Stop LePage from ripping up Maine’s job training system | Bangor Daily News

By The Bangor Daily News Editorial Board

On Friday, Sept. 8, Joanna Russell’s cell phone rang while she was on vacation in New York. It was a courtesy call from the Maine Department of Labor that the state would no longer be participating in an approximately $9-million-per-year program that helps people get the skills they need for work that’s available in their area.

As the executive director of the board in Bangor that convenes all the different organizations and businesses necessary to make workforce development actually work in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock, Aroostook and Washington counties, the word that Russell kept returning to was “crisis.”

If Maine withdrew from the program, which is entirely funded with federal money, it would have an immediate effect. Unemployed people would have to stop their job training programs in the coming weeks, as money for tuition ran out. A couple thousand low-income adults, laid-off workers and struggling youth each year would no longer receive free, personalized help with learning a marketable skill. Education providers would lose funding and students. The infrastructure supporting the programs would collapse.

Rob Moreau, 33, is one of the hundreds of people currently receiving services who would lose them. He is attending college to become an X-ray technician after he was laid off from Home Depot. The workforce program pays for his tuition and child care for his 1-year-old daughter. If the funding goes away, he and his wife, Shelby, who works full time, will be left scrambling to find ways to pay for Moreau’s training, while also paying their many other bills.

“This is a crisis. It’s a crisis for our job seekers and businesses in the state right now,” Russell said soon after receiving the news that Gov. Paul LePage had alerted the federal government that Maine was willing to lose millions of dollars that flow through the Maine Department of Labor to three regional workforce development boards, which are led by local businesses.

It is also an unnecessary crisis. LePage has tried twice in his tenure to eliminate the regional boards in favor of one statewide board. When the federal government denied his most recent request — based on the reason that he didn’t have the local boards’ support — he responded with this scheme to simply not fund them.

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Acadia National Park considering purchase of iconic MDI lighthouse | Bangor Daily News

Ownership of the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island could be changing hands if officials at Acadia National Park choose to accept the picturesque landmark from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Christie Anastasia, public affairs specialist at Acadia, said many visitors to the lighthouse already assume it’s part of the park since it is surrounded by federal land and frequently pictured in advertisements featuring the park.

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Maine Archaeologists Find Evidence of Historic English Fort | Assocated Press

BRISTOL, Maine (AP) — Archaeologists in Maine say they have uncovered possible evidence of the first fort at the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site.

The Portland Press Herald reports archaeologists concluded a two-week dig at the site on Friday. Archaeologists were searching for evidence of England’s Fort Charles. The fort was built in 1677 and later destroyed by French and Native American forces.

The group says they found potential “post holes,” flint and musket balls in the area.

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Read the longer version in the Portland Press Herald.

 

 

A Perfect Weekend Away in Southern Maine | Vogue

Ellen Leduc

When most people think of Maine, the first things that come to mind are the foods with which the state is practically synonymous: lobster and blueberries. Then the mind might wander a bit to visions of quaint coastal towns, rolling Atlantic waves, and dense forests with their heady scent of pine mixed with fresh sea air. And while Maine is certainly these things, it has so much more to offer, especially in Portland and its surrounding towns. Portland was once thought to simply be a small, weather-worn costal city playing second fiddle to big shots like Boston, but this has thankfully changed. This gem of a city is now a major destination for those looking for incredible food, small-batch breweries with cult followings, and amazing independent shops that will tempt you to blow your weekend budget in a ten-minute period. And if Portland isn’t enough, the rest of southern Maine presents ample attractions like cute costal towns and hikes offering vistas that make breaking a sweat very worthwhile.

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Bangor to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day | Bangor Daily News

The city of Bangor on Monday night became the second city in Maine and among a few dozens of U.S. cities to vote to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day on the second Monday in October.

The resolve to that end, which was approved in a unanimous vote, came at the request from members of the Penobscot Nation, whose Tribal Council member Maulian Dana Smith led the effort.

Supporters of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Maine and other parts of the nation have said that honoring Columbus essentially glorifies colonization, racism and genocide.

