Good morning from Augusta, where maybe Maine politics will have a less eventful day than yesterday when hearings at the State House about the Maine Warden Service and in East Millinocket on the prospect of a national monument in the Katahdin region consumed most of your attention.
Well, I shouldn’t speak for you. My apologies. Those events consumed most of MY attention, but then again it’s my job.
The Hall of Flags at the State House will be a busy place today. The Natural Resources Council of Maine is holding a news conference later this morning to “make an announcement about actions by Governor LePage” but the organization isn’t dropping any hints about what they have to say. Hey, I tried.
At noon, the Maine Heritage Policy Center will gather to release a report titled The Top 10 Things Keeping Mainers Poor. I’m guessing “high taxes” and “low wages” are on the list but I’m unsure about “keeping shoes on kids’ feet.” There’s me speaking for myself again.
As always, the BDN will keep you in the know.
Side note: Did you know there’s a song about Bangor? I didn’t either, until my editor who says he had this song on cassette brought it to my attention. Here’s your soundtrack and here’s what a cassette is, in case you didn’t know. — Christopher Cousins
Libertarian candidate enters 1st Congressional District race
James Bouchard of Brunswick has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in the 1st Congressional District.
Bouchard, whose website identifies him as the “black belt guy,” is an author, inspirational speaker and career martial artist, according to an article by the Independent Political Report. He describes himself as a “staunch Constitutionalist” and credits his involvement with martial arts for helping him stay off drugs.
“The strategy is simple,” said Bouchard in the article. “We’re telling the truth, even when it’s tough to hear. We’re pulling back the curtain on the professional political class and demonstrating clearly how simple it is to get our system back on track — if we have the courage to oppose the status quo.”
Bouchard filed his paperwork on May 26.
Two Republicans, Ande Smith and Mark Holbrook, are also challenging Pingree and will face off in a GOP primary on June 14. The two candidates faced off Wednesday in an MPBN TV debate. — Christopher Cousins
- U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will tour Catalyst Paper’s Rumford mill this afternoon, including meetings with senior management and employees. The mill employs 640 workers.
- It’s National Home Ownership Month. MaineHousing is celebrating by lowering its First Home Loan 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate to 2.99 percent and is offering $3,500 for down payment and closing costs through the end of June. Find more information by clicking here.
- Maine Warden Service cancels undercover work, blames media — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Here are the top 5 long-term challenges facing Maine, according to Angus King — Seth Koenig, BDN
- Utah lawmaker: Maine will suffer if Obama designates national monument — Nick Sambides Jr., BDN
- How Portland’s state Senate races will alter the city’s political landscape — Seth Koenig, BDN
- Can Maine’s biomass purchase be competitive with one bidder? — Darren Fishell, BDN
To restore your faith in humanity
If you’ve been reading the BDN recently, you saw that Thiwat Thiwat, a former Deering High School basketball star, has been having a tough time. He needs a kidney transplant but didn’t have health insurance to cover it. Until now.
Thiwat, 21, was told Wednesday that as of today, he’s covered by MaineCare, retroactive to the beginning of May.
Thiwat, who is enrolled in summer classes at the University of Southern Maine and hopes to play basketball for the University of Maine as a walk-on this fall, learned on May 23 that his kidney function had deteriorated drastically, to the point that he needs a transplant as soon as possible. Without insurance coverage, he was unable to place his name on a kidney transplant list.
According to a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Health and Gov. Paul LePage’s office were instrumental in helping Thiwat secure the insurance coverage.
“It’s like a bunch of weight was lifted off,” said Thiwat to my BDN colleague Beth Brogan, who deserves kudos for writing a story that made a major difference for someone. — Christopher Cousins