Entries Filed in 'Issues'
Front Street Shipyard has enhanced Belfast’s creative economy. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Artists, artisans, farmers, engineers, designers, IT computer professionals, inventors, microbrewers, and unique retailers can be found in every corner of our state. More café’s and restaurants are opening daily. Maine’s creative economy, embracing technology, talent and tolerance, is in full swing. These, more than 143,000 small businesses, entrepreneurs are our mainstay.
Two out of every three jobs are created by a small business—and more than 280,000 Mainers are employed by a small business.
They are forging ahead, despite a bad business climate created by Gov. LePage’s administration. But small businesses hurt when their taxes go up because the state has cut back funds to municipalities forcing towns to increase property taxes. They hurt when there is a new law that doesn’t allow a business, where you live and work, to deduct part of their property expenses on the Maine tax return. They hurt when people’s incomes stagnate.
Under Governor LePage’s watch, Maine ranks forty-sixth in the nation for jobs recovered since the recession. While the rest of the country has recovered 101 percent of lost jobs, Maine has only recovered 48 percent, and most of them are in the Portland area.
According to CNBC, Maine is ranked 45th on its list of America’s Top States for Business– including specific rankings as 46th in infrastructure and 48th in overall economy.
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Tags: Maine's creative economy·Michaud is Maine's hope
Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Back in 2005 the Federal Government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced that there would be closures of military bases across the country. Maine was targeted at three major facilities: Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center (DFAS) in Limestone.
The State’s Congressional Delegation swung into action along with Gov. John Baldacci, and the communities effected. Press conferences and meetings were held at each threatened facility, sometimes one a day at each location, and Congressman Mike Michaud was at the majority of them, from promoting the attributes of workers in Limestone to rallying shipyard employees in Portsmouth. He fought for the workers and their communities in Portsmouth and BNAS in Maine and D.C., even though those bases were not in his congressional district.
After ten years of reporting on the Congressman’s activities, I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to him that making sure the people of Maine are treated fairly and have good paying jobs with healthcare benefits.
Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Recently we talked about his economic development plans for Maine.
Q: What is your highest priority?
My biggest priority is building a Maine economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us. That starts with job creation, but it also means an intense focus on education, starting with early childhood, and continuing through college; it means a higher minimum wage and expanded access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, and 3,000 veterans; and it means empowering business to grow and expand.
Under Gov. LePage and his failed policies, Maine has lagged behind the rest of New England in private-sector job growth. His “open for business” policy is nothing but rhetoric. He’s actually driven hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector investment out of the state.
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Tags: Agriculture·Congressman Mike Michaud·Elections in Maine·Jobs·Maine·Maine's 2014 governor's race·Maine's quality of life
A narrative dance theatre performance in Harrison Bergeron Escapes from the Zoo performed at Bowdoin College. Photo by Ramona du Houx
In May, at Bowdoin College, audiences were in awe watching aerial dancers twirl high overhead on “silks” that wrapped round their arms as they completed dare devil acts. It was hard to imagine these performers were not professionals—but they were students in Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva’s course, Interdisciplinary Devising. And it wasn’t just a circus act; they were part of a narrative dance theatre performance in Harrison Bergeron Escapes from the Zoo the second Circus-Theatre-Cabarets ever performed in Maine.
Amazingly no student had ever performed aerial stunts— many had majors in areas unrelated to theater. The staging – on four levels (floor, two balconies, a catwalk, and aerial silk) was remarkably complex, yet the constant dance-like motion of the performers made everything flow.
“Harrison Bergeron was a wonderful opportunity to stage an amalgam of dance, drama, circus and live music – with a strong social narrative. The Bowdoin production was an experiment in trans-disciplinary theatre,” said Syssoyeva, who was a visiting Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance. “And it was an exploration of the power of live performance – of what makes theatre fundamentally different from film: intense, physical immediacy. With the rise of collectively devised performance, theatre is becoming ever more multi-disciplinary. Despite eternal funding difficulties, despite ever more sophisticated technologies of mediated performance, live theatre is experiencing a revival – especially physical theatre. At the same time, the New Circus movement (nouveau cirque) is surging in North America and Europe. Our production of Harrison Bergeron is a cross over from devised physical theatre into New Circus.”
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Tags: Nouveau Cirque Theater comes to Maine
Rachel McDonald, Common Street Arts program manager, explains CSA workshops. Photo by Ramona du Houx
In the heart of downtown Waterville, 16 Common Street, there is a relatively new non-profit arts organization that is helping to build the city’s creative economy with exhibits and arts education. This summer the line up of workshops offered by Common Street Arts (CSA) is truly impressive, and so are it’s shows.
“At the core we are a cooperative arts and education venue that is divided into two spaces. The gallery presents excellent art of all sorts from a wide range of emerging artists to more established artists and people in between. The studio side provides educational programs,” said Rachel McDonald, who has been Common Street Arts program manager since August after leaving a position at the Portland Museum of Art.
“I jumped at this opportunity— to build up the organization. That’s what I’m passionate about,” said McDonald.
Art on exhibit at CSA, Waterville. Photo by Ramona du Houx
The Maine non-profit 501-c-4 gallery has around eight juried and curated exhibitions per year and the community responds. The openings, with local foods and wine, always have tremendous turnouts.
“Creating a space for people to view art is essential for any downtown to help grow it’s creative economy,” said McDonald. “The Waterville community has been great coming out for our openings. We sometimes have a film events where we collaborate with Colby cinema studies. Other times we’ve had musicians play and artists talk about their work and give lectures.”
CSA has become a community center for arts in Waterville.
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Tags: Common Street Arts Gallery
Ocean acidification, in Maine, could dramatically hurt fisherman’s livelihoods. photo by Ramona du Houx
Research tells us the world’s ocean water is becoming more acidic, and that endangers shellfish and other marine animals. Marine scientists are worried and so are businesses that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. To better understand the problem and to help find solutions the Maine Legislature voted overwhelmingly to form the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission. The 16-member panel was announced on the Portland waterfront with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The Congresswoman has introduced a bill that would require federal officials to study the effects of ocean acidification on coastal communities in Maine and around the country.
“Ocean acidification could be a real threat to the fisheries that are the lifeblood of coastal communities. The truth is we don’t fully understand how it would impact a vital industry like the lobster fishery and what the effect would be on Maine,” said Pingree. “We know what’s causing ocean acidification but now we need to better understand how hard it is going to hit coastal economies.”
Under Pingree’s legislation, the Secretary of Commerce would be required to conduct studies to identify which communities are most dependent on ocean resources and how acidification would affect them if valuable industries were impacted.
“Maine is taking the lead on ocean acidification on the Eastern seaboard. We understand that it is a real threat to our marine environment, jobs and way of life,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the House chair of the State Commission and a marine biologist who sponsored the legislation that created the panel.
Lobsterman selling his catch in Belfast, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
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Tags: Ocean acidification in Maine
Author/politician, Neil Rolde talks about his new book. photo by Ramona du Houx
Author/Statesman Neil Rolde has written a work of fiction focused on his experiences called Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician.
“If you’ve ever served in a state legislature, lobbied one, or just read about their activities in the newspaper and wondered what goes on behind the scenes, you’ll love this book! From page one I couldn’t put it down and I loved every word of Neil’s stories crafted from ‘behind the scenes’ in the Maine legislature,” wrote Congresswoman Chellie Pingree in the book. “The characters may be fictional, but thanks to Neil’s insights and knowledge, coupled with his wonderful writing style, they all came to life.”
Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician is published by Maine’s Polar Bear & Company.
“The personal element is stronger in the affairs of legislative bodies than of any other branch of government, but it is a hard thing to convey in straight reporting. The public understanding of the legislative process is poorer as a result. As an experienced and influential legislator, with a great gift for storytelling, Neil Rolde is the ideal person to remedy this defect, and this volume of Political Tales delivers on that promise,” wrote U.S. House of Representative Barney Frank in the book. “The stories are educational and entertaining in equal measure, and people who read them will be better prepared to understand what goes on when legislators meet and transact important public business.”
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Tags: Neil Rolde
Blue Current Brewery, LLC, of Kittery, is the first microbrewer and manufacturer of sake east of Texas and the largest microbrewer of the Japanese rice wine in the nation.
Sake fermentation process differs from wine and is more akin to the brewing process of beer. To make beer or sake, the sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from starch, which is a two-step process with beer. With sake the conversion from starch to sugar and from sugar to alcohol occurs simultaneously.
“Sake is the most difficult thing to brew in the world, hands down,” said BCB founder Dan Ford.
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Tags: Sake in Maine
SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine, emits polutants. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Maine has been a leader in clean energy and efficiency, with a plan enacted during the Baldacci administration working with lawmakers. During that time Maine became part of the New England state’s cap-and-trade carbon trade system, know as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, (RGGI).
However, the state is still at the mercy of winds that carry pollution here. That’s why President Barack Obama’s EPA proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent nationally and by about 14 percent in Maine by 2030 is critical. Carbon emissions are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States and power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are no national limits on carbon pollution levels.
“The EPA’s plan will allow states like Maine to build on the strong work we’ve already been doing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “Over the last 9 years, emissions from power plants in the nine states participating in RGGI have dropped by more than 40 percent. That is a very important step forward, and this proposal – when taken with Maine’s cutting-edge clean energy initiatives – positions Maine to be a leader in the clean energy sector. That means more jobs, lower utility bills and cleaner air for all Mainers.”
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Tags: Climate change·RGGI - Regional Green House Gas initiative
By State Senator Colleen Lachowicz, representing Senate District 25.
With the second session of the 126th Legislature now behind us, I want to give you an update on some of what we accomplished this year and where there is still work to be done. While Governor LePage’s obstructionism threatened our progress at times, ultimately the Legislature came together to pass sound policies that will have far reaching benefits for the people of Maine.
This year, I fought hard to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorder receive the care and treatment they need. As a licensed Clinical Social Worker I have worked in the mental health field for more than 25 years and have witnessed the dramatic rise in the incidence of autism and the impact it has had on Maine families.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, with one in 68 children now identified with the disorder. In fact, Maine is now the state with the third highest rate of autism prevalence in the country.
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