For those of you who attended our How Social Security Works Series, or for those of you who missed it, here’s an update, courtesy of Eloise Vitelli, on how losing your Social Security benefits would affect your retirement. Use this calculator to determine how losing this important retirement asset could affect you. Click the report button to see your retirement savings with and without Social Security benefits. Check it out here.
Bob Cummings, of Phippsburg, is being honored with the 2015 Conservation Award for Lifetime Achievement for his contributions to the conservation of Maine lands by the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Chances are you recognize the names of some of Maine’s most treasured places: Tumbledown. Cutler’s “Bold Coast.” Bigelow Preserve. The Kennebec Highlands. But what many people don’t know is that these gems are part of our state’s Public Reserved Lands system that encompasses more than 600,000 acres that make up 37 different parcels in the North Woods, Down East, and elsewhere across the state. For more than a century, these lands, as we know them today, were unknown.
They were reclaimed starting in the 1970s thanks to Bob Cummings, then the environmental reporter with the Portland Press Herald who discovered that “reserved public lands” had been “reserved” to the people of Maine when our state separated from Massachusetts in 1820. His outstanding series of articles described how these lands had been subsumed into those of large land owners, including paper companies, and managed by them as though they owned them.
Bob’s work led to the recovery of these lands and to the spectacular Public Reserved Lands system Maine people enjoy today. Bob also reported on the proposed oil refinery in Eastport, the establishment of the Land Use Regulation Commission (now the Land Use Planning Commission), and Maine’s Clean Water Act. After his retirement, Bob hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and has helped maintain the trails he has enjoyed so much.
His testimony on a range of issues has resonated through the halls of the State House and hearing rooms across the state. Such testimony included his opposition to Plum Creek’s massive development proposed for the Moosehead region in 2005, and his support for the Land for Maine’s Future program. He further demonstrated his passion for Maine’s environment by founding and serving as president of the Phippsburg Land Trust, and as executive director of the Maine Association of Conservation Commissions.
“Bob Cummings is the consummate conservationist, and the people of Maine have been the beneficiaries for decades and will continue to be for generations to come,” says NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann.
Congratulations are in order for Bob Kalish of Arrowsic, a former reporter for The Times Record, who is one of three journalists being inducted into the Maine Press Association’s Hall of Fame.
During Bob’s career he covered Hollywood for Daily Variety, served as a war correspondent in Thailand during Vietnam and worked in television and radio in Chicago.
At The Times Record, he drove hard-hitting coverage of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant and the Brunswick Naval Air Station, while mentoring multiple generations of young journalists including several that went on to earn key journalism fellowships or be honored as Journalist of the Year.
In retirement, Bob continues to write for newspapers including essays published in The Boston Globe.
Kalish worked out of The Times Record’s former Bath office. He continues to contribute a regular, monthly column for the TR, “Around the Y,” which focuses on the Bath Area Family YMCA.
Other inductees include The Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram writer and columnist Bill Nemitz and Lou Ureneck, who’s career included stints with the Press Herald, and the Evening Express in Portland and with the Maine Sunday Telegram. Both Nemitz and Ureneck have previously been honored by MPA as Maine’s Journalist of the Year.
The official Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the MPA luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor on Oct. 17.
Courtesy of George’s Outdoor News Blog from the Bangor Daily News, here’s a great summary of what Maine Republicans think about the environment when it came time reject or support Governor LePage’s veto of the Land for Maine’s Future bond issue. Note that Jeff Pierce (R-Arrowsic, Dresden, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond and Woolwich) initially voted for for the measure, but then caved and voted to uphold LePage’s veto of LD 1378.
“Sadly, 52 Republicans chose LePage over the Land for Maine’s Future, supporting the Governor’s broken promise rather than the LMF bonds. While 91 Representatives voted to over-ride the veto, those 52 no votes left us about a half dozen votes short of the necessary 2/3, killing the bill and the program. Many LMF supporters, legislators, lobbyists, and private citizens were shocked and dismayed.”
You can read the entire post here.
In a vote of 16 to 19, Maine Senate Republicans, including Senate Republican Committee Chair Linda Baker, sustained Gov. LePage’s veto and undermined coastal towns’ ability to protect Maine’s clamming industry and address the threatening issue of green crabs.
LD 435 received unanimous bipartisan support in the state’s Marine Resources Committee. Senate Republican Committee Chair Linda Baker sustained Gov. LePage’s veto even though she initially voted for the measure and serves the coastal communities of Georgetown, Phippsburg, West Bath, Woolwich and Arrowsic where clamming is a vital local industry. Municipal shellfish wardens and town officials from these areas have invested a significant amount of time, money and energy into creating a sustainable shellfish harvesting management plan every year to protect this natural resource and the families who depend on its sustainability.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick, would have extended protections put into place last year to protect Maine’s shellfish industry. Softshell clams are Maine’s third most lucrative fishery but in recent years has been threatened due to damage from green crabs. In one year alone, landings went down by half a million pounds from 10.6 million pounds in 2013 to 11.1million pounds in 2012.
