Opinion – Press Herald https://www.pressherald.com Wed, 21 Mar 2018 02:58:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Kathleen Parker: If Trump lied in a meeting he made up, does it still count? https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/kathleen-parker-if-trump-lied-in-a-meeting-he-made-up-does-it-still-count/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/kathleen-parker-if-trump-lied-in-a-meeting-he-made-up-does-it-still-count/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1349931 In a rare expression of self-awareness, President Trump admitted – nay, boasted – that he just makes stuff up.

Recounting a recent meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump says Trudeau told him that the U.S. has no trade deficit with Canada, whereupon Trump essentially said, “Yes, we do,” whereupon Trudeau said, “No, you don’t.”

Here’s the hitch: Trump didn’t really know whether his claim was true. He was flying by the seat of his pants, bluffing, playing the wise guy on a wacky little whim all his own. He bragged as much in a speech during a private, fundraising event in Missouri last week.

Such a character, that guy.

But what was Trump thinking during the alleged meeting? Was he pulling Trudeau’s leg? Was he curious to see how it would feel to toss out a whopper and see how it landed?

“Trudeau came to see me. He’s a good guy, Justin,” Trump told his audience. “He (Trudeau) said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please.’ ” Trump apparently mimicked Trudeau’s voice, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post. “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in – ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit.’ He’s very proud because everybody else, you know, we’re getting killed. …

“So, he’s proud. I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid. … And I thought they were smart. I said, ‘You’re wrong, Justin.’ He said, ‘Nope, we have no trade deficit.’ I said, ‘Well, in that case, I feel differently,’ I said, ‘but I don’t believe it.’ I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, ‘Check, because I can’t believe it.’ ”

Believe it.

The truth is the U.S. had a trade surplus with Canada to the tune of $2.8 billion in goods and services in 2017, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. But facts seem neither an attractant nor a deterrent to Trump, who at times reminds me of Don Quixote, the fictional knight-errant of 17th-century Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. Quixote had read too many books of chivalry and, owing to some deterioration of his mental faculties, fancied himself a knight in shining armor.

Like the president, he would make up stuff or imagine, for example, that ordinary windmills were giants to be slayed. Hence the expression “tilting at windmills.”

Imagining enemies where none exist – or failing to recognize a proper foe and treat him accordingly – is an entertaining fictional device. But it’s far less amusing in a world leader whose vision of his own grandeur often clouds both his judgment and his perceptions.

But not only did Trump invent the trade deficit, he also may have made up the meeting itself. According to Canada’s National Post, Trudeau’s government isn’t sure which meeting Trump was referencing. There may have been a phone conversation or two along those lines, or, quite possibly, Trump created a composite scenario drawn from both meetings and conversations.

Not only do weary researchers have to check Trump’s “facts,” but now they also have to check his facts about fictions. If the meeting didn’t actually take place – and the claim about the trade deficit was fantastic in the correct sense – then what is one ever to believe from this president?

What sorts of ruminations might Trump be conjuring in anticipation of his proposed meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un’s entertainment? Perhaps Trump will tease that he’s pulling back American troops along the Demilitarized Zone in exchange for his hair stylist’s contact info. (That would be amusing, come to think of it.)

One might be inclined to dismiss Trump’s relatively harmless tale as poetic license in the tradition of story-telling. It’s doubtful that anyone at the fundraiser cared whether the meeting was real or some variation thereof. What’s concerning is: (1) the president’s admission that he made stuff up; (2) didn’t bother to bone up on our trade relationship with Canada before challenging Trudeau; and (3) seemingly doesn’t give a damn.

In mathematics, I vaguely recall, a double negative makes a positive. In other words, two minuses are a plus. Maybe Trump figures he’s entitled to the same sort of calculation. In the fantasy-filled mind of a fiction-prone president, willfully making a false claim in a meeting that didn’t happen comes out to a plus. Then he can boast a great, big, beautiful double whammy.

Believe it. Or, not.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post. She can be contacted at:


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State Rep. Sampson: In Maine schools, ‘proficiency’ may not mean what you think it does https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/state-rep-sampson-in-maine-schools-proficiency-may-not-mean-what-you-think-it-does/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/state-rep-sampson-in-maine-schools-proficiency-may-not-mean-what-you-think-it-does/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1349943 AUGUSTA — Mainers, we’ve been hoodwinked. Proficiency-based diploma and proficiency-based education are not the same thing, yet Maine’s insistence that our diplomas be based on “proficiency” has begun dismantling traditional methods of instruction.

The purpose of any diploma is to certify that a student has met the state’s requirements for graduation. In 2012, Maine became the first state to pass the proficiency-based diploma law, requiring that this certification be based on “proficiency” in eight content areas and the five Guiding Principles.

In contrast, proficiency-based education is a specific system of instruction, assessments, academic reporting and grading in which traditional grading of 0-100 is eliminated in favor of 1-4 grading: 1 – does not meet proficiency; 2 – partially meets proficiency; 3 – meets proficiency, and 4 – exceeds proficiency.

As school districts have implemented this experimental grading system, parents have learned the dirty little secret that there is no standard, agreed-upon definition of what proficiency means in the context of learning. Neither the Maine Department of Education nor the Maine Legislature has been able to define proficiency, even while requiring it for the attainment of a diploma.

In schools adopting proficiency-based education, parents are bewildered by the 1-4 grading system and students are worried about the proficiency-based transcript putting them at a disadvantage for admission to college. Advocates for proficiency-based education point to a report in which 74 New England colleges and universities said they would not disadvantage students with proficiency-based diplomas in evaluating them for admission. However, nearly half of those schools are institutions with open admissions policies. Of the remaining respondents, the vast majority have admissions requirements that still value the rigor of secondary school record, standardized test scores, class rank, high school GPA and SAT scores. But the plan in Maine is to phase out these criteria when schools become fully compliant with the proficiency-based diploma law.

Despite what many have been led to believe, the law does not require that any particular system be used to attain or evaluate proficiency – adopting proficiency-based education is not required. Yet schools across Maine are rushing to implement proficiency-based education in the mistaken belief that it is their only option to comply with the proficiency-based diploma law.

The proficiency-based diploma law has created a niche market for a special group of education “consultants” with financial backing, mostly from the Nellie Mae Foundation, to dictate to policymakers what a diploma should mean. Using this new diploma paradigm as leverage, the well-paid consultants have traveled the state to persuade superintendents and school boards to adopt an untested and costly education system.

Maine’s public education system has been manipulated to force an agenda without engaging parents, teachers and students in the process. Apparently, this was by design. Michael Horn, co-founder of the Christensen Institute, has argued of education reform that the “tools of democracy will not get us to where we need to go.” Perhaps that is why the tools of democracy are seemingly being abandoned in pursuit of undefined “proficiency.”

After six years there are still no rules to comply with this law. The Department of Education readily admits it has been unable to cobble together language to support the law’s implementation. According to the department’s own statement to the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, Chief Academic Officer Paul Hambleton acknowledged that “this is not working” and “it’s broken and needs to be fixed.” This law has been tweaked and tortured since its inception, most recently rewritten in 2016 by L.D. 1627, and yet the department still finds it impossible to implement.

Now the Legislature is considering a bill, L.D. 1666, to delay full implementation of the proficiency-based diploma law by one more year, to 2025-2026, well beyond the original target of 2017-2018. One more year and new “consensus-based rulemaking” will not suddenly fix the unfixable. It is time to acknowledge that this experiment has failed. Our children are not guinea pigs, and we should stop gambling with basic principles that might jeopardize their acceptance to college.

Instead of a last-ditch attempt to save a misleading scheme that is not working, the Legislature should repeal the entire proficiency-based diploma law, which would return the decision-making process to the local school districts. I have introduced an amendment to do this.

If the proficiency-based diploma law were repealed, school boards would be free to implement the approach that best suits their district. Teachers would regain autonomy to do what they do best, teaching with creativity and freedom to engage and capture the imagination of their students. We need to let teachers teach and students learn.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/state-rep-sampson-in-maine-schools-proficiency-may-not-mean-what-you-think-it-does/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/06/727217_354420-20170602-Madison-10.jpgBrianna Meng, left center, peers toward the front of the line of graduates Friday in Madison Area Memorial High School before their commencement ceremony in Madison.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 19:57:13 +0000
Maine Voices: As middle ground on immigration, beef up border security while protecting ‘dreamers’ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/maine-voices-as-middle-ground-on-immigration-beef-up-border-security-while-protecting-dreamers/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/maine-voices-as-middle-ground-on-immigration-beef-up-border-security-while-protecting-dreamers/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1349959 BRIDGTON — As the senior pastor at Lake Region Vineyard Church, my personal approach toward immigration policy is framed by a conservative, faith-based perspective – a perspective that acknowledges that those of us fortunate enough to be born in America didn’t choose to be; we are here because of God’s grace.

In the same way, young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” didn’t choose where they would be born – they were brought to the United States as children. Someone else’s choice brought them here in hope of providing an opportunity to experience the blessings so many of us have access to as “natives” of this country.

These blessings or resources are not infinite. They are also not, as some may argue, so limited that we cannot find a way to share them with those less fortunate. We have the privileged opportunity and responsibility of being wise and generous stewards to all who desire to live in a land of opportunity.

Many have argued that undocumented immigrants take too much and are a drain on society and that we cannot afford to harbor them. But I ask that we consider this: Many dreamers don’t want to take our resources. They want to be a resource, contributing to America and helping to build a strong country for future generations.

Why not create for them a path to citizenship so that they can join the military, or go to college, or enter the workforce and pay taxes into the economy? Why should we do the very un-Christian (and economically wasteful) thing of sending them back to countries they barely remember? It doesn’t make any sense to say “turn around and go home,” especially since this is the only home many of them have ever known, now that they’re already here.

Of course we must protect our country, and that means a strong national security policy. As a conservative, I believe it would be foolish to allow for wide-open borders.

America has always been a welcoming country to all, but we still should know who is coming in and going out of our home and why. Perhaps that will require hiring more border security officers or better utilizing the technology that’s available today. Aren’t there already systems in place that could simply be better resourced and enforced? That’s something for Congress to decide.

But what I do know is that immigration reforms that would make our border more secure are not at odds with immigration reforms that would grant dreamers a pathway to citizenship. In fact, they can – and should – be part of a package deal.

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my thinking. According to a new national survey from the advocacy group New American Economy and TargetPoint Consulting, 80 percent of conservative and Republican voters support a deal to increase border security in exchange for protections for dreamers.

And when you poll the voters in President Trump’s base (defined by the survey as “those who voted for Trump, approve of him today, support a Republican congressional candidate in the 2018 elections and identify as Republican”), the approval rating jumps to 86 percent.

A dreamer-border security deal also does well among key conservative voting blocs. Eighty percent of frequent church attendees want dreamers to have a pathway to citizenship, and 78 percent support a deal to increase border security in exchange for seeing these young people protected.

However, the addressing of important life-changing issues that require bipartisan cooperation often does not happen because the discussion becomes centered on how this will affect voting in future elections.

My hope is that our elected leaders could see beyond the rhetoric that too often perpetuates division, villainizes those who may disagree, stifles honest dialogue and places an emphasis on which side “wins” in this discussion. We must not forget what is most important: that we should, with all humility and wisdom, realize we carry the responsibility of influencing the future lives of millions of fellow human beings. We are blessed so that we may bless.

I believe Congress can find a way to vote “yes” on a dreamer-border security deal. Sensibly creating a pathway for dreamers to remain in this country legally so they can contribute is what’s best for everyone. I believe we finally have the middle ground our country needs to move forward toward a better, stronger future for all of God’s children.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/maine-voices-as-middle-ground-on-immigration-beef-up-border-security-while-protecting-dreamers/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1256292_Trump_Immigration_20124.jpg-e1505532360295.jpgBecause President Trump is keenly aware of public opinion, it has not escaped his notice that a majority of Americans strongly support finding a way to allow "dreamers" to stay in the United States.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 19:47:12 +0000
Our View: Trump’s plan to fight opioid epidemic is way off track https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/our-view-trumps-plan-to-fight-opioid-epidemic-is-way-off-track/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/our-view-trumps-plan-to-fight-opioid-epidemic-is-way-off-track/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1350030 As long as he’s not the one being investigated, President Trump appears to be a big believer in law enforcement.

Most of his address on the opioid overdose epidemic Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire, offered tougher laws and harsher punishments to end the “scourge” that kills an average of 115 Americans every day.

The solution, he said, requires building a wall on the Mexican border to keep drugs out, and imposing economic penalties for “sanctuary cities” unless they use municipal resources to hunt down undocumented immigrants.

For drug dealers, Trump said, he favors the death penalty. He spoke glowingly about countries that execute drug dealers because they have “zero tolerance” and “don’t play games.”

He didn’t say which countries, but it was a good description of the policy favored by brutal dictator Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, someone Trump has complimented in the past.

“I love tough guys,” the president called to the invitation-only crowd. “We need more tough guys!”


But if the president would listen to some of the real tough guys on local police forces in Maine and elsewhere, he would likely hear that he’s on the wrong track.

They have told us time and again that they cannot arrest their way out of this problem, and that law enforcement alone won’t work.

Prescription painkillers, either made here or legally imported, are what started the epidemic and are still involved in nearly two-thirds of the overdose deaths. A border wall would not keep these painkillers out.

In addition, given that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, turning local police departments into enforcement agencies that crack down on minority communities instead of protecting them would be, among other things, a colossal waste of time.

And the death penalty may sound tough, but it would mean very little to someone already facing decades in prison for major drug offenses. It might be a deterrent if every drug dealer expected to be caught, but they don’t – and you can see why.

The police cannot watch everyone all the time, and drug deals are going to occur as long as there is a demand for drugs.

Trump briefly mentioned some changes he’s proposing to reduce demand, including allowing Medicaid to be an eligible payer in more drug treatment facilities, and an unspecified amount to be spent on developing a non-addictive painkiller.


But six years into the epidemic, we should know what to do.

It’s not a question of whether it’s a supply problem for law enforcement or a demand problem for the medical community. It’s both.

If this were an infectious disease, we wouldn’t be arguing about whether to find the source of the virus or to treat the people who are infected. The gold standard for opioid addiction treatment is medication-assisted treatment, using drugs such as methadone or Suboxone.

Too many people who want treatment can’t get it because they don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to pay the out-of-pocket costs.

So, it’s fine if the federal government tries to scare kids straight with Trump-touted “great commercials” or scare drug dealers into retirement with a new death penalty law, but it should focus first on what has been proven to work.

If the president wants to stop the carnage, treatment is where he needs to start.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/20/our-view-trumps-plan-to-fight-opioid-epidemic-is-way-off-track/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1349822_863466-20180319_Trump1080.jpg"Together we will end the scourge of drug addiction in America once and for all," President Trump told a cheering crowd at Manchester Community College.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:45:16 +0000
Our View: Preventive care mandate should not be controversial https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/our-view-preventive-care-mandate-should-not-be-controversial/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/our-view-preventive-care-mandate-should-not-be-controversial/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1349404 The Affordable Care Act mandates that all health insurance policies include certain preventive services without the burden of cost-sharing requirements, creating consistency in a kind of care shown to improve health.

That requirement, however, could go away through the rule-making process with a stroke of President Trump’s pen, adding uncertainty where it is not welcome or needed. Maine lawmakers took a step toward eliminating that uncertainty by passing with bipartisan support L.D. 1476, which would put the ACA preventive mandate in state law. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the measure last week, and this week it goes back to the Legislature, which should override the veto and help ensure that Mainers have the tools to stay healthy.

L.D. 1476, from Rep. Joyce McCreight, D-Harpswell, follows on the heels of a law passed last year that put in state statute the ACA’s requirement of no-copay birth control. It would require all health insurance policies to include without cost-sharing requirements all preventive services given an A or B rating by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a longstanding, independent panel of national experts in prevention and medicine that makes evidence-based recommendations.

Included in the task force’s recommendations are services that cover Mainers from birth to old age, and which can identify health problems well before they get too difficult – and costly – to treat.

Immunizations and screenings for infants, children and adolescents are included, as are screenings for pregnant women. Breast-feeding services and supplies make the grade, as do Pap tests and screenings for sexually transmitted infections and the BRCA gene mutation, which are linked to the risk of cervical and breast cancer.

Blood pressure and diabetes screenings are also included in the bill, as well as preventive medications for older adults such as aspirin and statins.

Prevention and early detection can make all the difference. Detecting cancer in its early stages, for instance, increases greatly the five-year survival rate for colorectal, cervical and breast cancer. Finding and removing pre-cancerous polyps can literally mean the difference between life and death.

It is clear that when more people have access to these services, more people use them, and more people have their health problems diagnosed before they are too far along.

Gov. LePage, in his veto message, said the uncertainty surrounding the ACA at the federal level makes it unwise to put anything related to it into law at this point.

The ACA, he said, has been a disaster, and he won’t sign any law that puts its features in play here.

But the preventive care aspects of the ACA have been a success by any measure, and legislators can make sure they don’t disappear from Maine at a moment’s notice. The evidence is clear – preventive care makes a difference in people’s lives, and all Mainers should have access to it.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/our-view-preventive-care-mandate-should-not-be-controversial/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1349404_edipic_0223.jpgWithout passing a Maine law, insurance companies could start collecting copays for annual checkups and other preventive care.Sun, 18 Mar 2018 20:01:46 +0000
Maine Voices: Central Maine Power transmission line project raises red flags https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/maine-voices-central-maine-power-transmission-line-project-raises-red-flags/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/maine-voices-central-maine-power-transmission-line-project-raises-red-flags/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1349452 Central Maine Power is engaged in a major public relations effort to convince Maine people that its 145-mile transmission line project, which would cut a new 53-mile swath through Maine’s scenic North Woods to bring Canadian hydro power to Massachusetts through our state, is good for Maine people and Maine’s environment.

New Hampshire regulators recently turned down a similar proposal to construct a major transmission line across New Hampshire to bring Canadian hydro power to Massachusetts because of the harm it would do. So the question is: why should Maine accept a line like the one New Hampshire just rejected?

Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, is lining up with CMP. Rather than allowing Maine regulators to go through the same thoughtful process that led New Hampshire to reject that project, Gov. LePage, through a spokesperson, has vowed to ram the project through Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection. This is very unfortunate on a number of levels.

If we want to send renewable power across Maine to Boston, a far better alternative for Maine – one that LePage has repeatedly blocked over the years – would be to build farms of offshore wind turbines. These turbines could be placed far off shore where no one would see them. The turbines could use advanced engineering technologies developed right here in Maine.

These turbines would create more construction jobs over a longer period of time than a transmission line, and would also lead to many permanent maintenance positions. Sending this clean, renewable energy from Maine to Boston would require a far shorter transmission line than CMP has proposed, and would develop a whole industry including many small, local businesses. This would benefit the Maine economy and sustain a much larger tax base for decades to come.

Keep in mind that CMP is no longer the local company started by William Wyman that so greatly benefited our forefathers. CMP is owned by Avangrid, a multinational company working in dozens of countries all over the world. CMP’s most lucrative business activity is building transmission wires and poles, which it does as a state-sanctioned monopoly.

In Maine, CMP doesn’t get paid for generating electricity but for delivering it. And believe it or not, they are guaranteed a 12 percent return on their investment by the Public Utilities Commission. So the obvious question is: Why does CMP want to build 150 miles of transmission lines through Maine to deliver Canadian power to Massachusetts? To make more money? We assume so. What does Maine get out of that? Not much.

CMP claims that Maine ratepayers won’t have to pay. But there is still the chance that Maine ratepayers may have to help pay for it. The citizens of Maine certainly will have to pay by enduring environmental damage.

The 53-mile new portion of this 150-foot-wide corridor through Maine’s North Woods would cross 263 wetlands and 115 streams, disrupting deer wintering areas, waterfowl habitat and miles of wildlife habitat and harming hunting and fishing experiences.

It would cross the Appalachian Trail three times and would run across and over the Kennebec Gorge, one of Maine’s premier natural attractions, visited by thousands of people every summer as they raft and fish the upper Kennebec River. Keep in mind the Maine brand that lends so much value to our state.

This brand is relied on by our tourism industry, including the many rafting and guiding companies that take visitors down through the gorge, who refer to the “remote wilderness setting,” “spectacular scenery” and “most beautiful (gorge) in the East.”

Gov. LePage’s support for CMP’s project is baffling. He supports hydropower generation in Canada although it would not provide any permanent jobs in Maine. Yet he vehemently opposes solar power in Maine, and minimizes the value of offshore wind, both of which would provide hundreds of good jobs throughout the state. In essence, the governor is giving jobs that could be filled by Mainers from rural parts of the state to Canada.

Maine people should demand that the impacts of CMP’s project get a full review, that alternatives to this unnecessary corridor through Maine’s North Woods be fully considered, and that Maine not get steamrolled by CMP and its multinational corporate parent.

Mainers should not be expected to blindly accept a major project that will provide little to no benefit to the state and will harm our forests, wildlife and rivers, and our brand, a brand that has been carefully fostered for decades.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/19/maine-voices-central-maine-power-transmission-line-project-raises-red-flags/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1342621_493224_20140311_trade-e1520308513268.jpgTransmission lines paid for by Massachusetts rate payers would cut across Maine, but the Bay Sate won't permit a gas pipeline that would help Maine manufacturing.Mon, 19 Mar 2018 16:53:18 +0000
Maine Voices: Why is Maine’s child welfare ombudsman out of the loop? https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/maine-voices-why-is-maines-child-welfare-ombudsman-ignored/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/maine-voices-why-is-maines-child-welfare-ombudsman-ignored/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348916 As I follow the mournful conversation about poor little Marissa Kennedy, who died recently in Stockton Springs, allegedly at the brutal hands of her parents, I notice that no one is turning to Maine’s child welfare services ombudsman for answers. In fact, it appears no one is even aware that Christine Alberi exists.

Established in 2001 by MRSA Section 4087-A, the ombudsman is an independent agency authorized to investigate complaints about child welfare services. The ombudsman is empowered with unfettered access to information about children and the performance of the child welfare agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. The law requires the ombudsman to report annually on its findings and make recommendations to the governor and the Legislature for policy change and service improvements.

This is a strong position with potential to ensure the care and safety of children. There are now only about 13 states with ombudsman or child advocate offices that are as empowered as the one in Maine. All of them were established on the heels of tragic death.


Historically, Maine had an ombudsman for children much earlier than other states did; however, the position, which was established in the 1980s, fell out of favor and seemed to be essentially dormant for a number of years. Then Logan Marr was found suffocated with duct tape and restrained to a high chair in her foster mother’s basement in Chelsea on Jan. 31, 2001.

Shortly after her death, the Maine Legislature vetted no fewer than 14 bills related to child abuse and neglect. The bills were consolidated into one, House Paper 1385, which created a 12-member Committee to Review the Child Protective System. The ombudsman program in its current form was one of the chief outcomes of their work.

