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.


September 21

Huffington Post - Speechwriter Matt Latimer's new book trains its gaze on the lunacy of the late-era Bush White House. And there was plenty of material. Latimer, who first wrote speeches and congressional testimony for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, was one of Bush's top speechwriters at the end of his administration. He has written a tell-all that has some former administration officials furious at his disloyalty and others chuckling at the foibles he's made public. . . Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is fond of sending angry, middle-of-the-night e-mails to staffers because she's frustrated that her colleague and rival Olympia Snowe gets more and better press. As a result, reports Latimer, she rips through press secretaries like 30-packs at a beer-pong tournament. (A Collins press secretary didn't respond to a request for comment.)

Morning Sentinel - The leader of a group hoping to expand the state's medical-marijuana law says while he's prepared for a campaign on Question 5, he doesn't anticipate much opposition. Jonathan Leavitt, who leads Maine Citizens for Patients Rights, said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and a new administration in Washington have made medical marijuana -- and dispensaries created to distribute it -- less controversial. "Our polling indicates this is not a controversial issue anymore," he said. . . Roy McKinney, head of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, said as a public official he could not get involved in the campaign. But he restated his belief, originally shared with state lawmakers, that dispensaries would lead to misuse and could increase crimes such as robberies and loitering. . . Maine is one of 13 states to allow the use of medical marijuana. If Question 5 passes, Maine would be the fifth state to permit dispensaries.

Press Herald, Belfast - The farmhouse-style house rising in an old field here will likely become the state's most energy-frugal home, its builders say, using 90 percent less fuel than a typical new home. This structure is so airtight and heavily insulated, and so well oriented to the sun, that the builders are leaving out any real heating system. And thanks to solar panels on the roof, the owner won't pay anything for heat or hot water. Not ever. But what makes this project even more noteworthy is that the three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot house is expected to cost roughly $225,000, minus land. That's on par with typical custom-built homes in Maine. And costs could drop, the builders say, if the techniques being used here are adopted in mass production.

Tom Bell, Press Herald - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is delaying implementation of new flood insurance maps that would effectively make it impossible to build on piers and wharves in Portland Harbor. The agency has suspended the 90-day appeal period, which began a month ago, and will restart the process in four or five weeks. In a letter sent to the city Friday, Acting Regional Administrator Paul Ford said the agency plans to review the entire record of its study of Portland Harbor and will continue to collaborate with city officials to assure that the "best science" is used to identify flood hazards. . . City officials and the state's congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., have been aggressively challenging FEMA's proposal. In its proposed map, the agency had reclassified Portland Harbor as a high-risk zone, effectively prohibiting new construction on all of the city's private and public piers. The map also would have raised insurance rates for many property owners on both sides of the harbor. . . Pier owners in Portland Harbor have made insurance claims, although not significant ones. Since 1978, there have been four claims. Three were paid out for a total of $36,000, according to FEMA. . .

Waldo Village Soup -
The city of Belfast will be facing a $359,000 deficit in the coming year if the Excise Tax Initiative passes this Nov. 3, City Manager Joe Slocum told the City Council . . . "We'll be in crisis mode after the first of the year if this passes, because that money won't be there," he said. "It just sounds great, but then you realize that this tax is collected here and spent here to fix these roads."

Boston Globe - Crews used ropes, a boat and front loader to move a 20-foot minke whale into the water in Ogunquit. . . Another boat was expected to tow the whale at least 10 miles out to sea. The whale appeared to have been dead for several weeks, but the cause of death is unknown.

Maine Public Broadcasting - Former [Green] gubernatorial candidate Pat LaMarche supports a November ballot measure that would reduce excise taxes on new vehicles and shave off three years of excise taxes on the most fuel-efficient cars. . . such as hybrids. A Green Independent candidate for governor, Lynne Williams, says losing this revenue would devastate towns. The two campaigns on opposite sides of Question 2 have seized on the Greens' conflicting positions, and thrust them into the spotlight. Chris Cinquemani , who is campaigning for the excise tax reduction says the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, which penned the legislation, contacted Pat LaMarche two years ago. "We reached out to her when we were crafting the legislation, and presented to her what we were working on, what the legislation would do," Cinquemani says. . . LaMarche was featured at at a Westbrook car dealership promoting the More Green Now campaign. In response, the opposing campaign quickly issued a statement from another Green Independent, Lynne Williams. "We wanted to make sure, and reiterate the fact, and set the record straight that environmentalists are not for this issue," says Lizzy Reinholt, a spokesperson for the NO on 2 campaign. Reinholt counters that the referendum would cut revenues by $85 million-- money that most towns and cities use to pay for repairs of roads and bridges.

Brunswick Times-Record - Seeds of Independence, a Freeport-based nonprofit organization designed to match mentors with at-risk youth, celebrated participants and graduates of the organization's programs during an outdoor benefit on Church Road in South Freeport. . . Programs like Jumpstart, which brings first-time juvenile offenders together with mentors to work on decision-making skills, and Rebound, for repeat offenders, benefit kids who "either through some choice of their own, or a group of circumstances they had no control over . . . have become disenfranchised," said Seeds of Independence board president Tom Wright of Freeport, who founded the organization with his wife, Willo Wright. "We're trying to get them back.". . . About 50 mentors currently volunteer with Seeds of Independence, but Tom Wright encouraged others gathered under the tent on Thursday to sign up to work with the kids. Wright was quick to point out that mentoring with the organization is not the same as with, for example, Big Brothers/Big Sisters. "It may be as simple as me asking you to call a kid every morning at 7 to make sure he got out of bed," Wright said.


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