“We are so excited for the work and the communication and the unity it has taken to get up to this point,” Smith said after the vote.

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Stalking Stephen King in Bangor, the world capital of horror | Independent

[Note: Can tell Mr. MacLeacheran must be “from away,” because he writes in the third paragraph the “northern Maine town of Bangor.” I was born and raised in The County. That’s northern Maine! I suppose we can all let it pass this time.]

By Mike MacLeacheran

“That’s where they found the eyeball in the fortune cookie,” says Stu Tinker, turning to point out a suburban Chinese restaurant from the window of his tour van. “Steve used to go with his wife Tabby to the Oriental Jade and it’s the inspiration for the scene in It. But you know he renamed it the Jade of the Orient, right?”

Stu Tinker is undeniably America’s biggest Stephen King fanboy, having owned a book shop for nine years that only sold titles by the horror author, and he’s once again stepped through the looking glass to chew over his favourite scene. It’s 9am on a dreary Saturday and we are sat in his van, the windscreen wipers adding a syncopated Psycho-like stab, while Stu obsesses over the devilish plot lines of It that lurk on the streets he grew up on.

The northern Maine town of Bangor is justifiably famous for its association with King, an author with more than 60 novels and close to 200 short stories, and it’s getting in the mood for two new film adaptations this summer. The first, The Dark Tower, starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, arrived last week while an updated version of his cult classic It (famous for Pennywise the clown, whose chuckling, rotten voice still scares the bejesus out of plenty of adults) is out next month. “The producers wanted to film the new It here,” says Stu, noticeably irritated. “But they couldn’t get the money together, so they shot in Ottawa instead. Still, Bangor is Derry.”

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Higgins Beach, Maine: Surfer’s Paradise In New England | offMetro.com

[NOTE: I’ve lived in California longer than I’ve lived in Maine, but the Pine Tree State runs like pine sap in my veins. And in all that time living in California, I’ve never learned to surf. Scared of the sharks, I suppose, or being driven into the ocean floor by a wave. But there’s surfing in Maine, too.]

Higgins Beach is just a few miles from Portland, but the surfer vibe is straight out of a Beach Boys song. Welcome to a laid-back coastal community loaded with yesteryear charm. Kids ride their bikes around town, surfers catch waves until night falls and the tides are a constant source of conversation. It’s an easy-breezy, ocean-studded getaway and an idyllic spot for a last summer hurrah or an autumn weekend by the Atlantic. This pocket-sized town is perfect for carefree, car-free travels.

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LePage said 7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy. It was maybe 30. | Bangor Daily News’ State and Capitol blog

By Michael Shepherd

Calling himself “a history buff,” Gov. Paul LePage revised Civil War history as we know it in a Tuesday radio interview when discussing the racially charged violence in Virginia and saying “7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy.”

There is just a kernel of truth: Maine State Archivist David Cheever said that approximately 30 people are confirmed to have gone from Maine to the Confederacy, including students who left Bowdoin College in Brunswick and what is now Colby College in Waterville to fight, but they could have been from other parts of the country.

Maine’s history as one of the proudest Union states is well-documented. It sent about 73,000 people to war — a higher proportion than any other state — and more than 9,000 died, though there were some pockets of Southern sympathizers.

A few men with Maine ties became Confederate generals, including the Leeds-born Danville Leadbetterthe Avon-born Zebulon York and Josiah Gorgas, who controlled the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta from 1856 to 1858.

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Maine jobless rate stays at a historic low as more look for work | Bangor Daily News

Dashboard of unemployment

Maine’s jobless rate remained below 4 percent in July, marking the second longest period at that level in more than four decades.

The Maine Department of Labor reported the preliminary estimate of Maine’s unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in July, up slightly from June and down from 4 percent one year earlier.

The slight uptick in Maine’s unemployment rate comes from a new diversion in the estimate of people looking for work and those with jobs, changes that could be due to the way those estimates are made and adjusted.

The latest figures estimate a dip in the number of employed people, while the estimate of the people looking for work has continued to grow. The unemployment rate is the share of those active job seekers who haven’t found work.

