A stack of desk chairs bound for Winterport Elementary School wait to be moved out of Frankfort Elementary School classroom on Friday, June 21, 2013.

Why can Maine students still graduate high school without knowing basic skills?

on March 05, 2014, at 2:46 p.m.
You have probably known a student struggling in school. Was he or she struggling to write a narrative story in English class or not doing the required multiplication homework in math? Was the student sliding through, aiming to pass but not put in the work? Under a nontraditional way of …
Gary Alexander (from left) and Eric Randolph of Rhode Island-based Alexander Group and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew prepare to answer questions from the Health and Human Services Committee in Augusta in this January 2014 file photo.

LePage’s Medicaid expansion rhetoric is straight out of ‘1984’

on March 04, 2014, at 2:29 p.m.
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” the Ministry of Truth is one of four departments responsible for running the government. It does the opposite of what its name suggests. It changes history to suit its message and broadcasts slogans like “Ignorance is strength” and “War is peace.” This is doublethink: …
Students study in a dorm room at the University of Maine, Orono in this April 2013 file photo. There has recently been a higher demand for on campus housing at the university.

Too much space, not enough housing: Maine’s universities need to adapt to new age

on March 03, 2014, at 2:37 p.m.
The University of Maine System has too much building space on its campuses for the number of students enrolled and taking in-person classes. At the same time, upperclassmen at the University of Maine are facing the prospect that there won’t be space for them in campus residence halls next year …
In this February 2014 file photo, Governor Paul LePage (center) leaves the House of Representatives chamber after he delivered his 2014 State of the State address at the State House in Augusta.

LePage, lawmakers too busy intimidating one another to protect jobless benefits appeals program

on March 02, 2014, at 9:16 a.m.
You could be excused for being a bit confused about what happened with the Maine Department of Labor’s unemployment compensation program. A U.S. Department of Labor investigation, and a prior state review, found real problems that the LePage administration intervened in what is supposed to be an impartial hearing process …
Gov. Paul LePage

Making others do his bidding, LePage casts deceitful attack on Medicaid expansion

on Feb. 28, 2014, at 11:12 a.m.
If there were any uncertainty Gov. Paul LePage’s top priority this winter is to deny health coverage to 70,000 low-income adults, his administration’s misleading, all-out assault this week against expanding Medicaid should leave no doubt in anybody’s mind. It’s not often that state commissioners of labor, education, marine resources and …
Mark Sullivan, a post-grad student at Northern Penobscot Tech, helps 18-year-old Brianna Davis of Millinocket and 18-year-old Sylvia Crocker of Lincoln with video editing in Leigh Thurlow's multimedia class on Tuesday. The class might soon be producing a video for the town of Lincoln.

Lincoln town manager has realistic growth ideas. Now act on them

on Feb. 27, 2014, at 1:40 p.m.
For many residents, Maine’s rural nature is what they love about the state. There is a pride in coming from a small town, where you can’t go to a restaurant without seeing someone you know. The sense of community — a teacher who knits mittens for each of her students, …

Pay Maine nursing homes in full, but don’t forget real reform for long-term care

on Feb. 26, 2014, at 1:29 p.m.
Lawmakers will confront a difficult reality in the coming weeks: The state has been underpaying its nursing homes for years, and a bill pending before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee would give them a needed raise. On its own, the issue isn’t one that’s likely to invite partisan …
Tom Saviello

Support managed care, expand Medicaid, keep patients front and center

on Feb. 25, 2014, at 2:45 p.m.
Republican Maine Sens. Roger Katz of Augusta and Tom Saviello of Wilton rolled out legislation Tuesday that would overhaul the state’s health insurance program for low-income residents. It would permit the state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for three years, and it would fundamentally change the way …
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (from left) and former Gov. John Baldacci visit workers in the control room of Katahdin Paper Co. LLC in May 2008 after the Millinocket mill announced it would close.

Government-by-paper focus in Congress isn’t what Maine needs from a Gov. Michaud

on Feb. 24, 2014, at 11:01 a.m.
The U.S. government in recent years has stopped selling paper savings bonds, mailing IRS forms and Social Security statements by default, and started the shift away from paper federal benefits checks. As The Washington Post reported recently, 22 of the largest federal agencies have cut their spending on paper by …
The State House in Augusta

It’s up to LePage, Legislature to work together, stop compounding fiscal problems

on Feb. 23, 2014, at 10:13 a.m.
Like keeping a healthy sum in a savings account, it’s also responsible for state government to maintain a sound balance in its rainy day fund. For the last several years, the balance has dipped lower than state officials would like. At the end of 2012, the account contained $44.8 million …
Gary Alexander (from left) and Eric Randolph of Rhode Island-based Alexander Group and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew prepare to answer questions from the Health and Human Services Committee in Augusta in this Jan. 14, 2014 photo.

