(UPDATED) Former Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey Ejected from LePage Saco Town Hall

Posted on April 2, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

UPDATE: Here is video of Twomey and the governor (starting at 1:50 mark; added more for context), as well as her being removed from Thornton Academy’s auditorium by security.

Full video of the event is now posted.

————-

A rather remarkable ending to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s latest town hall meeting, as he attempts to garner public support for his proposed biennial budget FY 2016-7. Videos of the entire evening will be shared later on, but as was reported earlier tonight, the entire event was brought to a screeching halt as former 4 term Repesentative and Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey, after exchanging heated words with LePage, apparently attempted to throw a container of Vaseline at him.

Gov. Paul LePage’s budget presentation at Thornton Academy in Saco came to an abrupt end when former Democratic state Rep. Joanne T. Twomey of Biddeford confronted the governor, according to multiple social media reports.

According to social media reports, Twomey “threw a jar of Vaseline” toward the governor. Twomey reportedly was escorted from the meeting by security. A CBS 13 video shows Twomey throwing something on the stage, which did not strike LePage, as she was escorted from the building. The item was quickly retrieved by what appeared to be security personnel.

Not much of a “throw”…

I spoke with Twomey afterwards and asked if she wanted to issue a statement:

Former Biddeford Mayor Twomey post town hall #mepolitics

A post shared by Andi Parkinson (@andiparkinson) on

Some members of the audience later came up to Twomey to check on her, as she was “roughed up” a bit by security.

Former Rep Joanne Twomey speaking w/supporters outside Saco's Thornton Academy #mepolitics

A post shared by Andi Parkinson (@andiparkinson) on

To be updated.

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(UPDATED) Public Responds to LePage FY 2016-17 Biennial Budget (Day 2): Municipal Revenue Sharing

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

UPDATED: Here is a clip of Bangor’s Ben Sprague providing similar testimony to Appropriations against revenue sharing elimination in 2014.

The 127th Maine Legislature’s Appropriation and Financial Affairs standing committee on Wednesday heard more from the public on the second day of scheduled testimony on the FY 2016-17 biennial budget proposal put forth by the LePage administration last month. Governor LePage and his new Office of Policy and Management (OPM) Director, Auburn Mayor Jonathon Labonte, held a public town hall in Westbrook last week to discuss the proposal.

AFA Committee member Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) asks a question of DAFS Commissioner Rosen, as Rep. Linda Sanborn, Sen. Linda Valentino, House Chair Rep. Peggy Rotundo and Rep. John Martin look on.

AFA Committee member Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) asks a question of DAFS Commissioner Rosen, as Rep. Linda Sanborn, Sen. Linda Valentino, House Chair Rep. Peggy Rotundo and Rep. John Martin look on.

Day 2 was focused on how the proposed elimination of municipal revenue sharing, a hot topic in the last legislative session, would adversely affect local budgets and force towns across the state to either cut services or raise property taxes. Many communities have already had to make drastic cuts due to the previous budget’s 32% revenue sharing slashes.

The following statements were part of a press release sent out by Maine House and Senate Democrats late Wednesday.

    Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the House chair of the Appropriations Committee: “The state cannot turn its back on local communities. Today we heard about the devastating impact that the elimination of these funds will have on schools, emergency services and property taxpayers, especially seniors trying to get by on fixed incomes and young families. We owe it to our towns and their residents and small businesses to protect these vital funds.”

    Appropriations Committee member Senator Linda Valentino (D-Saco): “We heard repeatedly from town officials across our state that the cuts to revenue sharing are detrimental and miss the mark. We should be looking for ways to reduce property taxes, not shift additional taxes on to homeowners. It was very disconcerting to hear from rural towns about the dire impact revenue sharing elimination would have on their communities since they have nowhere to turn like taxing non-profits as proposed by Governor LePage. No community should have to choose between underfunding and understaffing our public works or police departments in place of rising property taxes.”

    Winslow Town Councilor Ken Fletcher, a former lawmaker and LePage’s former energy chief, testified that the elimination of revenue sharing would result in the loss of approximately $940,000 – an amount that is greater that the town’s public works, police or fire budgets. He expressed concern about the increase in the property tax burden that would result from the loss of revenue sharing and the governor’s proposed elimination of the Homestead Exemption for those under 65.

    “It is generally accepted that property taxes are the most regressive of the three primary tax methods. Please do not place more of a burden on Maine homeowners by underfunding Revenue Sharing and eliminating the Homestead Exemption,”
    Fletcher said in his testimony.

    “Small rural communities like ours don’t have plush budgets. We don’t have administrators. We have no ‘rainy day’ funds,” Perry First Selectman Karen Raye said in written testimony presented to the committees. “People are angry at their increased property tax bills. This is only going to make the situation worse.”

Here are more statements from municipal employees around the state as reported by various Maine media sources:

    Brownville Town Manager Matthew Pineo: “There is no need to keep playing shell games (referencing LePage proposal to let towns tax large nonprofits). I’m in a poor community. We do not have money. I don’t have any taxable charities in my town.”

    Judy East, executive director of the Washington County Council of Governments: ‘There’s already significant regional collaboration on emergency response, dispatch, solid waste management, and there has been for many years. (If revenue sharing is eliminated) Taxes will go up or services will go down. There is no padding left in rural municipal budgets.”

    Kathy Littlefield, chairwoman of Waldo (town) Board of Selectman: (Doing away with revenue sharing would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the town of Waldo, which is already grappling with past cuts and rising costs for education, snow removal and other services) “If another partnership, another trust, another promise is broken, there will be no going back. There are just way too many nails.”

    Republican Bangor City Councilor David S. Nealley: “Since when do you, as Republicans, talk about taking away from the producers and redistributing the income?”

    Vincent Frallicciardi, chairman of the Madawaska Board of Selectmen: (Eliminating revenue sharing would result in the loss of $750,000 and be) “detrimental to our survival.”

    Joseph Slocum, Belfast city manager: “Does anyone in here really think these officials aren’t responsive to the concerns of local residents?”

    Town of Union employee (name unknown): “Another 10-12 hours of this [hearing] and you’ll feel like my public works drivers.”

Many thanks to Bangor City Council’s Ben Sprague for sharing his testimony.

Sprague via Twitter also provided many quotes from those testifying:

Thursday marks the third day of public hearing, so more to follow.

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RELATED:

Public Responds To LePage FY 2016-17 Biennial Budget (Day 1)

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Public Responds to LePage FY 2016-17 Biennial Budget (Day 1)

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

Governor LePage rolls out FY 2016-17 biennial budget proposal

Governor LePage rolls out FY 2016-17 biennial budget proposal

Back in January, Maine Governor Paul LePage and members of his administration presented the FY 2016-2017 biennial budget proposal to the state. Since then, various members of the administration have met with the 127th Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs standing committee (with other committees, as applicable) on multiple occasions, met with the public, and held numerous press conferences to sway not just members of the public but also their own party to support the proposals.

Now, it is the public’s turn to speak up. Maine House Democrats shared the following summarized testimony presented to the committee on Tuesday.

    Adam Lee, Lee Auto Malls: “The idea of lowering the tax rate for the wealthiest members of society is misguided…When my taxes are lowered it leaves less to be distributed to the municipalities. I get a tax cut and everyone else in town gets to chip in to pay for it through higher property taxes. Doesn’t sound fair? It isn’t…. My business depends on a strong middle class. I sell good old fashioned Dodges, GMC trucks, Nissans, and used cars, as well as other brands. A strong middle class is not helped by tax breaks for the rich. Competitive rates, and tax breaks for the middle class is much more useful. A skilled workforce is the one of the single largest factors determining where a business locates. Invest in education, training, our University and community College System.”

    Veteran and Nurse Richard Bissell of Bangor: “I’m here to oppose these drastic cuts proposed by the Governor for wealthy Mainers and corporations, especially when those cuts come at the expense of the middle class and poor Mainers…Property taxes are an impossible cost for many Mainers, from young couples and families that are in their first home up to seniors try to age in their homes.”

    Small Business Owner Carson Lynch of Gorham Grind: “This plan would cut taxes for the very wealthy while effectively raising taxes on the lower and middle income Mainers. Not only is this morally wrong, it will hurt Maine small businesses and ship money out of state….My small business runs on very small margins. I’m not a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. A change to Maine’s tax code could make or break my business.”

    Clam Digger Skip Worcester of Hermon: “I’m here today because I am deeply concerned with the Governor’s proposed cuts to income and corporate taxes in Maine…Corporations are making record profits in Maine but they are not paying their fair share in taxes – their taxes have been less and less and their profits have been higher and higher, it’s the reverse for us middle and lower classes. Our wages have stayed practically the same while the cost of living, heating and eating have gone up.”

Among others who spoke to the committee was Davida Ammerman of Madison, whose testimony is below.

    Representative Rotundo, Senator Hamper, Representative Goode, and Senator McCormick, thank you for having me here today to speak with you.

    I am here today to ask you to oppose the cuts to corporate and income tax in the Governor’s proposed budget. With this proposal, we will see the divisions increase between rural areas that are not so affluent and able to carry the cost, am\nd more affluent ones that will. In a town like Madison where I live, the option to tax non-profits is not a viable source of revenue, forcing the town to increase property taxes to continue being viable.

    Without a fair and balanced budget we will be forcing older people to lose their homes, and rural town are going to have a hard time keeping up with basic services like roads, law enforcement, and schools. Being on fixed income, it is hard to be able to conceive of paying more in sales and property taxes, and for the increase in services that I will need as I age. The Governor’s proposal puts revenue at recession era levels, and it doesn’t add up so that means we are going to see more cuts at the state level in future years. This creates a huge amount of uncertainty for us aging Mainers- we don’t know what we can count on. I don’t know that I will be able to keep my house, or if I will be able to pass it on to my children as planned.

    On the other end this is going to be very hard and discouraging for young people in Maine as well. Our daughter, a single mom just barely making ends meet, would have to sell her house that she has worked so hard to get if her property taxes go, if the Homestead Exemption is cut for Mainers under 65, and she loses the chance to deduct her mortgage payment. Young kids that are already fighting student loans and low wages will lose their chance to get ahead. So many kids are just getting by already- this is making the American Dream even more unattainable.

    If we are going to start taxing non-profits and cutting so many programs in the state budget, how is that going to affect funding homeless shelters and other organizations providing services for people who are just barely getting by and depending on these services for life support?

    I hate to see the American Dream being put out of reach for so many of the population.

    Thank You.

Quinn Gormley of Portland was kind enough to share her prepared testimony as well:

    My name is Quinn Gormley. I’m currently an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, but I grew up in Damariscotta, where my father, a bus driver, and my mother, the director of our local library, still live and work today.

    For most of my life, my family has proudly belonged to the working class in this state. Growing up, my parents taught me the value of a hard day’s work, as my mother pulled sixty or more hour weeks, often with little to no pay, to keep the doors of the library open, and as my dad, who for my entire life has had to balance three different jobs just to help us make ends meet, waking up at 5 in the morning to drive a school bus, and often working late into the evening to get everything done.

    During the recession we were lucky. A school always needs bus drivers, and the library is valued by our community, so my parents managed to keep their jobs. Many in our town were not so lucky. And I so, as I read the details of this new budget, I am concerned. I am concerned that this budget is shifting the burden onto Middle Class families and families like my own are not going to be able to afford it.

