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News from the Maine Senate Democrats

This feed contains press releases and other news from the Maine Senate Democrats Legislative Home Page.

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Senator Hill's Legislation to Encourage Municipal Service Sharing

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 08:47:17 EDT

**SEACOAST ONLINE: Income tax law halts service-sharing idea**

*Bill would exempt municipal workers*

KITTERY, Maine - In these trying economic times, municipalities - like individuals - are looking for ways to economize. But Kittery Town Manager Jon Carter said he was "stopped cold in my tracks" in an effort to have his town share services with neighboring Portsmouth, N.H.

That's because of a state law that restricts out-of-state residents from performing work for more than 10 days in Maine before they are required to pay income tax.

Carter is trying to change that, by expanding the portion of the Maine law governing interlocal agreements of governments to allow cross-border exchange of workers without penalizing them by the income tax provision. New Hampshire has no state income tax.

**State Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, filed a bill at Carter's request, which has been assigned to the Maine Legislature's Taxation Committee.**

"I have been the Kittery town manager for six years and interact with the city of Portsmouth frequently on (Portsmouth Naval Shipyard) matters, economic development and infrastructure issues with our harbors and bridges, and with public safety and public works departments - sometimes on a daily and weekly basis," he told committee members when he testified on the bill recently.

"The income tax restriction prevents us from going to that next step of discussions in sharing or contracting with our New Hampshire counterparts for services," Carter said.

And he's not alone, he said. Towns up and down the New Hampshire border face the same problem, and he received letters of support for the bill from not only Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko, but administrators in Eliot and Berwick, too.

Carter said it was natural to look to Portsmouth, but when he found that city workers were precluded from working for more than 10 days without paying income tax, discussions never got off the ground.

"The workers would be exposed, even though we'd be paying the city," Carter said, adding that union contracts would also come into play.

He said mutual aid is not part of this interlocal agreement law. In addition, if the bill were to become law, it would govern only municipalities. Private-sector enterprises would still be required to follow the 10-day rule.

Carter said some committee members were worried that jobs could be lost to Mainers, but he said the town often has to contract with New Hampshire private contractors for work. He said, for instance, that Kittery has to hire someone to paint stripes down the center of town roads. Right now, it uses a private contractor, but if Portsmouth had the equipment, the city could get the contract.

But he said it goes both ways. There's no reason that Kittery workers couldn't work collaboratively with Portsmouth employees on a variety of tasks from teaching to bookkeeping, and that the two towns couldn't share facilities.

In his letter to the committee, Bohenko said interlocal agreements would "maximize our efficiency and minimize costs for our local property taxpayers." He urged passage of the bill "so that Portsmouth ... may evaluate and possibly enter into these types of agreements that will benefit both Maine taxpayers as well as New Hampshire."

The bill remains in the taxation committee, and has not yet been reported out.

Source: Seacoast Online, Deborah Mcdermott, March 17, 2011

Journal Tribune: State Budget Concerns Shared with Senator Hobbins

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 09:57:14 EDT

State budget concerns shared with Sen. Hobbins

OLD ORCHARD BEACH - Concerns over suggested cuts in Gov. Paul LePage's proposed budget were aired by area residents at a public informational session Thursday night.

State Senate Democratic Leader Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, gave an overview of LePage's proposed state budget for the next two years and answered questions about the budget, during a meeting at Old Orchard Beach High School. Hobbins will also hold another question and answer session on Saturday at Thornton Academy, Room 55 from 10 a.m. to noon and hopes to hold another session in the Buxton/Dayton area in the future.

The governor proposes to spend $6.1 billion over the next two years. The budget is about 8 percent higher than the last biennial budget, according to Hobbins.

"We have a significant problem in the state of Maine," said Hobbins, in that the income does not match the demand for services. Any governor going into this budget would have to deal with this challenge, he said.

The budget proposes $524 million of cuts to state employees and teachers, including a reduction in pension benefits for both parties. As well, state employees would see health insurance benefits reduced and their merit increases and longevity pay would be eliminated. The budget also proposes to reduce the Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief Fund Program by 20 percent and the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement Program by 10 percent. Public assistance would be cut by $51 million.

For a few of the nearly two dozen participants in the meeting Thursday, emotions ran high as proposed cuts were discussed.

Old Orchard Beach resident Cheryl Gendell said the governor, in his proposed budget, was using poor people and state employees as "a whipping boy."

Biddeford resident Charlene Aubert said one major problem leading to the state deficit was that people were not buying as much, and there was less excise tax revenue.

"Who's going to pay for the deficit? It's going to be the people, as opposed to businesses," she said.

Aubert asked if the Democrats could work with Republicans to address concerns with the budget, and Hobbins later said that he hoped the two parties would work together.

