Mike Michaud’s economic plan for Maine

April 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Economy

Maine Made

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Neil Rolde: History has lessons for the Koch brothers and their ilk.

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Guest Columns, Neil Rolde

History in Politics: The Squeeze by Neil Rolde

In 1990, when I was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate running against the incumbent Republican William Cohen, the main issue I became known for was the need to have Universal Health Care in the United States. My so-called political gurus had warned me against using this theme on the grounds that no one was interested. But I insisted and to my surprise – and no doubt more so to theirs – the exact opposite proved to be true. It lifted what had been deemed my “sacrificial race” into a potentially competitive battle. Then, some in the media began to call me a “one issue” candidate, ignoring all the materials I’d sent them of my views on other issues.

However, I did have a second major concern that I focused on in the latter part of the campaign. I called it “The Middle Class Squeeze.” Even back 24 years ago, the handwriting began appearing on the wall. My staff went ahead without telling me and produced a campaign button on the subject. To my consternation, once I saw it, they had omitted MIDDLE CLASS and printed the utterly baffling motto “STOP THE SQUEEZE.” I felt I would only look silly using such pins. So the Middle Class Squeeze, at least in my campaign, gained no traction.

Be that as it may, my reason for recalling this incident was to show how far back it was evident that what is a front page issue today – the decline of America’s formerly all-ubiquitous middle class – was beginning to rear its ugly head, finally leading to the world’s worst INEQUALITY in a major Capitalist democracy.

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Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 says, President Obama

March 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Economy

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Portland celebrities visit Hall Elementary School on March 3 to Celebrate Read Across America Day

March 2nd, 2014 · No Comments · Books, Community Maine, Education

On March 3rd, Portland’s celebration of Read Across America Day will become the first community in Northern New England to join the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

The Campaign is a nationwide network of more than 140 communities working to improve reading proficiency for all children by the end of third grade, a crucial benchmark for future academic success. As a network member,Portland will receive access to experts and policymakers, strategic and technical assistance, and opportunities to share and learn from similar communities.

“Portland is now at the vanguard in working to ensure that all of our children reach this critical threshold,” said Portland Mayor Michael F. Brennan.

Portland’s public elementary schools are celebrating Read Across America Day, which coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, by inviting guest readers to visit classes and planning other special activities. Portland’s police chief, fire chief, several television reporters and anchors and other local celebrities will read at Hall Elementary School.

“We know how important it is for all of our children to read at grade level by third grade,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “That is why our district made it a priority goal to increase by 20 percent the number of students reaching that goal by 2017.”

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Free tax help from CA$H Maine

February 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Taxes

CA$H Maine has opened their free tax preparation sites statewide to help working families who qualify claim up to $6,044 from the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Additionally, at this year’s CA$H Maine sites, information will be provided about saving for higher educations, including special opportunities for Maine residents.

In 2013, more than $30 million went unclaimed by Maine residents who did not realize they qualified for the EITC. This year, CA$H Maine wants to let Mainers know that there are many under-utilized programs available that can help families reach educational and long-term financial stability goals.

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The power of your mind

January 31st, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

AN ANTIDOTE FOR MINDLESSNESS by Maria Konnikova in the New Yorker

In the mid-nineteen-seventies, the cognitive psychologist Ellen Langer noticed that elderly people who envisioned themselves as younger versions of themselves often began to feel, and even think, like they had actually become younger. Men with trouble walking quickly were playing touch football. Memories were improving and blood pressure was dropping. The mind, Langer realized, could have a strong effect on the body. That realization led her to study the Buddhist principle of mindfulness, or awareness, which she characterizes as “a heightened state of involvement and wakefulness.”

But mindfulness is different from the hyperalert way you might feel after a great night’s sleep or a strong cup of coffee. Rather, Langer writes, it is “a state of conscious awareness in which the individual is implicitly aware of the context and content of information.” To illustrate the concept—or, rather, its opposite—Langer often recounts a shopping experience. Once, when Langer was paying for an item at a store, a clerk noticed that the back of her credit card wasn’t signed. After asking her to sign it, the clerk compared the scrawl on the receipt with the one on the card, to insure that no fraud was being committed. That, says Langer, is perfect mindlessness.

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President Barack Obama’s 5th State of the Union

January 29th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington, Speeches

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades. An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than 8 million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years. (Applause.) An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world, and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.

A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. (Applause.) A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired, but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities all across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after 12 long years, is finally coming to an end. (Applause.)

Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong. (Applause.)

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What poverty looks like in Maine

January 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Public Safety

By Robyn Merrill, a senior policy analyst at Maine Equal Justice Partners, a nonprofit legal aid organization that works to find solutions to poverty.

An increasing number of Maine children are growing up poor.Yet Gov. Paul LePage has offered no solutions to this ever-increasing problem.

Over the course of his administration, the number of homeless children in our state has grown, drastically increasing between 2010 and 2012.

While homelessness is going down nationally, in Maine it’s going up, driven by misguided policies in the guise of “reform.”

And according to the annual Kids Count report, nearly one in four children younger than five in Maine is growing up in poverty.

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Friends of Baxter State Park requests applicants for Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program

January 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Education, Environment

Friends of Baxter State Park (FBSP) is inviting current Maine high school sophomores and juniors to submit applications to participate in the 6th annual Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program. The program includes a 9-day field experience in Baxter State Park, scheduled for August 2-10, 2014. The application deadline is February 8, 2014.

In August each year, Friends of Baxter State Park sponsors the innovative Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program. This program embodies the central mission of FBSP to promote education about the values of wilderness preservation at Baxter State Park. Thanks to the support of generous donors and collaboration with Baxter State Park and the Chewonki Foundation, Friends of Baxter State Park is able to offer this program at no direct cost to the students.

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Helping the poor children with education and stable homes helps everyone

January 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Education, Public Safety

Programs to help support the poor have always been the right thing to do. They are a hand up not a hand out. Now studies have confirmed that early childhood education helps put kids on successful paths for life. And that growing up in poverty adds stress to children and their parents.Here’s more on the studies:

What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend? By MOISES VELASQUEZ-MANOF, published in the New York Times.

Growing up poor has long been associated with reduced educational attainment and lower lifetime earnings. Some evidence also suggests a higher risk of depression, substance abuse and other diseases in adulthood. Even for those who manage to overcome humble beginnings, early-life poverty may leave a lasting mark, accelerating aging and increasing the risk of degenerative disease in adulthood.

Today, more than one in five American children live in poverty. How, if at all, to intervene is almost invariably a politically fraught question. Scientists interested in the link between poverty and mental health, however, often face a more fundamental problem: a relative dearth of experiments that test and compare potential interventions.

So when, in 1996, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains opened a casino, Jane Costello, an epidemiologist at Duke University Medical School, saw an opportunity. The tribe elected to distribute a proportion of the profits equally among its 8,000 members. Professor Costello wondered whether the extra money would change psychiatric outcomes among poor Cherokee families.

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