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Maine News

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Maine Political News for Thursday, December 13, 2007


Newfound scrutiny for state agencies State House: Findings of possible fraud and misuse of funds show the need for strict oversight, many say.

Verizon-FairPoint settlement reached State officials who had advised against the $2.7 billion phone deal now support it – after days of negotiations.

Gift cards focus for budget writers State House: Lawmakers criticize themselves for counting on unused-card revenue from chain stores.

Maine still No. 1 at deterring smoking Only Maine and two other states are properly funding programs to keep kids away from tobacco, the CDC says.

EDITORIAL: In 2008, it may be the 'economy, stupid' again Economic concerns surpass the war in Iraq as the most important issue for voters.

LTE: Debating role of military in political endorsements

LTE: Should Maine raise minimum wage?


Fuel price coalition to rally in SkowheganThursday, December 13, 2007Al and Belinda Raymond of Kingman decided early last month to form a group to help truckers, the connective tissue of the state’s $11.5 billion forest products industry, keep skyrocketing diesel prices from driving them into bankruptcy.

State officials wrap up audit of cultural agenciesThursday, December 13, 2007AUGUSTA, Maine — The state controller wants to "close the book" on an audit of four Maine cultural agencies.

Lawmakers get earful on consolidationThursday, December 13, 2007AUGUSTA, Maine — Skepticism about the state’s school consolidation law was in the air Wednesday as the Legislature’s education panel conducted a public hearing on proposed changes to the measure.

EPA cleaning up Freedom storeThursday, December 13, 2007Cleanup crews with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are in the central Maine town of Freedom this week working to remove potentially hazardous chemicals from the site of a former salvage store.

Editorial: Thermostat bluesThursday, December 13, 2007The letter reads: "As winter’s grip takes hold, heating costs for all Americans are going up. Seniors and low-income families are particularly vulnerable to these price increases. … [H]omes that use heating oil are likely to pay 23 percent more on average this winter than last.

EDITORIAL: Sidelining shareholdersThursday, December 13, 2007A recent Securities and Exchange Commission vote to weaken shareholder rights should, as the board's chairman has promised, soon be reconsidered to ensure that stockholders retain a needed voice.

George Will: Regulation of politics is peverseThe Post, dismayed by the prospect, in effect asks: What if we had deregulated politics — including the sort of presidential campaigns that produced 33 presidents (including some pretty good ones — Lincoln, TR, the sainted Coolidge, FDR, Truman, Ike) before the Federal Election Commission was created in 1975?

Thursday's Letters to the Editor … FairPoint insults Maine … Impeach Bush … Suport Citgo …


'Baggler' on international stage AUGUSTA -- Local businessman Mark Eichenbaum is hopeful sales will more than double in the next few months, thanks in part to his participation in a gubernatorial trade mission to South Korea and Japan.

Treasurer explains investment
Lemoine remains optimistic about state recovering funds AUGUSTA -- State Treasurer David Lemoine drew sympathy and criticism from lawmakers Wednesday as he explained the rationale behind the investment of $20 million of state money in a fund that rapidly went from highly rated to junk status.

State cultural agencies say most problems fixed AUGUSTA -- The leaders of the state's cultural agencies responded Wednesday to a review of their accounting systems by saying they've already addressed most of the problems and are ready to move ahead.

Phone sale deal reachedPublic Utilities Commission starts deliberations today Key parties in the proposed Verizon-FairPoint Communications sale reached a settlement late Wednesday on terms designed to convince state utility regulators to approve the deal.

On Maine Politics
Dems get semi-secret training

DAVID LEMOINE : Law allows Maine share of unused gift cardsSome issuing corporations try to avoid paying state percentage Gift cards are in the news as Maine works to collect a share of the windfall profits now being taken by some out-of-state corporations from their gift card sales in Maine. Nearly $28 million is in dispute over the next two years.

JIM BRUNELLE : Legislators should use 2nd session to tighten ethics When legislators reconvene next month for the second regular session, they'll face a heavy agenda of sticky issues, including consolidation of school districts, corrections reforms and filling a multimillion-dollar revenue gap in the next half of the budget cycle.

LTE: Bush creates own reality, even when facts oppose it Recently, President Bush told reporters during a White House news conference that he was "not told the details of the new assessment until last week" and he said "the new report, which found that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons work in 2003, will not change U.S. policy toward Iran." So not only does the White House create its own reality, now it is refusing to accept the reality of, well, reality?

LTE: Truckers need a reprieve to keep industry afloat The letter to the editor criticizing truckers for attacking Gov. John Baldacci was a little off base. Understand first, that as the highest-elected official in Maine, he has every reason to listen to the people. He has listened and acted. As such, for this we are grateful.


Major Maine law firm fires partnerPORTLAND (AP) - A longtime partner in Verrill Dana LLP, one of Maine's largest and most prestigious law firms, has been fired after allegedly stealing money from clients and the firm.

