• Tax season demands new tax relief

    During the recent State of the State address by Governor Paul LePage, a significant amount of time was devoted to conservation tax easements and the nonpayment of property taxes by countless nonprofit organizations in the state of Maine. Never one to shy away from controversial topics, the Governor has long pressed for changes to Maine

  • Governor LePage: A party of one

    Last Friday, Maine State Police and Department of Corrections staff, under orders from Governor LePage, descended on the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport before first light. Their message to the prison’s 51 employees? “Good morning. You’re fired.” Their message to all 63 prisoners was hardly less jarring. They were being transferred, immediately, to the Charleston

  • EMBRACE prudence

    The headline sent a chill through many a taxpayer: “At $24,000 per student, board ponders options.” Last week’s front page report described the financial dilemma facing Deer Isle and Stonington taxpayers. Education costs in Maine are escalating at the same time that enrollments are declining, an unfortunate reality in a rural state with an aging

  • Safe walking

    Congratulations to Heart of Ellsworth, the city’s downtown booster/advocate, for drawing a good size crowd on a chilly Wednesday to talk about local needs. The 40 residents present at the Jan. 24 gathering spoke of senior housing, bus service, recycling, waterfront access and child care, among other topics. The presence of City Council Chairman Marc

  • Energy security priority

    During the two weeks after Christmas, Maine and the Northeast experienced the coldest continuous weather in 50 years. Degree days exceeded the previous season’s levels by 55 percent. Natural gas customers with interruptible supply contracts were turned off so that homes and residential institutions would have supply. This forced commercial and large-scale users back to

  • A solution in search of a problem

    In November 2016, Maine voters passed the citizen initiative concerning ranked choice voting (RCV) as an alternative to our existing plurality voting system for state and federal elections. The existing system, affirmed in Maine’s Constitution since 1847, stipulates that the candidate with the most votes prevails. RCV would require a majority vote to decide an

  • Are Pine Tree Development Zones unmonitored corporate welfare?

    In 2003, Governor John Baldacci worked with the Legislature to create Pine Tree Development Zones. The idea was to help rural pockets of Maine’s economically deprived counties attract new businesses and expand employment. A package of up to 10 incentives, grants, tax credits, sales tax exemptions, income tax reimbursements, corporate income tax credits, as well

  • Smoke signals

    Political observers are starting to identify how the nation’s two political parties have marginalized the majority of moderate voters, the voters who comprise the largest block of citizens in our country. Changing patterns — with extreme positions both left and right — leave a ripe middle ground that is being plied, in Maine, by outside

  • Heroes of the “Cold War”

    Two years of relatively mild winters coupled with above-average temperatures left many of us shocked by the sudden return of a face-freezing winter. With December degree days already 7 percent above normal, Santa brought two snowstorms and plummeting mercury for record intervals before and after New Year’s Day. An admirable number of households weathered the

  • Busing or walking to school?

    School Union 93 officials and Superintendent Mark Hurvitt have suggested the idea of exploring a countywide school transportation system in order to save costs. While only conceptual at the moment, Hurvitt and the other school committee members should be applauded for stepping back and taking a look at alternatives to what is fast becoming a