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Maine News

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Maine News for Thursday, January 24, 2008


Portland could get pro hoops franchise
A group is trying to land an expansion team, with possible Celtics ties, in the NBA Development League.

Maine Guard soldiers depart on mission
Gov. Baldacci and a contingent of family and friends give the senior team of 18 a fitting farewell.

Maine's delegation backs stimulus effort
The four lawmakers likely would support legislation that quickly gets cash into the hands of citizens.

Tourism still No. 1, but ...
A new way of calculating travelers' spending leaves Mainers out of the equation.

MAINE VOICES: End war, support domestic needs (By Chellie Pingree)
Congress should get busy on universal health care, energy reforms and a host of other issues.

ANOTHER VIEW: Unlike the editorial, LURC got it right on wind- power project
The denial of one wind power project and approval of two others show the process works.

LTE: Senators make wrong call on telecoms immunity

Funds to MCCS to provide grants to rural students
The Maine Community College System board of trustees at its Wednesday meeting accepted a handful of significant gifts to the system.

National Guard unit deploys for Afghanistan
Families and friends said goodbye on Wednesday morning to 18 Maine Army National Guard soldiers before the group departed for Afghanistan.

Judge's nomination questioned
Gov. John Baldacci's chief legal counsel said Wednesday the nomination of veteran Assistant Attorney General Susan Sparaco for a District Court judgeship had "absolutely nothing" to do with her close personal relationship with Baldacci's chief of staff.

Bill targets thieves caught 'blue-handed'
As the value of Maine's blueberry crop continues to grow, so does blueberry theft, a seasonal crime that robs legitimate Washington County growers of more than $200,000 worth of fruit each year.

EDITORIAL: Don't forget the poor
As the economic crisis deepens, it's an open question whether new spending money will be put into the pockets of the poor and lower-middle economic classes.

EDITORIAL: Kids, smoke and vehicles
A bill that would ban smoking inside motor vehicles if a child under the age of 18 is in the vehicle is being considered by the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee.

Cheryl Timberlake: Maine's tax burden out of control
"Is alcohol undertaxed?" was the question posed in a Jan. 14 editorial. Quite frankly, there is nothing undertaxed in Maine.

LTEs: Wind farms; Another view of Fallujah; Stop Consolidation

Wind power a possibility for Oakland municipal buildings
OAKLAND -- Wind turbines may eventually generate power for several or all municipal buildings here, if voters authorize the town to go forward with the idea.

Shipyard union endorses Lawrence

Tom Allen, who is running for the US Senate. The other Democratic candidates are Michael Brennan of Portland, Adam Cote of Portland, Steve Meister of ...

SOMERSET COMMISSIONERS: A county without a jail?
SKOWHEGAN -- Facing a state proposal to merge county jails into a consolidated corrections system, Commissioner Philip Roy floated a "scenario" to close the Somerset jail and lay off most corrections officers.

T.J. Maxx coming to Waterville
A 25,000-square-foot T.J. Maxx clothing and home fashions store will open in the JFK Mall off Kennedy Memorial Drive in late April or early May, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

EDITORIAL: No immunity in domestic spying
The Senate is currently debating controversial national security legislation that would, among many other things, grant immunity to companies that cooperated with the U.S. government's warrantless wiretap operations.

COLUMN: Prosperity Committee's report overrated
With partisan gridlock appearing to hold up action on our biggest problems, bipartisan compromise is often cheered by the media and the public.

LTE: Well-planned growth better than unregulated
While we all would probably like to turn back the clocks 30 or 40 years to a simpler time, development and growth are natural and inevitable in our state.

LTE: Michaud impeachment letter is 'drivel'

A proposal to track low-risk inmates and probationers electronically was killed Wednesday in a legislative work session.

