Author: Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the Editor-in-Chief of The Maine Wire. ‪He can be reached by email at Robinson@TheMaineWire.com.

The Heritage Foundation, a national, conservative think-tank says that what they call “taxmaggedon” will cost Mainers filing a tax return an additional total of $2,662 each, and Maine as whole a total of $1.85 billion in increased taxes in 2013. “Taxmaggedon” is what Heritage has dubbed a slew of major tax increases that are set to take effect next year. According to the group, which pulled the tax increase data it used for its study from the IRS and estimates from the Office of Management and Budget and Joint Committee on Taxation, the United States will see a total tax increase of…

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Eleven “key outcome” sub-categories rank Maine as high as 15th, as low as 45th A new report from the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability has ranked each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia according to how well their child welfare systems performed in 2012. The report shows Maine in the middle of the pack, ranked 25th overall. According to the study, Maine improved by 14 spots from their 2006 ranking. The study, which looked retroactively at 2006 data, showed Maine coming in at 39th in 2006. The number one state in the nation according to the study…

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Harvard report says 70% of New England forestland should be free from development By Diana George Chapin While land trusts across the country have worked in local areas to conserve and preserve land in earnest since the 1960s, more recently they have sought to regionalize, accelerate the pace of their efforts and attract a new, national audience of conservation funders to Maine. These efforts are guided by and associated with land-conservation efforts throughout the northeast. Maureen Hoffman works as executive director of the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association (SVCA), a Newcastle-based non-profit, corporate land trust that works to limit the development…

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Attorney General William J. Schneider announced that Robert W. Baylor, 35, of Lewiston, pled guilty to one count of Class C theft by deception and was sentenced on June 28, 2012 for stealing $2,800 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Clifford sentenced Baylor to one year in jail, all but 30 days suspended, and one year probation with the requirement that he pay full restitution. Baylor was charged with stealing 14 months of Food Stamp benefits by selling his Electronic Benefits Transfer Card (EBT card) with $200 of monthly benefits to another…

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This fascinating video was shot this morning on the Falmouth Spur. It shows a young moose making his way up the highway at a brisk pace, hooves clacking on the pavement, as it runs parallel to the car driving in the passing lane. It narrowly avoids being hit as it darts across oncoming traffic. A reminder from the Maine Wire to drive safely as you make your way to holiday destinations this Fourth of July! (videotaping while driving not recommended)

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by J. Scott Moody The U.S. Census Bureau recently released new data showing state and county population by major age groups as of July 1, 2011. This new data shows another slice of “Demographic Winter” in Maine by looking at the overall age pyramid of the state. A healthy age pyramid, as the name suggests, is one where young folks form the large base and the oldest folks form the narrow top. However, Maine already has a majority of counties where there are more deaths than births. As a consequence, we would expect the percentage of folks under the age of 18 to…

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Economist Named CEO of Portland-based Think Tank The Maine Heritage Policy Center announced today that J. Scott Moody has been named chief executive officer of MHPC. Moody, currently MHPC’s chief economist, will be moving to Maine from his home in northern New Hampshire. In making the announcement, MHPC Chairman Peter Anania said, “We are delighted to have Scott, who has a strong policy background, to lead our organization. Scott has directed our studies in tax and regulatory policy for six years, and he has excelled in that role. MHPC’s board, our staff and our many supporters across the state look…

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By Diana George Chapin Maureen Hoffman has served as executive director for Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association for 15 years and is dedicated to conserving and preserving land in the Sheepscot River watershed, which extends from the “headwaters” region of Montville and Freedom to estuary area of Southport and Westport Island. The land trust, based in Newcastle, is organized as a non-profit corporation. It solicits, receives and administers property and funds for the promotion and advancement of land conservation in areas of Lincoln, Waldo, Kennebec and Knox Counties, encompassing more than a dozen towns. SVCA holds a controlling interest in approximately…

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The Supreme Court ruled today that Obamacare will stand. Some statements from the court, provided by ScotusBlog.com: The money quote from the section on the mandate: Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it. The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn’t matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power. This means that the individual…

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By Diana George Chapin When Robert and Erma Elwell moved into the little brick cape at the end of a meandering road in Unity in 1945, the young couple became the fifth owners of the 1810 farmhouse and the surrounding farm and forestland. Over the years they milked as many as 175 Jersey cows, raised their two daughters, worked the land and contributed to their community in numerous ways. According to Robert, now 90, the farm was considered the best potato farm in Waldo County, “back in the day.” After living on the same road for nearly three-quarters of a…

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Everyone believes that mainstream media outlets have a liberal bias, right? Well, a UCLA professor says he has actually proven it. Furthermore, while some conservative outlets may lean to the right, their bias is less than the liberal bias of most mainstream outlets. These are the results determined by Dr. Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA who has spent years constructing precise, quantitative measures of the slants of media outlets. His methods and conclusions are detailed in his book, “Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.” He will be speaking as the…

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By answering the following 10 questions, you can get a rough approximation of your PQ. When you answer the questions, try to put yourself in the shoes of the members of Congress and decide how you would have voted at the time that the politicians considered the measure. Read more about the “PQ” and the inventor of the measure, author Tim Groseclose, here. For instance, some people feel that the “Cash for Clunkers” program was not as successful as they hoped or thought it would be. Accordingly, when you answer the question related to this program—as well as when you answer…

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We now know that the Supreme Court will rule on Thursday whether or not Obamacare will stand. There are several questions the Supreme Court will be ruling on, and it can be complicated to keep it all straight. To help understand what exactly the Supreme Court will be deciding on Thursday, the American Enterprise Institute put out this great chart that helps explain the decisions the court will have to make. In the version of the chart on their own page, the American Enterprise Institute also includes what they see as the “free-market solutions” that should take place depending on the various…

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Efficiency Maine, the quasi-governmental agency that pushes to increase the use of “alternative energy,” has used taxpayer funds to buy advertising on Maine Insights, the ultra-liberal website of Ramona Du Houx that regularly advocates for extreme liberal positions and causes, including many “green” initiatives. Government agencies are prohibited from using public funds to advertise on partisan political websites. Efficiency Maine bought the ad to be placed on the Maine Insights website in June 2011, according to executive director Michael Stoddard. He said the ad cost $500 and was slated to run for six months to advertise PACE loans, a type…

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By Maine standards, last Tuesday’s election drew anemic participation. The few people who did turn out to vote, around just 13 percent of Maine’s registered voters, were mainly focused on the high-profile Senate primaries, but those top-of-the-ticket races weren’t the only issues of importance on the June 2012 ballot. In at least one Regional School Unit (RSU), the annual budget validation process has caused some controversy, exposing what turns out to be a fairly common practice of using school resources for “get out the vote” efforts for the annual school budget vote. The controversy over the school budget vote in…

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*Editors Note – This is the third in a series of pieces about Maine’s Land Trusts. Read all Land Trust related coverage here. By Diana George Chapin Perhaps no organization in the land trust movement has so dramatically discussed shifting demographics in relationship to the possession of land than Maine Farmland Trust, Inc. MTF has determined that a third of Maine’s best farmland will be in transition in the next five to 10 years simply because of demographics. According to MTF, most farm owners are very old. When they die, MTF wants to ensure their land is conserved for agricultural use…

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*Editors Note – This is the second in a series of pieces about Maine’s Land Trusts. Read all Land Trust related coverage here. By Diana George Chapin Maine has a rich and well-documented history of traditional land use. Today, the land conservation movement in Maine is moving swiftly and changing the relationship between individual property owners, communities and the land. The issues are complex, sensitive and, in some communities, even polarizing. The question on the minds of many Maine people who live in rural communities, who own full rights to their property and who obtained the land through their own…

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*Editors Note – This is the first in a series of stories about the growing impact of land trusts and conservation easements on property rights in Maine. By Diana George Chapin While land trusts have traditionally purchased property for recreation and preservation, some are now focusing on cultural issues of class, diversity and immigration, which they consider critically important to the future of conservation—and the future of Maine. This trend has many property owners fearing that land trusts are transforming from conservation groups into political organizations operated by anti-development environmentalists, who then work in concert with government agencies to gain…

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A column in the Bangor Daily News by Luisa Deprez, a sociology professor at the University of Southern Maine, would have readers believing that our society doesn’t value woman compared to men, and that they basically work for free. The BDN states that Deprez’s column, “Paycheck Fairness Act would help women and their families,” is part of a series that will “bring greater understanding to social and political debates.” Deprez decries the disparity between what men and women are paid, using a statistic that is often echoed from the White House as a talking point on the subject. But the White House doesn’t seem to have its numbers…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Center for Constitutional Law Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: U.S. Senate primary Wisconsin recall Bangor Daily News editorials Maine Housing salaries Angus King and his superPACs

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Angus King, the liberal former governor of Maine and candidate to replace Senator Olympia Snowe, challenged his opponents today to denounce third-party spending in the race for Senate. “This money is destroying our politics,” King said of political action committee (PAC) spending that can influence a race without having to disclose where their donations come from. King himself is already being supported in the race by a Super-PAC from away that has to-date spent $23,668 supporting King according to data on OpenSecrets.org. Icpurple, a Super-PAC formed in California, largely by $300,000 in seed money from the co-founder of Gateway Computers, is supporting…

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Secretary of State Charlie Summers and State Senator Cynthia Dill won their respective primaries last night, filling out the final roster of candidates to fill the U.S. Senate seat of outgoing Senator Olympia Snowe. Summers rose to the top of a six-way field, finishing with nearly 30% of the vote in an extremely low turnout election. Dill won with approximately 44% in her four-way race, racing neck-in-neck with former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap for most of the night before pulling away at the end. Summers fought off Maine Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, who trailed close behind Summers for most of…

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New data released on MaineOpenGov.org shows MaineHousing payrolls jumped nearly $1 million between 2010 and 2011 In the final year of former director Dale McCormick’s leadership at MaineHousing, salaries and benefits at the agency went up eight percent, with the annual payroll topping $10 million for the first time. The payroll data, which is posted online at MaineOpenGov.org, a website of The Maine Heritage Policy Center, shows that in 2010 MaineHousing paid out a total of $9,370,000 in salaries and benefits, a total number that grew to $10.1 million in 2011, the final full year of McCormick’s tenure. The growth…

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Donald Sussman donated seven times more than any other individual to leadership and caucus political action committees in last ten years, also donates to group dedicated to “reducing the influence of big money in politics” Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, an organization dedicated in part to “reducing the influence of big money in politics” released a report today detailing millions in donations to legislative Political Action Committees (PAC’s) from what they call “heavy hitter” donors, which includes one of their own donors. The report revealed that Donald Sussman, the owner of the Maine Today Media and husband of Maine congresswoman…

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Matt Sheffield at Newsbusters.org has a great piece breaking down the media’s absurd reliance on exit polls: The actual vote totals coming in showed the exit polls had been wrong. A race that the media’s expensive exit polling apparatus had insisted was too close to call was not close at all. And yet, reporters continued to report that, while Wisconsin voters had voted for Walker, they still preferred Obama over Mitt Romney in the presidential race — based on the same exit poll results that were being shown to be worthless by the actual vote totals scrolling across the bottoms…

