Good morning from Augusta. The campaign for a York County casino is running the strangest official Twitter account that we’ve seen in Maine politics perhaps ever, but you may not have seen it because they’re basically just talking — falsely, yesterday — to reporters.
One newspaper has been at the center of their ire. Progress for Maine — the new campaign group run by controversial U.S. Virgin Islands developer Shawn Scott — has been going hard against opponents of the casino bid, including Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, and Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, the chairmen of the Legislature’s gambling committee, for about a month. But their ire has been directed more at the Portland Press Herald, which has been mentioned in more than 40 of their 85 tweets so far.
But campaign deleted two tweets on Tuesday that were wrong on many levels. Yesterday, the campaign tweeted two graphics that linked the Press Herald to Preti Flaherty, the Maine lobbying and law giant once affiliated with anti-casino operative Roy Lenardson, and the Maine Ethics Commission, which is investigating casino backers, by saying they shared office space at One City Center in Portland, where Preti is based. But the Press Herald largely moved out of that building earlier this year. The ethics commission is also based in Augusta, albeit in a building where Preti has offices. Lenardson said Wednesday that his firm split from Preti in April, though they still work together on projects.
The question is: Who is the campaign trying to persuade? Those tweets were deleted after reporters pushed back on Twitter and the BDN asked Progress for Maine spokesman Michael Sherry about them. He didn’t respond. But this account is one of two that the campaign runs and engagement seems to be low across their social media platforms, with 45 Facebook likes. With only about a month until Election Day, tweeting at reporters might be a bad use of time.
LePage formally nominates a successor to Mary Mayhew
Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday made official his nomination of Ricker Hamilton to be commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. After Mary Mayhew, who had run the department since LePage’s earliest days in office, resigned in May to set up her gubernatorial campaign, LePage named Hamilton, a long-time administrator in the department, as interim commissioner. The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on his nomination, which will then go to the Maine Senate for confirmation, most likely during a special session later this month.
Embattled former state rep is running again, but not as a Democrat
Brian Jones of Freedom has filed paperwork to try to reclaim his old seat. He’s a former Democratic House member who lost his 2014 re-election bid to Rep. MaryAnne Kinney of Knox after being charged with indecent conduct and failure to give officers his correct name in September 2014. The next year, he pleaded guilty a lesser disorderly conduct charge and said he was seeking treatment for alcoholism. Jones withdrew from the party in 2015 — offering his rationale in a BDN commentary — and is running for House District 99 as an independent.
- LePage is advocating for taxpayer subsidies for an energy company that has had trouble paying loggers and meeting targets for a biomass bailout bill that the governor signed last year. Stored Solar LLC and its affiliate, Born Global, is seeking to launch two plants in Maine that would convert wood to energy — and which have sat largely idle as the company has failed to pay several loggers for wood shipments. The company is seeking taxpayer-backed loans to make its Jonesboro plan into a nonprofit “innovation tourism” site and add a shrimp farm to its West Enfield plant.
- The ACLU says students of color in Maine schools experience “regular harassment and discrimination.” A new report from the group, based on 115 interviews, says race- and sexual preference-based harassment is “common” and that many of the affected students think the issue isn’t taken seriously by school administrators. The report adds to what the BDN’s Beth Brogan wrote last year about race-based bullying in Maine schools.
- Thousands of Maine employers will share a $21 million refund from the state’s workers compensation insurer. The Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company says the dividend to 18,000 Maine businesses was made possible by a greater focus on workplace safety. MEMIC, as a mutual insurance company formed by the Legislature in 1992 to provide workers comp insurance, shares its financial success with its policyholders.
Still chasing squirrels two years later
Loyal State & Capitol readers might remember an April 2015 post about my early morning adventures catching a flying squirrel in my bathroom. Very loyal State & Capitol readers might remember a September 2016 Daily Brief item about another.
We thought we were rid of them and had blocked their access but we were wrong. Another arrived recently and this time, my wife took the lead. She is an animal lover but above that, she likes cleanliness and fewer rodents skittering about.
We bought a Havahart trap but for two nights, the squirrel ate the bait without setting it off. We resorted to a mousetrap, which the squirrel set off but escaped. We probably should have enacted a concussion protocol but instead we bought a rat trap which would undoubtedly claim a finger if you let it. The squirrel ate the bait without setting it off.
Meanwhile, our cat lay around the house wherever there were rays of sun.
Finally, my wife perfected setting the Havahart trap and we caught the squirrel, who didn’t seem to care and continued munching Honey Nut Cheerios. She read somewhere that squirrels can return to their (our) home from miles away, but can’t cross water. She drove the little critter — at 10 p.m. one recent night — to a park that’s about 6 miles away and across a bridge.
One website she found suggested painting the squirrel’s feet so we’d know him/her when/if he/she returns. Even though we’d tried to kill it, sending a poor squirrel out into the world with blue feet just seemed cruel. Here’s its soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.