    As a student who is used to examining things critically, when I look at this budget, I see the governor’s tax cuts as forced false choices that prioritize income and estate tax cuts for Maine’s wealthiest individuals and large corporations at the expense of property tax relief for families like my own.

    Every dollar in tax cuts is a dollar that will have to be made up for with spending cuts. It just doesn’t make sense to prioritize tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and large corporations and leave the school bus drivers and librarians to fend for their own.

    As I navigate college with the hope to stay in Maine once I graduate, this budget does not seem to pave the way for a state with increased job growth, in contrast, states that have pursued this path in recent years have actually seen worse, not better, economic performance than neighboring states. They’ve had to cut state investments in education, and workforce training. I want to stay, work, and live in Maine but when my state pushes policies that hurt education, job training, and the middle class, I doubt that I can.

    This budget is the wrong path for Maine. It benefits a small percentage of Mainer’s, and the costs will be passed onto those hard working Mainers who are just trying to make it work. And so, I urge you; please oppose the cuts to corporate and income tax in this proposed budget. Thank you for your attention and all you do.

Democrats on the AFA committee later released their own statements:

    Rep. Peggy Rotundo, the House Chair of the Appropriations Committee: “We haven’t been getting the the full story about Governor LePage’s budget. I’m deeply concerned that the ratcheting down of state revenues in the out years will mean fewer dollars in the future for workforce development, education, and many of the very things businesses and workers say we need to succeed. We want a tax reform plan that is paid for now and in the future so we don’t jeopardize our support for Maine families, our schools, or workforce, or for our local firefighters and police.”

    Senator Linda Valentino (Saco): “I support tax reform but this budget sidelines Maine families at the expense of the wealthy and big corporations. We heard a lot of concerns from people today about the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction, the Homestead exemption, and the property tax deduction. If these deductions are eliminated, it will jeopardize Maine’s economic recovery.”

Maine Center for Economic Policy released the following reactions to the budget proposal and information. MECEP economist Joel Johnson’s full testimony can be found here. But these portions jump out:

MECEP economist Joel Johnson speaks before joint AFA, Taxation committees

MECEP economist Joel Johnson speaks before joint AFA, Taxation committees

    The combined fiscal impact of these tax cuts in FY 2019 is about $677 million per year, according to Maine Revenue Services. That’s a tax cut equal to 19% of General Fund revenue forecast for that year. The sales tax increases in the Governor’s budget don’t cover the cost of that tax cut, and as a result, the state must cut spending by $266 million in FY 2019. That spending cut will grow into subsequent fiscal years as the corporate income tax cut fully phases in.

    Approximately $167 million of the governor’s proposed spending cuts will come in the form of the elimination of revenue sharing to towns and cities. Faced with a loss of revenue sharing and struggling to meet obligations to fund K-12 education, state and local governments will have to raise taxes and/or cut spending. That means higher taxes and/or fewer services like snowplowing, public safety, road maintenance, libraries, and parks. The governor’s proposal saves an additional $12 million by eliminating the homestead exemption for most Mainers.

    The governor’s proposal fails to specify the remaining $90 million in state spending cuts it encompasses. In fact, the Governor’s budget only specifies a two-year spending plan while proposing tax cuts that span multiple budget periods. The income and estate tax cuts proposed in the Governor’s budget, combined with revamped arbitrary limits on state appropriation growth, will prevent the state from reaching the statutorily-mandated goal of funding 55% of the cost of K-12 education in the state any time in the near future. Yet the Governor’s budget proposal includes a target of 55% for Fiscal Year 2017 and beyond. That is not a credible, achievable objective given the income and estate tax cuts included in a different section of the same budget proposal.

Other points raised by MECEP for consideration:

    1. The governor’s tax cuts aren’t paid for and are fiscally irresponsible. They set Maine up for future fiscal crises, which will lead to deep cuts to education, health care, job training, and other foundational components of a strong, sustainable economy.

    • By fiscal year 2019, the governor’s plan cuts income, estate, and corporate taxes by $690 million and raises sales and use taxes by $424 million. That leaves a shortfall of $266 million. The governor proposes to make up this shortfall, in part, by eliminating $167 million in state aid to towns for local public services. Legislators will have to make up the remaining balance by additional spending cuts beyond those that have been enacted over recent years.
    • The governor’s plan locks in recession-era levels of revenue putting state spending as a share of the economy at historic lows. That means state funding for education, health care, and other services will continue to fall behind even as the economy recovers. It also means that Maine will have virtually no capacity to absorb unanticipated future expenses or to maintain critical public investments when the next economic downturn occurs.

    2. The governor’s tax cuts force false choices and prioritize income and estate tax cuts for Maine’s wealthiest individuals and large corporations at the expense of property tax relief for middle-class Mainers.

    • Every dollar in tax cuts is a dollar that legislators will have to make up by either raising other taxes or with cuts in spending for education and other services. At a time when the state is already failing to fulfill its commitments to Maine’s students and communities it doesn’t make sense to place a higher priority on tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and large corporations. For example, eliminating the estate tax will cost over $37 million by fiscal year 2019 and benefit approximately 150 of the wealthiest estates. This potentially comes at the expense of making progress in funding K-12 education, supporting prescription drug assistance to low-income seniors, maintaining cost-effective health care prevention programs, or providing college scholarships to Maine’s future workers.
    • Part of the governor’s plan includes eliminating the Homestead Exemption for Maine residents under age 65 which is equivalent to raising property taxes between $120 and $160 for hundreds of thousands of Maine families. Additional property tax increases are likely for middle-class Mainers as communities are forced to pick up more of the costs of K-12 education, public safety, and road maintenance as called for in the governor’s budget.
    • While we don’t oppose cutting taxes, we believe it can be done in a way that doesn’t force false choices and that distributes the benefits more evenly across all income groups. Because this plan doesn’t maximize opportunities to export taxes to out-of-state visitors and part-year residents and places higher priority on tax cuts that deliver the greatest benefits to wealthy individuals and large corporations, it falls short in terms of securing adequate revenue and in improving the overall fairness of Maine’s tax system.

    3. The governor’s tax plan is a failed prescription for growing Maine’s economy.

    Note: As there will be weeks of hearings and work on the budget proposal, this will be part of a series of posts. This week’s testimonies will be broken up into daily installments of the highlights.

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    RELATED:

  • Sifting Through The LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DAFS Commissioner Rosen Meets With AFA
  • Sifting Through The LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: LePage, MDOT Roll Out Over $430 Million In Projects
  • Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DACF Meets With AFA, AG Committees
  • Sifting Through The LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DHHS Meets With AFA, HHS.
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Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DAFS Commissioner Rosen Meets With AFA

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

Director of Office of Policy and Management former state senator Richard Rosen (R-Bucksport)

Director of Office of Policy and Management former state senator Richard Rosen (R-Bucksport)

In his first weekly address of the new year, Governor Paul LePage stated that “it is time to take bold action for Maine”.

Boy, he wasn’t kidding.

Within an hour of sending out that missive, it was announced that LePage was nominating Richard Rosen to replace the Sawin Millett as commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). Rosen, a former state legislator with four terms in each chamber, had been serving as interim finance commissioner since Millett retired last May.

Rosen met with the Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee this week to discuss the newly released LePage FY 2016/17 biennial budget, including its “modernizing Maine’s tax code” to reduce individual and corporate income tax rates while increasing sales and user taxes, elimination of the estate tax and military pension tax, as well as a two year plan with an end goal of eliminating municipal revenue sharing, which failed wot win support in the previous legislative session.

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(UPDATED x4) Maine Mayors Warn of Revenue Sharing Cuts, Tax Increases and Impact on Communities

Posted on January 15, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Auburn Mayor Jonathan Labonte addresses media at Maine Mayors' Coalition press conference, urging lawmakers reject Governor LePage's revenue sharing cuts as part of FY 14-15 budget proposal.

Auburn Mayor Jonathan Labonte addresses media at Maine Mayors’ Coalition press conference, urging lawmakers reject Governor LePage’s revenue sharing cuts as part of FY 14-15 budget proposal.

(Originally posted 11 Jun 2013) Last week a press conference was held at the State House’s Welcome Center where leaders from Portland, Lewiston, Auburn, Augusta, Gardiner, Waterville, Sanborn and Bangor addressed the media and voiced concerns regarding the impact Governor LePage’s proposed zero revenue sharing cuts will have on their communities. Dozens more municipalities across the state have sent resolutions and communications to the Legislature protesting the cuts.

Augusta Mayor Bill Stokes said, “Maine communities have already absorbed a 30% cut in revenue sharing. This year, we are receiving just under $98 million, instead of the $140 million we would have received by law. Now there are proposals to cut that by $20 million a year or more. That will mean a significant property tax increase in Augusta.”

Karen Heck, Waterville’s Mayor, has long been outspoken in her criticism of tax cuts and how those cuts affect municipalities, as was her predecessor, Paul LePage. She laid out a bleak picture:

“Even the best of these (Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee) proposals means a loss of nearly 50% million to municipalities over the next two years. We have been cutting services and trimming payroll for several years. We simply cannot absorb that kind of cut without raising taxes. Revenue sharing is an obligation, a bill the state should pay.”

She had spoken up the previous evening at a Waterville city council meeting as well, blasting the Governor’s proposal:

heck waterville

“This is really a ridiculous position for all of us to be in,”

      Heck said of the man who was mayor of the city from 2004 until he became governor in 2010.

“When the governor was mayor, clearly he used some profane language to describe exactly what he’s doing to us in a much worse way.”

She continued: “I’m not sure why the governor is interested in making sure hospitals get paid. But the mayors feel that the state needs to pay its bills when it comes to what it’s mandated to pay us in revenue sharing.”

Gardiner Mayor Thom Harnett noted that “we have a revenue problem in Maine and we need to look at additional streams of revenue”:

“We are calling on all legislators to commit to preventing this tax shift to the property tax. As we recommended in a letter to the Governor last month, this tax shift can be prevented by some modest shifts to the sales tax. The Mayors Coalition is supportive of proposals that temporarily raise the sales tax to 6% and raise the lodging tax.”

Jonathan Labonte, Mayor of Auburn, who noted that his city has been working to share services with nearby Lewiston for some time now, added that “Eliminating revenue sharing would effectively undermine the state’s 40 year cooperative agreement with municipalities. These are the revenues that keep your property taxes from skyrocketing and help to pay for municipal services such as firefighters, schools and road maintenance.

Also speaking out were Cathy Conlow (VIDEO), Bangor’s city manager, Maura Herlihy of Sanford and Lewiston City Administrator Ed Barrett for Mayor Macdonald (VIDEO), who mentioned at length the expensive, multiple fires his city had recently endured:

Mayor of Portland Michael Brennan (VIDEO) concluded by asking, “all legislators to work to prevent a property tax increase in virtually every community in the state.”

(Bonus: Q&A clip)

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UPDATE #1: Originally posted in June 2013 and oh, what a difference a year made. In June 2014, Governor Paul LePage selected Auburn Mayor Jonathan Labonte to serve as Office of Policy and Management director, as outgoing head Richard Rosen had been tapped to temporarily take over at Department of Financial Services for the retiring Sawin Millett.

    The chance to serve the state of Maine and the governor was one he (LaBonte) couldn’t turn down, he said.

“When a governor calls and asks you join their team, that’s a unique opportunity,” LaBonte said.

