Saturday, April 14, 2012

Highway To Nowhere

The Republicans in Maine like to call this the welfare state.  They make ridiculous claims that other states pay for bus tickets to send their welfare recipients here to help lessen their load, because Maine has no waiting period for benefits.  Well today the "welfare state" went corporate.  Governor LePage signed the East West Highway Bill today authorizing the feasibility study for a privately built and owned highway connecting the towns of Calais on the eastern border, and Colburn Gore on the western border.  The cost of this study is at $300k, but this is a chance that this could become more costly. 

When and if this highway is built the cost of the study will be repaid by the private entity that is going to build the highway.  So you ask, why would the state be interested in funding the study initially?  The answer is quite simple, eminent domain.  With the state funding this study it opens the door for the land to be obtained through eminent domain. They will be able to come in to towns along the route and snatch land for pennies on the dollar.

We have said this in a previous blog about this topic, but the real beneficiary of this project will be the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick..  The governor said he has been in communication with premiers of both New Brunswick and Quebec, which straddle the state, “and they’re very excited about this opportunity. It is good for commerce” between the United States and Canada, the governor said. In reality it's good for Commerce between Canadian provinces. They will be able to move their natural gas through Maine, instead of up around the top of the state and into the ports of New Brunswick.

So will taxpayers get caught paying for any of this? You better believe it.  With the increased traffic at the Corburn Gore crossing, that border station will need to be rebuilt costing tax payers.  The Road will have to be patrolled as well, most likely by State Troopers. Oh and then there is EMT/Rescue from towns along the highway that will need to respond to accidents.  What is the environmental impact of building a 220 mile highway?  That remains to be seen, but we hope we won't have to see it.  This highway will be crossing many of the major watersheds of the state, The Penobscot River, the Kennebec River and the Piscatiquis River are all in the direct line of this road.  These waters will become subject to increased salt, as the roads are treated in the winter.  Don't forget the garbage that will be flying around as well.  Lastly it will also be crossing a section of the Appalachian Trail.  We understand that many roads and highways cross the trail, but how many have pipelines and electrical conduits along with them?

In the end Maine is going to lose and lose big with this highway.  The communities along the route are going to suffer when families are kicked off the land they own, some of which has been family owned for generations. As more info comes out about this project, we will see more opposition to it. - Mr. Salty

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

And In This Corner.. The Democrats

A  few weeks ago we started to blog about the race for Olympia Snowe's senate seat in Maine.  We highlighted the republican candidates, so it's time to see who the democrats are in this race. 

This race began with some big names taking about papers to run for this seat.  We had Congresswoman Chellie Pingree from North Haven. Pingree represents the 1st district which encompasses the southern half of the state.  Then Mike Michaud congressman from East Millinocket. Michaud represents the 2nd district which covers the northern, less populated half of the state.  Former congressman and governor John Baldacci also took papers.  Michaud and Pingree both decided that they were better served continue their campaign for their current positions.  Governor Baldacci also decided at that he would not pursue this nomination any further.  Many here say that the entry of former governor and Independent candidate Angus King caused these candidates to drop out.  With these big names out of the race, we still have Matt Dunlap, Cynthia Dill, and John Hinck.

Matt Dunlap is a former Secretary of State from 2005 until 2011 in the Baldacci administration.  He now currently serves as the Executive Director for the Sportsman Alliance of Maine (SAM). Dunlap served in the Maine house of Representatives from 1996 to 2004.  He was a strong advocate for wildlife and environmental issues.  In 1999, he proposed restructuring the Atlantic Salmon Authority. He also supported legislation that increased moose hunting permits. He also sponsored a bill that would allow the Department of Inland Fisheries to contract with a consulting firm for the fisheries evaluation.  Elected by the Legislature to serve as Maine’s 47th Secretary of State, he oversaw the modernization of the department’s electronic delivery of services to the public. In 2010, under his direction, Maine’s implementation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act was the swiftest and most effective in the country, enabling military personnel and others abroad rapid and secure access to Maine’s voting process.

Cynthia Dill is a noted civil rights lawyer who resides in Cape Elizabeth.  Dill was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2006, where she served as a member of the Judiciary and Ethics Committees. Among other things, Dill sponsored the legislation that created the Broadband Strategy Council and was appointed Chair. As a leading proponent of the expansion of broadband, Dill was instrumental in obtaining over $35 million of investment for the Three Ring Binder Project, a nationally recognized private/public partnership that will bring high-speed Internet access to rural parts of Maine and widely expand the potential for good jobs, enhanced educational opportunities, health care and public safety.  Dill was elected to the Maine Senate in May of 2011 in a special election for district 7.  Dill founded the Friends of the Maine Woods, a statewide organization that advocates for the study and creation of a Maine Woods National Park. Now this is an Organization that many democrats and republicans in the northern tier of the state do not care for.  They feel that it is not a true representation of how most Mainers feel about the the North woods, but it's the feel of the "urbanites" and "flat landers", also known as residents of southern New England.

John Hinck has spent his life as an advocate, teacher, and champion for working people. He co-founded Greenpeace USA, fought for commercial fishermen after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and helped secure a ban on MTBE in order to preserve Maine’s clean water. In the Legislature, he is a driving force for energy independence promoting clean, homegrown power and promoting efficiency to lower energy costs for Maine homes and businesses.  Jon worked for a decade with the environmental group Greenpeace, including as campaign director for Greenpeace International in charge of the organization's worldwide program.  He was instrumental in building Greenpeace USA into one of the largest environmental groups in the U.S. and spearheaded major efforts in marine ecology, energy and toxic issues. He has chaired the legislature's Energy & Utilities Committee and is active with the national Council of State Government's Energy & Environment Committee.

The Primary for the Democratic Nominee will be June 2nd.