The Coastal Packet

Thursday, November 15

Golden wins 2nd District race

Portland Press Herald -Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race on Thursday following a historic tabulation of ballots using ranked-choice voting. Golden, a Marine Corps veteran and state lawmaker from Lewiston, began the day roughly 2,000 votes behind incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin. But Golden surged past Poliquin after the ranked-choice votes of two independents in the race were redistributed Thursday morning. ....This is the first time in U.S. history that a congressional race was decided using ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to cast ballots for their favorite candidate but also rank other candidates in order of preference.

 Rob Richie, Fair Vote -  The results show that voters in the 2nd District handled the ballot well, a testament to the fact that ranked choice voting is easy. Only 0.18 percent of voters who voted in the race made an error that invalided their ballot, which means that more than 99.8 percent of 2nd District voters cast valid ballots. For many voters, this was their first-ever ranked choice voting election.

In addition, 65 percent of backers of the independent candidates used their freedom to rank at least one of the major party candidates as a backup choice, with Golden earning 69 percent of those votes to Poliquin's 31 percent. The "dropoff" in active votes between the first round and the second round was less than 3 percent, far lower than the average decline in turnout of nearly half of first-round votes (47 percent) in congressional primary runoffs this year.

Judge okays ranke choice count go ahead

Sunday, November 11

Trump trade war hits the lobster industry

Bloomberg Businessweek -As Trump has rewritten America’s economic relationships, some of the country’s most prized exports—Kentucky bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Midwestern soybeans—have become retaliatory targets for China and the European Union. For its part, Beijing began imposing a 25 percent tariff on a long list of imports from the U.S., including live lobsters, on July 6.

The blow is significant for Maine, the country’s top producer and exporter. The state’s lobstermen had found a lucrative market in China, where consumer demand has grown exponentially in recent years. In 2017, U.S. exports of live lobsters to China were worth $128.5 million, up from a third of that in 2015. Maine’s dealers have responded by scrambling to find other markets.

Luke Holden, who left investment banking in 2009 to start Luke’s Lobster, a “shack” in New York’s East Village that’s since become an international restaurant chain and lobster-processing business, is worried that the tariffs and other trade effects will force structural changes in the industry. “The reality is that these tariffs have created a very long-term uphill battle,” he says, “and we’ve just started to climb that hill.”

One problem for American lobstermen is their Canadian rivals. Thanks to a trade agreement Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struck with the EU, Canadian crustaceans now land in Europe duty-free. U.S. lobsters, meanwhile, face an 8 percent tariff with no sign of imminent relief. (While Trump is discussing a limited EU deal on industrial goods, European officials have resisted including agricultural trade, which bodes badly for lobsters.)

Friday, November 9

Protests in 18 Maine towns calling for protection of Mueller investigation

Women win in Maine

Press Hearld -   In Maine, voters elected 60 women to the House and 12 to the Senate, for a total of 72 women in the Legislature – claiming 39 percent of the total 186 seats. The last Legislature had 64 women, or 34 percent of the seats.

Sam Smith - With the results in, residents of my 'hood now have a woman governor, speaker of the house,member of Congress,  state representative, town council member, school board member, and police chief.

Saturday, November 3

Opponents' leader admits Question 1 won't lead people to leave Maine

Maine Beacon -The No on One campaign, which has been largely funded by business groups and corporate PACs, has used numerous lines of attack to discredit the effort, including claiming that the 3.8 percent tax on individual income above $128,400 a year would drive people from Maine.

During the segment, Solman spoke with Donna DeBlois, a spokesperson for the opposition campaign, and asked her if she could support her side’s claim.

“No one’s going to leave the state of Maine,” DeBlois replied. “It’s a bad deal for the state of Maine, but I don’t think they’re going to leave because of it.”

Friday, November 2

Absentee voting high

Press Herald -Democrats continue to outpace Republicans in absentee voting, with 61,792 ballots returned as of Thursday, or 18 percent of all registered Democrats, the Secretary of State’s Office said. Among Republicans, 40,408 absentee ballots were returned, or just over 14 percent of party members. Unenrolled voters, who make up the largest single voting bloc in Maine, had turned in 35,565 ballots, or 9 percent of all voters not belonging to a party.

Monday, October 29

Gulf of Maine one of fastest warming waters

island Institute -The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming ocean ecosystems on the planet, according to scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

Over the last 30 years, it has warmed at a rate of 0.06 degrees Celsius per year (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit per year)—more than three times the global average. Over the last 15 years, the region warmed at more than seven times the global average rate. At both time scales, the Gulf of Maine warmed faster than 99 percent of the global ocean. This year has been especially warm, and scientists at GMRI are now saying the Gulf of Maine officially experienced its second warmest-ever day on Aug. 8, when the average sea surface temperature reached 68.93 degree Fahrenheit, just shy of the record set in 2012.

