He made the trains run on time and controlled the Unions

image - October 23, 2003

Fascism is recognized to have first been officially developed by Benito Mussolini, who came to power in Italy in 1922. To sum up fascism in one word would be to say "anti-liberalism".

...............Socialism and Democracy. Political doctrines pass; peoples remain. It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the "Right," a Fascist century."

Image Source Page: http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/glenn-beck-champions-u-s-pro-nazi-text/

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Aw Shucks or Shock and Awe?

Reprinted with permission from Mark Katz


Remember Rodney Dangerfield? No respect! Reminds me of the tax-paying, voting, hard-working Mainers who open their hearts and homes to “State Kids.” Did anyone notice when DHHS-OCFS Licensing recently reduced the annual training requirements for Treatment Foster Parents?

To continue reading this article please go to UnionMaine.Org

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Unplanned Impact of the Supplemental Budget on Treatment Foster Families and Children

Hallowell Maine

The licensing division of the Office of Children and Family Services at DHHS as well as provider agencies contracting with licensed homes for treatment level care have long recognized that many children in state custody need a full-time parent at home. In the rules, both the department and agencies have explicitly acknowledged that reimbursement dollars may be used in determining the financial fitness of foster families. This has allowed many families, perhaps the vast majority, to open their homes to children and youth placed at treatment levels of care and to provide at least one full-time parent. EDITOR: Now Foster care is under attack by the DHHS.

To read more go here.

Remember to sign up at UnionMaine.Org as this site will be phased out in a few months.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hollywood Needs Writers, the Theater Needs Agents What Does Foster Care Need?


Mark Katz is a nationally recognized systems analyst with special interests in health-care and pediatric mental health delivery. Before settling in the China area in the early seventies he was a National Science Foundation Fellow and doctoral student at M.I.T. with concentrations in neurophysiology and psychology.

He is currently the CEO, cook, and dish-washer of a licensed Treatment Foster Home and is certified in Behavioral Health.

Free associate for a few moments. If I ask you to think, Agents, does the word Secret come to mind? Or perhaps, Special or Intelligence or Real Estate? Agent of Change, maybe? In a recent survey, not a single respondent said, Foster Family-based Treatment, yet these agencies contract with over a thousand Maine, independent contractors to perform one of the most challenging and valuable jobs within our state.

For the rest of the story as told by this remarkable advocate for Foster Children go to Http:UnionMaine.Org

Mark Katz an Advocate for Foster Kids

Mark Katz has kindly offered to let me use his writing for this Blog. When you finish reading his writing you may want to elect him to office. The trouble is I think he is too intelligent to fall for it. Hallowell — Give Me a Break!

Reneging on Respite Reimbursement

Grandma is in the hospital for hip surgery. Mom is recovering from a hysterectomy. Dad needs a weekend to repair the flooding damage and broken windows from Johnny's melt-down on Thursday. Johnny needs a break from Mom and Dad and all their stupid rules before he has another melt-down. Rover needs recovery time from the unexpected kick in the head Johnny gave him. The neighbors are celebrating a major anniversary and would appreciate a little quiet next door.

For the complete post, go to Http://WWW.UnionMaine.Org

I am going to do something I don't normally do. I am going to post several posts in a rapid series.
The first hearings on the "Cuts for Kids" campaign are to be held by the appropriations committee this Friday. I will be there.

If you want to read more of Mark's writing, leave a comment.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

DHHS announces the CUTS FOR KIDS campaign is off to a great start!

Not in so many words, but this letter says that the "Cuts for kids" campaign is off to a great start. They are just letting the foster parents know it is already a done deal. Ask your legislator if it is a done deal. Forward this post to your legislator and ask if they support the"Cuts for Kids" campaign. Stay tuned for the "More jobs for DHHS follow up".

Dear Mr. Maher,

The Governor forwarded us your message so we could respond.

As you know, Maine is facing a revenue shortfall of $95 million over the next two years. Together with the state’s funding of education, DHHS makes up 80% of the entire state budget. In hard times, such as what we are in now, the Department is forced to make a lot of changes in how we pay for services so we can keep important and necessary services in place for children, families and older citizens throughout Maine.

Children who are in the state’s care and served by foster families or are provided permanency by adoptive families clearly must remain a priority. The Governor does not propose rate changes for these families lightly. He and the Department understand the love and giving that goes in to caring for Maine’s children.

One of the choices among all the many different choices to address these difficult economic times was to adjust rates. In some other services for people equally in need as foster and adoptive children we had to propose serving fewer people by making fewer people eligible. Also in other areas people will have to wait for services for longer time periods. The worse option was to cut a service where absolutely nothing else was available.

When we were faced with all these different choices, we believe the changes in rate reimbursements are a responsible position for the Department to have suggested to the Governor.

Now the legislature will debate whether the Governor’s proposals can become law. As you know, they will hear from the public about this particular budget proposal on Friday, February 1st, in the afternoon. They will take testimony, comments from letters and emails in to consideration as they make their decisions over the next 3 months.

We continue to welcome your comments as we work together to make the best decisions for our children, providers, and all Maine people who will need our help in the future.

I hope this helps you understand the context of the cuts. We know that our Office of Child and Family Services sent a letter on January 15th explaining how these reductions would be put in place. If you have not received that and wish a copy please let us know.

Thank you for your continued service to Maine’s children.


Lucky Hollander

Director, Legislative Relations

On behalf of Brenda M. Harvey


Thursday, January 24, 2008

DHHS proposes 70% cut in funding to foster adoptive care program. Republicans respond. DHHS blames the legislature.

I am not foolish. Just because an elected official says nice things doesn't mean they will be able or willing to go to the mat to fight for your issue. But when you get a call, and they return your emails. When they take a call and spend twenty minutes on the phone even with someone of a different party or even not in their district you are proud to live in Maine. I just wish I was getting calls from members of my own party.

I am a Democrat but after my experiences this week after sending emails to every legislator with an email address and the Governor and the Governor's wife I have one question.

Isn’t the majority supposed to lead? I am a Democrat and I have been reading the recent ads trumpeting the (D) majority in the legislature. We have the same majority in the Congress, so where is the leadership? On the Federal level George Bush is setting the agenda. No SCHIP, a department of labor that is destroying Unions and doing it with bureaucratic rules not by any open votes in Congress. Is it OK to drop pensions for workers over 65? It is now. Is it OK to let inflation and the growing number of poor children destroy the effectiveness of the SCHIP program? It is now. It is as if the (D’s) never got a majority. Maybe they just have no idea what to do with it and they are lost. Congress is about to pass a tax rebate bill and it will have no help in it for the unemployed whose benefits have run out. It will have more corporate tax breaks and then Bush will ask for more Billions for the endless war.