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The U.S. was formed around ideals, not a race or religion | Bangor Daily News

By George Mitchell

The statements by President Donald Trump regarding the events in Charlottesville were unwise and unfortunate, and represented a failure of leadership.

Most of the world’s nations were formed around homogeneous groups of people, in race or religion. The United States was formed around ideals. Set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they’re not easy to summarize. But surely they include:

The sovereignty of the people; the primacy of individual liberty; an independent judicial system under the rule of law; opportunity for every member of society; and equal rights and equal justice for all.

It is our commitment to these ideals that make us Americans, not our race, our religion, or our heritage.

When the United States was established, it had a small population clinging to the Atlantic coast. For most of our history we have received people from around the world to fill a vast continent where we created a new and free system of governance. Obviously we cannot now return to the days of open immigration. But we should and must respect all of our people, whatever their race, their religion, their background.

The angry, violent and supremacist views of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists must be categorically and unequivocally rejected by all Americans.

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LePage: Removing Confederate statues is like taking down 9/11 memorial | The Hill

[Note: LePage has been nearly as big an embarrassment as Trump. This proves it … again.]

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Thursday defended President Trump’s claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence that erupted at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, comparing Confederate memorials to those put up to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

In an interview on WGAN radio in Portland, LePage accused counterdemonstrators of “trying to erase history” by calling for the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“I think what they are standing for is equally as bad. They are trying to erase history,” said LePage, a Republican and staunch Trump ally who has garnered a reputation for making controversial and inflammatory statements. “How can future generations learn if we’re going to erase history? That’s disgusting.

“Listen, whether we like it or not, this is what our history is,” he added. “And to me, it’s just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11. It will come to that.”

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Our View: LePage’s remarks on Charlottesville are too little, too late | Portland Press Herald

Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, isn’t known for holding his tongue. It’s deeply troubling, then, that while other elected officials made a point of speaking up, it took LePage nearly three days to make a mealy-mouthed comment on the racist violence that killed a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend.

The violence erupted Saturday afternoon when alt-righter James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of people gathered as a counterprotest to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Heather Heyer was killed and 19 others injured in the attack; Fields has been charged with homicide and is being held without bail.

The condemnation from most of the nation’s governors was timely and bipartisan. By Monday afternoon, 39 governors – including every governor in New England – had commented on the tragedy, according to Maine Public Radio.

But Maine’s chief executive didn’t say anything until Tuesday morning, when he told Bangor-based WVOM: “My heart goes out to the families of the injured. I feel it’s a horrific act. It’s an issue that happened in Virginia and I think Virginia authorities should be dealing with it. I just hope it never happens in Maine again because it happened here in 1922.”

We appreciate the nod to Maine’s shameful history (the Ku Klux Klan was a political and cultural force here in the 1920s and helped elected a governor in 1924), but for LePage to say that Saturday’s attack is of limited concern outside Virginia is highly shortsighted. While Maine hasn’t seen deadly violence of the kind that unfolded in Charlottesville, vile, racially charged remarks of the kind that embolden violent people are a regular occurrence here. One of the chief offenders: Gov. LePage.

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Our View: Trump’s stance on violent extremists is a disgrace | Portland Press Herald

If this feels different, it’s because it is.

Never in modern American history has a president so elevated the forces of hate, or so bastardized and mangled the country’s past. Never has a president looked at a display as malevolent and disgusting as the torch-fueled march Friday night in Charlottesville and refused to condemn it, saying “there are two sides to a story.”

In a week in which the leader of the free world gave comfort to people shouting “Jews won’t replace us,” we have to ask, what kind of country are we?

At a news conference Tuesday, one day after reading off a teleprompter a canned and insincere refutation of white nationalism, President Trump showed us what he really thinks.

Speaking extemporaneously, Trump more strongly repeated his initial claim that blame for the violence in Charlottesville was “on both sides,” as if who is in the right – the Nazis calling for a racially pure country, or those who oppose them in the name of true American values – is up for discussion.

