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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.

7/23/09

Thursday July 23

MAINE STREAM

Lance Tapley, Portland Phoenix -
Stirred into action by the murder of a wheelchair-bound prisoner, human-rights activists have asked the federal Department of Justice to investigate the treatment of Maine State Prison inmates. . . [Among the concerns are] include inadequate psychiatric and medical care, lack of protection against violence for the most vulnerable prisoners, and stress on overworked guards, according to the activists. In April, sex offender Sheldon Weinstein, 64, was beaten in his cell and died a few days later. The Maine State Police and prison staff are conducting investigations of his death, with inmates as the suspects, but questions have arisen about the responsibility of prison staff. A prisoner recently was stabbed by another prisoner, and last year an inmate held hostage at knife-point the prison librarian and an inmate. In 2006 a mentally ill prisoner in the solitary-confinement Supermax unit hanged himself - after being taunted to do so by a guard, according to occupants of nearby cells.

The state has reduced the length of the Maticus lobstering shutdown from two weeks to four days . . . Bangor Daily News - Islanders said Wednesday that a closure would have the opposite of a cooling-off effect on a place where nearly everyone depends on lobstering to make a living. "It's punishing a lot of innocent people who were not directly involved," said Donna Rogers, the wife of a lobsterman. . . "Having the whole island full of angry, half-broke fishermen isn't making it better.". . . "A closure, that's a disaster. That's the most monumentally stupid idea I've heard in my life," said Clayton Philbrook, an island selectman . . . While Rogers said that the days are over when Matinicus was known as home to the best lobster fishing ground in the world, life on the island is still worth fighting for.

Tom Bell, Press Herald - Several members of the city's Charter Commission want to grant non-U.S. citizens the right to vote in city elections. It's unclear whether Portland can do this on its own, though, or whether it would have to convince the Legislature to amend state law, an unlikely prospect. . . Nationally, there are a few communities that give non-U.S. citizens the right to vote in municipal elections, including six municipalities in Maryland. In Chicago, non-citizens can vote in school board elections. In New York City, non-citizens voted in elections for community school boards until 2003, when a restructuring of the school system eliminated the boards. In Massachusetts, the municipalities of Amherst, Cambridge and Newton all passed local ordinances allowing non-citizens to vote. However, the ordinances cannot go into effect unless the Massachusetts Legislature amends state law.

Derek Vigor, Examiner on the shaping of Portland High School - Since its beginnings in 1821, the Portland Public Education System has struggled with the competing interests of the townsfolk and society. The Portland School Board spent many years debating the merits of a public education curriculum meant for college bound students in an industrializing society. Also deliberated was the issue of allowing girls entrance into the public education system. When it came to public education in the 19th century, the wants of the community did not always coincide with the needs of society. . . The general populace was glad to have the Portland boys off the streets. Before the schools arrived, the boys had nothing to occupy their time. . . "The town, from Munjoy's Hill to State Street, was the scene of constant hostilities" It was not unknown for gangs of boys to battle with stones and bats. The schools brought an element of discipline to the town. Much more

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