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Maine News

Friday, February 1, 2008

Maine News for Friday, February 1, 2008

State urged to set rules for new-home energy efficiency
Maine is the only New England state without mandatory energy-efficiency standards for new homes, but that may change soon as lawmakers take up two proposals aimed at reducing the financial and environmental costs of heating houses.

New border rules, few problems
Despite tighter rules on documents to come into the U.S. from Canada, traffic flows smoothly.

Paul likes his Maine prospects
Republicans caucus this weekend, and unenrolled voters can play an important role.

EDITORIAL: Widen I-295 only after exhausting alternatives
It's especially important that the Maine Turnpike Authority change its toll scheme.

EDITORIAL: Natural resource agency merger plan is in trouble
A strong group of opponents has lined up to fight a policy that would save money.

MAINE VOICES: Ban smoking in homes with kids
Worries about a 'slippery slope' ignore the dangers that secondhand smoke presents to the young.

LTE: Assessing progress in Iraq
Candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton was interviewed by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" on Jan 13. Mr. Russert stated that the surge in Iraq was showing signs of progress and that the Iraqi Parliament had approved a law that allows Sunnis to resume jobs within the new government.

LTE: Include food-stamp boost in current stimulus plan
As the economic stimulus bill moves to the Senate, it's important that it add a boost in food stamps, an unemployment compensation extension and state fiscal relief.

LTE: Change laws pertaining to sexual abuse of children
I am writing in response to the article about the assistant principal admitting to the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old ("Assistant principal admits sexual abuse," Jan. 23).

Average high school tuition rate up $421
AUGUSTA, Maine — The state Department of Education has set the dollar amounts school districts can charge for nonresidents to attend their high schools, and most schools now can charge more.

Proposed budget cuts threaten state's pool of foster, adoptive parents
ORONO, Maine - Some longtime foster parents are threatening to stop taking displaced children into their homes if Maine lawmakers adopt proposed cuts in the stipends they receive.

Access No. 1 on Maine bar to-do list
ROCKLAND, Maine — Access to legal services hasn't changed much in the past 17½ years, lawyers attending the annual meeting of the Maine Bar Association on Thursday were told. Just one in five of the poor people who qualify for legal aid are able to get legal assistance because there simply aren't enough providers, an 18-month-long study concluded.

Collins, Allen fundraising nears record
The general election is still more than nine months away, but the combined fundraising total for the candidates running for Susan Collins' U.S. Senate seat already is closing in on the record set six years ago.

Editorial: A better stimulus bill
By adding an extension of unemployment benefits and including more low-income people in its tax rebate, the stimulus package passed by the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday will do more to boost the economy than the plan passed by the House of Representatives.

Michael Eckardt: Invest in research, development, our future
Maine has a lot to be proud of in its recent investments in research and development, and the message is clear that the state must maintain its momentum in this area in order to best help its residents. That's why now, more than ever, Maine policymakers must look at the strategic research and development priorities they have set and ensure that they make the most sense for the residents they are charged to serve and protect.

Jane Irving: Mainers should stick to values during crisis
The national news is replete with stories about low consumer confidence and the subprime mortgage crisis. But the local story isn't quite so bleak.

Bridge engineer deems Maine spans safe
AUGUSTA -- Few Maine bridges will see intensive review in the wake of investigations ordered after a major interstate bridge collapse in Minnesota last year, Maine's top bridge engineer said.

GOP CAUCUS Underdog may have a shot in Maine
AUGUSTA -- With a band of highly motivated supporters and a natural appeal to a mass of like-minded independents, Ron Paul's prospects at this weekend's Maine Republican caucuses are rated very high by party officials and other political observers.

COLUMN: Everyone wants change, we don't agree on how to do it
I listened to the State of the Union address and the Democratic reply. I listened to Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass) raucous endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama. And I have listened endlessly to candidates' calls for "change," and their assertions that they are the real change agents.

PROSPERITY COMMITTEE REPORT Legislative panel takes its vision beyond Brookings
Maine needs a compelling and comprehensive vision for the future if it is to realize its full potential. An inspiring vision can serve both as a call to action and as a foundation for the strategies needed to realize a better, more prosperous future.

LTE: Has the surge in Iraq really been a success?
How can anyone believe that the president's surge in Iraq has been a success?

LTE: To heal, America must turn from Republicans
As the approval ratings of President Bush continue to slide, threatening to dip below those of Richard Nixon at the height of Watergate, Republicans in Maine and nationally are calling for bipartisanship. In Maine, Republicans are urging voters to "consider the individual, not the party."

LTE: Where's tax rebate for Maine's small businesses?
It was wonderful to see that the toothpick factory is being converted to one in which wood pellets are being manufactured.

LTE: Brief thoughts about Maine topics of interest

CONSOLIDATION New district prompting creativity
READFIELD -- When Maranacook Schools lost its full-time transportation director, Winthrop offered its transportation director's services.

