The Coastal Packet

Saturday, May 28

Most misspelled word in Maine

Google pulled data from its search trends to reveal the top word most people have trouble spelling in each state.For the Maine the word is vacuum
 

Friday, May 27

Portland container shipments soar

Portland Press Herald - The Port of Portland, which lost its container business in the wake of the Great Recession, is thriving once again, with container shipments up by more than 1,300 percent since 2011. The dramatic increase is largely attributable to Icelandic shipping company Eimskip, the port’s biggest cargo operator, which has grown its refrigerated cargo service by about 20 percent year over year since arriving in Portland in 2013.

Thursday, May 26

LePage joins suit against transgender use of appropriate restrooms

NPR 

Texas, joined by a number of other states, has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in response to its directive that public schools allow students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The plaintiffs include Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, the governor of Maine and the Arizona Department of Education.


The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, says the federal government has "conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights."  Thee LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign called the move a "shameful attack on transgender youth."

Tuesday, May 24

Paul LePage drives record number of children into extreme poverty

Maine Beacon - Extreme child poverty in Maine is surging—a 50% increase over the last five years is the sharpest of any state in the nation.TA recent brief by the Scholar Strategies Network describes the shift in policy-making that occurred in Maine in 2011. Until five years ago, researchers describe Maine as providing “reasonable assistance to poor families in crisis, helping them gain the skills they needed to achieve economic independence.” But with the inauguration of Governor LePage and Republican legislative majorities after 2010, there began a marked shift towards policies grounded in penalizing poor families instead of solving the root causes that land families in poverty.

Over the past five years, more than half of families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, including more than 16,000 children, have been cut from the program. Tens of thousands of people have lost their food supplement benefit and over 40,000 Mainers have lost health care due to eligibility changes to Medicaid.

Saturday, May 21

Maine house sales soar

Press Herald - Sales of existing, single-family homes in Maine increased by nearly 25 percent in April compared with a year earlier, a huge improvement over the year-over-year performance in April 2015. According to the Maine Association of Realtors, 1,285 homes were sold in April – an increase of 24.5 percent from the same month a year before, although prices remained relatively flat. In April 2015, sales were hampered by a relentless winter that dampened home-buying activity. Prices overall have not kept pace with the increased volume of sales. The statewide median sale price of $180,000 reflected only a 1.1 percent increase from a year earlier. The median price indicates that half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Trump to target Maine

Maine Public Broadcasting- In the next few weeks Donald Trump is expected to hire a campaign manager for Maine and start to set up a statewide campaign organization. Maine is one of 15 states that traditionally leans Democrat that the Trump campaign plans to target this year. Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett says that’s no surprise to him. He says polling and election results show the state is changing. He points out Republicans hold three of the top five elected positions in the state, which he says is a clear indication voter attitudes are changing.

Thursday, May 19

Maine population remains stagnant

Press Herald - The estimated population of Maine was 1,329,328 in July 2015, a year-over-year decline of 928 people... But that is 967 more people, about one-tenth of 1 percent, than Maine had in 2010, the last time the government did a hard-count census of its residents. Related Headlines

Cumberland County, which hosts Portland and its suburbs, accounted for eight out of the 10 Maine communities with populations that grew the most, numerically. Windham added the most – 815 people – from 2010 to 2015, a 4.8 percent increase that raised its total count to 17,816. Falmouth, Gorham, Scarborough and Portland round out the list of five communities that added the most people over the five-year period.

Check your town

Word: What happened to nice Maine politics?

April Thibodeau, Maine Beacon - Maine used to be known as a kind, neighborly, decent state. We used to be known for the integrity of our elected officials, regardless of political party. We still are those things, and we still elect those people, but there is a long and dark shadow hanging over us these past seven years that makes it hard to see.

Something bad happened to us. Paul LePage happened to us. Winning on a split-ticket minority vote, suddenly we became represented by the type of vulgar extremist that would have Margaret Chase Smith spinning in her grave. And he quickly set to poisoning our politics and our political discourse to the point that nowadays Maine is barely recognizable.

Luckily, Maine has held on to enough of it’s identity to send Governor LePage a legislature that keeps him from carrying out his worst ideas, and manages to pass the most urgent legislation over his relentless vetoes. Democrats, independents and a few brave Republicans have stood up to him and done what they can to prevent Maine from sliding backwards, and even move us forward a little bit against the odds.

LePage’s hatred for this legislature is no secret. Rather than accepting compromise as part of his job of governing, he has refused to accept anything less than everything he wants, issuing a record number of vetoes, resulting in gridlock. He has aggressively attacked Democratic leaders, going so far as to use the power of his office to interfere in the outside employment of the Democratic Speaker of the House. He also attacks Republicans who occasionally disagree with him, or act in a bipartisan spirit to pass needed legislation over his vetoes. He has openly stated that he is now focused on the November election, trying to defeat those legislators that have crossed him and elect more party-line Republicans who will vote in lockstep with him.

