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Maine News

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Maine News for Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Collins awarded maritime honor

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Susan Collins today was honored with the Distinguished Leadership Award for Maritime and Supply Chain Security during the U.S. Maritime Security Conference in New York City.

Verizon denies its network is eroding
And FairPoint disputes the PUC staff`s view that equipment and service fixes would strain a buyer.

Republicans demand answers over failed investment
They say state Treasurer David Lemoine needs to fully explain putting $20 million into a fund that flopped.

Teacher loses his certification after sex case
The Monmouth Academy case is used to back a push to change a state privacy law.

Maine tobacco law going before Supreme Court
The state is defending its effort to curb minors' online cigarette purchases.

EDITORIAL: Verizon-FairPoint deal gets deserved scrutiny
A PUC staff report is not the final word on the proposed sale, but it addresses the right issues.

EDITORIAL: Firefighters should not become spies in terror war
Emergency services are an unacceptable alternative to normal search procedures.

EDITORIAL: Plastic bags not ideal, but good alternatives aren't obvious, either
A lawmaker's plan to place a fee on them may be overkill when other factors apply.

Sen. Ethan Strimling and Rep. John Tuttle: Wealth gap calls for hike in minimum wage
A bill now being heard in Augusta would raise it by $1.40 an hour, enough to make a difference.

LTE: Handouts not solution for those who want to work

LTE: Americans need relief from rising energy prices


Lawyers seek delay in phone jamming trial
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
CONCORD, N.H. — Lawyers in a New Hampshire phone jamming case are asking that a possible second trial be put off while a judge decides if the defendant should be acquitted.

Juniper Ridge 'awarded' as leading polluter in N.E.

Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town has been dubbed one of New England’s leading polluters of the decade by the Toxics Action Center.

Maine officials eye milk-labeling law
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s Department of Agriculture is considering submitting legislation that would clarify the labels on fresh milk in an effort to educate consumers about which milk comes from local farms.

Need for fuel assistance rising

BANGOR, Maine — Peter and Faye McDermott don’t like to ask anyone for help. In the past, even when times were tough, they always managed to pull through on their own.

Feds toss controversial wildcat habitat rule
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Federal officials have tossed out a controversial rule that exempts millions of acres of Canada lynx habitat in northern Maine from additional regulation.

EDITORIAL: FairPoint concerns
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
FairPoint Communications' proposed takeover of Maine's telephone service is too risky and should be rejected, the staff of the Public Utilities Commission recommended this week. The staff was especially critical of FairPoint's financial assumptions and warned the company may not have the wherewithal to maintain services without raising rates.

EDITORIAL: Another 'Man from Hope'
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Just when Republicans appeared to be narrowing in on a choice between a former New York City mayor and a former Massachusetts governor for their party’s nomination for president, along comes a man from Hope. Hope, Ark., that is.

Kathleen Parker: How will gender play in Clinton campaign?
Will women vote for Hillary Clinton only because she’s a woman? That question keeps getting bounced around and I’ve recently revised my answer from "no" to "yes."

Wednesday's Letters to the Editor … Ron Paul rising … Contraceptive bill … Teach right and wrong


GOP wants answers from Lemoine
Failed investment puts pressure on state treasurer

AUGUSTA -- Senate Republicans turned up the heat Tuesday on state Treasurer David Lemoine, calling for more answers about a failed $20 million investment and saying they may call for his ouster if they don't get the information they request.

Report sees little 'adequate yearly progress'
Maine's public schools made little progress in the past year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Maine Department of Education.

Verizon network reported lacking
The telephone network that FairPoint Communications wants to buy from Verizon will need millions of dollars worth of equipment repairs and additional staffing to meet service quality standards, according to the advisory staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

On Maine Politics: LaMarche says never again

Green Independent Pat LaMarche, who has run for governor twice and vice president once, said she’ll never run again, though she’s willing to help other Greens take the plunge.

EDITORIAL: Rescuing the Farm Bill
You'd need a Ph.D. in Robert's Rules of Order to figure out just what happened in the Senate to derail the Farm Bill last week.