There are two flaws in Maine’s statute that hamper the ombudsman’s ability to make a difference. First is the manner in which the ombudsman is appointed: by the governor. That creates an inherent threat to independence. Second, with all the access to information the ombudsman has, MRSA Section 4008, subsection 4, includes restrictions that limit ability to disclose confidential information.

The Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services is the oversight committee for the ombudsman program. Yet I hear legislators lamenting that the governor does not allow agency heads to speak with them. Is that the case for the child welfare services ombudsman? Has the committee called upon her for information?


Lawmakers can help her by repairing the flaws in the statute that created her job. The ombudsman position calls for careful vetting. Generally, a bipartisan oversight committee entertains applications and either appoints or provides a select number of approved candidates to the governor from which to choose. This minimizes political influence and threats to independence. Moving the position out of the executive branch and over to the legislative branch would help, too, by removing funding for the child welfare services ombudsman from the executive branch budget.

Next, the ombudsman should be given authority to disclose otherwise confidential information when it is in the public’s interest. It is in the public’s interest to hear evidence of a child protection system that is poorly resourced and failing. It is in the public’s interest that children are left in danger by caseworkers with unmanageable workloads.

A sad irony is that recently I drove from my home in Surry through Stockton Springs to get to New Hampshire for my new job, as that state’s first child advocate – the independent ombudsman agency for children. Was Marissa being beaten as I passed through? If I had paused, would I have heard her cries?

In my first 30 days of service to New Hampshire, I have already met with legislators to educate them about critical resource needs for the child welfare agency. A recent tragic death of our own has underscored inadequacies. I have made that known. There are four New Hampshire bills aimed at increasing funding for prevention services and hiring more caseworkers. I am optimistic that even with a tight budget, the children will be heard, through me.

The Maine Legislature needs to step up and give voice to tortured children through stronger authority for the child welfare services ombudsman. Don’t wait for brutal child deaths to drive public policy. Were Marissa still alive, she might still be suffering – that’s when help is needed most.

— Special to the Telegram

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/maine-voices-why-is-maines-child-welfare-ombudsman-ignored/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/704652_668011-PPH-file-Marr-3-no-c-e1493226363524.jpgChristy Darling sits with a portrait of her daughter Logan Marr, who died 16 years ago while in foster care. Sally Ann Schofield, who was convicted of manslaughter in Logan's death, is scheduled to be released from prison on probation in April.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 19:46:26 +0000
Our View: New plant shows brighter future for Maine lobster https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/our-view-new-plant-shows-brighter-future-for-maine-lobster/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/our-view-new-plant-shows-brighter-future-for-maine-lobster/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348945 You’ll find Maine lobsters served on plates from Paris to Beijing – wherever people want to celebrate with something special. And Maine lobstermen have built a reputation for harvesting one of the world’s most desired seafood items in a way that doesn’t wipe out the species.

That’s been possible because of conservation practices developed through close observation of the species, largely by lobstermen themselves, and passed down from one generation to the next.

But there are still things that are unknown about Maine’s most valuable resource, like:

Where will baby lobsters settle as the ocean gets warmer?

What conditions are required for lobster shells to harden, and can they be replicated in onshore tanks?

Are there better ways to hold, ship and process lobsters that will make them reliably available to more markets?

The need to answer questions like that is what’s behind an exciting collaboration between one of the state’s leading lobster dealers and the state. In a game-changing investment announced last week, Ready Seafood Co. is expanding its live and processed lobster business with a new 40-acre campus in Saco.


In addition to their investment, they are receiving $2.4 million in research and development funds to build facilities where university and industry scientists can work alongside Ready’s in-house marine biologist to study and better understand lobsters. What they learn will be shared throughout the industry, helping the company as well as their competitors find ways to add value to a product that supports so many Maine jobs and communities.

Like the Millinocket cross-laminated timber plant, which has also received voter-approved bond funds through the Maine Technology Institute, this represents the kind of economic development activity in which Maine’s government belongs.

Unlike across-the-board tax cuts, which reward businesses whether they create any jobs or not, these targeted, competitive grants make sure the public money goes where it’s going to do the most good. And if these private companies can add value to traditional resources like fiber and lobster, the whole Maine economy will be a winner.

In six of the last seven years, the lobster fishery has set records in terms of weight and revenue generated, making it look like it’s not an industry that needs to change. But there are signs that there could be trouble ahead.

A recent study by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute used computer modeling to project a 40 to 60 percent decline in the lobster catch over the next 30 years. State regulators don’t think the drop will be that steep, but they acknowledge that some decline from the record years is probably inevitable.

John Ready, who founded the company with his brother Brendan, doesn’t believe that a smaller catch has to be bad news. If the industry can learn how to be more efficient in the way it handles what is caught and more effective at marketing its products, it will be able to add value all the way down the line of production, and pay lobstermen more even if they are catching less.


Maine fishermen sent more than $200 million of lobster to Canada last year for processing – nearly half of the total catch – losing out on jobs and higher prices that come from adding value here and selling a finished product.

Ready’s plans include a major expansion of their processing facility which will use hyperbaric pressure, instead of heat or chemicals, to kill bacteria before shipping. That could help Maine lobster to reach more distant markets with a better quality product than Canadian competitors.

In the live market, shell hardness determines how far a lobster can be shipped, and most of the lobsters caught in Maine are soft-shell “shedders.”

If distributors could learn how to harden the shell of a lobster while it’s in their tanks, Ready said, he could sell them for more per pound.

He also wants to know what the scientists can tell him about the stresses that cause some live lobsters to die in shipping. He currently can guarantee no more than 2 percent will be lost. “But what if we could cut that to 1 percent?” he asked. Across the fishery, that would be like catching thousands more lobsters every year.

The global economy is changing in ways that create opportunities for Maine, if we are ready to take them. Investing in research and development can position the state to make sure that traditional industries have a future.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/our-view-new-plant-shows-brighter-future-for-maine-lobster/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1348945_411178_20150905_lobster_4.jpgCory McDonald removes a bait bag from a lobster trap while fishing off the coast of Stonington in 2015. Maine is about to get a new lobster processing facility that will also look for ways to add value to the product. (Staff photo by Gregory Rec)Fri, 16 Mar 2018 22:13:06 +0000
Commentary: Attack on former Russian spy a game-changer https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/commentary-attack-on-former-spy-a-game-changer/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/commentary-attack-on-former-spy-a-game-changer/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1349356 Global spy games just got a little more dangerous with the byzantine poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the medieval-era United Kingdom city of Salisbury.

Extraterritorial assassination attempts are usually precisely targeted, with the victim attacked in an unmistakable, but quiet, surgical strike. Among developed nations, there is not supposed to be any collateral damage and the attacking nation tries to maintain plausible deniability.

But the Skripal case using the Russian Novichok nerve agent just changed things.

The message to double-crossing double agents? There is no place to hide. The message to host countries harboring these defectors? Drop dead. More and more countries are witnessing targeted foreign assaults and assassinations on their soil in a wanton and reckless disregard for diplomatic norms, innocent bystanders and respect for national sovereignty.

Prime Minister Theresa May is showing both warranted outrage and unprecedented backbone regarding this poisoning. She has rightly noted the attack on the Skripals has harmed British citizens on British soil and exposed a larger citizenry to dangerous toxins. Further, she railed that England’s security forces were contaminated, and, most importantly, that this was a direct attack against her island nation. A NATO consultation may be in the works. Twenty-three Russian diplomats have been expelled. Even deeper retaliation is on the lips of an offended and angered political class.

While President Trump has been characteristically restrained regarding all things Russian, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., stated that “we must recognize Putin will not hesitate to engage in state-sponsored assassination. He must not be allowed to treat the UK or any other nation as a venue for political murder.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, too, responded quickly and unequivocally to the attack, saying the poison used “clearly came from Russia” and that the “really egregious act” will “trigger a response.” The response came quickly. He and Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Steven Goldstein were fired.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “we have nothing to do with this.” Tillerson’s gone while Lavrov’s star continues to rise. Where will a post-Rex America stand on Britain’s findings and any of its calls for further action against Russia?

How a post-Brexit-vote Britain and her dwindling Western allies react and respond to this new crisis is going to redefine the unwritten rules of how nations deal with growing, stealthy and murderous incursions on their territory. UK actions will help redefine the way national intelligence services behave abroad – both in what is acceptable and how they will unilaterally act in cases where they aggressively seek to protect national security and deeply held secrets. Are defectors off-limits? Does the killing of traitors have a statute of limitations? Are there any applicable standards and norms in a covert world where rules don’t easily apply? Should countries get away with anything as long as they are not caught red-handed?

These are difficult questions. The conditional ethics of covert behavior and intelligence activities are complex and alterable. That’s why John le Carre novels, like “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” are so deeply engaging. They force the reader to explore the personal conflicts of patriotic demands and the moral ambiguities of duty-bound action.

Britain’s most notorious double-agent, Kim Philby, was a part of the Cambridge Five spy ring before defecting to the USSR. Whether the Brits tried to kill Philby in Moscow is unknown, but he lived to an alcohol-pickled 76, honored for his Soviet service with the Order of Lenin and the issuing of a five-kopek postage stamp.

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, is a contemporary intelligence asset living in Russian exile. Snowden does not yet have a postage stamp, but he does, so far, get to live securely in an undisclosed location in Moscow. The Skripal assassination attempt must be upping his already high paranoia and fear that “they will put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket.” Even former Texas congressman Ron Paul believed that “somebody in our government might kill him with a cruise missile or a drone missile.”

True, American government officials do want Snowden dead, but they want Snowden’s death to take place in the good old USA, not under cover of darkness in another country. CIA Director and Secretary of State-designee Mike Pompeo has called for Snowden’s execution – not in Russia, but by bringing him home, giving him a trial, and handing him a death sentence.

The American and British approach to defectors, spies, and other wanted criminals or convicted enemies of the state is to actively try to get them back. In the meantime, they get to live out their miserable lives abroad.

Russia thinks differently and is double-daring Western nations to do something about it. Theresa May’s Britain just might.

— Tribune Media Services

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/commentary-attack-on-former-spy-a-game-changer/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1349356_535707-InsightSpyingArt.jpgBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May, right, on Thursday views the area in Salisbury, England, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found critically ill. May on Wednesday expelled 23 Russian diplomats, severed high-level contacts and vowed both open and covert action following the incident. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:41:12 +0000
Another View: Rep. Sirocki: Female genital mutilation a problem in Maine https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/another-view-rep-sirocki-female-genital-mutilation-a-problem-in-maine/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/another-view-rep-sirocki-female-genital-mutilation-a-problem-in-maine/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348781 Re: “Greg Kesich: Gov. LePage dreams up phony problem when state has real ones to solve” (March 7):

When a Maine resident asked me to submit legislation to prohibit the secretive cutting ritual known as female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) , I discovered that this horrific form of child abuse is on the rise and is an issue in our state. In 2013, the Population Reference Bureau stunningly identified almost 400 at-risk girls under the age of 18 in Maine.

In 2016, the Maine Access Immigrant Network was selected as one of only eight states to share a $6 million federal grant by the U.S. DHHS’ Office on Women’s Health to prevent FGM and to help survivors living in the U.S.

FGM is not a religious practice; this ancient ritual has been performed by millions of people of many faiths.

In 2017, my bill (L.D. 745) had broad bipartisan support with 65 sponsors; it frustratingly failed along party lines by one vote.

The Maine Prosecutors Association’s testimony from last year said: “The prosecutors do not feel confident that they can charge someone with committing Female Genital Mutilation without passage of this bill.”

I agree. Maine should join 26 other states and enact clear laws of deterrence. FGM survivor F.A. Cole recently testified, “We shouldn’t wait until there is an ‘actual’ proof of FGM on a girl before a law is put in place. Let us not wait until what happened in Michigan happens in Maine before something gets done.”

While members of the media have been busily casting aspersions, lawmakers are responsibly focused on making laws that help protect vulnerable children from all forms of child abuse, including FGM.

The United Nations calls for “Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation.”

Other international groups, including Equality Now, UNICEF, and the AHA Foundation, also concur – eradicate and educate about this human rights violation.

I stand with the U.N.-Zero Tolerance.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/another-view-rep-sirocki-female-genital-mutilation-a-problem-in-maine/feed/ 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:41:45 +0000
Commentary: How well have we learned the lessons of My Lai? https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/commentary-how-well-have-we-learned-the-lessons-of-my-lai/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/commentary-how-well-have-we-learned-the-lessons-of-my-lai/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348799 Fifty years ago this week, on March 16, 1968, around 200 U.S. soldiers from Charlie and Bravo companies burst into a Communist-dominated area in South Vietnam known to GIs as “Pinkville.” In less than four hours, more than 500 Vietnamese civilians – including elderly men, women and children – were dead in the villages of My Lai 4, Binh Tay, Binh Dong and My Khe 4.

The American forces sustained one casualty that day; it was self-inflicted. Thirteen soldiers faced allegations of rape, but those cases were dismissed for lack of evidence. Thirty soldiers were accused of murder – but were never prosecuted. Only 2nd Lt. William L. Calley, leader of Charlie Company’s 1st Platoon in My Lai 4, would be convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Calley appealed the verdict and was later paroled in November 1974.

Historians have long acknowledged the significance of the My Lai massacre. Thomas E. Ricks argues that it marked “the low point of the 20th-century United States military.” Max Hastings called it “the most notorious war crime of the Vietnam era.”

How well have we learned its lessons? In 1970, the Pentagon launched a top-secret investigation (it was declassified in 1994) into numerous allegations of atrocities in Vietnam and concluded that more than 300 massacres had occurred – with My Lai the worst. No other crime, Gen. William Westmoreland wrote in his 1976 memoir, “even remotely approached the magnitude and horror of My Lai.”

What happened at My Lai lays bare the type of war fought by Americans in Vietnam: one of attrition based on body counts, “search-and-destroy missions” and “free-fire zones” – euphemisms for blanket killings that often included noncombatants.

My Lai underscores the greatest difficulty facing U.S. forces on the ground: how to distinguish between the enemy and the innocent. The fundamental reality to U.S. soldiers was that all Viet Cong were Vietnamese, yet not all Vietnamese were Viet Cong. How to resolve this problem? Kill every Vietnamese, even the children, Calley asserted in his 1971 memoir. Otherwise, he said, mothers of sons killed years later in the long war would yell at him, “Why didn’t you kill those babies that day?”

The facts of My Lai force us to look at what the soldiers faced. Consider a 19-year-old who had never been outside the United States, knew little or nothing about Vietnam and had no real sense of why he was there. What should we expect him to do when, scared to death, he entered a Vietnamese village known as an enemy hot spot in which all its inhabitants wore peasant garb – whether they were noncombatants, Viet Cong sympathizers, or themselves Viet Cong?

Notably, Charlie Company had lost 28 soldiers during the recent Tet Offensive to land mines, booby traps and snipers. Numerous soldiers reported that, in the briefing the day before the My Lai operation, Capt. Ernest Medina told his three platoons they had a chance for revenge: The civilians would have departed for Quang Ngai City on that market day, and Army intelligence reported that more than 200 forces from the Viet Cong’s 48th Local Force Battalion lay embedded at My Lai 4. When U.S. troops began their assault, they expected to encounter only the enemy. And they were driven by fear, frustration, vengeance, racial hatred and the determination to shoot first as the chief means to survive against a force twice their size.

As it turned out, Army intelligence was wrong: No Viet Cong were in the villages. Every victim of the massacre was a civilian.

In the midst of this carnage appeared a glimmer of human decency and courage. Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, accompanied in his small observation helicopter by 20-year-old crew chief Glenn Andreotta and 18-year-old gunner Lawrence Colburn, intervened to stop the killings and reported them to the command base, bringing about a cease-fire before noon that doubtless saved numerous Vietnamese lives.

After My Lai, the Army sought to restore its image by developing a volunteer force based on personal character, along with improved discipline and training, and led by officers who were taught combat ethics and the importance of enforcing the principle of restraint underlying the rules of land warfare, particularly in heavily populated areas. But the graphic abuses committed by U.S. forces decades later at Abu Ghraib prison during the war in Iraq, along with the CIA’s torture of detainees, raise the question of whether any reform, no matter how effective, can ever fully eliminate the danger.

In terms of history, the significance of My Lai remains unambiguous. The massacre and its aftermath intensified a growing public call to end the war in Vietnam – and not only by antiwar groups. Calley’s conviction and sentence led supporters of the war to insist that if their soldiers were not allowed the freedom to kill the enemy, they must pull out of Vietnam.

But My Lai transcends history. Its lessons are universal. Historian Roger Spiller declared that “the most frightening lesson” he has learned from military history is that “ordinary” people are capable of heinous crimes in the right circumstances. The key to ending atrocities in war is as obvious as it has been unattainable: End war or accept Spiller’s conclusion that “we are all one step away from My Lai.”

— Special to the Washington Post

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/commentary-how-well-have-we-learned-the-lessons-of-my-lai/feed/ 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:29:01 +0000
Jim Fossel: Restocking the Cabinet, Trump style https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/jim-fossel-restocking-the-cabinet-trump-style/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/jim-fossel-restocking-the-cabinet-trump-style/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348821 In what has been yet another tumultuous week for the White House, the Trump administration appears to have kicked off a Cabinet reshuffle, where several Cabinet members are replaced at once or in close succession.

Though they’re not uncommon in Western democracies, they’re a rarely used political tool in the United States. In parliamentary systems, a Cabinet reshuffle allows the governing majority party to revamp its administration in the face of slipping public support. It’s easier to accomplish in a parliamentary democracy, as Cabinet members don’t face confirmation fights. In the United States, it only regularly occurs at the beginning of a president’s second term, when turnover of Cabinet members traditionally gives the president the chance to appoint someone new to fill their place.

Things haven’t been quite so stable under the Trump administration. The original secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, lasted just seven months on the job before he switched over to become White House chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a former Georgia congressman, also resigned after less than a year in office following a controversy over his use of government aircraft. They’re not the only ones to leave this administration, just the highest ranking; a variety of staff have left their jobs as well.

Recently, they were joined by Gary Cohn, who’d been serving as director of the National Economic Council. Although not a member of the Cabinet, Cohn was considered an influential advocate for moderation within the West Wing. A Democrat, Cohn argued internally in favor of the Paris climate accord and our staying in the North American Free Trade Agreement and against the tariffs on steel and aluminum that President Trump is set to impose.

Cohn is set to be replaced by CNBC personality and economist Larry Kudlow. Kudlow is – unlike Cohn – a longtime Republican who served in the Reagan administration, so he’ll likely agree with conservatives in the White House more often on a number of issues. However, he’s criticized the administration’s decision to impose tariffs, as he’s long been a supporter of free trade. So, while appointing him is a change of direction for the administration, it’s not necessarily a complete reversal on economic policy.

The same cannot be said of the replacement of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Like his fellow former business executive, Tillerson was widely seen as a voice for restraint in the White House. He has been opposed to withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, and also supported staying in the Paris climate accords.

Pompeo, however, has long held more aggressive views of national security and foreign policy. He’s fervently supported the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, argued against closing down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and pressed for military action against North Korea. All of this led to his nomination as CIA director being opposed by Rand Paul – though he ended up with plenty of bipartisan support and was easily confirmed. It will be interesting to see whether history repeats itself, or if Democrats have soured on Pompeo over the course of the past year.

Even if the U.S. Senate again gives Pompeo the benefit of the doubt, they may not be so kind to Trump’s choice to succeed him as CIA director. Trump has nominated Pompeo’s deputy, Gina Haspel, a 30-year CIA veteran, to serve as the first female director of the agency. Although there’s no doubt that Haspel’s extensive experience makes her eminently qualified to lead the CIA, it will also cause quite a bit of controversy.

During her career, she was extensively involved in the enhanced interrogation program for detainees, which critics considered to be torture. Rand Paul has already announced that he cannot support her, so it opens the opportunity for Democrats to sink her nomination. How she performs during her confirmation hearings in the Senate Intelligence Committee (on which both Maine’s Susan Collins and Angus King serve) will likely determine whether she has any chance at being confirmed.

There has also been word spreading around Washington that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster may be on the way out, with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton a leading candidate to replace him. Bolton, who frequently appears on Fox News, is a hard-right neoconservative. Along with the replacement of Tillerson and the elevation of Haspel, bringing in Bolton would signal the ascension of a newly aggressive foreign policy and national security team.

Together, they could move further toward putting Trump’s campaign rhetoric into policy both at home and overseas.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:


Twitter: @jimfossel

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Maine Observer: Cares melt in memories of snowy fun https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/maine-observer-cares-melt-in-memories-of-snowy-fun/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/maine-observer-cares-melt-in-memories-of-snowy-fun/#respond Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348903 It is ever so close to spring, and oh boy, would I like the winter to vamoose.

This winter we’ve had bone-chilling wind and weeks with multiple snowstorms, followed by freezing rain, ice and thunderstorms. Deep, dark, long nights, for weeks on end between Thanksgiving and mid-January. One feels that hibernation might be a better option than the pent-up prisoner feeling through these long weeks of winter in Maine.

After a storm March 8 that brought over 13 inches of snow, I needed a breather from these weather-borne assaults and shoveling. Two days later, I put on my walking shoes and headed out for a brisk jaunt on a 40-degree afternoon. It was a relief to stretch my legs with long strides along the bike lane toward Payson Park.

Cars lined the busy street at the top of a hill popular with parents and kids after winter storms, the snow so deep and dense it had to be perfect for a fast zip down the hill on a tube, sled or flying saucer. As I headed through the park I saw dozens of children and adults frolicking at this winter playground. Squeals of glee from the kids and peals of adult laughter softened the hardest resolve within me that says, “Let the winter be over!”

Hearing those kids laugh as they whizzed down the hill reminded me of the fabulous fun I had as a kid heading across my street to the big hill on the side of my elementary school. Just across the street from my house, I could head over on my own, pulling my sled behind me, ready for action!

It was a fairly steep hill from top to bottom, and there was a long, sloping sidewalk that added another half a block to the run if the conditions were just right. Neighborhood kids gathered there and we took turns taking off from the sweet spot at the top of the hill, allowing for a swift trip to the bottom and then that long glide on the snow-covered sidewalk to the end of the school playground block.

Until I was a teenager, I had no shoveling duties, so snowy days with a 15- to 20-inch accumulation were not a nuisance for me, as they are these days. There was just the pure pleasure of sliding for the sheer fun of it! In my teen years a gang of neighborhood friends and I would pull 6-foot toboggans five blocks up Clear Avenue to the golf course. We’d make our way across the greens covered with snow so deep our legs would often sink down into it up to our thighs, en route to what was called Devil’s Hill – a very steep hill with a long plain at the bottom for decelerating after our descent. I can still hear our peals of laughter on run after run, until exhaustion hit and we trudged home.

