from March 2011
Previous month's news
Original photo: Laurie Cartier
Bad for business. A politically tone-deaf bully, ruled by out-of-state interests, and destined to be our first one-term governor in 30 years, Governor LePage has vaulted Maine onto the national stage again, with his removal of the labor history mural from the Department of Labor lobby in Augusta.
- Inside Job follow-up: Director Charles Ferguson speaks about the film, the financial services industry, corruption, and our political response at the Commonwealth Club of California (3/02) in this video.
Paul Krugman says in this NYTimes piece (3/14):
...What the film didn’t point out, however, is that the crisis has spawned a whole new set of abuses, many of them illegal as well as immoral. And leading political figures are, at long last, showing some outrage. Unfortunately, this outrage is directed, not at banking abuses, but at those trying to hold banks accountable for these abuses...
...In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll see pro-banker politicians denounce the proposed settlement, asserting that it’s all about defending the rule of law. But what they’re actually defending is the exact opposite — a system in which only the little people have to obey the law, while the rich, and bankers especially, can cheat and defraud without consequences.
- Rep. Andy O'brien says it's the "Wrong way to balance budget priorities:"
"Governor Paul LePage had just released his biannual budget,
which asks teachers to contribute the largest portion of the $524
million in proposed cuts to teachers and state emplyees to balance his
budget, as well as to provide tax breaks to Maine's top income bracket.
These cuts, including freezing cost of living adjustments in pensions
for three more years, cutting health care benefits, and a 2 percent
increase in retirement contributions, come at a time when Maine is
already 44th in the country when it comes to teacher salaries..."
More at VillageSoup (3/18).
- 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree sent us her update from Washington (3/17). We've posted a copy here, for those not on her email list.
- Tea Party history, oops! Here's a short video of Michele Bachmann, speaking in New Hampshire about their "shot heard 'round the world.".
She's also been leading the charge, so to speak, against federal regulations on light bulbs' energy efficiency. Oh, and low-flow toilets are a big freedom issue also. NYTimes 03/12.
- "How wrong, deceptive and deadly can you be and still get to lecture President Obama on his moral obligations?" says Maureen Dowd, in this NYTimes piece (3/13) about Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of our Iraq war disaster.
Here's the original WSJ article by Wolfowitz (subscription required), or search for Wolfowitz in the Wall Street Journal through this link to Marvel. (Marvel is Maine's Virtual Library, where you have access to millions of articles in thousands of newspapers, magazines, and encyclopedias. The link to Marvel is on most Maine libraries' websites.)
- Fuel prices are rising. Here's some reference material:
The Independent (UK): "Demanding cheaper oil is disastrous"
Bangor Daily News: Gas prices are about more than just oil
NYTimes: "Don't blame the speculators"
NYTimes: "U.S. Economy Is Better Prepared for Rising Gas Costs"
The Economist (UK) on speculators: Dr Evil, or drivel?
- "Buying a Maine daily newspaper is like paying someone to lie to you," the governor said at the Maine Fishermen's Forum (BDN 03/04) The Bangor Daily's reply is worth the read.
- Our last meeting was Tuesday, March 8th, at Stella Maris House in Rockland. The agenda is here.
Andrew Kain, Maine field rep for Organizing for America, outlined OFA's main issues:
- Neighborhood gatherings
- Small business outreach
- Organizational data
- Story bank
- Media campaign
- Bruce Hodsdon, KCDC vice chair and MSEA president, discussed the unions' strategies for fighting the LePage agenda against them. He decried the Governor's plan to increase worker's contributions to the retirement system and break the state's promise to workers to pay its share. (more below...)
- Rep. Chuck Kruger and Gerald Weinand discussed the flood of bills before the Maine House (see Gerald's Omnibus of Bills at Dirigo Blue.)
- Several speakers concurred in the feeling that the extreme and frivolous bills are offensive to moderate Republicans in the legislature.
- Mike Mayo recruited members for our standing and ad hoc committees, including, by gaff, one for "Special Effects."
- The chair proposed making our April meeting a joint one with Lincoln and Waldo counties. Watch this space for news.
- Carmen Lavertu announced an April 9th End the Wars at Home and Abroad rally in NYC. Including one or more chartered buses leaving from Bangor (more at Midcoast Peace and Justice Center).
- Voting Rights are under attack by Republicans in the Maine legislature, including a bill requiring voters to present an ID card in order to vote, and an effort to eliminate "same-day registration." Both would disenfranchise citizens, particularly the elderly, who have often given up their driver's licenses. Andrew Kain mentioned that Illinois spent $11 million to create a state ID system, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it: " in Maine we've had two minor cases of voter fraud in the past 30 years.
- A Deal's a Deal? How is it fair to ask state workers to pay for the failure of the state to pay its share to the retirement system, while at the same time proposing income tax and estate tax cuts? The Governor's office and its proxy, Tarren Bragdon's Maine Heritage Policy Center are attempting to demonize state workers, accusing them of "lavish" pensions. By contrast, this article in the Brunswick Times Record says, "The average annual pension for state retirees is approximately $19,000, and many are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits due to their state service."
- Inside Job is playing at the Strand in Rockland through March 3rd.
The documentary written and directed by Charles Ferguson - who made No End in Sight, the best of the nonfiction movies about the Iraq war... provides the most comprehensive brief narrative of the causes of the [2008 financial crisis]
- Maine People's Alliance is putting on a Lobby Day on March 10th.
The Lobby Day is a fun way to develop your skills as a grassroots lobbyist. Following a lobby training session, you’ll set out in small groups to talk to your Senators and Representatives. You’ll be able to share your views directly with them and help us determine their positions on key MPA issues.
More at mainepeoplesalliance.org