June 20, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services


Eliot Cutler calls for changes in how governor is elected

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler is calling on his likely opponents to support a run-off election or ranked-choice voting in the 2014 election to ensure that Maine's next governor earns at least 50 percent of the vote.

In a letter Wednesday, Cutler asked Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud to support election law changes so the next governor must get a majority vote. LePage narrowly defeated Cutler in 2010 with about 38 percent of the vote.

David Farmer, a volunteer spokesman for Michaud, said the congressman is confident he will get more than 50 percent if he runs. He said Michaud, who has formed an exploratory committee, won't take a position on Cutler's proposal without more details.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett didn't immediately return a call for comment.

The Legislature rejected two bills in this session to change statewide elections to a ranked-choice voting.


Authorities in two states track down scam suspect

Authorities in Maine and Mississippi say they teamed up to apprehend a Jamaican man who bilked a Bath woman out of a large sum of money.

Members of the Mississippi attorney general's consumer protection division arrested Damion Aljunior Hill, 33, outside his home in Gulfport, Miss., on June 12. He is charged with stealing money from the woman in Bath and a person in Nebraska.

The so-called Jamaican lottery scam typically entails telling a person they have won a lottery and all they need do to collect their prize is pay taxes, or some similar arrangement. There actually is no lottery and, regardless of how many times a person pays, the perpetrators keep calling, demanding more money.

The scam often targets senior citizens.

In the cases that led to wire fraud charges against Hill, the victims received many calls and were promised large cash prizes, jewelry and cars. Mississippi authorities would not say how much was stolen. The money was sent to Jamaica. Hill is in the United States on a work visa.

Detective Peter Lizanecz, an investigator with the Maine Attorney General's Office, learned the identity of a person in Mississippi who was removing money from the Bath resident's bank account and wiring portions of it to Jamaica. The case originated with the Bath Police Department.

Mainers who want to check on the legitimacy of a telephone solicitation can contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at (800) 436-2131 or email: consumer.mediation@Maine.gov.


Council committee supports traffic changes in Libbytown

A City Council committee has endorsed a plan to dramatically change the way traffic flows through Portland's Libbytown neighborhood.

The Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee voted 3-0 Wednesday night to convert a section of Congress Street and Park Avenue, at their intersections with St. John Street, from one-way to two-way streets.

The councilors also supported closing northbound and southbound ramps that connect Congress Street with Interstate 295 in Libbytown and keeping open an existing ramp that allows Park Avenue traffic to turn north onto I-295.

The recommendation is preliminary, with any ramp closures needing approval from the Maine Department of Transportation. The final traffic plan needs approval from the City Council.


Burglar interrupted, flees from house in Ocean Park

Police are investigating a burglary in the Ocean Park neighborhood Monday afternoon.

A resident returned home on Maine Avenue at 2 p.m. and found the house had recently been broken into, police said.

The suspect ran in the direction of Temple Avenue, although there was no detailed description of the burglar. However, a man wearing an orange shirt was seen near the house just before the burglary, police said.

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