The Coastal Packet

Thursday, October 19

If officials would listen to voters,they would stop trying to kill ranked voting

Why to vote yes on Question 2



Mainers get a few more months to use their license cards for flying

Portland Press Herald - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued an additional one-year waiver for Maine’s REAL ID Act compliance, which will allow federal agencies to continue to accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from Maine through Oct. 10, 2018, state officials said.

Mainers were in danger of no longer being able to use their driver’s licenses to pass through airport security or to gain access to federal facilities next year because the state’s licenses do not comply with the federal standards, such as digitized photos that can be used with facial recognition technology.

Wednesday, October 18

LePage is right for a change

Press Herald - — Gov. Paul LePage came out forcefully against the York County casino ballot question Tuesday, calling Question 1 “another case of big-money, out-of-state interests using Maine voters to get a sweet deal.”

“But it’s a phony deal for Maine,” LePage said in his weekly radio address. “Supporters of Question 1 are using a bait-and-switch tactic that has nothing to do with funding schools or creating jobs. Their promises of boosting our economy are overblown.”

On Nov. 7, voters statewide will decide whether to authorize a third casino in Maine, this one located in a yet-to-be-announced location in York County. Supporters say the proposed casino would create more than 2,000 permanent jobs and generate more than $45 million in annual tax revenue for the state.

Sunday, October 15

Travelers in Maine and 8 other states will need passports to fly effective January 22

Forbes - Nine states will no longer allow travelers to board an airplane with just their state issued driver’s licenses as of January 22, 2018. To get past TSA security checkpoints, another form of identification will be required: passport, permanent resident card/green card or a military ID.

The Real ID Act of 2005 states that state-issued IDs from these nine states do not meet the minimum security standards of the federal government:

Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington

Saturday, October 7

Happy First Peoples Day

Sam Smith - The term Indigenous Peoples Day was foisted upon us by the Berkeley city council back in 1992. It's the way they talk out there, but we don't have to follow suit. It's a stuffy term of the sort used by academics but we are free to use more simple and commonly understood phrases like First People or First Nation.

Tuesday, October 3

Maine ACLU finds children of color face regular bullying

Washington Times - The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has issued a report based on more than 115 interviews that says students of color experience “regular harassment and discrimination” in schools.

The report states that students of color “face a constant barrage of bullying” and “unwelcoming school cultures” in Maine. Muslim students report being pushed in hallways and called terrorists.

The report describes hateful speech and derogatory terms for immigrants and sexual minorities as “common.” Students also often fear concerns about harassment aren’t being taken seriously.

Monday, October 2

Facing the cost of healthcare for low income workers

Beacon - Since 2001, tens of thousands of Mainers of prime working age have left the work force, and these “lost workers” are increasingly citing health concerns as their reason for not working. Too many low-income Mainers are stuck in a cycle of sickness and poverty. Living at or near poverty not only makes it more difficult to afford health care, but the mental and physical stress of living in poverty creates its own health problems. Poor and near-poor Mainers often find themselves increasingly in need of care, and increasingly unable to get it.

In 2016, 55% of Mainers had some form of employer-sponsored coverage; among the non-senior population, the share rises to 60%. Employer-sponsored insurance is a good deal for many Mainers. Employer subsidies and the ability to pool the risk of an entire company workforce often make plans more affordable. But many Mainers don’t have this option.

Increasingly, part-time and low-wage employees aren’t even eligible for plans where their employers have them—or they work for a small business that doesn’t offer a plan. In 2016, fewer than one in four (24%) of low-wage, private-sector workers in Maine was eligible for an employer-sponsored plan, down from one in three (35%) in 2001. Additionally, low-wage workers are less likely to be offered—or be able to afford—a family health plan, meaning that their spouse, children, and other dependents also lack coverage options.

Sunday, October 1

Health care initiative launched

Maine Public Broadcasting - The Maine People’s Alliance has launched a campaign to put a universal home health care initiative before voters in 2018. “There are far too many Maine families right now that are going broke because they can’t afford to care for their elders,” says Mike Tipping with the Maine People’s Alliance. Tipping says the citizen’s initiative would establish a program to provide in-home services and support for those with disabilities, and for those over age 65. He says the program would be funded through a 1.9 percent payroll tax on incomes over $127,000. “The wealthy don’t like to pay more in taxes and I think they will definitely mount an opposition campaign to this,” he says.

