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NEWS!  from January 2011. (updated: 02.04.2011, 17:50)  Previous month's news

  • bomb LePage administration to "...put 11,000 bureaucrats to work getting Republicans re-elected." Thanks to our friends at DirigoBlue for this gem from the Governor's spinmeister, Dan Demeritt.

    You thought Dan had a tough job explaining away his boss's gaffs.

    Read the email here (12k pdf).

  • scalia
    Click for Ann Telnaes animation.
    Celebrity Justice Antonin Scalia is the primary target of this Washington Post OpEd piece (01/21), but author Jonathan Turley worries that the lack of public neutrality by the Supremes of both party persuasions undermines the court.
    "...At the invitation of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Scalia... [addressed] conservative members of the House of Representatives. To them, Scalia is a nothing short of a rock star. He personifies not only conservative values but a new model for the Supreme Court: the celebrity justice..."
    "...Justices who flaunt their politics publicly do more than just lecture - they also can raise cash for ideological allies. Scalia and Thomas have reportedly attended events funded by conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch. Last week, Thomas admitted through a spokesman that he "dropped by" a Koch session in 2008. Both justices were even featured in Koch promotional material with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh..."

  • Legislature's Regulatory Reform road show schedule is here.

    Here is the PDF document that states the Governor's Phase 1 goals for 'Regulatory Reform.'

    Watch out for our environmental protections. This is a 5-page document with 63 proposed rule changes, targeted primarily at environmental regulation.

    Results of the 01/26 hearing in Augusta were reported the next day in the Bangor Daily News:

    "...what the committee heard, for the most part, was how many problems would result if the Legislature approved the regulatory reform proposals that have come out of the Governor's Office."
    "...Many of the more than two dozen people who testified Wednesday focused on LePage's proposals, much to the dismay of committee leaders who repeatedly told the crowd they were in Belfast to hear reform suggestions. The committee will hold a public hearing on the governor's proposal later this winter, they said. "
    "'This is a listening tour,' [Rep Jonathan] Courtney said."
    "'Then please listen!' someone in the increasingly fired-up crowd shouted back."
    One speaker, Marina Delune, implicitly questioned the Republican orthodoxy that environmental protection is incompatible with employment. She said, according the BDN:
    " very careful about gutting any regulations that are protecting our state. ...Our livelihood depends on the beauty of our state."

    Benjamin Grant and Janet Mills were elected as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Maine Democratic Party in delegate voting on Sunday, Jan 23rd (BDN, 01/25).

    Grant's law firm bio is here. Janet Mills' appointment in 2009 as Maine Attorney General was featured in this BDN article.

  • heart James O'Haverty, long-time Knox Dem and friend, is back in the hospital. Here's the latest (01/21) from Elizabeth:

    "...This morning we received the preliminary results of the biopsy - not the best of news, I'm afraid. The mass (which is much larger than I had envisioned, about the size of two golf balls, Dr. Wahlig said) located on his spine between C7 and T1 vertebrae, is metastatic cancer, meaning that the cancer came from elsewhere in his body. ...they'll be hunting for the original source while they explore possible treatments - which could include radiation, chemo or surgery.

    ...We are so lucky to have such a wonderful support network, and so many sweethearts in our lives.

    Love to you all. OXO e"

  • loose cannon LePage embarassment continues:
    • He offended the state and the nation with his crude remarks about the NAACP. Did he also fantasize the exchange between himself and NAACP reps over the proposed prison meeting? (BDN 01/19 )
    • Mike Hurley says (FreePress 1/19/11)

      "...The Governor ran with little other than a pro-business agenda. I would say to the Governor: Representing Maine with the appearance that the State of Maine is possibly bigoted, racist or at the least ignorant and mean-spirited is virulently anti-business..."

    • Meeting with environmental groups on January 20th, "[he]...said he believes some Maine regulations go too far. Unfortunately, the law LePage cited as an example of overregulation no longer exists in Maine." (BDN 1/20)

  • dollar signA 2011 economic forecast for Maine was presented on January 5th by The University of Southern Maine's Charles Colgan. His slides and an audio of the lecture are here. The Free Press has analysis here.

