Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I was looking for that perfect little something to keep the fire burning in our 22-year marriage, and I found it online. Instead of the Kama Sutra for the Kindle, I went with a beautifully wrapped EZ Pass for the Maine Turnpike. This small, discreet and high-tech gadget was clearly a winning Christmas gift for the man who claims to need nothing, and who knew it would also make supporting the Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Irish Heritage Center EZ at the same time?

If you are lucky enough to have one of these little babies, every time you drive through a toll booth in Maine you make a contribution to these special interest groups, among others, and chip in to pay for turkeys, gift certificates, in-room movies and booze, according to the new report released by OPEGA, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.

Concerned that special interests are buying our government? You can relax knowing this quasi-government is apparently sending our money to special interests.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Constituent Services Under the LePage Administration

TO: RepCynthia.Dill
Sent: Fri, Jan 21, 2011 3:41 pm
Subject: Gov. Lapage-Whistle blower

Rep. Dill,

I am writing to you today because I have been made aware of some very disturbing things happening with the new Administration. I am acting as a whistle blower. I am sorry that his has to be anonymous but I hope you will protect my identity. I am sick of what is happening in this Administration and you two seem to be the only ones with the guts to take them on. I think the press needs to see this, and I hope you can get it out to the people of Maine before it is too late. I don't pay taxes so 11,000 bureaucrats can work to re-elect Republicans....

Again, please respect my anonymitty and let me know if I can provide any other information. I was forwarded this email third hand from a friend who would kill me if they knew what I was doing. A lot of people are upset about this but are to scared to act.

Please do what you can to make the people of Maine aware of what the Governor is trying to do.

Please see email below

From: "Dan Demeritt"
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2010 11:13:26 -0500
Subject: incumbent protection

We need a business plan for incumbent protection and we should all contribute.
I know you guys are already thinking about it, but I wanted to make sure you know the Governor’s office is committed to making it a priority. That is why Paul has asked me to direct both Communications and Legislative Affairs – we are going to spend a great deal of time making Heather Sirocki and Garret Mason look very effective.
I am open to ideas, suggestions and changes. These are my initial thoughts on the planning process:

• Identify in numerical order (maybe groups of 10) our most vulnerable members and get to work on raising their profiles. Taking into consideration the demographics of their districts, their own abilities, and the strength of potential opponents we can prioritize so our resources are put to the best use.
o New House members
o New Senate members
o House members getting ready to make the leap to the Senate

• Identify Target Districts for pick-ups.
o Develop a list of districts where we have opportunities.
o Find ways to get real time information into those districts to soften the ground
o Find ways to get potential candidates engaged – Tony Couture of Jay lost a close house race and was at our Red Tape forum in Farmington. He is running again. Let’s start now.

• Coordination
o House and Senate Leadership
o Senator Snowe is aggressively gearing up. Let’s get her and her state offices involved in increasing the profile of our people.
*Constitutional Officers
o The LePage Administration – every department, every agency and the Governor himself.
§ Schedule Coordination
§ Sharing the spotlight on announcements & successes
§ Engaging members in the process

Example: We are probably going to pay the hospital debt through 2009 as part of the supplemental budget – about $259 million. We need to take several bites of the apple along the way – when we introduce the supplemental, when we pass it, when the Governor signs it. And I’ll even make sure our members know the exact day the exact amount of State funding transferred (and the amount) to their local hospitals so our members can show up with a big symbolic check to make it a press event. I like the visual of Garret Mason standing outside Central Maine Medical Center with a plywood-sized check in his hand signed by Paul LePage for $40 Million Dollars (or whatever the actual amount is).
• Training
o Train staff on identifying good opportunities
§ Introduced bill
§ Solved a problem
§ Cub scouts came to Augusta
o Train staff on coordination
o Train staff to use their time wisely. Termed members have to take a back seat to freshmen.
o Train staff to create low risk, high profile opportunities (i.e. hospital rallies / red tape audits – fish in a barrel stuff)
o Training Reps and Senators to be on the lookout themselves.