!40 Greens hold posts in 18 states

Common Dreams - The Green Party of the United States welcomed Maine State Rep. Ralph Chapman, who announced his new membership in the Maine Green Independent Party on Thursday. Mr. Chapman is Maine's second Green in the Maine House of Representatives, following John Eder, who served from 2004 to 2006.

162 Green candidates are running for office in 2017. At least 140 Greens hold elected office in 18 states as of Sept. 15, 2017.

What LePage is wrong in threatening shereiffs over ICE

Bangor Daily News - Gov. Paul LePage, with his usual bluster, is threatening Maine sheriffs who do not hold certain inmates beyond their scheduled release dates so their immigration status can be reviewed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. LePage saidthat he would fire sheriffs who don’t cooperate with ICE.

While it appears that LePage has the authority under the Maine Constitution to fire sheriffs — after a hearing — his directive that sheriffs must work with ICE on immigration issues likely runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

On a more fundamental — and humane — level, LePage’s continued fear mongering about immigrants being dangerous is wrong and heartless.

In a letter to the state’s 16 county sheriffs, LePage said “the safety and security of the children, families and citizens of the state of Maine” are his first responsibility.

The claim that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are dangerous criminals — also made repeatedly by President Donald Trump — is factually incorrect. Immigrants, both legal and undocumented, commit crimes at a far lower rate than native-born Americans. A recent study by the right-leaning Cato Institute calculated that the incarceration rate among undocumented immigrants in America is about half that of the incarceration rate among the native-born population. If incarceration for immigration-related offenses is removed, the incarceration rate for undocumented immigrants falls to less than a third of that of the native-born population.

Beyond the fallacy of immigrants posing a greater criminal danger than native-born Americans, LePage’s directive to sheriffs rests on shaky legal ground. ICE has asked law enforcement officials to hold suspected undocumented immigrants on what are known as 48-hour detainers. Many law enforcement agencies will hold an inmate who is set for release to allow ICE to determine if it wants to take custody of the person.

In such instances, no judge has issued a warrant or order that the inmate continue to be held after their time is served. Many sheriffs nationwide, including at least three in Maine, worry that holding the inmate beyond his or her scheduled release violates the law.

In fact, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in July that the detainers ICE seeks violate state law. “The detainers are not criminal detainers or criminal arrest warrants,” the court wrote. “They do not charge anyone with a crime, indicate that anyone has been charged with a crime, or ask that anyone be detained in order that he or she can be prosecuted for a crime.” The detainers are used to hold people whom federal authorities believe can be removed from the U.S. under civil law.

Therefore, the court said, the detainers result in someone being under civil arrest. Neither federal law nor state law gives state officers the powers to make this kind of arrest, the court concluded.

Maine ignoring legal settlement in handling mentally ill.

Sun Journal -In 1989, after 10 patients died from deficiencies in the care provided to them at the Augusta Mental Health Institute, patient advocates sued the state and the following year achieved a sweeping legal settlement known as the “consent decree.” This 99-page document ordered what is now named the Department of Health and Human Services to create a decent, robust system to care for Maine’s seriously mentally ill citizens — and to do it within five years. The Department agreed.
But 27 years later, law enforcement officials, mental health experts and patient advocates agree that the state is still far from meeting the consent decree’s mandates. Despite the decree’s strict requirements, the shortcomings of the state’s mental health system include: 
  • Potentially tens of thousands of seriously mentally ill adults in Maine, many of whom wander the streets of the state’s cities or languish in the jails and prisons, may have had insufficient care or have had little or even no contact with the state’s mental health treatment system. 
  • Treatment is critical — but lacking in Maine. While seriously mentally ill people are no more dangerous than other people if they get proper treatment, the untreated are three to four times more likely to commit violent acts than members of the general population. This is why law-enforcement officials have been so upset with — and for so long — the inadequacy of the care the mentally ill receive. 
  • The consent decree is essentially an unfunded mandate. It doesn’t require the Legislature to appropriate money for mental health care, and advocates generally agree that state government’s refusal to provide enough funding underlies many problems in the treatment of Maine’s mentally ill. Exacerbating insufficient funding by previous administrations, Gov. Paul LePage has cut 13,000 patients from mental health care in the last five years. 
  • Treatment facilities are insufficient. Officials admit that Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, the county jails, and the Maine State Prison’s mental health unit are unable to treat or even control especially violent patients. Instead, the institutions tend to transfer them from one to another in a “diagnosis game.” 
  • Solutions are inadequate. Special courts keep up to 250 mentally ill people out of jail and prison, but they only serve those already in trouble with the law. And critics claim that the major mental health care advocacy groups, which get considerable funding from the state and federal governments, have an inherent conflict of interest and don’t aggressively work to increase and improve community care or change the way institutions like Riverview administer services. 

