Archive for March, 2015

(UPDATED) LePage: “Gloves Are Off”, “Disgusted” by Legislators, Claims Lawmakers “Weak on Drugs”

Posted on March 31, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

UPDATE: The video is now posted online. As the man himself says, “Here we are again.”

————–

A fiery Governor Paul LePage held a press conference this morning to blast lawmakers over the course of the past 5 years for the current drug epidemic within the state, as his administration attempts to sway public opinion to support his FY 2016-17 biennial budget.

From an earlier media advisory:

    In the biennial budget now being considered by legislators, Governor Paul R. LePage has included funding for four new District Court Judges within the Judicial Branch, seven Investigative Agents in the Department of Public Safety and four Assistant Attorney General positions within the Office of the Attorney General.

    The budget initiative provides Maine with additional resources to combat the State’s growing drug problem. Combined with treatment and recovery, funding for these critical positions is also needed to stem the increased threat to public safety and to the health of Mainers.

Audio here (video being uploaded) of the press conference.

The following data was handed out by Maine Public Safety Commissioner John Morris to media.

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(UPDATE) LePage: “Every Single Fracking Operation In The Country Does Not Pollute”

Posted on March 25, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

At last week’s town hall meeting in Presque Isle, Maine Governor Paul LePage closed out the event with a jaw-dropping claim that using “2015 mining technology”, aka fracking, doesn’t pollute. A link here to a few articles that dispute his statement.

    LePage: There’s a billion dollars of gold, in this county, according to the geologists in the state of Maine. I’ve never seen too many people lose money on gold and there are jobs.

    Woman in audience: They lose money on the clean up after the pollution.

    LePage: No. If- That is correct, if you use 1950 mining techniques, but if you use 2015, you don’t. We can argue that all day long.

    Same woman: Do you have an example-

    LePage: The point is-

    Same woman: Do you have an example of a mine that does, that, using 2015 technology, that does not pollute?

    LePage:Yes.

    Governor LePage takes questions from the audience at Presque Isle town hall, 3/19/15

    Governor LePage takes questions from the audience at Presque Isle town hall, 3/19/15

    Same woman: Who? Where? What mine?

    LePage: Every single uh, fracking mine, uh, every single fracking, uh, operation in the country does not pollute.

    Crowd: What?

    (Incredulous laughs, loud murmurs)

    LePage: We can argue it all day long, but the point is, you’re one billion dollars more.

    Man in audience: Don’t drink water in Pennsylvania.

    LePage press secretary Adrienne Bennett: (quickly) Right. Everybody, thank you all very much for your time, I encourage you to grab a booklet if you don’t have one already and again, thank you for your time.

Here is a letter published today in the Bangor Daily News in response to the governor’s claims.

      Out of mind

    Gov. Paul LePage’s recent response to a question about oil and natural gas production using a technique known as “fracking” stunned me. While stumping for his budget proposal at a town meeting in Presque Isle, the governor stated there were more than $1 billion worth of gold deposits under Aroostook County. One attendee pointed out that the cost of controlling mining pollution might exceed the value of the gold extracted. The governor disagreed, defending his opinion by claiming the fracking industry does not pollute.

    Here is the exchange, as reported by the questioner, Ms. Shelley “Chicky” Mountain:

      LePage: “There is a billion dollars worth of gold in this county.”

      Me: “It will cost more than that to clean up the pollution they leave behind.”

      LePage: “Maybe if you are using 1955 mining technology, but not with 2015 technology. There is no pollution with modern technology.”

      Me: “Do you know of any mines using 2015 technology that have not polluted?”

      LePage: “Yes.”

      Me: “Where? What mine?”

      LePage: “Fracking. Every single fracking operation in this country does not pollute.”

    The governor’s ignorance about the environmental impacts fracking is scary. Fracking uses enormous quantities of clean water, adding chemicals to make it “slippery.” Once used for fracking, the water is unfit for anything else. It must be treated or injected underground for our children and grandchildren to drink.

    For the governor, the dangers of fracking truly are “out of sight, out of mind.”

    Andrew Stevenson
    Belfast

————————————————-

UPDATE: As presumptive 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Ohio Governor John Kasich will be in Maine tomorrow and holding a press conference with Paul LePage, this seemed a good question to put forth on Twitter.

It was reported last summer in Youngstown that a business owner was sentenced to over 2 years in prison for repeatedly instructing his employees to dump toxic fracking waste into Ohio waterways.

    Between Nov. 1, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013, employees of Hardrock Excavating LLC, which provided services to the oil and gas industry including storing fracking waste, made over 30 discharges of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River. Sixty-four-year old Benedict W. Lupo, then-owner of Hardrock Excavating, directed his employees to dump the waste, which included benzene and toluene, under the cover of night into the waterway.

    Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on-scene coordinator Kurt Kollar was among the witnesses. In his testimony he said, “There was no sign of aquatic life, whatsoever,” in a tributary right after the fracking waste discharges, the Youngstown Vindicator reports.

    According to previous reporting by The Vindicator, Lupo’s lawyers said he ordered his employees to carry out the illegal dumping in order to keep them working because the company’s wastewater wells had been shut over connections to earthquakes.

Yeah- because fracking isn’t just disastrous for our nation’s waterways, but has also been conclusively linked- in Ohio- to earthquakes.

    A series of 77 earthquakes in Ohio — including one strong enough to be felt by humans — was caused by the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, scientists claimed in research published Tuesday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA).

    Small earthquakes have been attributed to fracking in Ohio before. But those earthquakes were all too small to be felt. Tuesday’s study is the first time scientists have attributed a larger earthquake to fracking, the process of injecting high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals underground to crack shale rock and let gas flow out more easily.

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(UPDATED x4) BREAKING: LePage Relieves Adjuntant General Brigadier General James D. Campbell of ME Nat’l Guard Command- On National Guard Day

Posted on March 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

UPDATE x4: The Legislature’s Veterans’ Caucus has released a statement about this morning in the State House (emphasis added):

    “As veterans serving in the Maine Legislature, recognizing we do not have all the facts, we are profoundly concerned by the announcement about the Maine National Guard’s leadership. Today is National Guard Day at the State House, a day that drew many men and women in uniform to our Capitol. It is a time to honor the National Guard, all our servicemen and servicewomen and all our veterans. We, as the Veterans Caucus, salute them for their service and their achievements.”

UPDATE 3: Bolduc has been sworn in by Governor LePage.

UPDATE x2: Brigadier General James Campbell spoke before Appropriations and Criminal Justice Committees just last week regarding the budget. His portion starts at the 2:40 mark.

UPDATE: Governor LePage has now postponed a scheduled 12:30 press conference and BDN has more information on Campbell’s firing

    “Based on an internal review of General Campbell, I have lost faith in his ability to lead Maine’s soldiers and airmen who serve so proudly in the National Guard,” LePage wrote in a statement. “Effectively immediately, I have relieved him of his command.”

    Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the governor, said the internal review had been happening for some time, but did not say who conducted it. She said the decision to fire Campbell came this morning.

Brigadier General Gerard Bolduc of Bangor has been named acting Adjuntant General.

=====

Maine’s Adjuntant General Brigadier General James Campbell, who spoke recently before the Appropriations Committee, has apparently been shown the door by Governor Paul LePage this morning. This news comes as quite a surprise, given that Campbell was scheduled to address a joint convention of the 127th Maine Legislature this morning (PDF OF SPEECH).

ME Adjunct General Brig. Gen. James D. Campbell speaks before Approriations Committee

ME Adjuntant General Brig. Gen. James D. Campbell speaks before Approriations Committee

This via Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta), moments ago on FB:

    “Gen. Campbell was relieved of his command this morning, so there will be no Joint Convention. Gen. Campbell, who also served as the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, was to brief lawmakers on the state of the Maine’s National Guard, Emergency Management Agency and Bureau of Veterans Services.”

Confirmation of the news has come by means of a short message to the media from Speaker Eves’ office:

“This morning the Legislature planned to hold a joint session to hear from the Adjutant General of the Maine National Guard. Given the breaking news that Governor Paul LePage relieved Brig. Gen. James Campbell this morning prior to the address, the Joint Session has been cancelled.”

No official word yet from the Governor’s office as to the reasons for the decision nor further information at this time.

From the House Calendar:

