The Coastal Packet

Sunday, September 25

Congressional seats steady

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has a commanding lead over Republican challenger Mark Holbrook headed into the November election, according to the latest polling for Maine’s 1st District. Pingree, a Democrat seeking a fifth term in Congress, had the support of 64 percent of likely voters versus 22 percent favoring Holbrook in a Portland Press Herald poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is widening a lead over Democratic challenger Emily Cain in the race to represent Maine’s 2nd District, according to a new poll by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.Poliquin is now leading Cain by 10 percentage points among likely voters in the 2nd District,

Friday, September 23

Maine's lobster industry leaps

Press Herald - Maine’s lobster industry is on pace for its best year ever, having sold $103 million worth of lobster abroad in the first half of 2016. That’s more than twice as much as the $48.3 million it sold over the same period in 2015, and is even better than in 2014, when Maine had sold $54.7 million worth of lobster by July and ended the year with a record $365.5 million in foreign sales.

State trade officials credit this year’s 113 percent jump in midyear exports to huge growth in Canadian sales, which is basically Maine helping to fill its neighbor’s global orders, and a 43 percent growth in exports to China.

Business groups say Maine’s workforce needs more immigrants

Exceptional drought in parts of Maine

Monday, September 19

Maine ranks 12th in food insecurity

Beacon: There are just over 8,000 farms in Maine, and Alicyn Smart, executive director at the Maine Farm Bureau, said it’s a cruel irony that more than 200,000 Mainers are still going hungry. She said many local farmers want to do their part to change that. “Maine is fortunate enough that we are increasing the number of farms within the state,” Smart said. “But at the same time, we also have the highest number of food-insecure individuals within the state. ”
Maine ranks first among the New England states and 12th in the nation for food insecurity – those who don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

Friday, September 16

Bath Iron Works could lose 1200 jobs

WCSH - Bath Iron Works said 1200 jobs could be at risk following an announcement on Thursday by the US Coast Guard that BIW will not get a contract to manufacture Coast Guard cutter vessels. According to the Portland Press Herald, Bath Iron Works has lost an estimated $10.5 billion contract to build a new generation of cutters for the Coast Guard.  “The contract was awarded to Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Florida,”

Thursday, September 15

Maine's refusal of Medicaid funds hurting state

Maine Beacon - Several recent studies and analyses of the 31 states that have accepted federal money to increase access to health care demonstrate the continued benefits of doing so. The research confirms that Medicaid expansion is a win-win-win – good for patients, good for the states, and good for everyone with private health insurance.

Maine’s continued refusal to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funding is expensive. It’s expensive for the state’s bottom line, for the health of low-income Mainers, and for the pocket books of all of us with private health insurance. Maine lawmakers need to heed the mounting evidence that accepting federal funds increases health care access and affordability and will be a boon to the state’s economy and the well-being of all Mainers.

Monday, September 12

LePage wants to privatize welfare

Republican Gov. Paul LePage wants to turn over the administration of Maine's $62.5 million welfare program to a New York City-based nonprofit that's faced a dozen state and federal lawsuits since 2013.

Saturday, September 10

Maine faith leaders get involved

Maine Beacon - At a gathering in front of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, pastors and rabbis representing ten different communities of faith urged support for a ‘Yes’ vote on Question 4 on the November ballot, the referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage.

“Our call as Christians is to love and support our most vulnerable neighbors, and the current economic landscape – where wages have stagnated since the early 1970s – requires us to speak out on their behalf,” said Bishop Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. “This measured, incremental approach to achieving a moral economy will help our fellow citizens across the state. An economy where all work is justly valued benefits all Mainers.”

If passed, Question 4 will raise the minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $9 in 2017 and then by a dollar each year to $12 in 2020. After that it will increase annually with the cost of living. The subminimum wage for service workers who receive tips will also gradually increase from $3.75 an hour to the adjusted minimum wage.

The initiative is endorsed by the Maine Council of Churches, which represents the Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Swedenborgian, Unitarian Universalist, and United Church of Christ denominations, and also by individual congregations and faith leaders across the state.

“This year’s minimum wage referendum addresses the woeful inadequacy of the current minimum wage,” said Father Michael Seavey of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. “These are not simply jobs for young people to have some extra spending money. They are not infrequently critical means of family survival.”

Thursday, September 8

Clinton leads in Maine

Sun Journal -Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton led Republican Donald Trump by 9 percentage points in a new Maine poll , but deep polarization leaves an opening for Trump to win the state’s northern half.

The survey from Emerson College in Boston is a fascinating demonstration of the long-observed “two Maines” political conflict between the liberal south and more conservative north, but it would be unprecedented if the election went this way.

