A cynic might read Dovid Muyderman’s story-turned-screenplay, in which two young Jewish brothers live in a homeless shelter by night and pull straight A’s at Portland High School by day, and scoff that it’s too far-fetched — stuff like that just doesn’t happen out there in the real world.
Except it did.
“This is eerie,” said Muyderman, 31, as he and Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street, stepped inside the Portland social service agency’s Lighthouse Shelter for homeless teenagers Thursday morning. “This is very familiar ground. It’s changed a little bit, but it’s got the same feel.”
What kind of feel?
“It’s a place to sleep, for sure,” Muyderman replied. “And a place to go to that’s safe and usually has food and resources and is really proximal to the school, which was good for us.”
He’s talking about himself and his older brother, Josh. Their story, which Dovid Muyderman hopes soon will be on a screen near you, is proof positive that kids without a home need not be kids without hope.
Click for the rest of the commentary by Bill Nemitz in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
“Governor Announces Staff Changes,” proclaimed the headline over the news release from what’s left of Gov. Paul LePage’s communications office.
It should have read, “Welcome to The Greatest Show on Earth.”
Wednesday’s sudden departures of commissioners Darryl Brown from the Department of Environmental Protection and Philip Congdon from the Department of Economic and Community Development confirm what many have long feared since Team LePage rode into Augusta promising to transform Maine state government into something . . . well, different.
They’ve done it: After just under four months, the executive branch is now officially a three-ring circus.
In one ring we have Brown, who was forced to step down after Attorney General William Schneider informed him that those pesky environmentalists were right all along: Conflict-of-interest laws prohibit Brown, who owns a development consulting firm, from presiding over the DEP.
For weeks, Brown insisted that he was not in violation of identical federal and state statutes — which made him ineligible to serve if 10 percent or more of his income in the last two years came from applicants for and holders of federal clean water permits.
He was, as he conceded Wednesday, “obviously” wrong.
Still, that didn’t stop Brown from taking a parting swipe at the Maine statute, which, like the federal law, is intended to create a little space between the regulators and the regulated. He called it “silliness.”
That’s not respect for the law, folks. That’s clown talk.
Click for the rest of the column by Bill Nemitz in the Portland Press Herald.
It was November 1988. Maine’s own George Mitchell had just been elected Democratic majority leader of the U.S. Senate. And high atop his to-do list was a sit-down with then-Republican minority leader Sen. Robert Dole.
“I said to him, ‘This job is hard enough under the best of circumstances. It’s impossible under bad circumstances,’ ” Mitchell recalled last week.
And so Mitchell and Dole agreed on a few ground rules:
Never surprise each other.
Never try to embarrass each other.
And finally, be as fair as possible to each other under whatever circumstances might arise.
“We kept our word for six years,” Mitchell said. “Bob Dole and I never had a harsh word pass between us – in public or in private.”
Ah, the good old days.
Click for the rest of the column by Bill Nemitz in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Posted in Economy, Entertainment, Law and Order, Maine, Outdoors, Politics and government
Tagged 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Bill Nemitz, Bob Dole, Economy, George Mitchell, Israelis, majority leader, Middle East, Mideast, Northern Ireland, Palestinians, political unrest, U.S. Senate
The e-mail landed recently in the inbox of former Maine Gov. Angus King.
It came from Jeff Mao, the state’s director of learning technology policy. He wrote to tell King that two old computers from Maine’s school laptop program – an iBook G3 from 2002 and a G4 circa 2006 – had just been “enthusiastically” accepted by the Maine State Museum as part of its permanent collection.
“I think this means we’ve all officially made history!” wrote Mao.
Ten years ago at this time, a task force appointed by King had just begun to get its collective head around what was a radical concept in public education: Provide each student and teacher from seventh grade on up with their own laptop computer and – voila! – watch Maine’s horizons expand.
Thanks to a $50 million surplus in the state’s general fund, the money was there.
Still, it was by no means an easy sell. the time the dust settled, the Legislature agreed only to fund laptops for seventh- and eighth-graders and deal with the high schools another day.
