The Coastal Packet

Thursday, July 30

Small businesses endorse minimum wage hike

Maine Beacon - More than 150 Maine small businesses announced their public support today for Mainers for Fair Wages’ ballot campaign to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020...The list of initial small business endorsers is online here. More information on the campaign is available at

Monday, July 27

More homeless campsites in Portland than ever

Press Herald - People who work with the homeless say there are more campers this summer than they’ve ever seen before. “People are getting pushed farther and farther into the woods because there are more people camping out,” said Donna Yellen, chief program officer at Preble Street, a soup kitchen and resource center for homeless people. Campsites that were once occupied by five or six people now have 15 or 20. The camps have sprung up in new places on the outskirts of the city because prized in-town sites are occupied or have been developed.

Sunday, July 26

Seeds of Peace camp opens again

A camp that brings together teenagers from the Middle East is open for its final session of the summer. More than 180 Afghan, American, Egyptian, Indian, Israeli, Jordanian, Pakistani and Palestinian campers are participating in the Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield.

Saturday, July 25

Maritime Museum adds lobster exhibit

WCSH - The Maine Maritime Museum will hold the official opening of a new, permanent lobster exhibit, starting at 10:00 a.m. Sunday. Museum curators said they designed the exhibit to show not just the history of the lobster fishery, but also give visitors a chance to understand more about the crustacean itself and the lobster fishing industry. Part of the exhibit includes a "buoy wall", filled with buoys donated by fishermen. Visitors can use an interactive screen that shows where each buoy is from, the fisherman who used it and some details about him or her.

Friday, July 24

Elise Johansen.leaving as director of Equality Maine

Press Herald

To hell with the view and LL Bean

Press Herald  - Culinary tourism already appears to be strong in Maine, according to a 2014 Maine Office of Tourism study conducted by DPA, a digital research firm in Kennebunk. According to the report, 58 percent of the tourists who came to Maine last year and stayed overnight identified culinary or beverage interests as their reason for coming. Overall, there were 17.3 million overnight visitors in 2014 versus 16.6 million in 2013. Of the culinary tourists, more than 60 percent said they ate lobster or other local seafood on their visit, while 36 percent consumed Maine specialty foods such as whoopie pies and Moxie.

Thursday, July 23

Poll finds Strimling in dead heat with Brennan

Bangor Daily News - There are five people who have taken out papers to run for mayor of Maine’s largest city, but it’s hard to have a conversation about the race without mentioning one person who hasn’t: Ethan Strimling.

Strimling finished as the runner-up to current Mayor Michael Brennan in 2011, and has remained in the public eye as a political commentator for a variety of news organizations, including the BDN at one point and more recently the Portland Press Herald and WCSH 6.

The latest fuel  came today in the form of Public Policy Polling results, finding Strimling with a slim advantage in a hypothetical rematch against Brennan.

Those results show the educational nonprofit director and former state lawmaker carrying a two-percent edge over Brennan in a head-to-head matchup, and a one-percent edge when a third candidate, City Councilor Ed Suslovic, is thrown into the mix. As both numbers are within the 4.1 percent margin of error, it’s perhaps most accurate to say Strimling and Brennan are in a dead heat.

How Maine ranks

Maine ranked most peaceful state

24/7WallSt - 24/7 Wall St. generated an index to rank the peacefulness of each state in the nation. States with high violent crime and homicide rates, as well as high estimated small arms ownership and high incarceration rates were identified as less peaceful, while states with lower incidence of these factors were more peaceful. According to our index, Maine is the most peaceful state, while Louisiana is the least peaceful.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Aubrey Fox, executive director of the U.S. office at the Institute of Economics and Peace, said, “A perfectly peaceful place would be a place where there is no violence and no fear of violence.” He explained this would be a place with no crime, no police spending, a strong government, and a healthy economy.