Trump didn’t come out and say that white nationalists have a friend in the White House, but he didn’t have to. After decades in which any association with Nazis was a ticket out of public life, having the president mimic their talking points was more than they could have ever hoped for.

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Portland rally in support of Charlottesville victims: ‘This affects everybody’ | Portland Press Herald

By Megan Doyle
Staff Writer

About 50 people gathered spontaneously Saturday in Portland to support the people killed and injured while peacefully protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Marie Follayttar Smith, one of the leaders of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, created a Facebook event for the rally Saturday evening, and within an hour, a small crowd began to gather on the Eastern Promenade. Jennifer Jones of Falmouth, another one of the organizers, said they felt the need to take action after seeing the news of the day’s violence.

“I got home and didn’t want to just sit there,” Jones said. “If we’re silent, we’re allowing this.”

The group slowly grew as the sun set. Young people led chants of “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Two men held a large canvas painted with the words “Say No To Racism,” and passing cars honked. The participants shared a moment of silence and read a poem. They talked about the need to create a broad network for protests like this one.

“This affects everybody,” said Dylan Smith-Monahan, a 25-year-old from Portland who came to the rally with members of the International Socialist Organization. “We need a unified response to what’s happening.”

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Maine press must demand answers from LePage | Bangor Daily News

By Lance Dutson

It used to be a given that politicians sought to be on the right side of the press. As the old adage went, “you shouldn’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

But in Maine, in the era of Paul LePage, that ink has become virtually worthless.

Enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution, a free and robust press is a pillar of our democracy. As much as the three branches of government hold the power to check and balance each other, a free press serves as the Fourth Estate, a watchdog over all of them.

At least this is how it’s supposed to be.

In our state, the system has broken down. Our press no longer functions as an effective check on power, and more and more serves as a vessel for the dissemination of false information.

The crux of this breakdown is the governor’s declared policy that he will not answer questions from reporters. In a free society, this is unconscionable. But what’s worse is the fact that the Maine press generally accepts it.

LePage has set up a network of friendly platforms to broadcast his message to the people of Maine, including talk radio and right-wing websites. By shutting down direct objective press access, he’s eliminated the need to justify any of his statements, and can instead lapse into hyperbole and outright falsehoods with no fear of being held accountable.

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How Maine people moved Sen. Collins and stopped Trumpcare | Bangor Daily News

By Amy Fried

The stories we tell about politics have consequences, shaping how people and groups act in the future. Tales of courageous politicians, however uplifting, can overlook how citizens influenced them.

After the dramatic failure of the health care vote in the Senate, attention flowed to the three Republicans who broke with their party — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona — each a protagonist in this drama.

What actually happened shows how much citizens mattered in the health care fight and provides lessons for democracy in the Trump era.

On health care, Collins did not start where she ended and she shifted after considerable grassroots action.

Moreover, confronting Collins meant challenging the most popular elected official in the state, who was used to highly laudatory press.

Using guidelines from the Indivisibles Guide, a document developed by former congressional staff that sparked people to form local chapters, Maine people repeatedly asked Collins to hold a town hall. She never did.

Constituents found her anyway, and spoke to her and her staff in Maine and Washington, D.C. All sides benefited from a Maine political culture that prizes civility. While confrontations could be intense, they were also courteous.

And so, coming out of a Bangor radio station one snowy February day, Collins faced something virtually unprecedented for her — public pressure. After one womanpolitely told her, “I would like to request a public access town hall, please,” the senator walked to her car.

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Mainers believed there was a sea monster in Casco Bay 200 years ago | CBS 13 (WGME, Portland, Maine)

PORTLAND, Maine – As Portland celebrates tall ships weekend, there are some who believe tall ships aren’t the only things at home in Casco Bay.

For centuries, people have claimed to see sea monsters in Maine’s waters, with an unusual spike in such sightings, 200 years ago this summer.

Sea monster stories and sightings go back centuries, including a famous one involving Maine naval hero Commodore Edward Preble, giving chase to one in 1779.

In the long history of Maine sea monster sightings one summer stands out, 1817.

