state of maine

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Please stop hacking away at the stimulus package. It’s already too small! Most estimates say we’re losing demand in this country at a rate of over one trillion per year.

Your efforts to cut things like $1.2 billion to help localities with law enforcement expenses, $5.5 billion in surface transportation grants, $5.2 billion in prevention and wellness aid, and $13 billion in state education funding, just because you think these aren’t “stimulative enough” is short sighted in my view. Certainly these programs are stimulative to some degree and besides they add up to a mere $25 billion out of the $800 to $900 billion program.

Please stop fiddling around the edges of this plan. Let’s get on with it! Pass the bill! Time’s a wasting, and the economy is rapidly sinking as we speak.

Marden H Seavey
One of your constituents in the great state of Maine!
Contact Senator Collins:
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-2523
Portland Office (207) 780-3575

UPDATE: No, Susan, you still don’t get it! Slashing $40 billion from aid to states is not going to hack it. Your pared-down acceptable-to-you $780 billion package is not going to make it through the Senate-House conference committee. Barack, you just need to yell louder at them! “What do you think a stimulus is?” the president asked, his voice rising. Spending, he said — to laughter from his audience — “is the whole point.” This, after a senile John McCain says, “This is not a stimulus bill; it is a spending bill.” (See Bob Herbert for more.)

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I always get a kick out of Bill in Portland Maine’s posts on Daily Kos. Today is no exception. Check out his Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday from the GREAT STATE OF MAINE.

Today he gives a great description of the new marriage bill, “An Act to Prevent Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom.” Whoever named the bill is a genius, he says. and here is what it does:

The issue is civil marriage, not religious marriage ceremonies. Religious institutions are not required to perform civil marriages, and may set their own boundaries for marriage. Some faith leaders will not perform marriages for people who have been divorced, for example, or for people of different religions. Marriage equality does not challenge the autonomy of religious institutions in any way.

Check out his post. It’s serious stuff but great fun to read and very important for the great state of Maine. Here’s his summary paragraph:

Today I’m busting with pride for my state (yes, I own it…it’s mine). We’re not the first ones to legalize same-sex marriage, but good lord willing and the creek don’t rise we’ll be the next to prove that the sky won’t fall, straight marriages won’t crumble, and fundy churches can continue preaching without fear of reality creeping into their pulpits. We have a lot of people on our side, including lots and lots of progressive churches and a legislature with a whole lotta fair-minded Democrats (and, as I understand it, even a few fair-minded Republicans). It just might happen.

Three cheers, Bill! Let’s go for it. It might just happen!

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Water Wars

I’ve been spending some time reading online materials on the question of the water supply here in Maine because water has become a controversial topic not only here in Maine but throughout the world. It seems there is an awesome international company with the innocuous sounding name of Nestlé — think hot cocoa and chockies — based in Switzerland with sales of around $60 billion. Nestlé just happens to be the largest food company in the world and through it’s subsidiary, Nestlé Waters North America, it’s sucking Maine’s delicious water out of our ground — Maine’s drinking water has been ranked number one in the nation — at a rate of well over 500,000,000 gallons per year and putting it in little plastic bottles, Poland Spring brand, with revenues of $845,000,000 last year. Not bad!

Back in 2004, Jim Wilfong, a business leader and former state legislator from Fryeburg, Maine, got the idea of slapping a little tax of 3¢– yikes, not a tax! — on each of these little Poland Spring plastic bottles of water (20 fluid ounces) which he figured would raise about $100,000,000 yearly. (There are 128 fluid ounces in a gallon or 6.4 bottles in a gallon, so that’s 6.4X3¢=19.2¢ per gallon, times 500 million gallons comes close to the $100 million.) His plan was to create a Maine Water Dividend Trust and a Water Resources Conservation Board with the Trust supporting small businesses and property tax reduction, and the Board monitoring quality and ensuring sustainability of the water aquifer. Sounded reasonable to me.