• Information I / we need on each member
o Committee Assignments
o Priorities
o Local hot button issues / large employers (i.e. businesses, hospitals, colleges)
o District media outlets – radio, weeklies, tv coverage, new media
o Local Contacts we can use to push information into communities through email / face book / word of mouth

A well-run effort makes it easier to pass our change agenda and puts our members in a position to stick around long enough to see the process through to the end.

I’d like to connect the week before Christmas with you and key staff. If you are not in town, we can hopefully get some of your staffs putting together some of the resources / information we are going to need to get rolling. Once we take office, Paul will put 11,000 bureaucrats to work getting Republicans re-elected. (emphasis added)


Dan Demeritt, M.B.A.
Communications Director
Gov.-Elect Paul LePage
(207) 877-7616 Office
(207) 215-4544 Cell

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Winds of Opportunity Sow The Seeds of Success

To Bill Nemitz , Maine Democrats may very well be a bunch of pansies, but keep in mind these colorful flowers are hardy and can survive freezing temperatures while in bloom.

November’s election suffered a bad case of stem-rot, that common pansy sickness caused from fungus in unsterilized animal manure and campaign b.s. Symptoms include sudden collapse without warning. The GOP takeover of the Maine House of Representatives is but one example.

Luckily this disease can be easily treated with alcohol and a cold shower, two things Democrats tolerate extremely well.

We didn’t make a big stink about the inexperienced friends and family of the Governor (also a fun-gi) being appointed to his cabinet. We are letting sleeping dogs lie while we brew up an ancient elixir sure to bring down the House. Bill Shakespeare wrote about this potent pansy potion in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

"The juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid, will make a man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees."

After a long, cold winter Maine people will wake up and come out of their cave. They will be hungry for real food, and will delight in seeing colorful harbingers of spring. Blue skies and pansies everywhere.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Beware of Corporate Carpetbaggers

“Go back to Rhode Island and stay there,” Gerald Griffin from Falmouth told me in a recent letter. He’s sick and tired of “carpetbaggers” vacationing in Maine and “then gotten the idea that they want to live here and push their views on us.”

Griffin wants “carpenters, plumbers, electricians, fisherman, lumberjacks and housewives” to make the laws in Augusta instead of “strangers” like me.

Gerald, baby, wake up! Housewives? Really? Who can afford to do that?

The carpetbaggers you need to worry about are not middle-aged mothers raising their kids, working three jobs, and paying taxes. Write your nasty letters to the out of state corporations who pumped $1.8 million dollars in to the campaign of Governor Lepage and are now driving his agenda to roll back regulatory protections and shrink government so small it will only fit in our bedroom. Send a snarky letter to the Republican State Leadership Committee in Arlington, Virginia, who spent $400,000 on nasty Maine state senate races.

Sure, I’ve only lived in Maine for twenty-two years, but I’ll bet my views are more in line with yours than the pharmaceutical industry or a private prison company.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Fudge Factory

Through the picture window sits the big mixing bowl swirling the day's batch, and on the shelves and in the cases varieties of all kinds sit in fat bricks waiting to be gobbled up by people longing for an authentic and “refreshing” Maine experience.

Here’s just a sampling.

A very popular flavor is Dirty Deeds. “I never had it on. Never had it on. Ever,” he said. “That house was bought for my wife. That house in Florida my mother-in-law bought, we helped her.”

Another favorite is DEP Over The Top. "And the state of Maine made me do a three-month buffalo study," he says. "Did you hear what I said? Buffalo study. The next spring, they decided that they still didn't want this project to be built so they had us go out and count black flies. Two months counting black flies. That tells me that the attitude of the regulatory agency was very adversarial to that project."

If you like real BS, try Maine Government Is Out Of Control. “The State of Maine is the only state in the United States of America that charges sales tax on bull semen. You hear that? Bull semen. The only place in the United States of America - this state.”

MLK Holiday Special (now on sale). “I would be more than happy to go, but I would meet all prisoners — and that wasn’t acceptable to them, so tough luck.”

