Category Archives: Maine

I’m a scientist and a Mainer. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration | The Washington Post via Bangor Daily News

By Joel Clement

I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.

Nearly seven years ago, I came to work for the Interior Department, where, among other things, I’ve helped endangered communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. But on June 15, I was one of about 50 senior department employees who received letters informing us of involuntary reassignments. Citing a need to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,” the letter informed me that I was reassigned to an unrelated job in the accounting office that collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.

I am not an accountant — but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up. A few days after my reassignment, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before Congress that the department would use reassignments as part of its effort to eliminate employees; the only reasonable inference from that testimony is that he expects people to quit in response to undesirable transfers. Some of my colleagues are being relocated across the country, at taxpayer expense, to serve in equally ill-fitting jobs.

Read more of this powerful commentary by Joel Clement.

As Feds Move Away From Climate Change, Maine and New England Consider Stronger CO2 Caps | Maine Public

While the federal government pulls back from global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, the New England states are considering more aggressive curbs on power plant carbon emissions.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is a market-based cap-and-trade program that sets limits on carbon-dioxide emissions in nine states, including all of New England. Power generators can buy and sell emission allowances under the program — which can give a financial boost to cleaner sources such as wind or hydro plants. So far RGGI’s allowance auctions have raised more than $2.5 billion, with the proceeds flowing to the states, and most of them investing heavily in energy efficiency efforts.

“All the evidence points to the fact that RGGI’s working well, it’s been a great success since its inception,” says Peter Shattuck, director of the Clean Energy Initiative at the Acadia Center, an an environmental policy group with offices in Maine and around the northeast.

“[Since RGGI’s 2009 startup] carbon pollution is down 40 percent, electricity prices are down 3 percent, and at the same time [the participating] states’ economies have grown by 25 percent,” he says.

Read and listen to the rest of this story.

Maine doctors prescribing far fewer opioids, analysis at county level shows | Portland Press Herald

Maine doctors are prescribing far fewer opioids to patients compared with several years ago, a trend that experts say bodes well for future alleviation of the opioid crisis.

However, it’s unknown how long it will take for the decline to have an impact on addiction rates and deaths, and the prescribing rates vary widely, with two of Maine’s 16 counties actually seeing an increase.

The prescribing trends are captured in two reports – a county-level analysis published last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a national report with state-level data prepared in the spring by a Connecticut health consulting company, QuintilesIMS.

The Quintiles report, done for the American Medical Association, showed that the number of opioid prescriptions in Maine fell 21.5 percent from 2013 to 2016. That’s the fourth-highest drop in the nation, which averaged a 14.6 percent reduction in the same period. Maine’s 0.7 per-capita opioid prescription rate now matches the national average.

Read the rest of the story.

“New” Potatoes – A Taste of the County | Aroostook County Tourism blog

There are many food seasons for foodies to enjoy in the county!  Fiddleheads, local strawberries, fresh peas, beet greens…YUM!

But the very best of all, and you are welcome to come to Aroostook and join us – new potatoes!

All along Route 1 and other roads as you drive throughout the county, you will see simple farm stands with the (usually) hand painted sign saying “new potatoes”.  These kiosks are typically on the honor system.  You simply put your money into the container and grab a bag.

Read the rest of this blog entry.

Maine governor suggests he makes up stories to mislead media | The Associated Press

[Note: This guy is a disgrace and an embarrassment to Maine and the United States. True statesmen and stateswomen are turning in their graves. What a freakin’ joke. Doesn’t he get that there is democracy only with a free press.]

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage lashed out at the media for reporting he planned to leave the state during a budget impasse, and he suggested he sometimes concocts stories to mislead reporters.

The Republican governor also characterized the state media as “vile,” ″inaccurate” and “useless.”

“I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid, it’s awful,” he told WGAN-AM on Thursday.

Maine media, citing lawmakers, reported recently that LePage might leave the state amid a government shutdown. Republicans including Senate President Michael Thibodeau and Sen. Roger Katz said LePage had told them he planned to leave the state.

