MEA Remains Silent On Consolidation

The purpose of a union is to protect the interests of its members.  The Maine Education Association is a state affiliate of the largest labor union in the United States, the National Education Association.  The NEA states that its mission is “to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”  We must ask ourselves why the MEA leaders choose to ignore this principle.  The MEA has not been an advocate for Maine educators when it comes to school district consolidation.

This morning, the Kennebec Journal reported on the MEA’s fight against TABOR II and the excise tax cut.  The MEA  referred to TABOR as an “immediate and real threat” to our public schools.  In an email to supporters, the MEA asked its members to “bring to bear the full power, and every resource within our 25,000-member association.” against TABOR.  (Does that quote remind anyone else of Star Wars?)  With only a week left until Maine votes, the MEA has kept its promise.  MEA executive director Mark Gray produced an ad likening TABOR to a horror movie.  The MEA also has a pdf on their website comparing the Maine Heritage Policy Center to pests.  There is no mention of other statewide issues except Social Security offsets and a few monthly reports.

The MEA is running two PACs  to combat TABOR as well.  Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools and Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future both oppose TABOR and the excise tax cut.  The MEA contributed $117,778.49 to the CWSMPS and $37,338.04 to CUMF.  The MEA itself has donated $155116.53 to oppose Questions 2 and 4.  How much as the MEA donate to the school consolidation vote (Question 3)?  Nothing.  Not one cent.

School Consolidation is not the only education issue the MEA has been silent on.  When the issue of cutting school days to save money came up the MEA made no public comment.  Nor have they said anything publicly about the Governor’s plan to cut $38 million from GPA.  Any comments on school consolidation have been lost to the ether; the MEA website does not maintain an archive.  Clearly the MEA higher ups have other priorities.  This election season it is TABOR and excise taxes.  MEA president Chris Galgay also found plenty of time to stump against charter schools.

We can debate whether or not TABOR and excise tax cuts will impact state education budgets, and we should.  School consolidation is here and now too.  It directly impacts Maine’s educators and students.  Why make clear public denouncements of TABOR II and the excise tax cut and ignore the school consolidation repeal?  Maybe it is time to reconsider if the MEA leadership is the best representation of those it is suppose protect?  As it stands now, it seems the MEA leaders would rather advocate their own interests.

Secretary of State ’09 Voter Information Guide

The Secretary of State’s office has released its 2009 voter information guide.  The guide provides information on what each question is asking, what they represent, and what a “yes” or “no” vote on each question means.  Please take a minute to familiarize yourself with each question.  An informed voter is the best kind.  And of course don’t forget to vote November 3rd, or earlier depending on your town.  A thank you too Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess (R-Cumberland) for the heads up on this. Continue reading

Green Independent Party Releases Its 2009 Voter Guide

The Maine Green Independent Party has announced its 2009 voter guide.  The guide covers the November 3rd ballot referendum questions, giving voters the Green Party’s opinion on each.  “It is a crowded ballot, this year, and we anticipate that many voters will have a clear idea as to how to vote on high profile referendum questions, but will find other questions for which they were less prepared,” said Anna Trevorrow, Chair of the Maine Green Independent Party.  The Green Party has stated that their recommendations on each question reflect the party’s commitment to decentralization, sustainability, gender equity, and social justice.  On to the guide.

Question 1 (Reject Same-Sex Marriage Law) –No –  The institution of marriage is at least partially defined by our government in that issues such as tax benefits and rights of survivorship are automatically granted to married couples. If the institution of marriage is available to some loving couples, it ought to be available to all. The MGIP supports an emphatic NO on 1.

Question 2 (Cut Excise Tax) –No – The MGIP supports tax structures that encourage Mainers to use bus, rail and other alternative transportation. A reduction to the excise tax would promote the sales and production of new vehicles, and give a tax break to individuals able to afford new vehicles. This will put more cars on the road in a time when we need to be moving away from the old model of an automobile-centric transportation system and towards a new era of clean, affordable, and convenient public transit.

Question 3 (Repeal School Consolidation Law) – Yes – The party believes that individual municipalities are the best equipped to assess their structural and financial needs. Some areas of the state may benefit from consolidation, while others stand to lose out significantly. Communities are best equipped to assess the potential benefits (or lack thereof) of school consolidation.

Question 4 (TABOR II) – No – The MGIP believes that a crucial role of the government is to provide needed services to its people, especially those least able to provide for themselves. If passed, this proposal would essentially tie the hands of Maine’s state and municipal governments to perform the basic function of providing social services to the people of Maine.

Question 5 (Medical Marijuana) – Yes – Predominantly, this proposal refines the existing medical marijuana laws already on the books in Maine. Maine already has medical marijuana, but this proposal sets guidelines for production, distribution, and consumption. The MGIP supported medical marijuana when it originally passed, and supports this refining initiative

You can read the full recommendations for each question at the MGIP’s website.

Maine Green Indepenent Party Opposes Questions 2 & 4

The Maine Green Independent Party has announced that they oppose Question 2 (excise tax) or Question 4 (TABOR II).  Maine Greens believe cutting excise tax only benefits those who can afford to buy a new car, adversely impacts town budgets, and seeks to encourage alternative modes of transportation.  TABOR II, according to the MGIP would limit Maine government’s ability to care for those that most need help.  This is a split from other Maine Greens, including former candidate for Governor Pat LaMarcheMore Green Now is an effort to support the cutting of Maine’s excise tax.  That cite similar party concepts in their support of Question 2.  They see the excise tax cut as beneficial to the environment.  The cut will allow more people to able to afford more fuel efficient and hybrid automobiles, More Green Now says.  More Green Now also claims that a Yes on question to will bring more money to those that need it most.  Voters will decide for themselves soon enough.  Read the entire MGIP statement after the cut. Continue reading