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Maine News

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Maine News for Thursday, December 20, 2007


Cash fails to boost racino backers Gambling supporters outspent opponents by almost two to one in their losing campaign.

Panel adopts blueprint for future use of BNASThe next step for reuse planners is to build relationships with prospective tenants.

College stakes a green claim to fame College of the Atlantic says it is the nation's first to reduce its atmospheric carbon impact to zero.

Education plan targets rural poverty The community college system pledges $6.2 million in programs and aid for low-income areas.

EDITORIAL: FCC ruling relies on faulty reading of current trends Allowing broadcasters to own newspapers in larger markets will concentrate media power.

Rep. Gary ConnorEvery child needs a blood test for lead A pending bill would require such a test before any child could enter kindergarten.

LTE: Find new direction on energy policy

LTE: CIA's destruction of tapes damages case, reputation

LTE: Strimling's wage proposal won't bridge income gap


Plan expands education in rural areasThursday, December 20, 2007AUGUSTA, MAINE - The Maine Community College System has unveiled a $6.2 million program designed to expand its reach into rural Maine.

State to hear comments on spring salmon seasonThursday, December 20, 2007HALLOWELL, MAINE - State officials plan to hold a public hearing in late January on a potentially controversial proposal to allow fishing for Atlantic salmon on the Penobscot River this spring.

Supplemental budget to uphold cutsThursday, December 20, 2007AUGUSTA, MAINE - Lawmakers who dislike Gov. John Baldacci's $38 million budget curtailment order are sure to complain when they get his supplemental budget proposed to fill the remaining hole in the two-year state budget.

Milbridge: Wyman’s to assist workers, community with heating fuelThursday, December 20, 2007MILBRIDGE, MAINE - Current and retired employees of Jasper Wyman & Sons and residents in nearby communities will get a windfall to help them with the rising costs of heating fuel and food.

Winkin transferred, to begin acute rehab
The list of well-wishers has included Sen. Olympia Snowe, Sen. Susan Collins and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, along with many members of the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Canada accused of lumber pact
BANGOR - Just slightly more than a year after signing a softwood lumber agreement, the United States and Canada are again at odds over the amount and price of Canadian lumber in the U.S. market. … The coalition has been working with U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine and wants Canadian provinces to allow fully open market competition to determine the price of timber.

EDITORIAL: Petro Dollars and SenseThursday, December 20, 2007When it comes to oil prices, there are many things the U.S. can't control - the weather and political instability in the Middle East and South America, for example.

Thursday's Letters to the Editor … Support Bt corn … Impeding development


Story of family's plight leads to ridicule via Web AUGUSTA -- An Augusta family whose struggle to find enough money to stay warm this winter was told on the front page of Wednesday's Kennebec Journal unexpectedly found itself the subject of ridicule.

Community college system reaching into rural Maine FAIRFIELD -- The Maine Community College System announced Wednesday it will broaden educational opportunities to rural Maine residents with investments, outreach, scholarships and programs for rural high schools.

JIM BRUNELLE : State investment flap gives incentive to revise rulesLegislature appoints 4 high state officials, regardless of qualifications If nothing else, the current political fuss in Augusta over a corporate bond investment by the state treasurer that went sour gives us a chance to re-examine one of the murkier aspects of state government -- our constitutional officers.

LTE: Security was warranted at public hearing A recent letter by Steve Cartwright (Dec. 7) needs to be addressed.

LTE: Preventive measures can make good citizens We were pleased to participate in the recent Governor's Summit on Early Education and applaud the event organizers for bringing together business, community, education, law enforcement and public policy leaders to talk about what the state does, and doesn't do, to invest in our youngest citizens.


Spending money didn't assure victory for racino AUGUSTA -- Money may be the mother's milk of politics, but finance reports from last month's referendum over gambling in Washington County show that a lot of cash on hand does not guarantee victory at the ballot box.

EDITORIAL: Appeals court mostly correct in parade ruling The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Friday that significant portions of Augusta's parade ordinance are unconstitutional. The decision was a clear victory for the First Amendment, but not a total one.


Federal heating help on the wayWASHINGTON (AP) - Cash-strapped families who depend on home heating assistance can expect more federal dollars this winter.

