Lewiston mayor calls for website that lists all welfare recipient names, addresses

Good morning, folks, and welcome.

The attention of the world will be rightly cast on Washington, D.C., today, where Pope Francis is scheduled to make a historic speech to Congress. I am not Catholic, but it seems to me that this pope has captured the attention of the masses well beyond the boundaries of the Catholic church.

For one thing, he is not afraid to delve into controversial and political issues. During a speech on Wednesday at the White House, according to the New York Times, he touched on immigration, climate change and poverty.

Likely by the time you’re reading this, he’ll be speaking to a joint meeting of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, and I’ll be watching. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine will be front-and-center at the festivities after having been chosen to be among a small group of lawmakers who will accompany the pope down the center aisle and into the House chamber.

The speech was scheduled to begin at 9:20 a.m. but that won’t be the end of the fourth-ever visit by a pope to the United States. Pope Francis will spend two days in New York City before going to Philadelphia over the weekend.

Oh, and here’s your soundtrack, which is a clip from one of the Vatican’s favorite movies. In case the Holy Father is reading the Daily Brief (Howdy, Pope!), that one’s in Spanish, his native language. Here’s the English version. — Christopher Cousins

Lewiston mayor wants all welfare recipients publicly identified

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald wrote in a letter to the editor to the Twin City Times that he will advocate for the submission of a bill to the Legislature that would crete a website that contains the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected “by every individual on the dole. After all, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent.

“Our liberal, progressive legislators and their social-service allies have made [social service recipients] a victimized, protected class,” wrote Macdonald. “It’s none of your business how much of your money they get and spend. Who are you to question it? Just shut up and pay!”

It’s unclear through what means or through which lawmaker Macdonald will pursue the legislation. — Christopher Cousins

Poliquin won’t vote for shutdown

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, despite being among the lawmakers who are critical of Planned Parenthood over controversial videos released over the summer and despite being the only pro-life member of Maine’s congressional delegation, said Wednesday he will not vote to shut down the federal government over taxpayer funding for the organization.

The announcement comes as there are still calls to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding. Some Republicans have threatened to attach that provision to a federal budget bill that requires passage by the end of the month. Poliquin says he won’t go down that road.

“I’m not in Washington to conduct business as usual,” said Poliquin. “Allowing the government to shut down would be a failure in leadership. As Maine’s 2nd District congressman, I will continue to urge my colleagues to fund the federal government so we can continue to promote legislation that will rein in wasteful spending and lower our national debt.”

Poliquin’s announcement means that all four members of Maine’s congressional delegation will not hold up the federal budget over Planned Parenthood funding. The issue could be coming to a head today as Republican leaders in the House and Senate meet with members of their caucuses to determine a path forward. — Christopher Cousins

LePage: College credit for high school students now extended statewide

Gov. Paul LePage and some of the state’s education leaders gathered Wednesday at the State House to announce a new collaboration between the Department of Education and the University of Maine at Fort Kent that will allow students at any high school in Maine to take advanced placement courses and earn college credits.

The initiative melds the DOE’s “AP4ALL” and UMFK’s “RuralU” programs and will allow high school students to take free college-level courses online. The university’s program is already serving nearly 500 students from 79 Maine high schools and AP4ALL serves 400 students. Combining the two programs is meant to provide the opportunity to all student, particularly those in small, rural schools where AP courses are scarce or don’t exist.

“This is just a phenomenal program,” said LePage. “I have been critical of the education system in the past but this is an example of what I think we need to be going for.” — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

To my editors: I’m spaced out

Putting two spaces after a period is pretty much a thing of the past, but the debate was renewed yesterday among some Bangor Daily News editors, who are staunchly in opposition.  I haven’t put two spaces after a period since high school, but I thought I’d try it here just for posterity’s sake.

Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? — Christopher Cousins

Editor’s note: We will be moving the decimal point on your check two spaces to the left.


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.