[attend] Homelands to the Tar Sands

The Maine League of Young Voters is Co-Sponsoring this event with the Natural Resources Council of Maine! Join us on Wednesday, April 17th at 7pm in Portland to learn more!From Our Homelands to the Tar Sands

[read] Maine Firsts: 5 Ways Maine Changed the Face of America

By Teddy Burrage

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Throughout history, Maine has been known for its independence, setting the bar for many political and social movements. Even the state’s motto Dirigo means “I lead”. Aside from being the state where the sun rises first, Maine was the 1st state to ban billboards, the 1st to establish a Department of Indian Affairs, as well as the 1st to provide laptops to all public school students. The following are 5 ways that Maine has changed the face of America:

Maine was the 1st state to approve same-sex marriage via voter referendum

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Previously to 2012, six states had laws that allowed same-sex couples to marry.  All of them were passed through legislation; none of them were approved through ballot initiative.  In 2012, Maine voters were asked “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?” Election night proved that majority of Mainers voted “Yes” marking the first time when same-sex marriage was approved by the people of a state through the ballot box.

Click the following link to learn more about equality in Maine.

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[read] Maine 101 yearbook

Maine 101 is a 10 week course dedicated to breaking down the barriers between local government and regular folks run by our sister organization, The League of Young Voters Education Fund. It started February 6th, and we couldn’t be more excited. Each week, we’ll bring you a snapshot from both the Portland and Lewiston/Auburn groups. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories of your neighbors connecting with local government.

Name: Brendan Farley

Current City: Buxton, Me

Why did you want to participate in Maine 101? I chose to take part in Portland 101 to find out how our city and towns function as a municipality.  Learning how different facets of how a city faces everyday issues is a fascinating process that many of us do not think about on a day to day basis.

What sessions are you most excited about and why?  I was most excited about the visit to EcoMaine.  I found EcoMaine to be the most interesting because many of us don’t think about where our everyday waste goes and is deposited.  With a growing population, waste management will be vital to the health of our environment and our people.  Sanitation will be so essential to our growing world, whether it is with clean water, reusable goods, or waste energy production.  EcoMaine is providing a great service that trends towards a more sustainable way municipalities can dispose of trash, and in turn gain cheaper electricity.

What have you learned by participating?  I have learned that a municipality is a very intricate, detailed machine that is driven by the participation of people who care for it.  Officials may get elected, or employees hired, to work for the community, however without the passion of the public nothing worthwhile will get done.

Anything else you’d like to share about the program?  I would just urge everybody to become more aware of the great responsibility we all have to support our community, and also to really think about how new laws and legislation, or elected officials affect how we live.

[read] Maine 101 Yearbook

Maine 101 is a 10 week course dedicated to breaking down the barriers between local government and regular folks run by our sister organization, The League of Young Voters Education Fund. It started February 6th, and we couldn’t be more excited. Each week, we’ll bring you a snapshot from both the Portland and Lewiston/Auburn groups. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories of your neighbors connecting with local government.

Name:  Megan Guynes

Current City:  Lewiston

Why did you want to participate in Maine 101? I know this will be a great opportunity for me to become more involved in the community. Having a better understanding of my surrounding area and those who run it will also help foster the continued success of Tree Street Youth which was established by Julia Sleeper and Kimberly Sullivan. This is where I am currently involved with the facilitation and management of the community center in the outreach and motivation of our youth in the Lewiston/Auburn community.
What session are you most excited about and why? I am most interested in the session about the public school system and to find if there are any plans in place to foster and develop the continuing diverse population that is growing every year. We have students whose primary language is English and we also have students who speak English as a second language. What are we doing to combine these two varying worlds, and make our schools an environment in which each type of student can thrive?

What have you learned by participating? I have gained a deeper understanding of some of the policies and politics that govern our community. There are many people in positions of authority and varying organizations that make it possible for our city to function as efficiently as possible. It was interesting to discover how all these different people and organizations work together in order to make that happen.