In Maine the Democrats are in the majority but the first cuts that come from the governor elected by the Democrats is an attack on kids supported by the Elizabeth Levinson Center, and then an attempt by DHHS to maintain layer after layer of management at the expense of services, foster children, and adoption plans. Where will the State find homes for the sickest kids when they can no longer be placed in loving homes? They will be shipped out of State, or to large for profit institutions at a cost many times the cost to support the current system.

DHHS is holding meetings where they allow the audience to believe that the cuts are “all the fault of the legislature”, and that preserving a massive management structure has nothing to do with the cuts to kids. They tell people “it is a done deal” the cuts are coming and it is too late to do anything. Are they leading the fight, no they are just rolling over and saying give up, it is too late.

After hundreds of emails to the legislature I have gotten a number of responses. Some of the legislators thought that there must be hearings scheduled and were surprised that DHHS is going around saying too late, too late, give up, it is too late.

Foster parents in Maine will have to judge the legislature by its success and by it’s intentions. So far I have heard from several Republican legislators. They have asked questions, they have returned emails. They have taken my calls and asked to meet other foster parents and to learn the facts.

Until now it is not the fault of the legislature, they have been given a snow job that relies on term limits to make legislative memory forget, to forget what DHHS did only five years ago. A 50% cut just five years ago. From 2002 to 2008 if all the cuts are approved the total will be as much as an 70% cut to some families. Has there been an 70% cut in DHHS overhead costs? 70% cut in management? 60%? Yeah, sure! Now if homes are lost, kids are harmed, it will be the fault of the legislature because they can not pretend ignorance. I notified every single legislator with an email address. I know of other Foster family associations that have sent hundreds more emails. They know and we will be able to judge them (R) or (D) by their actions, not their party affiliation. I look forward to praising those that recognize this sham.

Where is the Democratic leadership? Where is the outrage? So far two kind Democratic women leaders have sent emails; one guy sent a nice note. In return to my letters one of the Democratic incumbents sent a letter requesting a donation.

Then there is Chellie Pingree, Democratic candidate in the first District, she was dismayed, but she is not yet in office. My family is facing the loss of our home, and I know a mother of seven, whose sole source of income is the stipends for her children. Kids with so many challenges they could start their own hospital wing, but she loves every one and has given them a good home for years.

This isn’t politics; this is about kids being hurt. So far one side of the aisle seems to notice. Maybe the other side is planning their response.

When I hear from the Republicans that have contacted me, I will ask permission to post their names. I will be glad to share their names.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nobody Knows the Troubles I seen

I am getting older and maybe I am feeling mortal.

At nearly sixty years old and after fifteen years as a State Employee I don’t look forward to the loss of income retirement brings. I am going to have to let my butler go back to the old country. My Chef is no longer a perk I can afford.

During every one of my years with the State there was never a month in which I did not have to do some work. The unending demands on my time made planning for my vacations nearly impossible. I nearly claimed disability from the stress induced from trying to choose between a time share in Florida, Nevada or both. I think that I am due more for the many hard weeks of work during my employment than a pension, a home in Florida, Nevada, Maine, and a retirement near my grand kids with only one private doctor on call.

At my age maintaining the Mercedes, the Cadillac, my wife’s cars and the real estate investments is getting to be too much. I will be cast out and forced into my twilight years without domestic staff.

If only they knew how much we will suffer. No Filet Mignon, just sirloin, No double lobster, just soft-shell and fries. The future is bleak.

Some of my friends will be forced into choosing between giving up their private golf club memberships or giving up the new plasma TV. Can be more a frightening future be imagined?

Realistically we must all suffer to weather these tough economic times. We must share the burden of our fellow citizens. From here on in, I am going to be more productive. I will work three days a week. I will give up the catered lunches, and the Swedish massage.

I am willing to share the burden. I will give up a lot, keeping only the consultant fee for rodent control for my cat.

If you are a State Employee, this is how the right wants the public to see you. A parasite. A tick to be burned off with a cleansing match. They don't want the public to know that we are Mainers, tax payers, real people that do not get cost of living raises.

If you have read the articles or listened to the radio recently the right wing says that promises of healthcare and retirement can be broken. O.K. I promised to work, until I am 62 to get my benefits. So if I don’t get my benefits can I just stop working and still get paid? Can I strike? Can I get back the 60% of my Social Security the Feds will take as punishment for having a pension? Can I get the same respect that I give the public every day?

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

The legislature agrees on BiPartisan cuts for children, the sick, the handicapped, and breaks another promise.

This letter is being sent to every elected member of the legislature, has been published on Http://WWW.UnionMaine.BlogSpot.Com and sent to the Bangor Daily News.

I will probably lose my house after July 1, 2008 and it is a direct result of cuts in the foster adoptive care stipend.

Starting thirteen years ago my wife and I adopted three special needs children through DHHS. Asthma, immune deficiencies, fetal alcohol syndrome, severe psychological problems due to neglect and abuse were some of the issues the children brought with them. The challenges were too severe for my youngest son, he died two years ago and my other children, my wife and I still mourn his loss.

My remaining children are unable to attend a regular school and are being successfully home schooled by my wife.

We purchased our home in Stetson based on the stipend that the State of Maine guaranteed in writing to our bank. The rate was guaranteed until the children reached eighteen years of age, and I will be glad to provide a copy for anyone that is interested.

Within one year of purchasing our home the State cut the stipend rate in half, and all clothing allowances were eliminated.

This was over an eleven thousand dollar a year cut in the family income and understandably made things harder, yet we continued and tightened our belt.

Two years ago we were forced to refinance our home in order to bring our payments in line with our reduced incomes and again the State provided a guarantee to our mortgage company that the income levels would continue until our children were eighteen years of age.

Psychological help, camps, therapy for these children were deleted in order to balance the budget with no concern for the harm done.

Now the legislature proposes yet another cut that between my two children will come to nearly seven thousand dollars a year. We will no longer be able to pay our mortgage after losing eighteen thousand dollars a year in income. We will no longer be able to provide the type of surroundings that our children need.

If you are a Republican you are against tax increases, yet an eleven thousand dollar tax has been forced on a family of four and now an additional seven thousand dollar tax is proposed.

