The Coastal Packet

Sunday, February 19

Poland Spring trying to take more Maine water

Sun Journal - Spurred by strong sales, Poland Spring is looking for two additional spring sites and a home for its fourth bottling plant in Maine, a $50 million construction project.

Mark Dubois, a geologist and natural resource manager for Poland Spring, said this week the company is ready to start looking for the site of its fourth bottling plant in Maine along with two new springs, increasing capacity by about 50 percent of what the company bottled last year.

The company bottled nearly 821 million gallons of water in the state last year. The new trio of projects could give it capacity for 400 million more.

The brand is the No. 1-selling bottled spring water in the U.S.

... Nickie Sekera, a Fryeburg Water District trustee and co-founder of Community Water Justice, which opposed Poland Spring's long-term contract in Fryeburg, said she wasn't surprised at the news, given Poland Spring's fevered marketing push.

She agreed with Dubois that Maine is a water-rich state, but said it's a matter of getting the most value for it locally as well as protecting it for the future. Sekera anticipated community push back as the company looks for sites.

"When resources bypass the full benefit of local people wholesale for the benefit of multinational corporations, we create a situation on the ground where money is funneled up and out," she said. "Maine, with our water, it's something to be very cautious about how we move forward and who gains control over our water and how we can always be sure that local people will come first."

Poland Spring, whose parent company Nestle, headquartered in Switzerland, is among the largest public companies in the world, has nine springs in the state, largely in Western Maine. It employed 900 people at peak last summer, and has bottling plants in Poland, Hollis and Kingfield.

Maine Resistance Summit updates

Saturday, February 18

Maine has second highest pre-school expulsion rate in country

Maine Public Broadcasting - New research shows that in Maine, nearly a quarter of childcare centers have expelled a child in the past year.

Research shows that Maine has the second-highest preschool expulsion rate in the country.

Rita Furlow is the senior policy analyst for the Maine Children’s Alliance. In 2015, her group and the Maine Children’s Growth Council began studying the issue. They surveyed childcares and preschools and found that nearly a quarter of Maine’s center-based providers had to expel a student within the past year.

But Furlow says there is a solution: early childhood mental health consultations.

“Even though we were looking at various topics, that issue just seemed to keep rising to the top in terms of the research and what would be more effective,” she says.

Student oppose anti-voting laws

Maine Beacon - Lawmakers in Augusta heard testimony from Maine students speaking out against Republican-sponsored legislation to restrict voting rights. The two bills, one to require Photo ID to vote and the other to impose new hoops for student voters to jump through were criticized as unnecessary and discriminatory.

Also opposing the bills were Maine’s Attorney General and Secretary of State, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the Maine People’s Alliance, the League of Women Voters, Maine Student Action and Equality Maine.

Friday, February 17

Action notes

The Maine People's Alliance is convening a summit on Sunday, March 5th at the Augusta Civic Center, where activists and organizations from across the state can come together to strategize about the future, learn basic organizing skills, and cohere around a vision for Maine and our country.

Over 100 organizations from across the state have been invited to share with the broader activist community the work they are currently doing, and explain how people can get involved with their organization. Trainings and workshops will be offered on a variety of topics and skills. Whether the Women’s March was the first time you ever took to the streets or your 100th - there’s something for you.

Click here to view trainings and workshops: http://bit.ly/2lbjT7l

Click here to register for summit: http://bit.ly/2lSLEkn

Click here to register your organization for the summit: http://bit.ly/2llE3O2

Wednesday, February 15

Restaurants for and against minimum wage hike

Here's a list of board members of the Maine Restaurant Owners association that opposed a minimum wage hike in the state, Included are the owners of DeMillo's and Five Fifty-Five.

And here's a list of restaurants that supported the minimum wage hike.