— Special to the Telegram

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/18/maine-observer-cares-melt-in-memories-of-snowy-fun/feed/ 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 22:14:06 +0000
Maine Voices: U.S. Supreme Court weighs Janus v. AFSCME: Freedom for workers? https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/maine-voices-u-s-supreme-court-weighs-janus-v-afscme-freedom-for-workers/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/maine-voices-u-s-supreme-court-weighs-janus-v-afscme-freedom-for-workers/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348793 ORONO — The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case with sweeping implications for public employees as it seeks to answer the question of whether or not requiring a worker to pay union dues violates his First Amendment rights by compelling him to support speech he disagrees with, i.e., the union’s political activities. The decision may prove to be historic because of its universal scope and because most union workers are now anchored in the public sector.

Twenty-eight states now have right-to-work laws, the result of a movement that is a descendant of the 1920s American Plan campaign to convince the public that unions were “un-American” and to promote the “open shop,” where union membership was not required and was sometimes forbidden. In the 1940s, 1960s and 1970s, right-to-work crusades were launched and defeated in Maine, but right-to-work advocates in the 1990s ensured that organized labor would receive no respite from its ideological opponents.

In 2003, during the administration of Democratic Maine Gov. John Baldacci, advocates of public unionism for state employees were able to secure contributions from all new hires to help cover bargaining costs. Two years later, a new contract required all state employees to pay union dues, whether or not they chose to join. That rekindled the flame of right-to-work supporters, and the Maine State Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees braced themselves for a new round of ideological resistance as the National Right-To-Work Legal Defense Foundation filed suit in U.S. District Court in Portland in 2005 on behalf of state employees who refused to pay their “fair share.”

The court ruled that the MSEA protected all state workers’ constitutional rights when it incorporated service fees into its collective bargaining agreement. While it became illegal in 2007 to fire a public employee for refusing to pay a service fee, the state itself could collect the fee, a gesture that advocates of individual choice called an “involuntary garnishment of wages.”

A right-to-work measure failed that year, and in 2011, despite the emergence once again of the right-to-work movement in Maine, with the blessings of Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Anti-union security measures again fell short of victory in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Against a background of five right-to-work bills in 2017, the state’s largest public unions approved contracts that eliminated the “fair share” requirement. The union members accepted pay raises in return. The public-sector unions continue to exist and workers remain free to join and make voluntary contributions to them.

Meanwhile, whether government workers who choose not to join a union can be required to pay dues is the focus of Janus v. AFSCME, which made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Teachers in California claimed that such mandatory fees violated the First Amendment rights of workers who disagreed with the union’s political views. The outcome could affect about 5 million workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

Critics of so-called “compulsory unionism” ask: “Who should decide which individual should join any organization? It is our individual freedom to choose for ourselves.” This species of argument has a universal ring of truth. Individual choice, as generally viewed, is the essence of freedom. Right-to-work advocates also declare that they don’t oppose labor unions, only “compulsory” union membership, a seemingly perfect marriage of individual freedom and collective action. For unions, however, this translates into acceptance of unions – as long as they are powerless “paper tigers.”

For organized labor, the right-to-work language of individual freedom serves as veiled ideological opposition to the collective voice of workers, a deceptive misnomer and a loaded slogan aimed at killing labor unions. Right-to-work measures are “right-to-wreck” measures, union-busting tactics, as well as a sanctuary for workers who evade personal responsibility for benefits gained through the collective efforts of others. Politically, organized labor views right-to-work measures as a legal means of neutralizing its power by paralyzing its economic (purse) and political (Democratic Party) muscle.

Right-to-work ideology is generally endorsed by those who view the labor movement as a challenge to employers’ sovereignty over the workplace and find it expeditious to argue that organized labor is the dialectical opposite of individual freedom, an incubator of radical ideas and hostile to a favorable business climate, economic progress and survival in a global economy.

A fragile labor movement, battered by winds of changes in technology and markets, a new employer offensive against organized labor, sweeping demographic changes and graphic inequalities in income and wealth, nervously braces for the high court’s decision. It remains to be seen how organized labor and workers will react if the legal winds prove unfavorable.

— Special to the Press Herald

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/maine-voices-u-s-supreme-court-weighs-janus-v-afscme-freedom-for-workers/feed/ 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:48:52 +0000
Another View: Haspel’s appointment revives CIA’s dark history https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/another-view-haspels-appointment-revives-cias-dark-history/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/another-view-haspels-appointment-revives-cias-dark-history/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348817 Gina Haspel, President Trump’s choice to take over the CIA, is a well-respected figure within the intelligence community, by most accounts. But she is inextricably tied to two very dark elements of the spy agency’s past: She ran a secret, post-Sept. 11 overseas “black site” where detainees were subjected to torture, and she participated in the willful destruction of 90 videotapes of some of those interrogation sessions.

Her role in those shameful moments in American history must be central to the questioning she faces during the Senate confirmation process. She must not be confirmed unless she clearly and convincingly explains her actions and involvement, and unless she unequivocally repudiates future use of torture by CIA agents and their proxies.

This would be vitally important under any circumstances – but it is especially so given the ignorant pronouncements of the man who selected her. During the campaign, Trump emphatically endorsed waterboarding and other inhumane practices. “Torture works,” he said at one point. “OK, folks? You know, I have these guys – ‘Torture doesn’t work!’ – believe me, it works.”

But it doesn’t, as psychologists and interrogators have come to recognize. Information gained under torture often is fabricated, for obvious reasons. And even if torture did elicit reliable information, that would hardly justify the use of inhumane and morally repugnant techniques that violate U.S. and international laws and treaties, including the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and spent a lot of time overseas for the agency, including stints in Central Europe, Turkey and Central Asia (much of it covert). In 2002, she was present at the CIA’s secret site in Thailand when Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times and at one point seemed on the verge of death, with water bubbling up from his lungs. He was revived and tortured again, details of which are contained in the executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s still-classified 2012 report on the CIA and its torture programs. (The entire report ought to be released so the American people can be fully aware of what was done in their name.)

After Haspel was promoted to oversee the black site, another detainee was waterboarded at least three times; American officials slapped his head, threatened to rape his mother and brought a gun and a power drill into the interview session.

Despite the immoral nature of the CIA’s actions at the dark sites, the agency, and Haspel, were at least operating under a dubious stamp of approval: Government lawyers had told them they could. But Haspel’s later involvement in destroying videotapes documenting waterboarding at several interrogation sessions was without sanction. Haspel, as chief of staff to the head of the agency’s counter-terrorism operations, wrote a memo that ordered the tapes’ destruction, even though she and her boss had been instructed to preserve the material as possible evidence in an ongoing investigation. Her boss, Jose Rodriguez, was later reprimanded by the agency’s inspector general. Haspel was not; the Justice Department decided not to press criminal charges.

Haspel’s involvement in the willful destruction of evidence of torture is as much an assault on the law as the torture itself was on its victims. It is worrisome, to say the least, that the president wants to put in charge of the agency someone with a history of overseeing torture, and then destroying evidence of what occurred. Is Haspel a different person now? Did she believe in what she was doing at the time, or was she just following orders in a post-9/11 moment of fear? That’s unknown, at least to the public. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking minority member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, intervened in 2013 to try to keep the CIA from appointing Haspel head of clandestine operations. But Feinstein recently has tempered her opposition and said she plans to meet privately with Haspel before deciding whether to oppose the nomination.

Here’s a clear line: The Senate needs unequivocal assurances from Haspel that she knows torture is indefensible – and that even if Trump were to order the resumption of these odious and rightly illegal practices, she would refuse to comply. If senators can’t get that commitment from Haspel, then the decision on whether to approve the appointment is an easy one: No.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/another-view-haspels-appointment-revives-cias-dark-history/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1348817_Trump_CIA_40832.jpg-25263.jpgCIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel, President Trump's choice to take over the agency, needs to provide unequivocal assurances that she knows torture is indefensible and that even if President Trump were to order its resumption, she would refuse to comply.Sat, 17 Mar 2018 04:00:00 +0000
The humble Farmer: We’ll get a car with a little help from my friends https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/the-humble-farmer-well-get-a-car-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/the-humble-farmer-well-get-a-car-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348833 My wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, wants a newer, smaller car with an automatic transmission. For the sake of our discussion, let’s call this newer car a Simca. Some of her friends drive Simcas. Although she has yet to drive one, she sat in two or three belonging to her friends and discovered that she can easily get in and out of it. There’s room in the back for her walker.

Her 1999 Rav-4 has only 277,000 miles on it, looks good and is rust free. She keeps it polished like a bottle. But you might know from experience that when there is even the smell of anything above the weekly food allowance about to be deposited into an account, there is always someone close to home who will find an excuse to spend it.

Marsha bought her car way back when, and I bought my truck before that, so we have no negotiating skills.

I turned to Facebook for help. My Facebook is infested with grizzled, retired professors, who might have met me through my radio show, and neighbors, often my relatives, who also exude wisdom. For years this unlikely coalition has publicly criticized almost everything I’ve posted. All I had to do was hint that Marsha wanted a newer car, and they pounced.

Knowing me well, their warnings were elementary. “Never buy a car that has been submerged.” “When you buy a new car, it loses a big chunk of its value the minute you drive it off the lot.”

Frank, way out in Arizona, put me in touch with Don, whose hobby is helping his Maine friends negotiate with car salesmen. He called me. I learned that buying a car involves a ballet about as complicated as the mating of wild turkeys.

Don said, “It is difficult to get a great deal on a used car like the (Simca), as they have strong demand for them. If you cannot afford a new one, then the best you can do is to attempt to minimize their profit through negotiating up to their dream asking price. As for pricing, the sites to see what folks are asking for cars are Craigslist and Autotrader, book values can be seen at NADA, Edmunds and Kelley.”

OK. You already knew all of the above, but you might not know this.

When your wife wistfully mentions that she’d like a Simca with slightly fewer miles on it than her present car has – in this case, 150,000 – this is what happens. You start by looking at 2010 Simcas, which sell for 5,000 or 6,000 dollars, but within a week she’s gradually eased you up to where you’re looking at the $15,000 2015 model that has a camera on the rear door and perhaps a back channel to the Kremlin.

And that is what we decided to get – until Nick wrote, “I just bought a new (Simca) for about 15k, warranties, 0 mileage, bells and whistles. Why would you want a used high mileage?”

Ever since we bought our last new car, in the last century, we swore that we would never buy a new car again. We would get a low-mileage model two or three years old and save that wicked initial depreciation. But now Nick is living proof that a person in the right place at the right time can get a new car for the price of one that’s two years old.

Hoping to email all the Simca dealers in Maine to find the best price, I found their Web pages and filled in all but one of the blanks. As you might suspect, it locked up and I couldn’t mail it in. Without a phone number in that phone blank, the dealers don’t want to hear from you. What they are telling their potential customers is, “No force on this green earth can make us send you our rock-bottom price by email.”

Doing so would enable customers to quickly locate the rogue dealer willing to sacrifice a large profit for turnover.

We’re not in a hurry to get a new Simca. But when we hear ’tis the season dealers are moving out old inventory, we’ll stuff our pockets with cash and visit several of them, keeping in mind the advice of my Facebook friends.

Ron says, “I just make sure my wife is with me and let her do the talking. She’s ruthless and can walk out of a dealership with a walk that says ‘I’m not coming back unless I get what I want.’ “

Peter says, “When I bought my new truck I took a buddy who had been a car salesman. Figured he’d know all their tricks. Turned out he sided with the salesman and they double teamed me!”

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/ MainePrivateRadio.html

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/the-humble-farmer-well-get-a-car-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/feed/ 0 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:53:41 +0000
Commentary: Background checks for presidential candidates? Not a good idea https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/commentary-background-checks-for-presidential-candidates-not-a-good-idea/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/commentary-background-checks-for-presidential-candidates-not-a-good-idea/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348834 Count me among those unhappy with the Trump presidency. I disapprove of the president’s foreign policy, or lack thereof. I disapprove of his domestic agenda regarding immigration, health care and taxation. I cringe at his oafishness, his late-night edicts by cellphone and his diminishment of the presidency generally. I am impatient to see him replaced by the electoral will of the American people.

So like many, I read the daily critiques of the president on these pages with interest. There is much to be concerned about. But I also believe that Trump’s election, disappointing as it was to many of us, has stimulated a dialogue on some of the important issues of our time. There are new faces vying for the responsibility of leadership. There have been creative ideas offered to remedy some of our problems. And we see a generation of Americans, some not yet even possessed of the full rights of citizenship, rallying to causes that they deem just. These new ideas, fresh faces and movements are the by-products of the Trump presidency, and they have refreshed our democracy. This is a good thing.

So it was that Kevin Carley’s recent commentary (“Don’t let those who can’t get top-security clearance run for president,” March 14) caught my eye. I initially thought it might have been written as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Trump. It wasn’t.

The author’s thesis was clear: As a custodian of America’s most sensitive secrets, the president ought to be vetted as someone suitable for consideration by the American people for election in the first place. While the suggestion was surely made in good faith and, in Trump’s case, perhaps with good cause, the prospect is chilling.

Of the panoply of constitutional protections passed down to us by the Founders and safeguarded by the rulings of our courts and the sacrifices of our fellow citizens, above all is the right of the people to elect to public office whomever they deem fit. At the core of that principle is the belief that, be they wise or foolhardy, the American people have, and by right ought to have, the one and only voice in who leads them.

The president is the supreme constitutional officer. His or her status as such, his inherent duties and responsibilities, her qualifications for office and the mechanism for his removal, are specified by the Constitution. No act of Congress or executive order can modify those standards, short of amending the Constitution itself. Just as it is for our federal judges and members of Congress, the president has the authority to access classified information in order to carry out his or her lawful duties. And with a stroke of the pen, the president has the lawful authority to declassify information deemed secret, sensitive and therefore classified by another member of the executive branch.

Is there cause for concern that Trump, in furtherance of self-interest, under threat of extortion or because of ignorance or carelessness, will spill the beans about our national secrets? Yes, and for many of the reasons we have seen over the past 15 months.

But more concerning is the prospect of Americans, out of disdain for any one occupant of the Oval Office, abdicating their unqualified right to vet their own leaders and, instead, subjecting those standing for our highest office to preliminary evaluation by the unelected personnel of the national government, themselves acting in secret. Indeed, were candidates for president subjected to Carley’s “checklist” and personal bankruptcy, therefore, disqualified them from service, Abraham Lincoln would never have left the practice of law in Springfield, Illinois.

Background investigations are important for those who serve in government and have access to sensitive information. As a former assistant U.S. attorney, I have undergone my own share of background scrutiny. But a posting to a career appointment is a far cry from being elected to the presidency by what (we all hope) was the collective free will of the American people.

As those of us unhappy with the president suffer his foibles, we ought to not make matters worse by diluting our constitutional right to choose whomever we prefer to hold that office without preliminary vetting by the national government. In the end, it is only the Constitution, that time-tested charter and model for democrats and free societies the world over, that stands between us and the excesses of this or any future chief executive. Background checks for presidential candidates? Not such a good idea.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/17/commentary-background-checks-for-presidential-candidates-not-a-good-idea/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/02/trump-2.jpgFri, 16 Mar 2018 23:18:01 +0000
Commentary: Big-city media discredit themselves more than those who cry ‘fake news’ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/commentary-big-city-media-discredit-themselves-more-than-those-who-cry-fake-news/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/commentary-big-city-media-discredit-themselves-more-than-those-who-cry-fake-news/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348165 News organizations across the country often highlight the mid-March “Sunshine Week” – created by the American Society of News Editors to remind the public of the press’ crucial role in ensuring open government – by writing editorials or commentaries about the importance of a free press. This week, for the second straight year, the presidency of Donald Trump is being used as a boogeyman to suggest that the media’s efforts are more endangered than ever. The Associated Press offered such an example in a package in conjunction with this Sunshine Week.

“President Trump’s campaign to discredit the news media has spread to officials at all levels of government, who are echoing his use of the term ‘fake news’ as a weapon against unflattering stories,” according to AP reporter Ryan J. Foley. “It’s become ubiquitous as a signal to a politician’s supporters to ignore legitimate reporting and hard questions, as a smear of the beleaguered and dwindling local press corps, and as a way for conservatives to push back against what they call biased stories.”

It is telling that the story notes that the claim of bias comes from conservatives, which raises the question: Why don’t liberals complain as much about media bias? The obvious liberal slant to the media is typically ignored in favor of journalists adopting the mantle of victimhood.

Sunshine Week is of particular interest this year to those of us at the Times-Gazette, because our small-town daily is in the midst of celebrating its 200th anniversary. Founded in 1818 by a businessman named Moses Carothers, the newspaper has undergone various names, ownerships and frequencies (weekly, twice-weekly, daily) but continues to thrive.

Over the years, the Times-Gazette has provided the first draft of local history, along with holding local officials accountable and providing readers with in-depth analysis of important local issues. It has also regularly highlighted the accomplishments of young and old in the manner particularly unique to small community newspapers.

In his first edition, published June 1818, Carothers wrote that he hoped as editor “to be able to continue the publication of his paper henceforth without intermission, and also to merit by his impartial and steady course in the discharge of his editorial duties that patronage which has been extended to him at a risk.”

It is safe to say that Carothers never dreamed that his little newspaper would still be providing news and information “without intermission” 200 years later. Also impossible for Carothers to anticipate was the national attention – and, in some cases, ridicule – his humble endeavor would garner for its endorsement of the Republican candidate for president in 2016.

I share the concern over the shaky position of newspapers today, but not for the same reason as many of my colleagues. The attacks by the president and others cannot hurt us. They are merely firing ammunition handed them by media outlets that have too often abandoned their “impartial and steady course” – as Carothers put it 200 years ago – in favor of point-of-view journalism and obvious agendas reflected in tabloid-style, click-bait headlines and sensationalized reporting.

While some of our most vaunted newspapers are on unstable footing, both financially and institutionally, smaller papers are holding their own or even growing. The industry magazine Editor & Publisher reported in 2016, “Small, community newspapers across the country are not just surviving, but – in many cases – actually thriving. Many of them have managed to dodge the layoffs and downsizing that larger papers have had to face.”

Some of the reasons for that have to do with the “hyper-local” coverage model that many small newspapers have adopted. But “reader trust” – a crucial component of a newspaper’s success – is stronger among readers of local community newspapers than their big-city counterparts, as noted in an NPR feature last year. The reasons are many, but “one of the big differences between larger metro newspapers and community journalism is the staff has to face its audience every day,” NPR’s Clay Masters noted.

Sunshine Week will be dominated by media outlets wringing their hands over attacks from government officials. The media would do better to make it a week of introspection.

Fight fiercely for open government. Hold elected officials accountable. But make quality journalism the only agenda, impartiality the standard and an adherence to “just the facts” reporting the rule, relegating agendas and viewpoints to the opinion pages. Recommitting to those benchmarks might help maintain what Moses Carothers called our “steady course” for another couple of centuries, at least.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/commentary-big-city-media-discredit-themselves-more-than-those-who-cry-fake-news/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/07/669229_Greece-Bailout.JPEG-01d41.jpgA woman reads the front page of the Greek newspapers for the upcoming referendum the day's news, in central Athens, on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Greece braced for more chaos on the streets outside its mostly shuttered banks Thursday, as Athens and its creditors halted talks on resolving the country's deepening financial crisis until a referendum this weekend. The newspaper at right showing the Greece in map and reading in Greek " The country stand up on Monday". (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)Thu, 15 Mar 2018 19:58:30 +0000
Maine Voices: Media mislead, stigmatize by broadly linking mental illness to violence https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/maine-voices-media-mislead-stigmatize-by-broadly-linking-mental-illness-to-violence/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/maine-voices-media-mislead-stigmatize-by-broadly-linking-mental-illness-to-violence/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348198 The students in my undergraduate Community Partnership course – Brent Chandler, Marta Conant, Jacqueline Cormier, John Durham, Levi Krajewski, Jenna Libby, Nick Tolbert and Kate Wypyski – and I have been heatedly discussing the broad use of the term “mental illness” of late, and here are our thoughts.

“Mental illness” is currently a media buzzword, especially with regard to recent tragedies that have rattled the nation. Countless articles make not just an association between mental illness and violent acts, but also suggest it as the root cause. We consider such generalizations to be irresponsible and unproductive.

The media encourage us to think in generalizations by using this term as a catch-all phrase to describe a broad range of disorders, which castigates the many people living with mental health diagnoses and can distort society’s view of them, essentially making them into boogeymen. Readers can fall prey to human nature, to “err on the side of caution” and walk away with a general association between mental illness and violence. Thus, stigma is born.

Imagine a successful executive whose extreme mood swings are now well managed by medication; a nursing student with a history of chronic depression who was named to the dean’s list for the fourth consecutive term; and a young man with a history of hallucinations and delusions who is not receiving treatment and hears voices telling him that he is a worthless person. What do these individuals have in common? Each is living with a mental health condition, but that does not mean that each poses a threat to the community.

Very few people with severe mental illness are dangerous to others. Using this umbrella term does a disservice to those in recovery or struggling to reach out for help, and does not address the root of the recent school shootings and other tragedies.

Research has shown that the best predictor of violence among those with schizophrenia is the same as it is in the general population: a history of experiencing or perpetrating violence. Similarly, just as with the general population, substance abuse plays a significant role. Environment and context are just as important, if not more so, than “mental illness” in determining a person’s likelihood to perpetrate violence.

The average reader may not distinguish between depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders or sociopathy. Often, several different diagnoses can be made within the overarching category of any particular disorder. Additionally, people with a given condition fall on a spectrum with regard to the severity of that condition.

Instead of glibly explaining away a person’s behavior by labeling them “mentally ill,” why not instead look into the specific behaviors or traits of the individual? When an individual dies in a single-car crash and it’s reported that the individual suffered a “medical event,” we rarely consider that a sufficient explanation. Was it cardiac, neurological or suicide? Were there drugs and/or alcohol involved?

Living with a mental health condition is more common than some know. Nearly one in five Americans is living with a mental health condition, the National Institute of Mental Health has found. According to the World Health Organization, the average American has a 50 percent chance of having a mental health disorder, not including eating disorders, personality disorders or schizophrenia. Furthermore, in any given year, nearly one in 10 adults will suffer from a mood disorder (such as depression or bipolar disorder), according to NIMH, while almost one in five will suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Many people who are affected by mental health disorders live successful lives and manage their diagnosis well. Yet more than 60 percent do not receive treatment, whether it’s from a lack of resources or an unwillingness to seek treatment for fear of stigmatization.

We need to talk more about whether or not there were warning signs when we discuss those few within a community who do commit acts of violence. And we need better treatment opportunities. People need to feel safe when seeking out resources, and we need to foster that environment. We need to support all people across the continuum of mental illness and recovery who read this seemingly constant stream of stigmatizing language that fails to explain the conditions in question.

