Advocates for Portland's homeless residents rally support behind smaller shelter plan


Cover picture for the articlePORTLAND, Maine — Homeless advocates made their voices heard in a march and rally in Portland's Monument Square Sunday to acknowledge World Homelessness Day. ...




Advocates for Portland's homeless residents rally support behind smaller shelter plan - NewsBreak

Portland homeless advocates march with a mission for World Homeless Day

Homeless advocates hold signs while chanting down Congress St. (WGME)
Homeless advocates hold signs while chanting down Congress St. (WGME) 

Whether they have or haven't experienced homelessness for themselves, Portland homeless advocates marched across the city to help others recognize that housing is a human right that must be met.

"Everyone has a right to a roof over their head," March Co-Organizer Carolyn Silvius said. "Just as food is a human right. You can't live without it."

Attendees walked from Longfellow Square to Monument Square and made their way to Lincoln Park, where they would sleep out until the following day. While homeless individuals were encouraged to attend, homeless advocate and author Pat LaMarche said it may be better for them not to participate.

"Their allies need to speak for them because outing yourself on a news story or in a march; That is really devastating," LaMarche said. "So for survival reasons, for shame reasons, for any number of reasons, people who are experiencing homelessness keep it to themselves." ...

Smaller shelters will be an amendment in Maine's 2021 election, and those for the amendment say it is the only way "to provide sustainable, effective and dignified shelter and services to those in need of shelter."

LaMarche said she is shocked that those who aren't experiencing homelessness get to decide where the unhoused live.

"We're asking some really nice people on one day in November to decide the fate of everybody else's living situation," LaMarche said. "What if where you lived was up for election? It's crazy."




Portland homeless advocates march with a mission for World Homeless Day | WGME

Panel to discuss corporations, communities at odds



Belfast — Four Mainers opposing harmful corporate practices in their communities will discuss their work as part of a panel discussion, "Connecting Our Struggles: Corporations or Communities?" at the Belfast Free Library on Wednesday, May 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free and all are welcome.

Nickie Sekera of Community Water Justice; Matt Wagner, an opponent of the CMP NECEC Corridor; Ellie Daniels of Local Citizens for SMART Growth; and John Banks, natural resources director for the Penobscot Nation, will address tensions between corporate interests in community and environmental resources for profit and the community’s desires to protect and preserve their identity and assets as they are.

"As people everywhere are grappling with threats of catastrophic climate change, while also coping with the challenges of dwindling resources and economic pressures at state and local levels, the competitive push for economic development has frequently given greater rights to industry while stifling citizens’ voices, disregarding threats to the environment, and diminishing democratic rights and processes within communities," event organizers said in a press release.

The panel discussion will be facilitated by Dawn Neptune Adams of the Penobscot Nation, a water protector, activist, racial and social justice consultant, and journalist. The evening is co-sponsored by Local Citizens for SMART Growth and the Peace and Justice Group of Waldo County.

Local Citizens for SMART Growth works to support local regenerative and sustainable food systems. The organization opposes large industrial-scale aquaculture and agriculture, while supporting the restoration of healthy bio-diverse fisheries in Penobscot Bay and striving to include citizen voice at the local level in land-use and economic planning decisions.

The Peace and Justice Group of Waldo County works for peace and justice in our community, our nation, and our world. It presents monthly films and forums focusing on social, political, and racial justice, gender equality, climate change, and peace.




Green Party holds annual convention

Green Party holds annual convention


By  | 
AUGUSTA, Maine- The Maine Green Independent Party held its annual convention Sunday. ...

Members say their goal is to make Maine greener and to have good clean jobs.

"We are not pleased with 80% renewable, not necessarily clean energy which is the current deal at the statehouse," said Maine Green Independent Party Co-Chair Lyn Maravell. "It is not green enough and we intend to push for 100% because the kids tell us we only have 12 years left and I want to work with those young people rather than dealing with this fossil fuel economy." ...



Deep State: In the North Woods Power-Line Fight, Who Will Triumph? Insiders or Outsiders?

Deep State: In the North Woods Power-Line Fight, Who Will Triumph? Insiders or Outsiders?

Thursday, April 25, 2019 6:52 AM

Whether CMP’s unpopular transmission line should be built through the Maine North Woods—a policy question—is being debated widely. But less has been discussed about the politics of the battle. Who’s fighting whom was the subject of Part One of this two-part series. Now we ask: Who is likely to win, and why?


Insiders Often Beat Outsiders, But ...

He often sits with a group of working-class, middle-aged women and men wearing white “No CMP Corridor” T-shirts. Duane Hanson — thin, longish blond hair, 65, wearing a green-and-black-checked wool shirt — is a fixture at legislative hearings on bills dealing with Central Maine Power Co.’s planned 145-mile transmission-line corridor through the state.