Oh, but what a storm was created by this well thought out and detailed proposal. Profits would be hit (3¢ doesn’t seem to me that bad a tax on one of those bottles), jobs would be lost, chaos would ensue, and Nestlé would probably withdraw from Maine! Who cares if $100 million might be raised for the state of Maine? Heavy hitting lawyers from Nestlé as well as politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, including the governor, swung into action and it didn’t take long before the bill, and also a follow on citizen’s initiative petition, were shot down. Nestlé, their lawyers and spinmeisters, aided by the anti-tax crowd, had prevailed with ease. So much for that bottle tax.

But Jim Wilfong didn’t give up. This time he scaled back his proposal with the objective of monitoring water quality and sustainability. This would ensure that water coming out of the aquifer in Maine is subject to the same degree of protection as surface waters, i.e. lakes and ponds. But a snag developed here because of the old “absolute dominion” rule: the landowner has exclusive rights to all the water under his land. By the time his petition got back to him from the Secretary of State, its first sentence read, “Do you want to transfer private ownership of groundwater to the State?” He later found that Nestlé’s lawyers had actually suggested this wording. But Wilfong and his group did succeed in passing legislation last year to give groundwater the same protection as surface water under the Natural Resource Protection Act, and now he is promoting a referendum that would change the law and put all groundwater into a public trust. This would at last do away with the absolute dominion rule.

In 2006, the town of Denmark, Maine, passed a water extraction ordinance which was another good step forward in giving ground water the same protection as surface water. This ordinance should serve as a good model for other towns, and it’s possible that the ordinance could be extended to actually obtain some revenue. This came up in a Candidates Night on Oct. 23, 2008, in which Republican Ralph Sarty, the current State Rep for District 99, appeared with Lee Goldsberry, the Democratic challenger. Ralph was in favor of revenues staying in the municipality whereas Lee would like to see revenues go to the State of Maine. The public trust proposed by Jim Wilfong in his referendum would appear to be the best place for these revenues so that the whole State of Maine could benefit.

UPDATE: Check the excellent blog of TC near McCloud, CA, which is devoted to stopping Nestlé water. There’s a lot of good information there.

GeologyJoe has an excellent post on this subject. As a geologist he has a unique and knowledgeable viewpoint on the whole situation. It’s time I started filling the Poland Spring bottles with our own tap water, and keeping a few on hand for our various needs.

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Hey! I think it’s time I talked religion! Has anyone heard of Unitarian Universalism? UU for short? You can even be an atheist and still be a UU. Some religion, huh? Well, some would say, and I include myself in that, that religion isn’t about belief but about questions. I think I put a post in here a while back by a weird philosopher by the name of James P. Carse who wrote a book called The Religious Case Against Belief, and another book with the interesting title, Finite and Infinite Games. Yes, it’s the infinite games that are what we’re in, or should be in, the never ending questions, and the uncanny, shivers down your back, feelings down there somewhere in your body and soul.

Soul?? Did I mention soul? Well, of course, there’s no soul, only this mysterious feeling or being that is us? But I’m starting to ramble now. Let’s get back on track. How about checking out the UUA website? And here’s the UU news agregator: UU Updates. Oh, and here’s the link to the UU church I go to: Norway UU. And here’s our sister church: West Paris UU. By the way, Norway and West Paris are towns in the great state of Maine, not a country in Scandinavia and the west end of Paris, France. HAHA! UUs have a sense of humor.

Another thing I ought to mention is that these two churches started out as Universalist churches. Only recently, since 1960 if that’s recent, has the Unitarian label been slapped on in front of the Universalist handle. But that’s another story for another time.

Cheers, and happy infinite religiosity to everyone!

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Here if You Need Me

Here’s Kate Braestrup, the only combination Game Warden and UU minister that I know of, and to boot she’s from the Great State of Maine! Listen to her talk about her work and about God:


A totally inspiring lady. Here’s her book: Here If You Need Me: A True Story.

For more great UU stuff, check out :grin:

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Running dogs by any other name remain the same, according to John McCain.
That’s insane, Mr. McCain!
If you can’t tell an al Qaeda, from a Shi’ite, from a Sunni, you might as well be a dog catcher in the great state of Maine.
Oh, in your case, in a small town in Arizona.

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