Tuesday, February 14

LePage's food stamp restrictions sending more to food pantries

Maine Public Broadcasting - A new study finds Mainers are increasingly relying on food pantries for survival, and not for emergencies. One in four respondents to a survey commissioned by hunger relief agencies reported being dropped from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program in the past year. The groups behind the study say those kicked off food stamps due to restrictions instituted by Republican Gov. Paul LePage's administration are now relying on overworked charities. LePage claims his administration has gotten welfare recipients into jobs. Maine has reinstituted a three-month limit on food stamps for certain people between the ages of 18 and 50. Social work agency Preble Street said Maine had 40 food pantries when the organization started four decades ago. Now, Maine has at least 400 pantries feeding more than 15 percent of Maine's households.

Sunday, February 12

Maine GOP's war against student voting

Maine Beacon - In what has become a shamefully regular post-election routine from Republican leadership in Maine, we are once again witnessing an explicit attack on the rights of students to vote in Maine elections. This time around, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit thousands of students from registering to vote in Maine: effectively barring students who have moved here from other states from participating in Maine elections.

Going back to 2011 and 2015 Republicans at the state and local level have been attempting to both paint college-age voters as dangers to the fabric of Maine’s democracy and to actively disenfranchise students..

Just last November, in an anonymous —but no less destructive— attempt at student-voter suppression, “Legal Advisory” flyers were circulated at Bates College falsely claiming that students hailing from outside of the state could not register to vote in Maine without paying to register and inspect their vehicles here.

Thursday, February 9

LePage plans to raise taxes on many Mainers

Beacon - Governor LePage’s budget proposal offers tax breaks worth $23,000 annually to Maine’s 1%, while asking homeowners to pay an average of $300 more in already historically-high property taxes. The budget proposes elimination of the homestead exemption for Maine homeowners under the age of 65. The exemption provides vital relief from property taxes for more than 300,000 Maine families every year, of whom approximately 213,000 would be affected by the budget proposal.

Collins voted to censor Elizabeth Warren

Wednesday, February 8

Collins and King oppose Devos. . . but Collins a little late

Press Herald - Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King joined all Senate Democrats plus Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont in voting against DeVos, creating a 50-50 tie in the confirmation vote early Tuesday afternoon. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote....

Collins and Murkowski could have blocked DeVos’ nomination when it was before a reviewing committee they both serve on, but they both voted to approve her in a 12-11 party line vote, infuriating some of the nominee’s opponents in Maine. A group affiliated with the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive activist group, started holding “Susan Sunday” rallies to protest her committee vote for DeVos, her championing of Trump’s nominee to head the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions, and other issues.Collins has explained she believes the full Senate should get its say on Cabinet and judicial nominations, noting she also voted for committee approval for two Obama nominees, even though she opposed them in the full Senate vote.

Lies LePage told about the minimum wage

Word

People of : Don't be fooled by Senator Susan Collins "No" with Devos. She could've voted NO in committee & blocked her.

Friday, February 3

Colby art museum gets $100 million donation

Maine drug deaths continue upward

 

Press Herald -  Maine overdose deaths climbed for the fifth straight year in 2016, soaring nearly 40 percent to claim a record 378 people and signal a deepening of the state’s drug crisis. Opioid drugs, especially fentanyl and heroin, caused most of the deaths, according to figures released Thursday by the state Attorney General’s Office. The 378 fatalities surpassed the previous record of 272 set in 2015.

Wednesday, February 1

Things we hadn't started to worry about

Maine Public Broadcasting - State lawmakers held a hearing on a bill that would allow Mainers to buy and own hedgehogs as pets without a permit on Tuesday. Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn sponsored the proposal. He says Maine is one of a handful of states that requires owners to obtain a special permit to own a hedgehog — the same permit required to own a tiger or an elephant. “I hope we can all agree that hedgehog ownership does not require the same level of bureaucracy as tiger ownership,” he says.

Maine tied for first place in best state ranking

For the past four years, we have accumulated the rankings of states by standards ranging from health to jobs, as well as negative or positive actions. For the first time Maine has made it into first place tied with Vermont and Minnesota.