"I'm hoping it will be a bi-partisan budget where we will weigh all of the programs and try to figure out whether or not there are any alternatives to those kinds of cuts," said Hobbins.

Old Orchard Beach resident Jerome Begert said he hoped the budget would be reviewed to point out where both parties "are exaggerating" and where "the math doesn't add up."

Hobbins said he has urged the Maine Educational Association and State employees to hire actuaries to make sure the figures add up.

LePage, in a budget testimony early this month, stated that reform needed to be made for teacher and state pensions or it will someday consume one in every four dollars of the state general fund revenue.

"If we let the problem get to this point, Maine's defined pension benefit program will cease to exist and our promises to retirees will go unmet," said LePage.

*Source: Journal Tribune, Liz Gotthelf, March 11, 2011*

Editorial: Senator Hill Recognized for Work to Investigate Questionable Practices at the Maine Turnpike Authority

Fri, 11 Mar 2011 11:15:50 EST

EDITORIAL: The folks over at the Maine Turnpike Authority were feeling some heat Friday, Jan. 28, as the state's Government Oversight Committee took the quasi-governmental agency to task for a report released by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.

The heat was deserved.

A months-long investigation by OPEGA, instigated by Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, last year when she was a representative serving on the oversight committee, revealed several notable concerns. The report focused on everything from who has oversight of the MTA to where all that toll money controlled by the agency is spent. None is currently going to the state as "surplus," as required under state law.

Travel, meals at "higher end" restaurants, employee awards, lobbying costs and sponsorships and donations all were flagged by OPEGA. The MTA spent a total of $2.3 million in these areas between 2005 to 2009 alone.

OPEGA also brought into question the MTA's relationship with HNTB for consulting and general engineering services.

"MTA appears to view and use HNTB as an extension of its own Engineering Department," the report states, pointing out the risk of relying so heavily on a firm that stands to benefit from projects it proposes.

The report goes on to note that the MTA has awarded more no-bid service contracts than necessary, and often operates informally with contractors, even relying on verbal rather than written agreements in some cases.

In the end, the central issue in the report comes down to whether the MTA is a private or public entity.

"Some expect the MTA to behave like a State agency," the report states. "Others expect it to behave more like a for-profit private entity. In actuality, the MTA's culture is closer to the latter."

The OPEGA report characterizes the Turnpike Authority as "old-fashioned" in some of its practices, and slow to adopt policies and practices that would keep it in line with public expectations of "fiscal restraint and stewardship, transparency and accountability."

If officials at the MTA are wondering about all the bad press this report has generated, they shouldn't be. The MTA gets money from tolls paid by Maine residents as well as those from away, and Maine residents have a right to be concerned. The Turnpike Authority also wields mighty power in the state - in York it is considering taking land to make way for a new toll plaza, regardless of the fact that York residents and officials have been fighting the proposal tooth and nail from the get-go.

If the MTA wants to establish some credibility, it would be wise to follow the advice of OPEGA and come out of the dark. The MTA has said the improvements already have begun. We know York residents and officials at the very least will be keeping a close eye in the months to come. If the MTA had been more transparent in the first place, it might not have triggered the interest of then-Rep. Hill and found itself the source of heated debate in the first place.

Source: The York Weekly, Editorial, February 02, 2011

Senator Hill Visits Great Hill Bridge Project in South Berwick

Fri, 11 Mar 2011 10:45:25 EST

##FOSTER'S: Seeing Great Hill Bridge project in South Berwick firsthand allays some concerns##

SOUTH BERWICK, Maine - Several residents said they felt significantly better about the scope of the Great Hill Bridge replacement project after getting a firsthand chance to meet with project and Maine Department of Transportation officials at the site for the first time Wednesday.

About a dozen residents attended the meeting on Great Hill Road Wednesday afternoon, braving the cold and light snow to speak with MDOT Assistant Project Manager Kevin Cummings and site Supervisor Gardner Halsey while standing on the razed land surrounding the bridge.

Nora Irvine, a Bennett Lot Road resident who has expressed frustrations with the way the project has been organized, said the meeting was informative and answered several lingering questions, such as exactly how the old bridge's stonework would be reused as well as the posted speed limit for the road.

"Some of the information clarified some of the design elements of the bridge," she said. "It's good to know the posted speed limit will be 30 miles per hour."

The Great Hill Bridge project is a massive overhaul of the curving, one-lane structure on Great Hill Road. The project, scheduled for completion by Memorial Day 2011, will replace the damaged rural bridge with a structure with two 10-foot lanes and 2-foot shoulders, correct the road alignment and alleviate water flow problems, according to Cummings.

The site has already been cleared and the old bridge was removed on Dec. 13. Residents have expressed several concerns since the estimated $944,194.78 project was in its planning stages, including concerns about the environmental impact as well as the fact a safer bridge along the road would only tempt speeding vehicles to drive even faster along the pothole riddled-roads on either side.