LaBonte said he did not believe his appointment had anything to do with election-year politics.

“If there’s anything political about this, it is the governor was eager to see this office created and is looking to see works delivered out of it,” LaBonte said.

DAFS Commissioner Richard Rosen presents the LePage FY 2016/2017 biennual budget to AFA, 1/13/15.

DAFS Commissioner Richard Rosen presents the LePage FY 2016/2017 biennual budget to AFA, 1/13/15.

Yesterday, the LePage administration continued to roll out the governor’s proposed FY 2016/2017 biennial budget as now DAFS Commissioner Richard Rosen, deputy commissioner Dr. Michael Allen and Labonte sat down with Maine media, a day after Rosen presented the budget to the newly seated 127th Legislative Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. This jumps out:

      LaBonte, who also is the director of LePage’s office of policy management, said Wednesday during a briefing with reporters that fears the proposal would decimate municipal finances are overblown.

He said in 2008 revenue sharing only accounted for 5 percent of municipal budgets statewide and that the figure had decreased to 3.5 percent by 2012.

“So revenue sharing is not a large share of those municipal budgets and certainly not a large share of what’s going toward those expenditures,” LaBonte said.

When revenue sharing was first put in place, its intent was to provide property tax relief. Because the funding was directed to municipal government and did not go directly to property owners, they never ultimately benefited, LaBonte said.

On Friday, Governor LePage attempted to minimize the effects of municipal revenue sharing and the impact its removal will have on Maine’s 460 plus cities and towns.

So same as 2013 Governor Paul LePage thought 2009 Mayor LePage wrong* on municipal revenue sharing, apparently 2015 OPM Director/ LePage team player Jonathan Labonte seems to now think that 2013 Auburn Mayor Labonte was making a big deal out of nothing.

*RELATED: Video: Did 2009 Waterville Mayor Paul LePage Rip 2013 Governor LePage For Revenue Sharing Cuts To Towns, Education Funding Failures?

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UPDATE #2: OPM Director/ Auburn Mayor Labonte has responded via Twitter in an interesting exchange as well as Bangor city councilor Ben Sprague:

When the email is received, it will be shared here. ~AP

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UPDATE #3: The February 2013 email exchanges between Auburn Mayor Jonathan Labonte, members of the Maine Mayor Coalition and legal counsel were shared by Labonte moments ago:

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(2/16/15) As Labonte continues to see his own position as not inconsistent, this post is being updated below with more conversations via Twitter today.

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(UPDATED) Paul LePage and Sovereign Citizens “Maine Constitutional Coalition”: A Timeline

Posted on July 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

(As two of the coalition members have this week been reported to have been either arrested or convicted recently of charges related to their sovereign citizen actions, this post has been updated with more videos, statements and links.)

Originally posted 7/10/14.

—–

  • December 5, 2012- Governor Paul LePage swears in the newly elected 126th Legislature. He had previously enjoyed Republican majorities in both chambers with the 125th Legislature; that was erased in the November elections, as Democrats retook both the House and Senate.

    The chief executive immediately sets an acrimonious tone with his co-equal legislative colleagues with family members, media and others as witnesses:

    Senate President Justin Alfond, Speaker of the House Mark Eves and the rest of the Democratic leaders hold their first weekly media availability event with Maine press, immediately after all had taken their oaths of office:

  • 12/12/12- Forbes ranks Maine as the worst state for business for the third year in a row.
  • 12/14/12-The world learns of a horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown CT, as 20 children and 6 teachers are slain by a single gunman.

    Maine leaders issue statements:

      Governor Paul LePage: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and community affected by this horrific event this morning in Connecticut. It is difficult to comprehend the loss of so many innocent lives. Ann and I will continue to pray for the families of the children and staff members who lost their lives in what should be the safest of places, their school.”

      Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-North Berwick): “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Newton, whose lives have changed forever by this unbelievable tragedy. Like so many parents across the nation, I will find solace in hugging my children and tucking them in tonight. As a state and nation, we must come together to support the community of Newton as they mourn this unspeakable loss.”

  • 12/17/12- LePage orders that the flags across the state be lowered to half-staff immediately through sunset on the following day, in accordance with a Presidential proclamation.
  • 12/19/12-Governor LePage announces a moment of silence for Friday, Dec. 21 in memory of the Newtown, CT victims.
  • 12/19/12- While delivering the keynote speech at a Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Governor LePage agrees with Forbes’ assessment, blaming the state’s economic woes on a variety of factors including high energy costs, the $484 million in overdue Medicaid reimbursements to the state’s hospitals, “generous welfare” spending and the “double dipping” of school superintendents.
  • 12/21/12-Senator Dawn Hill (D-York) is appointed Senate Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs for the 126th Legislative session.
  • 12/27/12- Governor LePage issues an executive curtailment order to reduce state spending by $35.5 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.
  • 1/4/13- Aroostook Watchmen radio show hosts discuss on-air that Fort Fairfield Journal editor David Deschaine is “an ideological ally” of theirs.

    Here is a 2014 article written by Deschaine, “Feds Back Down After Hundreds of Militia Show Support for Nevada Rancher”,, in sympathy with the land ownership and property rights claims of Cliven Bundy.

    Governor LePage administers the oath of Office to Attorney General Janet T. Mills of Farmington.

    Governor LePage administers the oath of Office to Attorney General Janet T. Mills of Farmington.

  • 1/4/13- The state’s budget-writing Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee convene to begin reviewing the impact of the $35.5 million spending curtailment cuts, as part of a larger supplemental package needed to close a projected shortfall of $100 million in Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) budget.
  • 1/8/13- Governor LePage swears in Maine’s three Constitutional Officers (Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, State Treasurer Neria Douglass, and Attorney General Janet T. Mills) and Statutory Officer (State Auditor Pola Buckley).

    Dunlap and Mills had both previously served in the same offices under LePage predecessor Democratic Governor John E. Baldacci.

  • 1/8/13- In Alaska, Sovereign Citizen Francis August Schaeffer Cox aka “Schaeffer Cox” is sentenced to twenty-six years in prison for conspiring to murder federal and state government officials, including judges and law enforcement agents, and for stockpiling illegal weapons and explosives.
    Image used as icon for "The Sovereign Family" Radio Show, hosted by Jim and Trisha White, promoted and aired on the same stations as the Aroostook Watchmen.

    Image used as icon for “The Sovereign Family” Radio Show, hosted by Jim and Trisha White, aired on the same stations as the Aroostook Watchmen and promoted by same.

    Cox served as an Alaskan delegate to the “Continental Congress 2009”, which saw 116 delegates from 48 states in attendance. Some members of the “Constitution Club” offer support comparing him to “Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty” and others wish to distance themselves from Cox. Maine’s three “Continental Congress 2009” delegates are listed as Wayne Leach, Jack McCarthy, and Alan Lowberg.

  • 1/11/13- Officials from the LePage administration present the governor’s budget to the state and his office releases a statement from the governor, blaming the federal government and Medicaid for Maine’s fiscal woes.
  • 1/12/13 the Monticello-based “Aroostook Watchmen” radio show hosts discuss plans to deliver a “remonstration” (EP1129-“A remonstrance to Maine State government”). They opened the show with a Scripture verse, then discussed translating it as being directed to sell one’s clothing for weapons to arm one’s self.

    Roger Ek’s show is first referenced at the 3:45 mark; Jim and Trisha White of “Sovereign Families” at the 4:11 mark.

  • 1/14/13- A group calling themselves the “Maine Constitutional Coalition” (leader Wayne Leach, Aroostook Watchmen host Jack McCarthy and others) submit a set of “remonstrances” to Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Governor LePage at the State House in Augusta, accusing all of acting unlawfully and declaring that they must surrender their elected offices.
  • 1/17/13- Coalition member Gary Smart posts an “Introduction to the Remonstrance”, signed himself and the other three coalition members: Wayne Leach, Phil Merletti and Jack McCarthy.

    A portion of it reads:

      To the People:

      You are most likely aware of the enormous problems existent in America, at all levels, most of which were created and/or exacerbated directly by burdensome government rules, regulations, requirements and policies. This especially holds true for Maine. The People have endured egregious violations committed by government against their rights for many, many years, and this must come to a rapid halt.

      To that end, we have put together a Declaration, Remonstrance and Demand to be presented to the governor and the members of the Legislature when there are ENOUGH SUPPORTERS behind this proposal who will actively work to implement its provisions. Many causes exist in Maine, with many different, diverse groups espousing individual positions. Virtually all of these are valid, but the one common denominator that occasions the need to champion these causes is the fact that the elected and appointed officers in Maine in virtually all positions do not honor their oaths and instead routinely violate them, as well as the rights of the People.

      This document references and makes provisions to correct such situations.

  • 1/19/13-Assistant Majority Leader Senator Troy Jackson (Allagash) points out in a weekly Democratic radio address that the recently released LePage budget in its current form would “dump more than $420 million dollars worth of problems” with its zero revenue sharing from the state to municipalities and shift the financial burden onto them by withholding nearly $300 million in “revenue sharing” dollars from Maine’s towns.
  • 1/30/13- “Maine Constitutional Coalition” spokesman Phil Merletti speaks with WABI as the coalition hold a press conference in the State House’s Hall of Flags:

      “A Remonstrance was served on Maine’s Governor Paul LePage on 14 January, 2013 (1/14/13) asking that wrongs upon the people of Maine be addressed and a receipt was obtained. The Governor was asked to respond within ten days. There was no reply to this Remonstrance. On 30 January, 2013 (1/30/13) a press conference was held in the Capitol outside of the Governor’s office in the Hall of Flags. Shortly after the press conference Governor Paul LePage finally did contact those who signed the Remonstrance saying that he never received his copy of the Remonstrance from his office staff. The Governor is set to meet with those who signed the 1/14/13 Remonstrance.

      Stay tuned.

      This is from the Maine State Constitution: Section 15. Right of petition. The people have a right at all times in an orderly and peaceable manner to assemble to consult upon the common good, to give instructions to their representatives, and to request, of either department of the government by petition or remonstrance, redress of their wrongs and grievances.”

  • 2/2/13-The Maine Constitutional Coalition meet with Governor LePage. When discussing Democratic Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves, McCarthy claims that both were guilty of “high treason”, noting that the penalty for treason hadn’t changed in a hundred years.

      “I never said it, but the governor said it. I never opened my mouth and said the word,” explained McCarthy. “The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said, ‘They’re talking about hanging them.’ (The “buddy” was apparently a member of LePage’s legal staff.)

      According to McCarthy, at another point in the conversation, when discussing federal funding, LePage said, “If I go any further with this bill, with this refusal to accept federal money, they will surround this building and kill me.”

      “I believe he thinks that literally, absolutely literally. I said if you call we will come and defend you,” said McCarthy on his show.

  • 2/3/13- A video of Wayne Leach explaining the remonstrance (taped in January) is uploaded to YouTube.

