|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.
The Government Oversight Committee voted today to accept OPEGA’s report on its inquiry into Gov. Paul LePage’s actions regarding Good Will-Hinckley’s state funding.
The report detailed how Gov. LePage threatened to withhold $530,000 in annual funding designated by the Legislature for Good Will-Hinckley after he learned of its decision to hire House Speaker Mark Eves as its president, a decision he opposed; how top LePage administration officials withheld a regularly scheduled payment to Good Will-Hinckley; and how that payment was released only after the nonprofit had fired Speaker Eves, as LePage wanted.
Democratic leaders are lauding the bipartisan GOC for its work on the LePage/Good Will-Hinckley scandal, and pledge to explore legislative action to ensure similar abuses of power can never happen again.
“Mainers demanded answers and now we have them,” said Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond. ”What the governor did — using his check-signing authority to strongarm an organization that helps at-risk kids — was wrong. Gov. LePage may think he’s entitled to rule over Good Will-Hinckley and his political opponents, but he isn’t. It’s clear that we have to do everything in our power to prevent this governor or any future one from abusing their power to punish people they disagree with.”
“The Legislature has serious work to tackle – a deadly opioid epidemic, workforce training needs and a 21st century energy policy to name just a few of our pressing priorities. Each and every citizen-lawmaker in Maine must be able to vote their conscience without feeling the threat of retribution by the governor hanging over their heads,” said House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “As a Legislature, we must do whatever is needed to ensure that no governor will ever dare to contemplate such actions again. We have a number of avenues available to us as possible remedies to crack down on the abuse of office by public officials.”
Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dawn Hill of York, a former chairwoman of the GOC, commended the committee for its even keeled investigation, despite many opportunities for it to become sidetracked.
“This committee lived up to its responsibility as an impartial, bipartisan fact-finder,” Sen. Hill said. “It wasn’t always easy, given the high profile of the people involved in the case, the immense public interest, and the governor’s effort to politicize the investigation. But the members of the committee and the nonpartisan OPEGA staff rooted out the truth for all to see.”
“We are in Augusta to do the people’s work. An important part of that is making sure that elected officials honor their oath of office and are held accountable when they abuse the trust voters put in them,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. “The Government Oversight Committee’s invaluable work on the LePage/Good Will-Hinckley scandal will help the Legislature combat such gross abuses of power. It’s our responsibility as a Legislature to protect the integrity of our government.”
The Maine Democratic Party is 100% committed to making sure that Ben Chin is elected the next mayor of Lewiston. However, he needs our help to win in the face of racial slurs and right-wing propaganda.
Ben won more votes in the November election than any of the other three candidates, but must now achieve a majority of 50% plus one in the run-off against incumbent Bob McDonald.
A win in Lewiston is important, not only for the people who live there, but for democrats across the state heading in to the 2016 elections. A win in Lewiston will be a victory for tolerance and reason over the isolationist fear-mongering raging in Congress and here at home.
Even though you and I can’t vote for Ben, there are 3 ways we can help him win between now and Dec 8:
1. Knock on doors
2. Call voters
3. Donate $$
If you are able to travel to Lewiston, even just once, to help on the ground, SIGN UP HERE TO KNOCK ON DOORS
If you would like to sign up to make calls remotely from your home,
If you would like to contribute to cover the costs of the final push,
Ben is continuing to wage a reasoned and positive campaign focused on improving the lives of all Lewiston residents and addressing the city’s economic problems. Mayor McDonald and his friends have relied on divisive invectives against immigrants and welfare recipients, resorted to racist ads (“Don’t vote for Ho Chi Chin”) and posted lies about Ben on Facebook claiming that Ben, a lay leader in the Episcopal Church, hates Christians and hates America.
This is a very important election on so many fronts. With your help, Ben Chin can cross the finish line victorious.
Our own Sandy and Ole Jaeger have a great LTE in today’s PPH.
But I cannot and will not turn my back on those who are fleeing for their lives. Gov. LePage is absolutely wrong and incredibly cruel to deny them welcome to our wonderful state. His decision hands a moral victory to the terrorists, and we cannot allow his voice to prevail.
Read the entire letter here.
In case you missed it, here’s the latest on yesterday’s Government Affairs Committee hearing on the LePage/Goodwill-Hinckley probe, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald.
Please take a moment to sign Chellie Pingree’s petition to save local craft breweries in Maine and across the country. Below is a message from Chellie, and a link to her petition.
“Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest multinational beer conglomerate, is planning to acquire SABMiller in a $106 billion takeover. If this merger takes place, the entire craft brewery sector will be threatened, jobs will be lost, and local businesses will be shuttered. That’s why I just took action to save local craft breweries and stop the Bud-Miller merger. I think you should too. Sign the petition here.“
Congratulations to Tom Walling, our Town Committee Chair, upon his election to the Bowdoinham Board of Selectmen. Read all about it, plus other election reports, in the Times Record.
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.