In addition to residents, South Berwick Interim Town Manager Roberta Orsini, Public Works Director Jon St. Pierre, Code Enforcement Officer Joe Rousselle, state Rep. Dawn Hill, and Town Councilors Gerry MacPherson, Jean Demetracopoulos and Jack Kareckas also attended the meeting.

Most residents said they felt better because they got more specific details about the project than before, such as the fact the project will increase the bridge length from 45 to 75 feet and that the new bridge will help return water flow to its "natural," slightly-slower pace by widening the pathway under the bridge and raising the height of the structure by between 2 and 21⁄2 inches.

Halsey also said his contractor company, AJ Coleman and Son of Conway, N.H., will "do its best" to use all the old granite stonework on the site in a "visible" part of construction, and give any remaining pieces back to the town.

Despite this new information, multiple residents said they are still concerned about the project as they feel they are being notified about important steps only after they are completed and because there have been conflicting pieces of information about the bridgework.

Irvine and other residents said some of those steps include the fact they were never notified the demolition was going to occur on Dec. 13, and many didn't know the bridge was gone until earlier this week.

"So, it's fair to say things are still not running smoothly between us and the DOT," said Irvine.

Cummings said any residents with questions or concerns about the project can contact him at (207) 624-3429.

Source: Foster's, Kyle Stucker, December 24, 2010.

Portland Press Herald: Maine officials ready to commit $35 million for new bridge

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 11:15:43 EST

Maine and New Hampshire hope to get $20 million in federal funds to help replace Memorial Bridge.AUGUSTA - As part of an effort to secure $20 million in federal grant money, the LePage administration says it is willing to commit $35 million to help replace the Memorial Bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H.The Memorial Bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth had to close for repairs for about two weeks in December.The federal money, known as a TIGER II grant, has been approved but not released, and budget wrangling in Congress has raised questions about whether Maine and New Hampshire, which co-own the bridge, will get it.Gov. Paul LePage met with lawmakers from York and Cumberland counties Tuesday and reiterated his support for the project.**"The governor told us he would like to help in any way he can to get funding," said state Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York. "I'm a little frustrated because of the pitfalls, but ultimately, I believe this will happen."**The bridge replacement is expected to cost $90 million. Plans call for each state to contribute $35 million and the federal grant to pay for the rest.But the U.S. House approved a spending plan last month that would eliminate the grant money. That bill has yet to be taken up by the Senate, and whether the $20 million will be included in a final version is unclear.LePage has said he will not support additional state bonding at this time, including for transportation projects. But the previous Legislature and Maine voters approved $160 million in bridge bonding, and $55 million of that is still available, said Bruce Van Note, deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation.Van Note said the LePage administration was preparing a memorandum of agreement with New Hampshire outlining each state's commitment to the project. Maine officials hope to convince the Obama administration to release the funding, even though some administrative work still needs to be done, before Congress approves a budget that cuts it."Assuming the TIGER grant falls into line, we're ready to proceed," Van Note said.The Memorial Bridge, one of three connecting Kittery to Portsmouth, was built in 1923 and tops New Hampshire's list of bridges in need of replacement. It was forced to close for repairs in December for about two weeks.**Hill said the bridge is important not only to local businesses, but the rest of the state as well.****"If you remember, the governor, the day after he stepped into office, sent a sign down south to put on I-95 saying we're open for business. My point is, what does it matter if they can't get over here? So the bridges are critical," she said.**Bill Boynton, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, said the two-week shutdown in December had a noticeable impact."It was right leading into the Christmas season, and the merchants and the restaurants and everybody else got a little glimpse of it and didn't like what they saw," he said. "Not only the people who live on both sides, but it also changes the whole traffic flow of the whole mindset of where people are going for commerce and that kind of thing."State Sen. Jon Courtney, R-Sanford, said Congress' actions are forcing Maine to commit a lot of its remaining funding to one project, which will affect the rest of the state."I think we don't have a choice, just based on the way Congress is working right now, or we're going to forgo that $20 million," he said. "So we are going to have to come up with some creative ways going forward to fund the rest of the transportation projects. It just makes our jobs a little bit tougher."U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said Tuesday in an interview that she believes moving ahead as quickly as possible with the bridge project is "imperative" because of the bridge's deteriorating condition. Snowe and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, also R-Maine, said they are trying to persuade the Obama administration to speed up the release of the $20 million.They, along with U.[...]

Senator Hill Introduces Legislation to Address Maine's Gateway Bridges

Wed, 26 Jan 2011 10:11:50 EST

*Proposes the use of GARVEE funds to rehabilitate the Memorial and I-95 Bridges that span over the Piscataqua River*

AUGUSTA - Senator Dawn Hill has submitted two bills this legislative session to address the need for repair of the Memorial Bridge and I-95 Bridge in Kittery.

