A toxicology lab that screens urine samples for drug use.

LePage’s welfare reform agenda grows bureaucracy

on Aug. 07, 2014, at 10:47 a.m.
Gov. Paul LePage has long fashioned himself a reformer of the state’s welfare programs. But the “reforms” he has pursued are better characterized as bureaucracy-growing obstacles that serve to delay or deny assistance rather than make state assistance programs more efficient and more effective in helping people overcome poverty. LePage’s …
New York City police in riot gear swept into Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan park in November 2011 to remove hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators who had been camping there for more than eight weeks to protest income inequality.

Mind the inequality gap: Start by raising education levels

on Aug. 06, 2014, at 12:23 p.m.
There is growing income inequality, and it is harming the U.S. economy, wrote Standard & Poor’s Rating Service in a widely publicized report released Tuesday. As Neil Irwin of The New York Times pointed out, the report was not necessarily newsworthy because of what it said or how it said …
"I mean, oh my God, how could this be? How could this be? On the street, when the kids are using ... they're using, they're using. But this is a doctor. My son saw a doctor," Kelle Stavron said. Kelle and her husband, Bruce, lost their son, Matthew, to a prescription drug overdose. Matthew had been battling pill addiction for many years.

Until these changes are made, doctor shopping for painkillers will continue

on Aug. 05, 2014, at 11:07 a.m.
There are many reasons to appreciate Maine’s prescription drug-monitoring program. It helps doctors and other prescribers know whether patients are “shopping” around at multiple medical practices to get addictive drugs; it helps cut down on the number of narcotics diverted for trafficking; and by pinpointing those who are abusing opioid …
Main Street in Bangor is undergoing major construction.

What if Congress set an example for Maine, solved the nation’s highway funding problem?

on Aug. 04, 2014, at 11:43 a.m.
When does Congress take on the real work of governing? That was a central question surrounding the debate last week as the Senate and House went back and forth on different approaches to keeping the nation’s Highway Trust Fund solvent. The final answer? Next May. Congress on Thursday agreed to …
U.S. Rep. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud

If Michaud wants to show he’s superior to Cutler, debates are the best way

on Aug. 02, 2014, at 9:51 a.m.
We’re not surprised, but we’re still deeply disappointed the major-party candidates in Maine’s gubernatorial race largely are shying away from debates with their rivals as a matter of strategy. At this point, it appears that four debates among the three candidates vying for victory in November are on the schedule. …
Residents of the Friendship Village retirement home pet a miniature horse called Turnabout while others observe on July 19, 2014, in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Pay the Maine nursing homes, but don’t forget the fight to keep seniors independent

on Aug. 01, 2014, at 2:01 p.m.
The emphasis in recent weeks on directing additional funds to Maine’s nursing homes highlights a disconnect between where policymakers such as Gov. Paul LePage are focusing their attention and what older adults in Maine actually want. By and large — and this isn’t surprising — older adults in Maine want …
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) dives for a first down against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 29, 2013.

No excuse for NFL leniency in Ray Rice domestic violence case

on July 31, 2014, at 1:54 p.m.
Football fans have good reason to be angry with the NFL. On May 1, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault for knocking his then fiancee unconscious in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey in February. He was caught on surveillance …
U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows spoke in front of Paul Bunyan during her campaign stop in Bangor on Tuesday as part of her campaign trek across Maine.

Shenna Bellows and shoe leather: an underdog’s all-out campaign

on July 31, 2014, at 1:38 p.m.
A well-orchestrated, well-publicized 350-mile walk across Maine certainly creates a buzz around a candidate who is the clear underdog in this fall’s U.S. Senate race. But Democrat Shenna Bellows’ three-week trek from Houlton to Kittery — and through every town along the way — also brings national politics to the …
It was standing room only in the Beals town office for a meeting between island residents and a Postal Service official who discussed plans to reduce hours at the post office on July 22, 2014.

Lewiston, Auburn and finding ideal efficiency

on July 30, 2014, at 11:16 a.m.
Efficiency, efficiency. Sometimes, it becomes a mantra for people running for office and seeking to streamline government services. It makes sense, right? Consolidate the municipal programs in one town with the others in a nearby town, save money and retain a similar level of service. Indeed, collaboration happens often. But …
In this August 2013 file photo, Brendan Emanuel from the University of New England looks in on the nest built inside of a birdhouse placed on the perimeter of a school soccer field. Emanuel was part of a team seeking to inventory and control mosquito populations at the Biddeford campus.

