Reprehensible

Maine conservatives have been trying to pass a bill to ban Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in this state. Once again Democrats voted to kill it. What is even more reprehensible is that Speaker of the House, Sara Gideon, openly laughed on a phone call repeatedly as the votes came in to kill the bill that would a have stopped this barbaric practice. Watch the video here at this link.

Advertisements

Lock Down Lowdown Leader

 

The recent reprehensible behavior of Sara Gideon, Speaker of the Maine House, is just the latest tantrum in the litany of despotic acts that has characterized Speaker Gideon’s tenure as the Democrat Party leader of the House. Democrats and Independents, better know as Stealth Democrats, are feverishly trying to fix the blame on Republicans. With a long pattern of abuses lining up at the Speaker’s office door, Democrats, both real and stealth alike, are having a hard time convincing taxpayers that standing neck deep in their own dysfunction and shouting the proverbial “They did it!” with obligatory finger pointed is a valid representation of good leadership.

It should be said of the Speaker that at least she makes no effort to conceal the fact that she is there beholden only to special interests and no other; to Hades with the people. One could find solace in her honesty if it didn’t drive a knife in the basic foundation of the Republic. For Gideon, a government by the people for the people moves back stage and must abdicate to government by the cronies for the cronies at all cost.

At the end of the last legislative session, Gideon’s antics and procedural gymnastics had worn thin on even the members of her own Party. Rumblings of a coming insurrection began to bubble to the surface and the Speaker moved quickly to save her leadership. She promised a more steady even handed approach in the chamber and Democrats fell in line.

But the lists of bills killed by Gideon seems endless, many not allowed to the floor for debate. Many of these would have provided relief for small town Maine, but were crushed by the Speaker’s ruthlessness. One such bill was the Arbitration Bill which would have helped small towns gain some leverage and voice in the school withdrawal process.

One such small town is Atkinson. Atkinson began the withdrawal process eagerly agreeing to the demands of the school district they wished to withdraw from in hopes of getting on the ballot in November of that year. The district responded by adding more demands and a large lump sum of money effectively moving the finish line of negotiations.

It was soon apparent that the school district’s definition of negotiation was “give us all our demands and none of yours.” When the delay tactics were obvious and all hope of a November ballot vote was lost, Atkinson withdrew from negotiations in protest. Their only hope of leverage was the Arbitration Bill in the legislature.

This bill would have provided for small towns, who are under served in these negotiations and prejudiced against, the option to call for a separate arbitrator to intervene. This bill passed through committee unanimous “Ought to Pass.” The expectation was that it was simply a matter of formality and that it would pass the chamber easily.

Inexplicably in blatant obeisance to the public education complex, Speaker Gideon moved to have the bill killed. Despite protestations from both Parties that the bill should at least be debated on the floor, through procedural manipulation the bill was killed by a one vote procedure by one of Gideon’s lackeys. Cronies over people once again.

So small town Maine once again found itself under the thumb of bureaucracy. If a small town wants to better itself, Speaker Gideon wanted to make sure they pay a heavy price for it. Now we see, despite the promises, the beat down goes on.

For all of Gideon’s heavy handedness and shoulder thrusting, she hasn’t run a very tight ship. Her lack of leadership has now been shown for the whole of Maine to see. So consumed with trying to block her opponents bills from even seeing the floor, the legislative schedule has fallen into neglect.

Democrats wanted an extension to cover their failings. In order to do so, they tabled every bill that Republicans wanted to vote on in attempt to gain Republican votes. Republicans refused to be held hostage and voted against the extension.

True to form, Gideon looked to manipulate obscure procedures of parliament, while she indefinitely postponed any debate on Republican bills. As in the Arbitration Bill, the people of Maine now take the brunt of the dereliction of leadership by Speaker Gideon. Maine cannot afford to give Sara Gideon and the Democrats a pass on their Lock Down Lowdown leadership tactics. It’s time to unlock Maine’s potential and show Democrats the door.

