The City of Belfast will be holding an information session about its Brownfields Assessment Program, which will take place at 6:00 pm on Monday, February 24th in City Council Chambers at Belfast City Hall, at 131 Church Street in Belfast. This session is free and open to the public.
Under the City of Belfast’s Brownfields Assessment Program, owners, developers, and/or prospective purchasers of ‘brownfield’ properties - which are commercial and industrial properties located within Belfast that have expansion, reuse, or redevelopment potential, but which are currently vacant or are underutilized due to known or perceived environmental contamination, can receive an environmental assessment and/or cleanup plan for that property, in order to provide environmental due diligence in support of obtaining bank financing, to document the environmental liabilities and the associated cleanup costs, to help revitalize these properties, and/or to protect the environment and public health. The City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program is a voluntary program, where the services are provided at no charge to the owner, developer, or prospective purchaser; however the information and reports that are generated by this program become part of the public record.
The goal of this session is to educate people about this program and to highlight its benefits.
According to Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge, ”while the City of Belfast has clearly recognized that this program is a powerful economic development tool and has consistently supported it, it is sometimes a challenge to get the participation of owners, developers, and prospective purchasers, due to unaddressed concerns that they may have or due to a lack of understanding of the program, and we encourage them to attend this session.
"Additionally, we are also hoping to make our local realtor and banker communities well aware of this resource. This information session is part of a concerted, ongoing community outreach and engagement campaign that I hope will result in getting many worthwhile properties assessed in an efficient manner.”
The funding for this program is provided through a United States Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment Grant, which was applied for and secured by the City of Belfast during the first half of 2019. The elected officials of the City of Belfast at that time - Mayor Samantha Paradis, City Councilor Paul Dean, City Councilor Neal Harkness, City Councilor Michael Hurley, City Councilor Mary Mortier, and City Councilor Eric Sanders - deserve credit for supporting the development and submission of the application to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The outreach for, and the management of, the City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program is being done by the City of Belfast along with a number of community partners, including: the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce; the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition; Belfast Public Health Nursing; Our Town Belfast; and Waldo Community Action Partners.
Any persons with interest in the City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program are encouraged to contact Thomas Kittredge, Economic Development Director, at (207) 338-3370, extension 116, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, where they can have confidential, no-obligation discussions regarding the program and their properties.
Information about the City of Belfast Brownfields Assessment Program can also be found at www.cityofbelfast.org/brownfields.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields.
Hallowell, Maine – February 14, 2020. The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has issued a Request for Proposals for the Sale of Energy or Renewable Energy Credits from Qualifying Renewable Resources (Tranche 1). The Commission is seeking proposals from qualifying renewable generation resources for the sale of energy or renewable energy credits (RECs). A bidder may also offer to sell capacity as part of its proposal. Bidder(s) selected will enter into 20-year contract(s) with one or both of Maine’s investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities - Central Maine Power Company (CMP) and Emera Maine (EM) (T&D utilities). Initial proposals are due on or before April 10, 2020. The RFP and related materials are available on the MPUC website at: https://www.maine.gov/mpuc/electricity/rfps/class1a2020/
Background: During its 2019 session, the Maine Legislature enacted An Act To Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, Public Law 2019, Chapter 477 (Act). The Act directs the Commission to conduct two competitive solicitation processes to procure, in the aggregate, an amount of energy or RECs from Class 1A resources that is equal to 14% of retail electricity sales in the State during calendar year 2018, or 1.715 Million MWh. Of that 14% total, the Act directs the Commission to acquire at least 7%, but not more than 10%, through contracts approved by December 31, 2020 (Tranche 1), and to acquire the remaining amount (Tranche 2) through a solicitation process to be initiated no later than January 15, 2021.
About the Commission
The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, telephone, water and gas utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility service at rates that are just and reasonable for all ratepayers. Commission programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service and Dig Safe. Philip L. Bartlett, II serves as Chairman, Bruce Williamson and Randall Davis serve as Commissioners.
Learn more about the Commission at www.maine.gov/mpuc
By Ramona du Houx
The Maine Small Business Coalition, representing thousands of progressive small business owners across the state, is endorsing legislation to guarantee overtime pay for more Maine workers. LD 402 would gradually raise the salary threshold for eligibility for overtime pay, benefiting 28,000 salaried Maine workers. The bill will have a work session in the Labor and Housing Committee Wednesday morning.
“As a baker, I can tell you the recipe for a successful small business: value your employees. That includes valuing their time and allowing them to have a life outside of work. It means allowing them to spend time with their friends, family, and community so that they can come back to work renewed and ready to give their all,” said Jim Amaral, founder and owner of Borealis Breads in Waldoboro and Wells.
Maine small businesses, who overwhelmingly pay their workers fully for their time, often find themselves competing with large, out-of-state corporations that take advantage of outdated wage and hour laws to compensate their workers for less than the full time they work.
“We have long fought for a living wage because we don’t believe that our business can be successful when our employees are struggling. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see big corporations skirting minimum wage laws by refusing to pay low wage salaried employees overtime. If we believe in a living wage, we need to close the loopholes that undermine it,” said Briana and Andrew Volk, owners of the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club.
The bill — LD 402, “An Act to Restore Overtime Protections for Maine Workers” — would boost middle-class wages by $8.8 million, according to a new report published by the Maine Center for Economic Policy.
“No worker in Maine should be made to work 60 or 70 hours per week without earning a living wage,” said James Myall, a policy analyst at MECEP and the report’s author. “Maine’s middle class is struggling even as corporations reap larger profits and pay lower taxes. LD 402 would guarantee overtime pay for all workers who earn less than $55,000. It would give Maine’s middle class a much-needed raise and boost our economy.”
Nearly all hourly workers are already guaranteed overtime when they work more than 40 hours. But contrary to common understanding, overtime protections apply to salaried workers too. All workers who earns less than a “salary threshold” set by federal and state overtime regulations must receive time-and-a-half pay for overtime. But the salary threshold has failed to keep up with inflation as business interests have fought off proposed adjustments in an effort to keep wages low. As a result, salaried workers have lost overtime protection over time — including those with relatively low salaries.
“My parents founded Halcyon Yarn in 1971. They believed that the fabric of our business was only as strong as each individual thread. Together with our loyal employees, we have been able to create a beautiful tapestry over the last forty years,” notes Gretchen Jaeger, the owner of Halcyon Yarn in Bath. “We support paying salaried employees overtime because our business and our community fall apart when any one of us is holding on by a strand."
While 65 percent of salaried Mainers earned less than the salary threshold in the ‘70s, only 20 percent do today. Under current Maine law, workers with salaries as low as $36,000 annually can be made to work overtime without earning a single additional dime. For those workers, accepting a salaried position can become a trap of long hours with low pay. LD 402 would increase the salary threshold to guarantee overtime for all workers who earn less than $55,000 annually.
Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy in South Portland, argues that allowing salaried employees to earn overtime was one of the ways that ReVision had expanded to 270 employees since its founding in 2003: “If we forced our salaried employees to work 70 hours and only paid them for 40 hours, we could save some money in the short term, but we would hurt morale and lose many of our workers.”
Nate Barr, who owns Zootility, a multi-use tool manufacturing company in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood, notes that a strong overtime threshold makes business sense for small business owners.
“I want my employees to come to work rested and re-energized, not exhausted and resentful that I’m making them neglect their families and work for free,” said Barr. “A lower overtime threshold is penny wise and pound foolish. If we want to grow scalable businesses and improve Maine’s economy, we need to treat our workers well.”
Dear Senator Collins:
Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?
As you no doubt by now have heard, President Trump has exacted his revenge on whomever testified in the impeachment hearings, including a true American hero and patriot, Lt. Col. Vindman. Vindman was subpoenaed, and under oath told the truth, and for this, he was punished by the man YOU assured us had "learned his lesson" from the impeachment hearings.
Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?
President Trump not only had Vindman escorted off the White House grounds like a criminal, he had Vindman's brother, who had nothing to do with the hearings and delivered no testimony, also escorted off White House grounds. Both men nobly and without question served our country, and were punished by President Trump for daring to tell truth to power.
Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?
President Trump blocked testimony and the delivery of pertinent documents that may have given a clearer indication of what really happened with the Ukraine call and if he committed an abuse of power. An innocent man would do no such thing, yet you and the rest of the Republican members of The Senate, save for Senator Romney, gave him a pass on the allegations, citing that "insufficient evidence" had been presented to the Senate. This of course, and as you well know, is nonsense. The House Managers delivered more than sufficient evidence to the guilt of the President. Senator McConnell announced to FOX viewers they had nothing to fear about Trump facing any repercussions from the Ukraine call. It would appear you and your GOP colleagues helped to make good on that promise.
Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?
There was once a time when you might have been able to take a place in history next to Senator Margaret Chase Smith for taking a moral stand against abuse of power. Chase Smith, as you know, had the courage and strength of her convictions to take a stand against Joseph McCarthy, despite the headwinds against her. It might appear you were more concerned about maintaining your seat in the Senate, than you were about ably representing the People of Maine and doing what clearly would have been the right thing. And now for your vote to acquit, you get to keep your seat and GOP support....and Lt. Col. Vindman was escorted off the White House grounds like a criminal.
Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?
It is difficult to know what is going to happen in the next year leading up to the election, but it's safe to say this election will be unlike any other, and President Trump will now stop at nothing to ensure his re-election, now that he knows the Senate is firmly and safely in his pocket. Your vote to stand with President Trump will forever tarnish your legacy, and you will be on the wrong side of history.
Who stands with Lt. Col. Vindman?
The People of Maine do... and you have turned your back on Vindman, and us.
See you in November. It will be my pleasure to vote for your opponent.
By Ramona du Houx
“We have to act like our house is on fire because it is,” actress Jane Fonda said Friday, February 7, referencing climate activist Greta Thunberg, before a crowd of hundreds of protestors outside Los Angeles City Hall in the first Fire Drill Friday rally in California.
Fonda announced at her rally that Mayor Eric Garcetti, during on a phone conversation on February 5, agreed to the climate goals of the Last Chance Alliance, which happen to be the same goals of the Elected Officials to Protect California (EOPCA). Garcetti was also told there are over 300 CA elected officials that have signed a letter to Gov. Newson asking him to agree too.
Those goals are to:
▪ roll out a statewide 2,500-foot buffer around new oil and gas wells,
▪ commit to end permitting for fossil fuel projects and,
▪ phase out all oil production and follow a just transition to 100% clean, job-creating energy.
“You know what Mayor Garcetti said when I asked him if I could share the news?” asked Fonda addressing the crowd. “He said, ‘absolutely, absolutely.’”
Fonda then called on Governor Gavin Newsom to make the same promise.
On Valentine’s Day an EOPCA bipartisan group of mayors, county supervisors, and local elected officials will ask Governor Newsom to “show love for California” and enact a comprehensive Climate Emergency Plan to phase out the production and burning of oil and gas in California during their rally at the state Capitol, at 11am.
The EOPCA group will also deliver their letter to Governor Gavin Newsom which has been signed by more than 300 local elected officials from 49 counties, including 74 mayors. The letter urges the Governor to end permits for all new oil and gas drilling, enact 2,500 foot public health setbacks, and start a just transition to 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors, now. The same promise Mayor Garcetti made.
Fossil fuel production drives the climate crisis and kills 12,000 Californians each year.
They will urge Governor Newsom to show his love for California by acting immediately to protect the state from the climate crisis and declare a Climate Emergency.
EOPCA considers Governor Newsom’s recent moratorium on new fracking permits and partial moratorium on steam-injection oil drilling and important first step. But emphasized it’s not enough.
“Every oil well that Governor Newsom approves deepens the public health and climate emergency that fossil fuels cause,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, speaking at an event in Sacramento, CA. Rep. Cornell du Houx is president of EOPCA. Here's the radio report from that CA state capital press event: Listen to "California Elected Officials Call on Governor to Phase out Fossil Fuel Production" on Spreaker.
Fires are only one sign of the growing devastation Californians are experiencing while the state fails to take emergency action. As the effects of the climate crisis mount, Californians will suffer more droughts, coastal erosion, and deadly heat waves. Extreme weather conditions will also overwhelm infrastructure and put countless lives at risk. The UN has stated we only have 10 years to transition to clean renewable energy to advert the extreme climate events from becoming the norm.
California’s Fire Drill Fridays will call for a Green New Deal, an end to new fossil fuels and a transition to a renewable energy economy, the group said in a news release.
Fonda has partnered with the Last Chance Alliance and Green Peace to protest the first Friday of every month throughout California and eventually other states.
“The science is clear — we need to stop burning fossil fuels and invest aggressively in a transition to clean, safe, renewable energy," Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard said in a written statement.
The next Fire Drill Fridays rally is scheduled to take place in Wilmington, California on March 7th.
Elected Officials to Protect CA, is part of the Elected Officials to Protect America network, sponsered by the Solon Center for Research and Publishing of Maine.
Oped by Maine Governor Janet Mills
A year ago, I presented my Administration’s first biennial budget. That budget was based on HOPE – health, opportunity, prosperity, and education.
The Legislature then debated that proposal, negotiated some compromises and then they enacted – respectfully and in timely fashion – a balanced budget, with two-thirds bipartisan support, without raising any taxes.
Since that time, we’ve been very fortunate. Our economy has remained strong, with continued growth and record low unemployment. The economic forecast and the revenue projections are positive, with more than half of projected revenue being one-time funds, but a forecast that permits us now to identify specific needs to present to the Legislature in the form of a supplemental budget.
The supplemental budget I proposed this week reflects three bipartisan priorities:
In this budget I propose that we build on our state’s record-high Rainy Day Fund by setting aside another $20 million dollars of that projected surplus in savings. If that’s approved, the Budget Stabilization Fund will have grown by $50 million since I took office. That’s important savings for a Rainy Day.
Government is also about keeping people safe and protecting children and families so the supplemental requests 20 additional positions so we can respond to reports of child abuse or neglect, and it eliminates the current Section 29 waitlist for people with developmental disabilities while we work to improve services for all people with disabilities.
The budget also funds 14 new patrol officers and sergeants at the Maine State Police. The fact is, the number of state police patrol officers has not changed since the 1970’s, while traffic, technology and population have all grown. There are simply too few troopers to respond to car crashes, lost children and crime scenes.
The budget also invests in expanding Maine’s workforce to respond to the demands of the present and the needs of the future. So, it:
I am also presenting a bond package to the Legislature, and asking them to let you, the voters, decide on $100 million in borrowing for transportation to fix the potholes and $15 million to bring high-speed internet to your towns.
This supplemental budget is balanced. It does not create new programs. It takes care that one-time monies are used for one time needs and that we fulfill our obligation within existing programs to take care of our schools, child welfare and public safety needs.
As the Legislature puts their own fingerprints on this document, I hope that they do so with caution, balancing the health and safety of Maine families and our workforce needs with the long-term health of the state.
AUGUSTA - Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has received petitions for the citizens' initiative "To Reject the New England Clean Energy Connect Transmission Project."
I urge Maine people to vote No on 1 on March 3, 2020
By Maine Gov. Janet Mills
A little more than a month ago, the residents of a city in central China began getting terribly sick with a virus that no one had seen before. As that virus spread, one of the first things that public health officials did was begin to work on a vaccine because vaccines save lives.
They are one of the best tools to safeguard our health, protect the health of those around us, friends and loved ones and children.
You know a century ago, as Maine celebrated its 100th birthday, influenza – the flu – posed a serious threat to our people and took thousands of lives. Globally, between 50 million and 100 million people (3 percent to 5 percent of the entire population) died from the flu between 1918 and 1920.
I don’t want that to happen again.
A hundred years later, the flu is still a public health concern, but thanks to vaccines, we are much safer than we used to be – if you get vaccinated.
Decades of scientific research prove that vaccines not only work but that they are safe.
Unfortunately, our state has had a vaccination opt-out rate that is three times higher than the national average for kids entering kindergarten. Our state ranks seventh in the country for the rate of non-medical opt-outs among school age children.
So last year alone, schools in Lincoln, York, and Cumberland counties experienced dangerous whooping cough outbreaks.
I supported Maine’s vaccination laws and, like every other Mainer, I also highly value personal choice. But, as your Governor, I am charged with protecting the health and safety of all Maine people, and amidst these outbreaks it has become painfully clear that Maine laws have not adequately protected the health of Maine people.
Last year I signed a bill to remove the non-medical exemptions from vaccination laws in order to better protect the health and welfare of people, especially young children, across our state – and this is something that four other states, including Mississippi, have done.
People opposed to this new law, however, have succeed in putting a referendum question on the ballot in March in the hopes of overturning the law.
Their campaign is masquerading itself as opposition to “Big Pharma,” but, really, pharmaceutical companies hardly benefit at all from producing vaccines, as the Bangor Daily News recently reported. And in trying to target so-called Big Pharma, whom nobody really likes, their campaign is purposefully trying to conflate vaccinations with other issues like the opioid epidemic when these issues are distinctly different.
Don’t buy it.
Vaccines work, but to make them more effective, people need to be vaccinated, especially children.
As the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, ensuring that everyone who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated “is important because it uniquely protects the most vulnerable members of our communities, including infants, pregnant women and other individuals whose immune systems cannot combat certain harmful or deadly infections or who aren't eligible to receive certain vaccines.”
Let’s not go back to a time when viruses like pertussis, the measles, mumps, or rubella were commonplace.
Let’s protect our children. Let’s protect the future.
I urge Maine people to vote No on 1 March 3rd.
by Ramona du Houx
Jan. 30, 2020 – Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced a $9.87 million investment in four infrastructure projects that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for 4,527 households and 215 businesses in rural Maine. This is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments.
“High-speed internet is no longer a luxury; it is an economic necessity,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This significant federal investment builds on the work done by the state to help connect our small, rural communities to high-speed internet and open new doors of opportunity for their residents. As we work to strengthen and diversify our economy, building out our broadband capacity will play an important role and this funding represents another welcome step forward.”
All this continues on the work the Baldacci administration started with its ConnectME program, that is still in effect today. In addition to other broadband intititives his adminstration, working with the Obama administration achieved.
These projects have immense support from all Maine's members of congress.
“Maine is the most rural state in the nation and ranks 49thin broadband access, which is a utility just as important as electricity or running water for rural Mainers and small businesses,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “Since I first took my seat on the House Appropriations Committee, I’ve pushed to expand rural broadband grant programs. Increased connectivity is a cornerstone of Maine’s future successes and I’m thrilled to see almost $10 million come to rural Maine communities that need the extra boost.”
The following projects that will recieve funds are:
“Communities in Maine are in need of reliable broadband infrastructure in order to compete in an increasingly digital economy,” said Senators Collins and King. “With this important funding, rural towns throughout the state will be able to deploy high-speed broadband and fiber networks that will serve their residents for decades to come, enhance digital inclusion, and enable the many economic and social opportunities that are only made possible by 21st century connectivity.”
Congressman Jared Golden said, “The people of Roque Bluffs are making impressive progress to bring reliable broadband to their town, and I’m proud to support their work. During the congressional hearing I brought to Washington County, I worked with Lisa Hanscom, the town’s First Selectman, and their partner, Axiom Technologies, to determine how Congress can help locally-led broadband efforts like Roque Bluffs’ get across the finish line. I applaud today’s grant award, which will help make Roque Bluffs’ bold plan to connect nearly the entire community to high-speed internet a reality. I know how important it is to close the digital divide for towns like Roque Bluffs and I will continue to work with these rural communities to improve this critical infrastructure.”
An additional $550 million in ReConnect funding will be avalible in 2020. USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020.
These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.
To learn more background please go HERE.
AUGUSTA – The Juvenile Justice System Assessment & Reinvestment Task Force will hold its January meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28, from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Capitol Judicial Center, 2nd Floor, 1 Court Street, Augusta. The meeting is open to the public.
Established in May, the group was formed to examine the state’s juvenile justice system and develop recommendations for a continuum of community-based alternatives to incarceration for system-involved youth and those at risk for becoming involved in the justice system. Information about the Task Force, including the schedule of meetings and forums can be found at: www.mainejjtaskforce.org
The Center for Children’s Law and Policy or CCLP, the organization conducting the assessment, will present preliminary findings and recommendations. The final report will be released at the next meeting of the task force on Feb. 25.
Chaired by Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland, Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty and Jill Ward of the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law, the task force is composed of leaders from multiple government agencies, the Legislature, the Judiciary, practitioners and impacted communities. The task force will work with the staff from CCLP to assess the efficacy of the current system and develop recommendations to improve outcomes for system-involved youth.