As student nurses and working nurses, we have a unique opportunity to see people living every facet of the human condition, and we are hoping that we can destigmatize through our care, but we are only part of the equation. The media have a responsibility to present accurate information about mental health diagnoses to foster understanding, reduce ignorance and minimize fear by explaining the unknown, rather than further deepening it.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/maine-voices-media-mislead-stigmatize-by-broadly-linking-mental-illness-to-violence/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/12/553687_shutterstock_210400111.jpgIn any given year, mental illness affects one in four adults in the U.S. and up to one in five children.Fri, 16 Mar 2018 09:34:17 +0000
Our View: Corrections system failing Maine children https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/our-view-corrections-system-failing-maine-children/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/our-view-corrections-system-failing-maine-children/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348246 What is an 11-year-old with mental illness doing in prison?

The short answer is, because that’s where the system wants him, and the system is fundamentally broken.

While there’s debate over the specifics of the future of Long Creek Youth Development Center, Maine’s only youth prison, there is general agreement that the system is not working, and that youth corrections in Maine should look different than it does now. But that transformation is slow in coming.

Three reports in the last year have detailed how the youth corrections system is failing Maine kids, and now that failure has another face – one with two missing teeth.

A federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine alleges that an 11-year-old with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, charged with misdemeanor crimes after acting out at a public swimming pool, was denied treatment during his 39-day stay at Long Creek.

According to the lawsuit, the boy’s condition deteriorated, his behavior escalated and eventually there was a confrontation and he was slammed by two guards face first into a metal bed frame, knocking out his front teeth.

The boy was kept from seeing the oral surgeon on staff for six days. His mother was not notified of the injury, and when she arrived at Long Creek for a visit, she was told that her son had fallen, the suit alleges.

A few days later, a judge found the boy not competent to stand trial. His charges were dismissed, and he was released from the prison to which he should never have been sent in the first place.

The boy’s story is extreme but not unique. Kids whose criminal actions are the result of mental illness, and whose absent or overwhelmed parents cannot handle them at home, are charged with crimes and sent to Long Creek because there is nothing else to do with them. They are entered into a corrections system that is not equipped to deal with them, and in fact makes things worse.

A better system would take the money being used on youth incarceration and spend it instead on community-based programs.

A better system would keep the boy at home, or at a hospital, and provide him and his family with the support he needs to get well.

A better system would recognize that no sick child should end the day locked in a room surrounded by people who see his illness as criminal.

The Department of Corrections says it is working toward such a system. While the department has resisted calls to close Long Creek, the number of inmates has fallen to roughly 65, down from more than 300 in 1997 and more than 180 just five years ago.

Eventually, Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick has said, Long Creek will house few inmates, as those with mental health issues will be moved to psychiatric facilities.

But the state has released no details on such a plan, and the casualties are mounting.

The reports critical of Long Creek – by the state’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, the prison’s Board of Visitors and a group of Maine-based researchers – followed the 2016 suicide of 16-year-old Charles Maisie Knowles of Vassalboro, a transgender boy who was in Long Creek awaiting trial on a felony arson charge.

In its review of Knowles’ death, the Board of Visitors said Long Creek “is not medically equipped to deal with the delicate needs of these vulnerable youth.” Without changes, the report said, more harm will come to inmates.

Just a few months later, the 11-year-old boy was being locked in one of Long Creek’s rooms.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/our-view-corrections-system-failing-maine-children/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1348246_644637_20171214_long_cree_4-e1521171500125.jpgLong Creek Youth Development Center staff allegedly failed to treat a boy's mental illness and broke his teeth. A better system wouldn't lock him up – it would give him and his family the support he needs to get well.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:40:59 +0000
Commentary: Rex Tillerson’s defiance meant he had to go https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/tillersons-insubordination-meant-he-had-to-go/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/tillersons-insubordination-meant-he-had-to-go/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1348123 There are many reasons why Rex Tillerson’s tenure as secretary of state was a failure, from his notorious isolation from his subordinates to his failure to help quickly staff the political appointment positions at the State Department with competent Republicans. But it was his insubordination to the president that ensured that he wouldn’t be long in his position. With a summit with North Korea in the works, President Trump’s decision to oust Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo could not have come at a better moment.

Tillerson was completely out of step with Trump’s hard-line stance on North Korea, which ultimately brought Kim Jong Un to the bargaining table. Instead, Tillerson’s strategy seemed to be to beg Pyongyang for talks. Speaking at the Atlantic Council in December, Tillerson delivered this embarrassing plea: “Let’s just meet. And we can talk about the weather if you want. … But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face?” He might as well have added: “Pretty please, with sugar on top?”

Trump’s critics constantly griped that the president was undermining Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea, when in fact the opposite was true. Trump’s strategy has been to achieve a peaceful solution by getting Kim to understand that the U.S. is ready to use force to stop him from deploying a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile capable of destroying an American city. This is the message Trump was trying to send during his address to the South Korean legislature, when he told Kim in no uncertain terms: “The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.”

By projecting weakness to Pyongyang, Tillerson was undercutting Trump’s message of strength – and thus making war more likely. The fact that Tillerson could not seem to grasp this or get on the same page as his commander in chief made his continued leadership of the State Department untenable.

Pompeo, by contrast, is in lockstep with Trump in sending Kim a clear message that, should diplomacy fail, the U.S. will not hesitate to act. “The president is intent on delivering this solution through diplomatic means,” Pompeo told me during a recent conversation at the American Enterprise Institute. “We are equally, at the same time, ensuring that … if we conclude that it is not possible, that we present the president with a range of options that can achieve what is his stated intention.”

The failure to deliver those options is yet another reason Tillerson’s tenure at the State Department had to end. Tillerson was working with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to slow-walk the delivery of military options to the president, apparently out of fear that the president might actually act on them. According to The New York Times, after a conference call about North Korea organized by national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Tillerson stayed on the line with Mattis and, unaware the other participants were still listening, complained about a series of meetings the National Security Council had set up to consider military options – “signs, Mr. Tillerson said, that (the NSC) was becoming overly aggressive.”

No one elected Tillerson to make these decisions. They elected Trump. With Tillerson gone and Pompeo at the State Department, McMaster will now have an ally at State who shares his belief that for Trump’s warnings to North Korea to be credible, he must have well-developed and credible military options on the table.

As Trump put it, Tillerson had to go because “we were not thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a similar thought process.” Having a trusted adviser at State will be critical to the success of the biggest diplomatic gamble of Trump’s presidency: his upcoming talks with Kim.

At AEI, Pompeo told me that the CIA assesses that Kim is a rational actor – which means that, given accurate information about the president’s intentions, Kim should make a rational decision that will not lead to his regime’s destruction. “We’re taking the real-world actions that we think will make (it) unmistakable to Kim Jong Un that we are intent on denuclearization,” Pompeo said. “We’re counting on the fact that he’ll see it. We’re confident that he will.” With Pompeo in office, Trump now has a much better chance of getting that message across to the North Korean dictator.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/16/tillersons-insubordination-meant-he-had-to-go/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1347120_340403-RexTillerson0313.jpgIn his remarks Tuesday, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pointedly did not thank President Trump or praise his leadership.Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:07:08 +0000
What about free speech? Or, how I got banned by the Portland Press Herald https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/what-about-free-speech-or-how-i-got-banned-by-the-portland-press-herald/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/what-about-free-speech-or-how-i-got-banned-by-the-portland-press-herald/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1347430 The First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech is under attack in Maine. The attackers include Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, the editorial page editors of Maine’s largest daily newspapers, the Maine chapters of the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union, and Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Mills is a serial abuser of the First Amendment. In 2015 she chose to prosecute pro-life protesters outside Planned Parenthood in Portland for allegedly speaking too loudly. Despite being clearly told by a Barack Obama-appointed U.S. district judge that this is protected speech, she persists, arguing that the government may indeed abridge political speech.

In 2016, Mills joined a partisan coalition of state attorneys general investigating Exxon and climate change “deniers” for “fraud.” The investigation started with a memo that protected the attorneys general from Freedom of Information requests and was followed by broad subpoenas to several prominent think tanks. Exxon has countersued for violation of their First Amendment rights. The investigation is clearly designed to suppress speech that Mills opposes, and to aid her in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The ACLU’s Maine chapter saw nothing at all problematic with this behavior.

In 2010 Citizens United sent progressives into orbit when it guaranteed protected political speech rights of unions and corporations. King, Pingree and the League of Women Voters haven’t had anything positive to say about Citizens United, and Collins was a strong supporter of the challenged McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation.

The opposition of Maine’s legacy media editors to free speech surfaced as a consequence of a Feb. 25 editorial in the Portland Press Herald that took the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics to task for declining to investigate Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage and his anonymous ownership of and work on the Maine Examiner, a news website that published material deemed harmful to a progressive Lewiston mayoral candidate. I posted this comment under the editorial online and all hell broke loose:

“jreisman: Here’s an alternative view- the PPH. KJ, BDN and Maine Public are essentially mouthpieces for the Democrats and the left. Campaign Finance and ethics ‘regulation’ are progressive attacks on protected political speech.

“The left has lost their monopoly on the narrative, and their ability to control/censor speech of those they disagree with has been compromised. This editorial is the consequence.

“What contempt for the public! Mainers and Americans can make their own decisions without direction from media progressives.”

On Feb. 28, the editorial page editors of Maine’s three largest dailies appeared on Maine Public Radio’s “Maine Calling” for their monthly news roundup and commentary. I sent the following email to the panel: “Editorial in PPH criticizes Maine Ethics Commission for declining to investigate Jason Savage/Maine Examiner. No mention of First Amendment/ Citizens United guarantee of protected political speech- how come?”

Their response (starting at 31:30 of Maine Public’s recording) is chilling. Greg Kesich of the Press Herald struggles to defend the lack of reference to protected political speech, recognizing First Amendment rights but noting problems with fake news, lack of accountability and dishonesty. The Bangor Daily News’ Susan Young and Ben Bragdon of the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel pipe up about the need to update rules in the age of social media and its low set-up costs, suggesting that only legacy newspapers are “legitimate” and we need more “good” news consumers. Not one editor thought it necessary to defend the First Amendment; all saw the “need” to abridge political speech.

I discovered I had been temporarily banned from the Press Herald comment section a few days later. Whether it was before or after the “Maine Calling” show, only the Press Herald knows.

Two Maine pundits have since chimed in. Amy Fried blogged that fake news is a public mental health hazard, setting the stage for the need to regulate political speech for the public good. Al Diamon defended the First Amendment, declaring that “political hacks have the same rights as everyone else to operate propaganda sites, even if, like Savage, they’re the sorts of cowards who do so anonymously. Nowhere in the Constitution’s First Amendment does it require the exercise of free speech to be conducted ethically.”

Free speech is under attack nationally from the left and also from President Trump. College campuses have a predilection for suppressing conservative speech in the name of community and public health that University of Maine Professor Fried has channeled. Many believe that “hate speech” as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center is not protected speech. Progressives since Woodrow Wilson have argued that the Constitution is a barrier to “progress” and needs to be changed. In the past, the press, the academy and civil rights groups defended the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion. Today, not so much.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/what-about-free-speech-or-how-i-got-banned-by-the-portland-press-herald/feed/ 0 Thu, 15 Mar 2018 10:05:04 +0000
Dana Milbank: Trump, a purger, could take lessons from the film ‘The Purge’ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/dana-milbank-trump-a-purger-could-take-lessons-from-the-film-the-purge/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/dana-milbank-trump-a-purger-could-take-lessons-from-the-film-the-purge/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1347439 It’s official: President Trump’s 2020 re-election slogan will be lifted from a dystopian thriller in which a white-nationalist U.S. government suspends the rule of law. Variety described the film, “The Purge: Election Year,” as “a squalid B-movie political horror film that plays to our most reptile-brained basic instincts.”

Is there a better description of the Trump presidency?

Trump, at his Saturday night rally, announced his re-election slogan: “Keep America Great!”

Trump floated the slogan 14 months earlier in an interview with my colleague Karen Tumulty, and news reports at the time pointed out that the phrase had been used as a tagline promoting “The Purge: Election Year.” Trump went ahead with it, and why not? Purging is exactly what he’s doing.

On Tuesday, it was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s turn to be purged – announced via tweet. Trump didn’t bother to speak directly with Tillerson before he fired the former ExxonMobil chief, who had cut short a trip to Africa, where he was cleaning up for Trump’s “shithole” comments.

This was much the way Trump purged FBI Director James Comey, who learned of his firing from cable news while giving a speech in Los Angeles. And it’s similar to how Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, was purged, and how Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Rod Rosenstein likely would have been purged if Trump had his druthers, and how national security adviser H.R. McMaster will probably be purged soon.

Many others whose qualifications for service do not include sycophancy – from the regional immigration spokesman who quit rather than defend falsehoods up to top economics aide Gary Cohn – have self-purged rather than suffer more debasement. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis may soon be the last one standing between Trump and his nuclear button.

A common thread among Trump’s purge victims: discomfort with his abiding affection for Vladimir Putin. It’s probably no mere coincidence that Tillerson’s last significant action before his firing was to issue a statement calling Russia “an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states.” Tillerson concurred with Britain’s assessment of a nerve-agent attack, telling reporters the attack on British soil “clearly came from Russia.” The White House had avoided blaming Russia, asserting Britain was still “working through … some of the details.”

The Trump White House similarly shied from criticizing Putin for saying, in an interview broadcast over the weekend, that the election interference may have been done by “Jews” who have Russian citizenship but “are not even Russians.” Likewise, the Trump administration has resisted imposing sanctions on Russia or spending money designated for countering Russia’s election interference.

Each baffling capitulation to Putin revives the long-standing question: Does Russia have some leverage over Trump? If that’s the explanation, Trump might need to crib more material from “The Purge.”

In the film series, the government provides a 12-hour period once a year in which any crime, including murder, is legal. For Trump, a purge week would be more practical. On Monday, foreigners would be free to manipulate U.S. elections. On Tuesday, it would be legal to obstruct justice. On Wednesday, ethics laws would be suspended, allowing government officials to boost their private businesses. On Thursday, sexual harassment and assault laws would be void. On Friday, it would be legal for foreigners to use nerve agents on U.S. soil.

It’s already legal for Trump to purge from his government anybody who has the temerity to display independent thought. And Tillerson did that, differing with Trump over the Paris climate accord, neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and dealing with Qatar, Venezuela, Afghanistan and Iran. Tillerson, who never exactly denied that he had called Trump a “moron,” drew a public rebuke from Trump for “trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un.

Their most consequential disagreement was surely about Russia. Tillerson was reportedly stunned that Trump took Putin’s denials of election meddling at face value (“when he tells me that, he means it“).

Tillerson’s designated successor, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, auditioned for the new job on “Fox News Sunday,” saying “the Russians attempted to interfere” in the election, but “there’s not been a single indication” Russia succeeded.

That guy who called Russia “an irresponsible force of instability in the world”? He doesn’t work here anymore. Russia is harmless. Putin is benign.

The Purge is working.

Dana Milbank is a columnist for The Washington Post. He can be contacted at:


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/dana-milbank-trump-a-purger-could-take-lessons-from-the-film-the-purge/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/07/472450_Box-Office.JPEG-0c7d0.jpgA scene from the film, “The Purge: Anarchy” is shown in an image from Universal pictures.Wed, 14 Mar 2018 16:26:05 +0000
Maine Voices: Why not turn a snow day into a work-at-home day for students, teachers? https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/maine-voices-why-not-turn-a-snow-day-into-a-work-at-home-day-for-studentsstaying-at-home-because-of-bad-weather-is-not-a-reason-to-avoid-a-productive-instructional-day/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/maine-voices-why-not-turn-a-snow-day-into-a-work-at-home-day-for-studentsstaying-at-home-because-of-bad-weather-is-not-a-reason-to-avoid-a-productive-instructional-day/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1347471 SCARBOROUGH — “I cannot believe that the kids are going to have another snow day tomorrow,” my daughter said Monday, as Portland faced another nor’easter. “This is the seventh one this year!”

Like other districts around Maine, Portland wound up canceling school Wednesday as well as Tuesday – and as a former teacher and administrator myself, I fully understand parents’ and teachers’ frustration with the thought of another day of kids staying home and watching TV or playing video games.

My oldest grandson is taking the SATs in just weeks; my daughter complained that she would have to follow him around all day to be sure that he spent time practicing vocabulary skills while she and her husband attempted to work from home. The other children, who have no assigned work, would be outside playing and sneaking junk food.

This disruption is just as frustrating to teachers, who are trying to cram an overzealous curriculum into a shortened time frame. “It’s really hard to teach a new concept or skill on one day and then have the next day off without reinforcing,” said one of my other daughters, a middle school teacher. “We have to reintroduce the material and, in fact, are behind another day of instruction.” With all the testing that’s now required, we are losing more and more time to non-instructional days. If the students do poorly on state assessments, teachers are held responsible. They need time to do their job.

These days, many parents are working from home. Why can’t teachers and the students do the same? All middle and high school students in Maine are assigned laptops to take home from school. Why can’t teachers post assignments right on the computer on emergency “stay at home” days? A well-planned schedule could allow a social studies teacher, for example, to teach a lesson online, followed by an English teacher handing out a reading and writing assignment. Students can participate online and submit work directly into an inbox as they currently do in many of their classes.

For the younger students, who do not have computers assigned to them, their assignments can be sent to their parents’ emails, the same way all schools now communicate directly to parents. A second-grade teacher, for example, can email a writing prompt that allows a student to write about the main character in the book they’re reading in class. They can read the next chapter in their assigned leveled book or, if they did not bring it home, another book that they have at home.

If having materials readily available at home is an issue, a teacher can have a prepared emergency packet in every student’s book bag ready to go for a stay-at-home day. Teachers have an emergency packet ready for the substitute teacher on days they call in sick. So why not one ready for students? It can be filled with a reading article, writing prompts, practice math problems and a nonfiction social studies or science article with vocabulary and comprehension questions. These materials can be completed and returned the next day for evaluation by the teachers.

Although teachers are paid for the days when they are told to stay home, they find their calendar extended in June to cover the mandatory 175 days a year of classes. The extended calendars are sometimes a problem for summer camps and for the many teachers and students who work over summer vacation. If teachers and students work on at-home days with evidence-based assignments, then there may not be a need to hold classes in the summer.

The teachers can also have professional development videos made available to them to watch at home. Faculty meetings, team meetings and departmental meetings can allot time to discuss these new ideas with staff after the snow day. Early-release days have always been too few for sufficient teacher training time, so why not use snow days as an opportunity to extend teacher learning? Teachers can also use online chats to work together on interdisciplinary projects. Staying home because of weather is not a reason for students or teachers to not make the most of an instructional day.

More and more adults work from home, charter schools are offering online education, colleges are offering online courses, professional development for teachers is available online – let’s get these kids online learning and not just playing. Working together we should be able to expand the range of higher-level, challenging assignments that can be completed independently at home, with parents, grandparents or in open day care facilities. There is too much to learn and too little time for kids to continue to miss days of instruction for snow, power outages, prank phone calls, flu season and real threats to their safety.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/maine-voices-why-not-turn-a-snow-day-into-a-work-at-home-day-for-studentsstaying-at-home-because-of-bad-weather-is-not-a-reason-to-avoid-a-productive-instructional-day/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/CM-snow-clear-2.jpgThu, 15 Mar 2018 10:05:40 +0000
Our View: Expensive tax overhaul wrong move for Maine https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/our-view-hedy-6/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/our-view-hedy-6/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1347503 A tax conformity bill should be some of the Legislature’s most boring work, up there with consent calendars and quorum calls.

But lawmakers should not be lulled to sleep this year when they consider bringing the state tax code up to date with changes made in Washington.

That’s because Congress did much more than tweak the tax code last year, distributing $1.5 trillion in borrowed money to corporations and wealthy individuals. And Gov. LePage is using that federal action as an occasion to propose a major tax overhaul of his own, handing out tax cuts worth $88 million in the current budget and blowing a $115 million hole in the next one.

When the Taxation Committee meets Thursday for a public hearing on the bill, its members should remember that tax conformity is supposed to be boring. This is not the time to rewrite the tax code, especially not in a way that favors the same people who are getting the most benefit from the tax breaks that Congress passed last year.

The most expensive part of LePage’s package is a revved-up depreciation schedule for businesses that would cost the state $55 million in the current budget, according to an analysis by the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

This is a tax break designed to promote growth by speeding up the schedule under which companies write off their investments. But companies can get tax relief for buying new equipment that they would have bought without the state’s help. Stockholders of highly profitable businesses would be able to pocket a reward for planned investments, while the rest of Maine taxpayers have to make up the difference in the state budget.

And national businesses that have a presence in Maine could get a partial tax break for plant and equipment improvements made in another state, even though Maine would see none of the new jobs or other economic benefits.

LePage also proposes tax breaks that help the state’s wealthiest residents. For instance, he backs doubling the amount of tax-free inheritance from $11.2 million to $22 million. There are only about 20 Maine families that pay any estate tax at the current level, and giving them this break would cost the state an estimated $4.5 million.

And even tax relief that sounds as if it is aimed at middle-income families would give the wealthiest families even more tax relief than they have gotten elsewhere. For instance, a 0 percent tax bracket for income below $4,500 for single filers means some people would owe no income tax at all. But the same exclusion would be extended to the first $4,500 that every taxpayer reports, cutting the tax bill for the rich as well as the poor. A proposed $500 child credit is not refundable, so it would help parents with higher tax liability (because they have higher incomes) more than it would help those who are struggling.

Midway through a two-year budget and only a month away from the Legislature’s official adjournment date is no time to start work on a bill this complicated and far-reaching. The next governor and Legislature will be sworn in next January, in time to make any changes Maine people need before filing their 2018 taxes.

In the meantime, Maine lawmakers have enough to do without getting so excited about tax conformity.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/our-view-hedy-6/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1347503_102024-20180306_BIWtaxes_7.jpgSupporters of L.D. 1781 fill the Taxation Committee hearing room last week at the State House. Lawmakers should be careful when considering a bill to bring Maine tax law into conformity with the federal tax law passed this year.Wed, 14 Mar 2018 23:40:50 +0000
Bill Nemitz: The cure for bad office holders is good candidates to run against them https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/bill-nemitz-the-cure-for-bad-office-holders-is-good-ones-running-against-them/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/15/bill-nemitz-the-cure-for-bad-office-holders-is-good-ones-running-against-them/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1347524 As the late, great playwright Tennessee Williams once wrote, “A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff nature replaces it with.”

Including flying dinosaurs.

Two news stories this week, both by Steve Collins of the Sun Journal in Lewiston, demonstrated in wildly varying detail what can happen when reasonable, responsible people opt not to run for elective office.

One tale involved a departing member of the Oxford Hills school board who fervently believes, in addition to other knuckleheaded notions, that dinosaurs still flew around “out West” when the cowboys arrived a mere two centuries ago.

The other political tidbit featured a candidate for the Maine Legislature who set off a social media firestorm when he called a student survivor of the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, a “skinhead lesbian.”

Let’s start with the dinosaurs.

Robert Celeste, 74, was the only candidate listed on the ballot when he won his seat on the Oxford Hills School District board in 2016.