“If we want to have clams this summer then we need to do something to protect Maine’s shellfish industry. Furthermore, there is so much on the line for the many hard-working Maine people who rely on this industry to make a living,” said Senator Gerzofsky. “I am disappointed that the bipartisanship that occurred in the committee and earlier in the Senate didn’t carryover to today’s vote.”
According to the Maine Clammers’ Association, clamming directly employs over 1,500 people in the state of Maine. Research shows that the total economic impact of the shellfish industry is approximately $56.0 million, with $29.9 million going to Maine residents as employment income.
The bill would have placed a two year delay on the repeal of the provision of law that prohibits the harvesting of marine organisms from within municipal predator control project areas, except for municipal removal of green crabs. The bill also would have provided a two year extension on the municipal predator control pilot project within the Department of Marine Resources to allow the department to properly evaluate the effectiveness of predator control strategies in increasing the survival rate of soft shell clams and marine worms.
“We, as a state, have a responsibility to ensure sustainability for this key Maine industry by investing in and protecting it for future generations,” said Senator Gerzofsky. “If nothing is done to adequately protect our intertidal areas from green crabs, it will not be long before there is nothing to harvest.”
In Brunswick, mud flats employ over 50 commercial license holders and provide for hundreds of recreational permits, creating nearly $2 million dollars in local revenue annually.
The bill is now dead.
Hey! Check out the pix from our “Meet the Candidates” event on the Gallery page!
Nearly 50 pumped-up Democrats and guests from Georgetown and Arrowsic attended the gala “Meet the Candidates” event at the Georgetown Community Center on June 8th. On hand were Shenna Bellows, candidate for U.S Senate: Eloise Vitelli, candidate for State Senate; Peter Kent, candidate for State Representative; David Sinclair, running for District Attorney; and Joel Merry, Sag County Sheriff (not up for re-election this year). Another highlight was a presentation by David Farmer, Senior Advisor to Mike Michaud, who briefed the crowd on the latest from Mike’s campaign.
Congratuations to our Sag Dems County Chair Bronwen Tudor on winning the prestigious Sam Shapiro Award at this year’s State Dems Convention. The award is presented bienially by the Maine Democratic State Committee to: “The Maine Democrat whose dedication and efforts on behalf of the Party best exemplify the spirit and devotion of Sam Shapiro,” a past Treasurer of the State of Maine who gave decades of service to the Democratic Party. This award honors Sam’s tireless efforts to promoted the principles of the Democratic Party.
Well done, and well deserved Bronwen!
Democratic Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic has a 100% voting record for the second session of the 126th Legislature. She is one of 12 Democratic senators to receive a perfect attendance score, meaning she voted on, or was excused from, all roll call votes.
“I am honored to represent the people of Sagadahoc County and the town of Dresden – the very least I can do is show up,” said Senator Vitelli. “I am even prouder of the votes I took to invest in our economy, increase access to pre-K, and pave the way for solar energy in the State of Maine.”
During the second session, the Senate voted for two bipartisan supplemental budgets to pay the state’s bills, restore Governor LePage’s proposed cuts to education, and reduce and eliminate the wait lists for people with severe disabilities to get critical home-based care services.
The Legislature also approved measures to increase access to pre-Kindergarten programs, create a road map for solar energy in Maine, restore critical revenue sharing funds to Maine’s cities and towns, and create jobs and invest in Maine’s small business economy through $50 million in bonds.
The 126th Legislature adjourned May 2, concluding its work for the year.
During the last session, the Legislature approved a re-districting plan based on data from the 2010 census, which will go into effect with the 2014 elections. As a result House and Senate districts throughout the state have new numbers, whether or not their boundaries have changed. As of February first, the numbers on our website are the new ones, even though we all have incumbents completing their terms under the old district numbers.
Our Senate District remains the same, namely all of Sagadahoc plus the Town of Dresden, but the SD number has changed from SD 19 to SD 23..
Below are boundary changes for the Sagadahoc House Districts which are due to population losses in Bath, Brunswick and Topsham following the closure of BNAS, along with their new numbers.
BATH (formerly HD 62, now HD 52): The entire city is now a single district represented by Jennifer DeChant who is completing her first term.
TOPSHAM (formerly HD 60, now HD 54): The entire municipality is now a single district represented by Andrew Mason who is completing his first term.
WEST BATH: (formerly HD 64, now HD 51): The entire municipality is now joined to Hallowell and a portion of Brunswick in a district represented by Jeremy Saxton who is completing his first term.
