A new development project is coming to Sears Island. The little island off Searsport in Waldo County could be home to three hundred acres of industrial development if plans go through, with six hundred under protection. Governors have pushed for Sears Island, the largest undeveloped, uninhabited, causeway accessible island on the east coast, to be the home of many developments. Joseph Brennan and John McKernan advocated Sears Island be used as a general port. Angus King promoted its use as a wood chip port, while Governor Baldacci pushed for an LNG terminal and an intermodal freight transport hub on the island. (more…)
(Cross-posted at the Augusta Insider)
As reported a few days ago, Stand for Marriage Maine submitted 100,000 signatures in support of the People’s Veto effort to repeal LD 1020. “It shows above all, that the people of Maine are overwhelmingly opposed to same-sex marriage.” says Mike Hein of the Maine Family Values Policy Council (formerly the Christian Civic League of Maine). The supporters of same-sex marriage disagree with Hein’s characterization of Mainers views on the issue. No on 1/Protect Maine Equality (formerly Maine Freedom to Marry) collected 60,000 pledges from voters that they would be voting no on question one. A press release from No on 1 stated that:
Our NO on 1 volunteers and field staff have gone door-to-door and neighbor-to-neighbor. We’ve attended sports and public events and everywhere we go, Mainers understand what’s at stake this November. That’s why we announced yesterday that we’ve collected more than 60,000 pledges to vote NO on 1.
Support and opposition to same-sex marriage has not followed party lines. Governor Baldacci, who did not support same-sex marriage in the past, reportedly waited until LD 1020 had reached his desk before he decided to sign. Voting in the House and Senate did not go along expected party lines in every case either. Rep. Sheryl Briggs of Mexico and Rep. Mike Willette of Presque Isle were two House Democrats to vote against LD 1020. Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess of Cumberland and Sen. Peter Mills of Cornville were two Republicans who voted in favor of LD 1020. Sen. Mills explained his vote in a comment to the Augusta Insider.
I voted for the gay marriage bill as a matter of personal conscience. I see no harm in allowing the state to license marriage between members of the same sex. If a church takes a different view, then that is for its own members to decide.On the same basis, I voted consistently to support the anti-discrimination bills that came before the Legislature several times before the law was finally approved at public referendum in November of 2005.
I have long thought that these issues should be decided by public referendum, but efforts to send them out to referendum were rejected in 2005 and again in 2009. When called upon to vote on the floor of the Senate, I simply voted what I thought was right. Many other Maine residents may disagree with my vote but that is why the issue should be decided in the ballot box.
Sen. Mills has been the only Republican gubernatorial candidate at this point to clearly support LD 1020, though nearly all Democratic candidates have shown support for the bill in one way or another. This could cost Mills the support of socially conservative Republicans, but given the number of moderates in both parties, and the highly riven GOP gubernatorial primary, this is not likely to sink Sen. Mills’ campaign.
Filed under: civil rights, John Baldacci, LD 1020, maine, Meredith Strang Burgess, Mike Willette, peter mills, Protect Maine Equality, Same-Sex Marriage, Sheryl Briggs, stand for marriage | 1 Comment »
(Cross-posted at Augusta Insider)
Gov. Baldacci’s school consolidation plan could possibly go down as one of his most controversial. School consolidation may have been able to be sold easily to the public with a little education and openness from Augusta. Baldacci’s PR fumble stalled chances of an easy passage.
Many were downright offended by what they saw as Big Government trying to tell them how they should run their schools. The bill, bristling with penalties for non-compliance, rather than helpful incentives, helped it grind to a halt in some communities. Rural communities are presumed to be the biggest resistors, but Yarmouth, Falmouth, and Cape Elizabeth are holdouts as well, though some have received exceptions.
Some towns balk the consolidation because of nothing more than petty turf wars. A state representative said recently that parents of Town A didn’t want to consolidated and have their kids go to school with children from Town B. Parents from Town B expressed similar sentiments. You’d think someone suggested the Jets and the Sharks share the same classroom. One can understand the sentiment that citizens felt this consolidation proposal pushed on them. One can understand anger that districts rush through consolidation efforts. It takes time to sort out tax burned issues and what schools to close, etc. What is not understandable is how adults can be so petty and act like their town is the John D. Rockefeller to their neighbor’s Clark W. Griswold. If that is your only hangup, move on.
Finding the right formula to save towns money, the whole purpose of consolidation, is still a valid concern. 72 districts or towns operate at $1 million or more over EPS standards. The reduction of our bloated district system is a noble goal. However, if it isn’t being reduced into something more efficient then what’s the point. Still, every day legislators spend on school consolidation is a day they can’t focus on another aspect of our children’s education.
What are some of the topics the legislature could not discuss:
- Establishing statewide curriculum standards
- Moving toward 21st century standards
- Exploring graduation requirements
- Improving college attendance rates
- Charter school implementation
- Integrating schools with the university and community college systems
Mainers have been dealing with consolidation for close to 15 years, 50 years if you count the Sinclair Act. School district consolidation can be worked to save communities money on overhead in the long run, and put that money back into the classroom. We could all argue till the Sun burns out how to best do that. What we adults are forgetting here is the whole point of education; the kids. While we are bickering back and forth they are the ones who are losing out. No matter the outcome of the November’s referendum on school consolidation it is time to move on.
(Cross-posted at the Augusta Insider)
UPDATE(9/30/09): I wrote this piece quite a few months ago. A lot has changed since then. There was one looming issue I had yet to consider; what will happen if consolidation is repealed? I’d like to think we could just move on no matter what happens November 3rd. After reading a recent article in Matthew Stone’s The Report Card it looks it will not be that easy.
Maine can’t afford to roll back the law, the Web site says. “School district consolidation can save taxpayers $36 million every year and hundreds of millions of dollars in the future. Repealing the measure will wipe out those savings and will make local property taxes will (sic) go up much, much faster.”
It’ll be tough to convince voters in towns like Monmouth and Pownal that repealing consolidation will have an adverse effect on their property tax bills. Those two towns experienced significant property tax swings while budgeting for this school year, the first one they were members of consolidated school districts. Voters in both towns have said they want out of their consolidated districts. Problem is, there’s no provision in the consolidation law that would allow them to withdraw.
The budget for education is so tight cutting learning days for students has been placed on the table. Taxes are such an important issue in Maine there are two ballot questions relating to them. If you cast a yes on question 3 you will possibly ad $36 million to an already overloaded education budget. Also, no one has explained what will happen if school consolidation is repealed. What will districts that have consolidated do? Many have cut jobs and positions and generally reworked operations already. Wont be easy, if not impossible, to back to the way things were. If you cast a no on question 3 you will possibly ad to already tough property taxes in some towns. Pownal saw a 35% increase in education costs when it joined RSU 5. Towns like Pownal are seeing a shift in costs, from state to localCatch 22. Damned if you do damned if you don’t. Between a rock and a hard place. Pick your adage. That makes it all the more important you take the time to think on your choice. Either way it wont be as easy to just move on as I once thought.
I got to thinking today how many incumbents or incumbent parties have won the Blaine House. I started with the election of Democrat Joseph Brennan in 1978. There is a strange pattern. Every governor stays in office for their two term limit. Brennan, McKernan, King, and Baldacci all fit this pattern. At the end of the incumbent parties lost the Blaine House. Democrat to Republican to Independent to Democrat.
If the current model holds then the Democrats may be in hot water this election season. Still, like the it’s weather, Maine’s politics is bound to surprise.