from September 2011
Previous month's news
- Revisionist History or Pants-on-Fire?. The Guv danced to a fanciful new tune, on national television, when asked about taking down the mural at the Department of Labor. Quoted in the BDN (09/28):
I have absolutely nothing against organized labor. My objection to the mural is simply where the money came from. The money was taken out of the unemployment insurance fund, which is dedicated to provide benefits to unemployed workers. They robbed that account to build that mural. Until they pay for it, it stays hidden.
It's a mystery why his handlers would accept NBC's invitation to be part of a its Governors Forum on Education, except that NBC's video shows that the others don't have much on the ball either.
- Election-day registration works for the Guv & Republican legislators, too. Did they really say that only the lazy and ignorant register at the last minute? Protect Maine Votes produced a long list of hypocrites who have in the past availed themselves of late registration (BDN (09/27)), including LePage (one-day prior, 1982), Senate President and co-sponsor of bill eliminating election-day registration, Kevin Raye (election day, 2001), and Lance Dutson, head of the Maine Heritage Policy Center (one-day prior, 2010).
The Bangor Daily quotes David Farmer, spokesman for Protect Maine Votes:
One of the primary arguments made for the repeal of same-day registration is that people who register late don’t care, are lazy or are ill-informed. We’ve heard that over and over from the other side. But the fact is, many of the state's most influential leaders, including the governor, prominent leaders in the Legislature, candidates for public office and business leaders have registered to vote close to Election Day.
- He'll do anything to win. A first person account of Republican Party chairman, Charlie Webster, at the polls in this BDN OpEd (09/25).
- Compromise! Redistricting is not going to be settled in court after all. Republicans finally offered a compromise we could live with; Knox County stays whole and in the 1st District. Details in the BDN 09/27. Joan Welsh will share insights at our October meeting.
- Action alert on Redistricting. Republicans in the legislature are determined to pass their redistricting plan, which removes Knox County from the 1st District, by a simple majority vote, contrary to existing statute which requires a 2/3 vote to pass. We received this note from our Rep. Joan Welsh:
Dear Knox County Friends,
Many of you turned out to testify before the Redistricting Commission in favor of the Democrats' plan to keep Knox County in the first district and to move as few people as possible between districts. Now you are needed again. The legislature convenes next Tuesday, September 27th, to vote on the plan. As you know, the Commission voted for the Democrats' plan. However, the Republicans went back to their extreme plan of moving 25% of our population from one district to another, including putting Knox County in the second district.
Please take action in two ways:
1. Call Senator Chris Rector (354-6571) and ask him to support the Commission's majority plan and keep Knox County in the first district, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris's email address given in our 9/22 email blast was incorrect.)
2. Come to the legislature to show Knox County's desire to stay in the first district. 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Tuesday, Sept 27th, at the State House. It has been reported that Republicans do not think the public cares about this issue. We need to show them that the public IS concerned.
Attached are talking points (pdf 1 and pdf 2).
Thank you. I hope to see you in Augusta on Tuesday.
- Summers closes voter fraud investigation. Maine's Secretary of State completed his investigation of voter fraud at the Department of Motor Vehicles and of students accused by Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster. No fraud was found, though one non-citizen was found to have voted in Portland in 2002. In spite of the investigative results, he continues to refer to our election system as "fragile and vulnerable," a prelude to the Republican's fall campaign against Question One, restoring our right to register on election day. The BDN 09/21 has the story.
Can you stand one more from Charlie Webster? This audio clip is from WGAN radio (09/02) with hosts Ken and Mike talking it over with Charlie. They say, "..Charlie...if you're not a lawyer, why are you shooting your mouth off as if you are?"
- Just eking out a living. In an MSNBC interview discussing the unfairness of the Obama administration's proposed "millionaire tax," Tea Party Republican Rep. John Fleming (La), whose reported annual income exceeds $6 million, said "By the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over." More at the Huffington Post...
(Fleming claims that the rest is eaten up because "..you pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment and food." But if you look at his disclosure filings (free registration required), the $6 mil is actually net of expenses. But who wants to quibble over a few dollars?)
- We're all tired of Charlie Webster, but he's got an op-ed in The Maine Campus, the UMaine Orono student paper, where he calls up the spectre of voter fraud to confuse voters about election-day registration. He says:
... without an inspection period, how do we know that someone hasn't voted twice or voted when they are clearly not a Maine resident?
Requiring residents to register to vote two days prior to an election protects the integrity of our election system and assures every vote cast on Election Day is legitimate.