The stolen children of Maine

In These Times - From the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, indigenous children across the country were placed in boarding schools meant to assimilate them into white culture, a practice that proliferated throughout the country. Abuse was common practice in these institutions. Richard Henry Pratt, who in 1879 founded one of the first such schools in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, phrased his goals quite bluntly: “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Denise Altvater was born in 1959, a Passamoquoddy child in Maine. She and her sisters were taken from her home by child welfare services when she was seven years old and forced into foster care, where she recalls being raped, starved and forced to sleep among rats. She eventually ended up in a kinder foster home, but even there she was discouraged from speaking of her heritage. Altvater now works in the field of indigenous child welfare, but reentering the tribe has been a long and often excruciating process. She has been suicidal at times, and struggled with her own personal relationships. “I wasn’t the best parent,” she told me. “I didn’t know how to be a parent.”

Genocide, as defined in the United Nations’ 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, includes “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” when done “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” This (and other definitions) undeniably applies to our nation’s history with indigenous peoples. Less acknowledged is that, according to a June report out of Maine, the cultural genocide continues today.

That report, titled “Beyond the Mandate: Continuing the Conversation,” zeroes in on what might be evil at its most banal: the intricacies of child-welfare laws. “Beyond the Mandate” shows that Native children are disproportionally put into foster care or put up for adoption, often taken in by non-Native foster families unwilling or unable to preserve the child’s language and heritage.


Wednesday, July 22

Bangor minimum wage law would screw teenagers

Mike Tipping, Bangor Daily News - The minimum wage increase proposal before the City Council in Bangor is rather anemic. Not only does it only increase the hourly wage a relatively small amount (three staged increases of 75 cents each), it also leaves out several important groups, including tipped workers and those under the age of 18...

The idea of minimum wage workers often being teenagers is one that opponents of fair wages like to promote, but it simply isn’t true. According to the Economic Policy Institute, of the 130,000 Mainers making poverty wages who would directly benefit from a gradual increase to a minimum wage of $12 an hour (as the referendum being advanced by Mainers for Fair Wages proposes), only 18,000 are under the age of 20 – just 11.6% of the total.

There are more working mothers (19,000) and seniors (22,000) than there are teenagers making at or just above the minimum wage in Maine.

The idea of carving out a new sub-minimum wage for young people is disturbing. It’s an arbitrary and capricious distinction. These Mainers are doing the same jobs as their older peers, many are supporting their families or supporting themselves and they’re all trying to prepare for their lives, whether that means going to college, starting a business or starting a family.

Crime drops in Maine

WCSH -The Maine Department of Public Safety says crime dropped nearly 15 percent last year, the largest drop in the four decades that the state has kept detailed records. The biggest drop in 2014 was for burglaries at 22.4 percent.

Tuesday, July 21

Saddleback may not be open for winter unless it finds financing

Daily Bulldog - Saddleback, Maine announced that it will not be open for winter ski operations unless it can secure $3 million in financing to purchase a new four-person chairlift to replace the aging 4,717-foot Rangeley double chair.The 51-year-old lift is the main access from the base lodge to the top of Saddleback Mountain and is at the end of its useful life, according to mountain officials.

Six good new laws

LD 113 (reforms out-of-touch drug laws): Decades of the failed “war on drugs” and increased arrests have done nothing to fix Maine’s drug addiction problem. With the passage of LD 113, people won’t automatically face a felony and up to five years in prison for certain low-level possession charges. Now, we can better use our scarce resources on proven treatment and recovery programs instead of locking people up without addressing the complex root causes of addiction. This is an important step in the right direction for Maine at a time when similar criminal justice reforms are gaining momentum nationwide.

LD 1013 (restricts the shackling of pregnant prisoners): Until passage of LD 1013, Maine was the only state in New England that allowed the shackling of pregnant prisoners. This practice posed a serious threat to the health of women and their pregnancies and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Now, Maine is no longer an outlier on the issue and women will no longer be subjected to the increased health risks that come from being shackled before, during and immediately following labor and delivery.