ARROWSIC, GEORGETOWN, PHIPPSBURG, DRESDEN and a small portion of RICHMOND (formerly HD 65, now HD 53): have joined WOOLWICH to form a new HD represented by Peter Kent who is completing his third term.
BOWDOIN, BOWDOINHAM and the remainder of RICHMOND (formerly HD 67, now HD 55): form a single HD and the seat will be open on 2014 because incumbent Seth Berry is completing his fourth term and is not eligible to run. Alice Elliott of Richmond has declared her candidacy for the seat.
|A lot has happened in Augusta over the past few weeks and a lot more is due soon. In this update I will cover restoring the ecology of the Gulf of Maine, the effort to establish a public hospital district on the Boothbay peninsula, and the Governors Grading system for Maine’s public schools.
The St Croix River above the Grand Falls Dam along the border with Canada has been closed to the passage of alewives over the last century. I’ve submitted a bill to reopen these passages. My bill was combined with a similar one submitted by Representative Donna Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and has been signed into law by the Governor.
In the past, millions of Alewives have spawned in this waterway, and the restoration of this run will mean a major restoration of this species in the Gulf of Maine. Alewives are prey for eagles, otters, osprey, and other fish species. They are also a major source of bait for lobster fishermen. The restoration of this run will lower the price of bait and at the same time restore the ecological balance of the Gulf of Maine.
One of the bills I introduced this session was legislation to create a special hospital district on the Boothbay Peninsula. This bill would create an open and transparent form of hospital management. The effort is in reaction to the decision by Maine Health, a multi-billion dollar corporation to close the Emergency Room at St. Andrews Hospital in Boothbay Harbor. Increasing local taxes are needed to support increased ambulance services, losing over twenty well-paying year-round jobs in the area, and diminishing local citizen’s access to health care options.
The ER closure would also cause the loss of Hospital Accreditation for St Andrews, which would become an Urgent care center. The bill would authorize referenda on whether or not to go forward with a special hospital district in the four towns of Edgecomb, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, and Southport. The bill has received some support in the State and Local Government Committee and I am working to garner more before the bill heads to the full Legislature for further votes.
The Governor and the Department of Education recently rolled out an A-F grading system for Maine schools, based primarily on student results in standardized tests. The grades issued by the LePage administration correlate nearly perfectly with the poverty level in a community. These grades rely on a limited number of standardized test scores, which tell us little more than the relative wealth of a community. These grades fail to tell us about so many important aspects of a school. They do not tell us about innovation, collaboration, entrepreneurship, extracurricular activities or even standardized test results in other academic subjects. The administrations methodology is fundamentally flawed.
Once again, I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve you. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns or if you need assistance with state government. I can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone either at home (633-0570) or at the State Capitol message line (1-800-423-2900).
|Bruce MacDonaldState Representative|
Representative Bruce MacDonald is serving his third term in the Maine House of Representatives and serves as the House Democratic lead on the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources. Representative MacDonald previously was a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources as well as the Joint Standing Committee on Business, Research and Economic Development. This committee assignment is a good fit for a legislator who represents the islands of Arrowsic, Georgetown, Southport and Westport Island and the mainland coastal communities of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor. Bruce has been very active in his efforts to support and sustain the fishing industry and small businesses in his district and throughout Maine.
Representative MacDonald was a school principal for 20 years and worked as a computer program and software development manager. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College and earned his masters’ degree from Harvard University.
His commitment to public service includes three terms as a member of the school committee and board of selectman in Reading, Massachusetts. In Boothbay, he was a selectman for one term.
Representative MacDonald’s family were fishermen from Gloucester, and he has had a longtime interest in maintaining and strengthening the fishing tradition in the Gulf of Maine. His other interests include health insurance reform; energy conservation and development of alternative energy sources; tax reform; and development of the community college system and affordable higher education opportunities.
He has recently served on both the Presiding Officers’ Heat and Energy Emergency Task Force and the Wind Power Task Force and will continue to work towards energy independence for Maine and innovative, long-term efforts to create energy security for Mainers.
Rep. MacDonald serves as the House Democratic Lead member on the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources.
For more information about the schedule of committee hearings or to sign up for advance notice of public hearings click here.
Serving on Marine Resources will give me the opportunity to better represent the concerns of my district of four islands and a peninsula, all with historical and present-day working connections to the ocean.
Our committee work will be essential to ensuring a viable and sustainable yield of fish, lobster and other organisms from the ocean. We will work toward a balance that will be good for our marine environment, good for our local maritime economy, and good for the economy of the state of Maine.
Click here to see all bills, joint resolutions and orders I sponsored or cosponsored this session, as well as legislative sentiments that honor and recognize people from our district and throughout the state.