Huh? Ask your town clerk how this would work.
- Our last meeting was Tuesday, September 13, at Stella Maris House in Rockland.
The agenda is here. A brief recap:
- Redistricting: Rep. Joan Welsh discussed redistricting before the business meeting. The Republicans will probably pass their plan on a majority vote ("other laws not withstanding"), bypassing the 2/3 vote required by statute (Title 21-A, Sec. 1206.) An interesting wrinkle here is that legislation passed by a 2/3 vote is considered "emergency legislation" and takes effect immediately. Legislation passed by a simple majority, however, takes effect 90 days after adjournment, and could be subject to a People's Veto. More at the Daily Kos.
- Treasurer's report: Healthy status now, but fund-raising must go all out soon to avoid a crisis next year.
- Lobster Bake: Good weather, good turnout, good financials.
- Farm Picnic fundraiser: the Union event planned for this fall has been cancelled.
- Fall potluck: Bruce Hodsdon is on it; probably in Camden.
- LiHEAP fundraiser: Steve Melchisky will meet with Knox County Republicans.
- Mailings: We approved the bulk purchase of sticky labels to seal folded mailings, and possibly a machine to apply them.
- Monhegan cruise: The idea of having a fund-raiser get-together next summer out of Port Clyde was discussed.
- Election-day Registration: We'll be voting "Yes on One" in November This is a non-partisan issue. The creation of a PAC is underway to fund the voter education effort.
- Candidate search: Ed Mazurek has declared for the state senate seat; Andy O'Brien will not run again for the Lincolnville, Hope, Appleton House seat.
- Platform committee: Bring suggestions for the State Democratic Party Platform (in writing) for discussion at our October KCDC meeting. Our reps (Lavertu, Martin, Weinand) will take our suggestions to the next meeting of the state committee. They expressed some frustration with the process so far.
- Yard Sale to support Question 1 (Election Day Registration): Mike Mayo will host an on-going yard sale at his place on Route 1 in Thomaston. Please donate quality stuff.
- Passages: Mike noted the passing of Karen McKenney (Burke) Ratcliff, a loyal Democrat.
- "Sell crazy someplace else. We're all stocked up here. " Tom Friedman (NYTimes 09/14) quotes Jack Nicholson in "As Good as It Gets, " discussing climate change deniers Rick Perry and Michele Bachman. He argues that, with the bankruptcy of the federally-funded solar energy company, Solyndra,
Not only has the science of climate change come under attack lately, so has the economics of green jobs....There is only one effective, sustainable way to produce "green jobs," and that is with a fixed, durable, long-term price signal that raises the price of dirty fuels and thereby creates sustained consumer demand for, and sustained private sector investment in, renewables. Without a carbon tax or gasoline tax or cap-and-trade system that makes renewable energies competitive with dirty fuels, while they achieve scale and move down the cost curve, green jobs will remain a hobby...
This 08/15 NYTimes editorial, "The Clear Case for the Gas Tax," warns:
...some House Republicans may push to let the tax lapse [on September 30th] or use the threat of expiration as leverage in the budget wars. This is a dangerous idea. If anything, the tax should rise to maintain a system that constantly needs upkeep — the backlog of bridges needing repair is estimated at $72 billion — to create jobs, and to encourage drivers to buy more fuel-efficient cars.
More on climate change at: ClimateProgress.org
- We don't make things anymore. Two good pieces on why the American manufacturing economy is headed south. Steve Betts talks about "The Disappearing Middle Class" and points his finger at unfair Free Trade Agreements.
The NYTimes (9/10) has a more complex view, "Is Manufacturing Falling Off the Radar?"
- Lunch with Charlie Summers? The R's are gearing up the faithful for the Election-day Registration ballot issue. We received this invitation:
The Maine Heritage Policy Center invites you to attend "Ensuring Integrity In Maine's Elections" Presented by The Honorable Charlie Summers, Secretary of State...The Secretary of State will address issues surrounding the structural integrity of our elections and what we can do as a state to ensure every vote counts.
Portland: 9/22, DiMillo's On the Water. Bangor: 9/23, Sea Dog Brewing Company
Will he take questions about Charlie Webster's integrity?
- GOP chairman targets more voters.
The Bangor Daily News (09/09 quickly debunked Charlie's latest:
...[he] said an examination of the statewide voter list revealed that 19 individuals who registered to vote on Election Day in November, 2004, each listed a South Portland hotel as their residence.
...It turns out, those 19 were all students of the St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine in Grand Cayman Island, which has a partnership with St. Joseph’s College in Standish.