Anything else you’d like to share about the program? It is a valuable experience. One is able to learn and explore the ways in which our cities are run. Not only that, there are so many amazing people we get to meet and converse with. We are able to interact with public officials and the varying individuals who may come to speak, and we also have a unique opportunity to get to know the other members who are participating as well. This is a great outlet to experience diversity and people from so many different walks of life.

[read] Maine 101 yearbook

Maine 101 is a 10 week course dedicated to breaking down the barriers between local government and regular folks run by our sister organization, The League of Young Voters Education Fund. It started February 6th, and we couldn’t be more excited. Each week, we’ll bring you a snapshot from both the Portland and Lewiston/Auburn groups. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories of your neighbors connecting with local government.

Name: Lucas Desmond
Current City: Portland
Why did you want to participate in Maine 101: As a long-time resident of Portland, I was interested in finally becoming more engaged with my city. As I see it, the first step is to become educated about the various moving parts of the city, and Portland 101 has done an excellent job with that.
What session are you most excited about and why? I was most excited about meeting the City Manager, Mark Rees, because his job is in some ways a total mystery to most of us outside of city politics, and yet he quite literally runs everything. As a side note, I quite liked him and his presentation. I left the meeting glad that he was at the helm and confident about Portland’s future.
What have you learned by participating? What I’ve learned so far by participating is difficult to say in such a short statement. From learning about single-sort recycling and the giant claws that “fluff” our garbage for burning to touring Portland PD’s CID and Dispatch Center to combing through the city’s budget, I’ve gained an appreciation for the city as a complex living organism. I’m much more excited about Portland now than before.
Anything else you’d like to share about the program? Yeah, I don’t think enough gets said about the people involved in the program. I’ve been excited to meet so many dedicated folks who genuinely want to engage with our communities in a positive way. And I would encourage anyone interested in almost anything to consider participating. It’s been a blast.

[think] Time for a Living Wage

After President Obama mentioned raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address, a lot of people have begun to yet again talk about making the minimum wage a “Living Wage,” not just a minimum.

Raising the minimum wage is a great way to improve the economy and make sure Maine’s people are stable and secure with their livelihoods. It’s also a great way to help women, because 64% of minimum wage employees are women.

Some Maine lawmakers seem ready to have a conversation about raising the minimum wage, at the very least.

Rep. Scott Hamann introduced a bill that would increase the minimum wage along with increasing it annually by the same percentage as the Consumer Price Index. The bill is currently in the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee on Thursday. A work session is scheduled for March 22.

For more information about a living wage versus a minimum wage, see this great New York Times article.

Curious about what a living wage would be in your area? Click this page, then click your county or town. For Portland, a living wage for one adult supporting one child is $22. The minimum wage is $7.50.

[read] Letter to the Editor

Our sister organiztion, The League of Young Voters Education Fund, runs a program called Maine 101. One of its participants wrote this great Letter to the Editor about school funding. Have you submitted an LTE before? What made you write in?

 

In Response to RSU 16 budget stands at $19.3 million for coming year

I am one of the three parents that attended the School Board meeting concerned about reinstating the music program to RSU 16, among other studies. I want to let other parents and teachers know there are solutions to this problem, we need to work together and speak up and fight for no more cuts to our schools and their curriculum.

We are concerned over the loss of the music program and the continuing cuts in our curriculum in RSU 16. We need to stand up and offer better solutions to a better education for our children rather than hurt our families economically and  in result in negatively impacting our children’s futures in present education.

Will you join me in saying STOP cutting imperative funding to our school system? We can do this by attending the Monday March 18th Appropriations Committee Hearing in Room 228 at the State House in Augusta. This hearing begins at 1pm. Our legislators will do something if we are there together speaking out.  Testimony may not begin until 3 pm or later, be sure to get there at least 30 minutes early to sign up to testify. The committee requests 25 copies of your testimony.

