Entries Filed in 'Exclusive Interviews'
Congressman Michaud invited the Sec. of Veteran’s Affairs, Ed Shinseki to Maine twice. And while the Sec. was here Michaud got changes made that will help Veterans.
Congressman Mike Michaud is now serving as the ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. On the committee, Michaud has been able to work successfully with Republicans, cutting through the current partisan climate in the nation’s capital.
Mike Michaud comforts a Vietnam Veteran who finally was recognized for his service. Photo By Ramona du Houx
Over the years, Michaud has been on the front lines of the fight in Congress to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at a level that begins to meet the needs of veterans. He helped pass historic legislation that provided the largest budget increases for the VA, expanded access to VA health care, improved health services for all veterans, and modernized benefits earned by servicemembers.
In addition, Michaud successfully passed provisions into law that led to increased access to healthcare services for rural Maine veterans. The state has new veterans’ care facilities and a mobile care unit because of the congressman. He also authored legislation creating a new program that provides support to veteran caregivers by offering them training and access to mental health counseling. Last year, Michaud worked to pass a bill improving long-term care for elderly and severely disabled veterans that are at state veterans’ homes.
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The new Speaker of the House Rep. Mark Eves in his office. Photo by Ramona du Houx
The new speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives is confident, articulate, energetic, and dedicated to improving the lives and livelihoods of the people of Maine. His adopted state has a special place in his heart, as he and his wife Laura have chosen to raise their three young children here, after relocating from Louisville, Kentucky, ten years ago. When not in Augusta, he is helping people resolve conflicts, as a marriage and family therapist, and serves as business development director for Sweetser, a statewide behavioral health-care organization for children, adults, and families.
Mark Eves holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Louisville.
He was first elected to the House in 2008. By 2010 Eves became the Democratic lead on the Health and Human Services Committee, where he negotiated to preserve funding for programs besieged by that two-year budget. He has a disarming manner, which helps to make him a strong negotiator, and he clearly is focused on fighting for Maine’s middle class.
Recently Speaker Eves sat down for a conversation about his new job.
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Senate President Justin Alfond at work his office in Augusta. Alfond is determined to improve education and health care, build the middle class, and spur economic development. Photo by Ramona du Houx
While I was waiting for an interview with Senator Justin Alfond, his office was buzzing with other lawmakers, advocates, and citizens trying to get a few minutes of his time. The secretary skillfully juggled his schedule to make sure everyone would see the 115th president of the Maine State Senate, and that’s exactly how Alfond likes it. He’s an accessible statesman, dedicated to the state he grew up in and loves deeply. Since being elected to the Senate in 2008, he has taken action to make sure his constituents’ needs are met. He also has an unwavering passion for improving public education.
When he’s not in Augusta, Alfond can usually be found in Portland, where he is co-owner of a successful bowling alley and restaurant, Bayside Bowl, which for many patrons also serves as a community center. Devoted to helping his community, Alfond saw the bowling alley as a catalyst for economic development, and he loves playing the game. Since Bayside Bowl’s opening, many other businesses have sprouted up on the Bayside peninsula, and the area’s redevelopment plans are moving ahead with momentum.
Alfond also has the distinction of being a former pro golfer, who won a match against — Tiger Woods. He lives in Portland with his wife, Rachael, and son, Jacoby.
Recently, we sat down and talked about his new responsibilities, about working with Gov. Paul LePage, and plans to grow Maine’s economic opportunities and improve public education.
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Charles Shay’s new book on his experiences during D-day and Chosin.
In 2007 Charles Norman Shay went to Washington, DC, to receive the Legion of Honor medal from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The medal has joined the others bestowed on him, including a Silver Star and four bronze battle stars from World War II and the Korean War, in his home on the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation in Old Town, Maine. The young Army medic had been in the famed 1st Infantry Division that landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach, Normandy. During that D-day invasion, it’s estimated that up to 3,000 Allied troops died, and some 9,000 were injured or went missing. Shay repeatedly plunged into the treacherous sea and carried critically-wounded men to safety.
He does not recall how many men he pulled from the water while bullets were streaming past him. “We’ve all had our individual experiences, and none are more dramatic than the next,” said Shay, characteristically modest.
“You are a direct descendant of Chief Joseph Orono, who was an ally of George Washington during the independence war,” Sarkozy told Shay at the ceremony. “You are also the grandson of the French Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie, baron of Saint-Castin. And thus, the links that tie you to France hark back until the 17th century. In fact, you’ve been a Frenchman for far longer than I.”