Responding to a Freedom of Access Act request, the Senate Republican office produced a voicemail Thursday in which the governor is heard telling Katz, “I’m heading out of town for about 10 days and I’d like to speak to you before I leave. So could you give me a call please? Thank you.”

A LePage spokesman called the news reports “fake news.”

In the radio interview, LePage reiterated his disdain for the media, in particular newspapers, saying “the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.”

Read the rest of the story.

Trump travel ban expected to start tonight, will ‘hurt innocent people,’ Maine Arab leader says | Bangor Daily News

[Note: We are a nation of immigrants, so this ban is un-American. It will hurt the wrong people and there is absolutely no guarantee it will reduce the threat of terrorism. It will only cause more global mistrust of the United States.]

President Donald Trump’s travel ban from six mostly Muslim countries, after clearing a key hurdle in the U.S. Supreme Court, could take effect Thursday night, according to multiple reports.

An Arab community leader in Maine decried the president’s travel ban as a punishment for people who have done nothing wrong, and said the move disrespects America’s history as a nation built by immigrants and refugees.

Zoe Sahloul was born in Lebanon and came to Maine nearly two decades ago. She now serves as the executive director of the New England Arab American Organization, with offices in Westbrook and Portland.

“I believe in the goodness of people,” she said. “Unfortunately with these regulations, a lot of people are being hurt, a lot of people who are innocent and who have had nothing to do with terrorists. People are desperate to leave [war-torn countries], and they’re desperate to have any help they can get to save their kids and save their families.

“I’ve been in Maine for 20 years, and even with that, I’ve been so stressed out and so afraid,” Sahloul continued. “When we talk about immigrants, who is not a product of immigrants in the United States, whether you’re third or fourth generation?”

Trump’s travel ban will block travel to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — four of which are Arab nations, and all of which are predominantly Muslim — for at least 90 days. The president’s measure will also prevent refugees from any country from entering the U.S. for at least 120 days.

Read the rest of the story by Seth Koenig in the Bangor Daily News.

Senate GOP leaders abruptly delay vote on healthcare bill until after July 4th recess | Los Angles Times

Facing resistance from their own party, Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday they would postpone a vote on their healthcare bill until after the July 4th recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to provide more time to make changes to the bill to try to convince reluctant GOP senators to vote for the measure.

“We’re going to press on,” McConnell said, adding he remains optimistic. “We’re continuing to talk.”

Since the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill would leave 22 million more Americans without insurance after 10 years, several Republicans senators had said they would not even support allowing the bill to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

Meanwhile, President Trump invited all GOP senators to the White House for a meeting Tuesday afternoon.

But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate who has expressed serious doubts about the bill, questioned whether revisions would make a difference.

“I have so many fundamental problems with the bill, that have been confirmed by the CBO report, that it’s difficult to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the bill,” Collins said on CNN.

Read the rest of the story.

Sen. Susan Collins Will Vote No On Health Care Bill: Her announcement is a significant blow to Senate Republicans | Huffington Post

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Monday she would not vote for the Senate’s controversial health care bill, despite urging from fellow Republicans to pass the legislation as soon as this week.

In a series of tweets, Collins cited a Congressional Budget Office report released Monday that found the new bill would cause 22 million people to lose their insurance over the next 10 years. The Senate’s bill would also dramatically undercut federal funding for Medicaid and financial assistance for low- and middle-income people, all facts Collins said wouldn’t “fix ACA problems for rural Maine,” referring to the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.

The announcement is a significant blow to Senate Republicans, particularly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has scrambled to garner support for the bill, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday.

Read more of this story and view images of Sen. Collins’ tweets and a table that shows the differences between the Affordable Care Act and the two GOP versions to repeal and replace ACA.

 

Maine health care providers urge Sen. Susan Collins to oppose health care bill | Bangor Daily News and Maine Public

Maine health providers from across the state spoke in Lewiston on Friday to denounce the Senate health care bill and urge Sen. Susan Collins to oppose it.