Nestle ripping off Michigan as well as Maine water

Alternet - Flint became synonymous with lead-poisoned water after government officials, looking to save money, switched the city’s water supply from Detroit city water to water from the corrosive Flint river.

Once the city had switched, the number of children with elevated lead exposure doubled; residents reported unexplained rashes and losing hair. An unpublished study recently found fetal deaths in Flint increased by 58% during the crisis.

...Despite having endured lead-laden tap water for years, Flint pays some of the highest water rates in the US. Several residents cited bills upwards of $200 per month for tap water they refuse to touch.

But just two hours away, in the tiny town of Evart, creeks lined by wildflowers run with clear water. The town is so small, the fairground, McDonald’s, high school and church are all within a block. But in a town of only 1,503 people, there are a dozen wells pumping water from the underground aquifer. This is where the beverage giant Nestlé pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles that are sold all over the midwest for around $1.

To use this natural resource, Nestlé pays $200 per year.

Now, Nestlé wants more Michigan water. In a recent permit application, the company asked to pump 210m gallons per year from Evart, a 60% increase, and for no more than it pays today. In the coming months, the state is set to decide whether Nestlé can to pump even more.

Community Water, Maine - Nestlé (Poland Spring) pays no corporate taxes in the state of Maine. Though their US headquarters is based in Connecticut, we understand they use the tax shelter of Delaware.

The governor of Delaware is now speaking out and warns us of corporate welfare and how it is not in the best interest of citizen taxpayers.

"I was as guilty as any elected official at playing this game. But it’s a game that should stop. There’s a better way to compete for would be better for taxpayers if these kinds of cash incentives could be invested instead in such things as schools and infrastructure."

Tuesday, September 26

LePage threatens sheriffs for not abusing immigrants

WCSH - In a radio interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham , Governor LePage revealed he plans to issue an executive order to remove two sheriffs from their duties who, he claims, say they won't work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

LePage added there was a "likelihood you're going to be hearing some stories about some sheriffs being removed from their duties."

Ingraham asked if there were two sheriffs in question, LePage said there was one in particular and one that hadn't come out and said he wasn't going to participate. "But he's sending signs he's going to ignore them. If they do, it's going to be to their dismay."

According to state law, the Governor has the power to remove a sheriff after receiving a complaint about said sheriff from the county commissioners. It is not clear whether or not Governor LePage has, in fact, received a complaint from the Cumberland County Commissioners about Sheriff Kevin Joyce.

Saturday, September 23

State legislator switches to Green Party

After unenrolling from the Democratic Party this spring, Maine State Rep. Ralph Chapman announced Thursday he has joined the Maine Green Independent Party, becoming the only Green state representative in Maine, and the first since John Eder finished his term in the 122nd Legislature in 2006.
In a letter announcing his enrollment with the Maine Greens, Chapman wrote, "I have joined the Maine Green Independent Party in order to highlight the democracy-diminishing effects of corporate funding influence on the statehouse party leadership of Maine's two largest political parties."

The Greens, he notes, do not accept corporate donations, in contrast to the Democrats and Republicans. "I saw more clearly," Chapman said, "that even our state legislature is largely controlled by accountability to funding sources, not people. The Maine Green Independent Party offers an alternative. In essence, the Maine Green Independent Party is demonstrating, by its actions, how to behave as though the Citizens' United Supreme Court decision were overturned."
Chapman is in his fourth term serving District 133, which comprises Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Sedgwick and Surry. He sits on the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

Collins can't make up her mind whether to support one of the worst bills of recent times

WCSH- As for health care, the latest and almost certainly last Republican plan this year for repealing and replacing Obamacare is in deep trouble. Collins has not come out against it, but says she has serious reservations and is leaning against it, despite intense pressure on her from President Trump, Vice President Pence and Governor LePage.