    From “maineporcupines”:

      Published on Feb 3, 2013
      This video explains the work of some of the people of Maine to hold Maine’s government officials to their oaths of office. PLEASE BE SURE TO SIGN THE REMONSTRANCE SHOWING MAINE PEOPLE YOUR SUPPORT FOR THIS MOVEMENT TO HOLD THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR OATHS.

      http://www.mainerepublic.com/?page_id=24

      Background: Governor Paul LePage was elected with strong Tea Party support in Maine. He promised a strict adherence to the Constitutions of the United States and that of Maine. Once he took office he began the work he’d agreed to perform, but then something went amiss. It is the belief of many of those who elected him that something is keeping him from performing the [authority?] delegated to him, and to stand as trustee, as elected, by the people of Maine. It is the intention of some of these people to discover what is keeping Governor LePage from performing the duties he swore an oath to uphold. Remonstrance delivered 14 January, 2013. A response was demanded by 29 January, 2013.

      People in other states may want to go to the linked page and copy our Remonstrance serving them at state and local levels to suit your own circumstances. Long live the Republic!

  • 2/4/13- Aroostook Watchmen hosts discuss with their audience the meeting with LePage.

    Jack McCarthy (full audio of the show), who was involved with at least one meeting with the governor, told his audience that the Coalition objected to a section of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy training manual on how to handle encounters with Sovereign Citizens.

      McCarthy said Phil Merletti, another member of the Coalition, showed the manual to LePage.

      “That document says that all four of us are domestic terrorists, do you understand where we stand?” McCarthy recalled. “The governor looked at that and his eyes got real big … and he handed it to his cohort (presumably a staffer) next to him and said, ‘Have you ever seen this before?’”

      He added, “This is a government issued curriculum mandatory for every law enforcement officer in this state and it’s telling them that anybody that says they’re a Sovereign Citizen is a domestic terrorist. The FBI statement at the beginning says that the Sovereign Citizen is the greatest domestic terror threat in this country.”

  • 2/5/13- Rep. Ricky Long (R- Sherman) of Aroostook County introduces LD 220, “An Act To Ban the United Nations Agenda 21 in Maine”. The bill eventually dies in the Legislature mostly along party lines.
    Gov. Paul LePage displays his concealed weapons permit in this photograph released by his office on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. (photo via BDN)

    Gov. Paul LePage displays his concealed weapons permit in this photograph released by his office on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. (photo via BDN)

  • 2/13/13- Bangor Daily News sends a Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request to the Maine State Police for information about concealed weapons permit holders in the state.LePage takes to Twitter to share a photo of himself holding his own permit and issues a statement:

      “If newspapers would like to know who has concealed weapons permits, then they should know the governor has his,” LePage said. “I have serious concerns that BDN’s request will incite fear among gun owners and nongun owners alike regarding their safety. There is no reason why these records should be public, and I encourage the Legislature to act quickly to make this personal information confidential.

      As I have said, the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms will not be questioned while I am governor. That is especially true for those who respect the law enough to go through the process of obtaining a permit to carry concealed.”

  • 2/14/13- Governor LePage teamed up with Democratic Senate Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson to submit an emergency bill, temporarily and immediately blocking the release of personal information about concealed weapons permit holders while the legislature works on a permanent solution.
  • 2/16/13- Maine Governor Paul LePage, at the invitation of the Constitution Coalition, meet and take the stage with right wing conspiracy theorist Michael Coffman of Bangor.

    ‘Agenda 21’ is mentioned at the 3:25 mark and the clips final comments suggests that the 1776 option (revolution) is ‘on the table’.

    More on Coffman, considered within the tea party/ liberty/ sovereign citizens movement to be an expert on property and economic rights, as well as an article he penned in 2014 (“The Bundy Standoff- A Century of Abuse”).

  • 2/20/13- The Fort Fairfield Journal reports of the meeting (“Governor LePage Meets with Maine Constitutional Coalition”) with first-hand accounts from some of the participants:
    Ad within the Ft Fairfield Journal newspaper available to the public outside Governor LePage's office. Note the reference to "The Bundy Family" above the racially charged anti-President Obama ad.

    Ad within the Ft Fairfield Journal newspaper available to the public outside Governor LePage’s office. Note the reference to “The Bundy Family” above the racially charged anti-President Obama ad.

      “After we got into the office, I was so relieved. He was cordial, he was open, frank and expressed frustration that we had so much trouble getting to him and he had so much trouble responding to us,”
      said Jack McCarthy, co-host of the Aroostook Watchmen radio program on AM780 in Monticello, Maine. “This was not an inquisition into our governor,” said McCarthy. “It was not, ‘we’re going to hold you accountable and this is what you did wrong.’ That was not the purpose of this Remonstrance. The purpose of this Remonstrance was to delineate the abuses of the Constitution and demand a resolution.”

      “I can’t wait to hear the Bolsheviks in Bangor screaming why he would even have a meeting with radical centrists like us,” said Steve Martin, co-host of Aroostook Watchmen with McCarthy.

      “We produced this Remonstrance and submitted it in writing to the proper channels,” said McCarthy.“This is a constitutional process whereby the people, according to Maine Constitution, have the right at all times to peaceably assemble and address their legislature. We did this through the Remonstrance process.”

    Ft Fairfield Journal available outside LePage offices and stamped as approved by the Governor's office. None of Maine's major newspapers are made available to the public in a similar fashion.

    Ft Fairfield Journal available outside LePage offices and stamped as approved by the Governor’s office. None of Maine’s major newspapers are made available to the public in a similar fashion.

    More details of what was said by LePage at the meeting, which went on for over an hour and a half, are revealed:

      Governor LePage was asked during the meeting if this Remonstrance was the legal way to bring these points up.

      “His answer was, ‘Yes, this is the legal way to do this.’ So, that was encouraging,” said McCarthy.

      The Coalition received a signed receipt of the Remonstrance from the Governor’s office, the President of the Senate’s office and the Speaker of the House’s office.
      “We know that they got these hard copies of this Remonstrance.” The Remonstrance was delivered on January 14 and each office had 10 business days to respond to the grievance.

      “They didn’t respond. They ignored it. We heard nothing. So a press conference was set up in the Hall of Flags. Before the press conference we gave them a last chance to respond before we went public. So we went to the governor’s office and handed another copy to the secretary and said ‘we’re going to do a press conference at 11:00, be warned.’ The governor said he never saw it.”

    Coalition member Gary Smart calls actions of the Legislature “treason”, declares Maine lawyers to be “foreign citizens” and claims that the coalition’s “Remonstrance” has more legal authority than those in elected office or in Maine’s courts:

     Aroostook Watchmen via their Facebook page demand the release of federally convicted domestic terrorist Shaeffer Cox.

    Aroostook Watchmen via their Facebook page demand the release of federally convicted domestic terrorist Shaeffer Cox.

      “The house and Senate have not responded, and placed a lawyer between us and them. Which I think is treason because a lawyer is a foreign citizen according to the [original] 13th Amendment and the BAR is associated with the Communist Party through the Lawyers Guild as reported to Congress through special hearings in the 50’s,” said Coalition member, Gary Smart. “This should make for a treasonous act where our Legislature only wants to deal with the Remonstrance through a lawyer who is a foreign citizen. Sounds like a misprision of Treason to me.”

      Mr. Smart explains the Remonstrance has more authority than any legislation or court authority because it has the authority of Article 1 Section 2 Citizens authority to ordain or abolish the government and reset to a new administration. “Just remember that ‘We the People of Maine,” by the grace of God, established this free and independent state styled as the State of Maine and ordained the constitution of the same.”

  • 2/24/13- News of the Maine Constitutional Coalition members meeting with LePage is shared by Gary Smart.
  • 4/15/13- Maine Constitutional Coalition members discuss at a Tea Party rally in Augusta’s Capitol Park, Augusta having “served on the Governor a formal demand that he and the state not infringe on our Constitutional rights. They describe what they did and the next steps.”
  • 4/20/13- LePage attends and speaks at a presentation about Agenda 21, considered a conspiracy theory by the Tea Party with a goal of creating a “New World Order” stripping Americans of property rights and Constitutional liberties, at Lake Region High School in Naples along with featured speaker Michael Coffman of Bangor.

    LePage opened the discussion with a few remarks and then was available for a question-and-answer period afterwords, where he was quoted as saying, “I am very, very strong in personal property rights.”

  • 4/29/13- An “Education Remonstrance: Holding Augusta Accountable” was announced by Aroostook Watchmen on Facebook.
  • 5/19/13- LePage unexpectedly appears at an emergency Appropriations and Financial Affairs work session, called to address his own recent claim that the Department of Health and Human Services would not be able to pay MaineCare providers past May 28.
  • 5/21/13- LePage starts working out of offices in the Blaine House, the residence of the Governor and First Family, rather than in his offices in the State House across the street.tv hall of flags
  • 5/23/13- It is announced that LePage is moving his offices out of the State House and across to the street to the Blaine House, due to “efforts by majority Democrats in the Legislature to censor his speech”, citing the refusal of the Appropriations Committee to allow him to address them on May 19, and later being asked to obtain permission from the Legislative Council to have a TV outside of his office displaying the number of days since his budget was proposed.

    State law requires the Governor to have his office within the Capitol building, but his staff may remain there and work in his absence.

  • 5/29/13- LePage returns to his State House offices, while still criticizing what he called censorship.
  • 5/29/13- Members of the coalition try again with LePage, this time asking that Kennebec County sheriff Randall Liberty or a judge also be involved.
  • 6/6/13- A follow up memo from the Constitutional Coalition is sent to LePage:
    Kennebec County Sheriff Randall "Randy" Liberty

    Kennebec County Sheriff Randall “Randy” Liberty

      As seen in this selection from the document (obtained by Mike Tipping by a Freedom of Access Act request), the governor was asked about connecting them to Sheriff Liberty or a judge.

        #1. Jack’s question concerning a meeting with Sheriff Liberty, to access or convey our remonstrance to the proper channel(s) (Grand Jury/Superior Court), to start legal proceedings, was never really finalized?

        Can you approach Sheriff Liberty or a judge to set up a meeting with us?

        #2. This discussion led to the fact that you were meeting with a Superior Court Judge over dinner and you said you would raise the issue of the Remonstrance. Could you share the discussion with us?

    • 6/26/13- LePage expresses deep frustration with the veto override of his budget bill LD 1509, blaming “the third floor”, hinting he might not run for re-election (“I don’t know how you recover from this.”)
    • 6/26/13- Aroostook Watchmen post the following message from Constitutional Coalition leader Wayne Leach onto their Facebook wall:

        “Aroostook Watchmen
        June 26, 2013

        Join us at the state house in Maine:

        To all:

        Well, the mail has come, I got a bill but nothing from the alleged criminals, so we are on for tomorrow @ 1 PM at the rear entrance to the State House, and at the Capitol Police Office just inside that door to the left of the security station. I will obtain the required permit for the event. Signs are OK, but none with stakes on them inside the building. If anybody can, I’d appreciate them informing any media that we will be presenting evidence of alleged crimes within the People’s House, some of which are perjury of the oath of office, malfeasance of office, and violations of the public trust placed in the offenders by their position.
        This event will probably last for a maximum of an hour – probably somewhat less.

        Thanks to all who can attend, and bring, notify friends.
        Wayne”

    • 7/3/13- Governor LePage summons Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty to the State House, to meet with the Maine Constitutional Coalition.
    • 7/11/13-Gary Smart of the Coalition offers his support on a “Constitution Club” forum for compiling a list of names of leaders for formation of a “conference of the greatest patriots”:
        Reply by Gary Smart on July 11, 2013 at 9:08pm

        It would be a great idea to have a conference of the greatest patriots to gather together to conference their ideas of a common ground plan to get their members to act upon a concerted effort to taking our individual states back to citizen authority.. This could be done through private talkshoe and private bullitan board conferences to hone out a national plan of actions that the many patriot groups of the nation could join in to do some emergency plan of actions to protect the citizens of the individual free and independent states from the federal governments Martial law plans and to bring our states back to constitutional order.I would like to add two more patriot to my list is Keith Broaders who is working tirelsessly in his endevers to bring a focus to the Sheriff community..

