Author: Tom Desjardin

Tom Desjardin earned a Ph.D. in U.S. History at the University of Maine and has written several books on Maine History. He has taught at four colleges in three states while he and his work have been featured on the History Channel, A&E, Discovery, PBS, and C-SPAN. In twenty years of service in Maine state government, he has held positions from entry-level to the governor’s cabinet.

To Reach the Blaine House, the Secretary has Abandoned the Principles of Her Past In mid-October of 1859, a group of nearly two dozen abolitionists moved under cover of darkness into the village of Harpers Ferry, Virginia with plans to seize the weapons at the federal arsenal there, arm slaves in the region, and ignite an uprising against their white masters. Within two days, a company of U.S. Marines put an end to the group’s plan, killing half of them, and capturing its leader, John Brown of Kansas. At his trial, and just prior to his hanging, Brown made clear…

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Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection has a case of NRCM Disease Following the lead of their non-profit overlords at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) last week released its “Basis Statement” in which it responded to public comments regarding the new rule designed to drastically reduce gas-powered and hybrid passenger vehicles on Maine roads by decreasing the percentage of new vehicles that are not so-called “Zero Emission Vehicles”or LEVs. [RELATED: Maine BEP’s Vote on Controversial ZEV Mandate Delayed Until Next Year…] The document is remarkable for two major reasons. First it makes…

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The New Rule Will Not Reduce the Dirty Air We Inherit from Other States The goal as stated in the new rule is “Improving air quality and reducing the adverse effects of climate change.” As to air quality in Maine, according to the American Lung Association, “Bangor is one of only 10 cities in the nation that ranked cleanest for ozone, short and long term particle pollution.” The city of Portland, however, was recently identified as “the 100th most polluted city for ozone pollution.” There are twice as many EVs per capita in the Portland area. In fact, 40% of…

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“Taxation without representation is tyranny.” A common saying in New England leading up to the American Revolution, this was a challenge to the idea that the King had no right to force American colonists to pay taxes to the Crown but have no elected representatives in either house of Parliament to help shape the laws and policies under which they must live. The same principle applies to a soon to be finalized rule from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP), under the authority of just 150 signatures on a petition and the votes of at least four of seven…

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In this column I have devoted most of this space to drawing attention to ways in which state government has failed to live up to its potential to make the lives of its citizens better. These include gross dishonesty, like the time Gov. Janet Mills invented an elaborate set of lies about a phone call with former Republican President Donald Trump, then held a press conference specifically to tell those lies, only to be exposed when the White House released the audio of the call. They also include a cruel determination to not adequately fund Maine’s nursing homes until many…

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This week for the first time in U.S. history, the cost of interest on the national debt passed $1 trillion annually. This means that for every $5 the U.S. Treasury takes in, it pays $1 (20%) for interest on the debt. It also means that, in a given year, one out of every five dollars you pay in income taxes does not go to provide you government services. It goes to pay the interest on the government’s debt. Recently, Democrats have raised the specter of doom and gloom whenever deadlines draw near for raising the debt ceiling, arguing that Congress…

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If their arguments are so effective, why do they keep lying? I think it is safe to say, without taking a massive statewide poll, that most Mainers would prefer that the legal and policy decisions that effect their lives be made by people who are well-informed by factual information and that those who contribute to the public debate have a moral obligation to do so honestly. This belief explains my great disappointment with the behavior of late of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. There are few, if any, organizations in the state that have a greater impact on the laws…

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On September 14, fifty-four members of the Maine House and Senate signed a letter arguing that a public comment session be held in Bangor or southern Maine, in addition to the already scheduled location of Millinocket. The comments have to do with the proposed rezoning of an area around Pickett Mountain near Patten in northern Penobscot County. This area is believed to hold unusually rich deposits of copper, zinc, silver, and other minerals, some of which are key to the manufacture of solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries for electric vehicles, among other important uses. These legislators signed the letter…

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Ignoring the Constitution is Becoming an American Pastime In an effort to address the economically crippling labor shortage in New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham today issued an emergency order suspending the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery to allow critical New Mexico industries to resume working at full capacity. In a statement accompanying her executive order, Lujan-Grisham wrote, “We have a great need for labor and a large population of residents whom we can easily exploit. A temporary resumption of the practice of chattel slavery is the best way to protect our safety and prevent the further decline…

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Peter Slovinsky is a marine geologist for the Maine Geological Survey. This past week he made the Maine media aware of a serious problem with erosion on Casco Bay’s Chebeague Island that is jeopardizing a popular area known as “The Hook.” Using aerial photos taken by drone on behalf of the Greater Portland Council of Governments, Slovinsky alerted the public about serious erosion problems occurring there since at least 2020. Every major newspaper in Maine dutifully printed the story, apparently without any effort to scrutinize its content. The Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, and Maine Public all ran pieces assuming…

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Only eight U.S. states can boast that all-electric vehicles exceed 1 percent of all vehicles registered there. None are greater than 2.5 percent. Yet the Natural Resource Council of Maine (NRCM) wants to force our state to require that 52 percent of all new cars sold here are “zero emission vehicles” (ZEVSs) in just the next three years. “Zero emissions” is, of course, a misnomer, considering most of the power that charges the vehicles will come from power companies that burn natural gas. As others have noted, it would be more accurate to call them “External Combustion Vehicles” (ECVs). By…

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Another week, another boondoggle from the Mills Administration on energy. Now, Mills wants to shift our electricity production from cheaper existing resources to expensive offshore wind. If you have had sticker shock over the last several months at your steadily increasing electric bill, be prepared for the next few years. It is only going to get worse. Maine already has the fifth highest residential electricity rates in the nation. Not surprisingly, states two through six are all in New England, with Vermont at number ten. Since they all belong to and purchase their electricity from the ISO New England Regional…

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If every source of CO2 in the state ceased tomorrow—if we permanently turned off every light, furnace, vehicle, or other power source and lived like our ancient ancestors—it would have no measurable impact on the climate. Will someone please introduce Gov. Janet Mills to Google? And while you’re at it, please send the link to her staff and team of “experts.” In what is becoming a familiar occurrence, the Mills Administration made a major announcement this week, just days after the federal government released information that contradicted the goals of the state’s new policy – something easily avoided if they…

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Over the past week, statements by two elected officials in Maine told a sad tale about the lack of seriousness with which they and many of their colleagues act when casting votes on serious issues in their various lawmaking capacities. In the dozen years that U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has served in Congress from Maine’s First Congressional District she has sponsored 94 bills. Of these, just 8 passed in the House, but then seven of those were ignored by the Senate. The sum total of her accomplishments while representing the people of Maine’s first district is a single piece of…

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“We should all storm the institution, out of anger that this is the attitude that they’ve taken about our history.” It may surprise you to learn that this is not a statement made at some political event by former President Donald Trump. It may surprise you further to learn that it was made by the far-left Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Rachel Talbot Ross, a Democrat from Portland. She made these comments, on camera, at an event aligned with the new state and federal holiday known as Juneteenth which celebrates the end of slavery in America. When there…

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You can almost imagine one of Tony Soprano’s capos showing up representing the school board at the annual town meeting vote on the school budget. “Here’s how this thing’s gonna go. You’re gonna give us all the money we tell you to, and youse just gonna write the check, no questions asked. Capisce?” A bill moving through the Legislature, one that will no doubt pass in a Democratic majority, will eliminate the automatic annual vote by cities and towns to approve the school budget giving local school officials freedom to spend any amount they choose with far less chance of…

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Riding what they believe is a surge of enthusiasm in favor of permissive abortion laws, Maine Democrats are moving to establish the most extreme such laws in the nation, seemingly in the belief that Mainers share their point of view on this extremely controversial issue. A look at the election results from last November and the polling numbers around the issue of abortion, however, show that Democrats are taking risky steps that may cost them significantly at the polls next fall. A hard look at the election results from last November shows no major shift or surge in Democratic support…

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Taxation without representation! This was the most often remembered outcry in the years leading up to the outbreak of war between subjects living in the American colonies and the motherland across the Atlantic. Colonists were required to pay taxes to The Crown but were not allowed to send representatives to parliament to speak and vote on their behalf. It caused our disillusioned forefathers to famously throw tea into Boston Harbor in protest and helped lead to a revolution and independence. For the second time in two years, Democratic leaders in Augusta have reignited this concept by refusing to allow duly…

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Recent headlines show that another nursing home has closed, the state is on its way to setting its fifth straight record for overdose deaths, school budget crunches abound, and Maine is now the worst state in the nation for child abuse and neglect. These are just a few of the enormous failures of state government since Janet Mills took office in January 2019. As these pile up with stunning regularity, it seems a good time to review some of the highest priorities that have become some of the biggest disappointments under Gov. Janet Mills. In debates and regular campaign speeches…

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For nearly seven years now, advocates and opponents have struggled in legal and political venues over a corridor of land across which high-capacity power lines would transmit hydroelectric power from Quebec to Massachusetts through Maine. Officially known as the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project, it is more often referred to as the Central Maine Power (CMP) Corridor. Though I have found myself ambivalent about whether “The Corridor” is ever built, it is clear to me that there are a few key reasons why it is likely—and legally—to become a reality. Among the key issues involved are whether a…

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In 1958, The U.S. Supreme Court issued one of the most important rulings in its history. By throwing out the half-century old decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, they rejected its central premise that schools could be of the same quality, even if racially segregated—no more “separate but equal.” In Brown v. Board of Education, the court established a new measure, that each individual student deserves the same opportunity for a quality education. Since Maine schools are governed locally, state government’s role is to ensure that each is providing a quality education by assessing students annually to measure each school’s progress,…

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“A school counselor or school social worker may not be required to divulge or release information gathered during a counseling relation with a client or with the parent, guardian or a person or agency having legal custody of a minor client.” This sentence, already embedded in state statutes since 1989, created a major stir in Augusta this past week when it was included in a new set of Maine Department of Education rules, Chapter 117: “Rules Regarding the Duties of School Counselors and School Social Workers.” By definition, this is a “major and substantive” rule which must be approved by…