“The governor in particular has stepped up his efforts,” Collins says. “In the end I just have to do what I think is right for the people of Maine and for our country. If I don’t do that, I can’t look myself in the mirror.”

Friday, September 22

What a depressed economy looks like

Maine Center for Economic Progres - Tens of thousands of Mainers disheartened by the dim prospects of good paying, middle-class jobs have given up looking for work. Some are discouraged to the point of despair, turning to substance misuse and even suicide. That’s the stark and somber finding of MECEP’s latest report, The State of Working Maine 2017.
Using numerous data sets and incorporating the latest national research, the State of Working Maine demonstrates how Maine’s stagnant economy, rising inequality, and the erosion of the American Dream have resulted in chronic levels of deep poverty, poor health, and lack of work. While the entire country was hit hard by the Great Recession, the State of Working Maine lays bare the extent to which Maine’s recovery has been especially slow, with damaging consequences.

At the most basic level, Maine’s economy is smaller than before the Great Recession. Maine’s Gross Domestic Product, once adjusted for inflation, is 1% below 2007 levels. Meanwhile, New England’s economy grew 8% over the decade, and the national economy grew 12%.

Wednesday, September 20

Cumberland County Sheriff won't hold ICE detainees past scheduled release

Press Herald - Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce will no longer cooperate with requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold prisoners at the county jail beyond their scheduled release, becoming the first jurisdiction in the state to take a stance against the controversial practice.

The policy shift comes as federal agents ramp up immigration enforcement across the nation, including in Cumberland County, where the number of ICE detainees has more than doubled from last year.

Joyce announced the decision in a Sept. 14 letter to ICE officials in South Portland, citing recent federal court decisions that undercut ICE’s authority to detain someone without providing a warrant from a judge or showing probable cause.

New England losing 65 acres of forest a day

Press Herald-New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day – a loss that comes at a time when public funding for preservation of open land, both state and federal, has also been on the decline in all six states.

That’s the conclusion of a report by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University. The study found public funding for land conservation in New England dropped by half between 2008 and 2014 to $62 million per year, slightly lower than 2004 levels. During the same time, the pace of regional land conservation slowed from an average of 333,000 acres per year in the early 2000s to about 50,000 acres per year since 2010.

Tuesday, September 19

Portland turns Columbus Day into Indigenous Peoples' Day

Press Herald - The Portland City Council voted unanimously Monday to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The vote came after nearly an hour of public comment.

Portland became the latest municipality in Maine to recognize indigenous people instead of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who arrived in the New World on Oct. 12, 1492. Belfast was the first to make the switch in 2015, Bangor did so last month and Orono followed suit last week. Later Monday night, the Brunswick Town Council voted 8-1 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

While one resident at Monday’s meeting called Christopher Columbus “a murderer,” another said that eliminating the Columbus Day holiday in Portland “is like a slap in the face to the Italians who reside here.” public domain

Sam Smith - It's probably too late to do anything about it, but "indigenous people" has always struck me a phrase invented by liberal academics or bureaucrats. Real people don't use words like that for everyday descriptions. I much prefer terms used in Canada like First Nation or First People. Just a suggestion. 

Saturday, September 16

Effects of Gulf of Maine warming

Colin Woodward, Portland Press Herald [The Gulf of Maine] is the second fastest warming part of the world ocean, with plenty of implications for life here, marine and human alike.

New research -- by a team including many of the same scientists who worked on the previous studies -- shows Gulf summers are getting longer by two days a year, and that almost all the annual warming is concentrated in the summer months meaning, among other things, less of a cold-water "speed bump" is present to protect the Maine coast from hurricanes.

The AP followed up on this story later in the week.
In recent weeks, right whales have been dying in large numbers in the northeast Atlantic -- possibly due in part to secondary climate effects -- and researchers have estimated that many commercial fish species in the Gulf may run out of thermally appropriate habitat in coming decades.