        Also Bob Shultz for his efforts of many years battling the front lines.

    • 7/17/13-Aroostook Watchmen post the following “cut/paste” notification onto their Facebook wall.
        July 17, 2013
        LEGAL NOTICE
        LEGAL NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN TO ALL PERSONS NAMED BELOW WHO HAVE

        failed to answer a demand for response to a People’s Remonstrance that was served on them at their offices in the State Capitol on January 14, 2013, and said persons have also failed to respond to a follow-up Presumptive Letter mailed by Certified Mail to each of them on April 19, 2013 at 11:16:22 AM, which was delivered to both persons named below on April 22, 2013 at 9:16 AM. The persons named herein are therefore violating the public trust and are in breach of their official duty to answer their constituents’ demands. Replies to said Remonstrance must be received from JUSTIN L. ALFOND, whose last known address is 134 Sheridan Street, Portland, Maine 04101, and MARK W. EVES, whose last known address is 29 Acorn Avenue, North Berwick, Maine 03906, within twenty (20) days after service by publication is complete, and failure to do so will be considered an admission to malfeasance of an office of public trust, a breach of fiduciary duty, and an admission that all claims in said Remonstrance and Presumptive Letter are true and factual. Replies may be mailed to
    • 8/7/13- LePage’s legal counsel submit their five page memo regarding the demands of the coalition to the governor.

    • 10/1/13- Due to gridlock in Congress, the Federal government is shut down, with ripples being felt immediately across the country down to the local level.

      Governor LePage’s first response was to minimize the effect of the shutdown caused by Tea Party Republicans in Congress.

        “Although some positions and programs in state agencies are federally funded, all functions of state government will proceed as normal through the end of the week,” Governor LePage said. “The shutdown of the federal government is a result of the failure of leadership in Washington, D.C.

        A short-term shutdown won’t impact the operation of Maine state government. But if the shutdown continues for an extended period, then it could affect some state agencies. With the politicians constantly fighting over the budget, sequestration and the debt ceiling, in addition to $17 trillion in national debt, we cannot rely on the federal government to pay for public assistance programs or state services for Maine people.”

    • 10/9/13- Maine Governor Paul LePage unexpectedly decides to call a civil emergency in response to the federal shutdown, the only governor in the country to evoke such a response to the ongoing crisis in Washington DC.
    • 10/10/13- LePage holds an emergency meeting with some Democratic leaders to discuss his decision to declare a state of civil emergency the previous day.

      Towards the end of this clip, LePage discusses how the decision to declare a civil emergency came to be as part of an impromptu discussion between members of his administration. There is also some inconsistent statements regarding whether or not the state’s employee union was involved in the discussions and when, as well as meetings with Democratic leaders within the Legislature.

      Democrats then held their own press conference:

    • 10/17/13- LePage visits the Cobscook Bay State Park, located and operated on land leased from the then closed Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. Aside from the state park itself, the area also contained a boat launch ramp used by many local fishermen.

      LePage criticized the federal government for interfering with the operation of a state park and closing the boat ramp. He further stated that in the event of another shutdown, he would order Sheriff Donnie Smith of Washington County, where the park is located, to keep it open if necessary.

        … with Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith looking on, the governor vowed the park would not be closed again by federal action. “They won’t close this park again,” said LePage. “I guarantee you that. The sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the state of Maine. I would authorize him to keep this place open.”

      Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) and Gov. Paul LePage address media at Cobscook Bay State Park, 10/17/13 (via WABI).

      Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) and Gov. Paul LePage address media at Cobscook Bay State Park, 10/17/13 (via WABI).

      WABI gets video footage of the governor, Tea Party freshman legislator Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst), 2CD GOP candidate Blaine Richardson and Constitutional Coalition member Gary Smart at Cobscook; only LePage and Lockman are recorded as speaking to media.

        “What happened here this week in Washington County was a federal assault on state sovereignty and individual liberty,” said Representative Lawrence Lockman, an Amherst Republican who represents some of the fishermen impacted. “And I salute these fishermen for standing up to the federal bullies, pulling the barricades down and going to work.”
    • 10/18/13- Governor LePage lifts the civil emergency order.
    • 1/5/14- FOX News runs an article (“Sovereign citizen movement rejects gov’t with tactics ranging from mischief to violence”) discussing sovereign citizens within the country and some of the known patterns of dismissing their activities.
        Dubbed sovereign citizens by law enforcement, the movement numbers anywhere from 80,000 to 300,000 nationwide, according to experts contacted by FoxNews.com. While many live on society’s fringe and pose no immediate threat, police are being trained to be wary of sovereign citizens, knowing that they may not respect cops’ authority and could be prone to violence.

        “Sovereign citizens don’t call themselves that,” JJ MacNab, who is currently writing a book on the movement, recently blogged. “In fact, if you ask a person if she is a member of the movement, she is likely to respond that the ‘sovereign citizen’ label is an oxymoron, and that she is an individual seeking the truth.”

        The Southern Poverty Law Center, which released an authoritative study on the movement in 2010, estimated that up to 300,000 U.S. citizens consider themselves sovereign citizens, with about 100,000 being seriously involved in its techniques.

        FBI officials, meanwhile, characterize sovereign citizens on a wide spectrum, some dismissed as mere nuisances while others are accused of specializing in financial scams or impersonating law enforcement officers.

        Historical hotspots have included pockets of Missouri, Ohio and Michigan, as well as central Florida, but now a “fair amount” of sovereign citizens can be found in every state, Pitcavage said. “This movement has been in a state of growth for several years now and we have not seen any signs of it slowing. And that could mean more people killed, more standoffs, more paper terrorism.”

    • 2/24/14- The Aroostook Watchmen again take to Facebook to inform their followers of the Governor’s handlers interfering and influencing LePage, and that they refuse to meet further with him directly.
        Contact us for your copies of the referred to documents

        Aroostook Watchmen
        FLAGS UP

        To All: O.K. people, this is it. Since we last met with Governor Lepage (the 8th time) and we refused to meet with him any more since he seems to have been fooled by his handlers, gate keepers and lawyers and supports their corrupted beliefs, we have been planning the next and probably last effort to bring the Constitution for the State of Maine, back to the Capital building in Augusta.Periodically, I have been sending out drafts of two reports call “100 Years of Law & (un)Justice”, just in case I could not finish them. Well, the reports are done and 5 Remonstrance resulted as a need to be served to the Governor and the Legislature, to be followed if we are to have our Constitutionally secured and protected rights returned.

        We are attending a hearing in the Capital Building, in the office of the Judiciary Committee room At 01:00 P.M. Tomorrow (02/25/2014). We had to wait until the hearing became a platform to give public opinion for the Re-Appointment/confirmation of Non-Commissioned Judges.

        This is it folks, we have put our life, our jobs and money, our families and repairs on cars and our homes and property on hold for this effort. If you could attend this hearing, we would appreciate your support if you can be there.

        I am still not sure if the Kennabec County Sheriff will be able to attend at this late date, but, we are going ahead with our plans to release the Remonstrances and 2 reports on the “100 years of Law & (un)Justice anyway.

        Thankx Phil

        PS: Please find attached the Master file of Remonstrances and the 2 reports.
        3 Attachments

    • 4/16/14- Coalition member Gary Smart on a “Constitution Club” thread discusses “protecting his property:

        In Maine We have a Constitution which is the Law of the State that is prefixed to all Legislative Law, The rest is Fraud upon the People. The State Constitution is ordained by the People by the Grace of God as Stated here in Maine. There is no law description on how we the People acquire our Property. It is true that when you finance that contract is in error. But Fraud is Fraud and that negates any contract. I financed and paid my note off to Acquire my property with the only currency available to earn money for my labor and I worked and exchanged my labor for each and every one of those FRN’s and satisfied the payment and interest of the contract and received my note marked Paid. I acquired my property. No where in in the Maine constitution, the Federal Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which are the laws of the land (Also the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation) has the people granted the government rights over our private property unless we contract those rights to someone else.

        SO THEREFORE I ACQUIRED, AM POSSESSING AND HAVE MY NATURAL INHERENT AND UNALIENABLE RIGHTS TO PROTECT MY PROPERTY ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF THE LAND.

        These are facts Found in the current Fraud done to the Maine Government System. Look in the Revised statutes of your own state for what we found in MRS Title 1, Section ! Item #1 Sovereignty and Jurisdiction. http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/1/title1sec1.html

        “The jurisdiction and sovereignty of the State extend to all places within its boundaries, subject only to such rights of concurrent jurisdiction as are granted by the State over places ceded by the State to the United States.”

        Then look at the Definitions of

        15. Person. “Person” may include a body corporate.

        21. State. “State,” used with reference to any organized portion of the United States, may mean a territory or the District of Columbia. [ 1965, c. 513, §1 (AMD) .]

        26-A. United States. “United States” includes territories and the District of Columbia.
        [ 1969, c. 433, §7 (RPR) .]

        Maine’s Corporate Laws are laws of the PERSON not the PEOPLE

        You can beat any of these laws by stop consenting to being a Person and exerting your rights as People, it is just that simple.

    • 5/31/14- Coalition member Gary Smart discusses using sheriffs to arrest police chiefs and officers on a “Constitution Club” forum discussion on rights to travel.

        Reply by Gary Smart on May 31, 2014 at 6:00am

        I was just talking with a man this morning about some possible campaigns on this driving vs traveling issue. We are individual attacking this issue, but if we organize a 25 man Board of review Article 61 Magna Carter and walk into the Sheriffs Department and present the known laws and rights of the people and organize the law of the county and shared among many counties. This needs to be organized and discussed on common grounds and bring about a formal complaint to the sheriff, and then start arresting Cheifs of Police and police officers for UCC241 violations to people rights. This simple procedure would work in Administrative (unlawful) courts.

    • 6/30/14- Excerpts from the first chapter of Maine People’s Alliance communications director Mike Tipping’s book, “As Maine Went”, are released.

      The focus of the beginning chapter are details of the eight meetings between Maine Governor Paul LePage and the Constitutional Coalition members. This sparks multiple news stories, opinion pieces, examinations, interviews with many concerned and more, as listed below in chronological order.

        1. BDN “Latest charges could dry up crucial funding for LePage”

        2. MPBN LePage Official: Governor Did Meet With Group on FBI Terrorist List

          McCarthy, whose Sovereign Citizen ties include the Constitutional Coalition, says that he was at the State House to discuss the group’s concerns with the governor. Among those topics, McCarthy says, was their belief that Democratic Maine Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves should both be tried for treason.

          “And we also discussed this there, that as far as I know, the penalty for high treason hasn’t changed in a hundred years, and I didn’t say it, but the governor said it – I never opened my mouth and said the word – the governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said, ‘They’re talking about hanging them,’ McCarthy said.

          “That’s right,” (co-host Steve) Martin responded.

          “I said, Praise the Lord – we’ll hang a few and be done with this crap,’ ” McCarthy said.

