Tag Archives: government

Unveiling of climate bill will include offshore drilling clauses | SustainableBusiness.com News

The long-awaited climate change bill is due to be unveiled in the U.S. Senate today. But a summary of the bill circulated in the media yesterday.

The Associated Press reported that under the new bill, coastal states could veto offshore drilling plans of nearby states, if they can prove negative impacts from an accident. 

This clause is undoubtedly part of last-minute changes made in response to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. 

Click on the lick for the rest of this story on SustainableBusiness.com.

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Taking a hard look at government in Maine | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME

Taking a hard look at government | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME.

Woman visiting Maine shares peaceful view of Afghanistan | Bangor Daily News

Woman shares peaceful view of Afghanistan – Bangor Daily News.

I’ve been a very, very bad blogger

It is clear to me that I have been a very, very bad blogger the past couple of weeks.

In many ways I have completely failed. But in a few others I think I have excelled.

Well, “excelled” may be a bit much, so let us agree that I have not done as well at some things as I have others. And I vow to strive to do better at the things I failed to do well, while continuing to do the things that I might have done better than, well, the things I did not do so well. Well …

What I have not done well lately is write fresh, new content for this blog about Maine and Mainers from a perspective of someone “from away.”  It has not been because of so-called writer’s block or want of trying. It simply has been a matter of time and not seeming to have any to write new content.

Frankly, I am still getting over the holiday haze, but now am looking forward to what great and special things will happen in 2010. Top among those things is finding employment. I am hungry to get back to work.

If you have read this blog before – I am a “blogger,” but what are people who read blogs? – you will know that I have been out of work since March 2009. I was laid off after 22 years working in the newspaper industry. And you would have to be from the dark side of the moon not to know that the newspaper industry has been hit very hard the past couple of years – continued high costs of paper and other materials, continued high profit margins for stockholders, lower revenue due to lower advertising sales due to the housing crisis and the auto industry crisis and the national economy crisis.

Leaders in the newspaper industry failed to heed the warnings that came to them a decade or two ago that a new age in information dissemination was coming – the Age of the Internet – and they made little effort to adjust. And what little effort they made came much too late for tens of thousands of very talented people in journalism and for many newspapers which have now long ago shut down their presses. I blame newspaper owners and publishers the most, although everyone in the industry has a share of the blame.

Because of all that I have been looking not only for a newspaper job, but for employment in the nonprofit or government sectors. There is a chance that what they used to say is still true, that writing skills are appreciated in very nearly any field. I am not 100 percent convince that is true given the traditionally low salaries in newspapers and other media, the decreasing salaries in newspapers, other media and for freelancers, and the low wages for “writers” in industries in which writers are not traditionally thought to work. And the disintegration of language because of what passes as “allowed” writing in emails, texting, blogs and other electronic media belittles and besmirches what professional writers do. That is the way of the universe.

And I also have given thought to returning to college to earn a master’s degree in another field, perhaps pubic administration. I believe I would go with an emphasis in nonprofit management over government agency management, because for some time I have wanted to do something for the greater good and working for a nonprofit has the feel of doing something more directly good for people.

What I think I have done fairly well for the past couple of months is to: 1) aggregate news about Maine from various sources, usually from Maine newspaper websites; and 2) post stories and other information about the plight of the people in Haiti following the earthquake last month.

Of the former, I usually have posted a headline of a story of interest and maybe some comment along with a link back to the newspaper’s website. I sometimes use the share feature on newspaper websites and sometimes the effort requires a little more work than that, but I always link back to the newspaper so the newspaper is getting the Web visit and the full credit. I gain nothing from the exercise other than keeping idle hands busy.

Of the latter, the effort to help spread information on what happened, what is happening, and what people can do to help Haitians seems a very tiny effort comparatively speaking. I wish I could do more. It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and we have an obligation – not as Americans, not as members of one of the richest nations in the world, but as fellow human beings – to do what we can to help. Mainers have represented themselves well in the effort to help Haitians and it makes this Mainer “from away” proud to post those stories of Mainers’ efforts.