    ORDERS

    (4-1) On motion of Representative TEPLER of Topsham, the following Joint Resolution: (H.P. 741) (Cosponsored by Senator SAVIELLO of Franklin and Representatives: ALLEY of Beals, BABBIDGE of Kennebunk, BEAVERS of South Berwick, BICKFORD of Auburn, BROOKS of Lewiston, BRYANT of Windham, BUCKLAND of Farmington, BURSTEIN of Lincolnville, CHACE of Durham, CHENETTE of Saco, COOPER of Yarmouth, DAUGHTRY of Brunswick, DAVITT of Hampden, DEVIN of Newcastle, DILLINGHAM of Oxford, DOORE of Augusta, DUCHESNE of Hudson, DUNPHY of Old Town, EVANGELOS of Friendship, FARNSWORTH of Portland, FARRIN of Norridgewock, FOLEY of Wells, FOWLE of Vassalboro, GERRISH of Lebanon, GILBERT of Jay, GINZLER of Bridgton, GOLDEN of Lewiston, GOODE of Bangor, GRANT of Gardiner, GROHMAN of Biddeford, HICKMAN of Winthrop, HOBBINS of Saco, HOGAN of Old Orchard Beach, HYMANSON of York, JORGENSEN of Portland, KINNEY of Limington, KORNFIELD of Bangor, KRUGER of Thomaston, LONG of Sherman, LONGSTAFF of Waterville, MALABY of Hancock, MARTIN of Eagle Lake, MARTIN of Sinclair, MASTRACCIO of Sanford, McCABE of Skowhegan, McCREIGHT of Harpswell, MELARAGNO of Auburn, MONAGHAN of Cape Elizabeth, NADEAU of Winslow, NOON of Sanford, PETERSON of Rumford, PICKETT of Dixfield, PIERCE of Dresden, ROTUNDO of Lewiston, SAUCIER of Presque Isle, SCHNECK of Bangor, SEAVEY of Kennebunkport, SKOLFIELD of Weld, STUCKEY of Portland, SUKEFORTH of Appleton, TIMMONS of Cumberland, TIPPING-SPITZ of Orono, TUCKER of Brunswick, TUELL of East Machias, TURNER of Burlington, VEROW of Brewer, WELSH of Rockport, Senators: ALFOND of Cumberland, BAKER of Sagadahoc, BRAKEY of Androscoggin, BURNS of Washington, CUSHING of Penobscot, DAVIS of Piscataquis, DIAMOND of Cumberland, GERZOFSKY of Cumberland, GRATWICK of Penobscot, HASKELL of Cumberland, JOHNSON of Lincoln, LANGLEY of Hancock, LIBBY of Androscoggin, McCORMICK of Kennebec, MILLETT of Cumberland, PATRICK of Oxford, VALENTINO of York, VOLK of Cumberland, WILLETTE of Aroostook)

    JOINT RESOLUTION HONORING THE MAINE NATIONAL GUARD AND ALL ACTIVE DUTY PERSONNEL FOR THEIR SERVICE TO THE STATE AND NATION

    WHEREAS, patriots from the District of Maine first mustered to form a militia to fight for the colonies in the Revolutionary War and for the nation during the War of 1812; and

    WHEREAS, the Maine National Guard has proudly served the citizens of the State during natural disasters such as forest fires, floods and storms and has bravely defended the United States of America during times of war since Maine first entered the Union in 1820, and over the years the highest percentages of volunteers have been Maine people; and

    WHEREAS, nearly 12,000 members of the Maine Army National Guard and the Maine Air National Guard have faithfully answered the call to duty in America’s Global War on Terror; at times the State has had a larger percentage of personnel mobilized in support of that mission than any other state in the Union; and

    WHEREAS, members of the Maine Army National Guard and the Maine Air National Guard continue to defend freedom and democracy around the globe, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they are playing a vital role in protecting the safety and security of all Americans; and

    WHEREAS, the people of Maine have the utmost respect for the members of the Maine Army National Guard and the Maine Air National Guard for putting their lives in danger for the sake of the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans; and

    WHEREAS, the people of Maine are appreciative of the countless personal and professional sacrifices that the active volunteers of the Maine Army National Guard and the Maine Air National Guard and their families have made in order to protect our freedoms; and

    WHEREAS, since the tragic events of 9/11, countless Maine citizens have made sacrifices to serve and defend our country through the National Guard and to fight for our freedom, and 55 brave Maine citizens have answered the final call; now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED: That We, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Legislature now assembled in the First Regular Session, on behalf of the people we represent, take this opportunity to express our solidarity with the men and women on active duty in the Maine Army National Guard and the Maine Air National Guard and their families; and be it further

    RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Adjutant General of the Maine National Guard.

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LCRED Committee Takes Up 8 Minimum Wage Bills in Public Hearing

Posted on March 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

DSC_0010On Monday the 127th Maine Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee heard testimony on eight bills relating to modifying the state’s minimum wage, which currently sits at $7.50 an hour and has not been increased since 2006. A bill to raise it was passed by the 126th Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Governor LePage and later sustained.

Link here to the bills:

  • LD 36 (sponsored by Rep. Jeff Evangelos)
  • LD 52 (sponsored by Rep. Danny Martin)
  • LD 72 (sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann)
  • LD 77 (sponsored by Sen. Dave Miramant)
  • LD 92 (sponsored by Rep. Dillon Bates)
  • LD 487 (sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman)
  • LD 843 (sponsored by Rep. Gina Melaragno)
  • LD 739 (sponsored by Sen. Tom Saviello)

Some of the statements released yesterday are below.

    Rep. Gina Melaragno (D-Auburn): “Maine workers find themselves working at least full time but still living in or near poverty, while having to care for their families at the same time. They have seen the prices of everything go up except the price of their undervalued labor, and they are tired of being thrown a small token raise every five or six years. They want meaningful, lasting change.”

