Good morning from Augusta, where by day’s end we’ll have confirmation of what we probably already know: Gov. Paul LePage wants to stop the Land for Maine’s Future program in its tracks.
Despite the fact he has said he doesn’t want to kill the program, which was established by referendum in 1987, the governor took another step recently to the contrary: freezing the organization’s $2 million in cash reserves. LePage already is preventing the sale of bonds approved by voters in 2010 and 2012; now he won’t allow bond money approved and sold before he was governor to be used, as reported yesterday by Bangor Daily News blogger George Smith.
This afternoon’s meeting of the Land for Maine’s Future board begins with a review of the organization’s Government Evaluation Act Report, which is being prepared for delivery to the Legislature later this year. The report is usually done by the organization and its board, though this time LePage has appointed members of his administration to intervene.
The board agenda shows that several conservation projects are up for votes on amendments or new spending, many of which couldn’t be acted on at a previous meeting because the board did not have a quorum present. The projects in focus today — or not — are the Roberts Farm/Noyes Mountain in Norway; the Bangor and Aroostook Rail Trail; Tide Mill Farms in Edmunds; Clapboard Island in Falmouth; Howard Hill in Augusta; and A&R Enterprises, a working waterfront project in St. George.
What’s the holdup? LePage wants to increase timber-harvesting levels on publicly-owned lands and use the revenue to fund an energy program for low-income Mainers.
The meeting begins at 1 p.m. in Room 118 of the Marquardt Building at 32 Blossom Lane in Augusta.
Kaci Hickox vs. Chris Christie, still
Kaci Hickox, the nurse formerly from Aroostook County who made national headlines when she returned from an Ebola-plagued region of Africa only to be detained for several days at a New Jersey hospital, is locking horns again with Maine Gov. Paul LePage and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. When Hickox made it to her home in Fort Kent, she was prevented from entering public places until a district court judge ruled that the state did not have the right to restrict her movements.
The issue came up Sunday when LePage and Christie, the latter of whom is vying for the Republican nomination for president, collaborated for a town hall-style meeting in Dover, New Hampshire, according to NJ.com. Christie referred to Hickox as an unwelcome “gift” from LePage and told the Dover crowd that he called LePage to say “tag, you’re it. You have her back.”
Hickox, who has moved to Oregon, said, “It never really ends with this guy! Maybe Gov. Christie has forgotten that I won my court battle against Gov. LePage. The courts decided his draconian policy was not legal or constitutional.”
And then: “There is a lot of hot air coming from Trenton [New Jersey], nothing more,” she said.
- Defense analysts: Navy unlikely to scuttle destroyer under construction at Bath Iron Works — Beth Brogan, BDN
- Former presidential candidate Gephardt’s firm to broker BIW labor talks — Beth Brogan, BDN
- Mayhew: Weaning Riverview off federal aid would cost $24 million — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Legislators push to fill vacancies at Maine veterans center — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
- Community rallies around injured Bucksport Marine — Dawn Gagnon, BDN
- Car-related sales help drive Maine’s recovery — Darren Fishell, BDN
- Nearly $4 million awarded to aid veterans with housing needs in Maine — Johanna S. Billings, BDN
- Hillary Clinton announced she’ll visit Portland middle school on Friday — Christopher Cousins, BDN
The magic of sea glass
I’m a bit of a sap for a sad/happy story, and the BDN’s Erin Rhoda delivered, again, with this tale of a sick 9-year-old Belfast girl who has written a book that involves one of her favorite pastimes: searching for sea glass on Maine beaches.
Brianna Spaulding has problems digesting food, so she is fed through a feeding tube for 13 hours a day. Most of the time, she can’t go to school. She’s had 28 surgeries since 2012.
In her book, “Searching for Sea Glass,” Brianna envisions a river made of grape soda. Anyone who drinks from it will never be hungry again.
I’ll just stop right there and let that sink in. — Christopher Cousins