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/

Monday, February 28, 2011

Who ya gonna call?

Revolutionary War Pension Claim for Abijah Hub...Image by Special Collections at Wofford College via Flickr
Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs

Senator Rosen (R) Chairs the powerful appropriations committee. If it passes there it lives, if it gets changed there it is changed. It is very rare that anything can go far without the stamp of the chairman and the committee.

If you need to know who to reach, reach out to these committee members. It will be more than the governor is doing according to some sources. The Republican Senators and Representatives are growing more and more tired of the my way or the highway form of government. Let them know what is bad about this budget, what hurts, what can be fixed.

I think this is the complete list. I don't think many members of the appropriations committee realize that the Governor's bill would prevent State Employees from offering any concessions to offset any reductions in pensions or benefits.

The only thing he is allowing concessions on is towards Merit raises or Longevity. If you have Longevity payments now he is proposing to take it away again. This is as much as a 2% cut to many employees. A 2% cut, with a 2% increase in pension payments, and who knows what kind of take aways he plans in the current contract negotiations.

State Employees know where the waste is hiding and it is not in the pensions we have coming. The pensions are deferred compensation, payment in the future for less pay today. We paid for the pensions, we will pay for the pensions. Ask the members of the appropriations committee to negotiate directly with us, we are tax payers too.

Our kids, State services, the elderly, and the trust the citizens in Maine should be able to have in their government is at stake.  

Late Edit: 
 I sent the following letter to all members of the appropriations committee. I look forward to their answers. (Full Disclosure: I edited one spelling error)

I will keep it short.
Thank you for the work you do for the Citizens of Maine. I know what we pay you, and it is not enough.

Why does the governor’s budget specifically ban State Employees from offering pay or benefit concessions to offset the budget? Did you know that?

Senator Rosen said that according to his information the 20 year average C.O.L.A. to State Employees was 2.85% and reflected the inflation rate.
Why would the pension plan be permanently prevented from going over 2% if not an attempt to punish (Union) retirees?

Why are there NO representatives on the committee to study the closure of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center except for those with a vested profit motive for closing the institute?
Why can representatives receive a State Pension and a State paycheck, while other employees may not? By extending that to current employees at this time, the State could provide a ZERO cost retirement incentive and allow the State to hire employees with many years of experience at huge savings.

Confidential employees, like the Governor's daughter pay ZERO towards their pensions. Isn't that an unfunded liability?

Most State Employees will have their Social Security cut by up to 70% regardless of how small their pension is.

Why has the governor refused to meet with any Union Representatives?

Thank you for your time,
I look forward to your response.
Check the comments section for breaking news on the budget. The Pension system is much better than reports have shown. The trustees are making a tremendous return. Click here.

Senator Richard W. Rosen (R-Hancock), Chair
Home Tel: 469-3779/ Cell: 944-5091

Senator Roger J. Katz (R-Kennebec)
Home Tel: 622-9921/ Cell: 485-2394

Senator Dawn Hill (D-York)
Home Tel: 337-3689

Representative Patrick S. A. Flood (R-Winthrop), Chair
Home Tel: 395-4915

Representative Tom J. Winsor (R-Norway)
Home Tel: 527-2233

Representative Kathleen D. Chase (R-Wells)
Home Tel: 646-2118/ Cell: 468-9747

Representative Tyler Clark (R-Easton)
Home Tel: 488-2633/ Cell: 227-6971

Representative Kenneth Wade Fredette (R-Newport)
Home Tel: 368-4242

Representative Dennis L. Keschl (R-Belgrade)
Home Tel: 495-2973 / Cell: 441-3701

Representative Margaret R. Rotundo (D-Lewiston)*
Home Tel: 784-3259

Representative John L. Martin (D-Eagle Lake)
Home Tel: 444-5556

Representative David C. Webster (D-Freeport)
Home Tel: 865-4311

Representative Sara R. Stevens (D-Bangor)
Home Tel: 942-8900

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

In Germany, they came for the Trade Unionists first.

Cover of SolidarityImage via Wikipedia

by: NarsBars

Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 17:05:00 PM EST

Today in Augusta there was a Rally to support the Wisconsin Unions. Historical note: In Germany prior to the start of WWII one of the first groups to be arrested, or killed or jailed, before even the Jews, were the trade Unionists. This has nothing to do with Nazism, this is just a comparison to how Unions are viewed by an authoritarian state.
The war on labor is now global, not local.

