Vintage fish balls with the Secretary of State, and 7 stories you need to read

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, kept his job last week when the Legislature re-elected him for his fourth two-year term, but that’s not keeping him from returning to his pre-political culinary roots.

Dunlap, who was head cook at the University of Maine for a spell and worked in several kitchens between his hometown of Bar Harbor and Bangor, will whip together a dish from a recipe found in a vintage Maine cookbook stored in the Maine State Archives, a department under Dunlap’s purview as Secretary of State.

Four such cookbooks, all dated between 1938 and 1945, were recently scanned by archivists, and CDs with the recipes are now for sale as an effort to promote the state’s signature foods, according a news release from Dunlap’s office.

Dunlap will cook “fish balls” at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the R.M. Flagg Maine Kitchen Cooking School in Bangor. 

Moves at the State House

Republicans took control of the Senate in November, which means moving into the bigger offices reserved for the majority and hiring the additional staff necessary to run the upper chamber. It also meant a shrinking of staff for Senate Democrats, and a game of musical chairs for the remaining staffers. Here’s a quick run down of who’s going, arriving and moving:

  • Andy Roth-Wells, former chief of staff for the Senate Democrats, is now chief of staff for Dems in the House. He replaces Kate Simmons, who has left the capitol.
  • Michael Levert, who was Senate President Justin Alfond’s chief of staff last year, moved into Roth-Wells’ old job.
  • Jim Cyr will be the spokesman for the new Senate President, Mike Thibodeau of Winterport. Jamie Carter, a legislative aide for the past several years, will take Cyr’s former position as communications director for the Senate GOP.
  • Rob Poindexter, who until recently was a reporter for WABI-TV, is the new communications director for the House Republican Office. He replaces David Sorensen, who has taken a new job with DHHS.
  • Ken Hardy, former policy director for the Senate Democrats, is now legal counsel for House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.
  • Heather Priest, former chief of staff for the Senate GOP, was elected secretary of the Senate — the second time she’s held that title. Shawn Roderick, the House GOP’s former senior legislative aide, will be assistant Secretary of the Senate.
  • Former Secretary of the Senate Darek Grant is now the senior legislative aide for the Senate Democrats.
  • Rob Hunt was elected Clerk of the House. He was assistant clerk for several years.

Maine Equal Justice Partners hires new director

After a reported nationwide search for a new executive director, Maine Equal Justice Partners ended up finding the winning candidate within their own offices. The group announced that Robyn Merrill, a five-year employee at MEJP, will now lead the organization.

MEJP is a legal aid organization for impoverished Mainers, but it’s also one of the leading advocates in the State House for welfare programs, so the group — and Merrill —  will doubtless be regular fixtures in the upcoming session as Republicans emboldened by electoral victory attempt once again to pass welfare reform.

Merrill was most recently the group’s senior policy analyst. She’s a 2008 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law and also has a master’s degree in social work from the University of New England. She has also served as a clerk for the Maine Superior Court and with the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, and has worked as a social worker.

Merrill replaces Sara Gagne-Holmes, who left MEJP to be a senior program associate at the John T. Gorman Foundation, a Portland-based advocacy group.

7 stories you need to read

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.