Fuel costs raise fearsLEWISTON - The cost of heating oil this year is more than discouraging. Fire officials say it can also be dangerous.

EDITORIAL: The first cut, but not the deepestWith respect to Neil Young, the soundtrack to Maine's budget is "The Gift Cards and the Damage Done."

LTE: Divide, and conquerRepublicans and their propagandists continue to place party loyalty above all else. They reduce anything that does not conform to a particular rigid ideological standard in every scenario as "liberal."


Federal zoning eyed for BNASLEWISTON — Unique zoning in Lewiston and Auburn that shelters imports from U.S. Customs fees could be extended to benefit companies eyeing a future...(full story)

OP/ED: Early investments cut crime later...(full story)

LTE: New approach to warGen. Petraeus, the commander of our military forces in Iraq, is known to friends and admirers as a brilliant, military tactician. His Princeton University doctoral thesis...(full story)


Senators Seek Aid for Lobstermen Facing Cost of Whale Rules
ELLSWORTH — In a rare show of bipartisan cooperation, nine United States senators have asked the Bush administration for at least $14 million to help New England lobstermen pay the cost of new gear they will have to buy to comply with new rules designed to protect endangered right whales.

Gov. Baldacci Slashes State Spending by $38 Million

AUGUSTA — Governor John Baldacci Tuesday signed an emergency order to cut $38 million out of state spending to help fill a $95 million hole in the budget.

Feds: State DHHS Owes $30M

AUGUSTA — The Office of the Inspector General says Maine needs to pay back the federal government nearly $30 million because the services that money paid for didn’t meet the requirements of the Medicaid program.

Verizon-FairPoint Talks Move Ahead

AUGUSTA — Verizon’s plan to sell its landline phone business in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to FairPoint Communications for $2.7 billion appears to be back on track, at least for now.

Senator Releases “Hit List” of Possible State Job Eliminations

AUGUSTA — The state senator who pushed for the creation of a budget-cutting commission to look at trimming administrative costs in state government has released a hit list of possible job eliminations.

Maine’s Retirement Fund

Millions of Americans who will look to Social Security as a major part of their retirement income expect to work well into their 60s in order to qualify for the full benefit. For those folks, the notion of retiring at the age of 55 or even 60 — even if they wanted to — is outside the realm of possibility. But for thousands of Maine state employees and teachers, the issue of early retirement has become the centerpiece in an ongoing debate over a legislative proposal to restore some $90 million in benefits that were reduced for some workers in order to balance the state budget back in 1993.

Maine’s Energy Future

Governor John Baldacci’s well-intentioned but ill-conceived plans to consolidate Maine school districts and place county jails under a state framework are receiving plenty of deserved condemnation as 2007 winds its way down. But on another front, the Governor is right on target. Baldacci took sharp issue last week with Maine’s treatment at the hands of ISO-New England, the agency that coordinates the electricity markets and transmission systems in Maine and its five Northeastern neighbors.

Questioning the Greatness of War

Written by Craig Idlebrook
While I’ve enjoyed the stories in “The Greatest Generation” series, I’m troubled by its title.

Congress Must Draw the Line on Iran

Written by Suzanne Anderson
It sounds so eerily familiar, the White House claiming a Middle Eastern country is threatening America and freedom in general. This time that country is Iran.


State Owes Feds $30 Million, Audit Claims
The Office of the Inspector General says Maine needs to pay back the federal government nearly $30 million because the services that money paid ... Budget Axe Targets Support Staffers, Contract Jobs in Augusta
The senator who pushed for creation of a budget-cutting commission to look at trimming administrative costs in state government has released ... Governor Orders Cuts in Spending
Gov. John Baldacci Tuesday signed an emergency order to cut $38 million out of state spending to help fill a $95 million hole in the budget, ... State Treasurer 'Snookered by Professionals' on $20 Million Investment
The Legislature's budget oversight committee has voiced confidence in state Treasurer David Lemoine despite his $20 million investment in a ... From the Legislature -- Rep. Jon McKane
Hunting, fishing licenses available online The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) has announced that hunting and fishing ...