The Plight of Small Town Maine

 

When filtered through the lens of a photographer, reality can take on a different hue, which by design challenges the perception of the viewer. Pictures of worn and decrepit structures throughout rural Maine have been filtered and presented as idyllic beautiful art for a collector to hang on the wall, finding visual satisfaction. The reality of those pictures tells a different story for those who live in the surrounding region.

Rural Maine, Small Town Maine, and Farm Town Maine, are slowly decaying into their own landscape. The greater sadness is that the factors to their demise are beyond the control of Small Town Maine. No, this is not even the tale of little communities who cannot keep up with the changing times or technologies; but instead, is the story, to often told in Maine, of bureaucratic government’s abuse, corruption, and overreach and the cowardice of those, who should, to curtail it.

It’s the story of Atkinson, Maine. The farming community that I live in. It’s a story that could be rewritten into the borders of every little town in North Central Maine and very little of the plot would be changed.

At last census, Atkinson had 326 people who resided here. That number now is in the mid 200’s. In comparison to the wildlife and dairy cattle, humans are clearly in the minority in Atkinson.

But the hay fields, farm lands, streams, and timber lands of this community has become ground zero for the subversive tactic of choice by leftist environmental groups. These groups have hijacked tax windfall programs designed to benefit farmers and timber harvesters in the state of Maine. These groups and individuals have bought up large tracts of land and put them into programs which are tax free or nearly tax free, rendering nearly 75% of Atkinson’s land virtually nontaxable.

This has driven the mil rate of a town with less than 300 (less than that pay taxes) to 23.5. Couple the non-existent tax revenue with ever burgeoning school budgets in an under performing school district, and you have recipe for the slow painful death of a little town. Small Town Maine,bound and helpless, led to its demise.

Atkinson has more land in Open Space conservation than all of the towns in Aroostook County combined. Northeast Wilderness, out of Montpelier, Vt., holds 6000 acres in conservation easements, along with one individual, who owns 10,000 acres in easements, the Alder Stream Preserve, and plans to turn over his land to North East Wilderness. The State of Maine and the Bud Leavitt Preserve holds another 1000 acres in tax exempt status.

Some of these lands were at one point put into a program called Tree Growth. This was a program designed to give tax incentives to large paper companies such as Great Northern and International Paper in an effort to encourage them to stay in our State and continue to employ and boost our forestry industry. A requirement for Tree Growth is to have a working harvesting plan, yet many of these conservation groups have no such plan or fail to implement them.

Our state has over-regulated our forestry and farming industry until it is nearly gone. These tax incentives were given to those industries with an understanding of an economic trade off that benefited our state’s economy. No such trade off exists with environmental groups who are exploiting these land trust plans to benefit their agenda.

Atkinson decided to fight back in the only way it could, by deorganizing. It has been a long arduous process which has resulted in no good answers for anyone, but with also little choice for Atkinson. I would draw imagery of David and Goliath except David wins in his story.

Suffice to say, the withdrawal/deorganization process is legalized extortion. I will address this in another column. As with all of the Small Town Maine, Atkinson is the victim of a government and bureaucracy that is unwilling to reform its practices.

Because the people of Atkinson have voted to withdraw, in retaliation the single landowner of 10,000 acres has obtained permits to put all of his land into Open Spaces, which cannot be taxed. Programs, which were designed to encourage job growth, are being used as political bludgeons on rural Maine. Of the 23,000 acres of land in Atkinson, 17,000 cannot be taxed to the benefit of the town, the tax burden is shifted to the few remaining landowners who pay taxes. With a predicted rise in mil rate to 28, these few small landowners are effectively subsidizing the abuses of wealthy land barons.

The fault lies with a government that turns a stone ear to the plight of its rural towns. These processes must be reformed. Out of state groups and land barons cannot be given a free hand to destroy the economies of Small Town Maine, while at the same time operating at the expense of those same towns. Augusta needs to start working for and listening too Small Town Maine.