    DSC_0014Sen. Dave Miramant (D-Camden): “When I looked back at the value of the minimum wage, it hit an all-time high just as I was starting to work in 1969. The minimum wage was $1.60 per hour but that gave me the equivalent of a $10.19 wage in 2015 dollars. This is why we were able to start a large middle class through this period. We have been falling behind ever since! Because we have failed to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or some reliable method of indexing it to inflation, workers are being left behind in this state and in many others. The jobs that were supposed to be entry level and only short term have become an ongoing reality for far too many workers in our hobbled economy.”

    Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director: “People who work full time should not live in poverty. People who work hard should be able to earn enough to make ends meet. It’s long overdue that Maine workers get a raise. A meaningful increase in the minimum wage would improve the wages of hundreds of thousands of Mainers. It would spur economic activity and pump millions of dollars into the Maine economy. Its good economics, its the right thing to do, and it’s long overdue. We need to raise wages across the board. All throughout Maine, working families are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. Workers wages are simply not keeping pace with rising costs. Raising the minimum wage is a first step in a larger effort to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”

    100_5797Ben Chin, political director for Maine Peoples Alliance: “I’m here today to testify primarily in support of LD 843, “An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage and Index it to the National Average Wage,” sponsored by Rep Melaragno. We (MPA) believe that LDs 36, 52, 72, 77, 92, 487, and 739 offer encouraging steps in the right direction. But LD 843 offers the most significant movement towards a living wage for all Maine workers. The reality is that need an even larger increase than what LD 843 offers. A living wage in Maine for a single adult, on average, is $15.82. Fifty-five percent of job openings in Maine pay less than that. For every job that pays $15.82, there are twelve job-seekers on average. The most basic premise of the American economic social contract is that you can work forty hours a week and make ends meet. Our minimum wage of $7.50 an hour for non-tipped workers doesn’t get an individual even halfway there—let alone their families.”

    Ginette Rivard, President of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989: “Five and a half years ago years ago, on Oct. 1, 2009, Maine added 25 cents to its minimum wage, bringing it to $7.50 an hour. It’s been stuck there ever since – even as the cost of living has gone up for all of us.

    Take a look at what is happening in the rest of New England and you’ll see the State of Maine – and thousands of Maine’s working families – have fallen far behind when it comes to the minimum wage.

    100_5793Vermont’s minimum wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.50 in 2018.
    In Massachusetts, the wage is $9 – and rising to $11 in 2017.
    In Rhode Island, the wage is $9.
    And in Connecticut, the wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.10 in 2017.

    Yet Maine has been stuck at $7.50. Maine would be dead last in New England but for New Hampshire joining in a dangerous race to the bottom by falling back to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A Maine worker putting in 40 hours at minimum wage grosses $300 a week. That’s $15,600 a year, before taxes. That’s not nearly enough for one person to live on, let alone a family.”

Here in order are videos (ten in all) of the entire day in LCRED.

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(UPDATED x2) Governor LePage Forgets Wife’s 2nd Florida Home While Attacking Other Mainers For Having Same

Posted on March 19, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A second 3/19/15 UPDATE, as Governor LePage’s office this morning sent out a revised version of the weekly address eliminating his swipe at Maine residents and private citizens Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby. The following bolded message from press secretary Adrienne Bennett accompanied the latest version:

    “Correction: Please see the attached revised version of this week’s message. Please use this audio file in future broadcasts. Thank you.”

Here is the updated weekly address as sent out today (AUDIO LINK).

    Radio Address: Eliminating the Income Tax Means a Pay Raise for Hardworking Mainers

    March 19, 2015

    (Photo by Jim Bowdoin, provided by Governor LePage's office)

    (Photo by Jim Bowdoin, provided by Governor LePage’s office)

    Forty-six years ago Democratic Governor Ken Curtis championed a controversial state income tax. So it began; Mainer’s paychecks were raided to pay for bigger government.

    Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    In 1969, the income tax barely survived the Legislature, and today $1.2 billion dollars is taken from hardworking Mainers through income tax.

    Nearly fifty years later, we are trying to return money back to Mainers, but it’s not without a major battle. This week, Democratic Representative Adam Goode of Bangor opposed our plan saying it only benefits the rich.

    However, his definition of rich is interesting. Most Maine businesses are pass through entities meaning many of those earning 400-thousand dollars are actually small businesses owners. These are the businesses that create jobs and invest these tax cuts creating career opportunities.

    Also, what Rep. Goode fails to mention is that 653-thousand working Mainers pay over one billion dollars – 1.2 billion to be exact – in income taxes.

    Our plan returns that money back to working Mainers. Starting next year, Mainers will receive $238 million annually back in taxes and that number increases to $300 million in four years.

    Our plan helps those earning lower incomes, too. We’ve set aside $60 Million to the neediest Mainers through the Sales Tax Fairness Credit and the Property Tax Fairness Credit. These tax credits are available only to those of more limited means.

    The Property Tax Fairness Credit will help Mainers with their property taxes. We’ve doubled the amount of money available to Mainers under 65 and with limited incomes. We have also tripled the amount of money available through the Homestead Exemption. This tax credit helps Mainers over 65 to lower their property taxes.

    Another way we help folks with lower incomes is by providing a tax credit toward the sales tax. Those with limited incomes will be eligible for this tax credit.

    For Representative Goode to claim this plan benefits the rich is an insult to Bangor residents who pay the state nearly $29 million in annual income tax. If you really look at how this plan works you will see it modernizes our tax code so the majority of Mainers are keeping what they earn.

    Don’t be fooled by rhetoric. I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming town hall meetings to learn the facts.

    You can also call your legislator to tell them you support eliminating the income tax. Legislators are working on the budget now and they must hear from you.

    Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine? Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax.

    Thanks for listening.

—–

3/19/15 UPDATE: Bumping yesterday’s post to the top of the page, as Maine author and long-time Bangor resident Stephen King has responded to Governor LePage.

    king“Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green. Tabby and I pay every cent of our Maine state income taxes, and are glad to do it. We feel, as Governor LePage apparently does not, that much is owed from those to whom much has been given. We see our taxes as a way of paying back the state that has given us so much. State taxes pay for state services. There’s just no way aRound it. Governor LePage needs to remember there ain’t no free lunch.”

—–

(Originally posted 3/18/15)

Interesting lil weekly address here today by Maine Governor Paul LePage (emphasis mine):

Eliminating the Income Tax Means a Pay Raise for Hardworking Mainers

    Eliminating the Income Tax Means a Pay Raise for Hardworking Mainers

    Forty-six years ago Democratic Governor Ken Curtis championed a controversial state income tax. So it began; Mainer’s paychecks were raided to pay for bigger government.

    Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    In 1969, the income tax barely survived the Legislature, and today $1.2 billion dollars is taken from hardworking Mainers through income tax.

    Nearly fifty years later, we are trying to return money back to Mainers, but it’s not without a major battle.

    This week, Democratic Representative Adam Goode of Bangor opposed our plan saying it only benefits the rich.

    Governor LePage speaks to audience at Auburn tax reform town hall.

    Governor LePage speaks to audience at Auburn tax reform town hall.

    However, his definition of rich is interesting. Most Maine businesses are pass through entities meaning many of those earning 400-thousand dollars are actually small businesses owners. These are the businesses that create jobs and invest these tax cuts creating career opportunities.

    Also, what Rep. Goode fails to mention is that 653-thousand working Mainers pay over one billion dollars – 1.2 billion to be exact – in income taxes.

    Our plan returns that money back to working Mainers. Starting next year, Mainers will receive $238 million annually back in taxes and that number increases to $300 million in four years
    .
    Our plan helps those earning lower incomes, too. We’ve set aside $60 Million to the neediest Mainers through the Sales Tax Fairness Credit and the Property Tax Fairness Credit. These tax credits are available only to those of more limited means.

    The Property Tax Fairness Credit will help Mainers with their property taxes. We’ve doubled the amount of money available to Mainers under 65 and with limited incomes.

    We have also tripled the amount of money available through the Homestead Exemption. This tax credit helps Mainers over 65 to lower their property taxes.

    Dozens attended LePage's 3/11/15 town hall held in Auburn to hear what the governor had to say about his budget and tax reform.

    Dozens attended LePage’s 3/11/15 town hall held in Auburn to hear what the governor had to say about his budget and tax reform.

    Another way we help folks with lower incomes is by providing a tax credit toward the sales tax. Those with limited incomes will be eligible for this tax credit.

    For Representative Goode to claim this plan benefits the rich is an insult to Bangor residents who pay the state nearly $29 million in annual income tax. If you really look at how this plan works you will see it modernizes our tax code so the majority of Mainers are keeping what they earn.

    Don’t be fooled by rhetoric. I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming town hall meetings to learn the facts.

    You can also call your legislator to tell them you support eliminating the income tax. Legislators are working on the budget now and they must hear from you.

    Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine. Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax. Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby have moved away, as well.

    Thanks for listening.

Oopsie! Has the governor so soon forgotten his wife, First Lady Ann LePage is a snowbird, too?

Or that in 2010, Mrs. LePage had to pay a hefty fine to the State of Florida, for claiming permanent residency in both states?

Awkward…

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

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LePage To Concerned Farmer Re: Property Taxes Jokes: “Get A Reverse Mortgage”

Posted on March 18, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

At last week’s town hall in Auburn, the public had an opportunity to directly ask questions of Governor Paul LePage or make observations about how the governor’s proposed biennial budget for FY 2016-17 would affect them.

One moment jumps out here, as Turner beef farmer Ralph Caldwell took his turn:

After describing how his family’s working farm established in 1894 has paid as much as $48,000 a year in property taxes while declaring no income taxes with anticipated carry forward of $500k for the next decade, Caldwell concludes:

    “I think you are coming to get me, and you have been a hero of mine for four years.”

