Posting may be spotty this week. I'm up in The County again.
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From the Piscataqua to the St. John
Posting may be spotty this week. I'm up in The County again.
A day after former 1st CD Representative David Emery announced his defferal to Cianchette, State Sen. Peter Mills of Cornville has announced that he will announce on Tuesday.
[Bennett] said he expects to make an announcement in a month or so.
Unlike former U.S. Rep. David Emery, who said Thursday he was scrapping consideration of a gubernatorial campaign because 2002 Republican nominee Peter Cianchette had decided to make another try for the Blaine House, Bennett said he felt that the "more candidates, the better."
Added Bennett: "What´s motivating me to think about this is the real feeling that Maine needs a dialogue about our collective future. A gubernatorial election is a unique opportunity to do that."
128-14 in the House, 34-1 in the Senate.
"I wish we could do more," said Sen. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, the second Democratic senator on the Appropriations Committee.
For most debaters, the question was not whether to borrow, but how much.
"These are infrastructure needs we can´t walk away from," said Republican Sen. Richard Nass of Acton, a member of the Appropriations Committee that negotiated final details of the proposed borrowing plan.
Without disputing Nass, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Schneider of Orono went further, arguing that "this is too small a bond package."
A bloc of 10 or more Senate Democrats lined up in support of a number of amendments aimed at boosting overall borrowing for various projects, but was unable to overcome an opposition anchored by the three members of Democratic leadership, led by Senate President Beth Edmonds of Freeport.
Not that there was any doubt, but now it's official.
On Thursday, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced that gay-rights opponents had gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the civil rights law passed this year by the Legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci.
Opponents had to gather at least 50,519 signatures, or the equivalent of 10 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, to force a "people's veto" referendum on Election Day. On Thursday, Dunlap declared that 56,650 signatures collected this spring were valid, paving the way for a vote on Nov. 8.
Peter Cianchette is set to announce today that he will seek the Republican Gubernatorial nomination.
Cianchette was the party's nominee in 2002 and has been considered likely to make another run for the job in 2006. In 2002, Cianchette gathered 41 percent of the votes compared to 48 percent for Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. [...]
He supports a constitutional amendment to cap spending by state, county and local governments. He also wants a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to create or increase taxes or fees.
Two bits of news today on the environmental front. First, The Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Natural Resources Defense Council are suing IP over the allegedly illegal pollution the Androscoggin River.
There are two ways IP is violating the Clean Water Act, Carson said. "They do not have a permit now to pollute. They have not had one since 2001. It is illegal under the federal Clean Water Act to discharge into the river, or any water body, without a valid operating permit." The state permitting process "has been an endless string of broken promises to people who live along the river. Our patience has been worn out," he said.
"We must protect and defend Moosehead now and for future generations," Jonathan Carter, a former Green Party candidate for governor and director of the Forest Ecology Network, said at a news conference in Portland. "This type of development doesn't belong in Maine."
Legislators and lobbyists are meeting feverishly to hammer out the details of a bond package to be voted on this Friday. Back-room negotiations have had some strange results, including the elimination of the bipartisan working-waterfront bond and an attempt to repeal the new paint fees that are meant to fund education on lead poisoning.
The Christian Civic League's former director weighs in on the anti-discrimination law.
The time has come to call it a day and let this law stand. The time has come for the league to move on. [...] Very few would seriously insist that any person should lose his job simply because of his sexual orientation. No Christian should make such a case, vindictive as it is. [...]
The civic league fights not only a losing cause, but a vacuous one. This is a proverbial tempest in a teapot, calculated more to raise money and energize volunteers than to significantly clarify public policy.
Maine lawyer and historian Paul H. Mills examines Baldacci's gubernatorial term to date in a LSJ column. (registration required)
At the outset of his administration, Baldacci was both seemingly successful and popular, putting through a $5.6 billion bipartisan state budget, winning the support of over two-thirds of the Legislature in the process. His policy initiatives such as Dirigo Health and Pine Tree economic zones, also won wide initial acclaim. He vanquished a billion-dollar budget gap without a major tax increase. So far, so good.
But something else happened, even before the unpopular plan - from which he later wisely retreated - to sell off 16 years of future lottery proceeds in order to temporarily balance the budget. [...] Early in 2004, an intense public focus on the perceived need for an Augusta initiated alternative to the citizen-based tax revolt put the governor on the spot. There developed a perception that the Blaine House was not able to captivate public and legislative support for meaningful tax reform alternatives.
Rep. Tom Saviello of Wilton has dropped his Democratic affiliation and has become an independent, narrowing the Democratic majority in the House to two votes with one Green and now two independents represented as well.
Al Diamon does an excellent job this week of chronicling some of the lies and hatred that are the daily fare of the Christian Civic League. He even gives me some credit for catching one of their most blatant fabrications. He also gives us a window into the thinking of the extremists at the CCL by quoting some of their own, incredibly bigoted, words.
Heath may become even more extreme as the vote approaches, but it’s difficult to believe he could get much further from reality than he did in his newsletter last September, in which he claimed, "evil forces in our state are using [the term ‘sexual orientation’] to train your kids and grandkids that all sex — with anything, anybody, anywhere — is good, right and noble. A friend of mine accurately describes this as a ‘pansexual jihad.’ "
"It will be true for some of us that death is preferable to a reconciled life, if that life includes the acceptance of moral evils like sodomy."