It’s DHHS’ decision, not the Legislature’s, to cancel Alexander’s Medicaid contract

on Feb. 21, 2014, at 12:16 p.m.
The Alexander Group delivered a deeply flawed report last month examining the feasibility of expanding Medicaid in Maine. In fact, the consulting group hired by Gov. Paul LePage’s administration didn’t deliver a feasibility study at all. It delivered a political document disguised as impartial analysis created at taxpayers’ expense. Taxpayers …
Susan Tremblay of Mariaville uses her Common Ground Fair canvas shopping bag as a makeshift rain hat as she shops for tomato and summer squash plants at the Bangor Farmer's Market in this June 3, 2012 photo.

Let the Bangor Farmers’ Market go free

on Feb. 20, 2014, at 2:18 p.m.
The farmers’ market tables have turned. Two years ago, the city of Bangor sought a farmers’ market for the downtown — to offer local, healthy food and improve the area’s appeal. In many ways, the city succeeded. During the spring, summer and fall, each Sunday the Bangor Farmers’ Market at …
Cheryl Wixson (left) discusses her food products with U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud during a tour of Coastal Farms and Food Processing in Belfast on Sept. 6, 2013. Michaud’s business investment plan calls for the creation of a network of food hubs that allow small food producers to process and market their products.

Michaud sets a policy direction — and a considerable leadership challenge

on Feb. 19, 2014, at 11:29 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud is cutting his work out for himself. The six-term Democratic representative and gubernatorial candidate Wednesday released his plans for helping out the state’s small businesses, fostering key industries that have a realistic chance of growing and succeeding in Maine, and equipping the state’s workforce with the …
A no bullying sign is seen in the window of the library of Mount View High School as members of the National Alliance of Mental Illness meet with the public behind locked doors to talk about suicide prevention and grieving.

Don’t give youth suicide any more power

on Feb. 18, 2014, at 3:05 p.m.
No one likes to be reminded of the fact that some Maine youth are contemplating killing themselves. Suicide is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. Burying a problem, though, doesn’t make it go away. “When you don’t talk about it, you give it power,” said Greg Marley, clinical director of Maine’s …
 In this March 2013 file photo, a CARA participant rests inside a cell at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility. Many CARA participants come from broken homes and traumatic childhoods, said Kennebec County corrections officer Edward Anderson.

LePage’s dangerous portrayal of drug addiction

on Feb. 17, 2014, at 1:12 p.m.
Drug and alcohol addiction is complicated. Sometimes addiction is passed down through genetics, though of course many people become addicted without a genetic predisposition. Environment often has something to do with it: It’s estimated 9 percent of children in the U.S. live with at least one parent who abuses alcohol …
Gov. Paul LePage speaks with reporters from his office in the State House on Thursday, Dec. 19.

By LePage’s logic, his own tax cuts cannibalize Maine’s budget

on Feb. 16, 2014, at 9:04 a.m.
Fill in the blank: ________ is cannibalizing Maine’s state budget. Gov. Paul LePage’s office on Thursday issued a long list of state budget items that have gone underfunded in recent years. His contention? The underfunding is a direct result of a ballooning budget for Medicaid. It’s a line of attack …
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan cuts the ceremonial red ribbon to officially open the Portland Technology Park, a 40-acre site devoted to growing the area's life sciences industry, in 2013.

Why LePage’s bet on big business overlooks small-business reality

on Feb. 14, 2014, at 11:55 a.m.
Gov. Paul LePage touted a grand strategy for job creation last week in his annual State of the State address. The Republican governor’s Open for Business Zones would welcome employers who hire at least 1,500 people and invest $50 million, offering them tax breaks, discounted electricity, access to capital and …
The Maine State House in Augusta is reflected in the windows of the Burton Cross building.

Businesses should pay when they stash Maine profits offshore; Maine should collect lost tax

on Feb. 13, 2014, at 12:29 p.m.
If there’s a chance for Maine to recover $6 million-$7 million each year that belongs in state coffers but regularly goes uncollected, state policymakers should jump at it. Lawmakers could have that opportunity in the coming weeks as the Legislature’s Taxation Committee refines a bill aimed at recovering tax revenue …
Trapper St. Jean (left) and his wife Allison travelled from Beaver Cove to taste the selection at the Tap Into Summer Bangor Beer Festival on Saturday, June 22.

It’s simple: Maine’s fix for 77-year-old law preventing bars from listing alcohol content

on Feb. 11, 2014, at 2:49 p.m.
Maine now has a simple solution to deal with an odd law prohibiting bars and pubs from advertising alcohol content: Let them list the alcohol strength on menus and chalkboards in the same way it’s stated on the beer’s label. That means no exclamation marks. No embellishments. No posting of …
Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, speaks to the Portland Community Chamber on Dec. 4, 2013.

It went wrong early. But Democratic lawmakers could make new rides setup for Medicaid worse

on Feb. 11, 2014, at 11:36 a.m.
When lawmakers last week revisited the debate over the performance of a delinquent Medicaid transportation broker, the committee meeting should have marked the end of a spate of legislative micromanagement. Instead, the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee has unnecessarily kept a bill alive that would immediately cancel all state …
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