LePage denies that he is “coming to get him”, immediately pivots to discuss the plight of the Millinocket mill, the three different rates of property taxes possibly applicable, then returns to Caldwell’s specific raised issues:

    “I don’t know of your particular situation, but you must own a whole lot of land, and maybe we can get you a reverse mortgage (chuckles).”

So much for LePage’s plan to eliminate the estate tax, as to allow for this elderly man to pass the working farm that has been in his family since 1894 to his descendants!

LePage has already held town halls in Bangor and Westbrook in addition to Auburn; tomorrow he heads to The County for one hosted at UMPI in Presque Isle. From there, his office has released the following tentative schedule with more stops to be announced.

    April 2: Saco
    April 16: Ellsworth
    April 28: Belfast

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Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget) in Public Hearing

Posted on March 17, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Here is the 3/16/15 agenda for the 127th Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committees on Appropriations and Criminal Justice and Public Safety taking up of LR 1852, Governor Paul LePage’s proposed biennial budget for FY 2016-7, followed by clips from the public hearing.

    Corrections, Department of
    · Administration – Corrections
    · Adult Community Corrections
    · Bolduc Correctional Facility
    · Capital Construction / Repairs / Improvements – Corrections
    · Central Maine Pre-release Center
    · Charleston Correctional Facility
    · Correctional Center
    · Correctional Medical Services Fund
    · Corrections Food
    · Corrections Industries
    · Departmentwide – Overtime
    · Downeast Correctional Facility
    · Justice – Planning, Projects & Statistics
    · Juvenile Community Corrections
    · Long Creek Youth Development Center
    · Mountain View Youth Development Center
    · Office of Victim Services
    · Parole Board
    · Prisoner Boarding
    · Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center
    · State Prison
    · Language (Part “II” – authorizes the Department to transfer certain funds between accounts
    within the same fund to pay for overtime expenses)
    · Language (Part “JJ”- authorizes the Department to use unexpended Personal Services
    balances for Capital Expenditures in the following year)
    · Language (Part “KK” – authorizes transfer of positions within the Department of Corrections
    during limited periods in the current biennium)
    · Language (Part “LL” – authorizes transfers between accounts to pay for food, heating and
    utilities)
    · Language (Part “WWW” – removes the Media and Public Information Officer in the
    Department of Corrections)
    Corrections, State Board of
    · Electronic Monitoring Fund – State Board of Corrections
    · State Board of Corrections Operational Support Fund
    Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, Department of
    · Administration – Maine Emergency Management Agency
    · Emergency Response Operations
    · Stream Gaging Cooperative Program
    · Language (Part “MM” – provides temporary funding until federal funding becomes available)
    Fire Protection Services Commission, Maine
    · Maine Fire Protection Services Commission
    Public Safety, Department of
    · Administration – Public Safety
    · Background Checks – Certified Nursing Assistants
    · Capitol Police, Bureau of
    · Computer Crimes
    · Consolidated Emergency Communications
    · Criminal Justice Academy
    · Drug Enforcement Agency
    · Emergency Medical Services
    · Fire Marshall – Office of
    · Highway Safety DPS

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 1

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 2

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 3

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 4

Appropriations, Criminal Justice Committees Take Up LR 1852 (LePage FY 2016-7 Biennial Budget)- Pt 5

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AFA/ Education Committee Take up LR 1852 (LePage Biennial Budget, FY 2016-17) in Public Hearing

Posted on March 13, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

On Monday, the Maine 127th Legislature’s Education Committee met with Appropriations to hear testimony regarding Governor LePage’s proposed FY 2016-17 biennial budget. The morning’s agenda:

    10:00 AM HIGHER EDUCATION AND CULTURAL AGENCIES
    University of Maine, Board of Trustees of the
    · Casco Bay Estuary Project – University of Southern Maine
    · Debt Service – University of Maine System
    · Educational & General Activities – UMS
    · Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community
    · Maine Economic Improvement Fund
    · UM Cooperative Extension – Pesticide Education
    · University of Maine Scholarship Fund
    Community College System, Board of Trustees of the Maine
    · Bring College to ME Program
    · Maine Community College System – Board of Trustees
    Finance Authority of Maine
    · Educational Opportunity Tax Credit Marketing Fund
    · FHM – Dental Education
    · FHM – Health Education Centers
    · Student Financial Assistance Programs
    Maritime Academy, Maine
    · Maine Maritime Academy Scholarship Fund – Casino
    · Maritime Academy – Operations
    Arts Commission, Maine
    · Arts – Administration
    · Arts – General Grants Program
    · Arts – Sponsored Program
    Cultural Affairs Council, Maine State
    · New Century Program Fund
    Historic Preservation Commission, Maine
    · Historic Commercial Rehabilitation Fund
    · Historic Preservation Commission
    · Historic Preservation Revolving Fund
    Historical Society, Maine
    · Historical Society
    Humanities Council, Maine
    · Humanities Council
    Library, Maine State
    · Administration – Library
    · Maine Public Library Fund
    · Maine State Library
    · Statewide Library Information System Museum, Maine State
    · Maine State Museum
    · Maine State Museum – Operating Fund
    · Research and Collection – Museum
    Public Broadcasting Corporation, Maine
    · Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation

Here are clips from the resulting four hours’ worth of testimony.

