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The establishment thinks they can simply buy this election with millions of dollars in corporate money. Their candidate hasn’t even been willing to show up to most candidate forums to answer questions from Maine voters. Why listen to voters when you can bombard them with ads?
Lisa Savage’s campaign is the opposite of the big-money political establishment that has taken over our political system. Lisa doesn’t take any money from corporate lobbyists, CEOs, or super PACs. She’s running a grassroots campaign on the issues people care about and the solutions we need.
As of today, Lisa Savage is Maine’s only candidate for US Senate who stands for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, tuition-free public higher education, and an end to endless wars.
It’s not so clear what the establishment candidate stands for, other than not being Susan Collins. Tens of millions of dollars have already been poured into this race – mostly, it seems, for endless negative attack ads.
One of the great things about ranked choice voting, though, is that it makes it easy to vote for what you truly want – not just against the candidate you dislike most. That’s why Lisa can win this race.
For example, a recent poll showed that 56% of Mainers support Medicare for All. If we get the word out that Lisa is the only candidate who stands with them, that could be a landslide majority.
We know we won’t out-fundraise the big money establishment, and we don’t need to. All we need is enough to get Lisa’s message out to the people of Maine, and we can win.
Thank you for all that you do. Be well and stay safe!
The Lisa for Maine Team
Register now for “The Way Forward” webinar series 1st event, “The Cost of War” with Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and Iraq/Afghanistan veteran, author, and USM lecturer Jason White – Thursday July 16 at 5pm Eastern time!
HEADLINEJUL 14, 2020
It’s Primary Day in Alabama, Maine and Texas. Democrats will be picking candidates to challenge Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and John Cornyn of Texas in November. Meanwhile, in Alabama, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is running against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, who has been backed by Trump in the Republican Senate primary.
Over the last decade, almost every business move medical marijuana caregiver Dave Stephenson made has been in preparation to join Maine’s adult-use cannabis market – from establishing his grow, Hazy Hill Farm, in Portland to establishing a loyal customer base through a cannabis delivery service.
He has spent the last year and a half hunting for a retail space. Reluctant landlords, exorbitant lease costs, federal mortgage prohibitions and local land-use restrictions proved difficult, but he signed on the dotted line in February to claim his spot after Portland adopted its marijuana zoning rules.
But the undisclosed retail location he has been paying for since February will be worthless if he cannot get the retail marijuana license that he needs to open a marijuana business in the city. With the city calling for a maximum of no more than 20 retail stores, that is looking less likely every day.
“The City Council gave us zoning regulations and as entrepreneurs, we went out and we signed leases and purchased real estate with no warning that we might not be able to open our businesses under these local guidelines,” Stephenson told members of two City Council committees that met on Tuesday.
“Local business owners, myself included, have invested large amounts of money and time into their retail space, and it could all be for nothing if we don’t make the cut,” the longtime Portland resident said. “So I must ask, why limit it to 20 stores? Why limit it at all?”
Stephenson was one of two dozen people who weighed in on the city’s proposed marijuana regulations at a joint meeting of the council’s economic development and health and human services committees on Tuesday. Concerns ranged from the kind of safe businesses must use to whether seating should be allowed.
But the biggest concerns raised by one speaker after the other was the city’s proposed limit on the number of retail stores allowed and the points system it would use to score retail license applications with the highest-scoring applicants being first in line to claim a retail permit.
The city initially proposed a 20-license cap in August, but under the first set of rules, it would have given out the licenses based on a first-come, first-served basis. In October, city staff proposed a change over to weighted scoring, awarding bonus points to encourage diverse, local and successful applicants.
Under the proposed system, the city would award points to women, minorities, veterans and immigrants who have come to Portland over the last decade, those who have lived in Maine for at least five years, and those willing to share 1 percent of their profits with the city, among other conditions.
Speakers complained that the scoring system favors big businesses, awarding a bonus point to those who are able to prove they have at least $150,000 in liquid assets, for example, while giving little consideration to the medical marijuana caregivers who paved the way for the adult-use market.
The proposed scoring system would award a medical marijuana retail store with an established record of compliance in a heavily regulated industry the same consideration as a local barber who had been cutting hair for five years, said Tom Mourmouras, who runs the Fire on Fore medical retail shop in Old Port.
Since opening this summer, Fire on Fore has conducted 28,000 medical cannabis sales, all compliant and tracked, contributed $100,000 in sales tax to Maine state coffers and paid 20 employees a living wage, he said. That ought to be more highly valued by the city than a barber or electrician, he said.