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*Update* The story in question has been updated this afternoon to include reference to the report’s detailing of Sussman’s hundreds of thousands in contributions. Mistler also notes that Sussman is a “large contributor” to Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, the organization that publishes the report. MCCE is a non-profit and does not have to release donors names or amounts of donations. It’s a strange position for Sussman and MCCE to be in. Sussman donates “large” amounts to a group that supposedly wants to limit the influence of money in politics, yet he is the largest single political contributor in the…

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The online world has spent the last two days chortling over the silly reaction MSNBC’s election night commenters had to Scott Walker’s crushing victory in Tuesday night’s recall election. Video of crying talk show hosts and threats of indictments, along with a grotesque amount of online chatter from pro-union forces about actually killing Governor Walker, show a pretty substantial sore loser complex from the American Left. Maine’s #1 source for pro-labor left-wing chatter, the Portland Press Herald, has joined in the fray. PPH reporter Steve Mistler wrote a ‘balanced’ piece today on the aftermath of the Wisconsin results. He quoted…

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by Pem Schaeffer I’ve been watching Brunswick school budget theatrics for a dozen years or more. After thinking about it, I concluded they remind me of “The Phantom of the Opera,” which we’ve seen three times on the stage and perhaps five times or more in the film version. Why? Because as well as you think you know the script and music of a favorite show, each time you see it, you see and hear things you hadn’t picked up on before. And so it is with the annual school budget pageant, a tragedy used to intimidate local taxpayers until…

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Absentee Ballots must be requested by the close of business June 7, 2012 for the June 12, 2012 Primary Election The Maine Secretary of State reminds voters that the deadline to request an absentee ballot for the June 12 primary election, pursuant to Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011, is Thursday, June 7, 2012. Except in special circumstances allowed by law, voters must request their absentee ballots by the close of business on the Thursday prior to an election. This includes requests to vote the ballot in the presence of the Municipal Clerk.  After this deadline, a voter may request an absentee ballot only…

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by Sandy George In response to the recent Bangor Daily News editorial Conservation Priorities, I would like to offer a third dimension to the discussion.  The paper addressed the potential lack of funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program and the Governor’s dedication to a balanced budget. What the paper failed to address is the impact of aggressive preservation on rural communities. Maine people clearly understand the value of conserving land.  Our farmers and woodsmen have made it their life’s work. According to the 2010 Census of Land Conservation undertaken by the Washington, D.C. based Land Trust Alliance, there…

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Former director McCormick, IT employee received cash and airline miles from extensive use of personal cards for MaineHousing purchases Former director of Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) Dale McCormick and one of her employees used their personal credit cards to make over $170,000 in purchases for MSHA, racking up cash rewards and airline miles for themselves, according to a report from the Office of Program and Governmental Accountability (OPEGA). The OPEGA report uncovered the practice at MaineHousing, and since McCormick’s resignation in March, MSHA has put a stop to the questionable method of purchasing. According to the report, in just five…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: OPEGA, Dale McCormick, and the press The Maine Housing Credit Card Scam Bill Nemitz and the Constitution Eco-Bull: Mike Belliveau and the Tides Foundation Bonding and Business

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Sometimes, reading the Maine newspapers is like being transported into an alternate universe. This weekend was a great example. After the Government Oversight (OPEGA) report confirmed that Maine State Housing Authority had spent over $400,000 on contributions and donations and more than $44,000 on “staff celebrations”, that former director Dale McCormick had personally been reimbursed for over $50,000 in travel costs and that she was reimbursed for nearly $10,000 of non-business meal expenses, Maine newspapers quickly conjured up a far different picture. Here are a few headlines: Bangor Daily News: “Watchdog agency finds no wrongdoing at MaineHousing after months of furor” Portland Press Herald: “Housing authority probe finds…

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by Peter Steele | The Maine Wire How are these two apparently random, innocent-sounding events connected? First, The Portland Press Herald ran an op-ed on May 15, titled “Maine Voices: Research and development investment will produce jobs,” which pushes for a $20 million taxpayer-funded bond to subsidize “green technology” companies. Second, women from Maine joined mothers, cancer survivors, students, health workers and activists from around the country on May 22 in a “stroller brigade” at the U.S. Capitol to support the Safe Chemicals Act, which is under consideration in the U.S. Senate. The anything-but-innocent connection between “stroller brigades” and “green technology” is…

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In the first national study of licensing for low- and middle-income occupations, Maine ranks 30th in most burdensome licensing laws and 33rd as the most onerously licensed state. Maine’s ranking is included in “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing,” the first report to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. (http://www.ij.org/licensetowork) The report reveals that more and more Americans now need the government’s permission before they can pursue the occupation of their choice. “License to Work” shows that for lower-income Americans, government-imposed “occupational licensing” hurdles are not only widespread,…

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Small sample of spending shows expenses “not typical for a state agency” A report released by the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability (OPEGA) confirms previous reports that the Maine Housing Authority spent hundreds of thousands of public dollars on gift cards, travel, meals and memberships in groups unrelated to MaineHousing’s mission. The “rapid response” OPEGA report was done at the request of Maine’s Legislature and pulled just a small sample of MaineHousing spending between 2007 and 2011. OPEGA reviewed 1,037 transactions and the available supporting documentation for each. What OPEGA found in the review was “several expense categories…

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State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin sent along these thoughts on Memorial Day: “As families gather over this Memorial Day weekend, let us all remember why we observe this somber and special day. Generations of brave American heroes have fought to protect our freedom. For nearly 240 years, their immeasurable sacrifices have allowed our beloved nation to grow and prosper, and our citizens to pursue their happiness. Let us all be grateful to those courageous men and women who have served in uniform to keep us free, especially those fallen during service. Let us never forget. And, let us all extend heartfelt…

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Thoughts on Memorial Day from Secretary of State Charlie Summers: As a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Memorial Day has particular significance to me. It is a time to take stock of the present, reflect on the past, and renew our commitment to the future of America. Today is most certainly a day to remember those who have given their lives in service to our nation and for the cause of freedom. America is strong and good because there have always been men and women willing to serve a cause greater than themselves, and help build a…

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by Maine Attorney General Bill Schneider. Across Maine dedicated veterans, proud family members, students and concerned citizens are walking through fields planting flags, planning parades and making plans for community observances. Patriots all, these Mainers are getting ready to mark Memorial Day and remember the ultimate sacrifice that many have made to protect our liberties and way of life. In Dennysville, a small town in easternmost Maine, the community is preparing for the town’s 147th annual Memorial Day Observance. A parade will commence at a local church and wind its way through town stopping at a cemetery and a memorial.…

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Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate sent these thoughts on Memorial Day: “As those of us who are candidates for Federal office ponder this weekend and think about what it can do for our campaign(s) we should take heed. Memorial Day is not just another weekend of campaigning or another parade in which to get us in front of voters. In this fraught campaign season we all need to remember why Monday is so special and important. It is in fact a day where we honor those that have died for our freedom & liberty. It is a solemn day where…

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree shared the following thoughts on Memorial Day: “Today we remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our countries, our values and our freedoms. Since last Memorial Day 290 Americans have given their lives in defense of their country, including two with ties to Maine. Today we remember them and all the other millions of men and women who have given their lives in the service of our country.”

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Former Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Angus King shared the following thoughts on Memorial Day: Memorial Day is a solemn time to remember the sacrifice of our military men and women and reflect upon our obligation to those who do and have served our country. Our commitment must continue long after high-profile conflicts cease. A “Soldiers Battle” is defined as a hand to hand encounter between opposing soldiers with little or no support. Too often today our returning soldiers are left to a Soldiers Battle to get the services that they have earned by virtue of their willingness to…

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Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Rick Bennett shared these thoughts on Memorial Day: “It is important that we reflect on the sacrifices of those who died protecting the freedoms that make ours the greatest country of all. The men and women in our armed services are to be thanked and cherished for their work for – and commitment to – our nation. My grandfather proudly served with the Seabees in World War II. He was part of the greatest generation. Sadly, the world is still a very dangerous place, and we continue to rely upon the willingness of brave…

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Representative Jon Hinck (D- Portland) shared the following thoughts on Memorial Day. Hinck is a candidate for the U.S. Senate. “On this Memorial Day we honor our heroes, the brave men and women who answer our Nation’s call. We are indebted to them for their service and their sacrifices. Today, I remember my late father, who in June 1944 landed with the 358th Infantry on Utah beach in Normandy and moved into Occupied France fighting Nazi soldiers. When I was growing up, I learned of the time when he was shot while leading a patrol into an eerily deserted village…

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Governor Paul LePage and First Lady Ann LePage partnered with the Maine State American Legion to take part in a Grave Flag Ceremony on Memorial Weekend. The event took place on Saturday at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. Four other locations participated in the event including the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemeteries in Augusta, Springvale, and Caribou. Participants placed a flag on the grave of every veteran, totaling 14,000 throughout the state. The program was started in May of 2007, and the turnout in volunteers has steadily increased every year since. “This Grave Flag Ceremony is a tremendous opportunity…

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The Maine Wire will be running a series of thoughts and columns by Maine officials and candidates through this Memorial Day weekend. We appreciate those who submitted material to us on short notice, and if you work with a candidate or elected official that wants to contribute, drop me a line at lance@mainepolicy.org and we’ll be happy to post it. Thanks, Lance Dutson

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This is a developing story. The Maine Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) today released their report on spending practices at the Maine State Housing Authority(MSHA) under former Executive Director Dale McCormick. Below is the report: MSHA Report

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Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has gotten a lot of attention for her luxury trips to the Virgin Islands. Now it appears Pingree’s not the only Maine politico who enjoys a Caribbean getaway from time to time. According to financial disclosure forms filed with the U.S. Senate, Angus King owns his own piece of paradise – a vacation home on St. Thomas called ‘Windswept Villas’. Pingree put her political ambitions on hold this year, passing up a chance to run for Olympia Snowe’s senate seat so her good friend Angus could run instead. Pingree and King have described themselves as close…

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Michael Hein, a Republican candidate for the State House attempted, “to commit the crime of theft by deception,” according to a complaint filed against him by the State of Maine on May 16. Hein, who is running for District 57, a part of Augusta currently represented by Democrat Rep. Maeghan Maloney, has attempted to run as a “clean elections” candidate. In order to qualify for public money to run his campaign, Hein was required to gather 60 signatures and 5 dollar checks. In the process of collecting and submitting signatures and qualifying checks, Hein “did intentionally create or reinforce the impression that he…

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The Rick Bennett for Senate campaign turned around some serious campaign collateral today, jumping onto a story about Angus King’s prolific Democrat donations that bubbled up on Facebook last night. Bennett’s campaign points out an amazing fact – Angus King donated $6,000 to the Democratic National Committee the day after Olympia Snowe announced she was ending her reelection bid. King’s ridiculous coyness about who he would caucus with looks even more foolish in light of this, and conspiracy theories about the Pingree bow-out should start running rampant now. We’ll start the clock running now to see how long it is…

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Agency remains cautious about Medicaid costs While Moody’s Investors Service has revised its outlook on Maine from stable to negative, Treasurer Bruce Poliquin reported to The Maine Wire that the agency has affirmed the state’s strong Aa2 credit rating. A rating of Aa2 tells investors that Maine offers high-quality bonds with very low credit risk. Despite the shift in outlook, Poliquin emphasized that Moody’s has maintained the state’s Aa2 rating. “It’s not a downgrade,” he told The Maine Wire, adding that there will be no adverse financial impact on the taxpayers. Poliquin said the most important factor is that Maine’s…

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The recently adjourned Maine Legislature made a great decision this session and wisely delayed setting up a health insurance exchange until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutional challenges to the federal health law.  A decision is expected in June. To date, the federal government has given over a billion dollars to entice states—many of them challenging the law—to establish health exchanges that will facilitate the federal takeover of health insurance regulation.  Even though a state-created exchange is not required by the law, 17 states have moved forward with implementation. The majority of states, like Maine, are still either studying…

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Lawrence E. Dwight, Jr., 54, fondly known as “J”, died unexpectedly on Monday, May 14 at his home in Wilton, Maine. A columnist for the Sun Journal and The Maine Wire, Dwight was well known for his passion, his intelligence and his persistence in digging through obscure regulations, complicated financial filings and other enigmatic documents to uncover the truth on many issues. A staunch opponent of industrial wind power in Maine’s mountains, Dwight was a founder of Citizen’s Task Force on Wind Power. He served on the board of advisers for The Maine Heritage Policy Center and on the Economic Forecasting Committee for the…

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Governor Paul LePage released on Friday a comprehensive book of accomplishments of his first 500 days in office. His 500th day as Maine’s chief executive is Saturday, May 19, 2012. The 20-page compilation, titled “Making Maine Prosperous, The First 500 Days of Governor Paul LePage,” details the achievements made by the LePage Administration and the State of Maine 125th Legislature. A web version of the book is free to the public and available on the Governor’s website. You can download a copy of it here (PDF). “Making Maine Prosperous, The First 500 Days of Governor Paul LePage” also highlights other reforms…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Constitutional Law Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: Bill Nemitz vs Eliot Cutler Sussman Basking with Billionaires The Political Androgyny of Angus King Maine GOP convention chair disavows Romney The Fat Gazelle Theory Health Care reforms bring big savings

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Donald Sussman, owner of the MaineToday Media newspapers and husband of Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, spent last weekend scheming in the lap of luxury along with a cadre of billionaire financiers, according to a story posted on The Washington Free Beacon. Sussman is a founding member of the ultra-left Democracy Alliance, along with the notorious billionaire George Soros. The DA is a funding consortium that gives to progressive political causes, including Media Matters and the Center for American Progress. From the article: Attendees roamed the grounds at the 150-acre tropical resort on their way to cocktail gatherings, salsa dance lessons, and workshops…

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Ron Paul may have ceased spending money on the remaining Presidential primaries, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want the job. His delegates are working hard across the country to give him a stronger voice at the Republican National Convention from Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla. Presumptive nominee Mitt Romney has collected 973 delegates out of the 1,144 needed for the official nomination. A libertarian icon known for unconventional positions, Paul has 104 delegates. He said he is now concentrating on a strategy to gather delegates to the national convention. “Ron Paul is not and has not suspended his campaign,”…

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By Peter A. Steele | The Maine Wire The Maine Senate and House approved Tuesday a Supplemental Budget designed to reduce spending on MaineCare and put the state’s social safety net on a sound footing for the future. Gov. Paul LePage signed the bill on Wednesday morning. Creating long-term structural reform for welfare programs in the Dept. of Health and Human Services was major goal of Gov. Paul LePage. Using his line-item veto power, LePage refused last month to fill an $83 million hole in the DHHS budget with one-time revenue, as Democrats have done for over a decade. On…

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There is encouraging news for Mainers coming out of the health care industry. Rates for individual health care plans in Maine are set to drop as much as 60% this July as a result of health reform law PL 90, also known as LD 1333, adopted in March 2011. PL 90, the free market based health reform law, was passed last March by a Republican majority in Maine’s legislature. Governor Paul LePage signed the bill in a ceremony at the statehouse amid cries from Democrats that it wasn’t right for Maine. “The law takes Maine in the wrong direction,” said…

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Anecdotally, it is a well-worn verse in Maine that the state has been losing its young people. A new study from the U.S. Census Bureau confirms this. The study titled “Historical Migration of the Young, Single, and College-Educated: 1965 to 2000,” (pdf) examined the past four decennial censuses to determine the net migration of this population among the 50 states. Based on a state’s net migration over these four time-periods, they classify a state as a “consistent gainer,” “inconsistent gainer,” “inconsistent decliner,” and “consistent decliner.” As shown in the chart below, Maine is classified as an “inconsistent decliner” because there…

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This is the first of a series of exclusive interviews that The Maine Wire will be conducting with Governor Paul R. LePage.  By Peter A. Steele | The Maine Wire As the winds of political frenzy swirled around Augusta last week, with Republicans reeling after Ron Paul supporters stiff-armed them at the GOP state convention and Democrats launching into time-worn tirades against welfare reform, one man sat in his office, relaxed and at ease. Governor Paul LePage was long ago acclimated to the political storm, and it doesn’t deter him. He was elected on his promise to reform Maine government,…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Constitutional Law Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: Obama’s jailhouse competition Chellie “Pink Slime” Pingree The future of newspapers MaineHousing gets slammed by the Feds Virgin Islands hijinks

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Quasi-government agencies have been in the news often of late, with the corruption at Maine Turnpike Authority and the recent problems at the Maine State Housing Authority. These aren’t the only quasi-government agencies in the state, and recently, WGME Channel 13 took a look at how carefully the money that flows through these agencies is being watched. http://www.wgme.com/news/top-stories/stories/wgme_vid_11799.shtml