If you are a Democrat, you are pledged to protect those who need support. If children can not be placed in the foster adoptive care system the will be cared for by agencies at a far greater financial and human cost.

I can live through anything, but my children will be facing the shame of bankruptcy and the loss of the secure life they have known for years.

I beg a fair hearing. The proposed budget cuts will fall on foster & adoptive parents and will harm the children they have promised to protect and support.

Please consider how much has already been done to jeopardize foster and adoptive care and please reconsider your decision.

Thomas Maher

Stetson ME

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Health Insurance companies staying healthy

Tonight there is no reasoned argument. I have been out reading and raising my blood pressure. Good thing I still have health care. This is not a balanced argument, I needed to let off steam.

George Bush, last year said anyone can get health care “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” He really said that , send the man a pretzel.

Just send 47,000,000 Americans to the emergency room. Should they go one at a time or all at once?

Don’t worry, Mitt Romney is coming to our rescue

Mitt says the uninsured are freeloaders “The reason health care isn’t working like a market right now is you have 47 million people that are saying, “I’m not going to play. I’m just going to get free care paid for by everybody else.” Freeloading, sicko deadbeats. Stay well if you want to keep your costs down!

So you unemployed deadbeat, eighty year old cripple, just because you have emphysema, or heart disease is no excuse not to be earning enough for health insurance, no matter what the cost.

Give 'em credit, the Republicans designed a built in cure in the last Medicare bill, called the “donut hole” where none of your medicines are paid for. At this point you stop paying for medicine because you want to eat. See the genius of the plan? Soon you will have no expenses at all. Skip enough medicine and the cost to the public falls to zero as soon as Social Security chips in the $300.00 death benefit.

In Canada a major hospital stay costing over ten thousand dollars might set you back $400 or nothing in some areas, and you could expect the same in England, France, Germany, or Scandinavia.

The same “compassionate conservatives” that say the use of emergency rooms by illegal aliens is breaking the system are proposing that (now 49,000,000 since you started reading) Americans use the same emergency rooms as primary care physicians.

I am certain that these politicos have never had to go to an emergency room in their life, unless G.W. needed to go for an OD during his party boy days. These are the same politicos that accept free federal health care, or free State health care in Mitt's case. The Senate and the house have a 24x7 ambulance with trained medics standing by “just in case”.

In Maine the same “cure” is being proposed for the expense of the State Employee health care plan. Cut benefits, raise costs. Then the taxpayer pays the emergency room. But at least the insurance companies will stay healthy.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Employee Health care fund, a Piggy Bank for Politicians?

State Employees are justifiably worried about the attacks on health care, wages and benefits. Large employers in Maine are funding attacks on State employees because they fear the example that State employees set. Fair pay, benefits, collective bargaining are all frightening terms to the owner that only want to see themselves as "the boss". They are threatened by the example of an employee employer partnership that is effective.

Many of the attacks focus on health care benefits, but just maybe the governor has seen that the best way to help the rest of Maine is to follow the success of the Union & State run health care. The State employee health commission has been tasked with the job of running the health care system on a budget fixed by the legislature and the scary thing about it to corporate types is that it works and it has even been able to build up a “rainy day fund”. Make no mistake, the success of the fund makes it the target for politicians. They want to grab that fund, and then they will claim that the lack of a fund is the reason they should cut our benefits. After all, there must be something wrong with a well run fund that can build a surplus!

There is some hope, in his Jan. 9 speech Gov. Baldacci proposed a partnership between the Maine State Employees Health Commission, the University of Maine system and the Maine Education Association to "put their enormous buying power to work to lower prescription drug costs" for state residents............ The governor said that in 2008 he will support legislative efforts to provide meaningful market reform that will make coverage more affordable for individuals. Is it time to let Mainers buy insurance from any willing and financially stable provider? The insurance commission will still have the final control, the ability to deny licensing to an out of State insurance company.

What could be more obvious? The Unions have kept health care cost increases to a small percentage of the increases faced by much of America and they have done it using good money management tools. Maybe it is time for the government to look at success and try to copy it, not destroy it.

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The News From Hawkhill Acres

This post ended up here by accident. A fellow family blogger wanted to update a post on their blog and she wondered where the picture went. My daughter took this one.
Anyway it is a break from the politics.


Monday, January 14, 2008

A vote for John Edwards

From my cramped computer room I can hear my wife and my kids. My daughter says “Daddy Geek” is blogging again!” We just watched the Red Green show on NPR and I have to get ready to plow a second time. I plow the half mile of road leading to my house the town doesn’t maintain or reduce my taxes for maintaining. Today as many other days I listened to talk radio so I will know my enemy and today I learned that if it snows in Maine in winter it proves there is no Global warming.

My family is all that is important to me. It doesn’t mean that I am not proud of the work I do but I work to live not live to work. I need to plow, but first I want to share some thoughts, maybe hopes, maybe some dreams of ideals about who I will support in this presidential election.

My wife and I adopted three children, each with various challenges so one of our constant concerns is healthcare. I have good healthcare through my job but we still pay a lot for dental care, eye care, and for deductibles. Eye care and dental care are not considered to be “health” concerns. Our premiums for the family portion continue to rise and the far right politicians keep trying to sacrifice the rest of our healthcare on the altar of votes. I am afraid that rates will continue to go up until health care benefits will become too juicy a target. The politicians will claim that they only want to make us pay “a little more” until we have no health care or can not afford the care available. Even with a comparably good job I have not gotten a raise large enough to keep up with the cost of living increases for over ten years. Because we kept our health care in place of raises, we are falling farther and farther behind.

John Edwards has not only the best universal health care proposal, but has the only realistic approach. He won’t force a one size fits all approach, attack Unions, or attempt to destroy corporate profits. He won’t quit and roll over to the right. John Edward’s plan will lower rates by new laws and incentives. Government will not force out private insurers but will become an active player providing competition that doesn't exist now. This will stop the ever increasing rounds of increases in premiums and allow me to keep my family healthy. Reform is needed to keep our retirees from having to choose not between food and medicine, but between food and just a little bit of medicine. Edwards Health care and Pro-Union attitude are important to me and give me the reasons I need to vote for Edwards.

It won’t do any good to keep my kids healthy if the world is dragged into a endless series of wars that drag down the economy and destroy Americas leading role in the world. Without a focus on this country we will never be able to deal with the issues that affect working citizens. Not billions, but sums moving to the trillions are unsupportable by even the world’s greatest economy. The money spent so far in Iraq could have nearly gained the U.S. complete energy independence even with the state of current solar, wind, and other alternative technologies. I want to believe that all of the Democratic candidates would stop the loss of our blood and our treasure while still protecting the United States. I hope all of the Democratic candidates would get our troops out of Iraq but I will vote for Edwards because he has called for our troops to be out in ten months. John Edwards has said that he will end the policy of preventive war.

