COURT DOESN’T REPEAL NEED
Since a unanimous Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that separated anti-abortion demonstrators from women entering health care facilities, Portland’s version of a similar ordinance will likely be repealed.
That could happen as early as Monday, when the City Council has the matter on its agenda.
The council has little choice: There is no reason to wait for a judge to order the city to make the change, but it should not be seen as the end of the issue.
As Mayor Michael Brennan has said, the ordinance may disappear, but the reason the ordinance was needed has not gone away.
Women will need protection from interference by protesters when they access the Planned Parenthood clinic on Congress Street, whether they are going there for an abortion or for some other service from among the wide range of women’s health tests and procedures that are provided there.
A buffer zone was one way to balance the clients’ rights with the protesters’ constitutionally protected freedom of speech. Now that the court has struck down the ordinance, the city should look for another way to achieve the same result.
HELPING LOBSTER SALES
Maine lobster is world famous, but maybe it’s not famous enough.
Fortunately, the new Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative is ready to start getting the word out.
The group is working with chefs around the world to teach them how to handle and prepare real Maine lobster and, most importantly, how they can serve it with a clear conscience.
While other seafoods are becoming scarce from decades of overfishing, the Maine trap lobster fishery is carefully managed and sustainable in the long term. And as a result, the state’s lobster industry is able to harvest record amounts, year over year.
Information technology has made it possible for products to be marketed all over the globe. While people in New England know about Maine lobster, it’s important that the rest of the world find out, too.
GRANTS WILL HELP KIDS
It was good to see Gov. LePage in Portland last week to announce the distribution of $11.3 million in federal grants to support after-school and summer learning programs for low income kids.
LePage spoke to the students at Rei-che School about his tough childhood and how he was able to overcome poverty and language barriers to become the governor of Maine. It must have been an inspiring message for the children, including those who come from low-income and immigrant families.
The Portland nonprofit social service agency LearningWorks would receive $2.5 million of the money to run programs in Portland schools. CEO Ethan Strimling, a Democrat, said that he and the Republican governor don’t agree on much, but they’re on the same page when it comes to helping children escape poverty through education.
Gov. LePage didn’t say it, but his visit shows that he understands the vital role that government plays in improving people’s lives.
TOURISTS ARE BACK
The Fourth of July may have been a washout, but the 2014 tourist season appears to be off to a great start.
According to state sales tax collections, sales at restaurants and hotels for the first four months of 2014 were up 2.7 percent over the previous year, despite the bad weather most of the spring.
There are more travelers on the highways (up 5 percent) and more cruise ship visitors (up 26 percent).
This is great news for a broad spectrum of Mainers, whether they do business directly with tourists or not. The money collected in taxes from visitors to our state helps pay for services such as schools that people who don’t live here will never use.
Mainers should remember that, even if there is a little more traffic on the roads or a few more people at a favorite picnic spot.
And if some one asks you for directions, don’t forget to be nice.