EDITORIAL: Wishing for winter warmth from WashingtonAll this political fiddling in Washington could be tolerable, if Maine and other northern states were actually burning. Then, all those eligible for low-income heating assistance might actually stay warm.

LTE: Alien enablersSecretary of State Matthew Dunlap says his office is not in the business of chasing illegal aliens. His office is in the business of enabling illegal aliens by providing them with drivers' licenses.LTE: Finding peaceI read with great interest the editorial on Dec. 5, "Finding and fighting the enemy within." It was a well-defined and educated piece, to say the least.LTE: Single payer does workThe major presidential candidates often talk about universal health care, but most of them ignore the best solution. The time has come to expand Medicare to cover all Americans. We need universal single-payer health care now, and H.R. 676 would do just that.


Rep. Percy named to water toxins board...(full story)

GAO finds '05 BRAC savings shrinking...(full story)

LTE: What's so absurd?...(full story)


Treasurer Says Budget Gap Created by Unused Gift Cards State Treasurer David Lemoine spent a good portion of the morning trying to explain to a legislative commitee why a 28 million dollar budget gap has been created by...unused gift cards. Maine law requires that retailers hand over a certain percentage of dormant gift cards. But as A.J. Higgins reports, many national retailers have been reluctant to comply.


CEEK urges calls to reps
KENNEBUNK — Peter Hanson, chairman of Citizens for Electrical Equality in Kennebunk (CEEK), spoke before the board of selectmen Tuesday, thanking them for the town's support and calling on residents to make their opinions known on LD 1221 to...


New state, fed towers in town?
YORK — The Coast Guard wants to build a 150- to 250-foot lattice tower at the Public Works building, and there's nothing the town can do about it.


TALKING POLITICSTear me apart: Politics and other mistakesAre people in southern Maine finally smartening up?


Options offered for jail woes
AUGUSTA — State lawmakers will look at several proposals for dealing with a corrections system that an official says is “breaking” when the legislature convenes next month.


Options offered for jail woes
AUGUSTA — State lawmakers will look at several proposals for dealing with a corrections system that an official says is “breaking” when the legislature convenes next month.

State Audit Reveals Misuse

AUGUSTA — An audit of the state Bureau of Rehabilitation Services has found there was misuse of an estimated $100,000 and apparent fraud involving three employees largely because there were not adequate internal controls to monitor how money was spent to help people with disabilities get employment skills.

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.


Representatives from a variety of eastern Maine research and educational institutions announced recently that they had secured millions of dollars in funding for installation of Internet2, the next generation on the information superhighway. In fact, if the present Internet can be thought of as a four-lane highway, Internet2 is equal to having 32 lanes — in each direction.


MedNow Deserves Support

Written by John Kalkow
The treatment of the MedNow medical facility is another example of the influence that the huge and powerful corporations have over local small business and the control that they have over local government and individuals. A good example of this is what the MedNow clinic has gone through over the past several months.

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.

An Approach Worth Trying

Written by Richard E. Faust
From the dawn of human history war has been a dominant force in resolving conflicts, often those concerned with religious and cultural differences. From early tribal disputes and the wars of the Greeks and Romans on through to a host of devastating confrontations in Europe, Africa and the Far East characterized by various crusades and territorial claims up to the world wars of the 20th century and those we currently face, there seems to be something inherent in the human approach to reality that fosters such horrendous destruction and loss of life.


Approval of Modest Minimum Wage Increase Possible
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 ... State Focuses on Health Care Costs to Fill Hole
Mental health care providers, who treat the state's Medicaid patients, are facing tough budget times and things are only expected to get worse ... From the Legislature -- New Website on Toy Safety
Just in time for the holidays, a new website has been established to report chemical testing results on popular children's toys. The site,, ... Lincoln County Democrats to Honor Rines
On Tues., Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. the Lincoln County Democrats will gather at Le Garage in Wiscasset to honor Representative Peter Rines of Wiscasset ... Rep. McKane Serves on Legislative Panels
State Rep. Jon McKane, (R-Newcastle) serving his second term on the Legislature's Insurance and Financial Services (IFS) Committee, participated ...

Letter to the Editor -- Canadians Like Their Healthcare System To the Editor: I'm a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, a group of artists who, among other activities, trade ideas and information ...

Letter to the Editor -- Not Just a Maine Problem To the Editor: David Kolodin's letter to LCN's Editor, Dated Nov. 29, and titled 'Health Care unaffordable for many Mainers', was altruistic ...


While we were gone
This PolitickerME reporter has returned from Washington, D.C. In between a day-long forum on voting reform and taking the tour ‘de the Maine delegation’s congressional offices, it was a productive trip. Expect some related stories in the near future.

