PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Gov. Paul LePage is condemning the Portland mayor for calling for the Maine attorney general to investigate allegations of financial mismanagement at a charter school. Mayor Mike Brennan had asked the attorney general to investigate Baxter Academy for Technology and Science and have all state contract negotiations with the school put on hold until an investigation is completed. The founder and executive director of the school was fired for what the board said was a “pattern of mismanagement.” John Jaques has denied any financial mismanagement. LePage said Thursday that Attorney General Janet Mills has declined to get involved, saying the state charter school commission has the authority to ensure fiscal capability of charter schools. LePage called Brennan’s request an attack against the proposed school and charter schools in general.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Lawmakers are considering passing a law that would allow Mainers to grow industrial hemp for commercial uses, but would such a law matter, since the practice is against federal law?Members of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee have a decision to make. Should Maine allow the growing of industrial hemp for commercial use? Farmington Republican Lance Harvell’s bill would eliminate the need for a federal permit to grow industrial hemp in Maine. He says that could help Maine farmers compete globally. “Right now about 36% of the hemp in the world is being grown in China. It’s one thing if we can’t compete with low wage, but when we’re shackling our ability to grow a product that became a casualty in the war on drugs, it’s really quite stunning to me.”There’s a false stigma attached to hemp, mostly because people confuse industrial hemp with smokeable marijuana used for recreational purposes, but there’s a big difference. “I guess to get high on hemp, you’d have to smoke a lot of rope.”Industrial hemp is used to make a number of products, including textiles, thread, construction products, fuel, pulp and paper, furniture, oils, paints, and plastics.Even if Harvell’s bill passes, it still violates federal law. He says the federal government’s refusal to lead on these types of issues is forcing states to move on and leave the feds behind. “My honest opinion on how this is gonna play out, mostly in relation to hemp, but maybe with cannabis with what you’re seeing in Washington and Colorado, the federal government is going to be forced to clamp down on some of this stuff, or maybe it’s time they lead and we get on board as well.”The bill faces a work session in the coming weeks. If it passes committee, it would sent to the House floor.
Governor LePage sent a tweet to Democrats Wednesday night while on vacation in Jamaica.It said “News flash from Jamaica: if Democrats have my hospital bill on my desk by Saturday, I will give up my pension. Ya mon!”Democrats had this response Thursday:”We’re here, we’re not on vacation. We’re fighting for people making minimum wage, making $15,000 a year that can’t even imagine going to Jamaica on vacation. We’re going to keep doing our work.”The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee is holding their third work session on the hospital repayment issue Friday morning.
Animal advocates in Maine were at the State House on Thursday talking to lawmakers about some pieces of legislation they’re concerned about.Humane Lobby Day is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.Some of the bills the group is concerned about related to the treatment of bears. Treatment they deem inhumane.”We’re looking to ban trapping of bears,” said Humane Society member, Katie Hansberry. “Maine has the notorious distinction of being the only state that allows recreational bear trapping and we think that needs to end. We’re also looking to an bear hounding which is another cruel and unsporting practice.”Advocates say Maine’s laws concerning animals should be more reflective of Maine values.
A Russian spacecraft carrying a three-man crew including an astronaut from York, Maine. blasted off on a quicker than usual trip to the International Space Station Thursday. The Soyuz took off as scheduled from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:43 a.m. Friday (2043 GMT: 4:43 p.m. EDT Thursday). Maine astronaut Chris Cassidy of NASA, along with Russians Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin, make up the first crew to take a new, much shorter path to the orbiting outpost. Instead of the two-day approach maneuver used in the past, a journey to the station would take the crew just under six hours. The new maneuver has been tested successfully by three Russian Progress cargo ships, an unmanned version of the Soyuz used to carry supplies to the space station.Crew members from NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency arrived safely to the I-S-S around Midnight.Cassidy is set to return to earth in September.
A Thomas College student accused of attempted murder in New York City waived extradition Wednesday.Police say Eimel Evans, 19, is a fugitive from justice.The New York City Police Department says the charges against him stem from a shooting last summer.Police in New York have 21 days to come get Evans, who is being held at the Kennebec County Jail.
A legislative committee is considering a bill to prevent utility companies from charging more to homeowners who do not want to use smart meters.CMP began installing the meters more than a year ago.Some customers were concerned about health and safety risks.So the utility charged $12 a month to customers who chose not to use the meters.
Maine State Police say a pharmacy robbery led to a high-speed chase on I-295 that ended with a rollover crash in Freeport.Troopers say Dylan Libby, 21, and Madeline Damon, 18, fled after robbing a pharmacy in Yarmouth and their vehicle overturned while attempting to exit in Freeport while police were chasing them. Both were from North Yarmouth, but had recently moved to Bangor.Exit 22 was closed for the evening commute, but the highway remained open.Both are hospitalized with multiple injuries. No charges have yet to be lodged against the two.Â Yarmouth Police are expected to file charges in connection with the robbery.Photo courtesy WMTW
The father of a 16-year-old West Paris girl killed in a car crash last year has sued the driver and three others. Rebecca Mason’s father this week filed suit in Oxford County Superior Court against 19-year-old Kristina Lowe, the driver of the car in which his daughter was a passenger. Mason and a 19-year-old man died in the January 2012 crash. Jerrold Mason is also suing three people he alleges provided Lowe with alcohol and a place to drink. The Sun Journal, reports the suit alleges “negligence and recklessness” on the part of the defendants. Lowe has pleaded not guilty to two counts of manslaughter. Police say she was drunk and texting at the time of the crash. Her lawyer has denied that, saying she hit a patch of ice.
Federal money is being allocated for a dredging project in the Scarborough River as early as this fall. The project qualified for federal funding because of the sustained excessive shoaling that resulted from Hurricane Sandy. Members of Maine’s congressional delegation say $3.5 million has been allocated for the for the Army Corps of Engineers’ work. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said in a written statement on Tuesday that proper maintenance of Maine’s small ports, harbors and rivers is critically important because they play an important role in local economies. Scarborough Town Manager Thomas Hall says the grant will ensure safe passage for the commercial fishing fleet and recreational boat traffic.
Investigators say engine failure may be to blame for the fatal crash of a small plane last summer 100 yards from the historic Portland Head Light. Dr. Louis Hanson was unresponsive when he was recovered from the water after his Stinson S108 splashed down on June 24 off Cape Elizabeth. The Sun Journal, says the National Transportation Safety Board found that the lower portion of one of the pistons had fractured, causing metal pieces to enter the engine’s camshaft. The factual report, which didn’t draw any final conclusions, says the airplane was built in 1946 and had its original engine. The NTSB says Hanson told air traffic controllers before crashing that he’d experienced a total power loss and was not going to be able to glide back to shore.
Local and State Police are investigating a deadly shooting in Biddeford.State Police say a man was shot in his car on a Biddeford street around 12:45 Tuesday morning.No identity has been released.Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland says the shooting took place in the parking lot of an apartment house complex off Birch Street in the downtown section. Investigators are searching for a suspect.
A state wildlife biologist says he has solved the mystery of the strange white dog-like animal found dead under a homeowner’s porch in Kennebunk last week. Scott Lindsay said Monday that based on his examination of the animal’s cranium, teeth and other body characteristics, the animal found March 18 is a rare white coyote. There had been speculation that the animal was a wolf – even though there is no known wild wolf population in Maine – a domestic dog or even a hybrid. Lindsay tells The Portland Press Herald, that a cause of death has yet to be determined. There were no obvious external injuries or gunshot wounds. He’s holding off on a necropsy in case the state wants to put the animal on display in a museum.
Police say a man has been found shot to death in a car in Biddeford. The man was found at about 1 a.m. Tuesday. State Public Safety Department spokesman Steve McCausland confirms to WMTW-TV, the victim is dead, but there was no word on suspects or arrests. Neither the victim’s name nor additional details were immediately made public.
The contractor in charge of building a new lift bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine says the area where workers will ultimately man the controls is nearly complete. Workers have been putting up the steel structure of the control house, where New Hampshire Department of Transportation staff will control the openings of the center lift span of the new Memorial Bridge. Electrical work also has begun on the south span and will continue up the south tower and in the Control House. The bridge between Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine, is scheduled to be open to traffic this summer.
A former Maine man charged with making secret video recordings of teenage girls while they were undressed has been ordered held on $25,000 bail. Michael Femling of Billings, Mont., pleaded not guilty Monday in Portland to 30 counts of violation of privacy and four counts of visual sexual aggression against a child. Prosecutors allege the 45-year-old Femling made the video recordings between February 2009 and July 2011 when he lived in Westbrook. The alleged victims were four girls he knew. The Portland Press Herald reports, that the case first came to the attention of law enforcement after one of the girls and then an adult in the home found hidden cameras and notified police. Police say they found 19 video files of undressed teenage girls on Femling’s computer.
A former Maine state representative is facing charges that he assaulted and robbed a woman over the weekend. Christopher Muse was arrested Sunday at his South Portland home. Police said a 44-year-old woman reported that she and Muse got into a dispute Friday night while meeting on a shoreline walkway. The woman told police Muse knocked her down and kicked her in the head before taking her money and cellphone. Lt. Frank Clark told the Portland Press Herald, that Muse and the woman knew each other years ago, and that Friday was their first meeting since recently reconnecting on the Internet. Muse was being held in Cumberland County Jail on Monday before his first court appearance. It wasn’t known if Muse had an attorney.
Maine will be eligible for federal help to cover the costs of a blizzard that hit in early February.The federal government has approved the request for a disaster declaration submitted by the governor.The declaration means Androscoggin, Cumberland, Knox, and York counties are designated to receive assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.The storm resulted in significant coastal flood damage and costly snow removal.
A recent train derailment has environmentalists and government officials concerned about the possibility of more accidents.13 cars carrying crude oil tipped over along the Penobscot river earlier this month between Mattawamkeag and Winn. The train was headed for a refinery in Canada.Very little oil spilled, but officials are worried because trains carrying oil are crossing Maine in record numbers.5.3 million barrels of crude oil on trains crossed Maine into New Brunswick last year and we’re told the volume is growing.
A Harrison church severely damaged by a fire during Labor Day weekend is scheduled to reopen for worship just in time for Easter. The Easter Sunday service this week will be the first in the United Parish Church of Harrison and North Bridgton since fire heavily damaged the basement kitchen early on Sept. 1. The congregation has been holding services in the Harrison Fire Station community room since. The Sun Journal, reports that the fire caused heavy damage to the kitchen and smoke damage throughout the building. The cleanup included removing all the ceiling tiles and insulation in the vestry, gutting the kitchen, and cleaning the ceiling in the sanctuary. The pews were washed multiple times to remove soot, and the sanctuary’s stained glass windows and chandeliers were cleaned.