Regular readers know that this writer has been very involved this fall in the campaign to ask Maine voters to choose "1C" on the November 4th ballot. As I write this week's column, there is one week remaining in the campaign.
Voters have seen the advertisements, listened to the talk shows, read the newspapers and talked to friends, co-workers, neighbors and relatives about how they'll vote. By now, most people have formulated an opinion as to how they will vote on Election Day.
This week's column will be devoted to sharing my impressions about the campaign with you. It would be fair to say that I have been at "ground zero" on this one. I would also caution you to remember that my thoughts are shared with you through the "1C" lens. Yes, I do have a strong bias towards the "1C" train of thought.
It was interesting to run against two of the most formidable forces in Maine --- a coalition of paid municipal employees and teachers, campaigning hard for "1A" and the Governor, legislature and Maine's major corporations, working toward "1B". It was like entering a naval battle in a rowboat while the 1A people were steaming around in a massive aircraft carrier and the 1B people were slicing through the seas in a sleek, new Aegis cruiser.
Folks, there is big money at work in Maine politics. The "1C" campaign raised the princely sum of $755 dollars. That will probably pay for two 3 by 5 inch ads in the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily news, as well as cover my phone calls and gas expense.
The city administrators, town managers and teachers plowed over $830,000 into their campaign as of September 30th, and Lord knows how much since that date. Since we property taxpayers pay about $1.5 million in "dues" to the town officials "union" every year, it is ironic that our own money is being used to take more money away from us in more taxes. Maine's teachers went to their "brothers" at the National Education Association for help in paying for their portion of the "Great 1A Money Grab" and were rewarded with a $350,000 grant to put toward the effort. Seems that there is a lot of money laying around at "national" these days.
Do you think the city administrators/town managers and the teachers invested nearly a million dollars into this campaign as a public service? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you down in Bucksport. There is a pot of gold at the end of that "1A" rainbow, you can bet your boots.
On the "1B" side, we got to see how big money works in Augusta. There is a "short list" of large corporations that the Augusta insiders know have wads of cash. The Augusta insiders know that they can make a phone call, invite them to the Blaine House for bacon and eggs, and then twist their arm (like turning a spigot) for cash.
The Governor can give the pep talk and supply the grub, but he relies on a trusted ally to do his bidding and to make the sales pitch. Burping on the Governor's eggs, the men in suits are herded down the street to a lobbyist's office. The suits pull out the checkbooks and write checks with a lot of zeros in the amount field.
The trusted ally, in this instance Dana Connors, President of the State Chamber of Commerce, must have made a compelling case. Just eleven check writers plied the Governor with almost $300 grand in cash. We can only wonder what the Governor promised them as they sipped their coffee to elicit that kind of corporate generosity. You can bet there is a pot of gold at the end of the "1B" rainbow as well.
About the only thing that the "1C" team can offer you is protection from a deceptive raid on your bank account. A number of citizens wrote checks to help us out and we'll stretch their $755 bucks as far as we can. It is interesting to note the "1A" and "1B", for their million or so raised, got it all from "special interest groups". Not a dollar was contributed by a natural person (for example, a citizen) as of September 30th. Pretty sad commentary, isn't it?
I have been blessed with a cabinet of unpaid, concerned Maine citizens, many of which wrote personal checks to support the effort. "1A" paid consultants, mostly connected to the Bowdoin Professor Chris Potholm, hundreds of thousands of dollars to run their campaign. "1B" relied on legislators and others who live close to the Augusta public trough to carry their water.
We could examine the deception and misrepresentation in the campaign's television ads, but my editor has given me a word limit so that will have to wait for another day. It's a "doozy" of a topic, however.
Suffice it to say that politics in Maine is alive and well. It is very messy and not a nice world. Big money is hard at work.
Be very wary of the 1A "Trojan Horse" being wheeled into your living rooms by the local public employees unions. It's all dressed up, with lipstick smeared all over it in the name of "tax relief". Inside of the horse, however, is a very expensive "payload". It wants to get out, under the cover of darkness, and get its hands on your wallet.
By all means, vote on November 4th. Vote any way, but vote.