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Maine News

Friday, December 14, 2007

Maine Political News for Friday, December 14, 2007


Verizon decision delayed till '08 A PUC vote on the sale is postponed to allow parties time to settle remaining differences.

Rep. Larry Bliss, Rep. Jon Hinck and Rep. Seth Berry: Column missed the facts on energy reform Maine's future will be found in conservation and new technologies, not older ones.

LTE: Heath to Nemitz: We'll see who gets last laugh


Verizon decision postponedFriday, December 14, 2007A wrench was thrown into the Maine Public Utility Commission's plans to deliberate and perhaps come to a decision on the proposed Verizon-FairPoint land line acquisition Thursday.

Education panel OKs law changes Friday, December 14, 2007AUGUSTA, MAINE - Despite concerns that the amendment favored wealthy communities, a legislative panel Thursday approved changes to the school consolidation law that are designed to eliminate financial barriers to consolidation.

EDITORIAL: A Vision SharedFriday, December 14, 2007Some believe environmentalists want to turn Maine's North Woods into a vast tree museum. Others think hunters, snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts see the North Woods as something like an amusement park.

EDITORIAL: Flicking The Switch Friday, December 14, 2007Trying to understand Maine's place in the ISO-New England electricity grid, and to then consider how to improve the state's position, is like trying to think 10 moves ahead in a game of chess.

Hannah Pingree: Take the next step in toxic product reformThe holiday season is in full swing, but the spirit of giving has become tainted by headline news of toxic chemicals in children’s toys.

Friday's Letters to the Editor … Let diversity rule … Relief Down East … $3 windfall … Oil and spending … Collins and oil costs … Shrink the legislators … A way to help with heat … State of emergency


City reels in $145160 grant
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said $594,798 was awarded to four Maine fire departments; the others are Gouldsboro, Sedgwick and Detroit.

Briefs AUGUSTA -- Lynn Duby, former commissioner of Maine's Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services, was appointed chief executive officer for Crisis & Counseling Centers -- a position she previously held from 1984 to 1996.

VERIZON-FAIRPOINT LAND-LINE SALEUtilities Commission delays final decision AUGUSTA -- Representatives from organized labor and FairPoint Communications resumed meeting on Thursday, after the Maine Public Utilities Commission put off deliberations on the proposed sale of Verizon's telephone network and asked parties in the case to try again to settle their differences.

JOSEPH R. REISERT : No clear candidate because GOP not united in its vision As the 2008 primary season approaches, the Republican Party has an unlikely problem -- me. I shouldn't be a source of trouble for the GOP: I've been registered Republican since I've been eligible to vote, I'm a reliable Republican voter and occasional Republican donor.

REP. JILL CONOVER, D-OAKLAND, REPRESENTS PART OF O : Concerns about safety of toys taint holiday season The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us once again. We are all a little busier with shopping, preparations, gatherings with family and friends and letters to Santa filled with wishes for toys. Like most parents, I love seeing my son's eyes light up when his wishes are answered and one of those toys is uncovered under the Christmas tree.

LTE: Many may soon share vet's abysmal situation I'm not quite sure where this response is leading me, but I feel compelled to comment on the letter by veteran Scott Whittier published on Nov. 28. Was no one else appalled by George Smith's column juxtaposed above Whittier's description of his miserable existence?

LTE: Collins deserves thanks for her efforts on FRESH Your editorial from last week (Dec. 7), "Maine's GOP Senators Must Help Farm Bill" was correct that one of the most important things we can do to help hungry people right now is to weigh in with our senators to urge broad reform of the farm bill. However, when we call Sen. Susan Collins' office, we also should be thanking her for her leadership in being a co-sponsor of the FRESH amendment, the only comprehensive reform amendment currently on the table.


LTE: We're not confounded at Sen. Collins' performance The latest polls for Maine's U.S. Senate race have simply confirmed what voters have known for years: that Susan Collins is doing a fantastic job serving the people of Maine. Several polls have shown Collins leading her challenger, Tom Allen, by more than 20 percentage points and her approval ratings remain sky high. This is not all that surprising considering that Collins is a diligently hard worker, has proven an ability to get things done, and has exhibited a moderate, pragmatic streak during her time in the Senate.


