November 17, 2012

Local & State Dispatches


Webster's voting claims remain in ACLU's sights

The ACLU of Maine said Friday that it plans to alert the U.S. Justice Department about this week's controversial statements by Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster. But the issue may be moot.

Webster experienced a backlash -- from Democrats and Republicans -- after he said unknown black people showed up to vote in some rural areas on Nov. 6 and he suspected they might not be legal residents.

He has maintained that Maine elections are vulnerable to fraud.

Webster initially said he planned to mail postcards to newly registered voters in some rural towns to see how many were returned as undeliverable, indicating that voters may not live at the addresses on the registration cards.

He stuck to that plan in some interviews Thursday, saying he would personally pay for the mailings. However, he issued an apology later Thursday and said he was dropping his plan to send the postcards.

The ACLU of Maine said Friday that it is still concerned about Webster's plan, because of his mixed messages Thursday. The group said it would amount to "voter caging," an illegal practice that intimidates and harasses new voters.

"Voter intimidation, by a political party or a private individual, is illegal," said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. "Using postcards or the mail in an attempt to trap or eliminate voters is harassment and a violation of federal law."

Danforth Street stabbing lands Portland man in jail

Police have charged a Portland man with elevated aggravated assault after he allegedly stabbed another man in the neck on Danforth Street early Thursday morning.

Police arrested Michael F. Brown, 24, of North Street on Thursday and charged him with attacking Patrick Delong, 33, of Portland at 2 a.m. near 200 Danforth St.

Delong was with a group of people, which included Brown's ex-girlfriend, police said. Brown had followed the group, which went into Ruski's, a neighborhood bar, and Delong stayed outside to talk to Brown.

The attack followed that interaction, police said.

Delong remains in stable condition at Maine Medical Center.

Brown is being held without bail at the Cumberland County Jail.


Democrats' wins upheld in trio of House recounts

Maine election officials say recounts are completed on three more legislative races with no changes in outcome.

Secretary of State Charlie Summers said Friday that Democrat Wayne Werts remained the winner in House District 70, which includes Auburn and Lewiston; Democrat William Noon of Sanford remained the winner in House District 144, which includes Acton, Lebanon and Sanford; and Democrat Anne Graham of North Yarmouth remained the winner in House District 109, which includes Gray, North Yarmouth and Pownal.

The latest recounts bring the total completed to six, with seven legislative recounts pending.

The process should be completed after Thanksgiving.

Man on probation gets five years in drug robbery

A Maine man has been sentenced to three years behind bars for robbing a pharmacy in Pittsfield while he was on probation for a prior burglary conviction.

Michael Klaiber was also sentenced to serve more than two additional years in jail for violating the terms of his probation, as well as three years of probation at sentencing this week.

Prosecutors say Klaiber, 30, wearing sunglasses, a baseball hat covered by a hooded sweat shirt, sweat pants and gloves, went into the Rite Aid in May and demanded drugs.

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