          Governor LePage’s office responded:

          Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s press secretary, says the timing of the Sovereign Citizens report story is more than a little suspect, as the governor is seeking reelection in November. “We’re not even into the month of July and we’re hearing this political rhetoric from Democrats, and clearly they have already jumped the shark.”

        3. BDN LePage denies he discussed ‘executing’ Maine Democratic leaders

          “I was never in the room where ‘execute’ was used,” the governor said in a phone call to the BDN managing editor. “It never happened,” he said later in the call.

          “We did not discuss execution, arrest or hanging.”When told that the audio of the show was included on Tipping’s blog, LePage said he wanted to see the tapes.

          “None of this stuff ever happened,” he said again. He said he talked with the group about the U.S. and Maine constitutions. Further, he said, he disagreed with much of what the men said.

          “I listened and listened and listened,” LePage said. “Some points they were making were reasonable and some were off-the-wall.”

    • 7/1/14-
      as maine went

        1. BDN “Group that met with LePage denies terrorist links”

        2. MPBN “Details Emerge in LePage’s Meetings with Group Tied to Extremist Movement”

          Sheriff Randy Liberty says he was contacted earlier this year by Gov. Paul LePage and asked to come to his office for a meeting. “I drove over and we met in the cabinet meeting room,”Liberty says, “and the governor was there with three individuals.”

          Liberty did not know it at the time, but LePage had called him in for a meeting with members of the Constitutional Coalition, a group that progressive blogger and Democratic activist Mike Tipping says has direct ties with a national movement known as the Sovereign Citizens. The group has been linked with violent acts against public figures in other states, and its members reject taxes, the U.S. currency and perceive the U.S. government as illegitimate.

          Liberty says the group wanted a sheriff to help them deliver their grievances concerning a list of constitutional infringements.

          “They wished to have their grievances addressed by the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House and the attorney general,” Liberty says. “And when I was there, the governor seemed generous with his time and he listened a lot.”

          Liberty says he accommodated the group’s request, delivering the message to the respective staffs of the three elected leaders, all Democrats. Liberty says he though he’d completed his assignment, but then he heard from the coalition again earlier this year. This time, they wanted Liberty to arrest the the speaker of the House, the president of the Senate and the Maine attorney general on charges that ranged from dereliction of duty to treason.

          “I was not certain of my jurisdiction in that environment and so I met with District Attorney Meghan Maloney and she did some research and she met with us regarding that,” Liberty says. “They wanted them to be indicted by the the grand jury – the three political figures – and of course that never happened. And that was sort of the end of it.”

        3. Salon “Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage held several meetings with FBI-designated terrorist group”

        4. Mother Jones “There’s Some Serious Weirdness Up In the State of Maine”

        5. MSNBC “Casting Paul LePage in a more alarming light”

        6. MSNBC “Maine Gov. denies talk of ‘hanging’ opponents”

    • 7/2/14-
    • 7/5/14-
    • 7/6/14-
        1.PPH “Agree to Disagree: Is LePage in political trouble after ‘domestic terrorists’ meetings?”

        2.LSJ “Constitutional Coalition speaks out: ‘We’re researchers’ not terrorists” (AUDIO)

          (Wayne) Leach and (Phil) Merletti haven’t yet given up on the governor. They hope he’ll come around and do the right thing. In their way, they feel bad for LePage because he’s so heavily influenced by the lawyers who surround him — a group they call “the gatekeepers.”

          Wayne Leach and phil Merletti (photo via Lewiston Sun Journal, 7/6/14)

          Wayne Leach and phil Merletti (photo via Lewiston Sun Journal, 7/6/14)

          “We put the remonstrance in so that we could have a dialogue,” Merletti said, “and have a meeting.”

          “We almost begged them (lawmakers and others) to respond in some fashion, either negatively or positively,” Leach said.

          “They were just silent. They didn’t even said no. They refused to even recognize that we even existed. That’s a slap in the face for people who have worked months.”

          He doesn’t want to sue Tipping, perhaps, but there is bitterness about the way he was characterized. With that in mind, Merletti points to the far end of the room.

          “Now,” he said, “if we were to put Tipping down in that corner, the four of us here and Gov. LePage there, we could end this in five minutes and then we could find out who’s lying.”“Five or 10 minutes,” Leach agreed. “Tops. I don’t even think it would take that long.”

          “Once that Tipping thing hit, everybody is backing off,” Merletti said. “I think the word is out: Don’t mess with those terrorists. Don’t mess with these guys anymore.”

          “Now,” Merletti said in his slow, methodical manner, “who controls the governor?”
          When no answer is forthcoming, he answers the question himself. “The lawyers,” he said. “The thing they never wanted LePage to do was to be in contact with the outside. They set up three layers of fences around him, with gatekeepers. The only people who got through those gates was through them.”

          When the coalition met with LePage, it was directly, Merletti said. No lawyers, no gatekeepers. The flow of information was unrestrained.

          “That’s why the lawyers didn’t want us talking to him,” Merletti said, “because we were bringing this stuff to light. The man is controlled.

    • 7/7/14-
        1. BDN “Evangelos vs. AG Mills; Cutler’s property tax tour; 7 stories you need to read”

          Evangelos asked the attorney general’s office to investigate what happened during the more than 10 hours of meetings LePage held with the group. On Friday, the AG said she would not investigate because LePage’s Executive Protection Unit — sworn law enforcement officers charged with protecting the governor — was present for the meetings and did not see fit to follow-up on anything discussed at the time.

          In an email to Attorney General Janet Mills on Friday, Evangelos said that wasn’t good enough.

          “Have these officers been questioned?” Evangelos wrote. “Are you taking [LePage press secretary Adrienne Bennett’s] or Governor LePage’s word for this? Did anyone identify the officers in question? Do these officers owe their loyalty and job security to LePage? How can you possibly reach such a narrow conclusion based on such a flimsy investigative effort?”Still, it doesn’t appear likely that Mills, a Democrat, will investigate. Here’s her response to Evangelos:

          “Jeff, our information is not from political sources but from law enforcement. I really can’t say any more, as it is simply not our custom to comment publicly on requests for investigations or on investigations themselves.”

        2. BDN “LePage said “get our guns” as extremists wrote him on revolution”

        3. BDN Editorial “Stating the obvious: Why a governor shouldn’t meet with anti-government extremists”

          “Gov. Paul LePage apparently doesn’t understand a simple concept: As the state’s chief executive, he harms the reputation of the state by repeatedly indulging people who believe the current government is acting illegally, talk in strange ways about a new world order, urge people to not pay taxes, don’t believe President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen, think the federal government is stockpiling ammunition to use against civilians, publicly discuss mind control, and believe the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was a government-orchestrated attempt to restrict Second Amendment rights.It doesn’t matter if the people who met with LePage haven’t acted violently in the past; their views are so dissociated from reality they taint the credibility of anyone who takes them somewhat seriously. The fact that LePage met with them multiple times, when he could have been addressing the state’s real problems, shows a severe lack of judgment.

          People will continue to debate the specifics of what was actually said, and what the group believes, but the fact is that LePage met eight times with people who essentially seek to undermine the state’s public safety. By meeting regularly with them, he lent their cause a level of credibility it in no way deserves. His actions should make residents question LePage’s allegiance to the state.”

        4. Politico “Paul LePage Is in Trouble. Again.”

          “And this is not the first time the governor has engaged with some of them (Maine fringe element). His transition team in 2010 included three members of another group, the Maine Constitutionalists, who had recently hosted a talk by the head of the John Birch Society. One transition team member, Dana Dyer, was an instructor at the National Center for Constitutional Studies, the ultraconservative institute founded by the infamous Mormon conspiracy theorist (and devoted Bircher) W. Cleon Skousen, whose writings inform many of Glenn Beck’s rants.”

      Jack-McCarthy

    • 7/14/14- Jack McCarthy is convicted of multiple charges of driving with an expired driver’s license:
        Prosecutors said McCarthy essentially challenged the legality of the requirement that drivers obtain and renew a license, arguing the government was too intrusive and did not have the authority to regulate driver’s licenses.

        McCarthy compared to his refusal to comply with licensing requirements to “taking a sip out of the ‘negroes only’ drinking fountain.”

        “The judge had to explain to the jury in his instructions that the law essentially doesn’t work that way,”
        said John Pluto, assistant district attorney for Aroostook County. “If he was driving on a public road and if he was driving with a license that was expired, then he was guilty of driving without a license.”

        The jury took just 15 minutes of deliberations to convict McCarthy, who was fined $200 on the first charge and $400 for the second one.

      More via BDN:

      Screen-shot-2014-07-16-at-12.05.12-PM

        The group (Constitutional Coalition) has been linked with the Sovereign Citizens, which is described as a terrorist movement by both the federal government and the Maine Department of Public Safety.

        Members of the organization claim no affiliation with the Sovereign Citizens but espouse many of the same beliefs — including the notion that the government has been “hijacked” and is thus illegitimate, that most state laws are “repugnant to the Constitution” and thus invalid, and that the U.S. dollar is a “false currency.”

    • 7/16/14- Not only was McCarthy convicted of two charges of driving with an expired Maine driver’s license, but it is reported that on May 21, fellow coalition member Gary Smart was arrested in Lincoln for expired inspection and registration of his vehicle:
        On May 21, according to reports in the Lincoln News, fellow constitutionalists Gary Smart was arrested after an encounter with officers of the Lincoln Police Department.

        After being pulled over for expired registration and inspection stickers on West Broadway in Lincoln, Smart apparently declared himself a “sovereign citizen” and refused to exit his pickup truck until a member of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department was present. (Sovereigns believe that elected sheriffs are the only legitimate law enforcement officials.) Local officers eventually removed Smart from the vehicle and placed him in handcuffs.

        Smart was also later charged with operating without a license and violating the conditions of his release, according to the Lincoln News.

        Smart, like McCarthy, is defending himself in court and has posted some of his legal submissions to his website. They contain textbook Sovereign Citizen rhetoric, including the misuse of legal terms, allegations that the government is illegitimate and quotes from bible verses and precedents from the 1800s that he says prove he is above the law.

      From the above link:

        “* I, Gary Russell Smart, Sui Juris, am one of the people of the free and independent State of Maine(original), and in this Court of record complain of the following 3 men who are employed by the Private for profit Corporation known as the Lincoln Police Department, a franchised corporation of the District of Columbia: Joshua McKechnie, John Walsh and Daniel Summers who exceeded their jurisdictions, outside of Venue, improperly performing due process of laws of Maine and have injured and damaged me as the men acting as Police officers without my consent as one of the people of Maine who was enjoying natural inherent and unalienable right to travel on the highways of Maine. I make claim on these men as the following:

        – When John Walsh claimed a false arrest and I requested a Sheriff or deputy Sheriff who is a proper law enforcement, commissioned officer, the three named corporate franchised persons of the District of Columbia denied me proper due process of law according to their sworn oaths to God and the People of Maine.
        – These men trespassed upon my private property by opening my door without my consent. and
        – Assaulted me by dragging me out of my private property, and
        – placed me in shackles that I describe as torture devices designed to inflict pain, and
        – assaulted me by pushing my face into the tar and stepping on my back, and
        – Trespassed upon me with unlawful search and seizure, and
        – taking my personal property from 6 of my pockets, and
        – putting me into a cage, and
        – kidnaped me by taking me to the Police Department, and
        – taking my vehicle unlawfully, and

        – All without my consent or due process of the law of the land that these men swore an oath to God and the People of Maine to uphold the constitutional laws.

        * While at the Lincoln Police Department these men wrote two violation summons and complaints to a court hearing for offenses that do not apply to me being a private man who is one of the people of Maine.

        * These summons are identified as being violations of the Maine Revised Statutes which is not my law as I am not a person as these legal rules or codes pertain to for the following reasons:

        – These violations are for fictions in law which are identified as body corporate while I am a man who is one of the People of Maine as identified in the Constitution of Maine.
        – I am not a Person because that is being a man of sin as identified in James 2:9 “But if ye regard the persons, ye commit sin, and are rebuked of the Law, as transgressors.” I am a man who does not knowingly sin against the natural laws of my God, the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe.
        – The jurisdiction of the Maine Revised Statutes is not my venue, where as that venue is the private State of Maine Corporation that is a territory of the District of Columbia and a franchise of the 1871 corporation of the United States which I hold no known contracts with.
        – Any contracts franchising with the United States that might identify me as being a person is a fraud which is “Any trick or artifice employed by one person to induce another to fall into an error, or to detain him in it, so that he may make an agreement contrary to his interest.”(1856 Bouvier) Because this fraud may consist either, first, in the misrepresentation, or, secondly, in the concealment of a material fact. Fraud avoids a contract, ab initio, both at law and in equity, whether the object be to deceive the public, or third persons, or one party endeavor thereby to cheat the other.

        * Therefore a violation of Maine Revised Statutes 29-A §2412-A. Operating while license suspended or revoked is not a valid summons. Not only that it would be an invalid law because it violates a free man’s natural inherent and unalienable rights which all government personnel swear an oath to honor under their duties of the constitution and the supreme court has been ruling in that favor for years. So the driver’s license was a fraud in the first place and to operate as a free man of Maine makes an operation after suspension a fraud which avoids a contract, ab initio.

        * Therefore a violation of Maine Revised Statutes 29-A §351. Registration required is not a valid summons. Not only that it would be an invalid law because my vehicle is my personal private property that the State of Maine has no constitutional authorization to require registration and fees because such laws do not either defend my rights or benefit them by any reasonable nature of natural law.

        * Therefore the violations of 29-A §2412-A. Operating while license suspended or revoked and 29-A §351. Registration required are not valid and I have not done any harm or violated rights to any other man or woman I shall declare that these summons for violations are dismissed by my authority as a man and one of the people of Maine.

        * Therefor this leaves my claims that I have been harmed by three (3) men who operated outside of their constitutional jurisdiction and venue as police officers of the Lincoln Police department and wanted these charges to be prosecuted by the Lincoln District Court and the State of Maine Government under the United States Code 241 and 242 which has the jurisdiction over these persons employed by government and private corporations
        because I did inform them that I was one of the people of Maine, I had a free right to travel, meaning upon the highways and they ignored my venue and made the assumption that I was of their jurisdiction after I informed them differently.

        This is my answer by Gary Russell Smart, Sui Juris, is complete factual knowledge to the best of my ability.”

      —-

      *RELATED: (UPDATED) Breaking: LePage Met “Multiple Times” With FBI Known Domestic Terrorist Group, Discussed Executing Democratic Leaders

      (UPDATED) “Arrest For Treason/ Execution” Docs Released, Proving LePage Lied To BDN, Re: Sovereign Citizens Talks

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  • Maine Senate Takes Up EBT- TANF- GA Bills LDs 1829, 1822, 1820, 1842, 1815 and 1844 (VIDEOS)

    Posted on April 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    (NOTE: All of these will be separated and written up over the rest of the week. In the meanwhile, for the sake of sharing quickly, here are all 44 video clips taken during the Monday afternoon/ evening second session in order of debate.)

    1. LD 1829, “An Act To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Report Annually on Investigations and Prosecutions of False Claims Made under the MaineCare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Food Supplement Programs”.
    ROLL CALL: 21 Yeas – 14 Nays

    HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1829 to Senate

    Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1829

    Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting LD 1829

    Asst Minority Leader Sen. Roger Katz Opposing LD 1829

    Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) Supporting LD 1829

    2. LD 1822, “An Act To Increase Integrity in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Expenditures”.
    ROLL CALL: 18 Yeas – 17 Nays

    HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1822 (OTP as amended by H-787) to Senate

    Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by H-787

    Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting H-787 amended LD 1822

    Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by H-787

    Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Offers SAS 505 to amend LD 1822

    Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) opposing LD 1822 SAS-505

    HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

    Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 1)

    Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing LD 1822 CAH 787, SAS 505

    Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

    Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

    Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

    Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

    Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505

    Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 1)

    Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) concludes supporting remarks on LD 1822, SAS-505

    Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 2)

    3. LD 1820, “An Act To Reduce Abuse of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through Restriction of Electronic Benefits Transfers”.
    ROLL CALL: Yeas 20 – Nays 15

    HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1820 as amended to Senate

    Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) opposing LD 1820

    Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) supporting LD 1820

    4. LD 1842, “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program”.
    ROLL CALL: Yeas 20 – Nays 15

    HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1842 to Senate w/ ONTP committee recommendation

    Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing ONTP on LD 1842

    Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

    Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing “ONTP” on LD 1842

    Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

    Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland) supporting ONTP on LD 1842

    Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

    Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842

    5. LD 1815, “An Act To Require a Work Search for Job-ready Applicants for Benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program”.
    ROLL CALL: 20 Yeas – 15 Nays

    HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1815 (“ONTP”) to Senate

    Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing ONTP on LD 1815

    Sen. Ron Collins (R-York) Opposing ONTP on LD 1815

    Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) opposing ONTP on LD 1815

    Asst Majority Leader Anne Haskell (D-Cumberland) supporting ONTP on LD 1815

    Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) supporting ONTP on LD 1815

    6. LD 1844, “An Act To Increase Local Responsibility for General Assistance”.
    ROLL CALL: 22 Yeas – 12 Nays

    HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1844 (ONTP) to Senate

    Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

    Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

    Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) opposing LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

    Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation

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    Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Raiding the State’s Rainy Day Fund has Serious Consequences

    Posted on March 4, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

    Note: Earlier today, Governor LePage held a press conference in his cabinet room “to explain his opposition to Democrats raiding $21 million from the State’s Budget Stabilization Fund, commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fund.”. Here is the full video.

    Portland Press Herald is reporting that the Governor inexplicably seemed surprised to learn how overwhelmingly the full legislature rejected his position on revenue sharing, as they passed LD 1762, “An Act Related to the Report of the Tax Expenditure Review Task Force” handily:

      Asked Tuesday why he didn’t veto the municipal aid bill, LePage offered conflicting responses, first saying that he expected Republicans would sustain his veto, then stating later that he didn’t know that Republicans joined Democrats to overwhelmingly support the bill in multiple roll call votes.

      “Frankly, I thought they were playing politics,” he said. “I really thought that they were just playing politics. If I vetoed the bill … it would have been sustained by the Republicans and they would have turned and said our governor doesn’t care about the communities, he doesn’t care about property taxes. I didn’t realize that they’d go to the point of legitimately robbing the (rainy day fund). I thought that they’d find some other way.”

      The bill, L.D. 1762, passed the House 120-17 and the Senate 33-2. The margin of support belied Republican opposition to the bill, with several lawmakers saying that they feared a vote against the bill would be used to portray them as not supporting aid to municipalities and used against them in the upcoming election.

      When LePage was told that a majority of Republicans supported the bill, he said, “I didn’t realize they did, actually. Republicans voted for this, too? Then, frankly, I hold the entire Legislature responsible. If they did (vote for it), they did an irresponsible move.”

    Perhaps the governor wasn’t kidding when he quipped in January that, “I have no power when it comes to this legislature.”

    *RELATED: Maine Legislature Overwhelmingly Pass LD 1762, Restoring $40M In Municipal Revenue Sharing
    —————–

    Here now is Governor Paul LePage’s weekly address, sent out without embargo.

    Audio link here: Raiding the state’s rainy day fund has serious consequences

    Raiding the State’s Rainy Day Fund has Serious Consequences

    During my career as a businessman, I would never empty a company’s savings account to pay one month’s bills. As Governor, I find the Legislature’s proposal to raid the budget stabilization fund to fill a one-time budget hole both fiscally irresponsible and just plain incompetent. The repercussions will cost Mainers tens of millions of dollars in added interest costs.

    lepage sots angry selfHello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

    I never imagined Democrats would be so short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible that they would raid the budget stabilization fund and endanger the state’s fiscal status.

    This fund is commonly called the rainy day fund. It is a financial reserve that is set aside for emergencies, such unexpected revenue shortfalls or interruptions in normal state operations.

    It is not a slush fund for politicians to use when they don’t want to make tough decisions on the budget.

    Credit agencies want our state to have a rainy day fund at a minimum of 3 percent of our budget. That would be roughly $180 million. These agencies recommend we have 15 days of cash flow in reserve.

    Over the past three years, we have struggled to build it to $60 million. That’s only enough cash to run state operations for 5 days.

    Now Democrats have cut our financial reserves by 40 percent and take $21 million from the fund. That would leave 3 days of cash flow to run the state in an emergency.

    I have repeatedly warned Democrats that taking $21 million from the rainy day fund would harm our state’s credit rating and increase the costs of borrowing. A downgrade in our credit rating would result in higher interest rates, which could cost tens of millions of dollars. Maine’s taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

    For Democrats to put this burden on hard-working Mainers is unconscionable.

    That’s why we cannot go the bond market until Democrats replenish the budget stabilization fund to its previous level of $60 million. The decision to sell bonds rests squarely on the actions of Democrats in the Legislature.

    We have worked for three-and-a-half years to build up our cash reserves, and we just paid off $490 million in hospital debt. This has greatly improved our state’s financial position. Depleting our already limited financial reserves by robbing the rainy day fund is a big step backwards.

    Just as a credit score is of vital importance to the average Mainer, the ratings from credit agencies have very real and very serious consequences for our state.

    Democrats do not seem to care about fiscal accountability. They just want to spend every dollar in sight so they can focus on buying votes for the election. Then they can dump their responsibility for balancing the budget on the next Legislature.

    Playing politics is one thing. But I cannot stand by and watch as Democrats destroy our state’s credit rating and cash reserves. They may not care if being fiscally irresponsible will have a disastrous effect on our state. I do.

    That’s why I will submit a proposal to replenish the state’s budget stabilization fund before we talk about going to the bond market. It’s the right thing to do.

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    LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 3: MaineDOT Projects in Peril?

    Posted on February 24, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

    Feb. 22—Maine Governor Paul LePage and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee session, which was about the future of the National Guard.

    Feb. 22—Maine Governor Paul LePage and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee session, which was about the future of the National Guard (photo via NGA).

    We are giving Governor LePage a pass on the “Day Count” for Saturday and Sunday, as he was down in DC for the NGA winter meetingwell, until yesterday morning at least.

    He inexplicably skipped last night’s dinner with President and Mrs. Obama at the White House, as well as multiple meetings today with the President and Vice-President Biden.

    Hey, waitaminute… Anyone else remember when LePage pulled out of NGA?

      LePage said he will attend the winter meeting, held in Washington, D.C., because of its sessions with President Barack Obama and cabinet members. But he said he has no use for the other meetings held by the group.

