December 26, 2010

Top 10 in 2010

Readers choose Maine's biggest newsmakers of the year.

From staff reports

(Continued from page 1)

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Gov.-elect Paul LePage

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Mainer Seth Wescott won a gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in the men's snowboard-cross, coming from behind. It was the second gold for Wescott, who also won in 2006.

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It’s the second gold for Wescott, who also won in 2006. His win came in dramatic fashion, with him running last for much of the final race and then coming from behind to win.

5. Tom Cox’s Work on foreclosures has national impact: A South Portland lawyer who works to help homeowners facing foreclosure finds himself on the national stage.

Tom Cox was among lawyers bringing a class-action suit against GMAC Mortgage Co. He discovered that in a deposition in another case, a processor in Pennsylvania admitted that he signed more than 10,000 foreclosure documents a month and did not verify the information those documents asserted, as required by Maine law.

That practice by GMAC and other lenders, dubbed ‘’robo-signing,” became a main target of the nationwide investigation.

6. President Obama visits Portland to tout health care: President Obama makes his first trip to Maine as president, speaking before a crowd of more than 2,000 at the Portland Expo. Obama’s visit came a week after he signed health care reform into law.

During the speech, the president highlighted Theresa D’Andrea of Limerick and local business owner Bill Milliken as examples of how the new law would help people.

Obama did visit Maine again – in July, he returned with his wife, Michelle, and their daughers, Sasha and Malia, for a long weekend on Mount Desert Island.

7. Medical marijuana expansion and ramp up: The state begins setting up a system for medical marijuana dispensaries in response to voters’ November 2009 approval of a measure that expanded access to the drug.

State officials choose five groups to operate eight dispensaries around the state, including one in Portland and one in Biddeford.

Some towns, though, begin enacting local moratoriums, which slow some of the dispensaries’ plans.

8. Portland goes to strong mayor: Eighty-seven years after Portland residents abolished the post, voters resurrect the position of popularly elected mayor in November.

Currently, the nine city councilors pick one of their own for the post, which is for a one-year term and largely ceremonial.

The popularly elected mayor will serve four years, can veto a council-passed budget – subject to a possible override – and is supposed to provide day-to-day oversight of city affairs and the appointed city manager.

9. Konbit Sante plays role in Haiti earthquake response: Many Mainers step up to deliver aid in Haiti’s hour of need after an earthquake ravages the capital of Port-au-Prince.

In Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city, Konbit Sante volunteers work at Justinian Hospital and at a community health clinic in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, Fort St. Michel. While Cap Haitien wasn’t damaged by the earthquake in January, many wounded refugees went there following the earthquake.

The relief ship Sea Hunter attracts much attention during its mercy mission to the port of Les Cayes.

Owner Greg Brooks and the crew overcome numerous storms and miles of red tape to deliver 80 tons of donations from people and businesses all over Maine.

10. Stinson Seafood cannery closes: Bumble Bee Foods LLC closes the Stinson Seafood plant in Gouldsboro in April, eliminating nearly 130 jobs.

The closure marks the end of an era in Maine – the sardine processing plant  was the last of dozens to operate in the state, and the last full-time plant operating in the U.S.

A Boston-based lobster company is working to purchase the plant, and plans to complete its acquisition by the middle of January. Live Lobster Co. plans to process lobster meat and bait once it gets the plant reopened.

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President Obama visited Portland, speaking before more than 2,000 at the Portland Expo a week after he signed health care reform into law.

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