MORE
 

Friday, May 13

State supreme court lets Nestle corporatize our water

Community Water Justice - After 3 3/4 years fight on this US precedent setting long-term contract, Nestlé has been awarded the upper hand of control over our groundwater for the next 45 years for their Poland Spring brand bottled water.Read more here.
http://usuncut.com/news/nestle-water-deal-fryeburg-maine/

Thursday, May 12

Health insurers seek double digit increases

Press Herald - Insurance companies are requesting double-digit rate increases for Affordable Care Act marketplace insurance in Maine, according to rate filings released by the state Bureau of Insurance. However, for most customers in Maine, all or nearly all of the proposed 2017 rate increases will be absorbed by government subsidies. Community Health Options is requesting a 22.8 percent increase, Harvard Pilgrim is requesting 18.7 percent, Aetna is seeking 14.2 percent and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is requesting 14.1 percent. The rate increases are not final and are subject to review by the Bureau of Insurance and the federal government.

Wednesday, May 11

Portland doing fine after minimum wage hike

A new investigation and series of interviews published in the Christian Science Monitor by reporter Simon Montlake indicates that the minimum wage increase this year in Portland, Maine has helped low-wage workers to make ends meet and hasn’t had the negative effects on businesses predicted by opponents of raising the minimum wage.

“So far, Portland’s $10.10 wage hasn’t killed jobs,” reports the Monitor. “Portland’s economy is booming and unemployment is below 3 percent. Even Greg Dugal, a prominent lobbyist for restaurant and hotel owners, admits that ‘the sky has not fallen.'”

Also included in the article are anecdotal reports of small businesses in Portland seeing more applicants with higher levels of experience, as well as increased pressure on businesses in surrounding communities to also increase their wages. - Beacon

MORE AT THE BEACON

Monday, May 9

Marijuana initiative has unconstitutional provision

Reason - In 2013 Colorado legislators approved a bill that included a provision requiring merchants to keep marijuana magazines like High Times behind the counter if their stores were open to customers younger than 21. The provision was so blatantly unconstitutional that John Suthers, then Colorado's attorney general, said the state would not enforce it. The Marijuana Policy Project applauded Suthers' decision, caliing the magazine rule "absolutely absurd" and "a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution." Yet three years later, MPP is asking voters in Maine to approve the same restriction as part of that state's legalization initiative.

Maine's Marijuana Legalization Act, which recently qualified for this November's ballot, says "a magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses may be sold only in a retail marijuana store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present." David Boyer, the initiative's campaign manager, told the Bangor Daily News that provision "attempts to strike a balance" between freedom and community standards. "The community has the opportunity to approve it," he said, "and if members of the community wish to challenge a particular provision within it, they will have that right, just as they would with any other law."

That anondyne description stands in stark contrast with the way Mason Tvert, MPP's communications director and a driving force behind Colorado's legalization campaign, viewed the behind-the-counter rule for marijuana magazines in 2013:

We applaud the attorney general's decision to declare as unconstitutional this absurd rule that marijuana-related publications be treated like pornographic material. The idea that stores can prominently display magazines touting the joys of drinking wine and smoking cigars, yet banish those that discuss a far safer substance to behind the counter, is absolutely absurd.

The fact that legislators passed this rule despite being informed it is a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution demonstrates the bigotry that still exists with regard to marijuana. It is time for our elected leaders to get over their reefer madness and recognize that a majority of Coloradans—and a majority of Americans—think marijuana should be legal for adults.

Has MPP succumbed to anti-pot bigotry? Not quite. The initiative the organization originally supported included no such rule. But last fall MPP decided to merge its efforts with those of Legalize Maine, a group of medical marijuana growers who evidently thought that promising to keep marijuana magazines out of sight would reassure leery voters worried about the message that legalization might send to the youth of Maine. But that promise is bound to be broken, since the restriction is unenforceable.


Saturday, May 7

Press Herald - Maine Democrats voted Saturday morning to restrict the ability of so-called “superdelegates” to cast their votes for any candidate they choose at the Democratic National Convention, but not until the 2020 elections.

The proposal by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, would require that beginning in 2020, the Maine’s delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention be awarded proportionately to the results of the party’s presidential caucus or primary. Under current rules, the state’s five superdelegates – positions held by party leaders – are unpledged, meaning they are not bound by the caucus results.

The rule change would also urge – but not require – the superdelegates attending the 2016 national convention to honor the outcome of the March caucuses, when Sanders won 63 percent of the votes. Finally, it calls on the national party to eliminate the superdelegate system altogether.