Statewide, Clinton got 44 percent to Trump’s 35 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 12 percent and Green Jill Stein barely registering at 2 percent among a sample of 800 voters with a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

As they are nationally, Clinton and Trump are deeply unpopular in Maine: Trump was found unfavorable by nearly 64 percent of those surveyed, with Clinton at 54 percent. Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who has endorsed Trump, was at 57 percent.

Clinton is crushing Trump in the 1st District with 52 percent to his 30 percent, while Trump leads Clinton with 40.6 percent to her 36.3 percent [in the 2nd].

His lead is important, because Maine is one of two states that splits its presidential electors between districts. If Clinton wins statewide and in the 1st District while Trump wins in the 2nd District, she wins three electors and he gets the last one.

Wednesday, August 31

Great thoughts of Paul LePage

Assembled by the Portland Press Herald
 Such as; "The Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad — yet."

Monday, August 29

Snowe gave to LePage

Press Herald - When U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe made her surprise announcement in February that she would not seek re-election, she condemned the “atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies” in Washington and stressed the “vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish.”

But in Maine, her political donations this year went exclusively to Republicans, including Gov. Paul LePage and a number of legislative candidates who few would identify with the political center.

Sunday, August 28

Maine churches speak out

One of the reasons we have been cursed with the likes of Donald Trump is because institutions of rationality and decency - such as academia and non-evangelical churches - have been far more quiet then they were, say, in the Sixties. Here's a pleasant exception.

Sun Journal, ME -  The Maine Council of Churches on Saturday weighed in on Gov. Paul LePage's profanity-laced voicemail to a state lawmaker, calling it a "vitriolic personal attack."

"The words he chose to use in the message and interview (after) were unspeakable — and yet he spoke them, disgracing the office of governor and dishonoring our state in the eyes of the nation," read the statement from council spokeswoman Rev. Jane Field.

On Friday, LePage made national headlines after audio came out of a message he'd left for state Rep. Drew Gattine calling the Westbrook democrat, among other things, "a son-of-a-b****, socialist (expletive)." He followed that up by telling a reporter that he'd like to invite Gattine to a duel where he'd point the gun "right between" his eyes.

LePage said later he'd left the message and made that comment because he believed Gattine had called him a racist, which Gattine denied.

The Maine Council of Churches represents nine denominations and their 550 congregations across the state. The council has invited political candidates this summer to sign a "Civil Discourse Covenant," agreeing to act respectfully, avoid personal attacks and avoid "untrue statements."

Field urged LePage to consider signing it.

Saturday, August 27

LePage in rage

Talking Points Memo -  Maine Gov. Paul LePage, left a bizarre and threatening voicemail for a Democratic state lawmaker he thought called him racist:

“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the message begins. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker.”

“I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker,” the governor continued. “You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

The governor later called [a] news crew to his home to continuing slamming Gattine as “a snot-nosed little guy” that he would love to challenge to an old-fashioned duel.

“I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” he reportedly said. “We would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.” 

Huffington Post -    LePage was widely criticized earlier this year for claiming men with names like “Smoothie, D-Money and Shifty” were coming into his state to deal drugs. Earlier this week, he said he keeps a binder with mugshots of all the drug dealers arrested in Maine, and he claimed that 90 percent of the people in that binder were black or Hispanic.

Note that 95 percent of Maine residents are white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

LePage first denied that Maine police officers were racially profiling people - an obvious concern if they really are arresting almost exclusively people of color for drug crimes.

Then the governor suggested that people of color in Maine were “the enemy.”

“Look, a bad guy is a bad guy, I don’t care what color it is. When you go to war, if you know the enemy, the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, you shoot at red, don’t you?” he said. “You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy. And the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority right now coming in are people of color or people of Hispanic origin. I can’t help that. I just can’t help it. Those are the facts.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine had pointed out Thursday that research shows blacks and whites deal drugs at similar rates.

“According to the governor, Maine police are nine times more likely to arrest people of color for selling drugs than white people, even though we know white people are just as likely to commit drug offenses,” Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, said in a statement. “This alarming disparity in arrests raises significant concerns that Maine law enforcement is participating in unconstitutional racial profiling.

Monday, August 22

93,000 Maine women will get $3200 pay raise if wage referendum passes

Maine's climate change future

This chart, from the NY Times, show how hot America will be in 2100. Note Maine's status on the low side. This supports something we have been arguing for some time: Maine needs to expect, and plan wisely for, a significant population growth thanks to climate change. Among the things to consider is a new urbanism which places high value on nearby agricultural and open space. Because of the worse weather elsewhere, Maine is going to have to grow more of its own food and needs to plan for it.