing at all?
Nah… couldn’t be. Not those bastions of honesty and truth!
Well, there it is- the 2013 wrap-up. Happy 2014, everyone!