Shannon Dalton, Poland

[read] Maine 101 yearbook

Maine 101 is a 10 week course dedicated to breaking down the barriers between local government and regular folks run by our sister organization, The League of Young Voters Education Fund. It started February 6th, and we couldn’t be more excited. Each week, we’ll bring you a snapshot from both the Portland and Lewiston/Auburn groups. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories of your neighbors connecting with local government.
Name: Marcus Talarico
Current City: Lewiston, Maine
Why did you want to participate in Maine 101?:  I wanted to Join Maine 101, to learn more about how the twin city operates. So far, this program has done just that. We learn a lot of the behind the scene things that a lot of residents of our city do not know, simply because they don’t look into the services and programs that the LA Area has to offer.
What session are you most excited about, and why?: I am really excited about participating in the Fire Department and Police Department session. I know a bit, about both departments, however, I’m sure their is much more to learn. I believe that our local law enforcement and fire departments really deserve recognition for their daily efforts to keep our community safe. I would like to learn what their daily schedule is, and how residents of Lewiston/Auburn help them make their jobs easier.
What have you learned by participating?:
By participating in L/A 101, I have gathered more facts, to support my own theory that Lewiston/Auburn and Maine in general, is a GREAT place to live. We have some great people in our community, whether it be our neighbors, the people representing us, or city staff. This program has really made me realize how people are working so hard on a day to day basis to make our every day lives easier.

[read] Scary Sequestration Facts for Mainers

Our favorite intern, Leanne, is going to be writing some sweet blog posts for all you readers out there. Check out this great information she collected about the sequestration.

 

On Friday, March 1, our country is coming to face with the “Sequester” which is automatic, across the board spending cuts to domestic programs and defense.  These $1.2 trillion in cuts were meant to happen on the first of January but were postponed. We will not see the effect of these cuts automatically because $85 billion of it takes place gradually over the next seven months and the rest spread over the next nine years, but believe me when I say that we will feel the effects.

“WHY ARE WE CUTTING SO MUCH?!” you ask? Well, in August of 2011 our government came very close to defaulting on our loans. The solution to this crisis was to raise our debt ceiling. Because we have done this so many times in the past, along with numerous other reasons, Congress decided we were not going to get away easy. These cuts were created to basically hold a gun to both parties’ heads to come up with an agreement to cut our huge national debt. Republicans clench at the thought of defense spending cuts as well as Democrats do for domestic programs. This, obviously, did not work out too well given that these cuts start to go into effect in three days. This is bad news, especially for us Mainers.

Here are just a few of the big impacts for Maine according to a White House statement:

  • $2.7 million cut in primary and secondary education
  • $2.6 million more cut in education for children with disabilities
  • $1.4 million in cuts to protections for clean air and clean water
  • $7.7 million cut in military base operation funding
  • 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $41.7 million in total

With this is also a large amount of grant reductions to programs that help Maine’s underprivileged population along with many other cuts. The full list and many consequences can be found here. These are serious cuts with serious consequences that affect every Mainer.

Thankfully our representatives here in Maine, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, are fighting hard to try to avoid such harsh cuts. On February 15 the two released a letter they wrote to Congressional leaders urging them to head off drastic defense spending cuts and pass a funding bill that would avoid the loss of work at Bath Iron Works (BIW) and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY).

Here is a great article by the Seattle Times answering many other questions you may have about the Sequester.

 

[read] Maine 101 yearbook

Maine 101 is a 10 week course dedicated to breaking down the barriers between local government and regular folks run by our sister organization, The League of Young Voters Education Fund. It started February 6th, and we couldn’t be more excited. Each week, we’ll bring you a snapshot from both the Portland and Lewiston/Auburn groups. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories of your neighbors connecting with local government.

Name: Hassan Abdi

Current City: Lewiston

Why did you want to participate in Maine 101? Because I want to be involved helping my community by solving such as unemployment and homeless and improve public transportation and education. 

What session are you most excited about and why? Session 3 (Social Services). It helped me to understand more general assistance and get answers questions that most my client asks me in my work.

What have you learned by participating? Getting general assistance is based on income level and number of households .

Anything else you’d like to share about the program? General assistance also helps to pay medical bills and prescription if you can to afford it.