Federal Defense Bill Includes Newcastle Woman's Vaccination Scrutiny for Military
U.S. Rep. Tom Allen successfully amended the defense authorization bill for 2008 to include an assessment by the Department of Defense of its ...


Rockland Fire Department awarded $22951 grant
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec 19): U.S. Rep. Tom Allen announced Wednesday that a $22,951 Assistance to Firefighters Grant has been awarded to the Rockland Fire Department.


Social Service Agencies Brace For Cuts Social service agencies around the state are trying to figure out how to tighten their belts in the wake of Governor Baldacci's order yesterday to cut state spending by $38 million dollars. Much of those savings will come from cuts in programs that serve mentally ill adults and children who don't qualify for the state's Medicaid program, known as MaineCare.

State Community College System Seeks Boost In Rural Enrollments The state's community college system today announced a financial boost of more than 6 million dollars aimed at enrolling more residents of rural Maine. The combination of gifts, grants and community college funds will be used to launch several new initiatives, including a special rural student scholarship program, and child care funding for students with young families. A.J. Higgins reports.


Maine Softwood Lumber Producers Upset Over Canadian Practices
DOVER-FOXCROFT (NEWS CENTER) -- We've been hearing a lot recently about how the slumping housing market is hurting the lumber industry. But Maine softwood lumber producers say the housing market isn't their only problem.
They said the government of Canada is disregarding a trade agreement, and as a result, underpriced Canadian lumber is flooding the U.S. market. …. Both Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have written to the U.S. Trade Representative for a more immediate solution to this problem. The arbitration is not expected to be settled until at least February.


State budget cuts could hit local school districts
KITTERY, Maine — With Maine facing a budget shortfall, Gov. John Baldacci on Tuesday ordered $38 million in state spending cutbacks, saying they avoid hitting Maine's most vulnerable residents and will cause no layoffs.


Augusta seeks consolidation relief
In an effort to make consolidation feasible for some school districts, the Legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs Committee last week voted 10-2 in favor of a Department of Education bill that removes some financial barriers under the current...


Everyone’s a neocon now: Looking back on state politics — and forwardIn the eight years I’ve covered the State House for the Portland Phoenix, I’ve been struck by the depressingly constant themes.

Verizon angles to keep state business: CanoodlingDemocratic governor John Baldacci had a private sit-down with Ivan Seidenberg, the president and CEO of Verizon, November 30.

Plum Creek watchdog: Press releasesThanks to a Phoenix reader, Maine residents now know something the Portland Press Herald was not telling them.

Kill the house lights: Politics and other mistakesAs we celebrate the solstice on December 21, take comfort in knowing that state officials are doing all they can to make it even darker. And, like Tax Day, more expensive.


2008 Legislative candidates
The following candidates plan to run for the Legislature in 2008.
This list is complete per Ethics Commission filings, and was last updated Dec. 19. Other candidates not listed may have mentioned intent to run in another forum.

Strimling swipes at Bush
With President Bush today signing into law today a bill requiring higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, Democrat Ethan Strimling, who is running for the First Congressional District, saw an opportunity to take a swipe at Bush.

Patrick to run for county commissioner
Rep. John Patrick, D-Rumford, will run for Oxford County Commissioner next year.
Term limits prevent him from seeking another term.

California man joins Snowe’s staff
Sen. Olympia Snowe’s new press secretary has never been to Maine, and the bitter cold and mountains of snow are a far cry from what he knew growing up.
Kurt Bardella, 24, grew up in San Diego. He started in Snowe’s office today.
“You can’t get any further apart geographically,” Bardella said.

The Influential Staffers
I’ve put together a list of 10 that rise to the top of the heap. Here are the top 5, with the next 5 to come.

Where Fools Rush In
Governor Baldacci took some time away from his Christmas shopping yesterday to announce an executive order that would “curtail” state spending immediately in a number of areas.


Best Political Slugfest
Tom Allen and Susan Collins take off the gloves.
One of the problems with politics in Maine is that they are, by and large, boring. Incumbents are rarely unseated, and the state hasn’t seen a really tough, hard-fought, outcome-in-question political race above the local level since 1996. Not coincidentally, that was the year Susan Collins defeated former governor and congressman Joseph Brennan to win her first term as a U.S. senator.