Budget panel hits savings targetAUGUSTA (AP) - Legislative budget writers all but wrapped up an extended effort Thursday to come up with $10.1 million in savings to complete a $6.3 billion two-year state spending plan, but fell short of unanimity.

Panel backs bill to ease school shiftAUGUSTA (AP) - A legislative committee is endorsing a bill aimed at removing financial barriers to Maine school districts as they attempt to consolidate.

Brunswick base-closing savings questionedBRUNSWICK - Next week, the panel overseeing the redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station will vote on a master plan designed to economically prepare communities affected by the base's 2011 closure.

EDITORIAL: Protection, or a piece of the action?Gift cards are a $100 billion business, Consumer Reports has found, yet 27 percent go unredeemed. This leaves billions as "unclaimed property" to which states, like Maine, have staked claims, in the name of consumer protection.

LTE: No papers, no licenseI offer my appreciation to Josh Tardy of Newport, the minority leader of the Maine House of Representatives. He is one of the few in the House who are trying to stop illegal aliens from getting drivers licenses in Maine.


Hurdles Remain in Verizon-FairPoint DealA recent compromise has brought parties involved in the proposed Verizon-FairPoint merger closer to agreement than at any point during the lengthy negotiation process. But there are still significant hurdles for the corporations to clear before they can get the deal approved by the state's Public Uitlities Commission. As A.J. Higgins reports, organized labor representatives still have serious concerns about the implications for service and jobs if FairPoint is allowed to purchase Verizon's landline telephone operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Report on Base Closures critical of Pentagon Funding EstimatesLawmakers, including members of Maine's Congressional delegation are upset that the Pentagon and the Base Realignment and Closure Commission overstated the amount of money that would be saved in the 2005 round of military base closings. For example, The General Accounting Office finds that the cost of closing the Brunswick Naval Air Station has risen by 27 percent, from 193 million to nearly 246 million over the six year implementation period. A spokesman for the Brunswick Local Redevelopment Authority says the report could mean limited funding for environmental remediation and that cleanup of the bases will become even more competitive. Keith McKeen reports.

Governor Says Train Service Between Freeport and Brunswick On TrackPassenger train service to Freeport and's been talked about for a long time but under a plan being pushed by Governor John Baldacci, it could become a reality by the year 2010. And as Irwin Gratz reports, the proposal would use existing tacks to lower the cost of the project by tens of millions of dollars.


School district consolidation repeal petition over half way complete
STONINGTON — The organizer of a statewide effort to repeal the Maine school district consolidation law said he is confident that enough signatures will be collected to force a statewide public referendum on repealing the law next fall.


New Web site for CRs
The Maine College Republicans have announced the launch of their new Web site, which uses new media capabilities and interactive features.
The site has video hosting capabilities and direct links to social networking sites.

Scontras, Strimling face off on immigration
They’re not quite opponents in the race for the First Congressional District. Yet candidates Dean Scontras, a Republican, and Ethan Strimling, a Democrat, are going head to head over immigration laws.

Strimling slams Scontras on immigration
Democrat Ethan Strimling, who is running for the U.S. Congress in the First District, has released a sharp-tongued letter addressed to Republican rival Dean Scontras, who yesterday called for a tough stand on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

Free at Last?
Well, the folks at Verizon took one step closer in their continued efforts to escape from behind the "maple curtain" of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.


Senate President: Minimum Wage Proposal “a Stretch”
AUGUSTA — The Labor Committee is continuing its review of legislation to raise the minimum wage by $1.40 over two years, but Senate President Beth Edmonds says she believes a more modest increase is all the current Legislature can support.


GAO: Cost of closing Brunswick Naval Air Station, other bases ...
Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said the GAO report confirms her suspicions that the Defense Department underestimated potential costs and overestimated savings to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.


Energy cloture vote fails, Reid to strip taxes
Republicans voting for cloture included Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), John Thune (S.D.), Norm Coleman (Minn.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Richard Lugar (Ind.). Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who faces a tough reelection bid next year, voted against cloture.