Finally, our newest flavor, "this is nothing but a political race card and tell 'em to get over themselves, I'll send my son, who happens to be a black kid, to talk to 'em."

We are having a contest to name this latest fudge confection. What do you think we should call it?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Memo to The Governor of Maine: Civil Rights Are Not The Enemy of Business

In a world that isn’t lily-white like Maine, the message “we are xenophobes” is not good for business. American prosperity is the result of an open-door policy to people of all races, colors and creeds.

Your first executive order asked state officials to question the immigration status of people here, and now you have made it clear that groups advocating for minorities and civil rights are not on your team. You describe the NAACP as a “special interest group” that can “kiss your butt” while you attend numerous Chamber of Commerce meetings, and the message isn’t lost on us, or the global economy. These words now define us, unfairly and inaccurately.

What makes American business exceptional are civil rights laws that prevent profiting from human suffering. The notion that constitutional protections of equality and due process are the enemy of business misses the point the founders of this great Democracy were making when they ensured not only a market place of ideas with a free press and free speech. America is a place where everyone has the equal opportunity to succeed.

Government is not a business. It was created to protect the public good, and to uphold and defend the constitution. The constitution specifically establishes three branches of government to balance power. In your recent memo to your Commissioners, you wrote, “communications with members of the Legislature must be coordinated with the appropriate members of my senior staff.”

Imagine if President Obama sent a memo to the Secretary of Homeland Security and ordered his federal employees to get prior approval from the President’s staff before they spoke with Senators Collins or Snowe, or any members of the U.S. House? Speaker Boehner would laugh until he cried. The legislature doesn’t work for you, Governor, and you don’t work for the Chamber of Commerce. You work for us. All of us.

Your stump speech about business acumen is getting old. You are not yet the champion of economic prosperity. You have not lowered taxes or reduced state spending. You have not created jobs or reduced red tape. You haven’t balanced the budget, fixed the roads, improved the education system or solved the public pension problem that’s been brewing since the McKernan administration.

Instead, you have depicted a colorful and creative swath of Maine’s community as “the problem,” ignoring the true cause of our current economic hardship -- unregulated corporate malfeasance on Wall Street and the growing income disparity in the United States.

Please step out of your comfort zone, Governor. Meet people who are living and contributing to this great state but don’t show up at Chamber meetings. Work with the legislature to make good, sound policy that will attract entrepreneurs and investment from a diverse global population. Be bold but not brash. We want you to succeed, and we embrace success for all of Maine’s people and businesses.

Friday, January 14, 2011

He Means Business. Maine Governor Tells NAACP, “Kiss My Butt”

The Maine NAACP has not been feeling the love from the new LePage Administration since the Tea Party- backed governor was elected in November. Numerous requests for meetings have been denied, and one of LePage’s first official acts was an order allowing state officials to question the immigration status of people in the Pine Tree State.

While at a function for a local Chamber of Commerce, the governor explained to a reporter that he was too busy to meet with the NAACP, who he describes as a “special interest” group, and that they can “kiss my butt.”

Governor LePage intends to run the State of Maine like a business, and has issued an order that state departments must notify him when they speak with the press and when they communicate with state legislators.

Perhaps this governor needs to step outside of his echo Chamber.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Who Needs Judges When We Have the GOP?

Some Maine lawmakers want to streamline government by consolidating the legislature with the judiciary. They want elected officials to make laws, and to determine whether laws are constitutional (formally the job of courts in what was commonly referred to as “checks and balances.”)

An Act to Prohibit Enforcement of the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, if passed, will do just that. This bill declares that the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), a federal statute passed by the United States Congress and signed by the President, is unconstitutional, and further, that federal agents who enforce or attempt to enforce ACA are guilty of a Class C crime. The Maine bill would make state agents who enforce or attempt to enforce ACA guilty of a Class D crime.

The bill’s supporters may have missed the recent reading of the U.S. Constitution when “separation of powers” was discussed, or could be relying on the popular abridged version that condenses the constitution to only two chapters, We the People, and the Second Amendment.