Read the rest of this story by CBS 13 (WGME, Portland, Maine) via the Bangor Daily News

Two tall ships will moor in Portland this weekend | Portland Press Hearld

B y Dennis Hoey
Staff Wrtier

Two of the world’s most majestic three-masted tall ships will be in Portland Harbor this weekend on what just happens to be the anniversary of the founding of the United States Coast Guard.

Known as “America’s Tall Ship,” the Coast Guard’s 295-foot barque USS Eagle is scheduled to dock at Portland’s Ocean Terminal around 10 a.m. Friday. The Eagle will be joined Saturday morning by another tall ship – the 200-foot sail-training ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, which was moored off Fort Allen Park Thursday night. Both ships will be open for free, public tours throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday.

The event is sponsored by Tall Ships Portland – a nonprofit that promotes sailing experiences for high school-age teens – in conjunction with the Coast Guard, which coincidentally will be celebrating its 227th anniversary on National Coast Guard Day. The Coast Guard was founded by an act of Congress on Aug. 4, 1790.

“We are thrilled to bring these two storied vessels together for Tall Ships Weekend,” Alex Agnew, President of Tall Ships Portland, said in a statement. “We hope that the people of Portland and everyone in the area enjoy all that we have planned.”

Listening to real people trumps threats in ACA repeal battle | Bangor Daily News

There are many reasons that Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and to replace it with inferior plans that would have also gutted Medicaid, failed in Congress. One of the biggest reasons is that Republican leadership, especially in the Senate, tried to pass proposals that were hastily written, had no clear policy goals, and had no objective expert analysis. As a result, those proposals would have harmed millions of American people.

So, it is disheartening, but not surprising, that President Donald Trump is now trying to undermine the ACA through backdoor executive actions, which could have dire consequences for millions of Americans, rather than a bipartisan effort to fix what is really wrong with the health insurance law.

After the last attempt to repeal portions of the ACA, known as “skinny repeal,” failed last Friday morning, done in by “no” votes from Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain, Trump said he’d let the insurance program fail, to make lawmakers more eager to reach a deal. “As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch,” he posted on Twitter.

Trump has suggested that his administration will end payments to insurance companies that encourage them to take on lower-income subscribers by lowering their out-of-pocket costs such as co-pays and deductibles. Without the cost-sharing reduction payments, many insurers would likely increase premium costs and some would drop out of the ACA market.

The administration may also stop enforcing the individual mandate, a much maligned portion of the law, but one that is necessary to bring younger, healthier people into the market.

Congress must quickly step in to stop such disastrous moves. The Senate Health Care Committee announced Tuesday that it will begin holding hearings early next month on how best to stabilize the individual health insurance market. Congress must also appropriate the funds to continue the cost-sharing reduction payments, which are necessary to keep health insurance affordable for many lower-income Americans.

Read the rest of this editorial.

George Mitchell blasts LePage for attacks on Susan Collins, Angus King | Bangor Daily News

Former Democratic U.S. Sen. George Mitchell defended Maine’s current U.S. senators Thursday for their votes regarding the Affordable Care Act in response to Gov. Paul LePage’s prolonged criticism of their positions.

LePage has used his public speaking engagements in recent days to lambaste Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King for their votes against repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Since Saturday, LePage has rallied supporters at a Somerset County GOP eventagainst Collins, ripped her and King in two radio interviews, penned a scathing commentary against them in the Wall Street Journal and targeted them in this week’s radio address.

“U.S. senators like Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are enjoying Cadillac health insurance plans while they are mandating Americans ride a moped,” said LePage in the latter. “They are so busy seeking the national limelight, they are ignoring the people in their own state.”

Members of Congress and their staffs can purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, with the bulk of their premiums covered by the government. King’s and Collins’ staffs did not immediately respond to Bangor Daily News questions about their specific health care plans and whether they had contacted LePage or his staff to ask him to correct his assertion that they have “Cadillac plans.”

In a statement to reporters on Thursday, Mitchell took umbrage with LePage’s assertions.

“I respectfully but strongly disagree,” he said. “Sens. Collins and King did in fact represent the best interests of the vast majority of Maine people.”

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