The Coastal Packet

Monday, November 23

Majority of Lewiston council members endorse Chin

Four of the seven members of the Lewiston City Council endorsed Ben Chin’s campaign for Mayor in an event at Rainbow Bicycle on Lisbon Street.

Word: Syrian refugees

Maine ACLU - The resettlement of refugees is determined by the U.S. State Department. States don’t have veto power in this area. It would violate the Constitution for a governor to bar an entire group of refugees from coming into their state because of their nationality.

Munjoy Hill News - Dozens of people showed up to sign a poster tacked to the outside of 77 Congress Street that is a letter to Governor Paul LePage informing him that many are opposed to his conviction not to allow Syrian refugees to come to Maine,

Problems in the Maine Independent Green Party

Press Herald  story

Steven Biel tweets: In how many places is the Green Party relevant enough  to make the front page news in the first place?

Friday, November 20

50,000 waiting for their Bean boots

Christian Science Monitor - More than a century after their conception as hunting accessories, L.L.Bean’s signature boots are an unlikely item to be among fashion’s most coveted.

For a third year in a row, the rubber-soled – and not quite aesthetically pleasing – “Duck” shoes are now on back order. Even after hiring 200 extra workers and purchasing a $1 million rubber-molding-injection machine, the Freeport, Maine, company is still struggling to keep up with demand with more than 50,000 people currently awaiting their order.

Outside the hunting crowd, the two-toned boots have long had a following on East Coast college campuses for their New England brand and preppy appeal. But sometime in 2012, mainstream fashion joined in its rave. InStyle, Glamour, The New York Times, and Us Weekly, among others, all wrote about the shoe, deeming it a must-have of the season.

L.L.Bean's current list of backorders is steep, but it’s only half of the backlogged demand last year. In fact, after hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts rushed to get their hands on a pair of the boots last winter, the company couldn’t clear the backlog until July.

Number of homeless Mainers drop

Press Herald - The percentage of Maine’s homeless who were without shelter this year was the lowest of any state and the overall number of homeless residents was down 13 percent from 2014, compared with a 2 percent decrease nationally. However, despite significant year-to-year fluctuation over the past six years, the overall number of homeless people in Maine was about the same this year as it was in 2010, while the number nationally has decreased 11.4 percent during that period.

Thursday, November 19

Ranked choice voting has enough signatures

Press Herald - The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting said that the Maine Secretary of State has certified the campaign’s signatures to appear on the 2016 ballot. If successful, the proposal would swap Maine’s current election system for one in which the winning candidates for Congress and state offices are selected by ranked-choice, or instant run-off, voting. Now that the petitions have been certified, the Legislature will have the opportunity to ratify the proposal when it reconvenes next year. However, lawmakers have traditionally rejected ranked-choice proposals and will likely let voters decide the issue at the ballot box next November.

Monday, November 16

What it takes to win a referendum

Mainers for Accountable Elections, leaders in the successful referendum on the topic, worked truly hard to win. It made 165,712 phone calls and knocked on 53.825 doors. Chnage doesn't come easy.

Wednesday, November 11

GOP state representative lies about Chin

Beacon - “On December 8th, voters in Lewiston should just say NO to this anti-Christian bigot,” wrote State Representative Lawrence Lockman, a Republican from Amherst, on his legislative Facebook page, referring to progressive mayoral candidate Ben Chin.

“Chin hates America, hates Americans, and hates Christians,” continued Lockman.
Lockman’s attacks seem to be based on an online ad paid for and distributed by the Maine Republican Party, which uses out-of-context quotes and a series of ellipses in an attempt to portray Chin as anti-Christian.

In fact, the partial quotes were taken from a sermon delivered by Chin in 2009 at Trinity Church in Lewiston in defense of Christianity and the compassion of the gospel. Far from being anti-Christian, Chin is a lay Episcopal preacher and is deeply religious.

Tuesday, November 10

Portland seeking to build broadband

Press Herald - Portland is seeking to build a municipal broadband network to offer affordable high-speed broadband to its residents and businesses. The city last week issued a request for proposals to provide a fiber-optic connection from its buildings in downtown Portland to new municipal facilities off the peninsula on Canco Road. The city says the connection could serve as “phase one” for a municipal broadband network that would offer affordable high-speed broadband service to residents, similar to what South Portland, Sanford and Rockport announced within the last year.

Monday, November 9

Maine ranks low in state integrity

According to the Center for Public Integrity Maine ranks 42nd in state government integrity.

Portland over top in coffee

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Portland ME is one of the top five cities in coffee shops per capita.

Sunday, November 8

Progressives gain in Lewston-Auburn

Grady Burns, Maine Beacon -  Lewiston-Auburn (the second and fifth largest cities in the state, respectively) have quite suddenly re-appeared on the radar in this off-year election cycle.