The proposed legislation follows the work and findings of a Bi-State Bridge Funding Task Force that was established back in October 2010. Both bridges were identified in the final report for repair and rehabilitation.

"The future use of the bridges is a top priority for our region," said Senator Hill. "I have heard from many concerned citizens and businesses and understand the significance of rehabbing both bridges."

The Memorial Bridge and I-95 Bridge face a unique situation because they cross the Piscataqua River and connect Maine to New Hampshire. However, both states continue to work together on addressing the needs of each bridge.

"These bridges are literally the gateway to Maine for tourism and business. They bring in a majority of the shoppers, vacationers, and commerce to our state." Senator Hill added, "They are certainly an economic factor to the State of Maine."

Under Senator Hill's legislation, GARVEE Bonds would be used to fund $35 million toward the Memorial Bridge and another $15 million for the I-95 Bridge. New Hampshire's Transportation Committee approved the use of GARVEE Bonds in their last Legislative Session to assist in the bi-state effort to help fund the repairs of these bridges.

As states struggle to find resources to pay for infrastructure needs, GARVEE Bonds (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) provide an innovative approach for funding transportation projects. Use of this funding mechanism allows the state to sell bonds to get money up front to pay for the bridge projects. The sale is based on the assumption that federal funding in future years will pay off the bonds.

Both bills are currently in the early stages of the legislative process and have not been scheduled for a public hearing.

To view a copy of the Bi-State Bridge Funding Task Force report, go to

Senator Hill is offering an email update for any interested citizen or business who would like to stay informed about the bridge projects. Go to and click on the "Join Our Mailing List" tab to sign up for Senator Hill's email update. Senator Dawn Hill is the Ranking Democratic Senator of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. She represents Senate District 1, which includes the communities of Eliot, Kittery, Ogunquit, South Berwick, and York.


Editorial: Sen. Hill has Powerful Role in Augusta

Tue, 25 Jan 2011 10:59:15 EST

**Editorial: Sen. Hill has powerful role in Augusta**

Congratulations to Maine state Sen. Dawn Hill of York, who has been named by Republican leadership to the powerful Appropriations Committee, where she will serve as the top Democrat.

This is a remarkable appointment, and for Hill to be tapped during her first year in the Senate by Republicans enjoying their first rise to power in both houses in 30 years, it is quite notable. We believe it speaks a great deal about her integrity, her background and her bipartisanship.

Hill is a lawyer, a small businesswoman who for 12 years has owned a canine training facility in York, and is a board member of an Aroostook County-based insurance company. These credentials give her a varied perspective on a number of issues that will be coming before the Legislature in the next two years.

Hill is also known for working across the aisle. In candidate debates before the election, she pointed to the nonpartisan work of the Government Oversight Committee on which she served last term, composed of three legislators from each party. She forged alliances with fellow legislators from southern York County regardless of party on such key issues as the Maine Turnpike Authority toll booth relocation in York and the potential closure of the Memorial Bridge.

On the subject of the bridges, southern York County residents will be well served with Hill on the Appropriations Committee. The Bi-State Funding Task Force recommended formation of a long-term maintenance fund for all three bridges, and also wants Maine pony up significant funding in the next biennium for the Memorial Bridge replacement. Who is better poised to make sure the proper funding is in the budget than the Democratic leader of the committee with the purse strings?

We would also be remiss if we did not take the opportunity to congratulate two local House members who also have leadership roles in this new Legislature. Rep. Windol Weaver, R-York, has been named House chairman of the Marine Resources Committee; and Rep. Mark Eves, D-Berwick, whose district contains most of South Berwick, was named House Democratic leader of the Health and Human Resources Committee.

All of this bodes well for our Maine readers.

*Source: Seacoast Online, January 14, 2011*

Seacoast Online: Sen. Hill Responds to Gov. LePage's Remark to NAACP

Tue, 25 Jan 2011 10:53:54 EST

**'Kiss my butt' is Maine Gov. LePage's message**

*NAACP upset over Maine governor's refusal of invitation to Martin Luther King Jr. Day events, which was due to previous commitments*

PORTLAND, Maine - Several local residents joined others across the state in saying they regret the tone and choice of words used by Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who on Friday said critics of his decision not to attend the state NAACP's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations could "kiss my butt."

Gov. Paul LePage declined the organization's invitations to a dinner in Portland on Sunday night and a breakfast in Orono on Monday because of prior commitments.

LePage said he can't attend the NAACP events because of a personal commitment Sunday and a funeral service Monday.

The NAACP's state director said the group felt it was being neglected by the new governor, who was elected in November. The head of a Portland immigration group said it appeared the governor's decision was part of a pattern.

