The Coastal Packet

Tuesday, February 2

Medical marijuana growers don't want broader legalization

Press Herald - Petitions calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Maine were delivered to state officials Monday, setting the stage for a public debate on whether Maine should become one of the growing number of states to relax prohibitions against the drug. But the effort met with criticism from medical marijuana growers and patients, who staged a small but loud protest when the petitions arrived at the Secretary of State’s Office in Augusta. The protesters said the referendum would put marijuana in the hands of big business and destroy the local industry that has sprung up around medicinal uses of the drug.

Monday, February 1

Pro-potters say they have enough signatures

Press Herald The group pushing for a November referendum on marijuana legalization will submit its signatures to the secretary of state Monday, paving the way for a decision on whether Maine should join the growing number of states to accept recreational use of the drug. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which backs a bill that would allow adults 21 and older to possess marijuana, said Sunday that it had collected 103,115 signatures in its quest to become the first East Coast state to legalize pot for recreational use. The campaign must submit 61,123 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Turnpike sets record with 80 million drivers in 2015

Up from 76 million in 2007

Friday, January 29

Higher Ed budget cuts hurting state

Center on Budget & Policy Priorities - Per-student funding for Maine’s public colleges and universities is 13% below 2008 levels. Since 2008, average tuition in Maine is up by $1,046 for four-year public colleges and universities.

Thursday, January 28

All but two Maine counties have seen income drop since 2000

Bangor Daily News - According to a new report from Pew Charitable Trusts analyzing census data, the median household income in most counties has dropped since 2000, especially in counties that relied on manufacturing jobs. In fact, more than 1/3 of U.S. counties saw drops of at least 10 percent, when adjusting for inflation.

Maine fared a bit worse than average, with seven of 16 counties showing an income drop of more than 10 percent. Oxford County, which has seen a steep drop in its manufactured homes industry, had the biggest drop at 14.4 percent. Penobscot County, whose paper industry losses are well-documented, had the second worst showing with a 14 percent drop.

Maine homelessness down

Maine experienced a 13 percent decrease in overall homelessness from 2014 to 2015, along with an 11.5 percent decrease in chronic homelessness and a 7.7 percent decrease in family homelessness. However, the overall number of homeless Mainers counted last year – 2,372 individuals – was about the same as 2010.

Tuesday, January 26

Maine's unemplyment lowest in nearly 15 years

Press Herald - Maine’s unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in nearly 15 years. The state Department of Labor said Tuesday that unemployment in Maine in December was 4 percent, the lowest rate since August 2001. Maine’s unemployment rate in November was 4.1 percent and in December 2014, it was 5.6 percent. The national unemployment rate in December was 5 percent

LePage wants to bring back the guillotine

Politico - Maine Gov. Paul LePage says the guillotine should be brought back so there can be public executions of drug traffickers.

In a radio interview Tuesday on WVOM, LePage said legislative proposals to increase prison sentences for drug traffickers do not do enough.

“I think the death penalty should be appropriate for people who kill Mainers,” LePage said. “We should give them an injection of the stuff they sell.”

He said he was “appalled” at critics, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, who are angry over his comments, saying they are protecting drug traffickers.

“What we ought to do is bring the guillotine back,” he said, interrupting the hosts. “We could have public executions and we could even have which hole it falls in.”


Monday, January 25

Mainers pay more for food

Press Herald - [The Bureau of Economic Analysis] recently reported that Mainers spent $3,736 per capita in 2014 on groceries. Vermonters spent $4,104 per person and Alaskans spent $3,924, while New Hampshire followed just behind Maine at $3,635. The national average is $2,780.

“We’re at the end of the food pipeline,” said [Mark] Lapping, a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Southern Maine who has studied food issues in the state and region.

With Mainers paying 34 percent more than the national average on groceries, the higher spending probably reflects their food choices as well, he said. For instance, Mainers might opt for fish instead of beef, and a pound of haddock is more expensive than ground chuck.

Between 2007 and 2012, the number of food stores in Maine grew by 18 percent, compared to an increase nationally of about 1 percent.

Lapping said Mainers’ growing reputation as foodies – witness all those restaurants in Portland that have sprung up in the last two decades – might also be playing a role.

“We now have more than 20 artisanal cheese makers in the state,” Lapping said.

“Our ace in the hole may well be our plentiful water supply,” he said.

Saturday, January 23

Friday, January 22

Medical marijuana sales up nearly 50%

MPBN -= Medical marijuana sales in Maine have jumped by nearly 50 percent over the past year, according to newly released numbers from Maine Revenue Services. Word of the increase comes as advocates for legalizing the recreational use of the drug prepare to submit more than 90,000 signatures to get a measure on this fall’s ballot.

In 2014, licensed dispensaries reported sales of just over $16 million. Last year, sales jumped to more than $23 million. The figures, tracked by Maine Revenue Services, don’t include sales from the more than 2,000 caregivers who are allowed to grow for individual patient

Tuesday, January 19

Sanders opening Portland office

Bernie Sanders will be opening a Maine headquarters Wednesday at 465 Congress Street in Portland. Doors will open at 430 pm for a 6 pm event.

