The Tipping Point Blog Archive 2010
Last week, Maine saw the first whisperings of the student voice.
A working group made up of faculty and administrators at the University of Maine put forward a proposal on March 24th to cut a wide array of programs and majors in order to save the university $12.3 million. So far, the idea has been met with disapproval and anger from students.
Frank Coffin, who died last year at the age of ninety, had a long career in Maine politics. He served two terms in Congress, ran for governor in 1960, served for more than forty years as a federal appeals judge and is the author of four books.
His first great accomplishment, however, may still be his most notable. In the middle of the last century he helped to recreate the Democratic Party in Maine, changed the political landscape of our state and began a period of Democratic political advantage that continues today.
C-Span now has their complete archives online, in an easily watchable format. Along with hours of boring House and Senate proceedings, there’s also an interesting slice of political life in Maine for the past two decades, everything from John McKernan’s inauguration as governor in 1991 to a health care panel discussion with Maine health policy director Trish Riley held last week.
Major party candidates for a variety of political offices in Maine have just passed an important deadline, the date to get their signatures filed in order to get on the ballot. For clean elections candidates there are other deadlines looming that they'll have to meet in order to qualify for public financing.
The Portland Charter Commission is bringing a variety of changes to municipal government and elections to the ballot in November. One of the most talked about has been the proposal to institute a system of instant-runoff voting for mayor and other municipal offices.
Steve Rowe was the first Democrat to officially announce his candidacy for governor in June of last year. He had been planning a run for much longer than that.
“It was probably around two years ago when I decided I really wanted to do this,” explains Rowe. “I thought about it three or four years ago, but it was two years ago that I decided I really wanted to.”
In an email to supporters today, Green Independent candidate Lynne Williams announced that she will no longer seek clean elections funds.
In her note, Williams makes a half-hearted attempt to claim that she's making the change out of respect for the state's budget woes. The email is titled "Our campaign won't use tax money" and she writes that "in the end, in light of the current fiscal mismanagement we're seeing in Augusta, I could not, in good conscience, take public money that might be better used to help people in real need."
Maine has a long history of legislators switching parties or dropping their affiliation to become unenrolled. In 2006, Maine House member Barbara Merrill left the Democrats, tying the parties and threating Democratic control of the chamber. The issue was only resolved when another switcher, Rep. Joanne Twomey, rejoined the Democratic caucus to give them a majority.
The Maine governor's race has now officially kicked into gear. The fields are set, debates are happening, and the first television ads are hitting the airwaves. Unfortunately, with more than a dozen significant candidates in the race and no real independent polling, it's hard to tell which campaigns are doing well and which are tanking.
With the release of the January fundraising reports, however, we can now begin to get a better picture of some aspects of the race.
Much about the future of political journalism in Maine and America is murky, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear: a great deal of the public interest and political reporting of tomorrow won't be making money, and it won't be meant to.
Several steps toward that future were made this week, the most obvious of which is the founding of a new non-profit organization dedicated to investigative journalism, created by former Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel publisher John Christie.