Thursday, September 14

Mainers without health insurance stays steady

Sun Journal - New U.S. Census Bureau figures show that the number of Maine residents without health insurance stayed steady from 2015 to 2016. According to a new federal report released Tuesday , Maine's uninsured rate of 8.6 percent is a drop from 11.2 percent in 2013. About 106,000 Mainer residents lacked health insurance last year, down from 147,000 residents in 201

Tuesday, September 12

The fight for ranked choice voting

Another LePage legacy: food insecurity

Beacon-A new report released this week from the US Department of Agriculture found that while the nation as a whole has continued to make progress against hunger, over the last year Maine has dropped from 9th worst in the country to 7th worst in food insecurity. Over the past decade, food insecurity in Maine has increased by 27%.

Maine ranks even worse, third in the country, for the percentages of households falling into the even-more dire category of “very low food security.”

Food insecurity in Maine is now 25% worse than the national average, with 16.4% of households are food insecure compared to 13% nationally. To be “food insecure” means that a person or family does not have reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food. 7.4 percent of Maine households now have very low food security.

Thursday, September 7

Portlanders will get to vote on rents rezoning rules

Press Herald - The Portland City Council voted early Thursday morning to put two citizen initiatives on the November ballot. One measure seeks to rein in rising rents and the other would give neighbors more say in the city’s rezoning process.

Wednesday, September 6

Longer summers in the Gulf of Maine

Environmental News Network - Summer is coming to the Gulf of Maine, longer and warmer than ever — as much as two months longer. That’s the message of a new research article by a team of scientists led by Andrew Thomas of the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences. The study, published in the journal Elementa, examined the seasonality of sea surface temperature trends along the northeast coast of the United States.

For all but a small region immediately north of Cape Hatteras at the southern edge of their study area, the researchers confirmed that surface water temperatures have an increasing trend over the last three decades, with the Gulf of Maine warming at about 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade.

Monday, September 4

LePage's war on Medicaid

Greg Kaufmann, Talk Poverty - Recent congressional proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would have reduced Medicaid enrollment by up to 15 million people, and, despite being defeated, congressional Republicans aren’t done yet: It’s likely they will attempt to gut the program during the upcoming budget debate. Meanwhile, more than half a dozen conservative governors are trying to take a hatchet to the program—at the open invitation of the Trump administration—through a vehicle known as a “Medicaid waiver.”

Waivers are intended for state pilot projects designed to improve health care coverage for vulnerable populations. But that’s not what conservative governors are pursuing. In Maine, for example, as citizens prepare to vote on a referendum that would force the state to expand Medicaid to 70,000 people, Gov. Paul LePage (R) is moving in the opposite direction. His Department of Health and Human Services has requested permission to create a 20-hour-a-week work requirement, impose co-pays and premiums, and implement a $5,000 asset cap on Medicaid beneficiaries. The result, health care experts warn, will be that low-income people in Maine will be kicked off the program.

LePage’s administration argues that the work requirement will help people earn more and become more self-sufficient. But according to Hannah Katch, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a former administrator of the California Medicaid program, 80 percent of Medicaid patients nationwide are already in working families. “The vast majority of people who aren’t working are either taking care of a family member, have a physical or behavioral health condition, or are in school, or have a combination of these factors,” said Katch. “While a work requirement is unlikely to help them get a job, it is very likely to take away health coverage from people who can’t work.”

Saturday, September 2

Maine urban unemployment remains low

Maine Public Broadcasting - Labor markets remained strong in all three of Maine’s major urban areas in July.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found unemployment low and edging lower in Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and the Portland-South Portland labor markets.

The Portland-area jobless figure was the lowest: 2.8 percent. Lewiston-Auburn, at 3.4 percent, was still a bit lower than the state’s unemployment rate last month. Bangor was a bit higher than the state figure, at 3.7 percent.

For all of Maine’s metro areas, unemployment percentages this July were lower than they were in July 2016.

Sunday, August 27

Lobster union helping with sales

Press Herald- A few months after buying a lobster pound and processing plant, Maine’s lobstering union is now tapping its connection to unions across the country to rack up online retail sales and reap greater financial returns for its members.