Saturday, January 28

LePage attacks women who marched

Mike Tipping, Bangor Daily News - In an interview on a conservative radio station this week (the only media with which Maine’s governor now regularly interacts), Governor Paul LePage had a message for the women who marched in Washington D.C., Portland and Augusta to protest the election of Republican Donald Trump as President.

“I guess it boils down to they still haven’t believed that the election is over and that President Trump is actually the president,” said LePage. “We endured their guy for eight years and we survived, so get over yourselves.”

One of LePage’s allies was even more direct and dismissive in her assessment of the marchers. In an email to members of the Informed Women’s Network, a conservative organization she leads, activist Susan Dench called march participants “harpies” and railed against their “vile” language and “saucy” hats. “Although many women only seemed to have the vaguest sense of what they were doing there, what they all had in common was victimhood, anger and an apparent hatred of men,” wrote Dench. Dench was nominated by LePage for a spot on the UMaine System board of trustees in 2014, but her bid was rejected by the Education Committee after she was found to have plagiarized a column she wrote for the Bangor Daily News.

Friday, January 27

Maine's real estate sales outpace nation's

WCSH  Maine's real estate market is outpacing the rest of the nation. New numbers show home sales in Maine were up nearly 12 percent in 2016. Nationally, the number was less than 1 percent. According to the Maine Association of Realtors, more than 17,000 single-family homes were sold in the state last year. That's a nearly 12 percent increase over 2015. The median price of a home was just under $190,000, a jump of almost 5 percent

Monday, January 23

Collins proposes bill to allow states to keep ACA

NY Times - Several Republican senators on Monday proposed a partial replacement for the Affordable Care Act that would allow states to continue operating under the law if they choose, a proposal meant to appeal to critics and supporters of former President Barack Obama’s signature health law.

Under the proposal, by Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a medical doctor, and Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican, states could stay with the Affordable Care Act or they could receive a similar amount of federal money, which consumers could use to pay for medical care and health insurance.

“We are moving the locus of repeal to state government,” Mr. Cassidy said. “States should have the right to choose.”

The proposal shares some features with House Republican proposals: It would encourage greater use of health savings accounts and eliminate the requirement for most Americans to have insurance or pay a tax penalty. But its option to keep the Affordable Care Act alive in many states will rankle the most conservative Republicans who have been trying for nearly seven years to blow up the law.

Maine hospitals endangered by repeal of Obamacare

Colin Woodard, Portland Press Herald - Love it or hate it, the Affordable Care Act has helped Maine’s hospitals stay solvent, and experts fear its repeal could make it hard for some of them to avoid cutbacks and even closure....

Absent a comparable alternative, an ACA repeal would leave 80,000 Mainers who receive health insurance through its exchange without coverage. Some would presumably find alternate coverage, but tens of thousands would not be able to afford it, meaning big losses for Maine’s hospitals and clinics, which are obligated by state law to provide “medically necessary” care to those unable to pay.

“We’re all worried,” says Jeffrey Austin, vice president of government affairs at the Maine Hospital Association, who estimates that the state’s hospitals receive $200 million a year from ACA-subsidized insurance policies. “The average operating margins in Maine hospitals are about 1 percent. There just isn’t room for dramatic negative impacts.”

Sunday, January 22

Thousands of women march in Augusta

Central Maine - Thousands of people converged Saturday behind the Maine State House for causes as big as civil rights and as individual as wanting to be heard. The Women’s March on Maine, one of hundreds of events related to the Women’s March on Washington a day after the inauguration Friday of President Donald Trump, drew people from varied backgrounds from across the state for two hours to hear a slate of speakers, chant, show support and bang on drums.

Press Herald - Shoulder to shoulder and stretched out over a mile, a crowd of more than 10,000 people participated Saturday in one of the largest protest marches ever held in Portland. It was one of hundreds of such marches held in the nation’s capital and across the country the day after the inauguration of President Trump.