And talk about self-serving. Why discriminate against state agents? Why shouldn’t they be treated just like federal agents and subject to conviction of a Class C crime for granting health insurance to a child with a pre-existing condition, eliminating lifetime caps, fixing the “donut hole”, and otherwise holding insurance companies accountable?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Whose Benefits Would Jesus Cut?

Maine lawmakers experienced their own kind of epiphany on January 6th in the House of Representatives. The manifestation of right-wing political extremists appeared before them disguised as a man of faith. With eyes closed and heads down, some lawmakers had flashbacks to the campaign trail when myths of “welfare cheats” spun like course wool.

“We have replaced the pride and dignity of hard work and honest pay for a welfare state where subservient dependency looks for a handout,” said Reverend Roger E. Tracey of the East Eddington Community Church during the morning “prayer.”

Maine tax dollars pay for a morning ritual in the legislature that in the past has been a nondenominational few minutes of reflection and peaceful solemnity.

“In the name of political correctness, we have become tolerant of everything except the faith of our fathers, Christian principles, and anyone who holds dear the traditional values that have sustained us from the very beginning” according to Tracey, who must have forgotten that thanks to his work we don’t tolerate gay couples getting married in Maine.

That tolerance of others is “political correctness” by the fathers in Augusta might explain why on day one of the new administration an executive order was issued urging state and local law enforcement officials to prevent undocumented immigrants from obtaining state and local welfare benefits.

Reality doesn’t reflect the rhetoric, though. According to a study to be released later this month by Maine Equal Justice Partners, the Maine Women’s Policy Center, and the University of New England, one in eleven Maine children and their families is at stake in this debate about “welfare” in our state.

Most people on welfare in Maine are single mothers caring for young children who graduated from high school, have recent work experience, and 67% of such families include at least one member with a disability. The real reason 25,000 Maine children receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is because the instability of work in the low-wage labor market, illness and disability, and family-related problems including divorce, separation or domestic abuse. The maximum basic benefit for a family of three is $485 per month, the lowest in New England, and the median length of time that families receive TANF is 1.5 years.

Reverend Tracey concluded his morning tirade with these words. “But now a new day has dawned, and a new congress has convened, and a new hope and enthusiasm fills this great chamber.”

It sure is a new day, and I’m hopeful the good people of Maine and all those who were elected to serve them see that the devil isn’t in the details. The truth is.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Insane Plainly Reigns In Maine

Is it a coincidence that all the new categories of disease in the soon-to-be-released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, describe quite succinctly politics in America?
Maine, for instance, might appear rather boring to the unsophisticated eye. It has more old people than any other state, is dominated by women, and 96.1 % percent of the population is white (yawn), but scratch the surface and the “political ideology of Islam” lurks. At least it does in the mind of the conscientious resident who recently sent Maine legislators a copy of the best-seller, Sharia Law for Non-Muslims, with a typed three-paragraph letter lobbying for a bill in the upcoming legislative session seeking to prevent Maine courts from using any “foreign law, legal code or system.”

This sounds a little crazy, so it might just pass. After all, the 2010 platform adopted by the Maine Republican Party trumpets a “return to the principles of Austrian Economics,” and wants to “repeal and prohibit any participation in efforts to create a one world government.”

The book legislators could really use is an advanced copy of the DSM-V, especially Democrats heading back to work in 2011. All of them and most of the general population qualify for at least one of the new choices: post traumatic embitterment disorder, depressive personality disorder, sluggish cognitive tempo, and/or binge eating disorder.

A sense of humor and a diagnosis will make 2011 easier for incoming lawmakers, but even the world of psychiatry has its share of political skirmishes. Some of the shrinks on the DSM drafting committee are lobbying to get rid of the Asperger Syndrome categor. An opposition group has formed, called “Keep Asperger’s Syndrome in the DSM-V.” Seriously.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but everyone knows Asperger Syndrome was named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, and if Aspergers is good enough for Austrians, and isn’t Islam, its good enough for Maine, right?