Je ne sais pas
Gosh, it must be tough being the Treasurer of the State. After a day of testimony before the appropriations committee, David Lemoine, our State Treasurer, blurted out enough “I don’t knows” to make the average teenager blush during a parental interrogation.


GOP to Lose More SeatsOn the Democratic side, three of the five are running for Senate (the two Udalls, Mark of Colorado and Tom of New Mexico, as well as Maine's Tom Allen), ...


Wednesday Night Items
Maine: Need more reason to contribute to Tom Allen? While Susan Collins did jack-squat as Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security to investigate Halliburton's no-bid contracts and war profiteering in Iraq, Congressman Tom Allen is actually demonstrating leadership on the issue and working to establish an independent Commission on Wartime Contracting to "investigate Iraq and Afghanistan wartime contracts and the contracting processes." You know, the work that Susan Collins was supposed to do, but didn't. When we look back on this decade, I have no doubt that Susan Collins will be considered Halliburton's best friend in the U.S. Senate.Oh, and do you remember Susan Collins' laughable op-ed this past weekend paying lip service to energy independence? Well, her disingenuous sentiments run in stark contrast to her record, courtesy of a Maine Democratic Party press release:
Highlights of the Collins Record* Allow market manipulation. Senator Collins opposed closing the Enron Loophole. In 2003, she voted against an amendment to regulate online trading of energy derivatives and impose stringent penalties for market manipulation. [S14, Vote 218, 6/11/03; Oil Daily, 6/11/03]* Allow price gouging. Senator Collins voted against imposing windfall profits tax on oil companies. In 2005, Collins voted against an amendment that would impose a temporary windfall profit tax on crude oil and to rebate the tax collected back to the American consumer. [S2020, Vote 331, 11/17/05]* Support Bush-Cheney Big Oil Giveaway. Senator Collins voted to preserve $14 billion in energy tax incentives, including breaks for Big Oil and Gas. In 2002, Collins voted against prohibiting any of the approximately $14 billion in the energy bill's tax incentives, until new tax hikes or spending cuts were enacted to offset the revenue loss that would come from that $14 billion in tax relief. [S 517, 4/25/02, #93]
Of course, Democratic Congressman Tom Allen is an original co-sponsor of the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act who also supports The Close Enron Loophole Act and opposed the Bush-Cheney Big Oil Giveaway legislation. Seriously, contribute to Tom Allen if you can.

Rep. Tom Allen bill will look into wartime contracting
Cross posted at Daily Kos
Susan Collins was the first chair of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, whose duties include oversight of Federal contracting. But despite repeated requests from her colleagues to look into numerous media reports about cost over-runs, graft, theft and mismanagement, Collins refused to do so. She did not call even one hearing to look into what has cost our Treasury billions of dollars (to be fair, neither has Joe Liebermen).
Today, Tom Allen (ME-1) announced:

Open Thread - the S&L Bailout Redux
Younger readers may not remember or know much about the Savings and Loan Crisis, which has cost our Treasury over $200 BILLION since the bailout planned sailed through Congress almost no discussion.
I am not an expert on high finance, but from what I am reading it seems another bailout is in the works for those investors caught with their pants down by their bad sub-prime mortgages they hold:

Bangor Daily News on Moving the Goal Posts
Today's Bangor Daily News has this editorial in which it explains how the Bush administration has moved the goal posts in Iraq:

Give credit to the Bangor Daily News for taking the Bushies to task for moving the goal posts on Iraq.
Still, it's telling that even in a critical editorial, there's no discussion about what our goal in Iraq is, or how America's continued occupation of the country might be thought to advance our national interests.

War Funders in Congress Leave us a $100,000. per Person Cost for War
Iraq and Climate Change
Michael T. Klare December 7, 2007
Foreign Policy In Focus

Dobson's Call to Conscience
Dear People of Maine:Margaret Chase Smith would have a lot to say if she returned to Maine and saw what was going on today.

$700B Defense Bill: Allen, Yea/Michaud/ Nay
The bill includes $189 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pressure mounts as Senate war votes loom
Susan Collins, R-Maine, was one of 50 senators who voted against a resolution calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by next March. On Tuesday, she said she’ll vote to recommend a spring pullout Д and may back a measure to ...

Hillary: Say No to Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Bill
1959 was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) Aug. 2. If the bill makes it out of committee, then Clinton will be presented with the opportunity to vote on the proposed legislation.

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 ...

[catapult] Digest Number 7365
Obama is on the 17-member Senate Committee for Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, where S. 1959 was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) Aug. 2. "I will keep your important comments in mind as I work with my colleagues on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. I will work to ensure that this legislation helps to achieve our domestic security objectives while protecting civil liberties and constitutional rights," Obama stated in his email to Justin.

Congress Set to Pass Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protections
The measure, championed by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D.-MI.) and Susan Collins (R-ME), adopts a version of the "best practices" whistleblower rights model that already has been signed into law once by President Bush this Congress for ground transportation employees.