Bangor City Councilman Joe Baldacci is so committed to the cause to keep the Odlin Road bus route operational and he will forego his City Council salary to help defray cost.
“Earlier this month I said I would be willing to donate my salary as a Bangor City Councilor to keep the buses running on the Oldin Road route. Today I kept that promise,” said Councilman Baldacci. “I delivered to the city manager an authorization to assign the equivalent of my salary for one year, or $2,000, back to City Hall to extend the bus route for an additional month.”
The city has cited their goal of saving roughly $20,000 dollars as the primary reason for closing the route.The shut down of the bus route was proposed even though ridership has steadily increased.
On Monday the City Council took action to create a public fund with the initial goal to keep the bus route running until November 1st. It was indicated that at least $4,000 would be needed to make this happen.
“With my donation, and another private donation made Monday night, our short term goal has been reached. Now we have time to work on our longer term goal of creating a public/private partnership to keep that bus route up and running,” said Baldacci.
The route serves primarily low-income working people who are struggling to overcome poverty. There are few other transportation options for those living in this region.
“We appreciate Councilor Baldacci’s support. For myself and many other riders, the Community Connector is the only affordable way to get to work and meet our basic needs. This is why public transit is a critical part of a just community,” said Ted Rippy a Food AND Medicine (FAM) board member.
Donations are still needed-
“It would be great if private businesses in the area and other interested citizens come forward with donations – big or small – everything will help,” said Councilman Baldacci. “People rely on this bus service for work and other important services. This lifeline needs to continue for the well being of our citizens and the growth of Bangor’s economy.”
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Tags: Importance of buses·Jobs·Maine's quality of life·Transportation
Community Connector riders, bus drivers, clergy, and concerned citizens rallied together outside city hall to express their concerns over the City of Bangor’s decision to close the Odlin Rd. bus route. Following the rally, community members attended a 2:00 pm public forum held by Bangor City Council on the route closure.
“People rely on this bus service for work and other important services ” said City Councilman Joe Baldacci. “What I proposed to the city manager today was to come up with the $4,000 to fund the route for two additional months – until November 1st. During that time we need to work with the affected businesses and workers to come up with a longer term public/private solution.”
The Odlin route, which opened fifteen months ago, was the result of a five-year petition campaign by Bangor residents living on Odlin Road and Outer Hammond Street. The Odlin route serves primarily low-income working people who are struggling to overcome poverty.
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life
Recently Governor LePage vetoed a bill that would have given workers a reasonable minimum wage of $8 per hour. More and more economists, like Paul Kurgman, are in agreement that a livable wage for the USA is needed to compete successfully globally. But Walmart and McDonald’s refuse to increase the minimum wage for workers and keep their workers hours short enough so they can’t claim medical benefits.
That practice often leads to workers having to use emergency rooms for their medical care which in turn makes insurance premiums go up and increases medicaid enrollments. The Affordable Care Act has mandated that businesses will have to insure workers that work a minimal of 30 hours. But Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has submitted a bill to try and change that requirement to 40 hours. Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with 50 or more workers would have to provide health insurance coverage to their full-time employees or risk a series of escalating tax penalties.
“For all its productivity innovations, Walmart has also been a key player in a “race to the bottom” that has tamped down wages and dismantled worker protections in the U.S. in recent decades. It’s at least worth asking if the economy would be better off with a race in the opposite direction,” wrote Justin Fox in his article The Case for Paying People More.
The battle over increasing the minimum wage will soon be fought on capitol hill, as President Obama has put forward an increase of the minimum wage in his State of the Union.
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life
New proposed facility-sketch of the expansion at the aerospace facility in Bangor.
C&L Aerospace announced a paint hangar and regional aircraft maintenance & management services expansion that is expected to create an additional 50-70 full time jobs at the maintenance facility in Bangor, Maine.
C&L has been assisted in the expansion through the work of the Economic Development Officials of the City of Bangor, which was recently awarded a $580,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Association. The Bangor City Council has also been working with the firm for over a year on this expansion project.
“New jobs for eastern and northern Maine is always good news. Even before this announcement the company had added about 50 additional workers since it purchased the old Telford Aviation a couple of years ago,” said Councilman Joe Baldacci.
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Tags: economic development·Economy·Jobs
Lawmakers reconvened today to take up more of the governor’s vetoes, including measures to raise the minimum wage, reporting BPA toxic chemicals in foods, supporting public schools and to address the need for warrants for drone surveillance and cell phone location tracking data.
So far, LePage has vetoed a record-breaking 83 bills this session and it’s possible that even more are in the works. On Monday, the governor issued 21 vetoes in fewer than 24 hours. Another veto was issued Tuesday morning before the House went into session. Lawmakers have been able to put party loyalty aside for the good of Maine people.
“The governor’s veto rampage is not just record-breaking, it’s mind-boggling. Good bills with unanimous approval, bipartisan support, life-saving potential and commonsense approaches have been victims of this irresponsible binge,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry. “We need our Republican colleagues to stand up for the good work of this Legislature.”