That he even wanted to be on the board is itself a mystery – Celeste told the Sun Journal’s Collins that he believes parents should either educate their children at home or send them to a church school.

He also believes the “mixed race” was not created by God, but by “rape, slavery and prostitution.” Yet, he insists that doesn’t make him a racist.

He holds that, according to the Bible, only 6,450 years have passed since Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden, where they previously cavorted peacefully with dinosaurs and other animals. Anyone who thinks otherwise, Celeste insists, “is saying that God lied.”

And speaking of the dinosaurs, he actually does maintain that they still inhabited the Rocky Mountains when cowboys first appeared on the eastern horizon. What happened next, alas, is lost to history.

Finally, Celeste complains that 14-year-old girls wear clothes that are “too provocative” and he wonders why they “want to make me commit adultery.”

Again, people, we’re talking about a guy who was elected two years ago to his local school board. A guy put there, at least in part, by people who saw one name on the ballot, automatically checked it and never gave it another thought.

Celeste stepped down last week, citing his and his wife’s illnesses. In a remarkable moment of self-awareness, he noted, “It’s time for someone else to do it.”

Which brings us to Leslie Gibson of Sabattus.

Gibson, a Republican, wants to be the next state representative from House District 57, where current Rep. Stephen Wood, R-Greene, is term-limited out. For weeks, first-timer Gibson’s candidacy has looked like a lock – as of Wednesday morning, he was the only candidate on file with the secretary of state.

Then came Gibson’s Twitter post in reaction to 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez. She’s one of the many students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland who have spoken out against gun violence since a lone gunman murdered 17 people there on Feb. 14.

“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat,” Gibson wrote on his Twitter feed.

He went on to post that Gonzalez wasn’t a true survivor because “she was in a totally different part of the school” and that David Hogg, another Parkland student who has been critical of the National Rifle Association, is a “bald faced liar.”

Seriously? The guy’s about to go knocking on doors asking people to support him as their elected representative, yet he still has time to go after a couple of traumatized teenagers 1,600 miles away?

Gibson, having apparently received a crash course in civil discourse, later posted an apology to Gonzalez.

“I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you,” he added.

Then, crisis resolved, he flipped the “private” switch on both his personal and campaign Twitter accounts. Transparent he is no longer.

Unlike the Oxford Hills dinosaur expert, Gibson at least revealed his inner self while there was still time to do something about it.

Despite a Democratic organizer’s lament earlier this week that the party couldn’t find someone willing to run against Gibson, Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said Wednesday that the Democratic vacancy on the primary ballot will be filled by today’s 5 p.m. deadline for candidate filings.

“There’s no question that Gibson’s comments have really energized folks in the community and have brought forward more candidate interest,” Bartlett said.

That may not be good for Gibson, who can no longer count on taking the express lane to the State House. But competition, no matter where you may find yourself on the political spectrum, is the fuel that drives democracy.

Subscribe - Nemitz

Running for office, to be sure, takes time, energy and, yes, money.

But it also takes a healthy dose of courage – especially for those driven not by ego or the sound of their own voice, but by a simple desire to make their community, their state, even their world a better place.

It’s too soon to tell how many ballots come November will offer only one choice – which, in the end, is no choice at all.

Even after today’s filing deadline, some of the candidates from both major parties will actually be “place holders” who keep a spot open in the hope that a real candidate can be recruited to take their place before the June primary.

I spoke Wednesday with several of Maine’s top Democrats. To a person, they said they expect 2018 to be a “banner year” for recruiting candidates – many of them motivated by the Trump presidency, the #MeToo movement and, closer to home, such issues as MaineCare expansion and the long-awaited curtain call of Gov. Paul LePage.

On the Republican side, meanwhile, state party spokesman Garrett Murch noted in an email, “Recruiting is always a challenge for all political parties. Here in Maine it is a citizen legislature and people have to make time to serve, and it often doesn’t fit into the lives of many of the good people who would like to run.”

That said, Murch wrote, “We are confident we will field a strong slate of candidates statewide.”

Let’s hope so. On both sides.

No matter what the elected office, nothing sucks worse than a vacuum.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:


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Leonard Pitts: The problem of dealing with a vanishing ability to reason https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/leonard-pitts-the-problem-of-dealing-with-a-vanishing-ability-to-reason/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/leonard-pitts-the-problem-of-dealing-with-a-vanishing-ability-to-reason/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:00:50 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346934 So what should we say to Robert Ussery?

He’s an antagonist in a story of breathtaking emotional cruelty that unfolded last week. It seems Pastor Frank Pomeroy was sitting in his car March 5 near his church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, just east of San Antonio, when, he says, a man and woman approached the building. He says the woman, later identified as 56-year-old Jodi Mann, began defacing a poster left for well-wishers to sign.

Pomeroy intervened. He says it took a moment for Mann and her partner Ussery, 54, to recognize him as the pastor of First Baptist Church, where a Nov. 5 gun massacre left 26 people dead, including Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle. But he says that when they did realize who he was, they began to harangue him that the tragedy never happened.

Pomeroy told the San Antonio Express-News that Ussery yelled at him. “He said: ‘Your daughter never even existed. Show me her birth certificate. Show me anything to say she was here.’ “

Sutherland Springs is not the only massacre Ussery denies. His website, whose name you won’t read here, also describes as “drills using crisis actors” dozens of other mass-casualty events, including the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and the concert bombing in Manchester as well as the shootings in Parkland, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Charleston, South Carolina; Orlando, Florida, and Newtown, Connecticut.

“NO DEAD, NO WOUNDED,” the website crows. Actually, 219 people died in the attacks listed above.

But how do we get Robert Ussery to see that?

The question arises from a recent online discussion with readers after a Gallup-Knight Foundation survey found that 42 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats regard as “fake news” information they know to be accurate if they don’t like what it says.

In a column on media distrust, I wrote that I have no interest in being trusted by that large cohort of us for whom facts command no respect and for whom truth is just a speed bump on the road to Crazy Town.

The issue is not ideology. Rather, it is America’s vanishing ability – and willingness – to reason. And that raises a question: What is the obligation of thinking, moral people in a nation and news cycle increasingly dominated by the demented and controlled by the conspiracist? How do you reason with those who can’t or won’t? Should you even try?

One reader, Paul N. Calmes Jr., responded sharply on Twitter: “Serious people have to stop worrying about appearing fair to those who aren’t interested in facts.”

I tend to agree, but even that’s problematic. It is, after all, a short hop from dismissing people because they are facts-challenged to dismissing them just because they disagree with you. “Facts-challenged” can too easily become an excuse for shutting down a challenging debate. If Calmes’ “serious people” are not careful, they might become what they abhor.

On the other hand, what’s the alternative? What I call “the stupidification of America” crept upon us over the course of a generation.

The road back will be at least as long. In the meantime, our only option is to endure this unraveling of the American mind and try to minimize its damage.

What else can we do?

How do you reason with the person who thinks nobody died at Parkland? Or that Barack Obama was born in Kenya? Or that the U.S. government blew up the World Trade Center?

And really, now, what should we say to Robert Ussery? How do you talk to a man who allegedly stood before the grieving father of a murdered girl and screamed at him that his daughter was not real?

Sorry, but there are no words.

He’s not listening, anyway.

Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for The Miami Herald. He can be contacted at:


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/leonard-pitts-the-problem-of-dealing-with-a-vanishing-ability-to-reason/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/04/PITTS_LEONARD_1_TNS2.jpgTNS Columnist Leonard Pitts. (Olivier Douliery/TNS)Tue, 13 Mar 2018 18:03:12 +0000
Maine Voices: Keep Portland’s waterfront free of nonmarine development https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/maine-voices-keep-portlands-waterfront-free-of-nonmarine-development/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/maine-voices-keep-portlands-waterfront-free-of-nonmarine-development/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346835 SOUTH PORTLAND — Most of the working piers on Portland’s waterfront are privately owned, and this brings challenges to the city.

The public owns Ocean Gateway Terminal, the Maine State Pier-Casco Bay Ferry Terminal, the Portland Fish Pier and the Marine Terminal with the Eimskip container port. Public ownership should not be a problem if city leaders are careful with the management of these resource-based piers, which require wise stewardship. It is their job to guard the public trust by maintaining access to the sea for commerce, navigation and the harvesting of products from the ocean.

Private piers that lack active public-private stewardship, however, are subject to changing market pressures, and, in Portland, are rapidly succumbing to upscale, nonmarine development that is pricing and crowding out the fishing industry and related businesses. Permanent structures such as condominiums, parking garages, office buildings and hotels lock out present and future resource-based needs.

A deep-water seaport city can never foresee what important, even critical, uses that its piers may serve in the future. Known uses include visiting military vessels; during World War II, Portland Harbor hosted a huge military presence (after the war, in 1949, the aircraft carrier USS Sicily docked at the Maine State Pier). Other necessary uses include sea-products landing and handling, research, transportation, the import and export of bulk cargo and other kinds of interstate and international commerce.

A seaport city must protect waterfront land, and sometimes leave it idle as it awaits new marine development that will respond to new needs. Our harbor is uniquely located at the hub of all forms of transportation – sea, air, rail and highway – and, thus, is open to many opportunities, known and unknown.

Portlanders in 1987 understood this, and voted overwhelmingly to protect the working waterfront from threatening nonmarine uses. They were alarmed by the sweep of condo and office buildings that were gobbling up the central waterfront. As a result of that nonmarine takeover, what was once the most successful working waterfront pier is today a condo pier, and the city is presently reviewing the first zone change application for a hotel and parking garage there. Among other harms, such a development will further exacerbate the near-standstill traffic congestion on Commercial Street – the street that is as important to the conduct of marine industry as the industry’s access to the water is.

Unfortunately, rather than public-private collaboration to ensure the sustainability of the private piers by using marketing programs to attract marine tenants, developing public-private pier maintenance projects or providing tax relief, for example, City Hall repeatedly surrendered to pressures from pier owners to loosen the zoning to allow more and more nonmarine development.

But while this upscale, nonmarine fever swept the central and eastern waterfronts, Portland officials did not loosen the 1987 zoning on the less-pressured western waterfront. Eventually, the city worked with the state to pave the way for the impressive Eimskip international container port that is developing there, including plans for a state-of-the-art cold-storage facility that will be a boon to Maine producers, giving proof to the wisdom of giving the waterfront time to fulfill its promise. Boat overhaul, marine construction and a busy cargo port fill out the rest of the western waterfront.

Now, the city of Portland is finally doing the right thing on the central waterfront. Plans for the Maine State Pier are no longer centered on permanent hotels and other upscale amenities, but rather on developing a public seafood market and possibly a marine incubator. City officials want to attract more water-related industry there and to provide a marketplace for new and existing sea-based businesses. Unlike hotels and office buildings, it will be flexible space and thus available for future needs. That is good stewardship of a finite public resource.

This plan, if adopted, will also signal that the city is committed to maintaining that crucial east anchor to the threatened central working waterfront on this last bit of available public property there. Another piece of great waterfront news would be the city-state purchase of one or more privately owned piers and the provision of small-boat berthing at the Portland Fish Pier.

But, now, we celebrate the city’s plan to do the right thing at the Maine State Pier. Hotels, condos, office buildings, restaurants and retail businesses can be successful on the other side of the street.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/maine-voices-keep-portlands-waterfront-free-of-nonmarine-development/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/12/1306790_667507-Cat.jpgFerry operations between Portland and Nova Scotia may be uninterrupted next year if the city can come up with $2 million for new equipment and other improvements demanded by federal border authorities at the ferry terminal. Service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, was jeopardized when U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it would stop screening vehicles at the Ocean Gateway terminal next year unless the city paid for roughly $7 million in upgrades promised when the Canadian ferry service resumed in 2014. Portland officials said they would not be able to pay the entire bill, which would have effectively scuttled the Cat high-speed ferry service.Wed, 14 Mar 2018 17:01:24 +0000
Commentary: Don’t let those who can’t get top-security clearance run for president https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/commentary-dont-let-those-who-cant-get-top-security-clearance-run-for-president/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/commentary-dont-let-those-who-cant-get-top-security-clearance-run-for-president/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346982 I served as Peace Corps country director from 2008 to 2012. My first two-year assignment was in Micronesia and Palau. For the second two years, I managed the Peace Corps program in six small island nations in the eastern Caribbean. In order to be appointed to these jobs, I first needed top-secret security clearance.

This seemed excessive. Why would a Peace Corps country director need access to top-secret information?

It turns out the reason for the clearance requirement was that I was also a member of the U.S. Embassy team in the countries where I was working. In this role, I was invited to weekly or monthly team meetings in the secure section of the embassy.

“Secret” information might be discussed at these meetings, and they didn’t want to have to deal with tracking who had clearance and who did not. If you were on the senior embassy team, you were required to have top-secret clearance. There are tens of thousands of U.S. government employees worldwide who are required to have top-secret clearance.

An example of “secret” information that might be discussed at a team meeting would be if a U.S. Navy ship were patrolling in local waters. This turned out to be useful information to me if I had a Peace Corps volunteer on a remote island who needed an emergency evacuation for medical or severe weather reasons.

When I was being vetted, a government investigator came to Maine for several days and interviewed my neighbors and my colleagues. They also asked me to provide names of several people who had known me for over 10 years. The investigator interviewed these folks and also some people whose names I did not give them. I believe they also looked at my tax returns and other financial records.

I was told that the investigator was looking for “problems” – money problems, boyfriend-girlfriend problems, drinking and/or drug problems, extramarital affair problems, etc.

I was informed that if I had a drunken-driving conviction or a personal bankruptcy on my record, I would not have been approved. The reason for this is that people who have these types of problems are thought to be vulnerable to manipulation by foreign agents.

I had not thought much about all of this until the recent attention given to the inability of several high-level members of the Trump administration to obtain top-secret clearance. President Trump seems to have put together a team of rogues whose personal lives are rife with these types of problems. Consequently, they are not able to get top-secret clearance.

Then I started to think about President Trump himself. He is the poster child for these types of problems. Bankruptcies? Check. Girlfriend problems? Check. Extramarital affairs? Check. Questionable foreign business dealings? Check. Supposedly he does not drink, so he gets a pass on that one. However, there is no doubt in my mind that he would not qualify for top-secret clearance under the normal criteria.

This seems crazy to me. We give access on day one to our nation’s most sensitive secrets – not to mention the nuclear launch codes – to a person who, in any other senior government position, we would deem to be not trustworthy.

We require that in order to run for president, a candidate must have been born in the United States. Should we pass a new law that requires that the candidate must also be able to achieve top-secret security clearance? Is this not just common sense?

I propose we call this new law the “Trump Amendment.” This way, President Trump will have made at least one positive contribution to our future national security.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/commentary-dont-let-those-who-cant-get-top-security-clearance-run-for-president/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1346982_kushner-japan-bae22938-26d2-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68.jpgPresidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, right, was recently stripped of his top-secret security clearance, and Donald Trump wouldn't qualify if he weren't president.Tue, 13 Mar 2018 18:33:39 +0000
Our View: As Maine’s jobless claims system fails, state blames those hit hardest https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/our-view-as-maines-jobless-claims-system-fails-state-blames-those-hit-hardest/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/our-view-as-maines-jobless-claims-system-fails-state-blames-those-hit-hardest/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346998 Another week, another story that calls into question the LePage administration’s ability to execute the basic tasks of governance.

Just a few days after a legislative committee opened an investigation into the deaths of two girls involved with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, raising questions about whether the department’s seemingly overburdened caseworkers have been getting the resources they need, the Morning Sentinel reported a similar situation in the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Unemployment Compensation.

In a confidential internal memo obtained by Sentinel reporter Colin Ellis, an unnamed Department of Labor employee details how the implementation of a new unemployment claims system went awry, a development that the memo says was met with indifference by senior managers. As a result, benefits for thousands of Mainers were delayed or denied altogether.

Worse, the managerial indifference may have grown out of contempt for the people receiving benefits that they are entitled to.

The allegations in the memo are backed by two former temporary employees who talked to the Sentinel, as well as by the experiences of numerous Mainers who have come forward to describe how the new system failed them.

The new system, ReEmployME, was launched in December, despite continuing problems with its use in Mississippi and against the judgment of some employees. It went online just as the number of claims jumps as seasonal employees are let go. From all evidence, the system could not handle the demands on it.

According to the memo, claimants were wrongly told to use their old usernames and passwords on the new system, which quickly locked them out. Because only select personnel were able to unlock an account and reset passwords, the calls hit a bottleneck, and the overflow calls, many from recently laid-off first-time claimants, were sent to voicemail.

Employees worked overtime and more temporary workers were brought in, but they couldn’t keep up. Claimants were told to go to regional career centers for help, but the centers weren’t trained properly.

Eventually, according to the memo and the former employees, the voicemail was shut off, the staff was ordered not to take any more messages, and the voicemails left for the office, now written on pieces of paper collected in a basket, were removed to the director’s office and never seen again.

Meanwhile, those who could not properly complete their claims in time had their accounts shut down and their claims denied.

The bureau’s director, John Feeney, told legislators last month that the problems were the result of user error. But he also said the phone lines were open, which has been refuted by an endless stream of claimants, many of whom sat on hold for hours before their calls were dropped without explanation.

Instead, the memo and former employees describe a department where morale has cratered, and where senior managers are uninterested in helping claimants, who were being disparaged in a way familiar to followers of the LePage administration.

“They think it’s a welfare thing,” one of the employees told the Sentinel. “They don’t realize these people are suffering. They don’t want to help at all.”

Launching an unfinished system during a busy time of the year with an ill-prepared staff points to incompetence. Using that failing system to deny benefits to people who need and deserve them is something quite different.

Once again, a breakdown in government is causing misery, and once again, we are left wondering if it’s on purpose.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/14/our-view-as-maines-jobless-claims-system-fails-state-blames-those-hit-hardest/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1346998_988937-20180209-Faith-You2-e1520995362295.jpgOne of the many Mainers who's struggled with the new jobless benefits claims system, Faith Young of Fairfield waited for hours on the phone and went to the career center in Bangor – but her questions went unanswered.Tue, 13 Mar 2018 22:43:21 +0000
Our View: Without drug treatment for addicted parents, their children will suffer https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/our-view-drug-treatment-needed-for-addicted-parents/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/our-view-drug-treatment-needed-for-addicted-parents/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346303 Nine hundred and twenty-seven Maine babies came into the world affected by the opioids that circulated through their mothers’ bodies during pregnancy, in 2013 alone. One of them was Kendall Chick.

Kendall died in Wiscasset on Dec. 8, just days after her fourth birthday, a result, police say, of blunt-force injuries to her abdomen, believed to have been delivered by her foster mother, Shawna Gatto, who has been charged with murder.

Kendall’s death, along with the suspected child-abuse killing of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy last month in Stockton Springs, is the subject of a legislative probe into the state’s child protective system, to see how it could have failed so badly. It’s important to look at their deaths and understand what went wrong to try to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

But at least in Kendall Chick’s case, understanding what happened before she was born is also important. It’s not just her death but also her life that they should explore to answer some basic questions about what went wrong. For instance:

 Did Kendall’s mother have access to birth control?

Was her mother in addiction treatment before or after she gave birth?

Did her parents get the support they needed to fight a drug habit and care for a small child at the same time?

Did her mother have any of the co-occurring mental health problems commonly found in people with substance use disorders, and did she have access to care for those problems?

Six years into the opioid epidemic, the problem of drug-affected babies is often misunderstood as primarily an issue of the baby’s health.

That’s part of it, but the bigger problem by far is the environment of the family that the new baby joins. Parents who are driven by a compulsive need for drugs live disordered lives, and are often unable to put their child’s welfare ahead of their own. A baby girl like Kendall, born with an opioid dependency, will overcome withdrawal symptoms much sooner than she can overcome a chaotic home or a mother who is not mentally or physically present.

Although the medical community is virtually unanimous in the opinion that addiction is a chronic disease that responds to treatment, too many policymakers still act as if it were a sign of personal weakness. But even if you think that opioid-dependent people deserve to suffer, their children do not. Every one of the nearly 5,000 drug-affected children born in Maine since 2013 deserves a chance at a healthy life, no matter how badly their parents behaved.

The shortage of treatment beds in Maine has been well established, but when the person who needs treatment is also a mother of a young child, the problem gets much more complicated. A mother can’t just disappear from her baby’s side unless she has extraordinary support. This is what led the Maine Judicial Branch to create family treatment drug courts to oversee parents’ progress in drug treatment when they are involved in child removal proceedings.

Parenting isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, and a parent under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not operating under anything near the best circumstances. According to research by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, children of parents who abuse drugs or alcohol are more likely to experience abuse or neglect. They are less likely to have enough to eat. They are more likely to be placed in foster care, and they stay there longer.

Kendall Chick’s life was short and filled with pain. She deserved better.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/our-view-drug-treatment-needed-for-addicted-parents/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1346303_186779-Kendall-Chick3-e1520911720930.jpgKendall Chick died in December from injuries police say were sustained through abuse by her foster parent. Her problems did not start there, however, as she was born to a mother who used opioids.Mon, 12 Mar 2018 23:29:32 +0000
Kathleen Parker: We’re off to the races again, and Republicans might take a licking https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/kathleen-parker-were-off-to-the-races-again-and-republicans-might-take-a-licking/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/kathleen-parker-were-off-to-the-races-again-and-republicans-might-take-a-licking/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346263 You may have missed the starting shot, but the midterm races officially began last week with the Texas primaries. On Tuesday, voters in southwestern Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District headed to the polls for a special election to fill the seat left vacant by Republican Tim Murphy.

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic – or downright giddy – 2018 promises to be as significant, if not more so given the stakes, as 2010, when Republicans wrested the House of Representatives from Democrats amid tea party turbulence and early chants of “repeal and replace.”

Whether November will produce a blue wave crashing down on a crimson tide – or an estrogen rout of the testosterone swamp – remains to be seen. But early signs suggest that Republicans will have to scratch and fight to keep their dwindling majorities (41 have left or aren’t seeking re-election) in the House and Senate.

Even, perhaps, in Texas.

Republican voters, who are usually more attentive to primaries than Democrats are, did outperform in turnout there – 1.5 million to just 1 million. One clear Democratic winner was three-term Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a youngish (45), Kennedy-esque liberal who won a three-way Senate primary to face Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in the fall.

Cruz is up for re-election after a dramatic first term in Washington, which has included the 2013 government shutdown that he essentially engineered (even on the House side) and, memorably, a 21-hour floor speech against Obamacare that detoured into a reading of “Green Eggs and Ham.” Cruz’s attachment to childlike expression seems stable. In an attempt to deflate O’Rourke’s primary victory, Cruz released a country-song radio ad that croons:

“I remember reading stories liberal Robert wanted to fit in, So he changed his name to ‘Beto’ and hid it with a grin.”