Portland family physician Dr. Sam Zager said the Senate bill will cut off care for patients.

“I think this gets to the core of what it means to have a civilized society,” he said. “Are we going to turn people out? Are we going to toss them off the ship and let them drown at sea? Or are we going to acknowledge that we have a responsibility for the welfare of those around us?”

The Senate bill would partially cut funding for the Medicaid program, which pays for the majority of long-term care costs for seniors and people with disabilities.

Read the rest of the story.

Closer look at a nurse, Ebola and the contagion of fear

The Portland Press Herald over the past couple of days have put together several stories and op-ed pieces to look closer at a Maine nurse, Kaci Hickox, and the frenzy of fear surrounding the chances Ebola could spread in Maine. Hickox is from the city where I was born, Fort Kent, and I still have family in the area. My mother travels there every couple of weeks to visit with them. Of course, I’m concerned for health of all of them. But neither Ebola nor Hickox are the greatest threats to my family. Here are links to several of the pieces by the Press Herald:

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox speaks out | Portland Press Herald

Close-knit Fort Kent finds itself split by a frenzy from away | Portland Press Herald

Bill Nemitz: Suit up, Maine, in case governor’s ignorance of contagion is contagious | Portland Press Herald

Bill Maher, Angus King discuss Hickox, Ebola on HBO show | Portland Press Herald

Our View: Maine’s Ebola reaction based on fear, not science | Portland Press Herald

‘Months later, I realized what we did’: Former Loring airman turns tale of daring mid-air rescue into book, movie | Bangor Daily News

I grew up in Portage, a little over an hour’s drive from where Loring Air Force Base was located. I recall seeing B-52s on training missions flying by overhead. This is a cool story of bravery.

Ron Craft of Ansonia, Connecticut, says he is neither a writer nor a public speaker, but his passion to share the story of an air rescue he witnessed as a 23-year-old stationed at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone has compelled him to be both.

It is the story of heroic valor executed with such calm competence that only in retrospect did Craft recognize the significance of what he had observed.

“I was inexperienced,” he said in a recent interview. “I didn’t know that they don’t do this on a regular basis. Everyone did his job professionally, as though rehearsed. I’m thinking, ‘Man, we have a cool job.’ But this is not in any manuals. Months later, I realized what we did.”

And 31 years later, he is translating his admiration for military bravery into a book and a movie about the experience, with help from California-based screenwriter and producer Mark Roemmich, president and CEO of Noble House Entertainment. Titled “Hell Over High Water,” the project represents the culmination of 12 years of effort by Craft to record his memory of a dramatic mid-air maneuver that changed his life.

Read more of this story by Kathryn Olmstead in the Bangor Daily News.

Watch Your Step: A Hike on the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park | Trailmix, the L.L. Bean blog

L.L. Bean and Acadia National Park are truly Maine fixtures. And I’m becoming a fan of the L.L. Bean blog.

Our Employee Outing Club takes dozens of trips every year – everything from skiing and snowshoeing in the winter to hiking, paddling and camping in the summer. A recent trip took a group of L.L.Bean employees up the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park, where a steep and rocky hike led them to picturesque views of Down East Maine. The Precipice Trail is the most challenging hike in the park and only recommended for experienced hikers who aren’t afraid of heights! These L.L.Bean employees were ready for the challenge.

Read more of this entry in the L.L. Bean blog and see some great photos of Acadia National Park.

Cruise ships ordering up Maine lobsters by the thousands | Portland Press Herald

Cruise ships are continuing to stoke their passengers’ appetites for Maine lobster.

Celebrity Cruises ordered 1,600 lobsters for delivery Friday to its 2,000-passenger boat, the Celebrity Summit. When the ship returns to Portland later this month, it plans to buy another 1,600 lobsters. That’s on top of the 640 lobsters the company bought last month, according to a press release from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Two years ago, Pingree wrote to the chief executives of several major cruise ship companies urging them to buy local lobsters while in port. At the time, there was a glut of lobster, depressing prices for the entire industry.

Celebrity and Norwegian cruise lines responded by buying Maine lobsters. Others have as well.

Erik Elvejord, a spokesman from Seattle-based Holland America Line, which brings approximately 35,000 passengers to Bar Harbor and Portland each year, said they continue to make an effort to buy local lobster during stops in Maine.

“It was a positive thing for both sides of the equation,” Elvejord said. “There’s no question that people enjoy eating their lobster, and it’s great to get great local fish, and certainly help out the local lobstermen.”

Read more of this story by Jennifer Van Allen in the Portland Press Herald.

Potato Harvest Schools Maine Teens in Hard Work | The Associated Press via ABC News

A fall rite of passage in The County. I did this as a kid. Crazy hard work for just a few pennies a barrel. Family legend says that my grandfather on my dad’s side could stack three full barrels of potatoes one on top of the other single-handedly. – Keith

In the gentle hills of northern Maine, far from the rocky coastline and lighthouses, teenagers trade warm classrooms for cold potato fields every fall, just as they have for generations.

Schools shut down — sometimes for weeks at a time — while their students haul in the harvest or monitor conveyor belts for potatoes that don’t measure up as farmers rush to fill their stores before the ground freezes.

But as farm operations consolidate and heavy machinery make them more efficient, farmers wonder how much longer there will be a place for the harvest breaks that as little as 20 years ago saw kids hand-picking potatoes for 50 cents a barrel.

“Eventually it’ll probably fade away,” said Wayne Garrison, the 72-year-old co-owner of Garrison Farms, which hired eight high school students to help harvest its 700 acres of potatoes. “I’d hate to see it go, I really would.”

Up until the 1940s, Maine was the nation’s potato capital and Aroostook County — a place so vast that it’s about the same size as the combined states of Connecticut and Rhode Island — is still home to roughly 50,000 acres of potato farms. Nearly a dozen high schools here emptied for this year’s harvest — fewer than the old days, when virtually all schools shut down.

Read the rest of this story by David Sharp of The Associated Press.

Culinary boom in Portland, Maine | The Boston Globe

The “culinary boom” in Portland this story tells about really began in the 1980s and probably earlier. Sometimes it takes a while to build a boom that people from away notice. — Keith

PORTLAND — There was a line of people waiting to nab a precious seat and a basket of fries at Duckfat. At Eventide, a handsome, square-jawed photographer from Travel + Leisure magazine shot lobster rolls as the lunch crowd slurped oysters. Later that night, there wasn’t a seat to be found at Central Provisions as diners grazed on small plates of bluefin tuna crudo.

This is what it looks like when a small city becomes an innovative and nationally recognized hub of cuisine. You can finish lunch feeling like an over-stuffed throw pillow, but walk a few yards, and you spot a shop that sells doughnuts topped with vanilla glaze and sea salt. I dare you to pass by and not try a bite. That one bite then turns into a sweet potato doughnut, which naturally leads to gelato.

Why did I leave those poly-blend slacks with the elastic waistband at home?

“We have a lot of people coming in asking where they should go to eat,” said Johanna Corman, an owner of the recently opened soda bar Vena’s Fizz House in Old Port. “I don’t know what to tell them. How do you pick just one?”

That’s easy: You don’t. Portland is a gastro-tourism paradise. Set aside as many days as you can and stuff yourself silly. Before I could cram another heirloom tomato salad in my maw, the person sitting next to me was telling me that I must try the pizza at Slab or the wood-roasted clams at Lolita Vinoteca + Asador.

Read more of this story by Christopher Muther in The Boston Globe.

LePage among 10 governors facing tough fights to stay in office | The Washington Post via the Bangor Daily News

The most embattled collection of politicians this fall are neither members of the Senate nor the House. That distinction falls upon the nation’s governors. Compared with elected officials in Washington, incumbent governors are struggling disproportionately.

The Cook Political Report lists nine incumbent governors in tossup races and another as a clear underdog. That group of 10 includes seven Republicans and three Democrats. That’s the most ever dating back years of Cook Report analyses, according to Cook’s Jennifer Duffy. Another Democratic incumbent — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie — is already on the sidelines after losing his primary earlier this year.