AFA/ Edu LR 1852 Public Hearing, Monday 3/9/15 (Pt 1)

AFA/ Edu LR 1852 Public Hearing, Monday 3/9/15 (Pt 2)

AFA/ Edu LR 1852 Public Hearing, Monday 3/9/15 (Pt 3)

AFA/ Edu LR 1852 Public Hearing, Monday 3/9/15 (Pt 4)

AFA/ Edu LR 1852 Public Hearing, Monday 3/9/15 (Pt 5)

AFA/ Edu LR 1852 Public Hearing, Monday 3/9/15 (Pt 6)

AFA/ Edu LR 1852 Public Hearing, Monday 3/9/15 (Pt 7)

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LePage Holds Budget Town Hall in Auburn (Videos, Audio, Pix)

Posted on March 12, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Last night, Maine Governor Paul LePage held his third of at least seven scheduled town hall meetings with the public in an effort to get support for his proposed FY 2016-17 biennial budget. Previous similar events have been held in Westbrook and Bangor; next up will be Presque Isle on March 19. (MORE PHOTOS HERE)

Governor Paul LePage Holds Budget Town Hall in Auburn (pt 1)

Governor Paul LePage Holds Budget Town Hall in Auburn (pt 2)

(Audio only)

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President Obama at 50th Anniversary of Selma March: The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We”

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    “It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.

    Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning fifty years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind. A day like this was not on his mind. Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about. Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked. A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones. The air was thick with doubt, anticipation, and fear. They comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:

      No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;

      Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.

    Then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, a book on government – all you need for a night behind bars – John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.

    President Bush and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Members of Congress, Mayor Evans, Reverend Strong, friends and fellow Americans:

    There are places, and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war – Concord and Lexington, Appomattox and Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character – Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.

    Selma is such a place.

    In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher – met on this bridge.

    It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America.

    And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. King, and so many more, the idea of a just America, a fair America, an inclusive America, a generous America – that idea ultimately triumphed.

    As is true across the landscape of American history, we cannot examine this moment in isolation. The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.

    We gather here to celebrate them. We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice.

    They did as Scripture instructed: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” And in the days to come, they went back again and again. When the trumpet call sounded for more to join, the people came – black and white, young and old, Christian and Jew, waving the American flag and singing the same anthems full of faith and hope. A white newsman, Bill Plante, who covered the marches then and who is with us here today, quipped that the growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing. To those who marched, though, those old gospel songs must have never sounded so sweet.

    In time, their chorus would reach President Johnson. And he would send them protection, echoing their call for the nation and the world to hear:

      “We shall overcome.”

    What enormous faith these men and women had. Faith in God – but also faith in America.

    The Americans who crossed this bridge were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, and countless daily indignities – but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.

    What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate.

    As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them. Back then, they were called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse – everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism was challenged.

    And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place?

    What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people – the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many – coming together to shape their country’s course?

    What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

    That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience. That’s why it’s not a museum or static monument to behold from a distance. It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents:

      “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.”

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

    These are not just words. They are a living thing, a call to action, a roadmap for citizenship and an insistence in the capacity of free men and women to shape our own destiny. For founders like Franklin and Jefferson, for leaders like Lincoln and FDR, the success of our experiment in self-government rested on engaging all our citizens in this work. That’s what we celebrate here in Selma. That’s what this movement was all about, one leg in our long journey toward freedom.

    The American instinct that led these young men and women to pick up the torch and cross this bridge is the same instinct that moved patriots to choose revolution over tyranny. It’s the same instinct that drew immigrants from across oceans and the Rio Grande; the same instinct that led women to reach for the ballot and workers to organize against an unjust status quo; the same instinct that led us to plant a flag at Iwo Jima and on the surface of the Moon.

    It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what’s right and shake up the status quo.

    That’s what makes us unique, and cements our reputation as a beacon of opportunity. Young people behind the Iron Curtain would see Selma and eventually tear down a wall. Young people in Soweto would hear Bobby Kennedy talk about ripples of hope and eventually banish the scourge of apartheid. Young people in Burma went to prison rather than submit to military rule. From the streets of Tunis to the Maidan in Ukraine, this generation of young people can draw strength from this place, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest superpower, and push their leaders to expand the boundaries of freedom.

    They saw that idea made real in Selma, Alabama. They saw it made real in America.