The union is now shipping live Maine lobster caught by its 400 members anywhere in the country. The path these lobsters will take on their way from the ocean floor to your door is completely unionized, from the Vinalhaven lobsterman who traps it to the Rockland truck driver who picks it up from a transfer boat to the Lamoine plant worker who packs it to the UPS teamster who delivers it.

Friday, August 25

Maine student education costs remain too high

The Maine Center for Economic Policy’s analysis of a report released by the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities reveals that Maine students at four-year public colleges still bear too high a burden for higher education. Since the Great Recession, tuition at Maine’s public colleges and universities have increased by $1,198 or 14.1 percent over the past decade. Maine also ranks 21st in the country for in-state tuition costs. Despite a slight increase in state funding this past year, real per-student spending is still below pre-Recession levels. As a result, Mainers will still find it harder to afford college and will still graduate with large student debt burdens.

Over the past ten years, from 2008 to 2017, state funding cuts have forced layoffs, consolidations, and program cuts resulting in reduced quality. Of the 900 jobs lost, 523 staff, 322 faculty and 57 administrators were laid off.

The median federal debt load for graduates of the University of Maine’s flagship campus is $26,000, significantly higher than the debt burden for graduates of Bowdoin ($20,000), Bates ($16,000), or Colby Colleges ($19,000). Reductions in state funding for public universities and a lack of investment in state aid programs mean that, for many families, public colleges are no longer providing affordable access to education.

To renew investment in higher education—and prevent further disinvestment—Maine should reject calls for tax cuts and consider fairer options for new revenues.

Thursday, August 24

Interior Secretary back northern Maine monument

Sun Journal - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to retain the newly created Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine, but he might recommend adjustments to the White House. Share E-mail this story Print this story

His recommendation the 87,500-acre (35,410-hectare) monument came a year to the day that then-President Barack Obama formally announced the land designation.

President Donald Trump has accused previous administrations of turning a 1906 law that lets the president protect federal land into a "massive federal land grab."

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is vehemently opposed, saying federal ownership could stymie economic development in the region. He even went so far as to prevent state workers from installing road signs to direct motorists to the property.

Wednesday, August 23

LePage invents some Maine history

Bangor Daily News - Calling himself “a history buff,” Gov. Paul LePage revised Civil War history as we know it in a Tuesday radio interview when discussing the racially charged violence in Virginia and saying “7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy.”

Maine State Archivist David Cheever said that approximately 30 people are confirmed to have gone from Maine to the Confederacy, including students who left Bowdoin College in Brunswick and what is now Colby College in Waterville to fight, but they could have been from other parts of the country.

Maine’s history as one of the proudest Union states is well-documented. It sent about 73,000 people to war — a higher proportion than any other state — and more than 9,000 died, though there were some pockets of Southern sympathizers.

Friday, August 18

Nestle sued over character of its Maine water

Bangor Daily News - A group of bottled water drinkers has brought a class action lawsuit against the company behind Poland Spring, alleging that the Maine business has long deceived consumers by mislabeling common groundwater.

The civil suit was brought by 11 people from the Northeast who collectively spent thousands of dollars on Poland Spring brand water in recent years. It is seeking millions of dollars in damages for a nationwide class and appears to hinge on whether the sources of Poland Spring water meet the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of a spring.

The suit comes as the company, a subsidiary of the Swiss food giant Nestle, is looking to expand its operations in Maine.

LePage accually said this. . .

NY Post - Maine’s Republican governor likened the removal of Confederate statues across the country to tearing down monuments to those who died in the terror attacks on Sept. 11.

“To me, it’s just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11. It will come to that,” Gov. Paul LePage told Maine radio station WGAN-AM in an interview Thursday.

Thursday, August 17

Poland Springs to grab over 2 billion gallons of Maine water

MainePublic Broadcasting - The Rumford Water District has signed a deal with Poland Spring Water Co., that will allow it to draw up to 150 million gallons of water per year for 15 years, from two district wells.

But Water District Superintendant Brian Gagnon says, under the deal, the town's needs will come first. "We come first, and we're holding an amount of up to a million gallons a day that would be used for the townspeople."