LD 369 (protects New Mainers’ access to General Assistance): As the Constitution reminds us, the government must provide equal protection under the law for all people. Thanks to LD 369, thousands of Mainers will still be able to pay the rent and buy food for their families, regardless of where they were born. This critical law allows some immigrants, including asylum seekers who are in Maine lawfully but not allowed to work, to receive General Assistance for up to two years.

LD 319 (expands access to reproductive health care): Access to reproductive health services shouldn’t just be for the wealthy. This new law provides access to critical disease prevention and health services for low income, underinsured and uninsured women and men. Now, more than 13,000 low income Mainers will be able to get annual exams, testing and treatment for STDs, birth control and preventative screenings. Reproductive health care is a necessity, not a luxury, and should be available to everyone regardless of income.

LD 25 (limits drone spying by law enforcement): LD 25 protects Mainers’ privacy by requiring warrants before law enforcement conducts drone surveillance and placing limits on the data that the government can retain from such operations. More robust protections will be needed in the years to come, particularly as drone technology continues to evolve, but these new restrictions go a long way toward ensuring our privacy remains protected – both on the ground and from high up above.

LD 921: With social media nearly ubiquitous, some employers have begun demanding passwords from current or potential employees. This is not the right to privacy we expect or deserve, and thanks to LD 921 it is now prohibited in most workplaces. Digital privacy is an evolving area of law and the ACLU has actively pushed for additional protections like this one to ensure that workers are not coerced into giving up their right to privacy as a condition of employment.

LDs 25 and 921 join laws enacted in 2013 requiring warrants before the police can track cell phones, obtain text message content, or place cameras on private property. All of these reforms are part of our efforts to protect the privacy of Mainersby bringing the law up to speed with advancing technology.

Portland to vote on $15 an hour

Press Herald - The Portland City Council considered two minimum wage initiatives Monday night, voting to place a citizens referendum to establish a $15-an-hour rate on the November ballot, while delaying a move to revise its own troubled ordinance to raise the minimum to $10.10 an hour. The council voted to delay until Sept. 9 reconsidering the ordinance it passed to adopt a citywide minimum wage higher than the state’s because it wanted to give staff more time to develop proposals for how to handle tipped workers.

Saturday, July 18

Maine income grows

MPBN - The Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis is reporting that Maine's real personal income grew by 1.9 percent from 2012 to 2013, the seventh-highest rate in the nation and significantly greater than the nation as a whole. But State Economist Amanda Rector says Maine has a long way to go to reach the income levels of some other New England states.

Tuesday, July 14

Sanders' 9,000 Maine audience out did Clintons, Gore & Obama

The largest Democratic political rallies held in Maine over the past 25 years. Details here

Bill Clinton - 7,000 (or 10,000)
October 7, 1996 - Hadlock Field, Portland, Maine
Barack Obama - 6,700 (5,700 + 1,000)
February, 9, 2008 - Bangor Auditorium, Bangor, Maine

Bill Clinton - 4,000
November 4, 1996 - Bangor International Airport, Bangor, Maine
Bill Clinton
- 4,000
June 19, 1993 - Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Maine

Barack Obama
- 3,000
October 30, 2014 - Portland Expo Building, Portland, Maine

Al Gore - 3,000
October 30, 1992 - Downtown Rally, Bangor, Maine
Barack Obama
- 2,500
April 1, 2010 - Portland Expo Building, Portland, Maine

John Edwards - 2,500
September 25, 2004 - Lewiston Armory, Lewiston, Maine

Hillary Clinton - 2,200 (2,000 + 200)
February 9,  2008 - University of Maine, Orono, Maine

Barack Obama
- 2,000
September 25, 2007 - Portland Expo Building, Portland, Maine

Why Medicaid is important to Maine

Center on Budget & Policy Priorities