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Tags: Economy·Government transparency·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
More than 40 Customer Service Representatives at the Central Maine Power Company Call Center in Augusta have won the right to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #1837 for collective bargaining. In a secret ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board in June, a majority of the permanent employees voted in favor of the Union. The NLRB certified IBEW as the employees’ representative in late June.
“I’m very happy that the Augusta Call Center stuck together to make a change,” said Customer Service Representative Joe Giuffrida.
These workers will be incorporated into the largest bargaining unit at CMP with more than 500 other IBEW-represented employees. A second, smaller group of CMP Customer Service Representatives in Portland had already been represented by the Union. The non-union Augusta Call Center workers had voiced complaints about unfair personnel policies that made their already difficult jobs even more stressful. Both groups of workers take customer service and billing phone calls on behalf of Maine’s largest electric utility.
“We’re looking forward to helping the CMP Customer Service Representatives negotiate improvements in their working conditions at the Call Center while ensuring that CMP’s customers continue to enjoy the outstanding customer service that they provide,” said IBEW Local #1837 Business Manager Dick Rogers. “Like most CMP employees, they’re grateful to finally have a real voice at work for them that comes with being a union member.”
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life·unions
Reflections in the windows of a renovated mill, the Hathaway Creative Center, in Waterville, Maine. Photo By Ramona du Houx
The Hathaway Creative Center is back in the news as one of the sate’s the largest employers, MaineGeneral Health, is leasing 30,000 square feet more.
MaineGeneral Health said they are proud to help preserve Maine’s cultural heritage. “We are pleased to make another significant contribution to Waterville’s downtown revitalization,” said Chuck Hays for MaineGeneral in a new Morning Sentinel article by Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, “and to be a part of the preservation of this historic landmark.”
The Hathaway Center in Waterville, photo by Ramona du Houx
As one of Hathaway’s key anchor businesses they are apparently satisfied with the Center, the community and the atmosphere the work environment offers. Expanding at the Center afforded them Pine Tree Development Zone tax incentives and was an opportunity to give more of their employees a great quality of life place to work.
“It helps your central business district, the heart of your community, because you have the population density that allows people to live, work and shop in your community,” said Darryl Sterling, the executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council who commented that the Hathaway site will bring Waterville more benefits than a building on the outskirts of the city.
Historic renovations are more appealing than a cheaply built modern building.
“No matter who’s in them, people are happy,” said Tom Niemann, lead developer of the Center, in the same article, “whether you live in them, work in them, or eat a meal in them. They’ve got exposed brick, wood floors, high ceilings, great sunlight, and then to know you’re a part of history.”
Special historic tax credits were established for Hathaway with the persistence advice and patience, of the developers. Those tax credits are helping historic renovations across the state since they were expanded. For the developers bringing a historic landmark back to life and helping to revitalize the area makes the project well worth the effort.
“From a business standpoint, you can’t replace these kinds of structures, the history,” said Niemann, “Think of how many people have been associated with the history of the Hathaway Creative Center. It’s the legacy of the community.”
The ground floor of the Hathaway Center still has leasing opportunities. photo by Ramona du Houx
Tags: economic development·History·Jobs·Pine Tree Development Zones·Tax incentives
New England birds are under threat from climate change concluded scientists in a detailed report, “Shifting Skies: Migratory Birds in a Warming World.”
According to Dr. Hector Galbraith, Northeast Scientist, National Wildlife Federation, about 20 to 50 percent of iconic bird species that come to New England are disappearing due to climate change. “If we don’t get our act together, we’re going to see major changes in the future that will make the changes we have seen pretty penny ante,” he added.
The study details how migratory bird species could become endangered and even extinct if we do not address the warming climate through conservation strategies and curbing greenhouse gases.
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Tags: Climate change·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
Malcom Kenton, a longtime train traveler, is crowdfunding $5,000 to participate in the inaugural Millennial Trains Project for young American innovators. When it comes to experiencing America, there’s something alluring about a cross-country train ride.
That’s why a group of entrepreneurial millennials have to decided to hit the rails in August. Inspired by a entrepreneur-themed train ride in India—which encourages community interaction and small enterprises—a young American, who participated in that ride, is creating a similar journey in the U.S.
Called the Millennial Trains Project, the inaugural 10-city, 10-day trip will depart from the San Francisco Bay area August 8. It will end August 18 in Washington, D.C.
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The City of Belfast, in cooperation with the Maine Employee Ownership Network and metalworkerscooperative.weebly.com , will be holding a public forum at 6:30 PM on Thursday, July 11th, at Belfast City Hall Chambers for the purpose of developing a Metal Workers’ cooperative, as well as other new businesses in Belfast. Of particular interest are business structures where employees own and manage the businesses in which they work.
“In a worker cooperative or other type of employee-owned business, people get to experience real democracy where it counts- in the workplace. Employees get to determine the focus of their company and vote on important issues such as wages, benefits, bonuses, and safety, increasing their sense of well-being. As a result, employee-owned companies are generally more stable, with less turnover and fewer closings,” said Brad Sherwood, co-founder of the Maine Employee Ownership Network.
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