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Department of Agriculture Chief – “without any equivocation, this product is safe, and there’s no question about it” Maine congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s efforts to ban processed lean beef trimmings, otherwise known as “pink slime,” from schools, has led to the closure of three factories in the Midwest, with 650 people losing their jobs. The food product, which is comprised of “finely textured lean beef trimmings” and treated to remove any potential diseases, is added to other beef products and processed meats as inexpensive beef fillers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of beef trimmings for human…

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This week, the Maine legislature will reconvene to consider another supplemental budget. As the Appropriations Committee joins hands once again, we at The Maine Wire have one simple suggestion to avoid the chaos that has surrounded previous budgets: go talk to the Governor’s office before you pass this one. The Republican leadership in Augusta has put a premium on getting along with opposition Democrats, especially through the budget process.  Some powerful GOP legislators seem to believe that forming consensus with the opposing party is more important than maintaining clarity of mission with the Governor. Last week, two Republicans on the…

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“Several different inspectors from both the Authority and Avesta” passed 30 units that failed to meet HUD quality standards A federal report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) shows that the MaineHousing Authority has regularly inspected, and passed, housing units that don’t meet HUD’s quality standards. MaineHousing, despite blaming recent inspection failures on third-party providers, was found to have directly inspected, and passed, 10 out of 11 units that “did not comply with HUD’s housing quality standards,” according to the report. A story about sub-standard units in Norway prompted the…

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With excessive debt, declining revenue and shrinking circulation plaguing daily newspapers around the country, what exactly is the future of Maine’s newspapers? That was the question posed to panelists on Monday, May 7 during a two-hour discussion sponsored by Vox Global, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Press Association at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. Panelists included Tom Bell, Portland Press Herald reporter and president of the Portland Newspaper Guild; Terry Carlisle, general manager of the Ellsworth American; Tony Ronzio, new media director for the Sun Media Group; Todd Benoit, director of news at the Bangor…

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by Scott Moody In fiscal year (FY) 2009, Maine had the 6th highest tax burden, as a percent of private sector personal income, in the country. The single largest source of Maine’s tax burden comes from the personal income tax which, in FY 2010, constituted 37.3 percent of all state revenue. This large share is driven directly by the top marginal tax rate of 8.5 percent which is the 7th highest in the country. Of course, this large personal income tax burden comes at an economic price which manifests itself, in part, through the out-migration of people and income to…

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Tom Groening at the Bangor Daily News has a bizarre story about a relationship-gone-wrong between two Democrat state representatives. Belfast Rep. Erin Herbig is seeking a restraining order against Brunswick Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, the son of Democrat activist and publisher of Maine Insights Ramona du Houx. Du Houx is an Iraq veteran turned anti-war activist, and has worked closely with the George Soros-funded Vote Vets organization. According to court documents, Herbig alleges Du Houx “had taken over 100 photographs and videos of me without my knowledge, including when I was sleeping… Many of the photographs and videos are…

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On April 25 a video came to light showing EPA official Al Armendariz speaking to colleagues about aggressive and controversial methods of EPA enforcement.  On Monday, just days after the uncovered video began circulating; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson accepted Armendariz’s resignation. In November 2009, Armendariz left his teaching post at Southern Methodist University when appointed by President Obama to lead resource rich EPA Region 6.  This area includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.  Armendariz quickly gained a reputation in Texas and the region as an over-zealous regulator. Today, many elected officials are wondering just how many companies Armendariz…

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Associates of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s husband, billionaire hedge fund investor S. Donald Sussman, have become key players in a major bribery scandal that is rocking the Department of Justice and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Daily Caller has reported that Virgin Islands Governor John De Jongh, Attorney General Vincent Frazer, and a number of USVI Senators have been named in a sealed indictment relating to at least $20 million in cash bribes to U.S. Department of Justice investigators and public officials in the USVI. The Daily Caller obtained this information through leaks from a source familiar with the indictments.…

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by Sam Adolphsen I still remember the day. I was sitting at my kitchen table, pen in hand, and I signed the dotted line to borrow a significant amount of money to pay for my first year of college. The funny thing was, despite what you might hear in the media these days, no one was standing over my shoulder forcing me to. No government official told me I had to borrow the money. It was my decision then and it’s my debt today. I weighed the price of borrowing against the value of a secondary degree, and I chose…

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In a letter to President Obama, representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud have recommended Steven Minkowsky to be the New England regional administrator for the Small Business Administration, along with state senator Seth Goodall. Behind the scenes, members of Maine’s business community are outraged that Minkowsky – known for his contentious relationship with businesses and his lack of private-sector experience – is being considered for the post. The Maine Wire spoke with multiple sources who have worked with Minkowsky but wish to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. These sources say Minkowsky’s anti-business attitude is so explicit that he even…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Constitutional Law Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: Sussman/Pingree Press Herald ban another GOP op-ed “Civil discourse” with another Maine Democrat legislator The Fairness Initiative MHPC’s favorite UMaine professor, Amy Fried Crucifixion and the EPA

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More than 100 people packed DiMillo’s restaurant in Portland Thursday for The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s “Getting to Zero” discussion on eliminating Maine’s income tax. MHPC is the parent organization of The Maine Wire. MHPC CEO Lance Dutson moderated a discussion with Sawin Millett, Governor LePage’s Commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services, and Scott Moody, MHPC’s Chief Economist and a member of Maine’s Economic Forecasting Commission. The talk focused on the elimination of Maine’s personal income tax, and the potential positive impact on Maine’s economy. “Eliminating Maine’s income tax would result in $4,000 going back to the average family of…

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By Neal Freeman – this item originally appeared in the American Spectator in the run-up to 2010’s overwhelming taxpayer rejection of big government at the polls. It’s about time government employees learned they work for taxpayers. Kudos to USA Today, that most mainstream of all major media, for reminding us who “we” are. In an enterprising and courageous story published in August, the paper reported that the average U.S. private-sector worker receives $61,051 in compensation while the average U.S. government worker receives $123,049. I say “enterprising” because that latter figure, The Number we’ve all been looking for, has been a closely guarded secret…

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Last Sunday, the Donald Sussman/Chellie Pingree owned Press Herald ran an editorial titled “Republicans fail to honor their word.” The piece was about the recent decision by the majority of Maine’s legislature not to re-convene early to attempt an override of Governor LePage’s recent line-item veto of the budget bill. The Press Herald said that, “Republican lawmakers decided in a secret poll not to support the budget compromise they had publicly backed just a few days earlier.” An earlier version of the story called out the Senate Republicans for their lack of transparency, although the Senate Republicans had released the…

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Imagine if the State of Maine wrote you a check for $4,000. Every year. That’s essentially what would happen if we eliminated Maine’s personal income tax. The average family of four would save nearly $4,000 each year. Think it’s impossible? Think again. The personal income tax is a leash that pro-government forces have tied around the necks of Mainers for more than 30 years. Maine used to have a thriving economy and booming industries, but we all know that’s history. The startling truth is, the decline of Maine’s economy started at nearly the exact time the state decided to implement…

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With less than two months to go until the June 12th primary election for Senate candidates, the fundraising efforts of candidates are in full swing. The most recent quarterly income disclosures filed with the Federal Ethics Commission show that Republican Scott D’Amboise has raised the most money to date, although his cash on hand comes in second to Independent candidate Angus King, who has loaned his campaign $38,000 in cash. Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and Sen. Deb Plowman did not file, because they had not raised or spent the minimum amount by April 1. Here are the totals for each candidate:…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Constitutional Law Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: Chuck Kruger, gun threats, and the press Bangor Daily’s new reporter, Stephen Betts LePage’s Line Item veto DHHS and Mary Mayhew

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The Bangor Daily News hired the ultra left-wing Stephen Betts to cover the midcoast area after the implosion of the Village Soup media empire. Betts was the editor of the local Rockland paper for years, and is probably best known as the only editor in Maine to endorse Jean Hay Bright for U.S. Senate against Olympia Snowe in 2006. Betts logged quite a body of hard core liberal editorials before his career was thrown into turmoil by the purchase of the Courier papers by Village Soup, and Village Soup’s subsequent collapse. Now the BDN has assigned Betts as a straight…

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What do rock legend Ted Nugent and State Representative Chuck Kruger have in common? Kruger would probably hope the answer is that they are both gifted musicians. “Kruger’s got a sweet, cool, breezy vocal manner,” a Boston Herald article said in 1979. They even compared him to James Taylor. But that musical connection isn’t the one you’ll find tying the two together today. Instead, they have each gained national attention for comments they made about the president (Nugent) and the former vice-president (Kruger). Kruger said on his twitter feed, for the entire world to see, “Cheney deserves same final end…

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The Legislature will not reconvene immediately to try and overturn Governor LePage’s line-item veto of two items in the recently passed budget bill. The rules regarding line-item vetoes allow the Legislature to reconvene “with consent of the majority of the members of the Legislature of each political party, all Members of the Legislature having first been polled.” According to a letter (see below) sent to democrat leadership from Senate President Kevin Raye (R) and Speaker of the House Bob Nutting (R), “two-thirds of them [republicans] have declined to consent convening the Legislature.” Not surprisingly, the majority of democrats, the letter…

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The Maine Heritage Policy Center Friday received a series of threats by phone, as a result of our reporting on Rep. Chuck Kruger’s Twitter statements supporting the execution of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The threats were made in three separate phone calls, and may be from the same caller, attempting to change his voice each time. The caller acknowledges our report on Kruger, and concurs with the sentiment from Kruger’s twitter comments. “A lot of people think Cheney is a war criminal and he should be executed, because he is a war criminal.” The caller, after digressing into an…

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Kudos to the Lewiston Sun Journal for reaching out to GOP Majority Leader Phil Curtis after we published the news that his column was banned from the pages of MaineToday Media. Curtis’ column is critical of MTM owner Donald Sussman and his wife, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and the inevitable editorial slant the newspaper chain would take. So, of course, MTM wouldn’t publish the piece. The Sun Journal didn’t have the same editorial problem, and published the column this weekend. Sussman’s papers just snatched the Sun Journal’s lead political reporter, Steve Mistler, so perhaps the feeling of collegiality between the papers…

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Governor Paul LePage is doing exactly what he’s promised Mainers he’d do from the first day he set foot on the campaign trail: rein in spending to lower the tax burden on the people of this state. If only his colleagues in the Republican-led legislature had the same focus. Instead, the legislature’s Appropriations Committee continues to make modifications to the Governor’s budgets that water down real reform. Fortunately for the working people of Maine, Governor LePage is exercising a rare tool to make sure our government doesn’t continue to live outside of its means—the line-item veto. LePage’s vetoes correct two…

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By Rep. Rich Cebra Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has some explaining to do. On March 14, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed that the cost of the so-called Obamacare initiative has doubled. Two years ago, when the Affordable Care Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a razor thin margin – with no Republican votes – we were told that the 10-year cost of the plan would be $940 billion. Democrats turned cartwheels around the Capitol because the grand total came in under $1 trillion. President Obama said if the cost had been higher, he would not have signed the bill.…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Constitutional Law Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Topics: Democrat Rep Chuck Kruger’s Twitter problem MaineToday Media bans GOP Majority Leader Maine’s Wealthy Elite Who are Maine’s ‘Rich’? Zero percent income tax?

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The Maine Wire reported yesterday on Maine Democrat state representative Chuck Kruger’s Twitter comments, saying he would like to see former Vice President Dick Cheney executed, and that he hoped it would be televised. Click here to to read the story >> Our story has sparked a media storm. The Drudge Report linked our story, which produced so much traffic it temporarily crashed our site. Since then, we’ve been linked by The Daily Caller, the Washington Examiner, and many other national political websites. Kruger, who denied remembering the tweet when we spoke with him this morning, has since made two…

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UPDATE 4/13 7:00am: Click here to listen to Kruger in a radio interview. At about 2 minutes in, he actually says ‘I wish we could have fun with this’. Rep. Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston), the Democrat chair of the Maine legislature’s Moderate Caucus, used his Twitter account to express his view that former Vice President Dick Cheney should be executed. This comment has led some to question the validity of Kruger’s moderate credentials. Kruger made the statement through his Twitter account this past summer, saying, “Cheney deserves same final end he gave Saddam. Hope there are cell cams,” a reference to…

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But hey, what are friends for? By J Dwight Distrust of—and anger toward—the politically connected elite is one of the primary drivers of electoral politics in the last two election cycles. In fact, it is nothing new. Throughout American history, these revolts happen periodically. That distrust proved to be warranted with the recession in 2008-09. It helped elect Paul LePage and a Republican Legislature in 2010, and it is one of the important motivations in 2012. The revolt led to an historic upset in Maine with conservatives being elected in numbers that changed the State House in dramatic ways. The Tea…

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By Rep. Phil Curtis Maine House Majority Leader Phil Curtis originally submitted this piece to the Maine Today Media for publication. The papers refused to run it based on its criticism of the paper’s owner and his spouse. This is an amazing act of political censorship, and ironically reinforces the concerns Rep. Curtis outlines in this piece. The entire, unedited column is featured below. What do you get for the congresswoman who has everything?  Southern Maine’s Democratic congresswoman, Chellie Pingree, recently received the gift of a lifetime from her husband, hedge fund mogul Donald Sussman. It wasn’t diamonds or pearls. …

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by Scott Moody Just last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released the latest change in population data for Maine by county (excel) between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011.  From the state-level data, Maine’s net natural population growth, which is births minus deaths, over this time-period was only 180 people.  However, when examined at the county-level, the  bad news grows even gloomier with 10 out of 16 counties showing negative net natural growth, meaning more deaths occur than births. As shown in the table below, these counties include: Aroostook (-147) Franklin (-28) Hancock (-134) Kennebec (-35) Knox (-34) Lincoln (-99) Oxford (-115)…

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U.S. Senate candidate Angus King has posted an odd campaign video today, as a preview to his official campaign launch next week. The video itself is basically boring, but the backdrop is very strange. Here’s a screen shot: Avert your eyes for a moment from the cheesy 1990s era yellow-on-green campaign logo for a moment, and look at the poster on the left. This is an advertisement for his book “Governor’s Travels”. Crash Barry reviewed this strange book for The Bollard: I’m not sure what’s most irritating about the 160 pages chronicling King’s non-exciting tale of a not-so-rollicking road trip…

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Poll results released yesterday give Senate candidate Angus King a clear lead in the race to replace Olympia Snowe. It also gives democrats Chellie Pingree (who owns the paper reporting on the poll) and Mike Michaud an edge in their races. The very-hypothetical poll (the questions include asking about candidates that haven’t actually won primaries yet) was commissioned by the ultra liberal group “Maine People’s Resource Center” which is an offshoot group of the Maine People’s Alliance, a far-left wing advocacy group that has championed extreme liberal causes. Now obviously the media is running with this poll, because it bodes well for all of their favorite…

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Tune in to this week’s Maine Wire ‘Week in Review’ podcast. Click below to listen. Hosted this week by: Sam Adolphsen, Director, MHPC’s Open Government Center David Crocker, Director, MHPC’s Constitutional Law Center Lance Dutson, MHPC CEO Peter Steele, MHPC Communications Director Topics: Paul Violette sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison Sound familiar? GSA scandal over lavish parties for employees in Las Vegas Sob Sister update: Bill Nemitz continues attacks on Governor LePage Woodard, Mistler join MaineToday Media Citizens warned feds about Angus King’s wind company problems

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We’ve heard this story before haven’t we? The similarities are striking – catering, Vegas hotels, gift cards and even clowns. (What’s with left-wing government bureaucrats and clowns? Oh wait, my bad, it was a magician at MaineHousing) The General Services Administration Public Buildings Service agency put together a “conference” that cost taxpayers $820,000 according to reports. When we detailed the spending of MaineHousing, we heard from the left that “conferences” were ok, and an acceptable use of taxpayer money, regardless of what happened at them (clowns, magicians, massages, whatever…). Here in Maine, when we reported the ridiculous and wasteful spending at MaineHousing the…

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by Scott Moody Maine’s private-sector share of personal income for 2011 has begun to recover from the all-time lows set during the “Great Recession,” but that growth is still 6 percent smaller than the national average. Maine’s private-sector share of personal income is now 65.5 percent, compared to 69.3 percent nationally. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis on Tuesday released new personal income data for 2011 by state and revisions for the past couple of years. After rising only 3.7 percent in 2010, state personal income rose an average of 5.1 percent in 2011, according to the…

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Public forum boot camp is a smart move Republicans in Maine may be getting a reprieve from the internecine miasma that’s been keeping the party from asserting itself as a permanent majority. Democrats revel in hurling fruitless attacks at the party principals, but a behind-the-scenes effort has moved the party toward the united front that GOP faithful have been waiting for years to see. While the majority of a political party’s efforts go unseen by voters, a lack of visible leadership can lead to a terrible morale problem with the faithful masses. Republicans in Maine, despite recent electoral success, have…

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