Cruz’s insinuation that O’Rourke changed his name to appeal to Latino voters is true only if you count the Democrat’s toddler years as predictive of future shape-shifting. Apparently, Beto, short for Roberto, became his nickname when, as a small child, he lived among mostly Latino neighbors in El Paso. To put an end to this silliness, O’Rourke produced a photo of himself as a tyke wearing a sweater emblazoned with “Beto.” One would think Cruz would be more sympathetic to a child just trying to fit in, especially since he tweaked his own given middle name, Edward, to become Ted.

If this were a race between Robert O’Rourke and Rafael Cruz, who knows?

The upcoming Pennsylvania race is a sorta sordid affair, thanks to the previous occupant of the seat in play. Murphy, a professed abortion opponent, seemed to suggest that a woman with whom he’d had an affair should seek an abortion when the two thought she might be pregnant. Incensed when she spotted a March for Life posting on his public Facebook account, she texted him: “And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week …”

If Republicans were looking for an undramatic candidate to replace him, they succeeded with the lackluster Rick Saccone, whose campaign has failed to bestir enthusiasm and even prompted a scolding from Republican leadership. The potential embarrassment of losing in a district Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points is bad enough. Worse would be the conclusion that Trump’s support is a deficit rather than a plus, as was the case in Alabama’s special Senate election last year when Roy Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

Meanwhile, Saccone’s Democratic opponent, Conor Lamb, could have significant crossover appeal. An Ivy League-educated Marine veteran and former prosecutor, Lamb reportedly likes shooting machine guns and has suggested that he wouldn’t support Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives should Democrats win control in November.

In 2010, Republicans hailed their triumphant sweep as a referendum on President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Tuesday’s election may not foretell the future – and the Lamb-Saccone match is, indeed, a special circumstance – but any Republican loss now would give Democrats a lift and create momentum for races to come.

As Trump marches on to his own very-special drummer, lending status to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by agreeing to meet with him and slapping allies with punitive tariffs, it couldn’t come at a better time.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post. She can be contacted at:


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/kathleen-parker-were-off-to-the-races-again-and-republicans-might-take-a-licking/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/Pennsylvania-election.jpgRetired coal miner David Fibazzo, left pointing, of Coal Center, places his hat on top of Democratic candidate Conor Lamb's head during a rally with the United Mine Workers of America, Sunday, March 11, 2018, at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg, Pa. Lamb is asking Pennsylvania's coal country for help in the first congressional election of 2018, viewed as a key test of support for Republicans ahead of November's midterms. (Antonella Crescimbeni/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)Mon, 12 Mar 2018 21:00:46 +0000
Maine’s House speaker: As young people press for action on gun violence, we are listening https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/speaker-gideon-as-maines-young-people-press-for-action-on-gun-violence-we-are-listening/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/speaker-gideon-as-maines-young-people-press-for-action-on-gun-violence-we-are-listening/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346264 AUGUSTA — One month ago this Wednesday, an alarm was pulled. And the lives of the students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were changed forever.

Like so many of us, I can’t stop thinking about those kids. I am haunted by their faces, their names, their parents’ stories of who they were, what they dreamed of and how they died.

And as not only a mother, but also as speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, I don’t just imagine “if they were my kids … .” Instead, I feel they are my kids. They are all of our kids.

For me, something deep and unalterable shifted during a conversation with my son Julian the day after the Parkland shooting. It was the moment when he said to me, “Come on, Mom, you know it will just keep happening. What is there to stop it?”

My son – my high schooler – simply accepting that there was nothing that could be done to put an end to dangerous weapons of war entering our schools. And putting the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of every adult who has any power to change that, including me.

The senseless tragedy that occurred in Florida has awoken a nation and ignited a passion in students, both in Maine and across the country. The alarm that started in Parkland has not stopped ringing, but it now sounds to demand change in state legislatures across the country. On Wednesday, as kids across Maine walk out of schools, I want them to know that we are listening. That their voices matter. That, without question, they are making a difference.

The resiliency, the energy and the activism of these students will be what forces meaningful reform to finally happen. Because the sad truth is that they are the ones suffering for the lack of responsibility of our government.

Instead of closing loopholes, we have forced teachers to make 6-year-olds practice being quiet and hiding under their desks. Instead of restricting high-capacity magazines, we install cameras and self-locking doors. Instead of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, this country is actually having a serious conversation about arming teachers.

I challenge every single lawmaker to ask themselves why our kids are braver when they go into school than we are when we cast our votes.

Lawmakers in Augusta will have the chance to answer this question when considering An Act To Create a Community Protection Order. This “red flag” legislation would allow police officers or family members to ask a court to issue a community protection order against someone who is considered at risk of harming themselves or others. This order would help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, something we’ve tragically failed to do time and again.

Our opponents will tell us that we’ll never be able to stop every gunman and prevent every shooting, but the truth is, red flag laws can help. The process creates an opportunity to intervene before warning signs escalate into murder.

Looking forward, I am determined to do everything possible to bring Democrats, Republicans and independents together to work on keeping our kids safe and preventing gun violence. Because I might not be president or a member of Congress, but I am speaker of the Maine House. I am an elected official. I am a parent. And I intend to do my part to answer the challenge of my son and every student across the country demanding action.


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Maine Voices: Proficiency-based education system? We have been here before https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/maine-voices-proficiency-based-education-system-we-have-been-here-before/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/maine-voices-proficiency-based-education-system-we-have-been-here-before/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1346293 SKOWHEGAN — The problems outlined in your recent article “Lawmakers offer no clarity on Maine’s new graduation guidelines” (Feb. 21) may have come as a surprise to many readers, but not to older teachers.

In the late 1990s, Maine tried to put in place a standards-based educational program called Maine Learning Results. Like the proficiency-based system that is going to be put into operation this year, Maine Learning Results involved devising local assessments and objective grading practices, developing a records system and selecting a date (graduating class of 2008) when meeting all standards was to be a graduation requirement.

School districts held meeting after meeting to educate the public and teachers on what standards-based education meant, and teachers dedicated after-school hours and in-service days to develop the new curriculum and assessments. It was a contentious period filled with the type of conflict and internal struggles that any revolutionary change brings with it. Working relationships among educators were strained and rifts developed that would take years to heal.

It is hard to describe how betrayed the true believers felt when the Department of Education scrapped the whole program in 2003.

There were several reasons why Maine Learning Results failed, and why the present version will ultimately take the same path.

We have all been in the position of trying to meet a tough standard, and failing. Usually, if we want to succeed, we re-train, practice and try again. In education, this is called “remediation.”

While every school has a remediation plan, consider the depth of the problem. If, for example, you teach ninth-grade math, and you’re required to get your class to the point where they can solve for an unknown, it seems a simple thing to isolate the kids who can’t and give them more instruction.

What do you do, however, when those students are working at a fourth-grade math level? Remediating a lesson is easy, but remediating five years of math instruction is quite another thing. If you think that a secondary student with a fourth-grade grasp of math is unusual, consider that only 38 percent of Maine students in the last Maine Educational Assessment met standard expectations for proficiency in math! The story is the same in literacy and science education.

Each of Maine’s 242 school districts will approach standards-based education in a different way. Although the Department of Education has some general guidelines about what instruction and assessment should look like, they will not discredit any program that comes within shouting distance of what they envision. Some schools will take this very seriously; others will not. One guidance counselor told me that her district’s remediation plan was to have the counselors schedule one-on-one sessions, review the standard and make a new determination at the end of the meeting. Although she seemed normal, the absurdity of this plan was completely lost on her.

If you install a real standard in a system that has never had one before, you must expect an increase in the number of people who do not graduate. Going back to our example of statewide math assessment, one can see that 62 percent of students are not going to meet any standard similar to what the state tests for. Let’s suppose that of that 62 percent, three-quarters can be remediated to meet the standard. That still leaves 16 percent of Maine students failing to graduate. This is an intolerable situation that local politics will quash. Simply paying for the staff necessary for a fifth year of high school will kill most serious attempts to meet standards.

Because there will be no increased funding for a fifth year of secondary education or significant remedial instruction, educators will make as many exceptions and loopholes in the law as they can. They will find a number of ways to blur expectations and maintain their graduation and promotion rates. The “failed to meet standards” diploma or “guidance counselor as remediator” are two of them. More will come about as time goes on.

Data such as test and local assessment results will be fudged. It will not be a conscious decision, but local educators will have to always move along a path of least resistance when faced with the impossible task of getting everyone to meet a standard that only a slim majority can effectively fulfill.

Graduation rates will remain stable, and the percentage of students meeting the state’s standards will not get any better.

If we really want public education to make this leap, we are going to have to sacrifice for it. In the end, people always get what they pay for. I’m betting that taxes trump education on this one.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/13/maine-voices-proficiency-based-education-system-we-have-been-here-before/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/06/727217_354420-20170602-Madison-G9.jpgMadison Area Memorial High School graduates file into the school gymnasium for their commencement ceremony Friday in Madison.Mon, 12 Mar 2018 20:39:04 +0000
Our View: Care for disabled adults needs better oversight https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/12/our-view-care-for-disabled-adults-needs-better-oversight/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/12/our-view-care-for-disabled-adults-needs-better-oversight/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345550 A federal report released last year on the way Maine cares for adults with developmental disabilities revealed a flawed system lacking real oversight.

Not only did the Department of Health and Human Services fail for 21/2 years to follow federal requirements and state law in investigating incidents in which care was compromised, but there was no one to make sure that it did. In a fractured system of care overseen by a massive department with many complex responsibilities, it was too easy for things to fall through the cracks.

Two bills now before the Legislature would correct that, providing checks and balances on the care of hundreds of intellectually disabled adults who live in group homes under supervision of DHHS. Lawmakers should pass these bills, and give these Mainers and their families the protection they deserve.

The report, released last August from the U.S. Office of Inspector General, found that community-based providers regularly failed to report to the state incidents in which adults in their care were taken to the emergency room. Of the “critical incidents” reported to the state – such as hospital visits, abuse and neglect claims, medication issues, or exploitation – just 5 percent were investigated by DHHS.

The report also found that DHHS failed to investigate the deaths of 133 individuals in state care. The department argued this point, saying it had in fact further examined 54 of these deaths, but could not provide documentation.

Following the publication of the report, families reached out to the Portland Press Herald to say they had experienced a number of problems, including group homes in poor condition and a lack of communication from DHHS.

The department has argued that it was aware of the problems revealed in the report, and that they have since been fixed. The period covered by the report was “a time of significant transition” for the department, a spokeswoman said, as a number of offices were being merged.

It was also after the 2011 elimination of the Office of Advocacy within DHHS, which previously investigated complaints from family members of those receiving state services. With it went one avenue for making sure the system was working as it should.

The bills before the Legislature would add some oversight where it was lost.

Following one of the recommendations in the OIG report, L.D. 1676, from Rep. Dale Denno, D-Cumberland, would create a position within DHHS for a registered nurse who would review all deaths and serious injuries within the system, and forward those that need closer examination to a cross-disciplinary panel.

The minority report on the bill suggests instead using a similar body with the Office of the Attorney General, which could be satisfactory if that panel can handle the workload.

L.D. 1709, from Rep. Jennifer Parker, D-South Berwick, would re-invigorate the Maine Development Services & Advisory Board. The independent board previously reviewed deaths of adults under state care to look for trends and systemic problems, and report annually to the governor and Legislature. However, DHHS stopped sending records to the board, and Gov. Paul LePage stopped acting on member nominations, following a dispute over confidentiality, stopping its work.

Together, these bills will bring much-needed internal and external oversight to a system that desperately needs it. DHHS may say it is fixed, but the families of Mainers with developmental disabilities deserve more than those assurances. They need to know that if things go wrong again, this time, someone will be watching.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/12/our-view-care-for-disabled-adults-needs-better-oversight/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1345550_155406_20170816_dhhsaudit_2.jpgFamilies of people with developmental disabilities have been waiting a long time for the state to live up to the promises it made to replace the Pineland Center with community based care.Sun, 11 Mar 2018 17:27:54 +0000
Maine Voices: St. Patrick’s Day is perfect time to toast Irish and American rebels https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/12/maine-voices-st-patrick-searching-for-symbols-adequate-to-our-predicament/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/12/maine-voices-st-patrick-searching-for-symbols-adequate-to-our-predicament/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345799 KENNEBUNK — After hundreds in Portland take the plunge into the freezing Atlantic Ocean to inaugurate St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, when the parting glass is raised, some might remain challenged by what poet Seamus Heaney called “a search for images and symbols adequate to our predicament.”

Looking at current threats to our democracy, some would raise the same question Benjamin Franklin was asked in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention: “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A republic … if you can keep it.”

Although the legacy of the Irish is celebrated on March 17, few know it is also a legal holiday in Boston called “Evacuation Day.” Therein lies a direct link between the two March 17 celebrations. St. Patrick bloodlessly liberated the people of the Emerald Isle from the religion of its pagan Celtic ancestors. George Washington’s troops, perched on Dorchester Heights on March 17, 1776, liberated Boston from its hated occupier.

After the evacuation of the British from Boston Harbor, a groundswell toward independence emerged. On July 4, the Second Continental Congress issued its ringing Declaration of Independence.

The structure of our democracy took final shape when the Constitution was crafted as the “supreme law of the United States. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people.”

There are two critical links between Ireland and America: the thousands of Irish immigrants who found refuge in America both before and after the American Revolution, and the identical quest for political independence from England by both the Americans and Irish alike.

The Irish – citizens for centuries – forced to become subjects when their sovereignty was usurped by a king in England, spent the next 700 years trying to regain their status as citizens. Jimmy Cagney’s couplet superbly articulates the British policy toward its neighbors:

“Elizabeth I, the queen called virgin,

Set up the haves and have-nots

By usurping the lands of the old Irish clans

And gave them to Anglos and Scots.

Essex and Raleigh and Cromwell,

All Englishmen of distinction,

Had an overall plan for the old Irish clans

And the overall plan was extinction.”

The founding fathers and mothers of Ireland were energized by America’s quest for independence. The cause of America in 1776 became the cause of Ireland. The solid link between Ireland and America was strengthened in the 19th century as hundreds of thousands fled to America to escape poverty, famine and oppression in Ireland. A conquered people are entitled to recover their freedom when the opportunity presents itself. The 1916 Irish Proclamation of Independence rang out with the familiar words and resonances of our 1776 Declaration: “supported by her exiled children in America … . We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” The Irish Free State was born after a successful war of independence in 1921, and the Irish became citizens once again in their own land.

The digital streaming of imagery of our present dysfunctional Congress and a morally compromised chief executive causes many citizens to struggle to find the words and images that are adequate to express our current predicament. The insight of Alexis de Tocqueville can be read today with the same freshness and clarity as when first published in his “Democracy in America” (1835-40).

He believed that a society, properly structured, could hope to retain liberty for its citizens. But after reminding us that “there are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle,” de Tocqueville issued this timely challenge:

“Everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure.”

The Irish poet Brendan Kennelly in his poem “Begin” provides a verbal image adequate to our current predicament:

“Though we live in a world that dreams of ending

that always seems about to give in

something that will not acknowledge conclusion

insists that we forever begin.”

In our March 17 celebration of the dual legacies of these historic trans-Atlantic links, it would not be a strange way to acknowledge the complexities of our entangled history with Ireland if we hoist a toast to both those rebel Irish and revolutionary Yankee patriots and declare: I will act to begin again to keep this republic, and I pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonor it by cowardice, inhumanity or rapine.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/12/maine-voices-st-patrick-searching-for-symbols-adequate-to-our-predicament/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/03/1166415_49927-20170312_parade02.jpgDerek McDonagh of Gorham, originally from Galway, Ireland, and James McClay of Standish, originally from Donegal, Ireland, carry the the Irish and American flags while walking with Division 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the Irish American Club's annual St. Patrick's Day parade on Commercial Street in Portland on Sunday.Mon, 12 Mar 2018 18:57:57 +0000
Maine Voices: Why stereotypes make bad mascots https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/maine-voices-why-stereotypes-make-bad-mascots/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/maine-voices-why-stereotypes-make-bad-mascots/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345155 SEARSMONT — Wells High School sports teams are considering giving up the racial caricature of an Indian that is their current mascot. That would represent a significant step forward, leaving only Skowhegan Area High School as a defender of bigoted ignorance among Maine sports teams. Such bigotry, however, did not arise because the white people in Wells and Skowhegan are uniquely mean-spirited – it is a product of a history of conquest and violence that involves the entire planet.

Given the fraught nature of current thinking on race and the anger that it generates on all sides, it comes as a shock to many people to learn that race as a concept is a relatively recent part of human thought. The idea of dividing the planet’s peoples into racial groups emerged only as Europeans set out to explore and exploit other parts of the planet.


It is not a concept born of science, which has never successfully defined the concept of race, let alone proved it valid. It was developed rather as an attempt to justify the plunder of resources, and even the very people, of lands outside of Europe. From its inception, the concept of race was always hierarchical, placing white Europeans at a supposed pinnacle of evolution, with non-white others representing more “primitive” stages in the process that had led to the supposed superiority of whites. The concept of race was formed around an outcome – the confirmation of Europeans’ belief in their own superiority – not as the result of a scientific process.

It is widely understood that the peoples of what is now America came to be called “Indians” because of Christopher Columbus’ mistaken belief that he had discovered a sea route to the Indies, the archipelago of islands between what are now Southeast Asia and Australia. What remains invisible to most white Americans is how the very idea of Indianness was a result of European ignorance of the enormous cultural variation among the peoples of what is now America.

When Europeans arrived on this continent, there was no more cultural uniformity between the people of the Atlantic coast and those of the Pacific Northwest than there was between the Vikings and the Romans, yet all were lumped by Europeans into the supposed racial category of “Indian.” To this day, most white Americans are able to maintain their images of what it means to be “Indian” without any awareness that those images are a product of ignorant bigotry. Unfortunately, when the term “Native American” was coined in an effort to move beyond what was recognized as Columbus’ ignorance, it replaced only the belief that this continent was in Asia, not his more important ignorance of the cultural diversity of its indigenous peoples. So while it may be politically correct to call Lakota or Hopi “Native Americans,” it is not correct in any larger sense of identifying who those people are. In fact, it is misleading, as it seems to further validate the belief in race as a concept.

Leaving aside, for the moment, whether it is acceptable to use cultural stereotypes as mascots, the caricature that Wells has employed has nothing to do with the cultures that inhabited Maine before its colonization by Europeans.


Of course it is not acceptable to use cultural or racial stereotypes for anything. In the years since white Americans began to question the use of Indians as mascots, defenders of the practice have often claimed that what they were doing was acknowledging the supposed nobility of the people they were stereotyping.

The Press Herald recently reported that a former Wells High School student had told the Wells Mascot Advisory Committee that the stereotype mascot “is an image that is something you should be proud of, the idea of someone being so spiritually, physically and mentally tough … .” While this stereotype is perhaps not as offensive as a stereotype of stupidity and violence, it remains a stereotype, and by lumping all supposed Indians into one image, it denies the diversity – and, therefore, the humanity – of the people to whom it refers.

In fact, white stereotypes of Indians from the 1600s on have tended to fall into a division between those of supposed noble savagery, and savagery that is brutal. Aligning oneself with the tradition of belief in noble savagery is still aligning oneself with a belief founded in ignorance of the human diversity of the people it intends to represent, and what it produces remains an offensive stereotype.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/maine-voices-why-stereotypes-make-bad-mascots/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1345155_540188_20160407_mascot_003.jpgLisa Savage and Mark Roman advocate the retirement of Skowhegan Area High School's Indian mascot at a 2016 school board meeting. People who defend such mascots aren't uniquely mean-spirited – just ignorant of the bigotry inherent in them.Fri, 09 Mar 2018 20:26:20 +0000
Commentary: Trump’s goal unclear in ‘modernizing’ nuclear arsenal https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/commentary-trumps-goal-unclear-in-modernizing-nuclear-arsenal/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/commentary-trumps-goal-unclear-in-modernizing-nuclear-arsenal/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345198 Of all Donald Trump’s departures from tradition, none holds such potentially grave consequences as his decision to build up U.S. nuclear weapons. After a decadeslong trend toward disarmament, Trump’s estimated $1.2 trillion-dollar upgrade would not only make current nuclear bombs more lethal but would add new long-range missiles to the U.S. arsenal.

When Trump announced his plan for nuclear weapons “modernization” in his State of the Union address, he acted as if the rationale were so obvious that any 6-year-old would get it. Perhaps he’s right, in that 6-year-olds might think that the side with the biggest, deadliest bombs wins. But while that may have been true of warfare in the past, most grown-ups who’ve given the issue thought – physicists, arms-control experts, and several former war planners – know that the nuclear age is different.

The rules of the game of war suddenly changed in the mid-20th century, when the U.S. and the USSR both acquired the ability to instantly destroy the world hundreds of times over. At that point, survival and security became less a matter of technology and more one of psychology. The ostensible reason the U.S. continues to keep nuclear weapons is to deter other nuclear states from using theirs.

The Trump administration’s plans are laid out in more detail in a report, released in January, called the Nuclear Posture Review, which has come out every four years since the end of the Cold War. There, Pentagon officials argue that the U.S. needs to build new weapons to keep up with similar efforts in Russia and China. (Obama had agreed to a modernization program, but this was done as a concession to congressional Republicans in order to get ratification of an arms control treaty with the Russians.)

But again, what difference do Russia’s advances make when the U.S. already has the ability to exterminate the human race in the most agonizing imaginable way? The argument for more nukes looks suspiciously similar to the again-popular conservative idea that the best way to fight gun violence is with more guns.

And how do we know if America’s nuclear adversaries will be deterred more by the U.S. continuing to disarm, or by starting a “new arms race,” as the New York Times described the Trump administration’s position? I posed that question to Gen. George Lee Butler, who during the 1980s and early 1990s was commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command, and later, the United States Strategic Command – the major U.S. deterrence forces.

“The country, for years at the forefront of nuclear arms control and reductions, is undercutting that role,” he said of the new modernization plan, which will encompass all three legs of its so-called triad (land, sea and air) and include new families of weapons. “That not only breaks with the tradition of mitigating nuclear dangers, it sends a clear message that these weapons have utility beyond deterrence toward threats of coercion,” he said. “Such overt proclamations, coupled with the prospect of a wide-ranging display of military prowess through the streets of Washington, run counter to the very fabric of our democratic values.”

Butler, who recounts his Cold-Warrior life in a recent two-volume memoir, said that in seeking deterrence, U.S. nuclear war planners focused on what they thought was most precious to the Soviet leadership: their survival. Thus it was that at one point, the U.S. aimed 400 nuclear weapons at Moscow alone – each many times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The goal, he said, was, in the case of a retaliatory strike, 100 percent assurance that the Soviet government would be destroyed in its entirety.

He came to realize, he said, that while deterrence was the ostensible point of such preparations, it’s a concept “ill-suited” to nuclear policy and strategy. “Nuclear deterrence assumes that you have a deep understanding of your foe’s capability and likely reactions under different circumstances,” he said.

