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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.

9/12/09

September 12

THE MAINE STREAM

Maine Campus -
University of Maine, Orono and Old Town police reported charging more than 50 people - many of them students - with offenses related to alcohol and drug abuse during the extended Labor Day weekend on and off campus.

Maine Business - Executives from Fair Point Communications Inc. told utility regulators from three states that it will be another two months before the company has a clear plan to resolve its customer service, billing and other problems. . . FairPoint CEO David Hauser, who was hired two months ago, said the company has begun shifting from a "work around" mentality to a "fix-it and improve it" mentality. Calls to the company's customer service center are now answered in 20 seconds or less more than 89 percent of the time, he said, though problems remain, particularly with the accuracy of billing for business and wholesale customers. And about 22 percent of orders for new service or changes to existing services are late, he said.

Boston Globe - The Coast Guard signed off on its first tidal power project with plans for a small underwater turbine to augment electricity generated at its station in the nation's northeastern corner, which is home to some of largest tidal variations in North America. The $100,000 project in Eastport will be used evaluate tidal power technology that the Coast Guard hopes to use to provide electricity to isolated stations in Alaska.

Maine Public Broadcasting - In a written statement, Republican Senator Olympia Snowe says she appreciates the details shared in the President's plan. But at the same time, Snowe says she's opposed to the inclusion of a public option in any package. "I would have preferred that the issue were taken off the table," Snowe says, "given that any bill with a public option will not pass the Senate." . . . Republican Senator Susan Collins. . . issued a statement saying any reforms must take into account the exploding national debt. . . "The nonpartisan Congressional budget Office has estimated that these plans could cost $1.6 trillion over the next decade." . . . For Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud, the cost of the plan could be a deal-breaker. "I think what we have to do is once we have a final package that we're actually going to be voting on, then the Congressional Budget Office will score it and that will be the score that I'll be looking at as far as whether the bill is too costly or not. I think we have to rein in the cost of health care and there are several different ways that we can do that."
Michaud says he remains concerned about proposed cuts to Medicare as one way to pay for health care reform. Specifically, he's uncomfortable with a 9.5 percent cut to Maine nursing homes and home health services. "When I met with a home health agency last Friday they told me that 86 percent of the home health care agencies will be going in the red, and when you look at the cuts to Medicare and you look at where the biggest spending in the legislation comes from, the biggest spending in the bill actually is funding Medicaid," he says. . .

Among the state laws passed this season that you may have missed is one that allows brew pubs to sell half-gallon jugs known as growlers, requires employers to provide clean private space for nursing mothers, and outlaws the use of the word "squaw" in naming places in Maine.

Boston Globe - Projections by the Maine Department of Education says a decline in the number of students at the state's public schools is expected to continue for another three or four years. State figures show that Maine has lost public school students every year since at least 1996. Between 1998 and 2007, Maine pre-kindergarten through grade 12 enrollments declined by 10 percent to about 190,000.. . . Data that will be formally released later this month is expected to show Maine schools lost another 2,500 students in the last year.

Ethan Andrews Republican Journal -
On June 18, 2002, a Belfast City Council meeting was filmed for the first time and broadcast to every cable subscriber within the city limits. Then-Mayor Mike Hurley appeared in a black tie and yellow boutonniere. . . Seven years later, there is no hard data on how many people watch the meetings from home. As to how the broadcasts have affected the way city government operates, it depends who you ask. . . Anecdotal evidence is abundant, but as both government officials and station directors have found, hard data is harder to find. "I like to say we have literally dozens of viewers," said Ned Lightner of BCTV Channel 2, the city's community station. . . . Diane Wood of Bel-TV - the station that broadcasts city meetings - said she has tried to conduct surveys in the past but the results have never been conclusive. "I haven't got a clue," she said. . . Hurley said he was once recognized by a young man who seemed befuddled that the "show" Hurley appeared on was so boring. Other officials spoke of similar brushes with celebrity. . .

Sun Journal - Bishop Richard Malone, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, asked parishes to pass a second collection plate during services this weekend to help raise funds for the group seeking to repeal the recently passed marriage law that . . . allows the state to recognize same-sex civil marriages. Local Catholics have voiced their opposition to the move in letters to the editor recently printed in the Sun Journal, and a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality announced Friday it is encouraging Catholics to place notes in opposition of the repeal effort into the plate as it is passed. . . Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, a Catholic who voted in support of the law, said it's time for Catholics to speak up. . . Craven said she struggled with the decision of how to cast her vote this spring and lost the support of some constituents because of it.


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