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Neil Rolde, outside the Capitol in Augusta in 2011. Rolde’s been involved in state politics for over forty years, has written extensively about Maine, is a philanthropist, a Renaissance man, and a gentleman. photo by Ramona du Houx
“I always wanted to be a writer from the very start. When I was eight, I think, I said I wanted to go to Columbia Journalism School, and strangely enough I ended up there,” said Neil Rolde, who is a prize-winning historian, prolific Maine writer, philanthropist, community activist, Renaissance man, former Maine State Representative, political activist and theorist.
Most of Rolde’s 15 books involve the history of Maine — the state he loves deeply — and its people. With his wealth of historical knowledge about politics, the author recently has turned his skill and wit to highlighting political incidents that happen today in a historical context. The results are thought-provoking blog narratives that strike the cord of humanity in us all.
The last blog in his History in Today’s Politics series is entitled: “LePage’s Research and Development Bond Veto Says, ‘High Tech Industries Keep Out.’”
“History is an amazing thing and teaches us all something, if we give it time,” said Rolde. “What happens today has happened — in a different incarnation — in the past. Giving today’s events a historical context can allow us to understand them better.”
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“In some ways we know more about the surface of other planets than we do about our own planet,” said Beth Orcutt in the new Bigelow Laboratory. Photo by Emily du Houx
Beth Orcutt is interested in things few of us can see. Most scientists working at Bigelow Laboratories can claim somewhat similar interests, since they spend their days poring over the genetic makeup of marine viruses, the habits of iron-oxidizing bacteria, or temperature fluctuations in sea water.
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Two time Olympic Gold winner, Seth Wescott after he took a run down Sugarloaf Mountain, behind him, to be welcomed home by his community. photo by Ramona du Houx
“I really believe there is a flow to everything in life,” said Seth Wescott during an interview at The Rack, the restaurant he co-owns, at the foot of Sugarloaf USA.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, Seth Wescott made history as the first American winter athlete to defend a gold medal on snow, when he won Olympic gold for the second time in snowboard cross. Wescott, who started off the race in fourth place, gradually advanced throughout the field until the end, when he narrowly defeated Mike Robertson on the final jump. During that race something incredible happened to the Olympian.
A serene, confident Wescott reflected on that time and other moments in his career, when he had felt completely at one with nature.
“I had a ‘moment’ for ten seconds during that race. Even though I was in a competitive venue — and a manmade format — I felt I was communing with nature in that moment,” said Wescott. “I’ve had that type of experience other times in my career, where you lose certain senses you don’t need to accomplish the goal, and other senses become much more keen. Only the sense that I need to be enhanced takes over.”
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Rep. Emily Cain, Maine's Democratic Minority Leader in the state House of Representatives. photo by Ramona du Houx
Maine’s House Minority Leader, Rep. Emily Cain, sat down for an interview about this session. Cain is the spokesperson for democrats in the House of Representatives and since the LePage administration has moved in her public role has increased. Young, energetic, quick witted and intelligent she handles tense situations with ease and grace. She never backs down from her principles and has a clear understanding how to move Maine forward economically while maintaining Maine’s quality of life, Having severed on the Appropriations and Education Committees she brings unique insights to her job which helps during negotiations.
This session has been dominated by Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed cuts that would result in people losing health care. When did this all start?
Before we even arrived back in session, long before Christmas, the Appropriations Committee had held hearings on his supplemental budget that made $220 million in cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services.
First the governor tried to blame “too many people being on the program.” Then he blamed the federal government. He wouldn’t take responsibility for errors within DHHS — these were errors within his own administration — for why that cash-flow problem happened.
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Democrats say they want a bond package to create jobs this upcoming legislative session. photo by Ramona du Houx
Democratic minority leaders in the House and Senate answer questions about health care, welfare, the environment, voting rights, and the right-wing out-of-state agenda influencing in Maine. They also express their hope to be able to create a job package, working in a bipartisan way.
Representative Emily Cain —
The people of Maine overwhelmingly voted to restore same-day registration. Republicans even ran an extreme ad in the final days that pointed to a “gay conspiracy” theory. Why did they sink to such an outlandish concept?
The Republicans desperately reverted to their same-old campaigns based on fear and misdirection, after multiple failed attempts to create the perception of fraud in our voting system. The good news is that Maine voters saw through this deceitful campaign, rejected the change in the law, and restored sensibility and access to our elections. Democrats believe this attempt to roll back voting rights is just another example of Republicans pushing solutions in search of problems and trying to distract from the fact that they have not focused on job creation and improving our economy.
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