How Maine towns can prepare for West Nile, eastern equine encephalitis

on July 30, 2014, at 10:25 a.m.
With mosquitoes out and about during the summer, it’s important for towns to be ready for what sometimes comes with them: infectious diseases. Here are two viruses to know about and information about how towns can ready themselves. They may never have an outbreak, but it never hurts to be …

A role for the community in preventing domestic violence

on July 29, 2014, at 1:51 p.m.
Once again we hear of a domestic violence homicide. This time, a Saco man shot and killed his wife and three children, and then killed himself. People are, as they should be, shocked at Saturday’s unimaginable act. From the outside looking in, it always seems inconceivable that someone would kill …

Two myths about older adults and addiction — and why Maine should care

on July 28, 2014, at 10:56 a.m.
Substance abuse is a major public health concern in Maine and the United States, affecting more than 23 million people nationwide and 80,091 in the state. Discussions about the substance abuse epidemic have paid little attention to its effects on older adults. As much as 17 percent of older adults …
Gov. Paul LePage

LePage’s move to make food stamp recipients work can prove beneficial — if done right

on July 26, 2014, at 10:40 a.m.
There’s no universal set of American values, but an emphasis on hard work and self-sufficiency is commonly embraced in politics and one that comes into play when the public is considering its support for welfare programs that help the poor. The value underlying the existence of those welfare programs is …
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin

Bruce Poliquin supports the Paul Ryan budget. But what’s actually in it?

on July 25, 2014, at 11:20 a.m.
As U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan shifts his focus away from recommending deep cuts to federal poverty-fighting programs to wholesale restructuring, let’s not forget the budgeting approach the Wisconsin Republican has espoused as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Ryan’s budget blueprint, after all, exemplifies a key difference at stake this …
A patient waits in the hallway for a room to open up in the emergency room at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas, in this July 27, 2009 file photo.

A dose of absurdity in the Halbig ruling on Obamacare

on July 24, 2014, at 10:18 a.m.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel at the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit issued a flawed ruling that subsidies for health insurance coverage should never have been provided in states with federally run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. In fact, we could describe the ruling as one based …
A crowd protests proposed deep cuts at the University of Southern Maine on March 24, 2014.

Promising transparency at USM is a good first step for troubled campus’ interim president

on July 23, 2014, at 11:24 a.m.
David Flanagan is stepping into what is perhaps the most thankless job in higher education in Maine. On Monday, he’ll take over as interim president of the University of Southern Maine, taking the helm that follows a year in which a mandate to cut the 9,000-student university’s budget by $14 …
Alan Cunningham of Bangor organizes the thrift shop downstairs at The Together Place in Bangor in February.  Cunningham is in the ReFinement program, which allows people convicted of crimes to pay them back through community service.

It’s time for Maine to break a cruel cycle of poverty and incarceration

on July 22, 2014, at 2:37 p.m.
It’s summer. It’s beautiful outside. And inside Maine jails, inmates sit and bide their time. For many, their crime has nothing to do with violence, theft or dealing drugs. They simply can’t pay their court fines. Their real crime? It’s poverty. Look at the arrest log for any jail in …
Members of the Marshall Ford Swing Band perform outside at Pickering Square in Bangor on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, as part of the annual Outdoor Market and Cool Sounds Free Concert Series.

Bringing Bangor back

on July 20, 2014, at 6:07 a.m.
It’s easy to see the changes happening in downtown Bangor this time of year. There are, of course, Waterfront Concerts, with performers including Willie Nelson and Tim McGraw. Events at Cross Insurance Center are going strong, with acts such as Cirque du Soleil and James Taylor. The free Cool Sounds …
A member of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's bear study crew holds a hand near the paw of "Big John," a 432-pound black bear that was snared and weighed on June 17, 2014.

Ted Nugent is outspoken, but he doesn’t speak for pro-bear baiting campaign

on July 19, 2014, at 12:34 p.m.
Campaign season is sneaking up — with claws out. And it’s not Maine bears on the prowl. Here is the back story: About 11 months ago, politically incorrect rocker Ted Nugent gave an autographed guitar to the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. But the state’s largest sportsmen’s organization wasn’t quite sure …

LePage is three months late to nursing home funding fix

on July 18, 2014, at 11:14 a.m.
Amid Gov. Paul LePage’s dizzying politicking in recent days, it’s a wonder Maine’s nursing homes actually will see a bump in their reimbursements this fiscal year that nearly equals the amount by which the state underpays them. After challenging Democratic legislative leaders off and on for months to call the …
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