The preventive war policy is an excuse to start wars without proof and then to blame any group opposed to war as unpatriotic. While still in office the Bush administration is trying to start the drums beating to support another war in Iran.

Edwards will maintain the strength of our armed forces and deter our enemies when they know we are not so overextended that we can not deal with one more incursion.

John Edwards will not run out on American responsibilities, he will allow us to regain respect while maintaining a strong deterrent.

Do you remember “It’s the economy stupid”? John Edwards has not measured the state of the economy by how many dollars have been made by the few at the top. Edwards has always measured the economy by how many are being harmed. He realizes that more Americans are suffering from loss of jobs and the destruction of the middle class as this war continues with not control on expenses and no end in sight. If you think the economy is great, ask the UAW, airline employees, and former steel workers.

Edwards doesn’t try to buy votes by appealing only to Unions or to special interest groups with promises of perks. His plans will help all Americans. He will deal with the economy as a whole realizing that a rising tide floats all boats, and he will make sure there are enough life boats on this cruise. It won’t be only the first class passengers that get to board.

Maine and the country are heading for rough water, and the ship of state will need a good captain, that doesn’t cry full steam ahead and damn the icebergs.

I don’t know why so many Union members have written off his campaign. Read the actual numbers and whether he wins or not, right now he has a good chance. He will continue to have my vote until we decide on a Democratic nominee.

If Edwards doesn't win, I could settle for Silver: John Edwards as secretary of Labor.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chellie Pingree Has a plan and is ready to do the job.

Chellie Pingree, candidate for congress in the first congressional district asked for questions from readers and sent in some very interesting answers. When judging candidates remember, that no Republicans have responded to invitations. Read more about her candidacy at http://www.chelliepingree.org/ In another interview Chellie said …communicating, lobbying, fundraising and engaging the public in policy and politics is far more exciting and inexpensive via the internet.

EDITOR: This site asked if the candidate would answer questions. Chellie’s campaign did not ask for a list of questions first. She is willing to stand by her beliefs.

1. Social Security Offset: State employees that have contributed to the Social Security system are punished by the Social Security offset. As a member of congress, will you work to repeal this unjust law? What will you do?

Yes, I am a fervent advocate of repealing the Government Pension Offset (GPO) of the Social Security Act. I supported repairing this broken system when I ran for federal office in 2002, and I continue to hold this position today. Maine is one of a handful of states impacted by this provision, and in Congress I would work with Members of Congress from the other 14 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas) to make sure this is corrected for the people who are penalized. I would support legislation to repeal the offset, but it is likely that the best opportunity to address the offset will be in the context of larger social security reform, and I would be strong advocate for making this important change at that time.

2. Describe what you would do to improve the Department Of Labor and how you would make it friendlier to labor. Will you support a card check law on the Federal level? Would you support and enforce prevailing wage across the country?

The first thing that needs to happen is that the Secretary of Labor needs to be someone who understands the needs and rights of workers. With every federal agency, the Bush Administration has put foxes in charge of the henhouse. I would advocate that the next president (a Democrat, if we all work hard!) chooses a Secretary who truly stands up for all U.S. workers. The Department of Labor needs to stand up for workers – not the interest of big corporations. That includes understanding the need for the Employee Free Choice Act, strengthening OSHA requirements, and guaranteeing workers a living wage.

During the Bush Administration, the DOL has been more vigilant about enforcing regulations against Unions then against businesses in violation of labor laws. I think the next Secretary will need to refocus their enforcement efforts. I am also very concerned about the NLRB and the decisions that have been made by it. I think that it is critical that future appointments to this board believe in the purpose of the NLRA if they are going to be making decisions that will be critical to American workers. I recommend the “Eye on the NLRB” site on http://www.americanrightsatwork.org

Finally, yes, I support check card legislation and would support and enforce nationwide prevailing wage. I hope that, with a new administration and bigger margins in Congress, this will be only a beginning.

3. Unions believe in the right of workers to organize and to bargain collectively. Will you work with Unions to extend and return collective bargaining rights to (ALL) Federal workers that have been denied bargaining rights?
Absolutely. I am proud of my long record of supporting labor rights, particularly in the Maine Legislature (as has been described on this site), and in Congress I would continue this work to improve wages and workers’ rights, and ensure a fair playing field for labor unions.

4. What are other major issues upon which your campaign is based?
The election of 2008 will be the most important of our lifetime — our country faces so many important decisions and we need to undo so much of the damage done by the Bush administration and a congress that didn’t always stand up in opposition when it should. The war in Iraq needs to be ended immediately (as I discuss in the next answer). We need bold reform of our national health care system that ensures all Americans have access to high quality medical care, and I support HR 676 — a universal single-payer health care plan. I also believe that we need to address global climate change and our dependence on foreign oil with bold measures that support conservation, renewable energy, and new technology development — in this country.

Lastly, I believe that much of the debate in this election year will be focused on solving the increasing economic problems that many Americans are facing. The policies of the current administration have only served to increase the growing gap between the rich and the poor through misguided tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich, along with a near-war on labor unions and on working people’s rights, and ever declining funding for education, and lack of support for small businesses and investment in the critical infrastructure. We have a lot to do to turn this around, and Democrats have not always been the leaders they need to be.

5. What is your position on the war in Iraq and how soon it can be ended?

We must end the war now. Congress must stop funding the war and rescind its authorization if the administration refuses to make plans for immediate withdrawal. We can't continue to squander our resources on the worst foreign policy mistake in our country's history. Leaving will be complicated, but staying only continues the tragic loss of our soldiers, Iraqi citizens, and almost unthinkable amounts of money.

I also believe that while Congress and the President debate whether we can "win" the war instead of how best to withdraw our forces form Iraq with the least amount of damage, they are irresponsibly prolonging this disaster. Instead, they should be tackling the hard debate of what needs to be done next.

6. On the second amendment, do you believe your views are consistent with the majority of Mainers? Do you believe the second amendment is an individual right or a collective right? Do you see the need for more gun laws or do you believe we should enforce the laws we have?

I recognize the historical and cultural importance of gun ownership and hunting in Maine, and think I am similar to many people in Maine when I say that, but also when I say that I am concerned about personal safety, being safe in one’s own home, and domestic violence.

Do you support the assault weapons ban? Registering all weapons?

Like many others Democrats and Republicans, I would support reinstating the assault weapons ban, which was allowed to expire in 2004. I would need to review the particular legislation about registering all weapons before making any decision on that front.

7. Would you vote to allow undocumented workers to collect Social Security?
Under current law, Social Security is not available to people working in the U.S. illegally and this makes sense to me. We all know that our immigration system in broken, and Washington hasn't done anything to fix it – this will be an important topic for our federal government to address in the coming years. I support reforming our immigration laws by focusing first on securing our borders, cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, and allowing undocumented people here now to get right with the law by paying back taxes and a fine, and getting to the back of the line. People who became legal citizens would then be eligible to participate in Social Security

8. What is your position on Bush tax cuts?

I am not sure I can say it any better than John Edwards does, “Our tax code is the perfect example of the Two Americas – one for the wealthiest Americans and Washington insiders, and the other for everyone else.” There is a lot that needs to be done — starting with a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the highest income Americans and raising the tax rate on capital gains. Alternatively, our tax cuts should be focused on areas that will help working families – with credits that support access to higher education, child care costs and tax policies that do not punish wage earners.

9. What role does the Federal Government have in helping to alleviate the health care crisis in this country?
This is the job of the federal government. I support HR 676 — and several other good proposals that are out there. I believe that if the Democrats increase their numbers in the House and Senate and we manage to elect a Democrat to the White House and we don’t start from day one working to enact a system of universal affordable health care for everyone in this country, then we won’t deserve to govern and the voters will never have faith in us again.

This is not an issue of a lack of good proposals or ideas — it is about political will. It requires Congress to have the backbone to stand up to the many special interests who descend on Washington to fight reform. I learned how to win these kinds of fights when we took on Pharma to pass Maine Rx when I was the Senate Majority Leader — and I plan to make sure my colleagues do the same in Congress.

10. What are the most important things Mainers need to know about you that will help us to decide how to vote?

Given the challenging times in our country, perhaps most importantly the voters need to feel confident that I am not afraid to fight -- from standing up to big Pharma to fight for lower prescription costs to fighting for some of the toughest corporate accountability laws in our country when I was the majority leader of the Maine Senate. And, I believe in telling the truth — even when it isn’t politically convenient -- like being willing to oppose the invasion in Iraq when I ran for the US Senate in 2002 when many people in Washington told me to keep quiet. I want to serve in Congress not because I want to have the title, but because I believe that there is so much that needs to be done and not enough people fighting for change.

I have lived in Maine nearly all my life — raised my three children (my daughter Hannah is now the majority leader of the Maine House of Representatives), served in local office like the school board, and I still run my own small business. I know what it is to meet a payroll and pay the health care costs of our employees. I am firmly rooted in my hometown and Maine values.

I brought those values to Washington during the four years I was the national president of Common Cause. There I lobbied the leaders of Congress like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. I've had tough conversations with them about the need for ethics reform in the House and Senate, and I've worked with some of them to craft important reform legislation, such as Senator Durbin's bill for "Clean Elections" for Congress. I have traveled to conflict-ridden countries such as Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Israel, and seen how challenging it is to create solutions in those circumstances. I would “hit the ground running,” and be a powerful force for the people of Maine from the day I was elected.

11. What can you do to help Maine if you are elected? Our current (R) representatives have been ineffective in getting LIHEAP money, increasing the road weight limits, or anything else a congressional representative is supposed to do to help their state.

There is so much talk about “security” in our country today and, while there is much that needs to be done to make our country more secure, I would like to take back the money that is being spent everyday on the misguided war in Iraq and invest it in states like ours. I don’t want to see another bridge collapse like the one in Minnesota or watch the nearly criminal lack of response to the hurricane in New Orleans by our federal government. We need to invest heavily in the infrastructure of our country if we want Americans to feel secure — and we need to invest in such things as roads, public transportation, broadband access and public facilities like schools and working piers if we want the economy of states like Maine to thrive.

You are right, people in Maine are struggling through a hard winter and oil prices that have gone through the roof. There is no justification in not providing LIHEAP money just as there is no excuse for not fully funding the other needs of our aging population (Maine is the oldest state in nation) like home-based health care and long term care as well as assistance to our veterans (of all ages). Our state is struggling financially and the legislature is preparing to make very painful cuts — with much of that problem fueled by federal funding shortfalls in areas like Medicaid and education. Local governments and school boards would also be far better off financially if we fully funded special education mandates and Community Development Block Grants.

The list is endless! I would be a tireless fighter both to make sure that Maine gets the support we need and to make sure that congress sets the priorities that will help states like Maine — not spend our precious tax dollars on tax cuts for the very rich and an unacceptable war.

12. Do you have a position on the legalization of marijuana research and the legalization for medical purposes?
Marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes. As a State Senator, I
co-sponsored successful legislation (L.D. 2580) that created a volunteer registry for eligible patients and designated caregivers under the Maine Medical Marijuana Act of 1998. The legislation also created a distribution system to secure marijuana from the Department of Public Safety, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

13. This next question comes from Helen Hanson, president of the new MSEA-SEIU Union Local 771
What does she think about cutting Medicare benefits that cover the cost of home health care for our elders? This is a program that pays for the health services an elder receives in their home. Like having a nurse go into the home to do a routine check up or having a physical therapist go into the home to do some physical therapy to help keep the person mobile. Is it better to put these people in a nursing home where those costs are high, the care is not that great? Not to mention that the elders would rather stay in their own homes and be comfortable. The work I do is not covered under Medicare. Home Care for Maine does not receive any Medicare money. HCM does not employ nurses that go into the home for these types of services. But a lot of the consumers that Home Care for Maine helps do receive these types of services from other agencies like Health Reach.
Thanks for your question, Helen. I’ve met with some home health care staff in recent months and have become more and more familiar with this issue. It would be helpful to talk with you about this more, but my thinking is that Medicare absolutely should cover the cost of home health care and that these cuts are unconscionable. From many perspectives –- the cost of the coverage, the physical and emotional wellbeing of the patients, the fair compensation of the providers – it simply makes good sense. As the baby boomers age, this will become an increasingly critical issue. The people I’ve talked to have also been concerned about the Medicare cuts, the lack of adequate cost-of-living-increases in reimbursement rates, and the problems around enforcement standards that seem to penalize some efficient and well-run outfits just because some bad ones exist elsewhere in the country.

