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Maine News

Friday, January 4, 2008

Maine News for Friday, January 4, 2008


PUC approves Verizon-FairPoint land line deal
After a long day of deliberations, Maine utility regulators Thursday night approved a negotiated agreement allowing FairPoint Communications' $2.7 billion buyout of Verizon's land lines in the three northern New England states. (AP, 1/3/08)

Special panel sketches outline for promoting prosperity
Legislative leaders and rank-and-file negotiators hailed a bipartisan agreement by a special legislative panel Thursday that they said was designed to foster economic well-being for Maine in the years ahead.


Repeal supporters: '15,000 to go' The group trying to repeal the school consolidation law faces a deadline for legislative review.

No deadlines in Iraq, says Collins (Published in the Morning Sentinel as well)
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine sharpened the distinction with her opponent in this year's election, Rep. Tom Allen, noting on Thursday that she remains opposed to any deadlines for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Verizon sale to FairPoint approved PUC
Vermont and New Hampshire regulators and the FCC must give their approvals for the sale to become final.

Authority to set up at BNAS
The group overseeing reuse plans for the Brunswick air station is moving to the base.

Web site lets you keep tabs on lobbyists
AUGUSTA — Do you want to keep tabs on how Maine's more than 300 lobbyists earn a living but don't have the time to hang out at the State House?

Large wind farm proposal wins approval
AUGUSTA — Maine's wilderness zoning board has given final approval to a 57-megawatt wind farm in northern Washington County, which would be the largest such project in New England.

Bill would crack down on metal theft
A lawmaker from Bowdoinham wants to crack down on thefts of copper and other metals by requiring scrap dealers to verify where the metal comes from and who is selling it to them.

Preliminary agreement on fiscal reform draws praise
An efficiency panel seeking $75 million in savings is a key part of the plan for the state.

EDITORIAL: A little shift in Medicaid can bring big trouble
A dispute with the federal government over its share of the program could add up fast.

State court records belong where public can see them Maine is long overdue in its efforts to make court records available online.

Oil touches $100 a barrel, and the impact shows up everywhere While gas prices are expected to rise by summer, the cost of heat is going up now.

MAINE VOICES: Rail expansion tied to Downeaster funding
Future freight and passenger traffic could be lost if the state passes up its present opportunity.

LTE: Baldacci's budget cuts harmful to those in need
With regards to Gov. Baldacci's recent budget cuts, a $95 million shortfall was not brought about by the Department of Education or teachers' salaries.

LTE: Mainers can act to save Moosehead from developers
Shame, shame, we have all been asleep at the switch, for years, while land speculators assessed our beautiful Moosehead, Lily Bay, Long Pond and Greenville area.

LTE: Somalis should protest in their own country
Why is it that I get really upset when I see Somalis protesting in the streets?


Inspector: Iraq rebuilding has mixed success
BANGOR - The U.S. government's top auditor of reconstruction efforts in Iraq described his staff's job Thursday as providing "oversight under fire" in a high-stakes arena replete with successes and failures.

FairPoint deal gets green light from state PUC
AUGUSTA - Almost a year after it was first announced, FairPoint Communications' proposal to buy Verizon's northern New England telephone and Internet land lines was approved unanimously by Maine regulators late Thursday night.

Obama, Huckabee victors in Iowa

EDITORIAL: New villages needed
Thousands of Mainers work within sight or smell of salt water, but when it's time to go home, they have to drive miles away from that water. The shortage of affordable housing, particularly along the coast and in southern Maine, could become a geographical class divide if planners do not act to counter this trend.

EDITORIAL: Budget balancing act
As lawmakers begin a new session in Augusta this week, the state's growing budget shortfall will demand much of their time and attention.

Op-Ed: Bhutto's democracy false
Of all the understandings of the democratic idea, none could be more wrong than this one. Democracy at its very core is an antidote to the kind of dynastic revenge young Bhutto was suggesting.

LTEs: Don't tax airplanes; School Consolidation; Repeal Consolidation


CONSOLIDATIONWindsor votes Chelsea into unit WINDSOR -- The Windsor School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to include Chelsea in a new seven-town regional school unit.

FAME asked to issue bond for newspaper The new owners of The Times Record, a daily newspaper in Brunswick, are asking the Finance Authority of Maine to issue a $7 million revenue bond to finance the purchase of the newspaper's publishing facility in Brunswick.


Mainer to receive medals for Bay of Pigs mission
Jack Hegarty of Dennistown Plantation, in northern Somerset County, was a 21-year-old sailor in the U.S. Navy when he and his mates shipped out for Cuba in April 1961.

COLUMN: Candidates should think more about governing than winning
More than 2,500 journalists were accredited to cover the Iowa caucuses. More than one reporter for every 100 caucus attendees, a ludicrous amount of attention for a state and a process that, were it not for the concentrated output of these men and women, would say little about how we will be governed after the next election.