Hospital cost cuts still light on detail
Plans to cut costs at MaineGeneral Health, which provides the bulk of the health care in Kennebec County, are still in flux, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Maine power grid in fix-up
The Central Maine Power Co. is giving towns a heads-up about a major initiative meant to ensure the reliability of its power system.

CMP sold for $4.6B
Maine regulators on Wednesday signed off on the $4.6 billion sale of Maine-based Energy East to Spanish utility Iberdrola SA in a deal that affects 3 million customers from New York to Maine.

LTE: Attend your local caucus and raise your voice
The nation, and the world, is looking at the upcoming presidential caucuses and primaries. Americans of all parties will come together in their various cities and towns and choose a candidate to take this nation into the future.

Landlords Leaving Tenants in the Cold
In Maine the cost of home heating oil is up a dollar and nine cents a gallon over last year. The higher prices are putting a strain on everyone. But in Auburn, it's been especially difficult for landlords and tenants who live in apartment buildings. As Susan Sharon reports, some landlords are simply giving up and leaving their tenants in the cold.

Studies Find Teacher Absenteesim Detrimental to Students
It's no secret that student learning can suffer when regular teachers are absent from the classroom. But new research is verifying that most substitute teachers cannot maintain the same quality of instruction. Teacher absenteeism, found to be on the increase nationwide, may be more costly than previously thought for both students and school districts. The President of the Maine Principals Association says there's ample evidence that the scarcity of adequate substitutes is a growing problem in Maine. Keith McKeen reports.

Pollsters Say Strategy Change Needed in Allen Senate Campaign
As Senator Susan Collins and 1st District Congressman Tom Allen inch closer to a center stage showdown in Maine's political arena, two pollsters from opposing political parties agree that Allen must change his strategy for defeating the Republican incumbent. They say that means relying less on Iraq policy as the cornerstone of his campaign. Now that apparent gains from the troop surge in Iraq may have made the war less objectionable for many Maine voters. But as A.J. Higgins reports, Allen remains confident that Iraq is the flashpoint issue that distinguishes him from his opponent.

Celtics Development Team Proposed for Portland
The owners of Oxford Hills Speedway have joined forces with several former coaches of the Boston Celtics in an effort to bring a minor league basketball team to southern Maine. As Keith Shortall reports, the goal is to establish a franchise of the NBA development league, that takes a page out of the play book of the city's highly succesful minor league baseball operation, the Portland Sea Dogs.

Lansley bill would ensure no state tax on federal rebate
Mainers won't have to pay state income tax on any money they might receive from President George W. Bush's proposed economic stimulus plan.

Recession, rhetoric vs. reality
Careful to avoid mention of the word "recession" in announcing conceptual plans for a $145 billion "economic stimulus package," the president tried to diagnose a fast-moving and widespread infection of the U.S. economy as a case of the hiccups — one that could be cured by his favorite "shot in the arm," tax cuts.

Shenna Bellows: Don't let Congress set telecom rats free
Anyone who thought our civil liberties problems would disappear when control of Congress switched from Republican to Democrat has experienced a rude awakening.

Opinion: Better than 'average'
As a battered economy's impact on state finances elevates desperation levels under the capitol dome, Medicaid has become a prime target for cuts.

State budget takes another hit
November tax receipts lag $11.7 million behind projections; more cuts anticipated

School merger debate focuses on local control
The majority leaders in the House and Senate are supporting an amendment to the school consolidation law that would give more control to local school committees by keeping the union form of governance — a move that likely will lead to a legislative floor fight with no clear winner in sight.

LTE: Bush's Mideast visit
Last week the Feckless Leader visited Israel for the first time since he was governor of Texas, when he was helicoptered by Ariel Sharon to look at and approve its grabbing more land from Arabs to move in Jews.

Region officials discuss York Toll Plaza in Ogunquit
Turnpike and regional public officials will meet today to discuss studies that looked at how many cars avoid the York Toll Plaza by taking Route 1.

How the Maine caucuses work
YORK — Unlike New Hampshire, Maine residents cannot vote in the opposite party's caucus.