The Gulf of Maine’s rapid warming is related to its position on the planet, receiving cold water from Canada (and ultimately, the Arctic) that meet with warm waters from the south. A slight change in currents can mean a big difference in temperatures, and this region is experiencing more than a slight change.

Saturday, October 27

Inquiry finds police holding on to drug money

Maine Beacon -A state law intended to curb police corruption in Maine is apparently going unheeded, according to a Beacon investigation into asset forfeiture.

When cash or assets connected to a drug crime are seized by police in Maine, those funds are required by state law to be deposited in the general fund. That statute has been lauded by a national civil liberties watchdog for curbing potential police corruption by putting forfeitures proceeds under the control of lawmakers, instead of the police departments who seize the money.

That law is not being followed. At the same time, some public health responses to the opioid epidemic have gone unfunded.

Thursday, October 25

King votes liberal

Those Democrats wondering whether to vote for independent Angus King might be interested to know that King was given a 90% approval rating by the liberal Americans for Demcratic Action in its latest tally. This is the same as Nelson in Florida, Klobichar in /Minnesata, Casey in Pennsylvania, and Baldwin in Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 24

Democrats lead in early voing

Portland Press Herald - The Secretary of State’s Office reported  that 19,470 Democrats have voted in Maine compared with 12,965 Republicans and 10,708 unenrolled voters. With two weeks to go until Election Day, the state was well ahead of the early voting pace in 2014, the last year when a governor’s race was at the top of the ballot.

Some greasy secrets

Shawn Moody

Alan Caron

Saturday, October 20

Maine Public Broadcasting -Crime in Maine decreased in 2017, the sixth year in a row that the state has seen reductions in crime overall.  That includes incidents of domestic violence, which fell by 10.6 percent. But incidents of rape and other violent crimes increased significantly.

Overall, crime in Maine went down 8.2 percent last year. During the past six years, crime has dropped a total of 46.8 percent.

In addition to incidents of rape, which went up 17 percent – the third year reported rape incidents have increased – there were more homicides, assaults and motor vehicle thefts in Maine last year.

Homicides increased from 18 in 2016 to 21 last year.  Simple assaults and vehicle thefts also increased, both by about 2.2 percent.

How candidates should handle ranked choice voting

John Rensenbrink, Brunswick Tiues Record - I ... urge the many liberal, progressive, and non-LePage conservative candidates for the state House and Senate to give dedicated priority in their campaigns to Ranked Choice Voting. Make it a major issue.

First, I urge them to declare their own strong support for RCV.

Second, I urge them to promise, when elected, to fight for the constitutional amendment to have the elections for Governor and State Legislature be governed by the provisions of RCV — just as the races for federal offices (U.S. Senate and House) are already so governed, starting this year.

Third, I urge them to assure their constituents that they hear and heed the establishment of RCV by a solid majority of the people of Maine in two referenda: the general election in November, 2016 and the primary election this past June.

.... There is also this: I know it’s asking a lot, but it would be widely and deeply appreciated if Alan Caron and Terry Hayes were to step aside and encourage voters to vote for Janet Mills, thus enabling her to win. Alan Caron has already hinted that he may do so if the polls reveal a very close race between Mills and Moody. If they do, they would and should be honored as saviors of the public good. We live in unprecedented times. We can, and must, pull together.

Mills leads by 8 in poll

Based on polling by Pan Atlantic here are the latest Maine results:

  • Mills leads 44 to 36 in the governor's race. She has 50% of the female vote and 39% of the male vote. She has 57% of the high education vote and 36% of the low
  • King is safe with 57% of the vote
  • Pingree is safe with 53% of the vote. 
  • Poliquin and Golden are only a half point apart, but 22% of the second place votes would go t Polguin.

Tuesday, October 9

Maine leads in new organic farms

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association-  In its most recent National Organic Survey, the USDA reported that Maine led the nation in the number of new organic farms established, adding 138 new organic farms between 2008 and 2014. Maine has the second highest percentage of beginning farmers in the nation (33% of Maine farm operators).

Collins spurs boycott of Maine products

Monday, October 8

Medicaid expansion and the governor's race

Think Progress - Nearly 59 percent of Mainers voted to expand Medicaid last November in an unprecedented ballot referendum. LePage ignored the binding vote for months, going as far as saying he “will go to jail before I put the state in red ink” by adding to the state’s Medicaid rolls and expanding insurance eligibility up to 138 percent of poverty level, or $34,638 for a family of four. The governor finally asked the Trump administration to expand Medicaid 10 months after the historic vote, while simultaneously calling on the president to reject it.