I have been supportive of the efforts to unionize this important workforce and applaud you and MSEA for your work on this front. I believe that the government, though health care policy, should work to help make it possible for the elderly or infirm elder to remain in their homes. Government should and must be in the business of increasing people's quality of life, not diminishing it.

I have to give the answers an A-. Chellie has a solid grasp on the economy and who has been hurt by the last eight years. She understands health care on a National level and she is for the rights of Unions. I would have given a better grade except both candidates that have sent in answers gave answers regarding gun ownership that I can not support. I am afraid that this could be a make or break issue to many of the citizens of Maine. I ask that both candidates do more research. Chellie has proven by her answers that she is not parroting the party line, that she has Maine’s interests at heart. Our current ( R ) representation has failed in so many ways and following George Bush has only led to Maine being marginalized, our attempts at clean air being denied by an administration that does not care if our children choke on Midwest coal dust and smog.

Answers and Respect for Maine’s Citizens

Democrats 2

Republicans 0

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

A few Friends

These are from 2008, not 2004, my daughter loves to play with dad's camera and I should have checked the date stamp.

These pictures don't show everyone on the last negotiations team, they don't give credit to all the hard work that these members put in for their brothers and sisters. The smiles are because they respect each other and not a celebration of the best contract ever. These guys have never stopped working for you.
They have all volunteered their time, unpaid time, to keep working to try to get the best for all the members.
The one guiding principle that every member of every team kept in front of them was always the goal to get the most benefit for the largest number of workers. Perfect results? They would be the first to tell you that they wanted a different result but every member of that team firmly believes that we always did our best. We all thank you, the members for having given us that trust.

Remember, we vote.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hi there, guess my name!

This little guy was sent over from a friend of mine. He is the Invisible Mouse!

He is here to assist us in seeing how things happen in State Government.

You see, He has discovered a lot of little secrets (by being invisible, of course) that others really don’t want us to know. For example, how many of our legislators would like to keep us in the dark while they plan the future of the state employees?

You know? He’s already told me that they really don’t want to do early negotiations, they’d rather have it come down to the wire when they could say, “Oh, no…we don’t have the money to continue to do that”.

They really don't want to do any negotiations. The legislature blames State employees but we can't strike. The public blames State employees and we don't have the right to bargain our health care or our retirement benefits.

The right to strike, the right to bargain health care, the right to bargain retirement, we gave up these rights for the solemn promise that we would have those benefits as we got old.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bangor Daily attacks working families in Maine. One State Worker Fights Back With the Truth

There is a lot going on this week. I planned to put up Chellie Pingree's responses to reader questions, but it would be unfair with all the attention on the National Elections. We need to be able to focus on our own elections. This weekend I will be posting Chellie's answers with some editorial comments.

More Attacks on State Workers.
Radio ads, articles in the KJ, now the Bangor Daily News.
I want to thank on of my co workers for spotting the BDN story and sending her answer to the BDN, every one of her representatives and to UnionMaine. I hope the MSEA web site gets this information out to the membership also. Please keep reading for one of the best letters I have ever read from one of our members. If this upsets you, go to the right hand column, scroll down and find your legislator(s). Email them and ask if they will be looking for your votes.

Cost of state benefits

EDITOR: Italics and bold added. If this article upsets you with its portrayal of State Workers as lazy, greedy, targets click the BDN Staff link and email them to let them know that you are Mainers and you expected to be able to trust your government.

BDN Staff

As state government wrestles over the next 18 months with a revenue shortfall projected at $95 million, it’s time to consider the cost of state employee benefits.

As is the case in the private sector, the cost of providing health insurance benefits to state employees has grown in recent years. Yet state employees have not been asked to shoulder the burden of those increasing costs. Shifting a portion of the increases to employees, in the form of higher premiums and co-payments, could yield savings that ultimately allow the state to preserve jobs.

Currently, the state pays the entire cost of health, dental and life insurance premiums for its employees. Few would suggest that state government move away from providing health insurance to employees and their dependents. Collectively, Maine benefits with more of its residents having access to affordable health insurance, and therefore access to timely and preventive health care.

..........state workers paying higher co-payments for physician visits and prescriptions, and meeting higher deductibles, seems fair. .................

Compensation packages for 12,236 of the 13,428 state employees come through collective bargaining agreements. Negotiating those contracts with a goal of reducing a benefit..........can be done — .

........consider the city of Bangor’s health insurance benefits. ......the least expensive health insurance plan offered to single employees includes a $1,000 deductible, and prescription co-payment of $10, $25 or $40. .............with the city picking up......80 percent, of the cost of the insurance.

Yet another......savings for the state could come in indexing health insurance premiums based on salary. Why should someone making $70,000 a year pay the same amount as someone making $35,000?

.......generous benefit packages, .......are out of balance with the private sector and costing taxpayers.

Here is one of the an eloquent and honest answer to these attacks. Only answers like these, and emails to the legislature will preserves the benefits you have already paid for.

Dear BDN:

Once again, as in years past, pot-shots are being taken at state employees as a way to balance the state budget. According to one such ad on the radio daily, it praises the governor for his work in cutting $38,000, 000 without raising taxes, while bemoaning the fact that unless he gets rid of ‘too many state employees and their benefits, which are better than most’, he probably be forced to raise taxes on everyone in the state.

Well, let me say this about that. Number one, state employees are taxpayers as well, so if taxes must be raised, we will be paying the increases as well. Number two, when this ad talks about our healthcare benefits being ‘better than most’ – please be aware that these have been paid for by our years of service to this state, via contract negotiations, etc. Many of us decided to work for the state primarily because we looked down the road and anticipated that healthcare would be vital to our survival.

As it is, when I inquired about retirement, I was told by Social Security that at age 65, if I retired, I would be required to have Medicare as my primary coverage and that my state coverage would act as a back-up (and to me that meant my prescription coverage would be intact). I would have to pay the Medicare Part A, which currently stands at $96.40 a month and has a $135.00 deductible, plus paying 20% of most of the other ‘services’ covered. This is where I was ‘assuming’ my state healthcare coverage would pick up the slack. Now, I’m under the impression that anyone over 65 and on Medicare will be dropped from company/state based policies and that would mean taking out supplemental insurance to pay prescription costs.

Another article that has appeared regarding getting rid of state workers, make me wonder, if they can violate Union contracts and get rid of us, does that mean that we can strike to attempt to retain our benefits and jobs? Currently, that is part of the Union agreement with the state in that we are not permitted to strike, no matter what type of contract is negotiated, whether shut-down days, furlough days, no increases in cost-of-living, etc., are handed down..

I would suggest that if it is so necessary to reduce the workforce, some decent retirement incentives would certainly get rid of a lot of employees with 20+ years service. Some of these individuals have the years of service in, but are younger than the 59 years or 62 years of age wherein they could retire without a 6% penalty per year because they are younger than 59 or 62 (this age being dependent upon when an employee was hired into state service).


Nancy W. Worcester

Thank you Nancy Worcester

You will notice that the writer ignores the fact that many employees did work for years to pay for their benefits. Paid in advance. They want to forget all the years of salaries lower than the private sector that paid for those benefits. I want the writer to tell me he supports cutting the benefits for State troopers and to tell them to retire at 62 instead of 55. I want the writer to cancel the warranty on his car because Chevy is having it tough. It doesn't matter that he paid for the warranty, paid for the car, Chevy is having it tough. Go give back the warranty.

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Follow the Money

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda avoids facts, Rush Limbaugh claims moral superiority while forgetting his own drug use, willingness to collect unemployment when he was in need, and I think it is now four failed marriages. Propaganda has at its core the intent to encourage hate and prejudice against a targeted group while providing an excuse and a distraction from rational thought.

The user of propaganda tries to get others to accept claims without thought, or to act without weighing hidden motives. The use of inference and anger as a propaganda tool can be heard on any talk radio show, the yelling and the hate for whatever group the host has picked as a target. Talk show hosts and right wing politicians hope to lead the public to accept claims with no logical grounds and with no balancing points of view. "Fair and balanced". The “talking heads” avoid logical arguments from the audience, so creating an enemy is the most important tool and is the first step.

How to build the lie? First make broad and positive statements, “Republicans believe in smaller government” regardless of the truth. Statements are presented using tag lines and familiar language. By refusing to admit, or even suggest, that there is another side to the question they create the devil, saying “All Unions protect lazy workers”, "Democrats hate free enterprise", "Union thugs". These are examples of propaganda. Another example is the repeated claim that Union members are the cause of government waste while ignoring the fact that the public wants the snow plowed, the potholes fixed, and the ambulance to come when needed.

Slogans are a highly powerful form of attack; “drinking Union Cool Aid” suggests that Union members are killing themselves following insane leadership is a common theme.

First they say what everyone knows, times are tough. Then they show sympathy for the audience claiming that they know how hard it is for the public. Then they talk about cutting State Government and then cutting State Employees and their benefits. They never say put a fire a fire fighter, fire a State police officer or stop maintaining the roads. They always say “State Employees” as if it is a group from another world.

A second method of propaganda is appealing to the desires of the audience. Desire is an important factor in belief. The public is frustrated with how government and corporate interests have worked to destroy the middle class. The right needs to find someone to blame for their failed policies and needs a target.

Like advertisers they study public opinion to find out what things people are “for” or “against” in order to decide on labels to use to bring about desired reactions. Using words such as “justice,” “promoting efficient Government” “lower taxes” and “equal opportunity,” will work as positive hooks, and are used in every message. The use of negative words—for example, “Union Bosses” or “Lazy employees” and "government waste" is used to influence the public to justify hate for the intended target.

The desire for lower taxes, a better job, appeals to the target audience. The desire to be respected, capable of taking care of a family, and to be socially acceptable, sells ideas and at the same time the claim that all the problems can be fixed by fixing those who are stealing from the public, state employees is worked in. Anyone who has listened to the radio, or reads knows of dozens of ads now attacking and blaming state employees.

Tax cuts sound great, follow the money, Bush mainly cut taxes for the rich and put billions of your tax dollars into the vaults of the already rich oil companies. Cutting tax rates for billionaires to less than that paid by a janitor can be ignored if you just keep saying tax cuts are good!

The real trick is to “make the idea stick.” That is why key words and slogans, cartoons, are used. “I could have had a V8!” and a hand slap to the forehead, sticks in your mind.

Slogans pack meaning into short sentences. The purpose is to get them noticed. They will burrow into the minds of people. CEOs and political leaders know that slogans are a great viral marketing tool. Advertisers know that reasoned, logical appeals are not always effective. Political debates, have been shortened and emotionalized, “Read my lips, no new taxes!" because much of the audience will not listen to reasoned, point, counter point arguments. The Union message relying on concern for people and on logic and rationality is out of place in this bloody arena.

Political propaganda is full of examples of the use of striking slogans. For example, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” used by Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s technique painted the U.S. as the lone defender of democracy, while the Soviet Union was ‘the evil empire”.

Slogans have inspired the imaginations of people in the past and continue to the present. We remember “No Taxation without Representation” and it is has become part of American culture and language.

Propaganda uses slogans, and it uses symbols. We have seen the Kool Aid pitcher with “Union Kool Aid” across the front. A symbol avoids logic and discussion and leaves no opportunity for debate. This symbol is used to disguise the true intent, the intent to turn Maine into a “right to work” state.

A symbol is the glue that holds together a group together.

A propagandist knows how to use symbols. Symbols are used to build both positive and negative attitudes.

Cartoons have been used to represent the taxpayer in tattered clothing, the “union boss” and others. The “union boss” is usually pictured as a fat and wearing a diamond pinky ring.

For the big lie to work blame must be placed on individuals or groups that are not responsible, relieving feelings of guilt from responsible parties and distracting attention from the need to fix the problem for which blame is being assigned. By blaming Unions, for failures of industry, the need to worry about products produced by slave or child labor for Wal-Mart can be forgotten.

The history of corporations claiming bankruptcy and canceling benefits for employees and retirees before paying millions in bonuses to the boards can be conveniently ignored.

The fact that many people work for employers that pay little, and respect their employees less can be forgotten by blaming Unions.

The use of “State Employee” as a term of hate is a device to encourage the persecution of scapegoats, while denying the humanity of the group. It is hard to hate when the Union worker taking care of your grandmother is known by her first name, hard to hate when you need the help of a Union police officer or nurse. The creation of a faceless group is done to avoid engaging in reasoned debate and foster hate.

Catchwords and slogans abound in right to work propaganda, contrived for the sake of impressing voters in certain groups. “No Fair Share” uses such important and high-sounding words as “personal merit,” and “right to choose”. “Right to Work,” is a false slogan that does NOT guarantee anyone the “right” to employment and does not protect any worker from being laid off or fired, but it make a great sound bite.

Propaganda can be effective. The support of G.W. Bush and his totally anti-labor appointees by many of our own members is something that I as a Union supporter find impossible to understand. To me it is incredible that a labor hating, former party boy, C student at best, and total failure in all prior business dealings, after having destroyed the Texas budget, should be have ever been turned into an all-powerful and “infallible” leader, “The Decider,” who claims the right to reinterpret our constitution.

How did even some members of labor Unions come to accept this legend surrounding a failed businessman? Perhaps it was because millions of Americans were hoping for “an end of confusion, and no longer felt that their actions in the conduct of their own affairs was effective. The two presidential election won by G. Bush both were under a cloud of suspicion and voters felt they could not make a difference. To many the idea of a leader, a symbol of moral authority, a man to turn things around, allowed the public to forget their role in affairs and to turn the nation over to a ruler who claimed a mandate and all the public had to do was to give him complete trust, blind faith, and the keys to the treasury.

When a group is trying to influence your opinions and actions, ask yourself if their purpose is selfish or unselfish? Will the results of right to work (for less) laws benefit the employees or will it serve to generate political power for the right?

What is likely to be the effect of destroying the current Union? Will the public and the legislature trim government and reward the remaining employees with benefit and wage increases? Is it more likely that projects will be handed out to the private sector to benefit only the owners at the tax payer’s expense?

As an example of facts not revealed, workers in Right to Work states earn on average $6,590 less than workers in free-bargaining states. That’s a 17% pay cut! Women earn 12% less and on average, Right to Work states have a 16% higher poverty rate with job fatality rates 54% higher. The average employee in a free bargaining state is 24.1% more likely to have health insurance.

If personal merit alone guarantees success, why would the best athletes in the world in U.S. baseball, hockey and football join Unions?

It all boils down to some very simple questions: What is the source of the propaganda? Are there any actual facts to support the claims? What really started the movement? Follow the money and ask who will make a buck? Propaganda presents one point of view as if it were the best or only way to look at a situation. Perhaps it is a weakness of Unions that they are willing to listen to many points of view.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Largest Private Sector Union Gain in Decades

Source: AFL-CIO News blog

This just in from Rand Wilson, communications coordinator in the Center for Strategic Research, AFL-CIO Organizing Department.

Marking the largest private-sector organizing win in New Hampshire in decades, 600 customer service representatives employed by AT&T Government Solutions in Dover formed a new union with Local 1298 of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

On Nov. 5, the American Arbitration Association compared union authorization cards signed by employees against a list of employees provided by the employer and certified that a majority of employees designated CWA to represent them. Under a new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule, after a union is certified through a voluntary “card-check” procedure, if 30 percent of workers ask for another election within 45 days, another election may be held. Since no petition was filed by Dec. 28, the union now is formally recognized.

The workers’ campaign for a union revolved around a strong desire to gain better access to affordable health care, to secure a more livable wage and to strengthen job security. A full-time employee earns less than $22,000 per year and has a $5,000 yearly deductible for a family health plan.Enter your Email

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Come and meet my little friend!

The outgoing Federal administration is running scared, and the anti-Union, anti working family, conservatives in Maine are starting the campaign to blame State Employees for any thing that is wrong in Maine. On several Radio Stations there are now ads running saying that State Employees are too well paid, have too many benefits and the leader of the organization in an interview on WVOM radio on January 3 said the State should just break the contract now and stop paying the benefits. As I have said previously the articles have started in the K.J. a new web site is up, and they are directly telling legislators that they are being watched.

One thing they say is right. The legislators are being watched by the most organized voting block in the state. Union Members vote. This is all a run up to the next gubernatorial elections. The Republican candidates will be like Tony Montana in Scarface, telling State employees to "Come and say hello to my little friend!" before they start screaming and shooting. They will be trying to out do each other calling Union members the devil, lazy, greedy, and blaming you instead of failed national policies. The Federal present and near term future are the blueprint for what will be attempted in Maine.

In the next year the Bush Federal Anti Labor board will be trying to engineer a blitzkrieg against labor, taking the whole organized labor system into a death spiral that no Democratic presidency will be able to fix. They would rather destroy decades of law than leave anything for the survivors. The propaganda has been running for years picturing organized labor as an already beaten and despised remnant of weaklings. This is the Republican way. The Unions and the American middle class are quickly becoming unable to provide the things their parents grew up to believe are the American birthright, health, a good home, and to provide for families. They call names and tell lies, all State employees are lazy, all Unions are corrupt, and they are attempting to put us in isolation and blame their own failed polices on labor. This will happen in our working lives, and it will be bad for Maine and the U.S. The drive of the middle class, American optimism and can-do spirit will be gone, replaced by employers that will say “you are lucky to have a job at all”.

If the Republicans can’t finish us in a year they will try to prevent meaningful reform during a Democratic presidency and force the nation into a slowly decaying one world, Wal-Mart economy, where only a few share the wealth. Everything will grow worse. Your children will know something is wrong, but without good jobs with security and benefits they will have nothing to compare to. Don’t fall for the bull; it is not the teachers Union that is running schools down, it was the Republican takeover of our schools to teach good consumers, not good thinkers. They blame the teachers Unions while children become less and less able to compete against better educated foreign students.

It seems like we may win against the false conservatives. The new direction we need to go in could be called "conservative" in the best possible sense of the word. Our children need to be educated in reading, writing, science, and math. We must stop teaching a false U.S. history where we helped the ignorant red man and all American wars are good wars. An educated citizen is the best weapon against the big lie.

We must start locally and so will we become involved with our Union or will we return to the seeing employers as royals, while we are the grateful serfs? The Republicans say that the employer freed of Unions will happily reward the productive employees (with whatever they feel we deserve). Under Republican logic Wal-Mart is rich and successful so therefore all Wal-Mart employees must be rich and successful with not Unions. One more example of Republican logic is that tax cuts increase government revenue. Therefore I would think that cutting all taxes would increase government revenue so much we could all retire now.

As a State and as a Union will we remain so divided from one another that no one can get anything they want? Or, should we organize and by reaching out to others overpower the tower of lies that have been told about all of us?

Will we be able to picture a future, and know the only way to get there is together?

Remember, Union households vote at a three to one ratio to the rest of the Public. Find your legislator. You can do that on this Blog and email your legislators. Ask what they will do to protect the pay and benefits promised to you for one, five, ten, even thirty five years.

Ask them if they want to cut your pay if they will then support your right to strike? If you are so unimportant you can be lied to and stolen from then giving you the right to strike should not matter.


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