The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.


Friday July 17


Press Herald - The Maine CDC and the Maine Department of Marine Resources have issued the following red tide recommendations.

- Purchase shellfish from certified dealers because they undergo public health screening and auditing.

- If harvesting for personal use, make sure the shellfish beds are not closed for red tide. Check the Department of Marine Resources' Web site for the latest information on closed areas

- Do not consume clams or mussels floating in ocean waters because they are likely to have much higher concentrations of toxin.

- When eating lobster, do not eat the tomalley.

Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning include tingling of the tongue, lips and throat that begins within minutes to 10 hours of eating shellfish. This tingling may spread to other areas of the body such as the face, neck and arms. Symptoms can also include headache or nausea and can progress to weakness, difficulty breathing and choking. Anyone with these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

More Info

. . . A toxic bloom of red tide that has closed most of Maine's clam flats is so intense that it also has turned parts of the ocean reddish-brown and is believed to be responsible for killing fish and birds.

. . . Levels of the toxin are the highest in more than 30 years and are reminiscent of New England's worst-ever red tide, in 1972.

. . . A red tide in 2005 led to toxicity scores as high as 3,000 micrograms. That algal bloom shut down the New England shellfish industry for so long, it qualified for $5 million in federal disaster assistance.


Right Wing Watch - Joe Sudbay took a look at the first campaign finance report in the Maine marriage campaign and found out that national religious right groups were dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the fight. Today, the Lewiston Sun Journal took a look as well and concluded that "the group hoping to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law has out-raised the measure's proponents by more than two to one.". . . While Stand for Marriage raised more than $340,000, Maine Freedom to Marry raised about $138,000 - but the amazing thing is that of the donations brought in by Freedom to Marry, $80,000 came from residents of Maine.
Guess how much of the money raised by Stand for Marriage came from Maine residents? The campaign finance report also shows four Maine citizens contributed a total of $400 to the cause. That means that, out of the total amount raised, the amount donated by actual residents of Maine to the effort constituted a whopping 0.1%, whereas the amount donated by Religious Right groups like NOM and FOF made up the other 99.9%.

- Weather experts say the Eastern United States and Midwest can expect the cooler-than-usual summer to lead into a cold and snowy winter.
A combination of an El Nino condition in the Pacific and worldwide volcanic activity has kept the summer largely on the cool side, a pattern that will likely continue with a few hot spells thrown in. Accuweather said cool summers along the East Coast are typically followed by cold winters, and folks from Washington to Maine should plan on above-average snow fall.

Brunswick Times Record - New rules that make it tougher for gubernatorial candidates to qualify for public campaign funding create an unfair burden for third-party contenders, according to members of the Green Independent Party. Under new provisions passed by the Legislature in the session that adjourned in June, gubernatorial candidates must collect at least $40,000 in $100 "seed money" donations plus 3,250 qualifying contributions of $5 or more to secure financing from a fund established by the Maine Clean Election Act. Previously, there was no seed money requirement and candidates needed only 2,500 qualifying contributions. At stake is up to $1.8 million per candidate in taxpayer-backed campaign funding. . . "To raise $40,000 when you're not the darling of the Republican or Democratic party is a high bar to cross," said Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor, a Green Independent candidate for governor who hopes to secure public financing.

Maine Biz
- Freeport-based retailer L.L.Bean has scaled back its plans to open new stores this year from eight to one. L.L.Bean's newest retail store is slated to open July 24 in Dedham, Mass., making it the retailer's 13th store outside of Maine, according to the Portland Press Herald. . . . The shaky economic times have taken their toll on L.L.Bean, which saw revenue drop 7.8% to $1.5 billion for the fiscal year ending in February. The company furloughed 150 workers in April.

Boston Globe - Last season was a banner year for Maine's wild blueberry producers, with nearly 90 million pounds of berries harvested. Experts forecast Wednesday that this year's crop for Maine could approach 100 million pounds, the Bangor Daily News reported.

WMTW - Jim Bennett reacted Wednesday to his dismissal in the hours after Lewiston city officials suddenly removed him from office as city administrator . . . "I haven't done anything wrong because, certainly, they would never spend taxpayer money to pay me my severance if they had just cause to fire me, and they don't," Lewiston officials announced Tuesday night the buyout of Bennett's contract, letting him go a year early.