The governor’s office also didn’t ask for 9-to-1 federal-state matching funds between July 2 and Sept. 4, a period during which LePage stalled despite a court order. Meanwhile, the lawsuit that pressured LePage into submitting a state plan amendment in September is ongoing and likely won’t end until a supportive governor is in Augusta.

Midterm elections in Maine could put an end to the obstructionism, depending on who is elected to replace LePage.

“Voters have clear choices to make this November between candidates who share their goal of providing affordable, accessible health care options — particularly through Medicaid expansion — and candidates who want to find ways to obstruct and delay, dismantle existing protections, and ignore the law,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director with Maine Equal Justice Partners), the advocacy group leading the lawsuit.

Monday, October 1

Women in Maine government

If Janet Mills is elected governor, women will hold the governorship, one of two Senate seats, one of two House seats, Speaker of the House, and police chief in Freeport.

Thursday, September 27

Maine women oppose Kavanugh by 20 point margin

Maine Beacon -A new poll released by the Maine People’s Resource Center shows that a majority of Maine voters believe Senators Angus King and Susan Collins should not vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The poll shows that 52 percent of respondents opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination. Thirty-nine percent supported the nomination and 10 percent were undecided.

The starkest demographic difference in the poll falls along gender lines, with women opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination by a twenty-point margin, 53 percent to 34 percent, and men opposing it by a five-point margin, 50 percent to 45 percent.

Maine lowest rate of violent crime in the US followed by VT and NH

Wednesday, September 26

LePage calls black people the enemy

The governor of Maine has said that people of colour were enemies of his state, and appeared to suggest they should be shot. Speaking about Maine’s effort to combat drug crime, Paul LePage said that “the enemy right now… are people of colour or people of Hispanic origin”.“When you go to war… and the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, then you shoot at red,” he said.

Monday, September 24

How Alan Caron could win this November

Sam Smith - Alan Caron could win this November by a real simple tactic: dropping out of the race. Janet Mills is currently in a virtual tie with Moody and while Caron is only pulling about 3%, that number could be crucial in the race. And, if Mills were to win, Caron's withdrawal would be - unlike independent Eliot Cutler who got LePage elected - hailed as a major contributor to her victory.

Having helped to start two third parties - the national Green Party and the DC Statehood Party - I know something about this. A lot of third party enthusiasts think it's all about taking part in elections regardless of the outcome. I call these folks the religious Greens: the manifestation of their faith becomes more important than the outcome. And values stand out more than issues. 

On the other hand, I'm a political Green. I want to use the third party in ways that make a difference. This is what we did with the DC Statehood Party and not only did we help with many issues, support for  statehood increased to three quarters of the city. Furthermore, we had members on the city council and/or school board for 25 years.

The problem when a Jill Stein or Ralph Nader runs for president, or an Alan Caron for governor, is that if the Democrat loses, they'll strongly be blamed for it, even if, as in the case Nader, the charge is a total myth.

For example, a Progressive Review study of poll results throughout the 2000 campaign found no correlation between Bush's percentage change and that of Nader except in July and August when the change was minimal.  For example, in September of 2000, Gore's average poll result went up 7.5 points over August, Nader's only declined by 1 point. Similarly, in November, Gore's average poll tally declined 5.7 points but Nader's only went up 0.8 points.

But this made little difference to the media.

My solution for third party members and independents is to stop being so damn faithful to your principles and find the best way to have an effect on politics. For example, minorities and labor union members could join the Green Party as their political home but vote however they want. They could then present the Democrats with some demands that would decide whether they go with  them or not.

It's hard as hell to beat a major party, but it's not that hard to scare them.

So my suggetion is that Alan Caron meets secretly with Janet Mills, gets her to agree to some things and then announce he is pulling out of the race. If Mills wins by a narrow margin, Caron won't be governor, but he will be a hero.

Friday, September 21

Question One would help 27,000 seniors

Maine Beacon - A new report  by the Muskie School of Public Service shows that, if Question 1 is passed this November, 27,000 Mainers who currently need in-home assistance would be eligible for home care support.

Currently, only about 5,600 of the 27,000 Mainers with home care needs are able to access public long-term care services, a proportion set to worsen as Maine’s senior population grows over the next two decades — with Mainers over 65 expected, according to the report, to represent almost a third of the state’s population by 2032.

The study also makes clear that the universal home care could expand and complement existing programs, eliminate waiting lists, and trigger increased federal matching funds.

Professor Sandra Butler, Resident Scholar at the University of Maine’s Center on Aging, pointed to a knowledge gap that exists between what older adults think Medicare covers and what it actually does.

“Most people don’t understand that long-term care is not funded by Medicare,” said Butler, “and they don’t save for long-term care, so they come up short when they need it. It is often unattainable for a great majority of older adults.”