“I remember one legislator telling me at the time, ‘In my district, I’ve never seen an issue that stirred up this much controversy – on both sides,’” King said with a chuckle last week. “He said this is abortion, gay rights and clear-cutting, all rolled into one.”
Click for the rest of this column by Bill Nemitz in the Portland Press Herald.
Posted in Education and Schools, Politics and government
Tagged Angus King, Apple MacBooks, Bill Nemitz, classroom, G4, iBook G3, Maine State Museum, school laptop program, students, The Maine Plan, University of Southern Maine's Education Policy Research Institute
LES CAYES, Haiti – Not once in the four weeks and five days since he left Portland Harbor had Dave St. Cyr, a deckhand aboard the Maine relief ship Sea Hunter, uttered such an exclamation.
A United Nations Police patrol boat arrives at Sea Hunter’s anchorage Friday morning to provide security during the offloading operations off the coast of Les Cayes, Haiti.
“What chaos!” said St. Cyr, 54, of Portland as he came to the ship’s bridge for a breather late Friday afternoon. “It’s unbelievable down there!”
And long overdue.
Sea Hunter’s mission of mercy to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, delayed by raging winter storms and enough red tape to stop the 220-foot treasure-hunting ship dead in the water for days on end, is at last coming to an end.
Just after noon Friday, a Haitian customs official gave the long-awaited permission to begin offloading Sea Hunter’s estimated 200 tons of relief supplies.
Minutes later, the water around the ship exploded into a scrum of landing vessels and a cacophony of bullhorns, security sirens and, above all, shouting Haitian workers.
“This is it,” said Sea Hunter’s owner, Greg Brooks. “This is what we started out in Portland for. And it’s finally come to fruition today.”
Click on the link to read the rest of this story by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.
Posted in Disaster, Maine
Tagged aid, Bill Nemitz, earthquake, Greg Brooks, Haiti, Haitians, Hope Village, humanitarian, Les Cayes, Maine, mission of mercy, Portland, relief, Sea Hunter, solar-powered water desalinator, United Nations Police
Coast Guard officials question
the qualifications of Greg Brooks’
crew as he tries to deliver relief supplies
MIAMI — A Maine ship bound for Haiti with relief supplies may be prevented by the U.S. Coast Guard from proceeding beyond the port of Miami, its owner learned Wednesday evening.
Greg Brooks, owner of the 220-foot Sea Hunter, was told by Coast Guard officials by telephone that he cannot sail the ship to Haiti without a licensed captain and first mate aboard.
Brooks, who usually uses the ship to search for sunken shipwreck treasures, said he has sailed without licensed personnel on past voyages because the Sea Hunter is documented as a noncommercial vessel and he understood that no such licenses were required.
That changed Thursday, when Coast Guard officials in Miami contacted their counterparts in South Portland to inquire about the qualifications of the crew.
“My heart feels like it’s been ripped right out of me,” said Brooks, who flew to Miami ahead of the ship late last week to arrange for the loading of additional relief supplies from a Florida-based relief organization.
Click on the link for the rest of today’s column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.
Here’s a link to an earlier dispatch about the problems:
Coast Guard mulling Maine ship’s Haiti trip
Posted in Disaster, Maine
Tagged aid, Bill Nemitz, Boston, Capt. Cyndi Stowe, Coast Guard, earthquake, engineer, first mate, Greg Brooks, Haiti, Haitians, licensed ship master, licenses, Port of Miami, Portland, relief, Sea Hunter
When Mike Breggia saw three kids push a homeless man into Portland Harbor on a recent Saturday, he didn’t let an 8-foot-tall razor wire fence stand in the way of saving the man’s life.
Click on the link for the rest of this column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.
Normally when treasure hunter Greg Brooks embarks on his 220-foot ship Sea Hunter, he’s not 100 percent sure what he’s going to find.
Not so this time.
“I love the people of Haiti and I know that they’re suffering,” Brooks said Thursday. “Because of this tragedy, everybody’s willing to give to Haiti. I can transport the stuff they want to give.”
And then some.
Click here to get the rest of “This time Mainer’s not hunting treasure, he’s delivering it – to Haiti” by Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz.