A roundup of LePage’s Town Hall meeting last Thursday in Bath, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald.
A roundup of LePage’s Town Hall meeting last Thursday in Bath, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald.
Courtesy of today’s Portland Press Herald, here’s a lowlight from LePage’s Town Hall meeting in Bath last Thursday.
Governor Paul R. LePage has announced he will hold his next town hall Thursday, March 10, in Bath where he will deliver remarks about moving Maine forward and answer questions from residents.
Morse High School, 826 High St, Bath, is the location for the town hall. The forum will begin at 6:00 p.m. concluding at 7:00 p.m. and it is open to the public.
The town hall meeting will focus on the Governor’s vision for Maine, including further reducing the income tax; reforming welfare by strengthening the State’s safety net for the most vulnerable; cutting energy costs; and addressing Maine’s high student debt burden.
I want to update you on a critical vote we took Tuesday. It concerned the relationship between Maine’s tax code and changes Congress recently made to federal taxes. The Maine House gave initial approval to a fiscally responsible measure that provides clarity for tax filers and tax relief for homeowners, students, small businesses and teachers. It also provides $23 million for public education to protect taxpayers from a cost shift. As a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation, I have been deeply involved in this bill’s evolution.
I support the elements of this bill that help Maine’s middle class and small businesses grow and thrive. Those include the addition of mortgage insurance to the mortgage interest deduction, deductions for higher education costs, incentives for small businesses and deductions for teachers who use their own hard-earned money to provide supplies in their classrooms.
The House version of the bill conforms fully to the federal tax code in all the areas where Maine has traditionally conformed, but differs from the governor’s version in two important ways.
First, it provides this additional $23 million to local schools to address the fact that many school districts would be getting less – sometimes significantly less – state funding in the upcoming school year. We want to protect our classrooms, and property taxpayers – Topsham’s families, local businesses and seniors who find it harder to stay in their homes when town property taxes spike.
Second, it discontinues the Maine Capital Investment Credit in 2016. This was a program created as a temporary response to the recession and we need to review whether it has actually created jobs as intended. We do not want to put your money into a program we are not sure makes a difference for creating good jobs in Maine.
The Maine Capital Investment Credit has been part of our state’s version of Federal bonus depreciation, but it is not a precise mirror of the federal version. Primarily benefiting large multi-state corporations, it could cost Maine taxpayers $22 million over 2 years. Our bill provides the opportunity to evaluate the credit’s performance while leaving it in place for the 2015 tax year so businesses can get on with filing their taxes.
This important measure faces further action in the both the House and Senate. I will continue to keep you updated on the debate.
Democrats in Maine will caucus on Sunday, March 6. The times of the caucuses will vary by cities/towns. Call your local city/town committee chair to determine time and location or go to http://www.mainedems.org/page/find-your-caucus.
At their caucus, voters will:
. Choose who they want to be the Democratic Nominee for President
. Elect delegates to the state Democratic convention in May
. Elect local Democratic party leaders and county committee members
Nominating petitions will be available
Registration for Independents (Unenrolled) and for unregistered voters will be available for a limited time prior to the caucus (doors open early) or during regular office hours at city/town offices.
Republican and Green Party voters who would like to participate in the Democratic caucus must go to their city/town office and change parties not later than February 19.
Presidential preference voting will start at a set time (approximately one half hour after caucus convenes) and anyone arriving after that time cannot participate, i.e., not allowed in.
17-year-olds may register, enroll in the party and participate in the caucus if they will be 18 years old by election day.
Absentee ballots are available by calling the Maine Democratic Party at 622-6233 or on-line at: http://www.mainedems.org/page/2016-maine-caucuses and must be received by the Maine Democratic Party by the close of business on March 2
Whether “you’re with her” or you’re “feeling the Bern” — come out and caucus and help to elect our next President.
Sen. Geoff Gratwick released the following statement in response to reports that the LePage administration has rejected a $2.5 million grant from the federal government that would have helped pay for colorectal cancer screenings.
The funding was awarded to Maine as part of a competitive grant process after the state applied for the funds. According to MPBN, the LePage administration felt the funding was “not a good use of taxpayer funds.”
“When it comes to Mainers’ health, there is no room for playing politics,” said Sen. Gratwick, a Bangor Democrat and retired doctor. “We know that colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease and we know that prevention and early detection save lives. That is what is important — not this administration’s ideological aversion to accepting federal dollars — and that is what should dictate whether the state accepts this grant. I will continue working every day to make sure Maine patients get the care they deserve.”
Routine screening makes colorectal cancer mostly preventable, but the disease remains the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women combined, according to the Maine Public Health Association. It is the third-leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in Maine.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 610 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and that 240 people will die from the disease in Maine this year.
From David Farmer in Today’s BDN:
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is violating federal law and now ranks last among all states for its administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, or food stamps.
A sharply worded, Dec. 7 letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture put DHHS on notice.
“The State’s chronically poor performance in timeliness is in direct conflict with the application processing statutory and regulatory provisions meant to protect low-income household’s right to receive nutrition assistance benefits in a timely manner,” wrote Ken Messner, the acting regional administrator for the USDA’s northeast region.
Click here to read more.
There’s a casual thoughtlessness that made a post on state Rep. Jeffrey Pierce’s personal Facebook page so disturbing. On Dec. 3, Pierce, who represents Dresden, Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg and part of Woolwich, reposted a graph that looks to “connect the dots” between the terrorists behind killings in Boston, Paris, Madrid, Chattanooga, and other places and their religion — Islam.
The repost included the statement (not written by Pierce): “Its time to deport all muslims ,. Its them or us !” (sic)
The post, of course, conveniently ignores crimes and mass-shootings perpetrated by non Muslims, including some notable acts of domestic terrorism (the Oklahoma City bombing comes to mind).
The post also represents an ugly prejudice that is sadly shared by many Americans, including one presidential candidate who recently called for blocking all Muslims from entering the U.S. The post is, simply put, unbecoming of an elected official, no matter how high the office.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and their ilk are all a putrescence on this earth, and there’s no guarantee that our measures, whether through force or diplomacy or some combination therein, will either wipe them out or convince them that it’s time to lay down arms.
Extremism, by its very nature, doesn’t adhere to reason or logic.
Those terrorists listed above number in the thousands, yet are not representative of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today any more than Dylann Roof is representative of white Americans, any more than Jason Van Dyke is representative of all law enforcement, any more than Robert Dear represents all in the pro-life movement.
Pierce didn’t return repeated calls for comment on the post, but finally spoke when approached by a reporter last week, when he admitted that, no, he didn’t think every Muslim in America ought to be deported.
“It’s a ridiculous statement,” he said.
Yes, Mr. Pierce, it is.
What’s also ridiculous is that Pierce said he didn’t bother to read the message about deporting all Muslims before posting the graph.
Pierce said there are other issues — such as drug addiction and foreclosures — the media ought to focus on (although, neither Pierce’s personal page nor his official house district page address those issues). “And you look at a Facebook post that might have made people feel uncomfortable? Go back to your safe space,” said Pierce.
As a lawmaker, Pierce occupies a position of power and trust. That Pierce does not appear to vet needlessly combative, racist, yet public statements makes us more than “uncomfortable.”
Meanwhile, the House Republican office seems content to let this one go, with a spokesman declining to comment, citing the fact that the post — now removed — appeared on a member’s personal page.
Other Republican house members are going after Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, for political pandering. It was McCabe, the outgoing house majority leader, who likely smelled the blood in the water when he was alerted to the post, and issued a press release demanding that Pierce apologize.
Now McCabe has incurred the wrath, again via Facebook, of Reps. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst) and Joel Stetkis (R-Canaan).
Stetkis’s response to McCabe, which accuses the outgoing legislator of “failing to put Maines citizens (sic) safety ahead of his own political career,” warns that “Muslim jihadists are a clear and present danger” to Americans. However, Stetkis’s response fails to make a distinction between the jihadists hellbent on killing Americans versus Muslims living in this nation peacefully, who are part of the fabric of modern American society.
Lockman goes to a further extreme on a diatribe on his own Facebook page, stating that “Lewiston has been overrun with ‘new Mainers,’ but don’t worry, they have all been assimilated,” referencing, one would assume, Somali refugees. (By the way, anyone who has been to Lewiston recently knows that the city is far from being “overrun.”)
Let’s set aside the sad state of civil discourse — and its alarmist xenophobia — on the right side of the aisle. And let’s set aside the partisan rancor on the left.
The most basic function of our legislature is to make laws in adherence to the state and federal constitutions, both of which provide equal protection to citizens under the law as well as freedom of religion.
If a legislator can’t fulfill that function, then voters ought to look for an alternative during the next election.
Calling for the deportation of 2.75 million people, 81 percent of whom are U.S. citizens, based solely on their religion is both un-American and an extremist position.
Like we said, extremism doesn’t adhere to reason or logic.
From today’s Times Record:
Frustration grew among local residents as state Rep. Jeffrey Pierce, R-Dresden, addressed the status of the Land for Maine’s Future bonds on Wednesday night in Woolwich.
According to Todd Martin, outreach coordinator for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Legislature will convene on Jan. 12 to attempt to override an anticipated veto by Gov. Paul LePage on LD 1454, a bill that will release a $6.5 million LMF bond that was approved by Maine vot- ers in 2010.
Pierce had voted in favor of LD 1454.
LePage is withholding the voter-approved bonds as leverage in order to get the Legislature to acquiesce to demands that revenue from timber harvested on state lands be used to fund an energy program.
Another bill, LD 1378, would have released the bonds, but was vetoed. The House then sustained LePage’s veto.
Pierce opposed that bill, and on Wednesday explained why.
“When 1378 first came out, I’m a freshman legislator … and I had not completely read the bill,” he said. “Shame on me. It’s a mistake I won’t make again.”
When asked why he had cast a “no” vote, Pierce explained that “if I can’t read the bill because they changed it or there’s an amendment, I have no choice but to vote no, whether it’s a good bill or a bad bill.
“If it’s a one pager — five or six lines, you can read it. But if it’s a two page, and they’re calling for the vote and you don’t have time to read it, it would be irresponsible of me to vote on something I didn’t read,” he added.
Some residents spoke out, encouraging Pierce to remain neutral by leaving the chamber, rather than taking a negative stance on a bill he hadn’t fully read.
Pierce responded: “What if I voted yes on a bad bill? I’d be in just as much trouble as voting no on a good bill. It’s a Catch 22 either way. Yes, you can get up and leave the room, but sometimes you’d be leaving the room a lot. I’m just being honest. There’s no guidebook to your first term and how to sort all this out.
“I’m not making excuses,” Pierce added. “But like I said, it’s a learning curve.”
Eventually, Pierce said he would vote to support releasing the LMF bonds come January.
“If 1454 comes up and (LePage) vetoes, I’ll vote to override the veto,” he said.
Martin also clarified that while LD 1454 would release the 2010 bonds, it would not reauthorize the bonds that have already expired.
“We need to pass another bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Pouliot to reauthorize that money,” Martin said. “It’s not enough just enough to pass LD 1454 and override the governor’s veto. That’s the most important vote, but we also need to pass Rep. Pouliot’s bill to reauthorize that money for five years, and five years gets us past the LePage administration.”
Pierce also commended Pouliot’s work on the bill, and said he would also be in support of Pouliot’s bill as well.
After thanking Pierce for his willingness to talk to the community, Sandy Jaeger of Georgetown also shared her thoughts on the impact of his negative vote.
“We voted overwhelmingly to pass that bill and I wish you could have taken our word for it,” said Jaeger. “What about all those who were promised the money and either have to sacrifice it, or have to borrow money? I mean, what about all those people, because you hadn’t read the bill and didn’t take the word of the people sitting here? … I’m so proud that all these people are here. It means so much to me — it really does. And when you didn’t vote to override, it meant a lot to me too and it was painful.”
“Well, I think (Pierce) has gotten a strong message,” Charlie Durfee of Woolwich told The Times Record. “And if he flips his vote again, I’d be very surprised because that would be a clear signal that he’s not paying attention to his constituents.”
From David Farmer at the BDN:
Gov. Paul LePage’s harsh view of the world is guided by anecdote, misinformation and half-truth.
Basic, knowable information eludes him, or he can’t be bothered to get it right. He repeats information that’s incorrect over and over again.
Somehow he’s immune from math and science.
Visiting Portland Tuesday night, the governor continued an argument he’s been having with people around the state during his current roadshow.
Read the entire piece here.
|Thank you all for being here tonight, and for all the work you’ve done on this campaign.
I want to start by congratulating Mayor Macdonald. Mayor Macdonald and I have many differences, but he has devoted his life to public service: in the military, on the police force, in public schools, and at City Hall. It’s been an honor to engage with him during the campaign, and he has my respect and well wishes.
All of us knew we were taking on a two-term incumbent, who won by a twenty-point margin in 2013. We knew the campaign might get a little ugly, even if we always took the high road. We knew tonight might end this way.
Yet we knocked on tens of thousands of doors, listened to our neighbors, and crafted a vision anyway. We shined the light of public accountability on corporate slumlords anyway. We elected a new city council that has the power, regardless of tonight’s outcome, to lead our city into a new era. Perhaps most importantly, we modeled for so many people what a positive, grassroots campaign could look like.
We didn’t do this because we had the certainty of winning. By definition, hope exists in the absence of certainty. We did this simply because it was the right thing to do. We did this because this campaign was never about one person. It was always about building a movement that belonged to everyone.
That’s why I still have hope. In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that “…we…glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-5). In my faith tradition, and in so many others, we recognize the redemptive power of hardship. It’s not what we want; it’s not what we deserve; but it makes us learn and grow and become even stronger. Tonight may be one electoral defeat for a candidate. But I have hope because it will only serve to make our movement stronger.
People voted today that had never voted in their life. People knocked on doors who had never done anything political before. And we aren’t going anywhere. We are going to back up the city council. We are going to pass referenda to raise the minimum wage and tax the rich to fully fund our schools. Everything that we’ve accomplished so far just makes those victories all the more likely.
Our city will never be the same. Let’s all promise each other to remember what tonight feels like, and use it as motivation to redouble our efforts next year. History is on our side. Victory is within reach, if not our grasp. Working with all of you has been the great honor of my life. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.
A local Maine House representative has come under fire for anti-Muslim sentiments that he has apparently shared on his personal Facebook page. Jeffrey Pierce, R-Dresden, represents House District 53. That district also encompasses Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Woolwich and part of Richmond.
The post on his personal page says that it’s “time to deport all Muslims.”
The post was still up as of Monday morning.
Efforts to reach Pierce on Friday and Saturday afternoon were unsuccessful.
The comments, which includes a graph denoting terrorist acts perpetrated by Islamic extremists in Paris, Boston, Ft. Hood, Texas, and other areas, also appears to call for looser gun control regulations.
The posting was condemned in a press release issued by House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe.
“We must not scapegoat entire religious faiths, cultures or ethnicities in the wake of national tragedy. But instead of bringing people together, we have yet another example of a Republican elected official in Maine contributing to an alarming trend of hate-mongering on social media,” said McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “We cannot allow Rep. Jeff Pierce’s call to deport all Muslims to stand. We must all join together against extremists, not play into their hands. Rep. Jeff Pierce must apologize, and the leaders of his caucus and his party must make clear whether they embrace or reject this bigotry.”
Rob Poindexter, communications director for the Maine House Republicans, said no formal statement from the House GOP would be forthcoming.
“We don’t typically comment on our members’ social media pages and accounts,” said Poindexter on Friday afternoon.
During a phone interview on Saturday afternoon, McCabe shared further thoughts on Pierce’s post.
“For me … it’s a simple fact that when we are elected officials, we have a duty to provide a level of leadership and … it’s not like we can turn off being a state rep and have a personal Facebook page,” he said. “The comments that we have influence citizens and at a time of a national tragedy, to promote hatred is just not appropriate.”
Over the weekend, state Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, responded to McCabe’s press release via a Facebook post, stating that McCabe was on a “social media trolling expedition to demonize his political opponents” and that “politicians who continue to engage in political correctness at the cost of safety to our citizens is wrong and should not be tolerated.”
During Saturday’s interview, McCabe also referred to a comment on Stetkis’s post that observed the similarity between the present-day issue and the Japanese internment during WWII.
“You have to look at the history of this country,” McCabe said on Saturday. “And you have to look and you have to say, we are better than that, we will learn from our history and not repeat history.
“Whether we come from rural Maine or urban Maine, we have a duty to educate ourselves,” he also urged.
Pierce is not the first member of the Legislature to come under fire for social media posts related to Islam.
In October, John Picchioti, R-Fairfield, apologized for anti-Muslim remarks on his personal Facebook page, calling it an “oversight” on his part for not reading an entire email message before posting it.
In March, state Sen. Michael Willette, R-Presque Isle, apologized for a post that jokingly suggested President Barack Obama has family members in the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.
Asked Friday if there would be any plans to address anti-Islamic rhetoric by House members, Poindexter said: “We actually haven’t discussed anything along those lines, yet. We don’t really have any comment on that.”
Pierce is serving his first term. He is the House Republican lead on the Marine Resources Committee for the 127th Legislature, according to his House bio. He also served as the chairman of the Dresden Planning Board. “He’s proud to be a Master Mason and former director of the Maine Elver Fisherman’s Association,” according to his bio.