LTE: Veteran finds America a tough place to live
As a veteran of many Army years, I have traveled around the world and been to many less fortunate areas. In my travels I have seen households with no power, no phones and just barely enough to have one meal a day.

LTE: Get to know Ron Paul, not just media's image
Well, I knew it would just be a matter of time, and the Kennebec Journal has not disappointed me. Ron Paul has been ignored by the media because they didn't feel he was a threat to politics as usual. Given his popularity on the Internet due to his voting record -- not voting to raise taxes, not voting for an unbalanced budget, not voting to raise congressional pay, just to name a few -- all of a sudden the politicians are getting concerned. The next step is slander, innuendoes and association with so called "fringe groups."


LTE: Editorial page looks great, I miss 'Democracy Now!'
I like what you are doing to spice up the Morning Sentinel's editorial page. Frankly I think it's outstanding already for such a small community to get such coverage. But there is one source of news that I miss from it, which is Democracy Now! Currently I get such news by e-mail. But several of the items are of such importance, and so original, that I often think "I wish the Sentinel were covering this one" for all your readers.

LTE: Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants are wrong
On Nov. 20, CNN reported that Maine is one of eight states that made it legal to issue driver's licenses for illegal immigrants without Maine voters having the chance to vote on such an important issue.


Baldacci touts 'green' tree
AUGUSTA (AP) - Governor John Baldacci's Christmas tree is green in more than one way.

GOP seeking probe of $20M investment
AUGUSTA (AP) - Maine Senate Republican leaders Tuesday called for an investigation into the state treasurer's $20 million investment of cash pool funds in Mainsail II commercial paper whose rating slipped from highest to subprime within two weeks this summer.

EDITORIAL: Striving for competitive mediocrity
Gov. John Baldacci is pretty skilled at assembling committees. His latest creation, the Governor's Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, is a star-studded lineup of Maine business heavies chosen to inject capitalist wisdom into public policy.

LTE: The universal solution
LD 1760 proposes a high-risk pool for health insurance coverage in Maine. For those unfamiliar with high-risk pools and the problems one caused in Maine from 1988 to 1994, they are a way to lower premiums for healthy people at the cost of taxpayers and the sick.

LTE: Right this country
I'm getting tired of politicians fighting among themselves and insulting each other.

LTE: Honoring Tyler
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Tyler Curtis, a young man who twice served this great nation in a capacity that brought him to an unimaginable state of hell and misery.

LTE: Unjust treason
There is nothing more un-American than a corrupt justice system.


Privatized base cleanup eyed
BRUNSWICK — With federal funding for environmental work slow in arriving, local base reuse planners are hoping to find ways to ensure that cleanups...(full story)

Tips tinge minimum wage debate
AUGUSTA — Legislators are considering a bill to raise the state's minimum wage from the current $7 to $8.40 over two years and change the way...(full story)

OP/ED: The new 'best and brightest' seem dim
Woe is me. Nothing is going right. I wrote an earlier piece about the shortage of statesmen and women in public service, including the paucity of quality...(full story)

LTE: Fight media consolidation
It is no coincidence that the quality of our news has deteriorated as media consolidation has grown. It is no surprise that the level of political debate has degenerated into...(full story)


PUC Staff Recommends Rejection of Fairpoint-Verizon Deal
As we first reported last night, the staff of the Maine Public Uutilities Commission is recommending that the Commission reject Verizon's $2.7 billion plan to sell its Northern New England landline network to the much smaller Fairpoint Communications. .The staff says that if the deal goes forward, Fairpoint will be inheriting a deteriorating network it would be unable to support. But as Keith McKeen reports, that's an an allegation that's strongly rejected by both companies.


State Offical Questioned About 20 Million Dollar Investment
Republican leaders in the Maine Senate said today they will press State Treasurer David Lemoine for a full explanation of a $20 million investment in a sub-prime mortgage company that has since been downgraded to junk status. Lemoine says he thinks the state will get its money back, plus interest, but in the meantime, the state's investment in the company has been frozen by the Bank of New York. As A.J. Higgins reports, Senate Republicans want to know why Lemoine signed off on the investment in the first place and whether the state is involved in any other potentially shaky deals.



EXCLUSIVE: Pen Bay OKs contract with Maine Health

ROCKLAND — The Pen Bay Healthcare board voted Monday night to approve an agreement with the state’s largest health care corporation to share services.

EDITORIAL: State priorities

The Maine Legislature will face tough decisions as it deals with a budget shortfall brought on by lower than expected revenues. Legislators should think long and hard, before deciding to make cuts that will harm those most in need.


Servers' tips at issue in wage-hike hearing

$20M frozen, and questions linger on state investment strategies

Sick-leave benefits bill would make Maine a leader

Saco, three other towns may lose job centers


Lawyers request delayed trial in NH phone jamming case

Lawyers are asking that a new trial for a former GOP official accused of phone jamming be put off from December to January, the Associated Press reported today.

Energy efficient at the Blaine House

This holiday season, Gov. John Baldacci wants to make sure the state’s energy bill doesn’t skyrocket as a result of his Christmas tree.

Dear FairPoint, Welcome to Maine. Now go home.

I actually feel sorry for the good people at FairPoint. They thought that they would be welcome just because they wanted to be here, were willing to create hundreds of jobs and invest millions of dollars in to Maine’s aging telecommunications infrastructure.


Taking Its Toll

Is Maine ready for a North Woods highway?

The asphalt was barely cool on the last four-lane section of Interstate 95 in 1981 when people in Maine began talking about building a matching superhighway from east to west. Over the decades since, the idea rose and fell almost as often as the tide, each time sounding plausible and each time always floating just beyond the fingertips of the possible.


RIGHTS-US: Civil Libertarians Warn of "Patriot Act Lite"
NEW YORK, Nov 27 (IPS) - Civil libertarians are worried that a little-known anti-terrorism bill now making its way through the U.S. Congress with virtually no debate could be planting the seeds of another USA Patriot Act, which was hurriedly enacted into law after the al Qaeda attacks of Sep. 11, 2001. … The Senate version is being drafted by Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, ...


Nick McGee: Portland School Committee Recall Effort (Final Update)

We believe this community capable of producing three more thoughtful and responsible people to serve our schools, and we hope the people will come forward in support of this effort.

Supremes: Fed Law Preempt ME's Tobacco Delivery Law?

The US Supreme Court must decide whether Maine's effort to regulate Internet tobacco sales is preempted by a federal law barring states from interfering in the operations of interstate shipping/transport companies.

Senate Republicans Seek Answers in the State’s Loss of $20 Million

The citizens of Maine have paid their hard earned tax dollars to the state and they have the right to expect their money be safeguarded and spent wisely.

Lemoine on $20 Million Loss of Your Tax Dollars

"Maine would have better odds of buying a megaball ticket and winning than of buying this and losing," Lemoine said.

WA: 25-Pct Property Tax Deferral Proposed

"When the house is sold, the state will be reimbursed."

Republicans Threaten to Cut Aid to Iraq

The stern warnings, coming from Sens. Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss.

Iran Says New Missile Can Hit Israel/US Bases

Confronting the FCC Monolith

Chairman Kevin J. Martin of the Federal Communications Commission or as we know it, the FCC, has put forth a plan in the past year to make big media even bigger or if you’re a Republican, he’s put forth a plan to make “liberal” media more “liberal.” … Thankfully, our leaders have been fighting for Americans. On October 25, 2007, Maurice Hinchey and 41 others listed below sent this letter:

But Mom, You Said It Couldn't Happen Here!

… What is so relevant to today is an interesting parable. Sen. McCarthy was a Republican from the state of Wisconsin. His tirade that destroyed many innocent Americans was born out of fear just like today with the bill introduced by a Democratic Congress woman from California, Jane Harmon. The bill has not yet passed the Senate, but it has been introduced as SR 1959, sponsored by none other then Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).