Jason Bartlett, general manager of the South Portland hotel, confirmed Friday that his facility was nearly full of displaced students during that time period because of Hurricane Ivan. Evidently, the St. Matthew’s students transferred to St. Joseph to finish their coursework but the Maine college did not have adequate housing. That’s where the hotel comes in.
Where did they find this guy?
- Yes On One! The Secretary of State certified the petition for election-day registration on September 8th. The issue will be the first referendum item on this November's ballot, reading:
Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?
More at the Bangor Daily News.
- Party Fraud. Charlie Webster, Chairman of the Maine Republican party, continues his attack on university students. The BDN obtained the list of students that Charlie accused of voter fraud from the Secretary of State's office through the Freedom of Information Act. The article brings up the interesting concept of "unregistration" when a voter moves out of a town. Intra-state, a new registration automatically triggers an un-registration in the former residence town. There is no similar mechanism for an interstate move. The BDN article (08/31) finds no evidence of students voting twice, and quotes Webster:
"We’ll let this play out. I'm willing to take the criticism I'm getting. What I find bizarre is that anyone would think I would bring up something that wasn't a problem."
Guess what we find bizarre?
- Election-day Registration referendum petitions are due to be certified by the Secretary of State next week (9/09). We received this note from Amy Halstead at Maine Peoples' Alliance:
Next week, we anticipate that the Secretary of State will certify the signatures we've gathered for the People's Veto to protect voting rights. Together we will have officially gathered more valid signatures more quickly than has ever been done before by a grassroots campaign in Maine.
But this campaign is far from over and opponents of voting rights haven't been sitting on their hands.
While we've been gathering signatures and preparing for the campaign, they've launched a media blitz in local newspapers all over Maine.
Republican legislators who proposed and voted for the bill eliminating same-day voter registration have been flooding local papers with letters and opinion pieces defending their actions, attacking our coalition and minimizing your hard work.
Let's not let them get away with it. ... We need to counter these smears and make sure Maine people know that...
- Election Day registration has worked in Maine for more than 40 years. There's absolutely no reason to eliminate it.
- Maine's town clerks association fought against eliminating Election Day registration because they don't want to deny people the right to vote.
- Maine people all over the state have come together for this cause in a grassroots campaign that will be successful in restoring our rights.
- Mainers should VOTE YES in November to protect voting rights
If you have a personal story of collecting signatures or of registering to vote on Election Day, now's the time to share it.
In her op-ed in The Forecaster, Rep. Heather Sirocki of Scarborough claimed that the huge groundswell of support for the People's Veto that we witnessed this summer never happened. She called the campaign just a bunch of "fringe left-wing groups."
In the SVWeekly, Rep. Pete Johnson, wrote that this wasn't a campaign of real people, just "the professional left."
In the Times Record, Rep. Dale Crafts went a step further, calling our coalition of volunteers not just "left-wing" but also "extreme."
There have been half a dozen more like this in local newspapers all over the state. They all use the same words and phrases and it's obvious they're part of a coordinated campaign. All of them attack our grassroots effort and most of them attack the Maine People's Alliance by name.
Let's fight back.
Use this form to quickly and easily send a letter to your local newspaper right now.
Thanks again for your work and your support. Together, we're going to win this.
- Redistricting update 09/01: The Democratic plan was voted out of committee on a party-line vote plus one - the deciding ballot cast by the independent member on the committee.
There is zero chance of that plan being adopted by the full legislature, whose deadline for a decision in the end of September.
- Follow the money. This NYTime (08/28) article lays out the coming impact of the Supreme Court's decision in the "Citizens United" case.
...Early fund-raising suggests that the new groups are relying on a handful of wealthy donors capable of writing five-, six- and even seven-figure checks. According to a study published last week by the Center for Responsive Politics, more than 80 percent of money raised by Republican-leaning Super PACs this year came from just 35 donors.
Democratic-leaning Super PACs relied on an even smaller group, with more than 80 percent of contributions coming from just 23 donors.
"What took thousands of individual donations to make significant political advertisements in 2008 can now just take one phone call," said Spencer MacColl, the study's author...
..."It's Christmas for consultants," said one Republican operative, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the enthusiasm among fellow consultants for the groups. "People are just starting to get it. It's completely unlimited. And it's going to change everything."
- FLOTUS in Maine September 30th. Michelle Obama (First Lady of the U.S.) will be in the Portland area at the end of the month. Here are the links for information/tickets, to donate and RSVP to the Portland events:
RSVP Online Using the Contribution Pages: