• US charter schools add to racial isolation

    Charter schools are among the nation’s most segregated, according to an Associated Press analysis in December of 2017 — an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools.

    National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation’s 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily.

    Looking at 2014-2015 enrollment numbers, Maine’s white students were the most racially isolated of any such group in the country. In total, 83 percent of Maine’s white students attend schools where at least 90 percent of the total student population is white. 

    The problem: Those levels of segregation correspond with low achievement levels at schools of all kinds.

    In the AP analysis of student achievement in the 42 states that have enacted charter school laws, along with the District of Columbia, the performance of students in charter schools varies widely. But schools that enroll 99 percent minorities — both charters and traditional public schools — on average have fewer students reaching state standards for proficiency in reading and math.

    “Desegregation works. Nothing else does,” said Daniel Shulman, a Minnesota civil rights attorney. “There is no amount of money you can put into a segregated school that is going to make it equal.”

    Shulman singled out charter schools for blame in a lawsuit that accuses the state of Minnesota of allowing racially segregated schools to proliferate, along with achievement gaps for minority students. Minority-owned charters have been allowed wrongly to recruit only minorities, he said, as others wrongly have focused on attracting whites.

    Even some charter school officials acknowledge this is a concern.

    In Maine, the AP’s analysis of U.S. Department of Education data indicates the Baxter Academy for Technology and Sciences was far less diverse than neighboring schools in Portland, based on enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year.

    And the data show the school became more segregated as its total enrollment doubled in its second year of operation. In the 2014-2015 school year, the school’s black student population dropped to 7 from 13, compared with the prior year. Meanwhile, its white population doubled.

  • Solstice by the Sea at Sears Island, Maine on December 21

    Shown here, Sears Island sunset at last year’s winter solstice. 
    Friends of Sears Island will host a winter solstice celebration of light on Friday, December 21, from 6 to 7 p.m. Attendees will walk a path lit with hundreds of luminarias. The walk will culminate in music, readings, cocoa and cookies on the beach. The nondenominational celebration is free and open to all.
    Sears Island is located at the end of Sears Island Road off Route 1, just east of Searsport. Participants can park along the causeway at the end of the road and should gather at the island gate just beyond the parking area by 6 p.m. Bring a flashlight or lantern that uses a battery-operated light. No flames or pets will be permitted. In the event of inclement weather, the celebration will be cancelled. 

    For updates, check,, or email
  • Maine Alert to Corporations and Non-Profits Regarding Misleading Solicitations

    Maine corporations have recently received misleading solicitation mailings from a business operating under the name Workplace Compliance Services. These mailings include an offer to file annual reports for the corporation, for a $160 fee.

    Please be advised that the form provided by Workplace Compliance Services is not prescribed or recognized by the Maine Department of the Secretary of State and this mailing does not come from the department’s Division of Corporations.

    The “solicitation form” looks similar to the Division of Corporations’ annual report form, so although the solicitation correctly states that Workplace Compliance Services is not a government agency, some corporations have confused the form for the prescribed annual report. Maine corporations have received similar solicitations in recent years from entities operating under various names.

    Please be advised that the Division of Corporations does not mail out the annual report form. The legal deadline to file the 2019 annual reports with the Secretary of State’s office is June 1, 2019 and corporate entities can file those reports online beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

    Any corporation that has questions about the solicitation or form is encouraged to obtain advice from its lawyer or business advisor. In addition, those with questions can contact the Maine Division of Corporations at (207) 624-7752 for information about corporate annual report and other business entity filing requirements under Maine law.

  • After December 15, Mainers who need coverage will only be able to purchase major medical insurance for 2019

    “I am concerned that people in Maine who want to purchase major medical health insurance on the ACA’s Individual Marketplace may not act in time to have coverage in 2019.”  said Maine Insurance Commissioner Eric Cioppa. 
    His concern is based on reports from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid indicating that enrollment in Maine is down significantly compared to this time last year.
    “Several theories exist as to why that is,” he said. “For instance, more people may be enrolled in their employers’ plans. Others may be choosing to go without coverage due to cost; I urge these individuals to at least consider the options available.… Mainers have more options for 2019 and I hope they take advantage of them.” 

    After December 15, Mainers who need coverage will only be able to purchase major medical insurance for 2019 if they have a change in life circumstance that qualifies them for a Special Enrollment Period.

    Anyone who is eligible for a subsidy must go through to purchase insurance and to have the subsidy applied. Those who don’t qualify for subsidies can use the bureau’s rate calculator at, which includes both Marketplace and off-Marketplace plans. Mainers who need help getting started, or who have health insurance related questions, are invited to call the bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 800-300-5000 (in state) or 207-624-8475 (for TTY, call Maine Relay 711). Questions can also be emailed to
  • Offshore drilling will worsen climate change

    On Nov. 30, the Trump administration approved five requests allowing companies to conduct deafening seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals.

    Though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) denied that the testing would harm ocean animals, numerous scientific studies show that acoustic sound can harm and potentially kill these animals.

    But why would the administration want to do a seismic survey, which would put marine animals at risk? Because these tests are necessary in order to drill for oil in the Atlantic Ocean. This decision comes a week after 13 federal agencies on Black Friday declared in the Fourth National Climate Assessmentthat “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.”

    According to the report, the impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the U.S. and are projected to intensify — but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur, like the devastation caused by the California wildfires. Those actions will need to be taken by you and me, corporations, the state of Maine, President Donald Trump and the federal government.

    It is the burning of coal, oil and gas that produces the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

    The decision is likely to anger governors in states along the eastern seaboard who strongly oppose the administration’s proposal to expand federal oil and gas leases to the Atlantic. The authorizations give permission for surveys across a stretch of ocean between Delaware and Florida.

    Every state executive on the coast, with the exception of Gov. Paul LePage, opposed the plan. These federal leases could lead to exploratory drilling for the first time in more than a half-century.

    Seismic testing provides a map of the ocean floor and gives an estimate of the whereabouts of oil and gas, but only exploratory drilling can confirm their presence. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that soiled the Gulf of Mexico resulted from such an exploratory drill.

    But the most important danger of Trump’s decision to engage in seismic testing is that it will likely produce more fossil fuel, which will exacerbate climate change. The harm caused by climate change is occurring now, and the results are many.

    The Fourth National Climate Assessment says that “high temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events are increasing. Glaciers and snow cover are shrinking, and sea ice is retreating.” The report notes. “Seas are warming, rising and becoming more acidic. Flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.S. coastline. Growing seasons are lengthening, and wildfires are increasing.”

    Without more significant global action by ordinary citizens, corporations, states and national governments, climate change is expected to cause substantial losses to infrastructure and property and impede U.S. economic growth over this century. Regional economies and industries that depend on favorable climate conditions, such as agriculture, tourism and fisheries (all important in Maine), are increasingly vulnerable to the harm caused by climate change.

    The Trump administration’s desire to do seismic testing will make it harder for us to bring climate change under control. It is a risk that we cannot afford.

  • CD2 Maine ranked choice election recount November 6, 2018

     The recount of the Congressional District 2 race in the Nov. 6, 2018 General Election will begin Thursday, Dec. 6 at 9 a.m., Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap confirmed today.

    The recount will take place during regular business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is expected to take up to four weeks, until it is complete, or the requesting candidate concedes. The recount will break for the Christmas holiday, the week of Dec. 24, and will resume Jan. 3, 2019.

    The official results, upon completion of the final certification process on Monday, Nov. 26, show candidate Jared Golden (D) with 142,440 votes and candidate Bruce Poliquin (R) with 138,931 votes.

    Congressional District 2 Recount



    Candidate (Party)

    Official Nov. 26 Results

    Representative, U.S. House of Representatives


    Bruce Poliquin (R)


    Jared Golden (D)





    The recount process will take place at the tabulation site, Room 110 in the Elkins Building,19 Elkins Lane, Augusta. Due to decreased public viewing space for this recount, an overflow room with a live feed of the recount proceedings will be available to accommodate the public, upstairs in Room 204.

    In a recount, representatives of each candidate and staff members from the Department of the Secretary of State manually review each ballot to determine the official vote tally. State law requires the Maine State Police to collect the ballots for the recount and keep them in a secure facility until the recount has been completed. The ballots are stored in tamperproof metal containers and are closed with specially numbered security seals and locks.

    About 1/3 of the CD2 ballots are already in hand: The ballots from all hand-count municipalities in Congressional District 2 have been retained at the secure tabulation site from the initial tabulation effort. Additionally, all ballots from Hancock County are on hand due to a county Judge of Probate recount. Maine State Police will collect additional ballots as directed by the recount supervisor.

    Per Maine law, as the margin is more than 1,000 votes in this race, a $5,000 deposit is required, and full costs will be charged to the requesting candidate if the result of the election is unchanged at the completion of the recount. 

    The complete rules for conducting a recount of an office subject to ranked-choice voting are posted on the Elections website.

  • Maine’s Wreath Across America places close to 10 thousand wreaths at graves in France


     By Ramona du Houx

    On December 1st 9,387 Maine-made, balsam veterans' wreaths were placed on the headstones of all U.S. service members laid to rest at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, located in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

    The cemetery is one of 14 permanent American World War II military cemeteries abroad. This is the first time WAA has sent U.S.-made balsam wreaths to be placed in France.

    The December 1st wreath-laying event was a joint collaboration between the Normandy American Cemetery and American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and included ceremonial wreath placements on each of the five D-Day invasion beaches, at Pointe Du Hoc, along with a Canadian Wreath presentation.

    The veterans' wreaths were a donation from its WAA Founder, Morrill Worcester, whose dream has been to one day place a wreath in honor of every U.S. veteran laid to rest, worldwide.

    Worchester meet Charles Norman Shay at the ceremony. Shay, of Maine, is a Penobscot Indian Elder who served on D-day as a medic. He came ashore in the first wave on Omaha Beach as a medic, saving countless lives. “I’ve always been honored to serve my country. I only did my duty,” said Shay, who gave a speech at the ceremony.

    "The mission of the American Battle Monuments Commission is to honor the service, achievements and sacrifices of our U.S armed forces in two World Wars. It closely parallels the mission of the Wreaths Across America organization — to Remember, Honor and Teach," said Scott Desjardins, Superintendent, Normandy American Cemetery. "The Normandy American Cemetery is proud and pleased to be the first ABMC cemetery to have been chosen to attempt this important endeavor.”

    "When I began placing wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992, I could never have imagined that this idea would impact people around the world the way it has," said Worcester. "To know that WAA will be able to place a wreath for each of those veterans and say their names out loud is truly incredible, and I am so honored to be able to help this effort however I can."

    The transportation of nearly 9,500 fresh balsam veterans' wreaths from Maine to Normandy required a massive coordinated effort. 

    In 1992 in Harrington, Maine, wreath maker Morrill Worcester sought to turn a surplus of 5,000 holiday wreaths into an opportunity to pay tribute to our country's veterans. With the help of then Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, Worcester arranged for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Maine's Penobscot Elder who served as a medic during D-Day was at the ceramony.

    “The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet,” said Worcester.

    The national attention spurred the start of the 501c3 Wreaths Across America in 2007. Since then, the program has grown in scope, touching the lives of thousands of veterans' families and volunteers in every state across the country. In 2017 alone, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 1.5 million veterans' wreaths at 1,433 locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad.

    This year, National Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 – at least 1,500 participating locations across the country will host wreath-laying ceremonies, all run by dedicated volunteers.





  • Jackman, Maine residents vote to oppose CMP transmission line

    Jackman may join Caratunk, West Forks, The Forks, in opposition

    Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the Town of Alna rescinded prior support too

    Tonight, November 18, 2018at a special town meeting in the MSAD#12 School Gymnasium, Jackman residents voted 78-11, with one abstention, to oppose CMP’s proposal to build a massive 145-mile-long transmission line from the Quebec border through the State of Maine.

    Jackman residents said they oppose NECEC because it would damage Maine’s environment, wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic views, and tourism economy; and permanently harm their way of life.

    “The more people learn about this ill-conceived transmission line, the more they realize it is a bad deal for Maine,” says Sue Ely, Clean Energy Attorney, Natural Resources Council of Maine.

    At its October 17 hearing, the Public Utilities Commission heard blistering opposition to CMP’s plan and 95% of those who spoke or submitted testimony opposed the proposal.

    “More and more towns are retracting their support and voicing opposition to the transmission line,” says Ely. “As each new town, business or political leader announces their opposition, it becomes clearer that Maine does not want this project.”

    In addition to Jackman, the Towns of West Forks and The Forks have also voted to oppose the line and the Towns of Alna andCaratunk   have rescinded their earlier letter of support for the Central Maine Power / Hydro-Quebec project, calling it harmful and saying it is not financially beneficial to the Maine economy or its residents.

    “This powerline is good for CMP and Hydro-Quebec profits, but a very bad deal for Maine,” says Ely. “The CMP transmission line would do nothing to reduce harmful climate pollution while it would harm wildlife, habitat, and recreational resources.”

  • Toxic algae in Florida offer valuable lessons for protecting Maine waters

    Consistent, sound science is needed to manage harmful algal blooms, and monitoring, prediction and education efforts are critical but sorely underfunded.

    Microscopic algae in our oceans do much of the hard work that makes life on Earth possible. These tiny plants feed our oceans, clean our atmosphere and provide half of the oxygen we breathe. We simply wouldn’t be here without them.

    Yet, hundreds of species of algae also produce toxins that are harmful to people and the environment. When large numbers of these species grow, or bloom, toxins can move up the food web and have costly effects on wildlife, human health, seafood industries and tourism. I spent a decade studying harmful algae in Florida and saw firsthand the devastation that blooms can cause to the environment, the economy and the psyche of a region.

    The water conditions and physics of the Gulf of Mexico make it naturally prone to harmful algal blooms. Human activities, however, have arguably made these blooms much worse over time. Nitrogen-rich runoff from the land can act as fertilizer in the ocean and cause toxic algae to multiply. When ocean currents concentrate these cells, the algae can start killing fish. This releases more of the normally scarce nitrogen into the ocean, further fertilizing the blooms and creating a self-perpetuating cycle.

    The current “red tide” in Florida illustrates the need for consistent, sound science to manage harmful algal blooms. Monitoring, prediction and education are critical, yet the funds for these activities are scarce. Only about half of the years in the past decade saw federal funding for new research into the ecology and oceanography of harmful algal blooms. This is not enough, especially considering the major changes and challenges affecting our oceans.

    The combined effects of climate change, wastewater treatment, fertilizer runoff and coastal development have compromised the resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico. While much of the Maine coast sharply contrasts the highly developed coast of Florida, climate change is causing the Gulf of Maine to rapidly warm and acidify. This has introduced a lot of uncertainty about what the future looks like and made it clear that the past is no longer a useful guide. While we don’t yet know what the long-term impact of climate change will be on Gulf of Maine algae, we do know it is already changing the species, frequency, timing and magnitude of harmful blooms.

    Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences helps the Maine Department of Marine Resources monitor shellfish for the toxins created by harmful algal species, informing decisions on how to manage fisheries. This careful monitoring ensures that the seafood you buy at the store or order at a restaurant is safe to eat, but temporary fishery closures can have significant economic impacts on shellfish farmers and harvesters.

    We must continue to protect people’s health and the environment while developing new methods that better protect our coastal economy and the livelihoods of the many Mainers who rely on it. There is great potential in expanding use of the data from Maine’s monitoring programs to forecast blooms. Genetic surveys of seawater could help reveal what is happening with these harmful algae, and there are effective autonomous monitoring solutions that could be deployed throughout the Gulf of Maine to provide an early warning system. Bigelow scientists are also helping develop easy-to-use genetic testing methods for harmful species and contributing to citizen science efforts for monitoring and public education.

    Moving these efforts forward at the pace required to keep up with the rate of environmental change will require federal agencies to increase funding, and voters to elect representatives who understand the importance of scientific research. We have an opportunity in Maine to mitigate the threat of increased harmful algal blooms before it grows to be the size of the problem facing Florida.

  • Mainers voted for change, and now we’ll deliver

    Op-ed by Rep. Matthew Moonen, D-Portland, is the House chair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee and the incoming House Majority Leader. He is serving his fourth term in the Legislature

    When you went to the polls at the beginning of November, you sent a clear message that you’re ready for change and that you want a Legislature that will finally get results for you and your family.  

     So for the next two years, that’s exactly what we’re going to deliver.

    We will expand access to health care, upholding the referendum you passed last year and bringing coverage to more than 70,000 Mainers who have been waiting for far too long.

     We will protect our environment, preserving our natural beauty, supporting thousands of natural resources jobs and restoring Maine’s commitment to public health. 

    We will develop clean renewable energies, finally unleashing Maine’s solar industry and making solar power easier for everyone to afford.

    We’ll expand broadband to all corners of our state, so that any family can connect and any business can compete with the rest of the world. 

    We’ll continue the work to overcome our opioid addiction crisis and help more of our neighbors reclaim their lives. 

    We’ll support our teachers and students by renewing our commitment to public education. 

    We’ll tackle student debt so that more graduates will be able to stay in Maine and support themselves. 

    We will stand up for working people who are struggling to make ends meet by protecting their rights as workers and pushing for more family-friendly policies in the workplace.  

    We will help our seniors on fixed incomes who struggle with heating their homes and affording their prescriptions.

    We will make our tax code fairer and start to reverse the massive shift of our tax burden onto local government and property taxpayers.

    We will work to mitigate and prepare for the effects of climate change, particularly when it comes to our working waterfront and our forest products industry.

    We will lift up the most vulnerable Mainers and defend the rights of women and minorities.

    And we will build a budget that puts the needs of everyday Mainers ahead of the desires of the wealthy and the big corporations.

    That’s a lot of priorities, but after eight years of going backwards, we can’t afford to think small. No priority is expendable, and Democrats in both the House and Senate are fired up to put in the work.  

    We’re also ready and willing to work with Governor-elect Janet Mills to rebuild the relationship between the Legislature and the Executive branch – restoring a state government that cares about its mission.

    And, as we’ve always done, we’re looking forward to finding whatever common ground  we can with our Republican colleagues and working together to find the best ideas for Maine.

    We have the chance to make Mainers’ lives better – to give more people a fair shot to get ahead. And that’s a chance we can’t afford to waste.

  • Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announces recount results for House District 58

     Incumbent Democratic candidate James Handy has been confirmed as the winner of the House District 58 seat, based on the results of a ballot recount conducted today, announced Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.

    In the final tabulation of ballots cast, Handy received 2,011 votes to Republican candidate Denise Hurilla’s 1,973 votes. District 58 covers part of the City of Lewiston. A recount of the Nov. 6 election results was requested by Hurilla after unofficial results from Election Day indicated that she had lost the election by 43 votes, 1,972 to 2,015.

    The recount included 100 blank ballots, for a total of 4,084 ballots in the race. 

    In a recount, the representatives of each candidate and staff members from the Department of the Secretary of State manually review each ballot to determine the official vote tally. The recount, which is open to the public, began at 1 p.m. today at the Elkins Building in Augusta. 

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