The Rothenberg Political Report rates the races on a different scale and differs in some small ways from the Cook analysis, but it comes to a similar conclusion about the competitive nature of the races in the states: It’s a tough year to be a governor.

Voters often say they prefer their state or local elected officials to their Washington representatives. That may still be the case, theoretically. But the fact that this many are on the watch list provides one more indicator that voters in both red and blue states are unhappy.

At this point, the Republican incumbents who face serious competition include: Rick Scott in Florida; Scott Walker in Wisconsin; Rick Snyder in Michigan; Nathan Deal in Georgia; Sam Brownback in Kansas; Paul LePage in Maine; and Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania. Democrats with competitive races include Pat Quinn of Illinois; Dan Malloy of Connecticut; and John Hickenlooper of Colorado.

Read more of this story by Dan Balz, The Washington Post.

Poll shows tightening race for Maine governor: Mike Michaud leads Paul LePage by 2 points, with Eliot Cutler well behind | Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram

Disclaimer: I am not related to Mike Michaud, as far as I can tell. (There are many people in Maine with the last name Michaud.) However, if I was a Maine voter, I might fall under the anti-LePage category.

The race for governor has tightened. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud has a slight but statistically insignificant lead over Republican Gov. Paul LePage with 37 days remaining before Election Day, according to a new poll commissioned by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

The poll, which surveyed 482 likely voters on landlines and cellphones from Sept. 18 to 25, shows Michaud leading LePage 40 percent to 38 percent, with independent Eliot Cutler drawing 12 percent.

Michaud’s 2-point lead is less than the 4-point advantage he had in the newspaper’s last poll, conducted June 12 to 18. His June lead and the new margin are both within the polls’ 4.4 percent margins of error.

The poll and interviews with poll respondents suggest that the governor’s best hope for re-election still hinges on dividing the opposition vote between Michaud and Cutler.

It’s working. Michaud benefits from the anti-LePage vote, but he has not pulled away from the governor even as support for Cutler has stagnated. In addition, in a sharp reversal from the Press Herald poll conducted in June, Michaud is now virtually tied with LePage when respondents are asked to predict who will win the race. Ten percent of voters said they were undecided about the race, although the electorate is paying more attention to the race. Forty-nine percent said they have definitely decided whom they will vote for, 21 percent said they are leaning toward a candidate, and 30 percent are still trying to decide.

Read more of this story by Steve Mistler. There are links from this story to other stories on the race.

Hiking the Bold Coast on the Eastern Edge of Maine | The L.L. Bean Blog

Check this out:

Hiking the Bold Coast on the Eastern Edge of Maine | The L.L. Bean Blog

Let’s celebrate the Maine lobster | Bangor Daily News

lobster1_answer_4_xlarge

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/06/17/opinion/lets-celebrate-the-maine-lobster/

John Wayne played a Mainer in forgotten hockey movie

I read this on the Bangor Daily News website.

As two star-studded stadiums host the first-ever coastal clash between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup, it’s a rare opportunity to revisit a time when one of the biggest stars Hollywood ever produced strapped on the skates and claimed a title for New York. The year was 1937, the film was “Idol of the Crowds,” the team was the Panthers (a surrogate for the Rangers, then only a decade into their existence) and the star was John Wayne. In the new biography “John Wayne: The Life and Legend,” by Scott Eyman, this bewildering golden-era hockey picture provides a brief respite from the rundown of Wayne’s lowly B-westerns of the period. (“Idol” was released two years before Wayne broke out as a marquee idol in John Ford’s “Stagecoach.”)

Though Wayne spoke rarely of the pictures he starred in during this era, Eyman managed to compile a couple cringe-worthy quotes about his impressions of stepping out onto the ice. “I’m from Southern California. I’ve never been on [expletive] skates in my life,” Wayne says. “I was in the hospital for two [expletive] days after that.”

Oh, John, John, John …

Read more here.