    Because of campaigns like this, a Voting Rights Act was passed. Political, economic, and social barriers came down, and the change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African-Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus to the Oval Office.

    Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every American. Women marched through those doors. Latinos marched through those doors. Asian-Americans, gay Americans, and Americans with disabilities came through those doors. Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past.

    What a glorious thing, Dr. King might say.

    What a solemn debt we owe.

    Which leads us to ask, just how might we repay that debt?

    First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough. If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done – the American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation.

    Selma teaches us, too, that action requires that we shed our cynicism. For when it comes to the pursuit of justice, we can afford neither complacency nor despair.

    Just this week, I was asked whether I thought the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report shows that, with respect to race, little has changed in this country. I understand the question, for the report’s narrative was woefully familiar. It evoked the kind of abuse and disregard for citizens that spawned the Civil Rights Movement. But I rejected the notion that nothing’s changed. What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic, or sanctioned by law and custom; and before the Civil Rights Movement, it most surely was.

    We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, or that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past fifty years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or L.A. of the Fifties. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress – our progress – would be to rob us of our own agency; our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.

    Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that racism is banished, that the work that drew men and women to Selma is complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes. We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true. We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character – requires admitting as much.

    “We are capable of bearing a great burden,” James Baldwin wrote, “once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is.”

    This is work for all Americans, and not just some. Not just whites. Not just blacks. If we want to honor the courage of those who marched that day, then all of us are called to possess their moral imagination. All of us will need to feel, as they did, the fierce urgency of now. All of us need to recognize, as they did, that change depends on our actions, our attitudes, the things we teach our children. And if we make such effort, no matter how hard it may seem, laws can be passed, and consciences can be stirred, and consensus can be built.

    With such effort, we can make sure our criminal justice system serves all and not just some. Together, we can raise the level of mutual trust that policing is built on – the idea that police officers are members of the communities they risk their lives to protect, and citizens in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland just want the same thing young people here marched for – the protection of the law. Together, we can address unfair sentencing, and overcrowded prisons, and the stunted circumstances that rob too many boys of the chance to become men, and rob the nation of too many men who could be good dads, and workers, and neighbors.

    With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity. Americans don’t accept a free ride for anyone, nor do we believe in equality of outcomes. But we do expect equal opportunity, and if we really mean it, if we’re willing to sacrifice for it, then we can make sure every child gets an education suitable to this new century, one that expands imaginations and lifts their sights and gives them skills. We can make sure every person willing to work has the dignity of a job, and a fair wage, and a real voice, and sturdier rungs on that ladder into the middle class.

    And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge – and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor.

    How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic effort. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. One hundred Members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right it protects. If we want to honor this day, let these hundred go back to Washington, and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.

    Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or the President alone. If every new voter suppression law was struck down today, we’d still have one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples. Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap. It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life. What is our excuse today for not voting? How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?

    Fellow marchers, so much has changed in fifty years. We’ve endured war, and fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives, and take for granted convenience our parents might scarcely imagine. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship, that willingness of a 26 year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five, to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.

    That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.

    For we were born of change. We broke the old aristocracies, declaring ourselves entitled not by bloodline, but endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. We secure our rights and responsibilities through a system of self-government, of and by and for the people. That’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction, because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it.

    We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea – pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit.

    We are Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who could do as much as any man and then some; and we’re Susan B. Anthony, who shook the system until the law reflected that truth. That’s our character.

    We’re the immigrants who stowed away on ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free – Holocaust survivors, Soviet defectors, the Lost Boys of Sudan. We are the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because they want their kids to know a better life. That’s how we came to be.

    We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.

    We’re the fresh-faced GIs who fought to liberate a continent, and we’re the Tuskeegee Airmen, Navajo code-talkers, and Japanese-Americans who fought for this country even as their own liberty had been denied. We’re the firefighters who rushed into those buildings on 9/11, and the volunteers who signed up to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    We are the gay Americans whose blood ran on the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.

    We are storytellers, writers, poets, and artists who abhor unfairness, and despise hypocrisy, and give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.

    We are the inventors of gospel and jazz and the blues, bluegrass and country, hip-hop and rock and roll, our very own sounds with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.

    We are Jackie Robinson, enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head, and stealing home in the World Series anyway.

    We are the people Langston Hughes wrote of, who “build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.”

    We are the people Emerson wrote of, “who for truth and honor’s sake stand fast and suffer long;” who are “never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”

    That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American as others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for it. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing; we are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

    And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habits and convention. Unencumbered by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be. For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, and new ground to cover, and bridges to be crossed. And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.

    Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person.

    Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can. It is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

    Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished. But we are getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect. But we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road’s too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah:

      “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”

    We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar. And we will not grow weary. For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.

    May He bless those warriors of justice no longer with us, and bless the United States of America.”

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