Stronger Whistle-Blower Protection Passes Senate
The bill, sponsored by Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), was approved on a voice vote late Monday.


GOP turning its message to healthcare
Emphasizing expanded access to healthcare could be appealing to voters in a number of states where Republicans are in tight races. According to 2006 data compiled by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, in Minnesota, where Sen. Norm Coleman (R) is running for a second term, more than 440,000 people are uninsured; in Sen. John Sununu’s (R) New Hampshire, there are 137,000 people without insurance; in Maine, Sen. Susan Collins (R) faces more than 120,000 without insurance; and in Oregon, where Gordon Smith (R) is running for a third term, more than 615,000 people are uninsured.


Dems Lose Defense, Foreign Policy Debate
Left on the cutting room floor this year were other bipartisan proposals, including one by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., that would have restricted the mission of U.S. troops to non-combat roles in Iraq but not set a date for troop withdrawals.


Senate Challenger Laurie Dobson, MaineThe fifty-one-year-old mother of three who is running to unseat Senator Susan Collins spares no Democrat.


Maine truckers consider protesting at state capitol about fuel prices
Besides truckers, Sidelinger said several state lawmakers attended the meeting, including U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, D-ME.


Wednesday Tidbits
Maine: Jeezum Crow! Less than a week after the Kennebec Journal ran a pro-Susan-Collins letter to the editor written by a College Republican chapter Chair without identifying him as such, the same paper runs another pro-Susan-Collins letter to the editor written by a Republican state legislator again without identifying him as such! Are the Kennebec Journal's editors incredibly lazy or incredibly partisan?

CILLIZZA Well look here s what I think is Liquid
Broaden your search by using fewer words. Com i msnbc Components Art SITEWIDE Icons iSlides. Then Congress can vote on whether to give the president the rest of the war funding money. I won t be the only Republican or one of two Republicans demanding a change in our Andrea neal of troops in Iraq at that point. I think everybody knows that, I really do, Senator Susan Collins of Maine concurring, I think a lot of us feel that way. Take a look at what s going on on the ground, take a look at what goes on in the neighborhoods, because if you want to measure progress, you got to report it.

Sens. Collins/Snowe Vote Against Democrat Troop Withdrawal Amendment

What Will the Energy Bill Do to Food Prices?

Congressman Tom Allen Visits the Pirates
Portland, Maine - On Saturday, December 15 Congressman Tom Allen was a special guest at the Pirates game. Allen dropped the puck at the beginning of the game.

Don Surber on Harry Reid: "Every line he has drawn in the sand has ...
How out of touch with reality is he to describe Senators such as Chuck Hagel, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Gordon Smith, Susan Collins, and others as puppets? If Reid couldn't work with these Senators, then he's not capable of working ...

Editorials Nationwide Rain Scorn on Senate Farm Bill
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins sounded like a very regretful Robin Hood last week after passage of the bill:
"I am particularly disappointed that this bill does not include an amendment, that I supported, that would have capped payments to farmers at $250,000. In addition, another amendment that was defeated would have prohibited payments to individuals who earn more than $750,000 per year. These amendments would have provided assistance to farmers who truly need the help, and denied assistance to giant corporate farms and individuals who unfairly receive it.

House boosts funding for key homeland security projects
“It is important that we strike a balance between the security of our nation’s borders and the free flow of commerce and travel to and from the United States,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “The delay of this initiative is welcome news.”

Don Surber on Harry Reid: "Every line he has drawn in the sand has ...
How out of touch with reality is he to describe Senators such as Chuck Hagel, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Gordon Smith, Susan Collins, and others as puppets? If Reid couldn't work with these Senators, then he's not capable of working ...

Congress Approves $9.4 Million for Asbestos Abatement
At the same time that Patty Murray’s legislation to ban all asbestos in the U.S. is being whittled away (see “Who Threw the Monkey Wrench in Mrs. Murray’s Asbestos Bill?” posted 15 November), Maine senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins say they have managed to get $9.4 million included in the FY 2008 budget for the purpose of removing an asbestos-contaminated pipeline that supplied jet fuel from the Brunswick (Maine) Naval Air Station to Mitchell Field in Harpswell for forty years.