LTE: Radical Muslims' actions justify U.S. policy
It is about time some of you people out there realize that this is exactly what these radical Muslims want anyone who is not a Muslim want to do -- die.


LTE: Plum Creek's plan may inspire others


Smokers fired up over 'safe' butts
Months after slower-burning cigarettes began appearing on store shelves, the impact they have on the smoker depends largely on who you ask.

Posters harass Muslims
Several copies of a harassing, anti-Muslim poster appeared Thursday outside a downtown Somali-owned store.

EDITORIAL: Maybe judges should be elected to the bench

COLUMN: Without U.S. involvement, peace efforts are doomed
When President Bush arrives in Jerusalem next week, he will step into a fledgling peace process already set up to fail. His brief, photo-op visit will likely do little but sustain the illusion of progress for the few days he is there.

Lawmakers Applaud Plan To Jumpstart Economy
After a lengthy deliberation, the Legislature's Committee on Future Maine Prosperity has voted unanimously to endorse a plan to jumpstart the state's economy. Although details of the proposal are still being assembled, a key component is a $75 million reduction in state spending and the creation of a tax relief fund. Democratic and Republican leaders in the Legislature are applauding the recommendations, but as A.J. Higgins reports, bipartisanship could quickly dissolve over budget cuts and taxes.

Same-Sex Couples Surprised By New Law's Loophole
In New Hampshire, civil unions became legal as the clock struck midnight New Years Eve. As many same-sex couples held ceremonies and celebrated, others were shocked to discover they won't get the same benefits afforded to married couples. New Hampshire Public Radio's Amy Quinton reports.


COLUMN: Can tax reform provide relief?
If there has been a defining issue to Maine politics over the past decade, it is our tax system and the desire to change it. Both in referendums and at the Legislature, it is hard to find any terms used more frequently than "tax reform" and "tax relief."

Bath pursues biz park growth
BATH — The city of Bath is closing in on the early stages of a Wing Farm Parkway expansion, where City Manager William Giroux hopes Phase 2 of the business park development can at least equal the 150 jobs created by Phase 1.

Lawmakers to review Legislature's budget for savings to reduce deficit
The Legislature plans to do its part to reduce the state's budget deficit, but doesn't want to be told by the governor how much to give.


Senate president: State must consider tax increase
Senate President Beth Edmonds said a tax or fee increase or some other revenue source should at least be considered to fill the state's budget hole because further cuts in social services will harm Maine citizens – a posture the Senate minority leader says is a non-starter with

A Unanimous Report for the Prosperity Committee?!
Two points for Senator Jon Courtney, the Republican from Sanford. Apparently Senator Courtney was instrumental in pulling off the impossible

Michaud supports Cheney impeachment
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud has announced his support for the impeachment hearings of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Raye family to lead Giuliani campaign

Republican BLOGS:

Perspectives on Iraq and the Maine Senate race
The Portland Press Herald ran an op-ed by Edward Erickson, a graduate student from Bowdoinham, that lays out an interesting perspective on the relationship of the Iraq War to the upcoming Maine Senate contest:

Collins Watch: Hmm
Why is Sen. Collins accompanying the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction--an executive branch employee--to meetings with the editorial boards of the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News?

As Maine Goes: Sen. Courtney's Proposal to Cut $75M from State Budget
Augusta – Late last night the Prosperity Committee unanimously approved Senator Jon Courtney's (R-York) proposal to cut $75 million from the state budget. Senator Courtney's plan meets the goals put forth in the Brookings Report which called for an independent commission to find savings. The plan also offers tax relief by investing the budget savings in the Maine Tax Relief Fund.

As Maine Goes: How Does This School Consolidation Save Money?
AUBURN - The Auburn School Committee voted unanimously to make interim Superintendent Tom Morrill the superintendent for the rest of his contract, or until June 2010. Morrill's annual salary of $103,000 will not change.

As Maine Goes: Giuliani Announces Maine Leadership Team

As Maine Goes: Romney Announces Maine Statewide Steering Committee

Maine News: Senate Poll (Updated Results)
Tom Allen: 57%Laurie Dobson: 34%Susan Collins: 8%

WHITE NOISE INSANITY: Will gas reach $4/gallon this winter? Oh probably. George Bush, The Decider, has decided that he won't tap into our nation's oil reserves to bring the price of oil down. Why? Because he hates Americans as we witnessed shortly after the levees broke down in New Orleans after Katrina had devastated the whole Gulf Coast.


High diesel prices have a troubling ripple effect Congress is working to address the issue on several fronts. U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and U.S. Rep. Tom Allen of Maine, along with New Hampshire's two representatives in Congress, Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter, have co-sponsored several bills, either passed or pending.


Bush Defense Authorization Veto CoBush Defense Authorization Veto Could Hamper Contracting ReformsSusan Collins, a Maine Republican on the panel, called Bush's decision "extremely disappointing," noting the legislation includes "a pay raise for our .