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Maine News

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Maine News for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Senate expands stimulus package
But the additions could slow down passage of the time-sensitive legislation.

Republicans zero in on goal for caucusing
Events are scheduled in 372 Maine communities, within reach of the target of 400, set a year ago.

Jail agreement worries Sagadahoc
County officials say they'll resist if the state tries to give their new jail a mental health focus.

N.C. company to open Pittsfield call center
The center could employ up to 200 people in this town, where a shoe plant is scheduled to close soon.

EDITORIAL: Bush to stay true to Bush in final year
The president's final State of the Union address signals no change in his views.

EDITORIAL: Halt violence in Kenya before a civil war begins
A disputed election has led to a month of rapidly escalating attacks on rival groups.

COLUMN: I-295 too crowded? Why not get rid of the highway?
There may be better ways to meet transportation needs than endlessly expanding our roads.

MAINE VOICES: Small businesses need one big thing
Health plans targeted to this group, where most jobs are located, could do wonders for their success.

LTE: Foster parents deserve respect
I am writing this letter with deep concern for the recent cuts in the services available to the children in state custody and the proposed cuts to the people who care for them.

Car-smoking ban clears legislative panel
A proposed statewide ban on smoking in cars with children present moved a step closer to becoming law Tuesday with the near-unanimous approval of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee. The amended measure, which already has touched off sparks among Maine lawmakers, now will move to the full House and Senate for additional debate.

Weak housing market forces County sawmill closures
Wanda Campbell of Washburn is losing her job of eight months at the Fraser-owned sawmill at Masardis. It's not closing, but a worker from the Ashland mill slated for closure has seniority and will take her job. Her husband, Ron, works at the same mill and may get bumped from his job too.

State accused of shortchanging poor kids
GUILFORD - While school district consolidation grabs headlines, school and state officials say a little touted plan tucked in Gov. John Baldacci's supplemental budget will greatly affect schools with large populations of disadvantaged children.

Governor presents medals to 15 veterans
AUGUSTA - Gov. John E. Baldacci Tuesday presented State of Maine Silver Star Honorable Service Medals to 15 veterans in a Hall of Flags ceremony. The medal was first awarded to Maine veterans in August 2006 and is presented to those who have been wounded while serving their country.

House approves rebates

WASHINGTON - The House, seizing a rare moment of bipartisanship to respond to the economy's slump, overwhelmingly passed a $146 billion aid package Tuesday that would speed rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers.

Republicans near caucus participation goal of 80%
AUGUSTA - Maine Republicans were moving closer Tuesday to their goal of having party members from 80 percent of the state's towns participate in this weekend's presidential preference caucuses.

EDITORIAL: The Problems Left Behind
Despite seven years of failed policies and missed opportunities, President George W. Bush used his final State of the Union address Monday night to alternately admonish and threaten Congress, issue stern warnings to the leaders of Iraq and to take credit for ephemeral successes in Iraq.

EDITORIAL: Breakfast Club
A bill before the Legislature that would have the state pay for breakfast for more poor children ought to be approved. The bill highlights the need for, and role of, a social safety net, which is often a target in highly charged times such as these, as state government faces a funding shortfall and the economy slows.

Malory Shaughnessy: Maine needs higher alcohol taxes
The Jan. 14 editorial "Is Alcohol Undertaxed?" was right on the money. It is time to think about increasing the alcohol tax in Maine.

LTEs: Eliminate tourism office; Global warming a myth

FREEDOM EPA sees cleanup progress Waste is taken from Skidgel Lane site
FREEDOM -- The Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup at the site of a former salvage business has already netted more than three tractor-trailer loads of hazardous waste, with at least a month left to go in the project.

Snowe, Collins seek delay of new border-crossing requirements
WASHINGTON -- Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins urged Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff this week to delay plans that would require citizens to present a birth certificate when crossing from Canada into the U.S.

EDITORIAL: Border-crossing ID change more bad than good
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff pulled off a stunning feat recently when he managed to tick off even more Republican senators than Democratic ones. He accomplished this by defying a law passed late last year with strong bipartisan support to delay until June 2009 stiffer border-crossing identification requirements.