    Some nuggets:

    • Myth: ...government spending is out of control, [but] data show there has been no spike in government spending... What has changed is the revenue curve. It trends downward.
    • Myth: ...we are paying higher and higher tax rates, ...but personal tax rates as a percentage of income are historically low.
    • As a percentage of personal income:
      • Federal taxes are the same as in 1953.
      • Maine state taxes are the same as in 1968.
    • There are no fiscal implications of climate change being discussed [in the Washington reports]. If we do not start to address these problems now, the costs will be orders of magnitude higher.

  • dollar sign Higher income taxes are Illinois' solution to its budget deficit (NYTimes, 01/16/11). The editorial, titled Illinois Wakes Up, says:
    ...After 22 years of not raising income taxes, Illinois saw its budget shortfall grow to $15 billion. It had the lowest state credit rating in the nation, and it wasn’t paying its bills to hospitals and schools...

    ...Illinois's corporate tax is going up to 9.5 percent from 7.3 percent, but that by itself is unlikely to send businesses packing. What businesses crave most is a stable environment in which to make profits, and Illinois was anything but stable. Businesses tend not to like it when health and education systems break down...

    ...Almost every state is in deep fiscal trouble this year, but only a few others have admitted that cutting spending will not be enough...

  • Prescription symbolVocal Physicians Group Renews Health Law Fight.
    The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has exerted vocal influence in the country's health care debate, despite having just 3,000 dues-paying members. Other medical groups assert that the association's positions are unrepresentative of most of the nation’s 800,000 physicians and that its scientific views often fall outside medicine’s mainstream...
    More at NYTimes 01/19/11 ...
  • Our 'Talk Politics' forum has closed. Started in November, 2008, the forum never caught fire with site visitors, generating less than two dozen posts in two years. Please try our Facebook page to post opinions, links, and engage in discussions.
  • Our last meeting was Tuesday, January 11th, at Stella Maris House in Rockland. Potluck at 6:00 p.m.; business meeting at 7:00 p.m. Chair's message here.

    Highlights of the meeting:

    • Guest speaker Ben Grant introduced himself as a candidate for MDP Chair. Ben is a 33 year-old labor attorney from Portland. He is campaigning as a "team" with Janet Mills (ex-Attorney General) as Vice Chair.
    • Rep. Chuck Kruger reported from the Republican-led Legislature that a large number of reactionary bills have been referred to committee, including: one to repeal the Building and Energy Code which if successful would result in the loss of Federal funds for weatherization projects, one to do away with the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), and a lot of blather from the "Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform" (Red Tape Committee). Chuck's current committee assignment is to the Marine Resources Committee.
    • The Budget and Finance committe was tasked with reviewing the accounts with the Treasurer and making a report in January of each year.
    • The responsibilities of KCDC State Committee delegates were discussed. Can they be deemed to have resigned the position after failing to attend three consecutive KCDC meetings (a separate issue from missing State Committee meetings)?
    • The KCDC Bylaws were amended. The language of Article 14 § 4 was changed to make clearer when an absent member may be considered to have resigned.
    • KCDC officers for the next two years were elected. The nominating committee reported a slate of officers who were elected by acclaim:
      Chair: Hugh Magbie
      Vice Chair: Bruce Hodsdon
      Treasurer: Stu Thro
      Recording Sec'y: Bonnie Post
      Corresponding Sec'y: Carolyn Foster

      Thanks to all who have served over the past two years:

      Bob Baker, Karen Brace, Mike Dunn, Mary Forristall, Tim Hoppe, Hugh Magbie, Richard Ogle, Tracy Resigno, Louanne Thomas, Stu Thro.

    • Appropriate use of the KCDC email list was discussed after a note from Rep. Joan Welsh was read aloud. She suggested we send emails alerting our members about Legislative activity.

