LePage pens letter in support of lawmaker who is taking heat for bond vote

Good morning, folks, and happy hump day. 

Gov. Paul LePage’s drug summit kicked off this morning at the Department of Public Safety in Augusta with a list of attendees that includes most of the highest-ranking law enforcement officials in the state as well as some treatment and recovery specialists. Missing from the list of invitees are recovering addicts, which has drawn complaints from some, and legislators, which has drawn complaints from legislators

Check out this preview of today’s summit, written by my BDN colleague Beth Brogan, which includes details about what some of the summit’s participants hope to accomplish. 

On Tuesday, House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, both Democrats, urged LePage to bolster the fight against addiction on both the law enforcement and treatment and recovery sides of the equation. They delivered a lengthy list of recommendations to the governor, which include investments in programs that help law enforcement and treatment officials collaborate; increased access to treatment options; expansion of recovery programming; and soliciting more input from recovering addicts, addicts and their families. 

One issue many hope to hear more about is LePage’s plan to increase the Maine National Guard’s involvement in helping stop drug traffickers.

LePage’s drug summit comes a day after a similar one in Brewer, which was hosted by independent U.S. Sen. Angus King and Democratic 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. You can read all about yesterday’s summit by clicking here, courtesy of the BDN’s Nok-Noi Ricker. 

LePage defends GOP lawmaker

Gov. Paul LePage is well-known for sending hand-written notes to his supporters and opponents. Rarer are hand-written notes from the governor in defense of others. But that’s what the governor did recently with a letter to Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane, in which he defends Rep. Mike Timmons, R-Cumberland.

At issue is a bill debated in the Legislature earlier this year which sought to mostly remove the governor from the process of selling voter-approved bonds. LePage refused to issue bonds on several occasions during his first term until the Legislature met various demands. He is currently blocking the sale of more than $11 million in conservation bond funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program unless the Legislature agrees to his proposal to increase timber harvesting on public lands to fund a heating assistance program. Among the held-up bonds is funding for a project in the Cumberland area.

Timmons is one of a handful of lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill on enactment but then voted in favor of LePage’s veto of it. The veto override attempt failed by five votes in the House.

“The vote Mike took was not for [Land for Maine’s Future] bonds it was to take the governor’s powers away,” wrote LePage. “Had the veto been overridden it would have forced the issue into litigation for several years. The bill was factually unconstitutional.”

LePage continued to write that the bonds are not likely to be sold until after he has left office in 2018. Meanwhile, LePage’s Office of Policy and Management has intervened in a period self-review by the Land for Maine’s Future Board, which LePage in the past has characterized as an investigation. LePage also wrote letters to the Cumberland selectmen and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Read them for yourself if you’re interested.

Women’s Equality Day Rally planned for tonight in downtown Bangor

State and local leaders will gather this evening in downtown Bangor to celebrate 95 years of women’s suffrage and highlight five key areas for improving women’s lives, including improving reproductive rights; establishing equal pay; working toward equal political representation; ending gender and sexual orientation discrimination; and ending violence against women.

The event is sponsored by the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, the Maine People’s Alliance and the Maine Women’s Lobby. The list of speakers includes:

  • Posie Cowan, a Blue Hill resident and great-granddaughter of suffragist Sophie Meredith, who established the Virginia branch of the National Woman’s Party in 1915;
  • Catherine Kurr, advocacy services coordinator for Spruce Run — Womancare Alliance of Bangor;
  • Davida Ammerman, board member of the Maine People’s Alliance;
  • Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby;
  • Gibran Graham, Bangor city councilor; and
  • Andrea Irwin, executive director of the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor.

UPDATE: The rally was originally planned for West Market Square but because of rain it will now be held at Columbia Street Baptist Church at 63 Columbia Street in Bangor.

List of House candidates growing for Sanford-area special election

Democratic and Republican candidates have been chosen for the Nov. 3 special election in the Sanford area, which was left vacant in July with the death of Democratic Rep. Bill Noon. As previously reported, Noon’s wife Jean has been chosen by local Democrats. On Tuesday, Maine Republican Party Chairman Jason Savage said Matthew Harrington will be the Republican candidate.

According to seacoastonline.com, Harrington is a police officer in Kennebunk. The website also reported that a third candidate, Sanford City Councilor Victor DiGregorio, intends to run as an independent.

The special election is scheduled for Nov. 3. The deadline for filing nomination papers with the Secretary of State’s office is the end of the day Friday.

Rally in support of Iran deal today

A rally is scheduled for this afternoon in Portland to urge Republican Sen. Susan Collins to support a proposed agreement reached by the United States and other world powers to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, at least in the short term.

Collins is one of the few senators left who have not yet indicated how they will vote on the issue, which is scheduled to be taken up in Congress next month.

Participants in the rally intend to deliver hundreds of pages of petition signatures to Collins’ Portland office during the rally. The event is part of a national No War With Iran National Day of Action, which is taking place across the country. The Maine event is hosted by PeaceWorks and Peace Actin Maine.

The rally convenes at 2 p.m. in Portland’s Monument Square.

Reading list

This is what happens if you feed raccoons. Is this a bad thing?

Check out this video that purports to show what happens if you feed raccoons outside your house, which caused quite a stir Tuesday at bangordailynews.com.

I’m trying to determine the downside. — Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.