Governor to let staff testify to legislative committees

Gov. Paul LePage says he will allow his commissioners to testify at legislative committee hearings.

The Republican governor said Thursday that his staff has been working with lawmakers to come to an agreement that commissioners will be treated respectfully at hearings.

For several months, LePage told his commissioners to answer questions from legislative committees largely in writing instead of in person. LePage said that Democrats had been wasting his commissioners’ time by keeping them in hearings for several hours strictly to score political points.

Democrats criticized that policy, saying it was slowing down their work and preventing them from getting answers to important questions.

Democratic and GOP lawmakers said the agreement is a good sign as lawmakers head into a new session in January.

Maine joins appeal to fund measures against trafficking

Maine has joined other states in asking Congress to fund anti-human trafficking measures.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and attorneys general in 46 other states sent a letter asking Congress to fund a measure passed in 2000 to protect human trafficking victims and help prosecute people doing the trafficking.

The letter says human trafficking is tied as the second-largest and is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating roughly $32 billion each year.

According to a study of Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens.


Man who disrupted parade with gunshots pleads guilty

A man who fired as many as 70 shots in Bangor on the Fourth of July, forcing the holiday parade to be rerouted, has pleaded guilty to federal gun charges.

Perrin Oliver pleaded guilty Thursday to being a felon in possession of firearms.

No one was hurt by the gunfire, but the city had to reroute its Fourth of July parade. A parade participant was run over by a 1930 fire truck after its brakes failed on a hill that was not part of the original parade route.

The four-hour standoff ended when a tactical team used tear gas to take Oliver into custody.

Court records indicate he wasn’t supposed to have a gun because of a conviction in 2008 in New York.


Open house to show off upgrades to Dow mansion

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s chapter in Portland has been upgrading the historic home of Neal Dow. Now it’s ready to hold a holiday open house.

The group will hold a Christmas gathering Saturday to show off the Portland mansion that belonged to the Union general, entrepreneur and Prohibitionist.

The Rev. David Perkins and his wife, Janet Perkins, have been working to rebuild the WCTU’s Portland chapter. Part of that process has included overhauling the Dow mansion by replacing the roof, applying new paint, installing new windows and overhauling the heating system.

Dow was a teetotaling crusader who led the push for Maine to ban alcohol in 1851. That was years before national Prohibition was enacted in 1918.


Perceived threat prompts police to watch schools

Verbal threats that prompted police to post officers at elementary schools Thursday have been found to have no merit, police said.

Police Chief Robert Moulton said Thursday night that a person who has a Scarborough post office box made threats about elementary schools during a conversation with an out-of-state bill collection agent.

Moulton said Scarborough police were notified and had an officer in the town where the person lives – in Maine but not Scarborough – interview the person.

“There were some threats made in general but not directly about Scarborough schools,” Moulton said. “It appears those comments were made out of frustration.”

Police took the threats seriously and stationed officers at each of the town’s three elementary schools Thursday. Principals from the Eight Corners School, Pleasant Hill School and Blue Point School sent a letter to parents and staff members Thursday saying, “While this was an indirect and secondhand threat, we take all such matters extremely seriously. At no time have students or school personnel been in danger.”

Moulton said his department is satisfied that there is no threat to Scarborough schools and the matter is closed.


Three-car crash sends two to hospital and ties up traffic

A three-car accident, described by police as a fender bender, brought traffic to a crawl on Cummings Road during Thursday evening’s rush hour.

Police Lt. Thomas Simonds said two of the drivers in the crash were taken to Maine Medical Center for observation but their injuries did not appear to be serious.

Traffic backed up on Cummings Road while police waited for a tow truck to remove the vehicles, Simonds said.

The accident occurred around 5 p.m. near the entrance to Gannett Drive and the Portland Press Herald printing plant.

– From staff and news services

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