Sen. Collins says make healthcare the focus

CAMDEN — If U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, were in charge of the Senate, she would spend the next several months tackling the healthcare crisis.

Rights are being eroded
The subject for this column is the pending vote in the U.S. Senate to provide retroactive immunity to telephone companies from lawsuits brought by states or citizens who believe their legal privacy rights were violated.

Consolidation repeal petition fails
The petition effort to repeal Maine's school district consolidation law appears to have missed the mark. We are glad. While the law on the books is imperfect, various amendments are being worked upon. We all need this process to move ahead, not fall back.

State's Money Woes Worsen
With December revenues coming in $11.7 million below an already pared-down forecast, the only question now is how deep the budget hole will be.

Tax Hike a Possibility in Bucksport
At a Jan. 17 meeting, the Town Council set a 2.5 percent local share tax increase as the budget target for the upcoming fiscal year.

Amendment to Consolidation Law Occasions a Likely Floor Fight
AUGUSTA — The majority leaders in the House and Senate are supporting an amendment to the school consolidation law that would give more control to local school committees by keeping the union form of governance.

EDITORIAL: Whacking Hospitals Again
All Maine citizens are sympathetic to the plight facing Governor John Baldacci and other authority figures in Augusta as they search for ways to address the state's budget shortfall. Everyone understands that, to a great extent, they are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. But the reality is that some of the proposals emanating from the Statehouse may result in more, rather than less, harm to Maine citizens. The $20-million cut in Medicaid reimbursement to hospital-based doctors, a component of the Governor's supplemental budget, is a case in point.

EDITORIAL: Free Trade, Immigration Are Connected
Immigration promises to be a major issue of debate in this election year. Across the nation, many voices in favor of restrictive immigration are calling for building a 300-mile border fence, or criminalizing the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

LTE: We Need Paper Ballots in 2008

Baltimore Sun Journal:
Maine senator runs afoul of PFAW

On the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade , People for the American Way, the liberal interest group, is going after
Sen. Susan Collins, the moderate Maine Republican, for siding with the Bush administration on judicial nominees.

New York Times:
Kathleen Turner: Hold Susan Collins Accountable for the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has lurched far to the right in recent years, as President Bush has nominated Justices favored by the most conservative elements of the Republican Party. This shift has occurred in large part because moderate Republicans have voted in virtual lockstep with the administration on judicial nominations.

Wednesday Briefs: MAINE

While Congressman Tom Allen opposes warrantless wiretapping and retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies complicit in such activities, Susan Collins supports letting the telecomm companies off the hook for their role in illegal wiretapping, like a good Bushie.

Collins Watch: NYT: Collins Huge Disappointment
The New York Times weighs in with a web editorial blasting Sen. Collins:

Collins Watch: Telco Immunity
Back in October, I wondered about the junior senator's position on granting retroactive immunity to telco companies who illegally disclosed customer records.

Politicker ME: For Senate candidates, campaign logistics coming together
Tom Allen's campaign has been in full swing for months. Susan Collins' campaign, however, is just starting to move into their Portland office.


PORTLAND - The campaign of Tom Allen for U.S. Senate today announced its team of senior leadership and consultants. Allen's team is led by people with vast experience and records of success in political campaigns, deep roots and extensive work in Maine.

Turn Maine Blue: Why Grant Retroactive Immunity to the Telecoms?
Today's Portland Press Herald has piece by Jonathan Kaplan regarding a bill that obsteneibly would update the FISA law (first enacted in 1978) to reflect advances in communications technology. Because of the nature of surviellence, a special court was created to hear the Fed's case in secret, a court that could grant warrants allowing the government to intercept certain communications.


Sen. Collins tells Noble Middle School students to aspire to achieve dreams
Sen. Susan Collins visited Noble Middle School last week and spoke with eighth-graders who recently completed their study of the United States government.