      “I get no value out of those meetings,” he said. “They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey and no decisions are ever made. There are some tough decisions that need to be made in this country and we need to start making them.”

    (If anyone can make sense of his thought processes, oh do please- let the rest of Maine in on the trick…)

    Fortunately, the Kennebec Journal helpfully shared this (Governors: ‘ObamaCare here to stay’) for LePage, so he can be up to speed on what he missed and via AP, gave Maine a shout-out:

      …governors from both parties report that a full repeal of the law (ACA) would be complicated at best, if not impossible, as states move forward with implementation and begin covering millions of people – both by expanding Medicaid rolls for lower-income resident or through state or federal exchanges that offer federal subsidies to those who qualify.

      A recent Associated Press analysis of the sign-ups found that six Republican-led states – Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin – were on pace or better than the states had initially projected.

    Oh dear.

    Onward to Day Three!

    ———————————————

    Last August, Maine Governor Paul LePage recorded a video, urging support for a $100 million transportation bond as a means of “supporting economic development and jobs”.

    It was a politically motivated plea sent out directly at the public for a solitary transportation bond to be put on the November ballot. He also called for a special session and once the dust settled on that special session called for by the Governor, there was agreement on a slew of bonds to go before voters.

    Four in particular are of interest, as they related directly to bonds for higher education and transportation:

    Voters in November passed all four of the above bonds by wide margins and as the Secretary of State’s office “Citizen’s Guide 2013” points out, all passed measures go into effect 30 days after the election results are certified.

    Governor Paul LePage and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt release 3 year statewide Work Plan in North Augusta.

    Governor Paul LePage and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt release 3 year statewide Work Plan in North Augusta.

    On January 13, Maine media was advised by Maine DOT press secretary Ted Talbot that there would be a press conference rolling out an ambitious statewide transportation plan the following day. Inside a North Augusta MaineDOT garage, Governor Paul LePage, Senator Ron Collins (R-York), MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt and others gathered as LePage and Bernhardt released MDOT’s statewide 3 year, $2B work plan:

      The Maine DOT’s “Three Year Work Plan” will use $100 million in state transportation bonds – approved last November by voters – and federal highway funds to pay for more than 1,600 projects from now until 2016 in all 16 of the state’s counties.

      In 2014, a total of 425 projects are scheduled at a cost of $455 million.

      “The work plan represents more than a listing of projects,” LePage said during a news conference in Augusta. “Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone that delivers economic opportunities and good-paying jobs to Maine. That’s why I will continue to support the Maine DOT’s innovative efforts to upgrade our transportation system and to keep stretching that buck.”

    The governor commented that this was a non-partisan effort:

      “The bond package was approved by about 70 percent of the voters in Maine. So it was a non-partisan effort,” LePage said. “Everybody worked together on it.”

    As there was quite a bit of ongoing bickering over the budget, revenue sharing, the infamous Alexander Report and Medicaid expansion a few miles away at the State House, media questioned the Governor after the presentation about those topics instead of the MDOT work plan.

    LePage minced no words as he attacked Democratic lawmakers:

      “The boogey man in the room…”

      “It’s just the opposite of what the opponents say. Let me tell you something… I hear, Mark Eves says… (unintelligible) “tea party guy”… it takes one to know one. When I was a Democrat… I was a Democrat- until- I learned how to count. You see that? I learned to count; I became a Republican. Because they’re giving you smoke and mirrors. They gave us smoke and mirrors in 2002 and they’re doing it again today.

      Let me tell you something else that you don’t… Democrats… there’s going to be several nursing homes closing, because they’re not covered. And we have the waiting list, that’s not covered. So all of these things that they … Democrats say are gonna happen are wrong. They’re simply wrong.”

    … and that he has “no power” with this legislature, among other claims.

      “I have no power when it comes to this legislature. They do what they damn well please.”

    So at no time in January did the Governor publicly threaten to renege on the transportation bond. In fact, on the following day (January 15), his weekly address stressed that “Maine has an obligation to help our most vulnerable and pay its bills”.

    At the time of the work plan roll out, Associated General Contractors of Maine executive director Matt Marks was quoted by MPBN:

      The work will provide badly needed jobs in Maine’s construction sector, where as recently as early last year, says Matt Marks, unemployment topped 26 percent. Marks is executive director of Associated General Contractors of Maine.

      “Last year, I worried about the talented constructors who would leave Maine for jobs in other states,”
      he said. But Marks says unemployment among his membership has now dropped to 16 percent, a downward trend he expects will continue, as the 2014 transportation projects get under way this spring.

      The Transportation Department says it’s confident it will secure the state and federal funds it will need to complete the more than 1,000 projects scheduled for 2015 and 2016.

    Here is the list of contracts awarded so far, updated as late as February 14. It will be interesting to see how they react to news of the Governor’s refusal to honor the state’s signed contracts and whether the work already scheduled will be able to continue.

    ——————–

    *RELATED:

    1. BREAKING: Governor LePage Reneges on $100M Jobs Bonds; Bounces $59M State of Maine Check
    2. LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 2
    3. (Aug 2013 Review) Governor LePage (Video): Support of the Transportation Bond Supports Economic Stability and Jobs

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    LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 2

    Posted on February 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

    (Following up on last night’s news: “BREAKING: Governor LePage Reneges On $100M Jobs Bonds; Bounces $59M State Of Maine Check”)

    To review, here is the email shared last night:

    lepage sots angry self

    Neria,
    I will not approve going to market until there is $60 MM in the Rainy Day Fund. I will not subject the state to further credit reduction. In the past the Treasurer would keep the Governor updated on cash expenditures, you have chosen not to.

    Governor Paul R. LePage

    A reminder: LePage accused Douglass last year in June of holding up issuance of the bonds, which was proven false and refused to sign them until the hospital debt was paid. On July 3, the governor shifted the blame for the bond issuance delay onto Democrats and in August, he applauded the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for approving the bonds package that included $35M to higher education improvements such as Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and Maine Community College System.

    In September, Maine Maritime Academy first broke ground on the ABS Center for Engineering, Science and Research- the first classroom facility built on campus in thirty years. From a press release:

    “Enrollment at MMA has expanded from 650 to 950 full-time students over the last 15 years. During that time, there has been little expansion of educational facilities on our campus,” said Dr. William J. Brennan, President of Maine Maritime Academy. “The new facility is an investment in our students, in the technology necessary for the specialized education we provide, and in the industry-relevant research our faculty and students are immersed in here on campus.”

    The new building will be a hub for joint student/faculty research projects, including low-emissions biofuels development and testing, wind turbine design, tidal and wave hydrokinetic devices, ocean studies research, and many other topics.

    In January, construction began on the site:

    mma castine abs

    Maine Maritime Academy has begun construction of the first academic facility to be built on the college campus in 30 years: the ABS Center for Engineering, Science and Research. The construction process is estimated to be complete in 12 months, with occupancy planned for January, 2015. When complete, the 3-story, 30,000-square-foot building will provide state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories, classrooms, student study spaces, faculty offices and workrooms in the heart of the campus.

    In November, Maine voters approved $4.5 million in state funding to support the public-private partnership to build a new facility. The remainder of the funding needed to accomplish the estimated $14 million project is being raised through generous gifts, pledges and challenge grants from alumni, friends of the college, businesses and foundations.

    “With the successful passage of the bond issue and ongoing fundraising efforts we are nearing our funding goals for the project,” said Maine Maritime Academy President, Dr. William J. Brennan. “We are also fortunate to have an experienced construction team from Nickerson & O’Day who are determined, even with the extreme weather since December, to stay on schedule.”

    “We are very happy to have a chance to work with Maine Maritime Academy again,” said Karl Ward, President of Nickerson & O’Day, citing student housing construction and renovation projects the company has completed on campus over the past 20 years. “We’re also excited to be a part of advancing the college’s work in engineering and research.”

    The new building will be home to renewable energy and ocean energy labs, as well as the new Marine Engine Testing and Emissions Laboratory (METEL), for which the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Academy $1.4 million to focus on research and development of emissions reductions technologies and engine efficiency technologies for marine and related power plants.

    neria_headshot_web_smallEarlier today Maine Treasurer Neria R. Douglass shared a timeline of over 40 pages of compiled communications in a timeline from May of last year to present with the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, detailing the emails between her department, the Governor’s office, and information on the various projects already in process.

    When contacted about the news of LePage’s refusal to issue the jobs bonds, Dr. William J. Brennan, President of Maine Maritime Academy, had the following reaction:

    “We are not aware that this would affect the bond funding that was approved for Maine Maritime Academy. The State has given us the green light to begin construction on the ABS Center, and the project is underway.”

    Bangor Daily News reports that there has been no response yet from the governor’s office:

    LePage has said previously said that he would withhold up to $100 million in voter-approved bonds because of a bill passed recently by the Legislature that restores $40 million in revenue sharing to Maine towns and cities that was cut as part of the two-year budget passed by the Legislature last year. LePage proposed last year in his biennial budget bill to cut revenue sharing completely for two years, but the Legislature restored some of that funding over LePage’s objections.

    Lawmakers also agreed to seek alternative revenue sources to restore the $40 million revenue-sharing cut in the budget. A task force could not agree on those measures, so Democrats on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee put forth an alternative plan.

    That revenue-sharing bill, LD 1762, would take $21 million from the rainy day fund, which currently has about $60 million in it, as well as $4 million from a fund designed to accumulate budget surplus for the purpose of eventually reducing the state’s income tax and $15 million from surging unappropriated revenues. The bill, which had strong bipartisan support in the Legislature, is on LePage’s desk awaiting action.

    Today Governor LePage issued a press release through the Maine Department of Labor, which read in part:

    Revenue Forecast Flat for FY 2014 and 2015
    Budget Balancing Challenges Remain

    The Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) met today to discuss the spring economic forecast due to the Governor and Legislature no later than March 1, 2014.

    The RFC will formally submit its report next week; however, at the meeting today the committee publicly stated that General Fund revenue forecast would remain virtually unchanged since their last update in November 2013.


    “Democrats on the Appropriations Committee were unwilling to wait on the Revenue Forecasting Committee’s forecast before casting their votes to raid the State’s limited rainy day reserve fund,”
    said Governor Paul R. LePage. “They will now be forced with making tough choices to ensure the State replenishes the reserves to a balance of at least $60 million to try and avoid a bond rating downgrade this spring.”

    Which is to say, LePage refuses to budge one iota.

    Democrats were quick to point out to media that LePage and the 125th Legislature drew down from the state’s budget stabilization account themselves to cover budget shortfalls created by tax cuts to the rich:

    Key Points:

    · In 2011, the LePage administration and the Republican-led legislature drew down $27 million from the account to balance its budget, which included a $400 million income tax cut that primarily benefited the wealthy.

    · Under the Democratic proposal, LD 1762, the budget stabilization account would simply return to similar levels as in 2012. The proposal temporarily draws down $21 million from the state’s budget stabilization fund often referred to as the “rainy day fund.” It later directs any year-end surplus to replenish the account.

    · Democrats drew down funds from the state’s budget stabilization fund to ensure that the State could keep our commitment to Maine towns to help keep property taxes from spiking. The bipartisan bill to blunt municipal revenue sharing cuts prevented a 79 percent cut in the state’s obligation to our communities.

    rainy day

    (This story is still unfolding and will be updated as necessary.)

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