  • Meet the Candidates for MDC leadership.
    The Knox County Democratic Committee and the Lincoln County Democrats invite all members of both committees to attend a joint meeting to hear from the candidates who are running for Chair of the Maine state Demoratic committee. Members of the county committees who are also state committee members are especially encouraged to attend. This joint meeting will take place on Monday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m. at the:
    Mobius Community Center
    319 Main St (Business Rte 1)
      Across from Yellowfront Grocery Store

  • The Maine Democratic Party leadership is up for grabs and hotly contested after our November election drubbing. Dirgo Blue has been following the action (currently on page 2 of the their site). Kennebec County chair, Rita Moran, has even called for a 'candidates forum' for Saturday January 8, 1:00 p.m., Kennebec County Government Building, 125 State Street, Augusta.
  • Red Tape Workshops, Thur 1/20/11:
    Dan Bookham, Executive Director, Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce, says:

    "On behalf of both the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville and Penobscot Bay Regional Chambers of Commerce I'd like to invite you all to the Midcoast iteration of Governor-elect LePage's transition team’s statewide 'Red Tape Workshops.'

    The two chambers will be hosting a Red Tape Workshop for local businesses and non-profits to develop reform suggestions as part of incoming Governor Paul LePage's Red Tape Removal Audit. Leaders of businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries are encouraged to attend and contribute to the process and make their voices heard.

    The workshop will take place on Thursday, January 20th 2011 at 9am at the Rockport Opera House.

    Locally developed suggestions will be presented to the Governor-Elect and his transition team. Copies will also be shared with area Legislators. All action taken on reform proposals will take place in the light of day as part of the legislative and rule making process once the new Administration takes office on January 5, 2011. Proponents and opponents of the ideas formulated through this outreach will have equal opportunity to be part of the process."

  • Know the opponents...Paint Maine Red is tea party group. Don't be askeered, have a look.
  • Shoddy "conservative think tank" analysis. This article in the Coastal Journal takes issue with a report from Steve Bowen's "Maine Heritage Policy Center" purportedly showing spending growth in programs demonized by conservatives.
  • Maine Clean Elections: Governor Angus King moderates an MPBN panel discussion. Led by Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University, panelists put the Maine Clean Election system in a national context. They explore the current political and legal landscape for campaign reforms. Here's the link to the audio. (1 hr, 23 min).
  • Maine's new governor gave his inauguratal speech on January 5th.
    Excerpts from the Portland Press Herald's report...

    "...First and Foremost, I am a businessman who served his community as a Mayor and now as Governor. My pledge to the Maine People is to put you before politics.

    · The parents trying to make a better life for their kids;
    · The retirees trying to hold onto their homes on a fixed income;
    · The college graduate trying to find a good paying job.
    · The entrepreneurs with the courage to take a chance on an idea; and
    · The taxpayers tired of footing the bill for a bloated establishment in Augusta.

    It is time to make state government accountable. It is time to deliver value. It is time to put people first...

    I ran for Governor because I know how to run a business and create jobs. In my experience you pick your team, make your decisions and you stand accountable for things that matter.

    I will spend every day of the next four years working to make Maine a better place for ALL of our sons and daughters to find work, to start businesses and to stay here to start families of their own.

    ...At the end of my term I will be ready to stand accountable for the job we did at putting people first and creating prosperity for working Maine families...."

    When he stands accountable, remember:

    • Nepotism lives at the highest level: the new governor appointed his 22-year-old daughter to an "entry-level" position in state government paying $41,000/year. (BDN 12/22/2010).
    • Hypocrisy lives there too: the new governor laments that he can't hire the best and brightest for his administration because state salaries are too low. (BDN 12/21/2010).
    • Democratic Governor John Baldacci reduced state employee levels by over 1,000 during his two terms. (BDN 12/31/2010)
    • Under Democratic leadership, "...[state] Spending in the current biennium is about the same as it was in 2001... " (BDN 01/04/2011).
    • We'll be watching...


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