A Second Democratic Year in '08?
Maine: Two-term Senator Susan Collins (R) is still the favorite for reelection, but if a Democrat wins Maine by a wide margin, the coattail effect could work in favor of Congressman Tom Allen (D). We will be carefully monitoring this one, but Collins is holding up well so far. LEANS REPUBLICAN.


Barack Obama, Susan Collins Bill Creates Financial Aid and Scholarship Database ...
December 13, 2007 -- WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) was joined by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to introduce the National STEM Scholarship Database Act (S. 2428), which would launch an innovative online database to coordinate information on financial aid opportunities available in science and technology through the federal government and public or private resources.


The Collins Record - Big Oil before Mainers
Yesterday, the Maine Democratic Party put forth this commentary entitiled The Collins Record - Big Oil before Mainers:

Letter from Hannah Pingree
"People ask me all the time how I got involved in politics at such a young age. Then of course, later in the conversation, they ask me why on earth I would want to be a politician in these crazy times. The answer to both is simple: I watched my mom."

The Guru's 600th Post
In honor of the Guru's 600th post in just over a year, give a few bucks to Tom Allen. That'd be swell.

Length of time since Maine candidates last YouTube Video Channel post
Alex: This is kind of a quick post, but I thought it would be interesting. Some candidates post videos on their website but don't have a YouTube channel. Some may have a YouTube channel that I've missed (if they do and you're aware of it please let me know).

Verizon, Maine PUC, Governor Baldacci and Fairpoint
A timeline:

Two Faced Susan
MyDD has a good reminder of why Susan Collins of Maine should be defeated in 2008 by Congressman Tom Allen. Lies about term limits, unquestioning support for Bush's Iraq War, ethical lapses, and a failure to uphold the Constitution and ...

CT-04: Get Your Blograiser On For Jim Himes
CT-04 is my home district so I'm particularly vested in booting Chris Shays. He used to actually represent the district, but during the Bush years his independent streak such as it was gave way to partisan loyalty during which he stood up to Bush, much like his fellow faux-moderate and Lieber-ally, Susan Collins, only when it didn't matter.

Chertoff: Terror threat has not abated
Susan Collins, R-Maine, said improvements to FEMA have been evident in the agency’s good response to the California wildfires in October and other natural disasters this past year. Collins is the top Republican on the Senate homeland ...

Maine College Republicans launch new website
The Maine College Republicans have launched a great new website,, built on the open-source CMS Drupal. I had some fun helping with a few parts of this, and it’s great to see the Maine CRs ahead of the curve in yet another venue.

Merry Christmas, America’s children! George Bush has given you another veto!
Great, huh? Well, aren’t you the luckiest little children on the planet to have such a nice reich wing Santa tell you that healthcare is off the table this year. Merry Christmas from the White House once again!

Budget Panel Creates $10M in Savings
Including $1.8M from competitive bidding for therapeutic foster care, $1.2M from increased placement of children in state custody in family settings.

Dean Scontras to Debate Ethan Strimling on Illegal Immigration
Friday, December 14th, 7:00AM, WLOB 1310AM/96.3FM

Strimling to Scontras on Immigration
The Republican Party’s frenzy over immigration seeks to divide our nation, not bring it together. Instead of engaging in demagoguery for short-term political gain, you should look at the facts.

Words to Describe $20M Loss?
I'm troubled by the word "indicated." Did Merrill Lynch tell Lemoine this was a good investment? Or did Lemoine hear/read in what Merrill Lynch said that this was a good investment?

Maine College Republicans Launch Groundbreaking New Website!

Intraparty Feuds Dog Democrats, Stall Congress
Unfinished work is piling up. Two months into the new fiscal year, Democrats are still scrambling just to keep the government open.

Final Defense Authorization Bill Includes Allen Provision that ...
Washington, DC (Wednesday, December 12, 2007)---US Representative Tom Allen announced today that the House-Senate conference report on the defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2008 includes his amendment directing the Department ...