Nearly 80,000 Mainers sign up for healthcare coverage

MPBN - Nearly 80,000 Maine residents have signed up for health care coverage through the platform since open enrollment began in November....Federal statistics show that more than 57,000 of the residents were in the Portland-Auburn market and the rest were in the Bangor market area.

Saturday, January 16

Packing Portland with praise

Your editor has long maintained that Maine was going to be the new Colorado of the Sixties,  a nationally recognized haven for the true and faux hip, the dissatisfied and the rebel. While that hasn't happened yet for the state as a whole, this collection of articles shows that at least Portland is on the way.

Reverb Press, 2016 - The 12 best hippie cities for stressed-out progressives in 2016...#9 . Portland, Maine. This largest Maine city and long-time top travel destination for bohos has been called the “San Francisco of the East” with its easy combination of laid-back friendliness and Old World charm. It features lots of public access to the ocean, a working waterfront whose docks are laden with lobster traps, an openness that welcomes refugees and same-sex couples, tolerates public nudity, and contains both award-winning restaurants and polite panhandlers. Portland marches to its own drummer but encourages residents and visitors to listen to their own special beat.  … And Marijuana is legal there!

Bangor Daily News, 2015 - WalletHub’s latest research set out to determine the most and least educated cities in America, looking at the largest 150 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. Of those 150, Portland-South Portland was determined to be “more educated” than all but 12 others, a strong showing when considering the top rankings went to places like No. 2 Washington, D.C., which has a natural gravitational pull for lawyers and policy analysts, and No. 7 Boston-Cambridge, which is home to an absurd number of top colleges, such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wallet Hub story.

Seth Koenig, Bangor Daily News 2014 -    Since 2009, Portland has been touted by one magazine or another for having some of the country’s best beer, best coffee, healthiest women (and men), best farmers markets, best drivers, best restaurantshippest downtown and best brunches. It’s one of the top cities in America to raise a familyfind a jobstart a second careerprotect the environment, find eligible women and be gay.
Among those singing Portland’s praises have been Travel + Leisure magazine, Forbes, Outside, Parenting, Draft, Women’s Health and Bon Appetit.
Here’s what [Business Insider] wrote about Maine’s biggest berg:
America’s other Portland has been gaining a reputation as a funky low-key destination that prizes quality food and cutting-edge art.More and more talented chefs have been flocking to the coastal New England city, opening upscale restaurants like Fore Street and Petite Jacqueline. But there’s also great casual fare, like tacos, burgers, and cupcakes from food trucks, and of course tons of lobster.Meanwhile, the city’s art scene is thriving. That’s to be expected, since it’s home to dozens of edgy galleries and artist collaboratives, the Maine College of Art, and the Portland Museum of Art, located in the heart of the Arts District. Visit in the beginning of the month to experience a First Friday Art Walk, when artists display their works on the streets and musicians and performance artists entertain the crowds.
In 2014 Buzzfeed listed Portland as one of 14 underrated places you’ll really want to move to. "This super-hip city in southern Maine is equal parts artsy, nature-y, and all-around cool."

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

Bangor Daily News - San Francisco-based personal finance site released its list of the best places in America for women entrepreneurs... East of Minneapolis, the only places to make the list were Portland-South Portland, Maine, and Bridgeport, Connecticut.The Portland-South Portland metro area was ranked No. 9, while Bridgeport was up at No. 2.

The guy who has been doing the best job of keeping track of these superlatives is Seth Koening of the Bangor Daily News. Last month he published a list of the top ten top ten lists that Portland made it to last year.

Friday, January 15

Effort to impeach LePage fails

Bangor Daily News - A gambit to impeach Republican Gov. Paul LePage failed overwhelmingly in the Maine House of Representatives after almost three hours of floor debate.

The effort, in the form of an order sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, and backed by a group of liberal lawmakers, was rejected in a 96-52 vote in the Democratic-led chamber. Protesters screamed at legislators after the vote from the House gallery, which was then cleared by order of House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan.

The vote that effectively stymied impeachment was on House Minority Leader Ken Fredette’s motion to indefinitely postpone action on the order of impeachment introduced by Chipman.

Thursday, January 14

Women's group pushing for more state legislature seats

Beacon - Emerge Maine, an organization dedicated to encouraging and training progressive women to run for office, announced at a State House press conference yesterday that at least 18 of its program alumnae will be seeking seats in the House and Senate this November.

Wednesday, January 13

LePage thinking about running against King

Bangor Daily News -  LePage  said he was considering challenging Maine Senator Angus King in 2018. “Frankly, Ann and I, if we do anything it’s probably going to be the senate, we’re going to challenge Angus, and we are thinking about it very very seriously and looking at it very seriously,” said LePage. This is the third time that LePage has mentioned the possibility of mounting a challenge to King while on [Howie] Carr’s show, but this is by far the most concrete language he has used on the subject.