When asked by a reporter Friday to respond to their concerns, LePage said, "Tell them to kiss my butt." Then he added, "If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them." LePage was referring to Devon Richard, a 25-year-old black Jamaican whom LePage took into his home at the age of 17.

**State Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, said she saw Richard sitting with LePage's family at the inauguration. She said she wouldn't call the remark inflammatory, but added LePage's comments were troubling nonetheless.**

**"He should be much more thoughtful about his choice of words," she said. "Every day in Augusta, the halls are full of special interest groups. They do not speak to us (legislators) that way, and we do not speak to them that way. There's a level of decorum I really admire, and that decorum should extend to every branch of government."**

NAACP national President and Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Todd Jealous, however, called LePage's comments inflammatory.

"Gov. LePage's decision to inflame racial tension on the eve of the King holiday denigrates his office," Jealous said. "His words are a reminder of the worst aspects of Maine's history and (are) out of touch with our nation's deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing."

Victoria Simon, the vice chairwoman of the York Diversity Forum, which is putting on a program Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, said she was "disappointed" with the governor.

She said she wondered what was more important for the governor than attending one of the state MLK events. "Even if he was there for half an hour, it would send an important message," she said.

"To think that the governor of our state is not going to be part of this important holiday is disappointing," she said.

LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt said the governor's comments were spoken in a "direct manner" that people have come to expect from him. During last fall's campaign, LePage - a Republican who had tea party support - told a group of fishermen that, if he were elected, "You're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page, saying 'Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.'"

The issue has nothing do with race, Demeritt said. Rather, he said, it's about a "special interest group" expressing frustration at the governor not yet making time to meet. While mayor of Waterville, LePage attended numerous Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfasts and gave the welcome address on four occasions, Demeritt said. The governor's weekly radio address, to be aired Saturday, pays tribute to King.

"It's nothing more than a scheduling conflict and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous," Demeritt said.

Source: Seacoast Online, Staff Report, January 14, 2011

Seacoast Online: Senator Hill Comments on Nomination of State's New Finance Director

Tue, 25 Jan 2011 10:49:36 EST

Seacoast Online: **LePage makes his mark***Conservative governor is reshaping Maine*As Republican Gov. Paul LePage ends his first 10 days in office, he has met expectations of political watchers; enthralling some and raising red flags for others. Like him or not, everyone agrees he's been true to several key campaign promises and has heralded a new era in Maine government.Since he was sworn in Jan. 6, LePage has issued three executive orders - one allowing state workers to question immigrants about their residency status, one continuing the hiring freeze of state positions and a third ordering that all proposed state rules and regulations be reviewed by his office. He has submitted a supplemental budget that begins to pay back hospitals for money the state owes them, has signaled his intent to have Maine join a lawsuit with 20 other states seeking a legal challenge to the federal Health Care Reform Act, made many cabinet appointments that have been met with mixed responses and told all acting commissioners that communication with the media must be cleared by his office first."I'm not surprised at anything he's done so far. I expected him to use his executive order authority relatively aggressively and he's done that," said Mark Brewer, University of Maine political science professor. "You could see how some of the things would rankle people on the left. But I don't think that bothers him."Brewer said LePage signals a distinct departure from business as usual in Maine. "People have to remember, Le-Page doesn't fit into the mold of recent Maine governors. He's a conservative Republican, and there hasn't ever been one of those - at least not in recent memory. He's going to be doing things a lot differently than they've been done," he said.Among those who welcome that change is Cathy Goodwin, president of the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce."I think everyone has been impressed so far," said Goodwin, who attended Le-Page's inauguration on Jan. 5 and was in the statehouse the following day. "The mood there was very upbeat, very positive. Everyone was excited. There was a lot of buzz, energy and hope. I've been up there in the past when it's been all doom and gloom and nobody knew how to fix it. This feels different."Goodwin said she has been most impressed by LePage's commitment to the businesspeople of Maine. Since before he took office, he and his staff have been holding a series of "Red Tape Audit" meetings organized by local chambers of commerce. The meetings are intended as a forum for businesspeople to talk about their problems and concerns with state government. One is scheduled for this coming Friday, Jan. 21, in York. Goodwin said these meetings, coupled with his executive order on rules and regulations, signal a new day for the small businesses that make up her membership."The biggest obstacle to job growth has been not the rules but the staff interpretation of the rules, which can be arbitrary," she said. "I don't think anyone minds playing by the rules if you know what the rules are. People are frustrated. They're trying to do the right thing, trying to make payroll, but they run up against these walls."Goodwin said she is pleased that LePage is a businessman himself - he was the former general manager of Marden's stores - and that he came from an impoverished background. "The common people haven't had a voice for a long time and this governor gets that. I love that. I love the common sense of that," she said.But former York state representative and Maine Democratic Party activist Neil Rolde said the very things that thrill Republicans give him pause for thought.He praised LePage's choice of Sawin Millett as commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services. Millett, who led LePage's supplemental budget team, is a former legislator and has worked in administrations of Republican and indep[...]

The York Weekly: Senator Hill is One of York's Top Ten Movers and Shakers for 2011

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 17:48:29 EST

##The York Weekly: York's Top 10 movers and shakers for 2010#####Top 10 movers and shakers continue their influence###January 05, 2011 Who shaped town politics and life in 2010? That was the question The York Weekly asked as the paper looked back on the year that was. The ensuing Top 10, profiled here, are familiar names who contributed both in ways large and small, out front and behind the scenes, to influence how York operates and is viewed by the community at large.(1) Town Manager Rob YandowNo one can say Yandow is not involved. He not only stays on top of all aspects of York's government, but is involved in state and county issues as well. Yandow, the town's public health officer, is former chairman of the York (County) District Public Health Council and former vice chairman of the Maine State Coordinating Council for Public Health. This year, he became a member of the Maine Municipal Association executive committee."He got us up and running as a public health district," said York County Emergency Management Director Bob Bohlmann, who recommended Yandow as a pick for top mover and shaker. "During disasters, he's been right there working with us on different events; York has not missed too many of those."Working with the Board of Selectmen, Yandow has been the driving force in ongoing infrastructure improvements at the beach and in York Village. But the project that will perhaps become his legacy, the one with the potential for the most far-reaching results, is the land deal to construct a new police station in York Beach and an access road to that building from Ridge Road and to Route 1. It hasn't been easy and, as the details unfold, he, as well as the Board of Selectmen, have received both kudos and complaints.(2) Steve BurnsCommunity Development Director Steve Burns is everywhere these days, from closing the doors on Paras Pizza for code violations to stepping into the mire of the entangled relationship between the town and the private Ellis Park in an effort to get clarity on town ordinances. His newest mission is to clarify the definitions of permitted uses in York's zoning ordinance. Burns, with help from the Planning Board, is attempting to take the devil out of the details by defining every use, from dwellings to car washes to automobile graveyards.As head of the town's planning department, Burns also has a bird's eye view of the bigger picture: engineering studies that could potentially change the infrastructure of York beach and village.(3) Cathy GoodwinFormer selectman Cathy Goodwin did not serve as chairman during her two-and-a-half years on the board, but there's no doubt her influence was felt. Goodwin, who is also president of the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce, spoke her mind concerning beach infrastructure, including a controversial recommendation to move the York Beach ball field. Indeed, she often weathered criticism - from this publication and residents - for serving as both an elected official and chamber head.As president of the chamber, Goodwin years ago helped organized a Renaissance Committee to plan a revitalization for York Beach, an effort that carries on today. She also was instrumental in carrying out the chamber's controversial decision in 2009 to focus Harvestfest activities solely in York Beach.Goodwin's sphere of influence extends beyond York's borders. She serves on a steering committee for the Maine-New Hampshire Connections Study, working to save the historic Memorial Bridge connecting Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H. Earlier last year, she also fought a recommendation by the Maine Department of Transportation to turn the span into a pedestrian and bicycle-only pathway.**(4 and 5) Dawn Hill, Windol Weaver****First-term state Sen. Dawn Hill, a former state representative, has been tapped by the Republican Party leadership to serve on [...]

Senator Hill to serve on Appropriations Committee

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 09:58:02 EST

###First term State Senator is appointed to serve on the legislative committee that deals with the state's finances###

AUGUSTA - Senator Dawn Hill (D-York) has been selected to serve as the ranking Democratic member on the Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

Legislative committees are decided by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.

The Appropriations Committee has a significant agenda this session with the likelihood of dealing with substantial shortfalls in the state budget. Due to the Maine Constitution, the Legislature is required to enact a balanced state budget. In addition to work on the state's general fund, the committee also deals with: federal funds, special revenue, block grants, bond issues, and financial evaluations of state government agencies.

"We have an important session coming up and I am ready to address the challenges," said Hill. "I look forward to working on strengthening Maine's future, its small businesses and working families."

Hill's experience will provide a unique blend of business, legal, and public policy to the state's financial committee. She is an attorney, a small business owner, serves on the Board of regional northeast insurance company, and served two terms as a State Representative.

"As I have done in the past, I will work with both political parties to help put Maine back on track," said Hill. "That is what the people elected me to do; it's what my constituents want."

Hill added, "Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work for the people of Maine."

Senator Dawn Hill represents Senate District 1, which includes the communities of Eliot, Kittery, Ogunquit, South Berwick, and York.


Brunswick Legislators to Hold Office Hours This Saturday

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 09:54:22 EST

BRUNSWICK - Local legislative leaders will be holding office hours Saturday, January 8, 2011 from 10 a.m. to noon. Senator Stan Gerzofsky will be joined with Brunswick Representatives Charlie Priest, Alex Cornell du Houx, and Peter Kent at the Little Dog Coffee Shop on Maine Street in Brunswick.