When I started this blog only a few short months ago, the intention was to write about and comment upon Maine and Mainers from the perspective of a person now “from away.” I had planned to comment each day.

Things have been hectic lately and sometimes it is a bit overwhelming to try to live up to my own intensions.

But I will strive to be more diligent about updating my blog.

Come back to Letters From Away every so often, won’t you.

Baldacci strikes the ‘right tone’ for tough times, observers say

Many lawmakers and observers said Thursday that Gov. John Baldacci’s final State of the State speech struck the right balance for uncertain times.

“I thought he hit the right tone,” said Rep. Patricia Sutherland, D-Chapman. “He was realistic, with some hope. I think Maine people are ‘cut-to-the-chase’ people, and would accept nothing less from the governor.”

Baldacci highlighted achievements of his seven years in office as well as plans for the future, particularly in the areas of renewable energy, government efficiency, education and forest conservation.

Click here to read the rest of “Baldacci strikes the ‘right tone’ for tough times, observers say” by the Kennebec Journal’s Ethan Wilensky-Lanford.

And click here to read the prepared text of Gov. John Baldacci’s final State of the State speech.

Wild West in the Deep Dark Woods of Maine

The story about the conflict between the Presque Isle city manager and the City Council there had to be a fun, but stressful story for Bangor Daily News staff writer Jen Lynds. (Here’s a link to the story: “Presque Isle tensions end tenure of manager: Friction with City Council spurs decision not to renew.”)

I mean, who doesn’t get a kick out of a about dysfunctional city government in which the City Council and a city official are at odds, especially to the point that one or more of them start wearing a gun to City Council meetings. (Yeah! A gun!)

I suppose it would have been an even better story if that armed city councilman had been the board’s chairman and had used the butt of the gun to call the meeting to order. Now that would have been something!

Tom Stevens, 54, had been the Presque Isle city manager for 17 years and now he is on his way out. (He’s got another government job lined up, so don’t feel too sorry for the guy.) City Council members claim they gave him a list of suggestions on how to bring innovation and jobs to the Aroostook County city. The City Council is ousting Stevens – they claim – because he ignored the mandate to bring in innovation and jobs.

He says he never got the list.

Here are the first two graphs from the story:

When a city councilor began wearing a gun to council meetings, City Manager Tom Stevens knew his problems were more complicated than ever.

Stevens, who is serving out the last weeks of a one-year renewal of what previously were multiyear contracts as city manager of Presque Isle, told the Bangor Daily News recently that his last years in his position were fraught with meetings of questionable legality among councilors, interference by councilors in the manager’s work, and contention about public safety at council meetings prompted by one councilor carrying a firearm.

Here’s a line deep in the story that I love. It’s sort of a “well, duh” moment:

Stevens said his relationship with the council grew worse around the time Councilor (Ron) McPherson began wearing a gun to meetings.

Apparently, Mr. McPherson has a carry permit and there is no law in Maine to prevent him from wearing a gun at meetings or in City Hall. But still …

The story tells of the turmoil over the past couple of years, but it is a bit of a “he said, they said” sort of tale and is missing the voice of someone from outside of government. It would have been a better story had it included some independent local observations and provided more historical perspective.

Frankly, it is small-town government at its dysfunctional best, but it is still very interesting.

I’ve read the story and I am not exactly who is in the right and who is simply crazy. Frankly, there may be too many, um, untruths on all sides for there to be a “right” side to this whole Wild West show in the Deep Dark Woods of Maine. It appears to be a truly dysfunctional situation and I hope that it works out for everyone.

(For my friends “from away,” Presque Isle – which I believe means “part island” or “almost island” – was the “big city” growing up. It is where we went for serious shopping, restaurants and medical care. It was about 45 to 60 minutes to drive there and where the nearest movie theater was located.)