As I listened, I came to understand that nuclear deterrence is a thin safety net made of guesswork and assumptions. If the goal of Trump’s modernization is deterrence, then there’s concern it will backfire. If the goal is something else – such as actually using nuclear weapons in warfare – then the Trump administration is proposing a moral and ethical departure that Americans need to talk about.

Another Cold War insider turned deterrence skeptic is Daniel Ellsberg, a former Rand corporation strategist (and later leaker of the Pentagon Papers) and author of the recent book “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” In a conversation with him last year, he said he changed his mind about the value of retaliating after a perceived nuclear attack when he recognized the potential for nuclear war to cause a global environmental catastrophe known as nuclear winter. Under those circumstances, using even a fraction of the Russian or U.S. arsenal would amount to a suicide bombing.

Both Butler and Ellsberg said they worried about the prospect of starting a nuclear war by mistake. There have been a number of risky incidents, the most notable being the Cuban Missile Crisis, when commanders aboard a Soviet submarine thought nuclear war had begun and almost fired a nuclear missile. Butler said he became well acquainted with the risk of accidental nuclear war while acting as principal nuclear adviser to the senior Bush and Clinton administrations. In exercises, the president would get about 10 minutes to decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike.

The world so far has been spared by psychology – by the behavior of people on the other side and their assumptions about what U.S. leaders would or would not do.

The benefits of Trump’s nuclear arms modernization are not obvious. We can’t afford to assume his administration is taking the best possible course of action to protect us. We have to keep asking questions. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

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Cynthia Dill: Tragedy of Marissa’s death has a buck-passing epilogue https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/cynthia-dill-tragedy-of-marissas-death-has-a-buck-passing-epilogue/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/cynthia-dill-tragedy-of-marissas-death-has-a-buck-passing-epilogue/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345203 ‘It was a comedy of errors.”

Those are words chosen by Gov. LePage after 10 days of silence on the murder of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy and the bungling and incompetence by the Department of Health and Human Services, an agency under management by the executive branch.

“Comedy” is an interesting word choice. In a theatrical comedy, there is triumph over adversity. Comedy is intended to make people laugh. The death of Marissa Kennedy on Feb. 25, 2018, was a tragedy, as was the death of Kendall Chick on Dec. 8, 2017. It’s no surprise, either, that these girls and their families were dirt poor. America’s poorest kids have much higher risk of dying from child abuse than wealthier children according to a study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics in April 2017. Poverty is associated with increased rates of child abuse fatalities.

Under the LePage administration the proportion of children living in deep poverty in Maine has increased at eight times the national average – faster than in any other state – between 2011 and 2015. This is a tragedy.

The number of confirmed cases of physical abuse of children in Maine increased 52 percent from 2008 to 2016. This is a tragedy.

Maine’s infant mortality rate has increased by 20 percent since 2013. This is a tragedy.

In the play “A Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare, there is slapstick humor and wordplay arising from the mistaken identity of two sets of twins separated at birth. Maybe when Paul LePage described the state’s response to an innocent child falling through the cracks with no safety net underneath he was thinking about Trevor and Taren Bragdon and Sam and Nick Adolphson, two sets of anti-government brothers with no real world experience or specialized education in the field of social services. But they were nevertheless given the reins by LePage to run amok with a red pen and cut any program that whiffed of welfare, even the ones working to reduce child suffering.

These guys now run “free market” think tanks with fancy names like the Foundation for Government Accountability and Rockwood Solutions, and produce “research papers” selling the secrets of Maine’s welfare “reforms” and urging others to “build on the success” of our failed system. The architects of Maine’s failing child welfare policies are selling their experience under the Lepage administration gutting social welfare programs to other Republicans around the country and the Trump administration. Characters all over like the Adolphsen and Bragdon boys go from being college gadfly to campaign hack to anti-government bureaucrat to nonprofit “director” and so-called expert of the so-called free market. This is how the GOP hamburger is made. There’s not a lot of beef.

The same social safety-net slashers that shaped Paul LePage’s welfare reform policies, which resulted in increased child poverty and insecurity by drawing a line between the deserving and the undeserving poor, are taking their show on the road. This is a tragedy.

What Paul LePage and his henchmen could have said in response to the Marissa Kennedy murder is, “The buck stops here.” Instead, with sugar-eating grins, they boast of their budget-cutting frenzy. “The bucks stopped here, boys!” they happily shout still from their online rooftops in their reports. These guys are fixated on imaginary cash “saved” by their efforts (as if this can save us) and budget lines gutted, and they are buoyed by the sound of the word “surplus” when it rolls off their tongues.

Now with the spotlight on their inexcusable dereliction of duty to actually do the job of running an effective government agency – now that their failed leadership is front and center – they all pass the buck.

Like football great Lou Holtz said: “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.”

Some people blame; other people lead. Instead of taking responsibility for the state’s failure to protect Marissa Kennedy and Kendall Chick and all the other poor kids who were abused and neglected on his watch, LePage blames our part-time Legislature and others for dropping the ball.

What’s past is prologue. People who hate government suck at it.

There is no free market solution to child abuse. What’s needed – and within reason to expect from a democratic government – is a program designed to protect vulnerable children and not serve as an example of how to strangle a program in a bathtub. You don’t need to be a Republican to want efficiency in government – we all want that. What we all should demand is a system that reflects the aspirations and competence of a compassionate, educated and affluent society.

There is nothing “pro-life” about literally and figuratively starving children to death in Maine. We should not accept a discount version of bad policy or Dickensian-type poverty of children struggling in our state but out of our view. What good government needs is good people on the job who bring an entrepreneurial attitude to public policy with real world experience.

What we have are political gamers who serve up red meat in reports and “research” who have done nothing to show real world success at solving problems and improving the human condition.

The tragedy of Maine policy is up for grabs in the coming elections. Beware of the farce peddled by candidates touting disdain for government and an eagerness to slash the social welfare system in the name of fiscal conservatism.

It’s a fool’s tale told by idiots who got their start in Maine under the administration of Paul LePage, winner of the blame game.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:



https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/cynthia-dill-tragedy-of-marissas-death-has-a-buck-passing-epilogue/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/02/20150928cynthiadill0032-e1456164666846.jpgPORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 28: Cynthia Dill, a new columnist, was photographed on Monday, September 28, 2015. (Photo by Yoon S. Byun/Staff Photographer)Fri, 09 Mar 2018 20:59:46 +0000
Jim Fossel: Republicans in a bind over tariffs https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/jim-fossel-republicans-in-a-bind-over-tariffs/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/jim-fossel-republicans-in-a-bind-over-tariffs/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345209 Recently, the Trump administration announced plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on all steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on all aluminum imports into the country.

For his part, Trump framed this as keeping his many campaign promises to get tough on international trade, which he has frequently claimed was disadvantageous to the United States.

It sets up a showdown between his administration – which believes the current U.S. trade deficit is dangerous – and congressional Republicans, who have historically supported free trade and opposed protectionist measures like tariffs.

Now, it’s important to realize that the U.S. trade deficit isn’t necessarily a bad thing. All it means is that the country as a whole imports more than it exports. This is happening at the same time that the economy as a whole is booming, the jobless rate is at near-record lows, and the stock market seems to keep going up.

Running a trade deficit isn’t necessarily an indicator of a poor economy in and of itself: While the United States has a huge trade deficit, Venezuela has a trade surplus.

This doesn’t mean that Venezuela is doing better economically than the United States; it simply means that they send more goods overseas than they buy. That can be a sign that you’re a wealthy country that exports a lot of materials, like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, or that you’re a struggling country that can’t afford to buy much, but has a few exports, like Botswana or Namibia. Similarly, the United States isn’t the only prosperous country with a trade deficit: England, Spain, Italy, Canada, and Australia also import more than they export.

Trump may have a point that the trade deficit hurts U.S. manufacturing, especially the steel and aluminum industries. If those materials are cheaper to buy overseas, then companies that need to manufacturer goods out of them are less likely to buy U.S. materials. On the flip side, imposing these – though it may help domestic steel and aluminum manufacturers – will raise the cost of everything made out of those products, from cars to computers to soda cans to iPhones. That will reduce the number of goods sold by American companies and increase the cost of living for many Americans, without helping them if they don’t work in the right industry. So, while the tariffs could be good for certain companies and industries, they could still be damaging to our economy as a whole.

Trump’s decision to impose these tariffs – if, indeed, he actually goes through with it – would seem to mark the first real example of his populist rhetoric being turned into policy that directly contravenes Republican orthodoxy.

Republicans on Capitol Hill were at least saying the right things last week by criticizing the tariffs, from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.

Fortunately, Republicans in Congress don’t have to simply go along with Trump’s plan.

Constitutionally, imposing tariffs – like the decision to go to war – is a power assigned to Congress that has been delegated to the executive branch of late. Republican leadership could act to reverse that, overturning Trump’s decision to impose the tariffs. This would be an excellent chance for Congress to reassert its constitutionally granted authority in an area that should never have been surrendered to the White House.

Doing so would be fraught with both rewards and risks.

It could prove to independents and conservatives that Republican leadership won’t simply kowtow to Trump’s every whim. That would be heartening to see, as it would prove that Republicans won’t accept bad policies that fly in the face of conservative principles simply because Trump decides to embrace them. Indeed, it would show that Republican leadership still has some principles and is willing to put country over party when push comes to shove.

However, it also risks alienating Trump’s still dedicated base. The midterm elections look increasingly challenging for Republicans, and the Republican Party may need to turn out Trump’s most fervent devotees in massive numbers to even have the hope of averting a wipeout. That will be challenging if his supporters view congressional Republicans as insufficiently loyal to the president.

Of course, being successful in the midterms may also be difficult for Republicans if the imposition of tariffs ignites a trade war that damages the economy. The best thing for Republicans would be if Trump backs down from his tariff threats, or if they don’t do much economic damage – but counting on either is a huge gamble.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:


Twitter: @jimfossel

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Bill Nemitz: His authenticity might help Shawn Moody put out fires https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/bill-nemitz-his-authenticity-might-help-shawn-moody-put-out-fires/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/bill-nemitz-his-authenticity-might-help-shawn-moody-put-out-fires/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345462 I just got taken for a ride by Shawn Moody.

I mean it.

One minute I was texting the Republican gubernatorial candidate to explore his views on fire extinguishers as society’s last line of defense against all the madness out there.

The next, he was sitting in my driveway in his pickup telling me to hop aboard.

Moody wanted to talk about growing up in nearby Gorham and show me what’s become of the local small business economy, especially the automotive garages.

I wanted to talk about politics, the attention he’s attracted as the heir apparent to Gov. Paul LePage and the national stir he created last week when he said in a radio interview that fire extinguishers make good self-defense tools.

So, for an hour, we did both.

Let’s start with the fire extinguishers.

At the tail end of a Monday morning appearance on WVOM radio in Bangor, most of which dealt with guns, Moody offered this unprompted observation:

“When you think about little common-sense things, practical things we could do right now, there are fire extinguishers, dry chemical fire extinguishers, in every commercial building, school, and almost within 100 feet of wherever you are, and a fire extinguisher can be a great deterrent if somebody gets out of control or if anything happens, a teacher, anybody could break that glass, set the alarm off, grab that dry chemical fire extinguisher and spray it towards somebody, and I’ll tell you right now that could put them to their knees.”

The media, this newspaper included, took the quote and ran with it. Even Moody’s fellow Republicans in Augusta took to tweeting such online memes as a woman using an extinguisher to put out a fire in her kitchen over the caption “Shawn Moody’s AR-15 defense system.”

Now, as he meandered the back roads of Buxton, Moody insisted we had him all wrong: He wasn’t talking about using a fire extinguisher against someone with a gun, as in a school shooter or a mall shooter or a movie-theater shooter or any of the other shooters that have the entire nation on edge.

Shawn Moody

“What I said was ‘if somebody gets out of control,’ ” Moody said. “That’s a big difference.”

Meaning, if a kid in school raises a ruckus or a person with mental illness acts up in a public place, you grab the nearest extinguisher and put out the disruption with a blast of CO2 to the face?

“Well, it’s all going to depend on the actual circumstances or situation,” Moody replied, calling the quote a “one-off” he tacked onto the end of the interview with radio host Ric Tyler.

“Obviously,” he added, “if I went back to that radio interview, I probably would have said, ‘Thanks a lot, Ric’ (and left it at that). I guess I didn’t realize that I was standing on a banana peel.”

It’s both Moody’s biggest asset and most glaring vulnerability as he gears up for the Republican primary this June: On the one hand, a homespun delivery that charms most Mainers he meets, but on the other, an actual message that is overly simplistic and not quite ready for prime time.

Moody said it all came into focus for him last fall, when members of Team LePage – the governor’s daughter, Lauren LePage, former chief of staff John McGough, political fundraiser Michael Hersey and adviser Brent Littlefield – sat him down to talk about the 2018 race.

“They looked right at me and said, ‘Shawn, your greatest strength is your authenticity. And we’re not going to change that. We’re going to take your message, we’re going to sharpen it and we’re going to get you in front of the people that need to hear it,’ ” he recalled.

That they have done. Although not always successfully.

Back in January, appearing on WAGM-TV in Presque Isle, Moody lurched far to the right with a claim that “illegals” are still “streaming across the border” from Mexico. (Actually, as of last spring, illegal border crossings were at a 17-year low.)

Moody told his largely conservative TV audience: “If it was me personally, I would’ve had our troops that were coming back from Iraq and those battle-torn countries, and I’d park them on (the border), right on our American soil. I think it would’ve made them feel proud to protect our own border.”

“Really?” I asked him. “My sense is that members of the Maine National Guard are war-weary, deployment-weary and want nothing more these days than to stay put with their families.”

To which Moody replied that putting a soldier on the Mexican border for three to six months, immediately after serving in a war zone, is akin to a deep-sea diver slowly decompressing on his way back to the surface: The diver avoids a painful case of the bends, while the soldier avoids the shock of coming home directly from the battlefield.

I countered, “I think one of the biggest stressors most deployed soldiers and their families face is long-term separation. And you want to prolong that?”

“You could be right,” Moody replied. “But when I said that (in Presque Isle), it was something I’ve said for a couple of years now.”

OK then.

Onward we rolled toward another topic Moody has been talking about for years – the inability of Maine’s small businesses to find young educated workers, coupled with the decrease in the number of high school kids who learn their trade by hanging around all those struggling or shuttered automotive shops scattered across rural Maine.

Noting that his chain of Moody’s Collision Services auto-body outlets is rooted in just such a teenage experience, Moody said he has a plan for blue-collar kids who consider post-secondary education neither a goal nor an option.

“We’ve got to get small businesses to the table and say, ‘You’ve got to invest in the future. These kids are our future,’ ” he said. “Rattle that bell. It’s a call. A call to action.”

I asked him to be more specific. He replied that under his plan, businesses would get a tax break for half of the wages they pay a young kid, who in turn would be paid a “student wage” of, say, $5 an hour.

“Sounds to me like that benefits the business a lot more than the kid,” I noted.

Argued Moody, “So, I would say to a young person, ‘Pay more attention to what you learn than what you earn when you’re young.’ ”

Perhaps. But with Maine’s minimum wage now at $10 per hour and rising, I still can’t see many kids – of any age – learning to rebuild a drive train for $5 an hour and not feeling like they’re getting the shaft.

What made this ride with Moody both so engaging and confounding was his ability to multitask: Drive his pickup over the snowy back roads and, at the same time, walk a political tightrope.

Between now and June, he must persuade LePage Land that he is – wink, wink – the governor’s designated successor.

At the same time, he must convince more moderate Republicans that – unlike the current occupant of the Blaine House – he’ll actually think before he shoots from the hip and ignites yet another a political inferno.

No wonder he’s fixated on fire extinguishers.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/bill-nemitz-his-authenticity-might-help-shawn-moody-put-out-fires/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/09/Top-Story-Block-Bill-e1412944716710.jpgPORTLAND, ME - MAY 15: Images of Portland Press Herald news reporters and columnists, Wednesday, May 15, 2014. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Sat, 10 Mar 2018 23:04:38 +0000
Our View: Student protests give democracy a needed boost https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/our-view-student-protests-give-democracy-a-needed-boost/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/our-view-student-protests-give-democracy-a-needed-boost/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345044 If you are a teenager, it must be frustrating to watch your elders fumble around with the controls of democracy.

Like Grandpa with a new iPad, we don’t know what to push, and settle into the same old stalemates.

Every once in a while, we need a youngster to grab that thing out of our hands and make it work like it’s supposed to, so we can look on in amazement.

We might be entering one of those moments this week, when high school students all over America are planning to walk out of school in protest of our collective failure to reduce gun violence.

A number of Maine students plan to join the protest. Some will have the support of their school’s administration, while others will have to walk out in defiance. Either way, what the adults do shouldn’t matter much. Led by the remarkable student survivors of the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida, young people are demanding action from all levels of government in ways not seen since the anti-Vietnam War protests 50 years ago.

Today’s young people have watched long enough while we failed to make progress on the issues that matter to them, and they are not much interested in what we have to tell them about why it can’t be done.

They don’t want to hear that we have all the laws we need or that some lobbies are too powerful to take on.

And they really don’t want to hear that the “active shooter” situation that they have been rehearsing in lockdown drills since kindergarten is an unavoidable price of freedom.

While they may not be experienced in the horse-trading and compromise that goes into passing legislation, they are miles ahead of their elders when it comes to mobilizing their troops with the tools of social media.

The power that these kids have already seized by capturing the American imagination is terrifying.

Right-wing Republican lawmakers in Florida defied the National Rifle Association last week and voted in favor of a gun control package that included a prohibition on firearm sales to buyers under the age of 21 and waiting periods for new gun sales. They obviously made the calculation that the humiliation that would come from looking at 17 dead bodies and doing nothing was greater than what the gun lobby could do to them.

Democrats who had hoped to tiptoe around the gun issue in this election season should be scared, too. These kids are not going to be satisfied with symbolic gestures.

They were satisfied with the bill that is now sitting on Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s desk because it doesn’t ban assault weapons and it does permit the arming of some school employees.

It was not a perfect bill from their perspective. But anyone old enough to remember the NRA-fueled paralysis that followed the massacre of 6-year-olds in Newtown, Connecticut, the fact that anything at all passed looks like a miracle.

If the activists seem unreasonable, we should remember that high school students learn how politics and government are supposed to be, while the rest of us have learned what it has become.

When they see that we can’t make it work the way the teacher explained it in social studies, they are not very impressed with us. And when they see their friends injured and killed as a result of our ineptitude, they get mad, as they should.

This movement won’t be co-opted or stifled by adults. Its only limit will be the amount of energy that the students have to keep fighting, and so far, that has not lagged.

A shot of youthful revolution is just what you need in a democracy that suffers from special interest money-clogged arteries and dim vision.

Systems that can’t adapt don’t last. Governments that can’t reform collapse.

If this isn’t the moment for a new generation to grab the controls, we all better hope that moment is coming soon.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/our-view-student-protests-give-democracy-a-needed-boost/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/02/1334892_210274-parkland-guns-0ad466.jpgStudents rally in front of the White House to call for new gun control laws Monday, in the wake of the Florida shootings.Sat, 10 Mar 2018 23:11:46 +0000
Another View: Employees benefit when they work for strong businesses https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/another-view-employees-benefit-when-they-work-for-strong-businesses/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/another-view-employees-benefit-when-they-work-for-strong-businesses/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345045 Re: “Our View: Companies, shareholders reaping most of the benefits from federal tax cut” (March 7):

The national debate about tax reform was loud and prolonged. Both sides wanted the same outcome but – as is so often the case – disagreed about how to get there. I think both sides wanted lower taxes for low-income people, while improving the competitiveness of our businesses for the long term. The two goals are not at odds with each other.

In fact, now that the federal plan is in effect, we are seeing benefits across the board. A schoolteacher in my district is getting another $62 in her biweekly paycheck. That’s because the federal income tax withholding in her paycheck has dropped. With 26 paychecks a year, it is making a real difference in her household. Nobody I know would turn down an extra $1,612 per year. She is not alone – almost every employee in Maine is taking home at least an extra $20 to $40 per week.

It’s not only schoolteachers. The new federal tax code also made U.S.-based businesses much more competitive, dropping us from among the highest taxed in the world to the middle of the pack. That has improved operating income for all kinds of companies, especially manufacturers. Companies are using those proceeds to raise wages, increase 401(k) matches and, yes, invest in themselves. And that’s what they should be doing.

Consider these two scenarios:

A Maine business takes the extra cash they have from tax reform and pays a one-time bonus. None of it is dedicated to a rainy day fund or for growth. Then, they go out of business in five years because they didn’t reinvest.

Is that good for the employees?

Another Maine business buys a new CNC routing table, invests in research and development, increases equity for a rainy day by buying back some stock, and still pays a small bonus.

What’s better for the people who work there? After all, the employees make the growth of the company possible with their passion, dedication and ingenuity. They want a successful, growing company they can take pride in, one that will be around for the long term, where they can grow a career and fund a healthy retirement.

People say, “These tax cuts – all they are is good for business.” But on both sides of the aisle, we want the jobless to have job opportunities; the low-income to have a chance to become high-income; and high-income earners to stay here and give back. To do that, we need companies that reinvest in their growth and success for the long term.

Let’s promote positive tax policy in a bipartisan manner to strengthen Maine companies so Mainers can grow careers, not just jobs.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/another-view-employees-benefit-when-they-work-for-strong-businesses/feed/ 0 Fri, 09 Mar 2018 18:16:18 +0000
Maine Observer: Rug, plugs, hat – what’s a balding guy to do? https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/maine-observer-rug-plugs-hat-whats-a-balding-guy-to-do/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/maine-observer-rug-plugs-hat-whats-a-balding-guy-to-do/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345116 Men generally don’t like saying they’re “going bald,” preferring to say they’re “losing their hair,” as if, like misplaced car keys, the missing item will eventually turn up.

Male vanity being what it is, I was not happy about losing my own thatch. I was born with my mother’s ash-blond hair and my father’s dark-brown eyes – a genetic oddity. As a sun-bronzed teenage pool boy at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, I cut a striking figure when perched like a peacock on the lifeguard stand.

By my mid-40s, however, my glorious plumage was mostly gone, a few comb-over strands clinging for dear life to my exposed pate. And then, adding injury to insult, what hair I had left began to turn gray. I was no longer a middle-aged guy struggling to look good with what remained of his best physical attributes, but a geezer in the making. The dark-blond beard I had grown several years before was also turning gray. This unflattering vision of myself became even worse in winter, when my skin turned pasty white from lack of sun. When I looked in the mirror, I saw an albino yeti with mange.

What to do? I wasn’t going the toupee route. Hair transplant surgery was expensive and looked painful. And wearing a hat all the time seemed dorky. If I couldn’t have my hair back, I decided, at least I could add some color to it. At the grocery store I scanned the hair-coloring products, but I couldn’t bring myself to commit to a box of Clairol. And the Just for Men products came in all the wrong shades. I looked on the internet for possible natural solutions.