Cleveland Plain Dealer - One hundred sixty five years after the great auk was plundered into extinction, rescue efforts aimed at two of the North Atlantic's remaining auk species are reaping rewards. The Audubon-sponsored Seabird Restoration Program made headlines in 1981 after a team of scientists used decoys, artificial eggs, sound equipment and gull-control tactics to successfully re-establish the Atlantic puffin off the coast of Maine. Visiting the puffins' nesting island was the highlight of a trip I took about 15 years ago to Mount Desert Island, Maine. In the years since then, additional tour boats have joined the thriving business, and an estimated 4,000 birders a year take the puffin excursions during the summer months.

Soon, birders may be looking for a new rare bird on the island boat trips.The Seabird Restoration Program announced the discovery of a pair of common murres incubating an egg on Matinicus Rock, one of 50 islands in Maine's Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The egg marked the pinnacle of a 17-year effort to restore murres to the Maine islands, and the first murres to nest south of the Canadian border on the East Coast since 1883.. . . The murre isn't as colorful, cuddly or recognizable as the puffin, and its return to the Maine coast may not receive the same attention as its chubby cousin. But the expansion of the cliff-dwelling, penguinlike alcid into U.S. waters is every bit as important and vital toward assuring its continued survival. Project Puffin is responsible for 42,000 of Maine's rarest seabirds on 13 coastal islands, including 101 puffin pairs at Egg Rock and 375 at the Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, plus colonies of roseate, Arctic and common terns.

The five top states for bird watching - according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service - are Montana, Maine, Vermont, Minnesota and Iowa in that order.

Josiah R. Wilson, School Board, Port Clyde - It is with great disappointment that I'm reporting a recent vote by the Regional School Unit 13 School Board. The board rejected my motion to make our decisions fair and democratic. When the consolidation plan was conceived a voting system was designed where each town, in theory, gets a number of votes in proportion to the population in that town. A big mistake was made that needs to be corrected. . . Maine law says that prisoners aren't residents of the prison town, but we are relying on flawed Census counts that credited the now-closed Maine State Prison to the town of Thomaston. There are roughly 465 prisoners being counted. The unfortunate result gave every nine people in Thomaston as much of a say over our children's education as 10 residents from the other towns. This is a classic case of vote dilution.

Internet Retailer - Broadband adoption continues to grow in the U.S., with the greatest levels of high-speed broadband Internet connections found on the East Coast, according to Akamai Technologies Inc.'s "State of the Internet Report" for the first quarter of 2009. Eastern states represented eight of the top 10 states on the list, led by Delaware, with 62% of households having high-speed broadband web access, a 6.7% year-over-year increase. . . New Hampshire held the number two spot, with 59% penetration (up 100%), followed by New York (49%, up 38%), Nevada (45%, up 36%), Vermont (44%, up 128%), Rhode Island (42%, up 0.5%), Connecticut (42%, up 30%), District of Columbia (41%, up 51%), Oklahoma (40%, up 22%), and Maine (38%, up 371%)..

The jobless rate in Maine climbed two tenths of a point in June to 8.5 percent.

Sun Journal - The Farmington Public Library solved a mystery Thursday. It received a check for $50,000 dated Aug. 1, 2008. "The check was in the mail" for almost a year, Librarian Melanie Coombs said. . . Last year while the library was undertaking a nearly $200,000 roof project, Coombs applied for two different grants. One application was sent to the King Foundation. . . . January, Coombs received a call from a foundation representative, Stephanie Leonard, asking why the library had not cashed the check. "You mean we got the grant," Coombs responded. In order to resolve the issue, the library launched a massive searched. "We went through everything," she said. The King Foundation then canceled the original check and issued another, Coombs said.

The Packer - U.S. growers planted a few more potatoes this year, but industry officials and shippers aren't overly worried about slumping markets. About 933,000 acres of fall potatoes were planted this year, up from 931,000 acres in 2008, according to a July 10 acreage estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. . . Idaho is almost solely responsible for the acreage jump this year. According to the USDA, Gem State acreage is expected to jump from 305,000 to 320,000. . . States expected to have similar acreage in 2009 include Wisconsin (63,500); Maine (56,000); and Pennsylvania (10,000).


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