EDITORIAL: Bush speech unveils his only weapon
With the economy in trouble, the Iraq war bleeding taxpayer dollars, Congress no longer under Republican control, the national home-building industry in the dumps, the mortgage industry in disrepute and disrepair, a dangerously degraded transportation infrastructure and the major policy goals of his second term moldering in the compost heap of history, just what initiatives might President George Bush have announced in his State of the Union speech this week?

COLUMN: In case you haven't noticed, security wall is closing in on us Right to privacy a joke, freedoms vanishing by leaps and bounds
The land of the free and the home of the brave has become a nervous nation whose weak-kneed citizens stand silently while their freedoms are taken in the name of security. Our founding fathers would be ashamed of us.

LTE: Greenville area crying for economic help
By the end of the very long day, there were at least 120 testimonials, far more than his tally at noon. Most unfortunately, he totally failed to capture the basic message of the meeting presented by local residents

LTE: OK, planet is warming up, but so what? No biggie
Global warming. Some say it's a threat to our environment, and some think "no biggie." It's here we have a debate. Global warming as a threat -- melting ice. Some say OK, the Earth has been warming, but what does that have to do with us?

LTE: Poor, underpaid not second-class citizens
If Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive, he would be horrified by the lack of human advancement.

LTE: Democrats have tried to cripple Bush White House
We have been entertained in the letters column for the past seven years by a constant tirade spewed by one Robert Vitolo and his ilk, about the dastardly actions of one George Bush, and the Republican party.

Shoemakers Prepare For Factory Shutdown
The central Maine town of Pittsfield experienced first-hand the ups and downs of economic life today. The announcement of the closure of the town's shoe factory was followed by news of job creation elsewhere. Tom Porter has the story.

Review Board Proposed To Study Crimes by the Mentally Ill
Too many Mainers with mental illness have become consumed in a cycle of community-based care options that frequently includes hospitalization, out-patient treatment and incarceration at county jails. Members of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee are convinced that cycle could be broken if the factors and conditions that link mental illness and violence were better understood. The panel is considering legislation to create a review board that will study the best ways to prevent those with mental illness from committing homicides or serious personal injuries. A.J. Higgins reports.

Truck Weights A Concern of Safety Coalition
Last week Governor John Baldacci signed temporary legislation that would allow trucks hauling forest products to exceed state weight limits. The intention is to enable truckers to consolidate loads and save fuel costs. A coalition of safety advocates says a weight increase is dangerous when Maine's highways and bridges are already crumbling, an allegation Maine highway officials deny. Keith McKeen reports.

Report Recommends Schools Boost Physical Fitness
As Maine battles a fast-growing obesity problem, some lawmakers are hoping schools will help battle the bulge. A new report recommends increasing physical activity and physical education for all elementary and middle school students. Today, lawmakers and representatives of the American Heart Association made their case at a State House press conference. Murray Carpenter reports.

Family gives $1.3 million to hospital
LEWISTON - A local family has donated $1.3 million to St. Mary's Regional Medical Center for a new emergency room, the largest single donation in the hospital's history.

As Maine caucuses go . . . so goes the nation?
Will Maine's caucuses predict each party's nominee? It's possible.

Dems wager on Super Bowl result
PORTLAND (AP) - Congressman Tom Allen of Maine is putting up fried clams against a case of wine in a friendly Super Bowl wager with Congressman Tim Bishop of New York.

LTE: The will to change
This is in response to an Associated Press article in the Sun Journal Jan. 23 about a study that showed how President Bush and his administration intentionally misled the United States into war with Iraq. The study included details about how many times Bush and his administration lied about weapons of mass destruction, and the connection between Iraq and the Taliban.

Not the time for meddling
The Legislative Council used its authority appropriately last Thursday when it blocked consideration of a bill by Sen. Doug Smith, R-Dover-Foxcroft, to require parental consent for minors to receive prescription birth control.

Caucusing to choose a candidate: Tight races will enhance process for Democrats
FREEPORT — Wayne Hollingworth will serve as caucus convener at the town Democratic presidential caucus and will back a candidate. But he can't stand in two spots, so he will help with proceedings without going to a certain area for his candidate, former Sen. John Edwards. Rather than have a balloting, people who support particular candidates in caucuses will stand in different areas of a gymnasium to be counted.