The first thing I tried was lemon juice, which lightened my hair and gave it some extra body. But I wasn’t satisfied. Next, I tried dying my hair with henna. I mixed the natural colorant with yogurt and tea and wrapped my head in cellophane to contain this mucilaginous goo. Not only did I look ridiculous, I worried my hair would turn some bizarre color. If my hair turned orange, I would have to either go into hiding or run for president of the United States. The result, an hour later, was disappointing.

Of course, I could completely shave my head, like a lot of guys these days. But to look good as a cue ball, you need a big, round head, like Michael Smerconish. I didn’t qualify. The other alternative was to grow what hair I had long and sport the bald-guy-with-ponytail look. You see a lot of those types at Bike Week in Laconia, New Hampshire, where the ticket-taker asks you politely if you’re carrying any knives, guns or nunchucks on your person. Not really my tribe.

Most Caucasian men will lose their hair sometime in their lives, and Maine, having the country’s oldest per-capita population, is just loaded with balding old white guys. So, what to do? My suggestion: Embrace the carapace.

Yeah, baby, bald and beautiful!


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/11/maine-observer-rug-plugs-hat-whats-a-balding-guy-to-do/feed/ 0 Fri, 09 Mar 2018 20:05:35 +0000
Another View: Federal immigration failure led to state sanctuary laws https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/another-view-federal-immigration-failure-led-to-state-sanctuary-laws/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/another-view-federal-immigration-failure-led-to-state-sanctuary-laws/#respond Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345167 The Trump administration’s lawsuit against California’s sanctuary laws is political grandstanding at its worst.

It stems from our federal leaders’ complete failure to reach desperately needed compromise on workable immigration reform.

Yes, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that Attorney General Jeff Sessions so single-mindedly wants to carry out have netted some dangerous criminals.

But they’re also capturing immigrants who have built their lives here and are now being forcibly separated from their families. Immigrants who came to this country because the United States is dependent on them to provide critical labor. It’s those heartless sweeps that California sanctuary laws aim to stop while working within the confines of existing federal law. And it’s those state laws that Sessions is now trying to target. Unfortunately, the attorney general ignores the critical need to build trust between police and immigrant communities, whether their members are here legally or not.

Local and state police officers shouldn’t act as deputies of ICE. Local cops are the ones who really do keep our communities safe. If police departments in California participate in the federal crackdown on illegal immigrants, it will make police less effective and communities more dangerous.

Undocumented residents will quickly lose trust in local police. They will stop reporting crimes or criminals if they fear being deported.

No respected study has concluded that sanctuary cities and counties have more crime than non-sanctuary cities and counties. In fact, a 2017 study by University of California, San Diego, professor Tom Wong concluded just the opposite.

Wong found that sanctuary counties have significantly lower crime rates and stronger economies than those that cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts. Wong also said that aggressive deportation efforts separate families and leave them more economically vulnerable.

But California’s law allows local and state officials to notify ICE if they are holding an inmate who has been convicted of a serious or violent felony.

The goal of California’s new laws, Gov. Jerry Brown says, is “to be very understanding of people who have come to our state, have worked in our economy, often for decades, picking our food, working in our restaurants, working in high-tech industry. … It’s a balancing act. It does require some sensitivity.”

Sessions’ argument is anything but. The attorney general is building his case on the theory that federal law “is the supreme law of the land.”

But California officials argue they aren’t blocking ICE from enforcing immigration laws. They are only using their Tenth Amendment rights giving states the power to decide how to police their lands.

The courts rejected President Trump’s previous effort to punish sanctuary cities. U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick granted an injunction saying that the Trump administration effort to cut off federal funds to cities and counties for their sanctuary policies was unconstitutional.

The courts would do well to strike down Sessions’ effort and hand a victory to those who continue to work for the public safety of California communities.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/another-view-federal-immigration-failure-led-to-state-sanctuary-laws/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/03/1345167_494895-Dreamers.jpgMillions of people have lived and worked here, contributing to their communities without legal status, largely because Congress has not been able to pass reasonable immigration reform.Fri, 09 Mar 2018 20:29:09 +0000
Ex-state Rep. Russell: As governor, I’ll help put economic power back into hands of Maine people https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/ex-state-rep-russell-as-governor-ill-help-put-economic-power-back-into-the-hands-of-the-people-of-maine/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/ex-state-rep-russell-as-governor-ill-help-put-economic-power-back-into-the-hands-of-the-people-of-maine/#respond Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345010 When I first ran for office, I worked as a convenience store cashier for $8 an hour. It was the Great Recession, and despite a resume, experience and a college degree, jobs were scarce. As grateful as I have always been for that job, and for wonderful employers, it opened my eyes to the reality of systemic poverty that workers in low-wage jobs face. While my degree gave me prospects when the economy recovered, this was the life many of my co-workers would live until they could work no more.

When workers do better, the economy does better. To build an economy that works for everyone, we must take steps to address wages, retirement security and health care, and re-think how we use our tax dollars to best benefit the many.

I had taken sick days for granted until I didn’t have them. One day, I was called into work because one of our cashiers had pneumonia. Her doctor had told her that she would develop it if she did not take three days off, but she had mouths to feed. Had earned paid sick days been available to her, she would not have left work in an ambulance. A system of earned paid sick days would slow the spread of communicable diseases like the flu, while also ensuring that working Mainers can take care of themselves when they are sick. In places where workers have earned paid sick days, businesses are supporting the laws and report minimal or no changes in costs.

The first time I got my paycheck, I pulled out the calculator. I had worked 39.5 hours the week before, my feet and back were in agony, yet I took home just $250. Many of my co-workers were raising children on that wage.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour means that full-time low-wage workers, nearly two-thirds of whom are women, would earn $30,000 per year. With more income, people will need less support from the state and will spend more money in our local economy. Couple that with strict wage theft enforcement and schedules posted two weeks in advance, and workers would quickly be on better footing, thus strengthening our economy.

White Maine women earn 84 cents for every $1 earned by their male counterparts. Women of color earn even less. These lower wages translate into women paying less into Social Security, forcing them to retire in poverty. Maine must fight the gender wage gap. And we should create a public option retirement security system open to all residents of the state. Through voluntary, automatic payroll deductions, Maine workers could voluntarily set aside up to 3 percent of their income toward retirement. These small amounts would add up over time and give all Mainers greater economic security.

Income inequality is at its worst in decades. Multinational corporations’ CEOs now earn 271 times the median wage of their workers, and the top 0.1 percent of Americans now earn 198 times the income of the bottom 90 percent. Maine should use its corporate marginal tax rate to reward employers who have a smaller wage gap between CEOs and workers. Small businesses will pay a lower tax rate, while multinational corporations with large wage gaps will pay more.

We also need to rethink the role of our tax money. When we pay taxes, some of the money is invested in a few local community banks, but primarily it is invested on Wall Street. While businesses in Maine grow frustrated with the lack of small-scale capital, Wall Street banks would rather lend $50 million at a time rather than $50,000.

North Dakota has leveraged its assets and its treasury to put tax money to work locally through a state public bank. The bank returns investment dividends directly to the state, helps local community banks deploy more capital to small businesses, and has even helped communities with disaster relief. A Maine state public bank could deploy our tax dollars toward student debt relief, infrastructure projects and job-creating small businesses.

It’s time for Maine to dream bigger. As a candidate for governor, my vision for Maine puts economic power back into the hands of the people to lift wages, create jobs, invest our own money locally and support sustainable, measurable growth.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/ex-state-rep-russell-as-governor-ill-help-put-economic-power-back-into-the-hands-of-the-people-of-maine/feed/ 0 Fri, 09 Mar 2018 17:26:40 +0000
The Maine Millennial: When I attend my party caucus, I feel like a professional citizen https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/the-maine-millennial-when-i-attend-my-party-caucus-i-feel-like-a-professional-citizen/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/the-maine-millennial-when-i-attend-my-party-caucus-i-feel-like-a-professional-citizen/#respond Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345015 Most people tend to think of “government” as a remote entity that pops up only at income tax time and when their car’s inspection sticker expires. (And as annoying as it is, I actually think it’s cute that the government requires my vehicle to meet a minimum safety standard. That means someone, somewhere, in a committee, cares about my personal well-being.) And it’s true that most people will never have the energy, drive and resources to mount a campaign for senator or president – although about 12 percent of the population of Maine is running for governor, so that seems like an attainable office.

But in a small state like Maine, government really is within our reach. I spent this past Sunday afternoon at the Buxton Democratic Caucus. Yes, there are Democrats in Buxton. At least 14 of them. I was the youngest person there by at least 20 years, but that tends to be the situation wherever I go in Maine.

Everyone who thinks government is a big, evil entity should go to their local party caucus. You will come to discover that government is, at its roots, a bunch of slightly confused people who, despite trying to avoid volunteering for a committee position, then get nominated by their neighbor and find that it’s hard to say no – and the next thing they know, they’re a delegate to the state convention! (Long story short: I am now Delegate No. 007 to the Maine Democratic State Convention. See you there.)

It was democracy in its purest, most local form. I really did feel a bit of a connection to the Founding Fathers while I was there voting on things – when else do we ever say “aye” or “nay”? Time and the evolution of our language have wiped those words from our vocabulary, except when we, the people, are gathered to vote on common laws and sentiments affecting us all. Just like the colonists in their taverns. (All caucuses should probably be held in taverns, honestly. More people would show up.)

I got to meet people running for state representative, state senator and York County commissioner. Nomination sheets for candidates were signed. I was offered the opportunity to run for office myself (what a nightmare that would be). I talked to the sheriff of York County! When else would a random person like me get that opportunity? (I could get arrested, I guess, but I would rather avoid that.) I discovered that local government is largely run by cardigan-wearing ladies named Ellen. A baseball hat that the election clerk found in his office was passed around to collect donations.

Many of my readers have millennials in their life. I know because you guys like to email me about them (and I love hearing from you). And unfortunately, despite my efforts – which consist largely of nagging my boyfriend to go to HIS town caucus – young people have some of the lowest voter turnout in general. So I would encourage you to talk to the young people in your life and tell them how important it is to get out and participate in civic life. How important it is to vote, especially in primaries. Use small words, and print out maps to their polling place for them. Try not to use the phrase “in my day.”

In high school, my government teacher, Mr. Wagner, told us on the first day of class that by the end of the year, we would be prepared to be “professional citizens.” I still have the pocket-sized Constitution he gave us all. And when I go caucus, or vote, or write a letter to my state representative (Don Marean, House District 16, you have not replied to my last email …), I do feel like a professional citizen.

And everyone, of every age, who feels alienated by government should not withdraw from it – they should go participate in whatever part of local government they can access. Because getting out, becoming engaged and doing the work is the one and only way that we, the people, will make sure that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:


Twitter: @mainemillennial

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/the-maine-millennial-when-i-attend-my-party-caucus-i-feel-like-a-professional-citizen/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/10/VictoriaHugoVidal03.jpgVictoria Hugo-VidalSat, 10 Mar 2018 09:31:32 +0000
Maine Voices: World War I brought the U.S. into the winter of our discontent https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/maine-voices-world-war-i-brought-the-u-s-into-the-winter-of-our-discontent/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/maine-voices-world-war-i-brought-the-u-s-into-the-winter-of-our-discontent/#respond Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1345026 A century ago, the United States was approaching the first anniversary of its declaration of war against Germany in what was then called “the World War” or “the Great War.” President Woodrow Wilson and the 65th Congress had taken a remarkable set of steps to put the nation on a war footing. By December of 1917, America had created its largest Army since the Civil War, relying heavily on men conscripted (drafted) into military service. Congress had approved massive fundraising through increased taxes – most notably the income tax – and the sale of government bonds in several Liberty Loan campaigns.

Other laws had authorized the federal government to regulate prices and the use and distribution of food, fuel (primarily coal) and transportation (primarily the railroads). Still other laws allowed government control over espionage activities, measures that included criminal sanctions for speech contrary to the war effort. These efforts of the first six months of American participation in the war were generally supported by the American people.

Then the news turned less promising. One factor was beyond government control – the weather. The winter of 1917-18 contended for the title of the most horrific in modern history, especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

Heavy snow, bitter cold and interrupted services were the story of much of December, January and February. Rail transport was slowed or stopped. Fuel was in short supply. Harbors were frozen. Not only were American citizens short on essentials of daily life, but needed shipments of war materials, food and other essentials to European Allies also were slowed.

Government regulatory programs attempted to mitigate the harms with mandates or strong suggestions of ways to control scarce supplies. Food distribution was directed by Food Administrator Herbert Hoover, who encouraged “Wheatless Wednesdays” and “Meatless Mondays,” minimum servings of food and similar restraints. Fuel administrators at both the federal and state levels directed the priorities for shipments of coal and uses of electricity. A Fuel Administration order in January closed most businesses in the Northeast to conserve fuel and channel it toward the uses considered most essential.

Broadway theaters were closed. Elevators on Wall Street were stopped. Saloons were allowed to operate only without lights and heat. Railroad service was ordered to concentrate on essential shipments of food and fuel. Interstate passenger service was limited or ceased. Few Americans were not directly affected by the federal regulations.

Discussions in Congress and between Congress and the president turned contentious. The early winter months were filled with legislative hearings that were critical of the lack of progress on fighting the war. Congressional leaders from both parties questioned whether we were doing enough and whether the right people were in charge. Secretary of War Newton Baker was a particular target. Lawmakers proposed the creation of joint committees to meet with the president to direct the war effort. President Wilson countered with proposals to allow him, in the interest of greater efficiency, to reorganize federal agencies that had been created by acts of Congress. Both parties recognized that the November 1918 election could affect the Democratic control of both houses of Congress.

And, were that not enough, reports from Europe were troubling. Russia, which had gone through two changes of government in 1917, dropped out of the war and surrendered to a harsh peace with Germany in January. Another ally, Romania, also surrendered to German forces. German and Austria-Hungary were within 20 miles of Venice on the Italian front. Suddenly, Germany was freed of the major burdens of a two-front war and could concentrate its forces on the Western Front.

American troops were arriving in Europe, but their numbers were still small and most soldiers needed further training to be useful on the front lines. News of mutinies by exhausted French troops were kept from the general public, but efforts to change governments in France and Great Britain were not. That was the winter of 1917-18.

A century from today, Americans may look back at the winter of 2018 as a time of harsh weather, governmental chaos and international troubles. But these days look peaceful and prosperous when compared to those of 1918, when conscripted military service, shortages of food, fuel and transport and sharply increased taxation directly affected large portions of the American population.


https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/10/maine-voices-world-war-i-brought-the-u-s-into-the-winter-of-our-discontent/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/04/624967_RTR3ZQ8M.jpgSix U.S. soldiers, with five of them wearing gas masks and the other one holding his throat are seen in an undated photo probably used for training purposes during World War I. World War I pioneered many “firsts” in technological, scientific and societal innovations. Chemical weapons in the form of deadly poison gases were used for the first time, leading quickly to the development of countermeasures like the first gas masks.Fri, 09 Mar 2018 22:44:50 +0000
Maine Voices: An open letter to those who don’t walk into a high school every morning https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/09/maine-voices-an-open-letter-to-those-who-dont-walk-into-an-american-high-school-every-morning/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/09/maine-voices-an-open-letter-to-those-who-dont-walk-into-an-american-high-school-every-morning/#respond Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1344416 OLD TOWN — I am afraid. I am angry. I feel helpless. I feel alone. I feel like the rest of the world is spinning as normal, but those of us who climb school steps each weekday are off-axis. I am one of the lucky ones – I can type this message and rage that it must be written. The unlucky ones are dead.

They died afraid, and angry, and helpless, and alone. They died from a bullet somewhere bullets should never go. They died and they shouldn’t have – they were kids who should have lived long enough to become parents.

My parents are nervous travelers. They both remember where they were on Sept. 11 – my mom was at work at Bangor’s largest hospital, helping create bed space for victims. She said after that day, everything changed. That after, nothing felt safe and she couldn’t rest until her eyes were on Dad and me. I was 6 months old. She said the hospital never took in any survivors – there weren’t enough to need the space.

When she boards an airplane, the twin towers burn in her mind. When my dad’s lap belt clicks, he thinks about the plane that passengers grounded in Pennsylvania but never walked off.

Back when plane passengers weren’t a threat, my mom flew under her uncle’s name so he could get bonus miles. Last time I flew, I got lucky and skipped one step in the hour-long security process by leaving my shoes on. I feel safe on airplanes; I trust the multimillion-dollar technology, the laws in place and the proven security measures. I have confidence in professionals who prioritize my safe arrival.

My parents recognize a distinct before 9/11 and a forever-altered after.

I have lived through over 130 befores and afters (the number of K-12 school shootings in the U.S. since 2000, according to The Washington Post; it’s only an estimate, since our government doesn’t gather this information). There was Sandy Hook, when pictures replayed on every TV of first-graders with missing teeth that would never be replaced. There was Parkland, and now America’s youth are afraid of befores and afters that keep getting closer together, that are blurring in our minds because we have seen too many yearbook photos beside condolence messages. I am sick of living in a before that I know will soon turn into an after – it is a matter of when, not if – and worrying that the body count will include my own.

When I walk into my high school, I feel like my parents do when they board airplanes. I feel my father’s claustrophobia. Instead of one horrific day, instead of a hell that happened once, I see memorials with faces that look like mine. Pictures with the same blue-gray background as one framed in my living room. Many different days of hell – each one no less a travesty than the last.

I do not feel safe walking into my school. I do not trust the government professionals working on this problem or the security around me because I do not see a distinct difference. The befores and afters are blurring together because nothing is changed in the ever-shortening time between.

The American high schooler is a movie role, an iconic period of growth that the adults in my life often want to go back to. Coming of age is supposed to include proms and first kisses, college applications and breakups. I am supposed to cry because I don’t know who I am, not because my classmates and I may never have the chance to find out.

I have a message for those who remember what it was like to become who you are, to go from child to adult in the time spent between classes:

Everybody deserves that chance.

Instead of dates and dances, America’s high schoolers get drills teaching us where we cannot be seen through classroom doors. We get conversations, stilted because our teachers and parents must include news of another tragedy.

I did not know about Parkland until hours later. My parents asked me about my day before asking if I’d heard. I thought, “Again?” And then, “How many?”

I refuse to be as helpless as those thoughts made me feel. I will not accept each event as normal. I will not compare the body counts of the most recent and the ones that came before.

I refuse to be alone. My class will walk onto our high school’s steps over 1,000 times. We want to walk out 1,001. I will write and march and make noise until we can live in a before that never becomes an after.

I am still afraid and angry. I will not stop being afraid and angry until kids with yearbook photos that match mine stop dying afraid and angry, alone and helpless.


Emma Hargreaves, an American high schooler

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/09/maine-voices-an-open-letter-to-those-who-dont-walk-into-an-american-high-school-every-morning/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/02/1339171_School_Shooting_Florida_92.jpgVolunteers hang banners around the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., to welcome back students who will be returning to school Wednesday two weeks after the mass shooting that killed 17 students and staff. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)Fri, 09 Mar 2018 08:53:19 +0000
Commentary: I hope Democrats defend sanctuary cities – because it’ll cost them https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/09/i-hope-democrats-defend-sanctuary-cities-because-itll-cost-them/ https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/09/i-hope-democrats-defend-sanctuary-cities-because-itll-cost-them/#respond Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.pressherald.com/?p=1344432 Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration are going about the sanctuary city issue in the right way. The very idea of so-called sanctuary cities is offensive to a lot of law-abiding Americans. Taking action against the liberal politicians who want to give safe harbor to illegal immigrants is a slow, easy pitch from the Democrats, and Republicans everywhere should take advantage.

The Justice Department is now challenging several laws in California that not only interfere with the nation’s immigration policies but also place American citizens and law enforcement personnel at risk. The idea that laws can be ignored and that state and local politicians can affirmatively warn lawbreakers of how to escape apprehension is incredible. It is indefensible. We either have laws, or we don’t. And if our elected leaders don’t want to uphold the laws, they can either change them or resign. The law is not optional once you have made a pledge to uphold the duties of your office.

Open-border radicals in California and other liberal strongholds must be held accountable. Of course, liberals would have you believe that they are only interested in protecting the poor, the oppressed and the hardworking who have nowhere else to go. But in many cases, their actions allow dangerous and sometimes repeat criminals to be shielded from deportation or prison. In California, good Samaritans who value the rule of law are even limited in how much they can voluntarily cooperate with federal immigration officials who are trying to uphold the law and make communities safer.

Anyway, Democrats and their allies in the media will say otherwise, but nothing about this conversation is even in the slightest bit hyperbolic. Local politicians are actually warning illegal immigrants of impending enforcement actions. In Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf went as far as to issue a news release and accompanying tweet alerting illegal immigrants in the Bay Area of an impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation last month. According to ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan, what the Oakland mayor did “is no better than a gang lookout yelling ‘police’ when a police cruiser comes in the neighborhood.”

The fact that a politician who presumably swore to uphold the Constitution could feel so emboldened to undermine an active law enforcement operation and place those officers in harm’s way cannot go unanswered. And according to what Sessions said Wednesday, it won’t. Specifically, speaking before the California Peace Officers’ Association, Sessions declared: “We are going to fight these irrational, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you and our federal officers. We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. We are fighting to have a lawful system of immigration that serves Americans. And we intend to win.” Well said.

Republicans can only hope that liberals running in 2018 will make an issue of the Justice Department lawsuit. After all, do Democrats really want to be on the side of shielding illegal immigrants – many of whom have outstanding warrants and criminal records? When the Oakland mayor alerted an entire community of illegal immigrant criminals that ICE was coming, she reportedly allowed about 800 to escape. According to ICE officials, almost half of those who were arrested “had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges and assault, or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors.”

Are those really the people Democrats want to defend? I hope so. I can already see the campaign ads that Republicans will be running. The Democrats’ position on sanctuary cities will not play well in flyover America.

Last month, plenty of Democrats and liberal outlets pushed the idea that somehow, in some bizarre twist of reality, Republicans had split with law enforcement and were no longer the party of law and order. HuffPost even pronounced that Republicans had “unleashed an extraordinary attack on law enforcement” by criticizing a few senior FBI officials. With the Democrats’ position on sanctuary cities, that argument should not be too difficult to dismiss.

Anyone who supports illegal aliens and opposes law enforcement’s efforts to protect communities from criminals should be shown no quarter – not in the media, not in the courtroom and not in our political campaigns. In the case of the administration’s policy on sanctuary cities, good policy is also the best politics.

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/03/09/i-hope-democrats-defend-sanctuary-cities-because-itll-cost-them/feed/ 0 https://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2018/01/1311028_New_Laws_California_04421.j.jpgProtesters turn out in support of illegal immigrants in San Francisco last year as a court hears arguments on whether the Trump administration can punish sanctuary cities.Thu, 08 Mar 2018 22:34:33 +0000