Another town left holding bag for sports team

Deadspin

Let’s say this again for the umpteenth time: Don’t use taxpayer money on sports arenas. Cumberland County residents are still paying off $34 million in bonds that covered renovations to the Cross Insurance Arena, which was part of the agreement to get the Pirates to sign a five-year lease. That lease was signed in 2014.

Now, two seasons later, the arena is without an anchor tenant, and per the agreement, the county was and remains on the hook for the building’s annual operating losses. It lost $600,000 last year, even with a hockey team.

 


Wednesday, May 4

Court upholds LePage threats in Eves case

WCSH - Speaker of the House Mark Eves has lost a legal battle in his lawsuit against Governor Paul LePage, who, Eves claims, abused his power and violated Eves' civil rights when he pressured a Maine school to fire Eves from his new job. A federal judge ruled Tuesday that LePage's actions did not violate Maine's constitution....Eves' attorney says this suit was going to appeals court no matter what the judge decided.

Tuesday, May 3

News Notes

Ben Chipman reports that the Maine House and Senate ended up overriding 20 of the 33 vetoes issued by the governor.

Monday, May 2

Middle age suicides leap in Maine

Press Herald - Suicide among middle-aged Mainers has soared since 1999, fueling an overall increase in the suicide rate for people of all ages in Maine and mirroring a national trend. The number of Mainers who killed themselves in the 45-64 age group increased from 47 in 1999 to 102 in 2013 before declining to 86 in 2014, the latest year for which statistics are available, according to the CDC. The trend line was consistently higher in the 2010s when compared with the early to mid-2000s.

The figures translate into a suicide rate for middle-aged Mainers of 21.1 per 100,000 people in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase from 1999, when the rate per 100,000 was 15.4. Across the United States, the rate for the same age group increased 48 percent, from 13.2 to 19.5, with 16,294 suicides in the 45-64 age group.

It’s not clear what might be driving the trend. Traditional risk factors for suicide include loss of employment, isolation and being a victim of sexual assault. One possible contributing factor is the surge in opioid addiction – including prescription opioids and heroin, experts say.

Sunday, May 1

Legislature fails to override LePage's veto of clean election funding

The legislature failed to override Governor LePage’s veto of LD1579. For the first time in the history of clean elections, there is a possibility the fund could run out of funds in this upcoming election cycle. LD1579 had no fiscal impact – it simply would have transferred a portion of the 2017 Clean Elections appropriation six months early to avoid a shortfall in 2016. The bill was called  ‘a no-brainer’ in the Bangor Daily News.

Washington County's alternative lifestyle

Metador Network

Washington County or ‘Downeast,’ Maine is a beautiful area that has remained quiet and independent. Located on the bold coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Washington County is just as exquisite, if not more so, than Acadia National Park...

Washington County is where you can purchase a decent amount of acreage, probably on a stream or river, for way under $50,000 and really make a go at living sustainably. There is a large community of people who have been residing in the area for generations, many with local roots that pre-date the United States. Other residents came during the Back to the Land Movement in the 70s and have since stayed, creating a larger community and raising a lot of awareness about how to live with a low impact. Many citizens are completely sustaining themselves off-the-grid in Washington County — they’re using battery-banked solar power, outhouses or composting toilets, recycling grey water, growing their own gardens and chopping their own wood. This isn’t where you’ll find too many snowbirds, most people are living year-round, and it is expected that new residents will live year-round too.

About 45 minutes east of the county line, Machias is a small college town on Bad Little Falls that draws a lot of writers, musicians and artists to its state university. An artist and activist organization, The Beehive Collective, resides there and hosts an outdoor, live music “dress-up dance” each August called The Blackfly Ball. If you go up as far east as Eastport or Lubec, you’ll find two artist’s communities on the ocean, not far from the Canadian border, each with a decent live music scene. And throughout the county, there will be a lot of houses and shopfronts for sale, for cheap. Downeast is thirsting slightly for some young blood to keep its economy going.

It’s also worth mentioning that Maine is known for fiercely protecting its natural resources. Since 1987, Land for Maine’s Future has purchased 490,000 acres — 1,200 of it shorefront and 315,000 of it working forestland — in order to protect Maine’s wildlife, forests, aquifers and ecosystems. Billboards are outlawed in Maine, there are no oil refineries, although there is an active pipeline, and even though the state’s rogue governor, Paul LePage, has tried to block some solar power legislation, citizens are still heading full force in the direction of renewable resources. Solar installers and energy companies like Efficiency Maine and ReVision Energy offer complete loans for solar power with no downpayment, so virtually any home or business owner can switch to solar without any strain on their finances.