Clyde MacDonald, mentioned here previously, has an op-ed in the BDN today. One point he stresses is the well-known fact that many Republicans wish to eliminate Social Security entirely and see private accounts as the first step in phasing out the program.
Since 1983, anti-SS Republicans have relied on the rightist Cato Institute for their ideas. Most recently, Cato published Karl Borden's "Dismantling the Pyramid: The Why and How of Dismantling Social Security." Cato advocates private accounts (PA's) as the first step toward ending SS. They stress to the young that SS will not be there for them when they retire. President Bush's words almost exactly match Cato's. Cato has convinced many Republicans that private accounts should appeal to younger workers; if so, they would offset the votes of seniors who have been punishing SS's enemies at the polls.
President Bush began his anti-SS campaign by proclaiming the trust fund was collapsing and that he had a plan to "save it," by allowing workers to divert one third of their SS tax into private accounts. But it is logically impossible to increase the trust fund by cutting its income by 15 to 30 percent, depending upon how many young workers choose that option. The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card, last month in Bangor twice denied that they would be cutting the fund's income, but finally admitted the Bush plan was not to shore up the trust fund but to "save retirement."
The negative effects on future Social Security recipients are substantial. Maine workers currently between the ages of 35 and 55 would suffer an average benefit cut of $1,225 per year, while workers younger than 35 would lose an average of $2,770 annually. Of the 171,000 workers in the Second District who would see benefit cuts, 85,000 would lose more than 10% of their benefit and an additional 24,000 people would lose more than 20%.
In total, Maine workers can expect to lose $10.3 billion in retirement benefits under the Administration's privatization plan.
Read her blog entry at the Huffington Post.
[...] After making their purchases in a cross-border drug store that looked just like one back in Maine, they sat down over coffee to compare their receipts to the ones they had brought from home. Their collective savings were $18,000. I once sat next to a woman taking Tomaxifin, a wonderful drug that has made a life-saving difference for many women with breast cancer. She paid $110 for her 30 day supply at her local pharmacy in Maine, yet in Saint Stevens, New Brunswick, the same amount only cost $12.35. As far as I am concerned, that is criminal and there is just no excuse for it, period. For many people these are life-saving drugs and people really do make choices between buying food and medication every day.
From the AP:
[Former Republican legislator Stavros] Mendros said the $1-per-pack tax increase is only one of several provisions he challenges.
He also seeks to undo provisions he said delay state subsidies to public schools, and reimbursements for "tree growth" tax breaks and for Business Equipment Tax Reimbursements. Also at issue are corporate tax increases and cuts in revenue sharing, he said.
I'm glad I was away from newspapers and television for a week.
Gay rights opponents submitted more than 57,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's Office on Tuesday afternoon to force a November referendum on the new state law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination.
"Three months ago men and women from all parts of Maine and all political parties stood together to pass landmark legislation to protect people of all sexual identities from discrimination in the workplace, in housing, lending and education. That was a proud day for Maine," Richardson said.
"I am not surprised by todays announcement that Michael Heath and the Christian Civic League have submitted signatures to the Secretary of State for verification that would force a referendum on that issue. I am also not disappointed by todays announcement.
"I welcome the chance to go before the people of Maine and defend this policy. I think that this is an opportunity for Maine to join the rest of New England in saying that it is wrong to let the majority of society dictate to the minority the rights they should have.
"I hope that in the coming months we can have an open and honest debate about why the people of Maine should stand behind eliminating discrimination and support this policy," Richardson said.
One of the major tenets of the Bush privatization push has been the assertion that the Social Security trust fund is worthless. (It's not, it's full of U.S. Treasury bonds, which are the most secure monetary instruments in the world and are backed by the full faith and credit of this country) If you accept this premise, then all kinds of threats can be made about the immediate solvency of the program and the horrors of fewer workers paying into the system in years to come. The exact kinds of threats that Card was making in his speech.
"The President says the government has already spent the money you paid to fund your Social Security"
"The President visited the Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg. He saw the filing cabinet filled with debt slips. President Bush says those slips are all that's left and that Social Security will run out of money."
Using a government filing cabinet as a prop, President Bush on Tuesday played to fears that the Social Security Trust Fund is little more than a stack of worthless IOUs. [...]
"There is no trust fund, just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay," Bush said after inspecting the site.
-Knight Ridder Newspapers
"There is no trust fund," [Bush] said later in a speech at West Virginia University [...]
No one but an ignoramus expects there to be actual currency stored someplace for future Social Security payments. The government has used surplus payroll tax revenues for other purposes, replacing them with those Treasury securities.
When the time comes that the Social Security Administration needs to dip into the fund Bush says does not exist, it will redeem those bonds, the same as other investors in Treasuries -- like Japanese pension funds and the Chinese government -- will.
[...] the president of the United States implying that Treasury bonds represent empty promises is more than dishonest. It is an attempt to spread groundless fear.
- Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho) Editorial