Meetings are open to anyone who would like to voice their opinion and share their concern. It is an opportunity to have an open dialogue with local legislators before the 125th Maine Legislature begins its session in Augusta.

"This upcoming session will address many challenges facing our region," said Sen. Gerzofsky. "We want to hear from the citizens and work together to get the results people expect from their government."

Senator Gerzofsky represents Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell and Pownal. Representatives Priest, Cornell du Houx, and Kent represent Brunswick.

To learn more about Brunswick's legislators, visit:


Sun Journal: Sen. Gerzofsky Comments on Labor Committee Compromise

Mon, 20 Dec 2010 13:32:20 EST

##Lawmakers reach compromise on labor panel##AUGUSTA - Lawmakers battling over the fate of the 123-year-old Labor Committee settled Wednesday on a compromise that likely will allow Republicans to merge the panel with one that traditionally handled business matters.The Legislature's Rules Committee voted unanimously to create the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development panel, essentially merging worker safety, compensation and union issues handled by the Labor Committee with an economic development committee.The Labor Committee's fate had been the buzz for weeks, as the new Republican majority's effort to strike an early tone for governing clashed with labor advocates and Democrats, who originally described the plan as a political power play at the expense of organized labor and workers.On Tuesday night, Republican leadership announced plans to merge the business development panel and the Labor Committee to create the Jobs Committee. By Wednesday evening, after several closed-door meetings between Democratic and Republican leaders, and much heated rhetoric, the panel had a new name and a new jurisdiction.All existing labor matters are slated to remain in the new panel except those related to benefits and pensions for state and municipal employees. The latter will move to the Appropriations Committee.Initially, labor advocates feared worker issues would be dispersed to other committees. Laura Harper of the Maine Women's Lobby said the compromise alleviates some of her group's fears about dissolving the labor panel.Republican lawmakers said the move was part of an election mandate to streamline government, create jobs and make Maine more business friendly. They said the proposal would save money. They didn't outline jurisdiction assignments until Wednesday night."Issues that involve businesses by (their) nature involve workers," said House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland. "It makes sense to me, and the members of my caucus, to have those issues under one roof."Initially, Democrats and labor advocates had a much different view. They blasted the GOP for a plan that ran counter to the oft-repeated Republican slogan "people before politics."The private talks spoke to the divisiveness of the issue, as both sides scrambled to claim they were representing working people. The tone was set early, as labor advocates held a morning news conference in the Hall of Flags to say Republicans didn't care about workers, just corporate interests.Emery Deabay, a mill worker from Bucksport, said Republicans were telling ordinary workers that they "didn't count.""They are telling us workers that we are the ones responsible for the economic troubles we face; we are the brakes that stop business development and we don't count," Deabay said. "From now on, they are saying, our issues and concerns will come after corporate greed, after business at any cost and after our need to put you in your place, on the bottom."Deabay said the Labor Committee was the only legislative panel that would adequately hear worker safety issues.He said, "If you are a person that runs a cash register, you don't count. If you are a person that waits on tables, you don't count. If you are a person that works in a mill, you don't count."After the news conference, the Maine Republican Party called on Democratic lawmakers to repudiate organized labor's comments."Maine's working people aren't interested in labor union power grabs," wrote Maine GOP Executive Director Christie-lee McNally. "They're interested in preserving and creating good jobs for Maine."One lawmaker, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said the plan was tied to the new majority's quest for more office space on the third floor of the State House."It's about space for their staff[...]

Seacoast Online: Sen. Hill on Bi-State Funding Task Force Report for Seacoast Bridges