He also accused the city of changing its stance on grandfathering already permitted medical shops. In the fall, when the City Council adopted a moratorium on new shops while crafting its rules, Mourmouras was told Fire on Fore was safe, but now he is being told he will have to compete for one of 20 retail licenses.
“Since then, my business partner and I have invested our life savings into the business,” Mourmouras said. “The city’s current stance on grandfathering would exclude us. Why is my business punished for operating a successful store? I’m up here tonight fighting for my business, my employees and my 50 vendors.”
Andrew Pettingill, a co-owner of Evergreen Cannabis Co., complained about giving a bonus to an applicant who can prove that he has $150,000 in liquid assets, an amount that city staff said a business in this industry will need to have just to get through its first year of operations.
He said anyone in this business could meet that threshold if they were willing to sell part of the equity in their business to outside investors, but it’s not fair to demand that of small operators like Evergreen that already have spent twice that to set up the business, build a brand and fit out a quality grow.
But mostly, the Munjoy Hill businessman said he is impatient for Portland to finally adopt its regulations.
“I’ve been paying $40 a square foot on my retail space since (February) without being able to operate,” Pettingill said. “I’m patiently waiting for the council and the committee to move forward. … I’d just like to express my concerns about the time it is taking.”
Former state Rep. Diane Russell, who helped organize the 2016 state referendum that legalized adult-use cannabis, urged the city to abandon its proposed cap and to consider awarding even more points to those people of color who have been most harmed by the country’s failed drug policies.
“It is not government’s job to make a business successful,” said Russell, who now serves on the board of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “It’s the job of the market and the competition. We should let the people and the competition rise up to decide.”
Chris McCabe, a city resident and attorney who practices cannabis law, warned the committees that a city that tips the scale toward one kind of applicant over another is essentially “picking winners and losers,” and opens itself up to costly lawsuits over arbitrary, capricious or wrong-headed regulations.
The city took no action on the proposal Tuesday. The two council committees will meet again to consider particularly controversial aspects of the proposal, especially the retail license cap and the scoring system, but did not set a date for the next meeting.
AUGUSTA — A former Maine chief justice said something has to happen to ensure adequate funding and representation for poor people tried for crimes in Maine.
More resources are needed regardless whether the state sticks with the current system or creates a public defender office, Daniel Wathen said.
The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services held a public hearing last week as the panelists prepare a series of proposals to address the effectiveness of the state’s current system to provide legal defense to Maine’s poor.“Either an assigned counsel system or a public defender system can work. Both have advantages and disadvantages. But under either scenario, it requires adequate funding that the system has never experienced,” he told The Associated Press.
That system is under new scrutiny for lax oversight of the billing practices by the private attorneys commissioned to defend low-income clients.
A scathing report released in April detailed significant shortcomings.
All states are required to provide an attorney to people who are unable to afford their own lawyer under a landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Maine is the only one of them that hires and assigns private attorneys to what are known as “indigent” cases. All other states now meet the requirement through some version of a public defender’s office and a staff of attorneys.
Alison Beyea, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, said the April report by the nonpartisan Sixth Amendment Center found that the system is failing indigent clients.
“The state has no mechanism in place for sorting the good from the bad, or for giving remedial training to the lawyers who are underqualified to do their job,” she said.
She pointed out that the ACLU has sued in other states for changes. But the ACLU is optimistic that the commission can make changes to avoid legal action.
In the 2018 fiscal year, Maine spent more than $21 million statewide to provide court-appointed counsel to Maine’s poor. The commission’s spending has nearly doubled in the nine years since it began overseeing several hundred private defense attorneys.
Pine Tree Watch, a nonprofit news service, launched an investigation and found that $2.2 million in potential overbilling by private attorneys.
A Maine state medical examiner who fancies himself a comedian. What could possibly go wrong?
Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, Maine’s embattled chief medical examiner, has for the better part of a year been under the microscope for all kinds of eyebrow-raising activities.
But revelations last week go beyond previous questions about Flomenbaum’s competence and his moonlighting as a private consultant in addition to his day job.
Now we learn he makes jokes, on the internet, about dead people.
“It’s outrageous … that he has such a callous disregard for the sanctity of what it means to hold that job,” said state Rep. Jeff Evangelos, an independent from Friendship, who has several complaints pending against Flomenbaum with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the medical examiner.