Gagnon says in addition to estimated $200,000 to $300,000 in revenues a year from the sale of the water to Poland Spring, Rumford will also get just over $1 million from the company over the next four years, to use as it sees fit.

Mt. Desert towns rebel against cruse shiip damage to lobstering

Tuesday, August 15

A school where students work as well as study

Maine Public Broadcasting - For most kids, school is a focus on those three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. But more and more, educators are trying to teach students skills they’ll need on the job, too, such as work ethic and teamwork. At one coastal Maine school, that curriculum includes real work.

On a small plot of land behind the Harpswell Coastal Academy, sixth-grader Easton Dundore scoops shovelfuls of mulch into a small hoop house he helped design to grow vegetables. Dundore says he spends most school days out here, working with three or four other students.

“So this project is mostly for like, team building and career development. And communication,” he says. “I feel like it’s good hands-on work. I feel like that connects to my brain and helps me learn better. I think if I was inside writing papers about career development, it would almost be a little less effective than being out here, doing this, with other people.”

Maine state worker would get pay raise if they give up union right

Press Herald - Negotiators for the largest state employees union have agreed to a new two-year contract that would increase wages by 6 percent while also giving Republican Gov. Paul LePage a long-sought victory in his effort to eliminate mandatory union fees for workers in jobs represented by unions.

Under the contract, which will go out to members of the Maine State Employees Association, Local 1989, for a ratification vote on Aug. 30, state workers who choose not to join the union would not have to pay the fees that are collected to cover the union’s cost of collective bargaining and other services, including lobbying the Legislature.

Monday, August 14

How the Department of Health and Human Services has failed Mainers

Plan afoot to restrict prisoner visits

Sun Journal - Motivated at least in part by a desire to keep drugs out of the hands of prisoners, the state is eyeing a proposal that would eliminate a requirement that inmates in county jails have access to contact visits. Share Sun Journal file photo

Joseph Jackson, coordinator of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, said Monday the move would bar prisoners — even those who haven’t been convicted — from giving a child a hug or holding a spouse’s hand.

He called the proposal “a giant step backward” and harmful to the goal of getting people back on track.

“They are attempting to take away human touch and the ability of inmates to see their loved ones in person,” Jackson said.

The new policy proposal, which runs counter to a move in the Legislature to expand visitation options, would provide for “video only” visits that often cost the family money.

8 Democrats running for governor

WCSH - Progressive organizer and former state Rep. Diane Russell is now one of eight Democratic candidates for Maine governor.

Russell has called for the Democratic Party to eliminate superdelegates and backed presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The rest of the field includes veteran and attorney Adam Cote of Springvale, progressive lobbyist and activist Betsy Sweet of Hallowell, former state Sen. Jim Boyle of Gorham and retired Coast Guard commander and health care CEO Patrick Eisenhart of Augusta

Saturday, August 12

Maine health insurers plan much higher charges

Press Herald - Maine’s top insurance regulator plans to approve double-digit rate increases for all three of the state’s providers of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The increases for 2018 would be approved if the rate requests were revised to amounts slightly lower than the health insurers requested, said Eric Cioppa, superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance, in written orders posted to the bureau’s website. Cioppa said he would approve revised increases of 27.1 percent for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 17.5 percent for Maine Community Health Options and 18.8 percent for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Mainers to consider Medicaid expansion this fall

WCSH - A question on the Nov. 7 ballot would expand Medicaid for adults under 65 — for a single person who earns below $16,000 and for a family of two less than $22,000. Liberal groups and health care providers say that roughly 70,000 low-income Mainers could access health care including drug treatment as overdose deaths rise.

Wednesday, August 9

Mayhew leads Collins

Maine Pubic Broadcasting - A telephone survey earlier this month by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling shows Republican Mary Mayhew leading Sen. Susan Collins by more than 10 points in a head-to-head race for the Republican nomination for governor. Several Maine political scientists say the poll points out a problem for Collins, but warn that it's still very early in the game – if there’s a “game” at all. There are any number of reasons to be wary of early polls. First, the primary is not until next June, and Collins has not actually said that she will run. That has not lessened interest in the race for governor that's already spawned 11 announced candidates. In addition to Mayhew, there are six Democrats, two Greens, an independent, and a Libertarian.