LTE: Let's try consolidation in a few school districts first
I would like to suggest that all Regional Planning Committees (RPCs) working on school consolidation cease operations until we know whether we have the support of a majority of Maine citizens.

LTE: Video incident example of anti-Iran propaganda
Your Another View "Monkey's tricks in Persian Gulf not funny" (Jan. 17) managed to miss the real story. Someone in the Pentagon made a conscious decision to have an inflammatory audio track of unknown origin spliced to an edited video shot by the U.S. Navy which showed Iranian speedboats near American ships.

Effort Aimed At Promoting Unused Tax Credits
Each year thousands of Mainers fail to receive sizeable checks from the federal government simply because they do not apply for earned income tax credits. This Saturday, the Internal Revenue Service, the governor's office and a coalition of agencies are promoting a statewide earned income tax credit awareness program at various locations across the state. Free tax preparation services will be offered along with information about how to apply for the tax credit benefits. As A.J. Higgins reports, it a deal that many Mainers can't afford to pass up.

Lawmakers Consider Pay Raise For Regulatory Board Members
They're the volunteer members of what could easily be called Maine's largest planning and zoning board. Lately their workload has been immense. And now some say it's time that the seven members of the Land Use Regulation Commission get a pay raise. As Susan Sharon reports, a legislative committee is considering granting the citizen members of both LURC and the Board of Environmental Protection a per diem rate increase for their regulatory efforts, and so far, there's no organized opposition.

Report Offers Help To Mainers Who Represent Themselves In Court

A growing number of Mainers aren't getting access to the legal help they need. That's the conclusion of a report released today at the annual Maine Bar Association meeting at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. Among the report's recommendations--increasing funding for legal aid, expanding so-called "pro-bono" service, and providing more help for Mainers who represent themselves in court. Keith Shortall has more.

More Mainers Turning To Alternative Fuel For Home Heat
Four in five Maine homes use oil as a primary heating source. But as oil prices rise, many Mainers are searching for alternatives. As Murray Carpenter reports, a new twist on an age-old heat source is getting lots of attention.

Acadia park bill moves forward

PORTLAND (AP) - The full U.S. Senate is poised to take up a bill that Maine's two senators say would set the stage for improvements to Acadia National Park.

Democrats slate presidential caucus
AUBURN - The Auburn City Democratic Committee will hold its presidential caucus at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Auburn Middle School. Doors will open at noon for the city's registered Democrats to check in.

COLUMN: What nation needs is a leader, not a politician

LTE: Who controls whom?
There appears to be a small group that has the idea that common people have limited vision and even more limited minds, and, therefore, need to be "guided." Members of that group are expert at playing psychological games.

BREAKING NEWS: Labor department antes $2 million for BNAS workers

BRUNSWICK — The U.S. Department of Labor announced this afternoon that $2 million in National Emergency Grant Funds has been designated to help workers displaced by the 2011 closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Federal aid curbs looming
AUGUSTA — Changes in Medicaid rules coming out of Washington could mean a cut of $186 million in federal funds used for services provided to the elderly, special needs students and people with mental and physical disabilities in Maine.

Local supporters of Kenyan orphanage watch with horror
DURHAM — An orphan care center in Kakamega, Kenya funded, in part, by a local Quaker group, remains in jeopardy today amid politically charged violence in the developing Afri-can nation.

COMMENTARY: Maine's turbulent utility market
As it turns out, the takeover by FairPoint Communications of the old New England Telephone system that's been neglected by Verizon may be as good a deal as we'll get.

LTE: Don't blame Bush
There are a slew of ridiculous comments in the Jan. 22 editorial ("Recession, rhetoric vs. reality") that are just plain wrong. Whoever wrote this ought to go back to school and get an education in economics.

LTE: Reject liberal fascism
In the midst of all of the furor and confusion surrounding this presidential election, it would be wise to stop and analyze the dangerous direction that all of the candidates except one are pointing.

Seniors who volunteer may be taxed less
KITTERY, Maine — Legislative leaders recently approved for consideration by the full Legislature a bill proposed by Rep. Walter Wheeler, D-Kittery, to provide property tax relief to senior citizens in town.

Department of Labor awards grants to help displaced workers
PORTLAND — The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $2 million in emergency grants to help workers who will lose their jobs when the Brunswick Naval Air Station shuts down.

'I'm terrified' - Fear grips seniors threatened by cuts to services
WELD (Jan 31, 2008): In the three years that Don Bodin has lived at Larrabee Village in Westbrook, the 88-year-old has had two close encounters with death.

Senate Candidates Show Strength Through Dollars
Mark Warner is living up to his billing as a formidable Senate candidate by raising $2.7 million in the last three months of the year to succeed the retiring John W. Warner , R-Va (no relation). The former Democratic governor's campaign announced raising $3.8 million total in 2007 after getting into the race in September, with $2.9 million cash on hand.