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On September 9, 2022, six months ago and one year after Gov. Janet Mills announced the nation’s harshest COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, the Maine CDC announced that at least 26 long-term care facilities in the state were in the midst of COVID-19 outbreaks. In this one week, there were 400 cases in these facilities, 138 of them among fully vaccinated staff. Just one month ago, 70 people at an assisted living facility in Portland were COVID positive, nearly one-third of all residents and staff. These announcements raise an obvious question to everyone except the Maine media. Given that…

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Growing up as a kid in Maine public schools I can recall teachers complaining about the annual standardized tests they gave us, bubble-in pencil style. I remember chuckling pretty hard when I heard them make the argument—no kidding—that “Tests are not a good way to judge people.” Even as a teenager, I was aware enough to ask myself, if this was true, why did every teacher I had from first grade through high school give me tests that made up a major part of my grade? The fight by teachers’ unions across the U.S. to ensure that scores of these…

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In the news last week, President Joe Biden said he wants to increase taxes to “help save Medicare.” Maine Democrats said they not only want to increases taxes, but to create an entirely new payroll tax to fund paid family leave. With both the state and federal budgets enjoying record levels of tax revenue and both having recently spent huge sums of money beyond that of previous budget years, this push to raise taxes reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of budgets among our elected officials and the media that report on them. Here in Maine, Democrats increased the size of the…

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Curse or proverb? That is the question often attached to an ancient Chinese saying, “May you live in interesting times.” After news this week, ironically relating to the national source of that phrase, we may be on the verge of times so interesting, the last three years will pale in comparison. The Biden administration has been executing a slow crawl, step-by-step admission that the COVID-19 virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, first buried in a classified Energy Department report and then by a direct admission from FBI Director Christopher Wray that “The FBI has for quite some time…

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Back on Valentine’s Day, Maine Governor Janet Mills gave her biennial State of the Budget Address. In it, she outlined her plans to accelerate her already ambitious goals to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in Maine by 2040, rather than her previous goal of 2050. Her speech and previous statements and actions on climate issues show a stunning lack of understanding of the issues that can only have resulted from a lack of even the most basic research. For example, Mills declared that “The electricity from our grid, which we share with the rest of New England, is overly…

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In her first major public step toward her promise to reform the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Director Rochelle Walensky has chosen Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah to serve as her second-in-command. As her “principal” deputy, he’ll be focusing primarily on communication issues for the agency. It is a remarkable decision, as Shah’s background demonstrates a staggering inability to effectively manage or communicate in the field of public health. Following his election as Governor of Illinois in 2014, Bruce Rauner nominated Shah to serve as the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). His nomination papers…

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Around seven or eight years ago, I was sitting in the room in which the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee held its meetings, listening to public testimony about the process that allows school superintendents to grant a student a transfer from one district to another if both superintendents agree. The bill in question sought to broaden the rules to give the Commissioner of Education more influence since the superintendents were not approving any transfers under any circumstances. A former teacher and Legislator rose to argue against the proposal by making one of the most remarkable statements I had ever…

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“With an eye toward protecting this special place for future generations, I have made this decision.” So said U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, upon signing an order last week that prohibits mining on nearly a quarter million acres within Minnesota’s Superior National Forest for the next two decades. In 1978, President Carter signed the law that specifically designated this area for mining to meet the nation’s demand for minerals. The Biden administration claims the decision does not indicate that it does not support mining. Without further explanation, Interior declared that “the department sees the value in critical minerals and their…

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On June 1, 2020, Gov. Janet Mills used taxpayer funded resources, including her staff’s time, to arrange a press event during which she read from prepared remarks concerning a phone call with state governors hosted by then-President Donald Trump. At the event, Mills bragged of how she had taken Trump to task for things he said or did not say during the segment of the one-hour call in which she was allowed to speak. Shortly after the event, the White House took the unusual step of releasing the audio of the entire call, something Mills obviously did not expect. Comparing the audio of…

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Apparently, Gov. Janet Mills is expecting a $2 billion visit from the tooth fairy. While introducing the third two-year budget of her tenure in office last week, Mills explained that she intends to spend yet another $2 billion more with her new two-year budget and, she says,  “It does all of this without raising taxes.” This statement, of course, is nonsense. If she spends $2 billion more dollars and it doesn’t come from taxes collected from citizens, what is the source of this windfall? During her recent reelection campaign Mills told voters, “I have pledged not to increase taxes. I…

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Though she never asked, I decided to offer Governor Mills some factual edits to her second inaugural speech while filling out some of the areas where she could have been a little more forthcoming. Words from her speech are highlighted in red. I can report to you that, across this Maine – this one Maine – hope is very much alive – despite my best efforts. You asked us to manage our budgets prudently. So State government has lived within its means and built up the Rainy Day Fund to a record high to shelter us from the impacts of…

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Siddharth Kara spends much of his time each year lecturing to young men and women at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He also serves as a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. An attorney and author, Kara has specialized in human trafficking and slavery around the world. His latest efforts have focused on the mining of a particular mineral in central Africa, the demand for which is exploding worldwide. Cobalt is an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries. Around 74% of the cobalt on the planet lies in one small area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo…

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