The latest flap involves a listing for a deputy medical examiner posted on the National Association of Medical Examiners job website, among other places, in August 2017. Flomenbaum and Kirsten Figueroa, who left the AG’s office last winter to become commissioner of Maine’s Department of Administrative and Financial Services, are listed as the contacts.
The ad is pure boilerplate at first – workload, areas of responsibility, that sort of thing. But then, in a list of bullet points detailing why Maine is “an ideal environment” for a forensic pathologist, the post takes a sudden lurch into the macabre.
Calling Maine “a winter mecca” for various outdoor sports, it adds parenthetically, “translation: really short season of decomposed bodies.”
Lauding Maine’s “vast waterways and enormous coastline ideal for aquatic and marine sports,” it quips: “translation: many bodies are lost at sea or wind up in either New Hampshire or Canada.”
On our relatively small population distributed over a large area: “translation: only the bodies that really need to come in for autopsies will do so.”
If he was serious, Flomenbaum has a truly bizarre way of looking at the state that in 2018 paid him just under $280,000 in salary and benefits to pick up where death, often violently or tragically, leaves off.
And if he was joking, well, maybe the man needs a long sabbatical.
Some undoubtedly will dismiss the ad as gallows humor, that built-in defense mechanism that serves as an emotional shield for those who regularly deal with horrendous situations. But a wisecrack in the relative privacy of a police station or trauma center or, for that matter, autopsy room, is one thing – a momentary stress reliever intended for the benefit of a small, sympathetic audience.
A posting on the internet? That’s public. That sticks around. That’s a statement to the world about who you are and how you view work that, by any societal measure, is no joke.
“They can have their funny moments whenever,” Evangelos said. “But this was the job posting for the deputy medical examiner. Gimme a break.”
The medical examiner’s office declined a Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald request for an interview on Friday. The AG’s office did not respond to a request for an interview. Contacted via his cellphone on Saturday, Flomenbaum refused to speak on the record.
And from Gov. Janet Mills, on whose watch as attorney general the ad went out, we got only this from spokesman Scott Ogden on Friday: The governor “has a great deal of respect for and confidence in Dr. Flomenbaum and his office.”
This is the same medical examiner who 12 years ago was fired in Massachusetts by then-Gov. Deval Patrick after an investigation found that state’s medical examiner’s office “on the verge of collapse.” They’d even lost track of a body.
The same medical examiner who, as part of his Lincoln Forensics LLC consulting gig, was found “not credible” as a defense witness in a 2016 Connecticut manslaughter trial involving the fatal beating of a 3-year-old girl. The prosecutor, who won the case, went so far as to alert then-AG Mills that Maine might want to disclose Flomenbaum’s credibility problem when he testifies in court cases here.
It’s the same medical examiner whose last-minute change of opinion on the angle of a gunshot caused a mistrial last February in the murder trial of Noah Gaston. Fortunately, following a retrial that proceeded without incident, a jury on Friday found Gaston guilty of murdering his 34-year-old wife, Alicia.
And it’s the same medical examiner who cited “acute and chronic alcoholism” as contributing to the heart-and-diabetes-related death of Appalachian Trail hiker Jeff Aylward, 63, who was found dead near his Rangeley campsite in August after having no contact with his family for 13 days.
Late Friday, under pressure from Aylward’s widow, Ann, and two private experts who said the alcohol in Jeff Aylward’s system was actually the result of the body’s decay, Flomenbaum quietly removed any mention of alcoholism from his report. Under “major findings,” he included “moderate postmortem putrefaction,” which is known to produce sometimes high levels of alcohol in the body as it decomposes.
Any one of these flubs would be enough to wonder if Maine is getting its money’s worth from this guy. Taken together, it’s hard to grasp how the normally no-nonsense Gov. Mills still has “a great deal of respect for and confidence in” him.
Now, on top of it all, we discover that Flomenbaum likes Maine for its “short season on decomposed bodies” and sees our rivers and bays as conduits for whisking our corpses to other jurisdictions.
“Flomenbaum has no credibility left, yet it is to him who our prosecutors look to for ‘evidence’ that ends up imprisoning Mainers,” Evangelos said in an email on Saturday. “It’s beyond belief and I expect his lack of credibility will continue to plague our court proceedings.”
Contacted Saturday at her home in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Ann Aylward said she had not yet heard about the medical examiner’s ghoulish job posting. After hearing it read to her, she said she was disgusted but not surprised.
Aylward said she felt early on after her husband’s death that Flomenbaum had no interest in hearing her objections to the alcohol finding – because of his diabetes, she has maintained, Jeff Aylward stopped drinking alcohol 15 years ago.
Her inability to get Flomenbaum on the phone – all of her dealings, she said, were with a subordinate – eventually convinced Aylward that she’d only succeed at clearing her husband’s name if she took on the medical examiner publicly.
Apparently, it worked.
“He never picked up the phone. He never spoke to us. He never even made the attempt,” Alyward said, adding that the not-so-funny job posting only confirms to her that “something’s not right” with Flomenbaum.
“If that’s how he has to find his peace in the work that he does, he needs to get out of that work,” she said. “He needs to get out of that job.”
SOUTH PORTLAND — Timothy Sheehan, police chief of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, for 10 years, will replace longtime South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins when he retires in January, City Manager Scott Morelli announced Friday.
Sheehan is an FBI-trained officer who has been with the Tewskbury Police Department for 32 years and has received numerous commendations, most notably for providing tactical support to the Boston Police Department following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Morelli said.
Sheehan will start his duties here on Jan. 13, and Googins has agreed to stay on for a week to help with the transition, Morelli said. Googins has been South Portland’s chief for 25 years, a job he took after retiring from the Portland Police Department in 1994 with 23 years of service.
Sheehan said he’s grateful to be Morelli’s top choice among 14 applicants, five of whom were interviewed.
“I plan to work tirelessly to earn the respect of the members of the department and community and I recognize I have some really big shoes to fill,” Sheehan said in a written statement. “I look forward to rolling up my sleeves … to build on the service the police department provides to the community and the trust-filled relationships that have been established.”
Morelli said a nine-member interview panel made up of municipal department heads and the city’s Civil Service Commission unanimously recommended skipping a planned second round of interviews and urged Morelli to offer the job to Sheehan immediately.
“(Googins) has helped make the South Portland Police Department the best in the state, in my opinion,” Morelli said. “The selection team was confident that Tim was the right person to succeed Chief Googins and I’m looking forward to both the stability and new ideas that he can bring to the table.”
In August, Sheehan was a finalist for a chief’s position in Palm Bay City, Florida, the Lowell Sun reported. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Springfield College and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Western New England College. He is a graduate of numerous leadership and management programs, including the FBI National Academy.
Last year, Sheehan served as incident commander of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council for the four-day statewide mutual aid response to the Columbia Gas explosions and fires that shut down parts of Andover, North Andover and Lawrence after the governor declared a state of emergency.
In June, Sheehan received the Law Enforcement Exemplary Leadership Award from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in recognition of his involvement and collaborative efforts in addressing the opioid crisis, an issue that Googins also took steps to address in South Portland.
“I would like to thank and congratulate Chief Googins for his incredible dedication to the South Portland Police Department and community,” Sheehan said. “His forward thinking and commitment to the profession has resulted in developing a police department that is guided by the best available police principles, practices, and training that all revolve around improving the quality of life of the populations he has been entrusted to serve.”
Located near Lowell, Massachusetts, Tewksbury’s population and police department are slightly larger than South Portland’s.
Tewksbury, with more than 31,000 residents, has 79 full-time police personnel, including 62 sworn officers, nine civilian dispatchers and eight 8 civilian support staff, Morelli said. South Portland has more than 25,000 residents and 60 full-time police personnel, including 56 sworn officers, one mechanic, one animal control officer and four civilian support staff.
Morelli said he sent nine applicants to be assessed by Badgequest, the same firm that assessed candidates for Portland’s police chief search earlier this year. Five finalists were selected from that group.
“We had an excellent pool of candidates from which to choose,” Morelli said. “Despite that, Chief Sheehan still rose to the top.”
Like Googins, Sheehan’s annual salary will be $101,982, Morelli said. Sheehan and his wife are currently looking for a home to rent in South Portland.
A date for Sheehan’s swearing-in ceremony will be announced soon.
LEWISTON — Republican Sen. Susan Collins has a well-funded Democrat prepping to challenge her next year. She has national women’s groups ready to attack her over her vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And she’s a moderate facing an electorate that increasingly prioritizes purity.
Still, the four-term Maine senator’s biggest hurdle to re-election may be the president of her own party.
President Trump’s potential impeachment in the House and subsequent trial in the Senate presents a distinct dilemma for Collins. Of the handful of Republicans senators facing re-election next year, she has done perhaps the most to keep a clear distance from Trump. But as Democrats charge ahead toward impeachment, it looks increasingly likely that Collins will be forced to take sides in dramatic fashion. The senator, who has acknowledged she didn’t vote for the president in 2016 and still won’t say whether she will next year, may have to vote for him on the Senate floor.
“Susan Collins is in a terrible position,” said David Farmer, a Democratic operative in Maine. “The position that she’s in where she will likely … take a vote on whether to remove the president from office is going to inflame either the Democratic or the Republican base.”
Collins has kept mum on the House inquiry into whether the president abused his power by trying to get the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter because of her potential role as an impeachment juror.
But she’s already shown a willingness to criticize the president on various issues. She said it was “completely inappropriate” for Trump to ask China to investigate the Bidens. And she said his decision to pull U.S. troops from the border in Syria and leave Kurds open to attack was “terribly unwise.”
Trump often lashes out at those who criticize him, even those in his own party, like Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
But he has not attacked Collins, yet.
Collins’ aides shrug off questions of how presidential politics could factor into her race, and the 66-year-old senator said she’s built her career on an independence valued by Mainers.
“I just have to run, should I decide to run, my own race. And that’s what I’ve always done regardless of who’s on the top of the ticket,” she told The Associated Press.
She has said she plans to formally announce whether she’s seeking re-election later this fall.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has thrown its support behind Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. The three other Democratic candidates are activist Betsy Sweet, attorney Bre Kidman and a late-comer, former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse.
For her part, Gideon has been touting her progressive credentials in her fundraising, but she’s stopped shy of supporting Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, though she says climate change and universal health care are important to her.
She’s unequivocal on Trump.
She supports the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry – and accuses Collins of failing to stand up to Trump. “In the times that we’ve needed her the most, since (Trump) has become president, she’s not delivering for us,” Gideon told a gathering in Portland.
Gideon raised $1 million more than Collins in the most recent reporting cycle. But Collins has raised far more money – $8.6 million – the largest of any political candidate in Maine history. Pundits suggest upward of $80 million to $100 million could be spent on this race before Election Day 2020.
Democrats see an opportunity as Collins navigates a potentially precarious path in a fractured state where Trump is reviled in liberal, coastal communities and cheered in the conservative, heavily wooded north.
Try as she might, she won’t be able to avoid Trump, who’s expected to campaign in Maine, where he claimed one of the state’s four electoral votes in 2016.
Josh Tardy, a Bangor attorney and former Republican leader in the Maine House, said Mainers expect Collins to demonstrate “due diligence” on her constitutionally imposed obligations when it comes to impeachment.
But he downplayed the impact in her race.
“I think most people view this impeachment as partisan tit for tat. I don’t think that’s (going) to drive the election needle one way or the other,” he said.
In Lewiston, a former mill town on the Androscoggin River, the senator’s challenges were clear even at a recent event hosted by the local chamber of commerce.
Collins appeared at ease as she handed out Halloween candy to children, posed for selfies and chatted with the adults. But some voters were less so.
Hillary Dow said she was “troubled” by a key vote that incensed Democrats – Collins’ support of Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault during the Supreme Court confirmation process. But she said she continues to back Collins because of the bigger picture – her moderate views, her bipartisanship, her track record.
“I appreciate that she’s honest and fair, and she focuses on what really matters. She’s a good person,” she said.
But one man who sought out Collins for a photo later acknowledged he might not vote at all because he’s so frustrated with national politics.
“I’m not sure if I trust anyone anymore, as far as the politicians go,” said restaurant worker Craig Aleo. “It’s a tough world right now.”
Collins conceded it’s a difficult time for a politician who has made a career trying to broker legislative deals.
“The current environment is very disturbing to me. There’s a lack of focus on what we need to do for the American people, and instead the focus is on power struggles over who’s going to control what,” she said.
Collins hails from Caribou, in the conservative 2nd Congressional District that voted for Trump. That’s where her parents served as mayor, and where her family still runs the S.W. Collins hardware store.
Ousting Collins from Maine politics, where her roots run deep, is no small task.
Cynthia Noyes, who describes herself as “liberal in Republican clothing,” fears that her friend from high school is more vulnerable this election cycle. But the Caribou flower shop owner still supports Collins, and she hopes other independent-minded voters will support her as they have in the past.
“Do what’s right and you’ll be OK. Mainers are like that. If they think you’re doing the right thing, then you’ll be OK,” she said.