As Maine Goes: Snowe Adds Disabled Vet Rebate Checks to Stimulus Pkg
The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-7 Wednesday to send a roughly $157 billion economic stimulus package to the floor, adding tax breaks for alternative energies and homebuilders and disqualifying upper-income taxpayers -- including members of Congress -- from getting rebate checks.

As Maine Goes: Adam Cote on Education, Illegal Immigration, Stem Cells
Cote...wants to go to Congress to...fight for increased funding to create smaller class-size ratios, a federal fund to make it easier for children to attend quality preschool, for better availability of Pell grants to college-bound students in middle-class families.

As Maine Goes: Karl Rove: The New Rules of Politics
In the aftermath of the Florida primary, some new rules for winning the nomination have emerged and some old rules have been ratified. As we head toward the 23 contests next Tuesday, it's worth considering a few of them.

As Maine Goes: Live/Work in ME after Graduation - Get a $55K Tax Credit
PORTLAND — Beginning on Feb. 1, any student attending a Maine college can sign-up for the Opportunity Maine Program by visiting, or their financial aid office and completing a simple contract. By signing up, anyone who lives and works in Maine after graduation will receive a tax credit – as much as $55,000 for some students over 10 years — to help pay their student loans.

As Maine Goes: Sen. Smith Tries Again with Parental Consent Bill
I know that most of you have been following the circuitous path of this bill in the Maine State Legislature. If you are not familiar with it, please visit our website. Click here to read the original "action alert" .

Maine Web Report: Charlie Summers campaign update
Here's a campaign update from the Charlie Summers for Congress campaign:

Turn Maine Blue: Fed to cut State share of Medicare by $45M
Thousands of Maine children, disabled adults and entire communities will feel the sting of pending federal changes in Medicaid rules. The new rules could also expand a projected gap in the current state budget by another $45 million dollars. Commissioners of the Education and Health and Human Services departments met with reporters this morning to outline the effect of the changes on state programs and services. Congressional efforts are underway to postpone the federal action. But as AJ Higgins reports, in the absence of intervention, the outlook from the state capitol is bleak

Politico: Collins Gets Chummy With Rove
Last weekend, the prestigious black-tie, closed-to-press Alfalfa Club dinner featured former Secretary of State Colin Powell, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, a host of members of Congress and, of course, President Bush. But we hear it wasn't the campaign digs of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) that raised eyebrows, but rather Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and her chumminess with GOP Svengali Karl Rove.

Senate Guru: Massive Thursday Rundown

Maine: And one last item on Q4-2007. We see another tight fundraising quarter between Democratic Congressman Tom Allen and Republican Susan Collins. Allen brought in $813,000 while Collins brought in $963,000. Meanwhile, Susan Collins and Karl Rove really are thick as thieves:

Collins Watch: Old Friends

Last weekend, the prestigious black-tie, closed-to-press Alfalfa Club dinner featured former Secretary of State Colin Powell, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, a host of members of Congress and, of course, President Bush. But we hear it wasn't the campaign digs of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) that raised eyebrows, but rather Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and her chumminess with GOP Svengali Karl Rove.

Maine News: By Senator Collins on The Hill's Congress Blog - White House Failure to Appoint New Board Unacceptable (Sen. Susan Collins)

"The White House's failure to move forward with appointing the new board is unacceptable, and I call on the Administration to do so as quickly as possible to prevent a gap in this vital mission."

How Senator Collins Got Her Groove Back? - By Alex Hammer

Update: It's probably obvious, but just to clarify, title of this post references film title of similar name (I've always thought the title was pretty catchy) but not any content from the film (I haven't seen the film).

Blog4President: John McCain 2008 Announces Maine Leadership Team

US Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will serve as co-chairs, former Governor John McKernan as Honorary Chair, and State Representative Josh Tardy as Vice-Chair of John McCain's growing grassroots organization in the Pine Tree ...

MAINE OWL: Susan Collins on patrol
With some fine spade work begun by Gerald at Turn Maine Blue, Senator Collins's reputation as Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is getting some well-deserved detailed scrutiny. Thanks to Gerald for the link-back to the piece I posted a few weeks ago on the double standard held by Collins concerning Iraq corruption in the U.S./CPA versus in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program.

Tighter border threatens to distance US, Canadian towns

HOULTON, Maine - Canadians are among the best customers in this small town on the Canadian border, where Interstate 95 links to the Trans Canada Highway. On frequent visits fueled by a stronger Canadian dollar, they fill up their tanks at gas stations near the highway and pile their shopping carts high with milk and butter at the local IGA grocery.

Fences, Sensors and Money

"Properly managing and overseeing such a complex technology development effort requires that DHS have a sufficient number of skilled acquisition and oversight personnel," said the letter signed by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), ranking member Susan Collins (R-Me.), Sen.r Daniel Akaka, (D-HI) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH).