First, an update on whether the Maine Public Utilities Commission will undertake a formal investigation into whether Verizon violated privacy laws if they, in fact, cooperated with the NSA "wiretapping"program, something which Verizon in part denies doing. It is an update only to the extent that the MPUC voted to delay making the ultimate decision.
If you're not familiar with this story, KEVIN WACK of the Portland Press Herald reported last Friday that "The Bush administration is threatening to sue if Maine regulators decide to investigate whether Verizon Communications illegally turned over customer information to the National Security Agency." as is suggested in this letter from the US Justice Dept to the MPUC, "We sincerely hope that, in light of governing law and the national security concerns implicated by the requests for information, you will decline to open an investigation and close these proceedings, thereby avoiding litigation over the matter." You already know where I stand on this issue and how I feel about transparency in government. So I'll only say this at this time: We may be a little state with just 2 votes that usually vote Democrat. So we're politically safe to threaten. But there's no place in this country that's more independent and more against being bullied. Unfortunately, it'll be beauracrats who'll make this decision on whether to proceed. Also, what are you trying to hide? This potential investigation will not reveal what information you may have received, only whether Verizon broke the law in giving it to you.
From the All Politics is Local department, the latest in the ongoing multi-party, multi-sided squabble over campaign funding ethics, which Barbara Merrill finds herself in the middle and on both sides of. Isn't local politics great? Each side accusing the other of cheating, which gets even more interesting when you have at least 5 candidates going at it. You can read more by clicking the link above to the Lewiston Sun Journal article, but here are a couple of snippets from it. "Gubernatorial candidates seeking public financing must follow a strict set of rules and procedures, which includes collecting 2,500 $5 contributions to the Maine Clean Election Fund. Qualifying candidates stand to receive as much as $1.2 million to fund their general election campaigns. According to Michael's complaint, Merrill used public money to pay off obligations that she incurred before she was certified. The complaint says the payments to Harold Webster and Richard Dyer were illegal." To which Merrill's campaign responded thusly, "There was never any report of a debt to them in this period because there was none to report," Phil Merrill, Barbara Merrill's deputy campaign treasurer, wrote in the response. "On the day that the effort (to qualify for public financing) was completed, the candidate expressed a debt of gratitude and that was it." No wonder we haven't had our questions answered yet.
An update from the Biggots and Idiots Even In Maine department: A month ago some knucklehead thought it would be funny to throw a pig's head into a make-shift mosque in Lewiston. I guess he thought it would be a two-fer since it was a mosque used by Somali immigrants...desicrate a mosque and make a statement to people whose skin is way too black. Now he's saying he had walked into the police department beforehand to find out whether it would be illegal to do so and was told by the officer that the best he could tell he'd only be guilty of littering. I don't know who's the bigger moron in this instance to tell you the truth. The policeman said he actually looked into it and that's all he could find. If my police officers can't imagine what other legal issues might be involved in such a stunt, maybe they need to go back to the academy. This is the best quote from the article though, this "gentleman" "claimed in court papers that he didn't know pork was considered offensive by some Somalis and "never assumed" the vacant dual storefronts at 21-23 Lisbon St. he had walked past "nearly every day" were treated by Somalis as a mosque." Really? So why there and why a pig's head? Pure coincidence, I guess. He probably has a rebel flag in the back window of his pickup because he thinks it's pretty.
And finally, an update in the ongoing Dirigo Health squabble. This issue is more convoluted and complicated than I can wrap my little mind around but I know folks are interested. Too bad there isn't some other way?
Maine Merrill Lewiston pig's head governor Dirigo Health politics NSA campaign FOIA Verizon clean elections MPUC Public Utilities Commission USJD Bush Somali mosque