Mon, 20 Dec 2010 12:55:08 EST

##Millions slashed in plan for three bridges##PORTLAND, Maine - With about a week to go before it must submit its report on the Seacoast bridges between Maine and New Hampshire, the Bi-State Funding Task Force on Tuesday wrangled tens of millions of dollars in additional savings out of a 30-year draft cost estimate of more than $600 million.Members also made it perfectly clear that new or increased tolling as a means of paying long-term for the maintenance of the bridges is not part of their purview and will be a decision for the two states' legislatures.That statement was made even as a draft report submitted Tuesday suggests a $215 million "net need" over 30 years between costs and sources of funding. That figure is expected to decrease following changes made at the meeting.In that draft report, Roland Lavallee of consulting engineering firm HNTB Inc. estimated a $614 million cost to build a new Memorial Bridge, rehabilitate the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, and maintain and repair those two - along with the Piscataqua River Bridge - over 30 years. That figure is down from the $620 million listed in his previous draft report to the task force last week. The $620 million figure in turn was down from $678 million earlier in the process.But task force members made recommendations Tuesday to bring the costs down even more.Member Henry Stebbins, a Manchester lawyer, said the figures in the report did not include interest earned on money placed in a "sinking fund" the task force is recommending. That fund would contain contributions from the two states and any outside funds targeted for the bridges over the next 30 years."We're talking about a lot of money. If you're earning 4 to 5 percent in interest, it can turn into a substantial factor," he said.In a suggestion that had great support, Stebbins advised that a built-in increase of 3 percent a year for maintenance be reduced. N.H. Transportation Commissioner George Campbell put forth a 2 percent increase, but cautioned it will take "ongoing discipline" to make sure that benchmark is met.Paul Violette, director of the Maine Turnpike Authority, who has been working with Lavallee, said making the change could save $50 million or more. The task force also agreed that central to its recommendations will be the reformation of the Interstate Bridge Authority, created in the 1930s to finance the Long Bridge and disbanded several years ago by both states."When we talk about the sinking fund, what we're really talking about is reconstituting the IBA with sufficient tools so that some legislator can't show up 15 years from now and say, 'We're not going to put those funds in,'" Campbell said.Maine Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors, chairman of the task force, made clear that he did not want the group to commit to tolling as part of the solution."I don't think it's appropriate at this time. It's an alternative to be considered in the future as a way of addressing a need."Task force member Gerard Conley, chairman of the MTA, reminded the group that there hasn't been a gas tax increase in Maine in a number of years. And Beverly Hollingworth, outgoing member of the N.H. Executive Council, said the source of future funding is really up to the Legislature."I think this needs to be in the legislative process. Lots of states are looking at lots of way to fund highways," she said. "While I don't want to pass the buck to the legislatures, it really is their buck."State Sen. Dawn Hill, D-Maine, who attended the meeting, said afterward her first impression is that the task force did "an impressive job." However, she cautioned, implementation of the suggestions will be up to not only a new Maine Legislature, but also to Gov.-elect Paul LePage. [...]

Sen. Hill Keeps Focus on Bridges

Mon, 20 Dec 2010 12:49:07 EST

##Seacoast Online: Southern York County delegation to keep focus on bridges##Legislators from southern York County are gearing up for what will likely be a full-court press in the next session to secure political support in Augusta for the three bridges crossing the Piscataqua River.New and returning legislators alike say the bridges will require a great deal of their attention, even as they participate in an historic legislative session that turns leadership of both houses over to Republicans for the first time in 30 years and tackle gnarly budget issues.Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, who entered the Senate after serving two terms in the House, said she takes heart that the entire York County delegation appears to be focused on making the bridges a priority for the upcoming session.The York County Advocacy Project, a group of town administrators and state legislators formed to give the county a stronger voice in Augusta, met recently to strategize about its top priorities for the next session, Hill said. Top on the list were the three bridges.She said Sen. Jon Courtney, R-Sanford, the new Senate majority leader, told the group that if the county legislative delegation made the bridges the priority, other issues in the large and mainly rural county would receive less attention."No legislator that night indicated otherwise," she said. "(Sanford City Manager) Mark Green said, 'The bridges are the gateway to Maine and if we don't take care of them we'll all pay the consequences.'"She said based on what she heard that night, "it is my expectation that the entire delegation will talk with other legislators across the state about the importance of the bridges."The first of what is expected to be a number of bills dealing with the bridges was already filed by Rep. Bobbi Beavers, D-Eliot/South Berwick. The bill would create a fund that would set aside as much as $25 million a year for the bridges. The Bi-State Funding Task Force on the bridges, which will come out with its report in mid-December, is expected to recommend the formation of a fund, and Beavers said her legislation could dovetail with that."The key here is that I get the feeling from both sides of the aisle that people understand how important the bridges are to the state," she said.Rep. Windol Weaver, R-York, returning for his third term in office, was approached by House leadership about serving on the transportation committee, to which bills such as Beavers' would likely be assigned and that will be tackling the allocation of transportation dollars. He said he would like the Legislature to set aside funding for the next several years to pay for Maine's portion of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, which is recommended for rehabilitation in 2016, and Memorial Bridge. New Hampshire agreed to pay upfront costs to replace Memorial Bridge.Weaver echoed what many legislators said, that while the bridges may be central among their concerns, the economy and a flagging budget are going to get the lion's share of the entire Legislature's attention in the upcoming session. The state's Revenue Forecasting Committee announced last week that revenue is projected to be $365 million more than anticipated over the next two years, making what was expected to be a $1 billion shortfall likely more like $840 million.Still, the next session is going to present significant challenges."We have to do something," said Weaver of the Republican majority in the Legislature. "If we don't, we'll all be gone in two years. We have to walk a fine line. We have to protect the elderly, people with disability and kids, but we have to look at everything else."Windol said he will support any effort that creates jobs or makes it easier f[...]