By far the biggest draw for onlookers and pundits has been the charged and dramatic mayoral race in Lewiston, where the first round winner and progressive standard-bearer Ben Chin will go head-to-head with right-wing incumbent Bob Macdonald in a runoff election sometime early next month, after Chin fell just short of hitting the 50% threshold in a five-way race that brought out the worst and best impulses of our community. While the ultimate outcome of that race has yet to be determined (and there is still plenty of time to get involved), a quiet revolution occurred down the ticket, finding four progressive candidates capturing a narrow majority on the Lewiston City Council. Throw in three progressive newcomers (including, I am happy to report, myself) winning seats on the Auburn City Council, and you have the ingredients for a local political movement that is brewing on both sides of the Androscoggin River.

... As someone who knocked on hundreds of voters’ doors this year in this community, I chalk this phenomenon up to two key factors, the first being that we all each knocked on hundreds of doors across the community. Seriously: the tide that lifted up these races was powered by the energy of the candidates and their supporters, several of whom are young rising stars in Maine’s progressive movement who understood that successful campaigns are built on engaging with constituents and doing the work of pounding the pavement to meet people where they are at. Just as importantly, to these doors we each carried with us positive messages of visions for communities that are both vibrant and equitable, challenging voters to imagine cities that worked for all residents and stood welcoming to those who would come to L/A looking to lay down their roots and build fulfilling lives.

Despite the rhetoric claiming otherwise, the Twin Cities’ voters just showed the state that candidates can run– and win– in Maine’s working-class heartland by laying out bold, authentic, and unapologetic progressive visions for the state’s future, even in the face of cynical attempts to divide and intimidate us into backing down.

Friday, November 6

Next: Drive for $12 minimum wage

Press Herald - A day after Portland voters rejected a $15-an-hour minimum wage, advocates were already focused on the next target: a statewide minimum wage of $12 an hour by 2020.

Mainers for Fair Wages said it collected more than 30,000 signatures at the polls Tuesday for a statewide referendum on the $12 wage. With more than 90,000 signatures in hand, that puts the organization well above the 61,123 needed to qualify for a spot on the 2016 ballot, said Mike Tipping, spokesman for the group, which is backed by the Maine People’s Alliance, the Maine Small Business Coalition and the Maine AFL-CIO. Related Headlines

Map: Minimum wage laws across the U.S.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 4.18.09 PM Related Headlines

Off-peninsula voters sealed fate of Portland’s minimum wage proposal

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“We doubled our signature goal across the state” using volunteers collecting signatures at more than 100 polls, Tipping said.

He said those volunteers heard from people who agreed that the state’s current minimum wage of $7.50 is too low. And while $15 an hour might have been too much of an increase for Portland voters to swallow, Tipping said Mainers for Fair Wages believes $12 an hour will be more palatable.

That was the case Tuesday in Tacoma, Washington, where a two-step voting process had residents first endorsing a higher minimum wage, and then selecting an increase to $12 over an option to increase it to $15.

“People realize that a living wage in Maine is closer to $16 an hour,” Tipping said. “Our campaign doesn’t get us there, but we need to get closer.”

An increase to $12 an hour would be welcome news to Ambre Davidson, a single mother in Portland who voted for the $15 minimum wage Tuesday even though she doubted it would pass.

She said $12 an hour seems more reasonable and more likely to pass, and would make “a huge impact.”

“I think that’s just a great idea,” she said of the Mainers for Fair Wages referendum. “I think that’s a livable wage, or it should be.”

Davidson works two jobs: at a sandwich shop on Munjoy Hill and for a limousine service. She makes about $10 an hour at the sandwich shop, and about $7.50 an hour, plus tips, driving a limo. She said an increase of even a couple of dollars an hour would make it significantly easier for her to make ends meet.

Tipping said it was encouraging that even after being outspent by opponents more than 100 to 1, the $15 minimum wage was supported by 42 percent of Portland voters. And, with next year being a presidential election year, turnout should be significantly higher, which he thinks will mean more supporters for the $12 measure.

Chris Hall, chief executive of the Portland Regional Chamber and head of the opposition to the $15 minimum wage, agreed that voters who backed the increase sent a message.

“There’s no doubt that income inequality is a major political issue in our society,” Hall said. “We may disagree about the number, but I don’t think we disagree about the issue.” Hall didn’t know if the chamber would oppose the proposal to increase the minimum wage to $12. He said Portland businesses, many of which argued that a $15 minimum wage would put them out of business or at least force layoffs, will have an opportunity to digest the impact of an increase when the City Council-approved minimum wage rises to $10.10 in January.

Under the Mainers for Fair Wages proposal, the $12 minimum wage would be phased in, starting at $9 an hour in 2017 and increasing $1 a year until it reaches $12 in 2020. After that, it would rise at the same rate as the cost of living. Businesses, Hall said, want to avoid a big jump right away, which they worry could be a shock to the economy.