Caucusing to choose a candidate: The Republicans go first in Maine's election method
Susan Collins will also make the rounds to caucus sites. "Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't let them avoid your questions," Pearson said. .


Consolidation repeal won't be on the ballot this year
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Supporters of a citizen initiative to repeal Maine's school consolidation law will have to wait until next year to send their proposal to voters.

Senators hone revisions to economic stimulus package
"Many of these additions have bipartisan support, and I hope that the president will recognize that the White House needs to negotiate with the Senate as well as the House," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who backs both the rebates for seniors and the unemployment extension.

NBC: WLBZ-2 Bangor
How Much Are You Willing To Bet For A Patriot's Win?
Maine (AP)-- Congressman Tom Allen is willing to wager 2 quarts of fried Maine Clams against Congressman Tim Bishop of New York's case of Long Island wine.

WMTW: Channel 8 Portland
Maine Delegation Gives Views On Bush Speech
AUGUSTA, Maine -- Members of Maine's congressional delegation are glad President George W. Bush stressed the need for action to heal the economy in his State of the Union speech last night. But they offered criticism on other points.

House passes stimulus bill, Senate changes expected
Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said today she likes the Senate bill and wants to add money to it that would provide a home-heating oil subsidy ...

As Maine Goes: U.S. Senate Confirms Agriculture Secretary
Several members of the panel encouraged him to work with Congress to smooth stalled talks on the $286 billion farm bill passed by both the House and Senate last year.

As Maine Goes: Snowe: A Dollar Spent on UI Adds $1.64 to the GDP
Senator Snowe noted a recent economic study cited in a report by the Congressional Budget Office indicating the near-term economic stimulus of extending Unemployment Insurance is much higher than most other proposals under consideration – for every $1 the federal government spends on UI now, it adds $1.64 to national GDP.

As Maine Goes: House Passes Econ Aid Package; Allen/Michaud Vote YEA
WASHINGTON — The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday afternoon to approve a $146 billion fiscal stimulus package, hoping to quickly seal a fast-paced deal with the Bush administration. But Senate Democrats forged ahead with their own, more expensive plan despite a rising chorus of warnings from the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they risk delaying much-needed help for the economy and could plunge the nation too far in debt.

As Maine Goes: VT Bill to Give Illegal Farm Workers Health Insurance
The immigrant workers on Vermont dairy farms rarely get even the most basic health care. They don't have health insurance - and they're all but invisible to most Vermonters.

As Maine Goes: Arcadian Health Plan Expanding Into Maine
Arcadian Health Plan, Inc., a leading provider of Medicare Advantage health plans for Medicare beneficiaries, has enhanced its benefits for 2008 and further expanded into Maine.

Turn Maine Bleu: Bush/Cheney Sign Away Congressional Oversight
Tom Allen introduced the amendment that would have created the Commission had Bush, as directed by Dick Cheney, had not - by whim - determined that he didn't think it was a good idea. Allen didn't think to highly of this:

Senate Guru: Maine:
Back on January 8, David Offer, the former executive editor of the Kennebec Journal, put out an op-ed highlighting his discontent with waste and mismanagement in Iraq.

Senate Guru: An Open E-mail to Jen Burita, Press Secretary to Susan Collins

Maine: With considerable discussion recently over how aggressive Susan Collins really was in investigating waste and mismanagement in Iraq, I figured it would be worthwhile to go right to the source. I will keep readers apprised to any response.

News of Maine: Pittsfield shoe factory to close - Mainebiz
The factory will close because demand for the kind of shoes it makes – ones with hand-stitching and harder, glossy leather – have declined in recent years, Janice Thomson, an SAS spokesperson, told Mainebiz this morning."

News of Maine: Eight Maine economists tell us what's in store for 2008 - Mainebiz

POLITICKER ME: Clams, pride at stake in Super Bowl

If the Patriots lose Sunday in the Super Bowl, U.S. Rep. Tom Allen's reputation in Congress could be at stake.