“The biggest and most important takeaway from this report is clear: 27,000 Mainers, many of whom currently receive no help at all in meeting their family’s care needs, would be eligible for assistance if Question 1 passes and is implemented,” said Kevin Simowitz, political director at Caring Across Generations. “Without universal home care, those families will remain without help for the care they want and need.”

 Maine Center for Economic Policy - The Home Care referendum on November’s ballot would affect 34,442 Mainers at the top of the income distribution, according to a new analysis conducted by MECEP. That represents 3.36% percent of all Mainers with income


Friday, September 14

King says he'll vote no on Kavanuagh, Collins still can't decide whether she likes Trump better than women

Maine teachers spend millions of their own money on schools

Maine Center for Economic Policy -  Maine’s teachers spent at least $4.2 million out of their own pockets on basic school supplies in 2016, the most recent year for which we have data, illustrating the inadequate public resources dedicated to educating the next generation of Mainers. Instead of asking educators, who are already underpaid, to foot the bill for the essentials needed to educated Maine students, the state should take steps to adequately fund public classrooms.

Teachers throughout Maine are being forced to pick up the slack caused by underfunding. The IRS publishes statistics on the number of Mainers who claim a $250 educator expense deduction on their annual federal income tax returns. In 2016, 16,610 Mainers claimed the deduction. That’s more than 95 percent of eligible educators, according to Census Bureau data.

Maine remains oldest state

Thursday, September 13

Mianers income grew last year but still lags behind national average

Press Herald -The state’s median household income was $56,227 in 2017, an almost 4 percent increase from 2016, according to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The estimate has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.

Maine’s rate of income growth outpaced the national average, but the median U.S. household income was $60,336, about $4,000 higher than in Maine. In New England, the median income was about $71,494.

Monday, September 10

Senator Collins: Just a reminder

 A poll, conducted on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America by Public Policy Polling in Maine, finds that the majority of voters, including two-thirds of independent voters, do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and would oppose any nominee to the Supreme Court who would overturn it.
The poll also found that a senator who vote for such a nominee would face peril in their upcoming election.

Saturday, September 8

Just a thought

If Susan Collins can't figure out whether to vote for or against Kavanaugh, she not only is wrong she's not smart enough to be in the Senate.

Thursday, September 6

Maine food insecurity above national average

Maine Public Broadcasting -According to new figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.4 percent of Maine households between 2015 and 2017 were classified as food insecure, while 6.4 percent of those households qualified as "very food insecure," meaning that people in those homes reported running out of food, skipping meals and going hungry.

The national average was 12.3 per cent, with 4.8 percent of families experiencing very low food security.

94% or seniors want more support for independent living

Maine Beacon -Ninety-four percent of Mainers over the age of 50 feel a candidate’s position on helping older people live independently will impact their voting decisions in the upcoming November mid-term elections, a new poll released by Maine AARP shows.

Wednesday, September 5

Yes on Question One gets rolling

Maine Beacon -Volunteers and organizations that are part of the Mainers for Home Care coalition officially launched the Yes on Question 1 campaign on Tuesday to guarantee universal access to home care to seniors and Mainers with disabilities, saying the ballot initiative that will go before voters in November represents the best opportunity to fix a broken system.

“We are a grassroots coalition of more than 40 organizations and tens of thousands of individual Mainers who recognized the road we are on as a state is about to take us off a cliff,” said Ben Chin, campaign manager for Mainers for Home Care, which gathered 67,000 signatures last year to place the initiative on the ballot.

The average annual cost of home care for a senior in Maine was $52,624 in 2017. While that is cheaper than a one year in a private room in a nursing home — which cost $117,165 in 2017 — it is out of reach for most Maine families, the organizers say, and Medicare does not cover in-home care.

Monday, September 3

Poll: Collins and Kavanaugh

Axios-Maine voters are less likely to support Republican Sen. Susan Collins for re-election if she votes to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey.

If Collins votes for Kavanaugh, 47% of Maine voters said they would be less likely to vote for her, while 31% said they would be more likely to support her.

Nearly half (49%) of voters in her state think she should vote against Kavanaugh. And a majority (56%) don't think Collins should vote on the nomination until there's been a full review of Kavanaugh's documents.

Maine home care referendum gets national attention

Sunday, September 2

Hottest August ever in Portland

Record warmth in Gulf of Maine

Bangor Daily News -The waters off New England are already warming faster than most of the world’s oceans, and they are nearing the end of one of the hottest summers in their history.

That is the takeaway from an analysis of summer sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine by a marine scientist with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland. The average sea surface temperature in the gulf was nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average during one 10-day stretch in August, said the scientist, Andy Pershing, who released the work Thursday.