But by 2020, he said, many Portland businesses might already be paying those wages, or at least be close. The city’s minimum wage will go to $10.68 an hour in January 2017 and then rise with the rate of inflation.

“Essentially, we’re already in that slot” for $12 an hour by 2020, Hall said, who noted that few businesses in the city pay the current state minimum of $7.50 an hour.

Many of the businesses that opposed $15 an hour supported the increase to $10.10, Hall said, and voters around the state will be able to see what impact that has in Portland by the time a vote on the $12 minimum rolls around.

Already, Hall said, businesses are saying they’re more concerned with finding qualified workers than the impending increase in the minimum wage come January.

Tom MacMillan, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor on the Portland Green Independent Party ticket, said his organization is not sure what role, if any, it may play in the $12 minimum wage vote.

The Greens spearheaded the signature-collection drive to get the $15 an hour referendum on the Portland ballot.

“The fight never ends and we know that even $12 an hour is not enough,” MacMillan said, but the party is unlikely to try for a statewide referendum for $15 an hour.

“There’s been no discussion of what the next step is,” he said, noting that the Greens are trying to build a party that wins elections for offices as well as one that gets referendum issues passed.

He said the party plans to meet in the next few weeks to discuss this year’s election and decide what to do next.

“We need to take a step back and figure out where we go from here, and living wages are just part of the platform,” he said.

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Business U.S. productivity slows in 3rd quarter Business Details of Pacific trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, released Business Datebook: A calendar of business events Postcard petitions delivered at Portland City Hall on Wednesday ask the city to take action on establishing a citywide minimum wage. Local Elections Off-peninsula voters sealed fate of Portland’s minimum wage proposal Recent Read Shared N.H. cancer patient sues to get ID card so she can buy pot in Maine LePage requests more drug agents, repeats vow to call up National Guard Poland man barricaded in house after domestic incident Greely Middle School students return to class after evacuation Two LePage officials expected to testify in Good Will-Hinckley hearing

But what will National Guard members do with their pot?

Press Herald - Gov. Paul LePage told legislative budget writers that the state’s drug epidemic requires a swifter, more robust law enforcement response and that he will deploy the Maine National Guard if the Legislature doesn’t act to provide more drug agents.
He later added, “You either work with me and give me some agents, or I will call the Guard up.”

Governors are considered commanders in chief of Guard units in their states, with the authority to press the Guard into service for civil emergencies. It’s unclear, however, what roles the Guard could play in responding to Maine’s drug crisis because federal law limits how military personnel can be used to enforce domestic laws.

Thursday, November 5

Minimum wage referendum gets enough signatures

Maine Beacon - Mainers for Fair Wages has now collected more than 90,000 signatures since beginning in June – well over the 61,123 needed to qualify and all but guaranteeing placement on the 2016 ballot. “The amount of support we saw yesterday at the polls for raising the minimum wage was tremendous,” said Amy Halsted, Campaign Manager for Mainers for Fair Wages.

Wednesday, November 4

Portland votes down $15 minimum wage, scenic view zoning

Portland voted down a $15 minimum wage, scenic view zoning and elected Ethan Strimlin as mayor (Green Tom Macmillan got 10%).

Mayoral runoff in Lewiston

Press Herald - Incumbent Mayor Robert Macdonald and challenger Ben Chin will face each other in a runoff election Dec. 8 after finishing at the top of a field of five candidates in Tuesday’s election. Chin received 3,673 votes to finish first, and Macdonald was second with 3,107 votes, but since neither captured more than 50 percent of the vote, they will face each other in a run-off election that could be a bellwether for the shifting issues that decide state elections.

Tuesday, November 3

Latest returns

More returns including town results

 Question 1: Clean Elections
Do you want to change Maine law to allow publicly financed state candidates to qualify for additional funds under certain limits and rules in the Maine Clean Election Act, to improve the disclosure of who pays for political ads, and to increase penalties for violations of campaign finance law?
489 of 573 precincts reporting.
Yes 106,429 54.97%
No 87,201 45.03%

Question 2: Low-income senior housing
Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue for the construction of new energy-efficient affordable homes for low-income seniors, the adaptive reuse of structures for homes for low-income seniors and the repair and weatherization of existing homes for low-income seniors, which will create jobs and will be matched by an estimated $22,600,000 in private and other funds?
489 of 573 precincts reporting.
Yes 134,285 69.22%
No 59,724 30.78%

Question 3: Transportation bond
Do you favor an $85,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $121,500,000 in federal and other funds?
489 of 573 precincts reporting.
Yes 140,881 72.66%
No 53,004 27.34%

Portland Council creates historic zone for India Street neighborhood

Press Herald