I arrived an hour or more early hoping to meet up with friends, perhaps seeking support in a group.

At the beginning I was parked in the wrong spot and it looked as if there were many, many, Tea Party protesters showing up and I didn't see a Union bumper sticker in the crowd.

I arrived early, afraid that there could a huge crowd of Tea Party members and a few lonely Union supporters in the cold Maine winter.

Leaving my eleven year old Escort, I nearly took off my SEIU hat to walk past the pile of angry people and elderly codgers old enough to have their Social Security and their Medicare, but squared my hat, and walked up the hill.

It was like walking towards a sun rise. As I came over the hill I saw like yellow clouds blocking the sun, a few Tea Party flags and members, maybe a hundred.

I am no crowd estimator but in moments I found how small the crowd really was.
Give em credit, the Koch brothers have bought them very nice flags.

Then further into the light, I saw tens, and then hundreds and hundreds of our fellow Mainers, Union members, private citizens not a part of any Union and all around me the crowd kept streaming in. Unlike the Tea Party they were smiling, not hating.
We sang, we had our own signs, made from the heart, we had solidarity! I especially liked "Little beards against LePage"

The bad news is I sang too, but at least I was drowned out by the hundreds of proud tax paying citizens there to support Wisconsin, to support labor in Maine, and YES to support Maine State employees.

The speakers were great, they spoke about the need for us to all support each other or be torn apart one at a time. The messages were all positive, no hate for Republicans, just a demand that we be heard, that we be a part of the solution.

Several Democratic representatives were there, speaking in no uncertain terms. Yes, the economy is bad but it is no reason to break decades of promises, to steal bread, medicine, and heating oil, from retirees, while refusing to bargain over what can be done. (The LePage budget would make it illegal for State Employees to offer concessions to keep their pensions). Yes, would make concessions illegal.
Our Democratic representatives said clearly they knew that this was not a budget issue, that this is no less than an attack on all labor, an attempt to break all Unions across the country and end the rights of all employees to have a say in their working conditions.

I offered one of the representatives the first free hotel room in Massachusetts. I told her,  "Lord of the Rings" allusion to riding out to face the foes regardless of the odds had grabbed me by the heart.
All around me brothers and sisters chimed in, offering more support and more free hotel rooms. It can happen but only if they have our backing.

This is a fight for life, a fight for all labor, not just an MSEA issue. Republican or Democrat the legislature must hear from us.
The Republicans don't like a governor who is trying to order them around, it appears there will be a 2/3 budget. They want Democratic buy in to the budget, we must back up our reps and let the Rs know we will vote.

I know many State Employees will be there on the 3rd and the 4th but we need Union members, moms and dads that want good teachers, not lowest bid for profit schools, to be there for the teachers on the 5th. We will be there for each other.

There were sad moments too, looking up the hill to see the few Tea Party members, engaged in Democratic action, but so sadly misinformed, their movement stolen and used by the corporation agenda to make them fight their neighbors, to hate their neighbors, forgetting that they they have been used, and already forgotten and ridiculed by those they helped elect.

Don't make the mistake of thinking the Tea Party is all negative. They are Mainers too but their energy is being transformed to hate, their movement stolen by a few for the benefit of a few.
The Tea Party ideals have been perverted to serve power, and laughed at by those who will never have enough until everyone else has nothing.

Stay home if you must, if you are taking care of family, or sick, but try to be part of history, this may not be the best chance you ever missed, this may be your last chance.

I will take vacation, I will take unpaid time off. What I will not do is to let someone else do this for me. I will be part of this, win lose or draw. I will stand with my brothers and sisters and know that we have done everything possible.

In solidarity,
I hope to see you there.
I want to thank Gerald at Dirigoblue for being an inspiration. I wish I had ten percent of his talent and professional skills. Please add Dirigoblue to your regular reading.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Republicans Target the Poor, Sick, and the Elderly, While Adopting Tax and Spend

Ian's Speeding Around in his Wheelchair!Image by easystand via Flickr
The devastating 2 year state budget proposal, $226,000,000 larger than the last biennium, is an attempt to clump anyone receiving state services into the “welfare bum category” and tosses in State Employees as Union thugs just to round out the damage.

Maine families, any employee receiving a State paycheck, working or retired, elderly or disabled.  Mainers are his preferred targets.

Attacking families is not the Maine way.
The Governor's lust to hurt people outweighs the real damage his budget will also do to the Maine economy.
Money going to the poorest and the retired has the most impact on the economy. Denying medical help to children to provide corporate tax cuts can not be justified.

Here are some of the budget’s low points:

A lifetime 5-year time limit on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Only families facing the greatest challenges are on TANF for 5 or more years, 90% of those families include a family member with a disability.

Starves the children for the mistakes of the parent.

Currently a parent that does not follow TANF rules can have their benefits cut. In the new Republican ideal, assistance is ended for the whole family, kids, grandmother, the disabled. I guess the kids should have picked better parents.

General Assistance benefits limited to once in a calendar year.

Your husband died, and you stopped work to care for a disabled baby? Later that year you lost your job when you child had pneumonia?

Too bad! Your husband should have timed his death better, you should should have had them both happen at the same time. Plan your life like a business.

At least the budget Teaches Patience:

By doubling, the wait to determine eligibility for benefits due to disabilities the governor is teaching patience. By blocking access to medications and medical care under MaineCare to those with serious medical conditions, living below the federal poverty level the governor is planning to save money, not lives.

Those annoying disabled, always whining

About 25,000 Mainers elderly and disabled Mainers will see elimination or reductions in assistance dollars for Medicare Parts B & D. The estimate is 25,000 seniors and disabled will lose the dollars they get to pay for Medicare premiums, deductibles, and prescription drugs, but it may be less than 25,000 if the new three month waiting period kills a few off first.

Saves money by not preventing the abuse and neglect of children.

Several years ago a Democratic administration took $10,000,000 from the Foster Adoptive program and used it to hire more middle management. Diapers, clothes, housing money was stolen to pay for more management. At that time the head of appropriations told a Foster Parent holding a signed contract with the State, “Didn’t anyone every tell you that a State contract isn’t worth anything?”

Now: The Republicans Know a Good Idea When They See One (Then they ignore it)

See this story, in the Portland Press Herald that leaves our most vulnerable children at higher risk. Money cut, jobs cut, for Child protective services. It will teach the little leeches some independence.

Dirigo, Dirigone, the Gov. bragged during the campaign

Cuts will leave Dirigo Health Program insufficient funds to help low income Mainers get health care through DirigoChoice. There is only a 100% cut to funds provided to Dirigo Health through the Fund for Healthy Maine.

Tax breaks for wealthy insurance companies.

You knew that was coming didn’t you? The Gov. plans to cut the funds raised by dropping the assessments on insurance companies and others used to fund Dirigo.

Increased taxes on the workers and retirees of Maine

Aw, come on, you knew that was coming too, didn’t you?

The Governor’s budget will increase taxes on State employees, and reduce benefits at the same time.

A 1 ¼% tax on employee pensions that applies to employees both current and retired in the disguise of a “shared pain” plan. This number is based on the new sliding scale for retirees to pay towards their health care. Some employees with lower pensions will not be subject to the increase of between $400.00 to $1200.00 a year, with yearly increases predicted.

A 2% increase in taxes on 100% of an employee’s current income to go towards the pension plan while yes, cutting the State’s portion, achieving no gain, all pain, in the unfunded liability.

A freeze on cost of living increases for retirees, for five years (already at zero for two).

A change in pensions that will cost a State employee retiring after July 1 of this year a 32% tax on the average State pension for three years. Yes, 32% and that is before taxes.

A 50% reduction in any cost increases for retirees guaranteed to make a $20,000 pension worth $7000.00 in 25 years.

The Republicans support a 32% tax, a 1 ¼% tax, a 2% tax, and I with the denial of merit raises, and the take away of longevity pay currently received, another 7% tax increase to the top.

At least the 32% tax only hits some and expires after you pay it for three years. OOPS! Unless you are a State trooper retiring at 55 years, and then you pay the tax (guaranteed to increase every year) for ten years, while you watch your pension shrink.

This is not shared pain; this is a blatant attack on Unions, an attempt to bust Unions. Stay tuned for the State garage sale. One Turnpike system…….cheap. Get a twofer and buy the Department of Transportation.

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