Maine Things Considered

4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Monday - Friday

Weekdays at 4 p.m. hear Maine’s only daily statewide radio news program. MPBN's award-winning news staff brings you the latest news from across Maine and the region, as well as in-depth reports on the most important issues.

Gov. Paul LePage’s has made no secret of his dislike for the current legislature. In an effort to ensure that his pick for state education chief wasn’t blocked by lawmakers, he’s implemented a series of maneuvers to circumvent the Legislature.

The recent shuffling of job titles in the department is a response to repeated warnings from the Maine Attorney General’s Office that deputy commissioner Bill Beardsley couldn’t legally perform some of the most important duties of the job.

If you head to the beach this weekend, and you might come across a razor clam, a crab or two, and maybe even a seal pup. Now’s the time of year when seal moms have babies, and they leave their pups on the beach while searching for food. But sometimes, the moms don’t come back. That’s when staff and volunteers from a new triage center in Harpswell come to the rescue.

The calls about abandoned pups start in April, as a trickle. But come Memorial Day weekend, says Lynda Doughty, the executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine, her triage facility l will kick into high gear.

The Moving Wall
Keith Shortall/MPBN

The midcoast town of Thomaston is expecting an influx of visitors this Memorial Day weekend…who will come to experience “The Moving Wall.” It’s a 252 foot, half- size replica of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC, and it’s on tour where Knox Museum serves as host.

Its called the Moving Wall — and for many visitors — its exactly that.

“It’s sad, he was looking for a lot of the guys that were in the service with him,” says Carol Michalski who is there with her husband, veteran Bob Michalski.

“If you see the name your remember him,” says Bob.

Electricity substation in Bridgeport, CT. Commons

In the previous installment, we reported on recent reductions in the cost of electricity supply in New England. But there’s another charge in your electricity bill that’s been rising steadily over the last decade.

Gov. Paul LePage is continuing to maneuver around state lawmakers to ensure that he keeps his pick for state education chief while avoiding the normal confirmation process. The governor has appointed Debra Plowman, a former Republican state lawmaker, as temporary deputy education chief. The move essentially allows William Beardsley to perform most of the duties as commissioner even though Plowman is now, technically speaking, his boss.

Time now for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on Maine politics. This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney with the Portland firm of Troubh Heisler and former Democratic state senator; Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, a former Republican lawmaker; and Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the Maine Senate as an independent.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has overpaid nearly $2 million in food stamp benefits, and now the department is attempting to collect that money back from over 3,000 elderly and poor Mainers.

Such payment errors are not uncommon in other states, but the magnitude of this one is rare, and it comes amid the department’s effort to radically overhaul the state’s welfare system.

Mike Timberlake / Flickr/Creative Commons

Gov. Paul LePage says Maine’s single biggest problem is the cost of energy. And compared to the rest of the nation, Maine and New England do struggle with higher prices for electricity.

Congressman Bruce Poliquin is being criticized by political rivals for his vote this week on a measure to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Democrats accuse Poliquin of flip-flopping on the issue, after voting against a similar measure last week. Poliquin says he was just trying to protect the rights of religious organizations.

A consortium of New England states, tribes, federal agencies and fisheries regulators today released a draft “Northeast Ocean Plan” that aims to give the public more leverage on federal planning for ocean uses.

It’s been four years in the works, and some are describing it as a radical new approach to ocean resource planning. To help us understand just what it all means Nora was joined on the phone by Anne Merwin, she’s the ocean planning director of the Ocean Conservancy, a national conservation group.

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The U.S. Congress is set to enact a broad, bipartisan reform of the nation’s toxic substance safety law. The bill is seen as a compromise between the chemical industry and public health and environmental advocates. But there are some who say it does not go far enough to protect Americans’ health. And some of them say the new law will undermine efforts by states, including Maine, that have pioneered toxics regulation.

An small internet service provider in Washington County has been awarded almost $73,000 from the Microsoft Corporation. The money will be used to help provide affordable wireless internet to up to forty rural customers who, to this point, have been beyond internet reach. Mark Ouellette is president and COO of grant recipient Axiom Technolgies, based in Machias. He says his company will employ so-called TV white space, frequencies previously used to provide analog TV signals.

Maine Governor Paul LePage (R)

Governor Paul LePage has signed onto a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s guidance around bathroom rights for trangender students.

Rick Gray / BRI

For years, researchers have been studying the pressures on one of Maine’s most-loved birds, the common loon. They’ve looked at shoreline development, mercury and fishing fear. And now a potential new threat has emerged: malaria.

The tropical parasite started showing up in healthy loons about a decade ago. But it had never been known to kill a bird, until recently.

Mal Leary / MPBN

The office of Gov. Paul LePage has issued what it calls some “clarifications” of statements LePage made about the state’s Medicaid program while taking part as a guest on Monday’s radio call-in program Maine Calling.