The line would take 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Canada to Massachusetts, cutting across 53 miles of mostly uninhabited North Woods. Theoretically, it would contribute to the Bay State’s turn to renewable energy to help curb global warming. But critics say it’s “dirty hydro” because huge forests were destroyed to provide reservoirs for the Canadian dams. Intact forests absorb from the atmosphere the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. ...

Gov. Mills, too, happens to be from an insider family, a “moderate” Republican one. Her father was United States attorney for Maine. Her brother Peter Mills, a former legislator, is Maine Turnpike Authority director. He also was one of the founding board members of Western Mountains & Rivers.


Who Are the Insiders?

Political insiders are officeholders, political-party leaders, top bureaucrats, and the people who influence them such as lobbyists for powerful interests. Insiders are privy to knowledge that outsiders aren’t. Outsiders and their usually ad hoc groups are in varying degrees the opposite: the unconnected and unconsulted.

There’s constant exchange among insider groups — ex-legislators become lobbyists, lobbyists become bureaucrats, and so on. Taken together, they’re what the Russians under communism called the Apparat, the Apparatus — interconnected people who decide things.

(Sound like “deep state” territory? Discerning readers have noted that by calling my column Deep State I’m having fun with that right-wing conspiracy theory. The Maine Apparat has a resemblance in form to the paranoid fantasy of the deep state, such as in its back-room dealings, but in content it’s largely corporate in orientation — not left-wing. It’s also variegated and not all-powerful. For me, my column’s title signifies my intention to dig deep into Maine issues.)

The Apparatus tends to be corporate because — to stick to local explanations — corporate lobbyists swarm the State House and the rest of state government. There are 249 lobbyists currently registered with the state. There are only 186 legislators. A few years ago, I calculated that, roughly, two-thirds of the lobbyists represented corporations.

CMP has seven that I could find listed with the state Ethics Commission. In the case of the corridor, there are lobbyists for other companies promoting it. And a fair number of lobbyists are working against it.


Jonathan Carter, a past Green Party candidate for governor, decries “rich armchair environmentalists” touting “eco-balancing” in the face of the enormity of climate change. ...


Who Will Win?

If the state DEP, the Land Use Planning Commission, or an approving agency on the federal level or in Massachusetts said no, that would probably be the end for the corridor, although appeals are possible.

Jerry Reid, DEP commissioner, decides for his department. Environmental groups supported him at his confirmation, but in practice decisions in state-government departments often go along with the wishes of the ultimate executive authority. Gov. Mills is in favor of the corridor. A decision is expected in the fall.


Political scientist Jim Melcher, of the University of Maine at Farmington, called Mills the “most conservative” candidate in the 2018 Democratic primary. To her peril, the Democratic Party is continually moving toward the corporate-critical left — toward where issue polls have for years shown the American people to be. As Bernie Sanders showed in the 2016 presidential race, there’s a large population of disgruntled outsiders susceptible to lefty arguments.

With Mills’ corridor position and her no-new-taxes pledge — firming up Republican former Gov. Paul LePage’s tax cuts for the rich — she keeps risking holding on to the Democrats’ core. With the corridor she also may alienate independents and will further alienate Republicans, since the poll showed they’re even more opposed to the corridor than Democrats.

On the Maine Public show “Maine’s Political Pulse,” reporter Steve Mistler called Mills’ endorsement of the corridor “a real political trap.” He is correct.

Maybe she sincerely believes the CMP corridor is best for Maine despite what Maine people believe. Maybe she can be convinced otherwise. But just looking at the politics, the logical strategy for her is to find a way to get out of the trap. Perhaps the DEP or LD 640’s study will provide her with that.

But she’s the ultimate insider now and has been an insider for a long time — as attorney general, state representative, and maybe even from birth. It might be hard for her to break out. Insiders tend to consult other insiders.

Regardless, on this issue the outsiders have a very good chance.




Deep State: Why the Deeply Unpopular CMP Power-Line Corridor Through the North Woods May Nevertheless Be Built

Deep State: Why the Deeply Unpopular CMP Power-Line Corridor Through the North Woods May Nevertheless Be Built

Thursday, April 18, 2019 6:53 AM

Whether CMP’s giant transmission line should be built through the Maine North Woods — a policy question — is being debated widely. But less has been publicly discussed about the politics of the battle. Who’s fighting whom, and who’s likely to win? That’s the subject of this two-part series.


Not the usual opponents

Last week the state Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Central Maine Power Co.’s plan to cut a huge, high-voltage transmission-line corridor southeast from the Canadian border through 53 miles of the North Woods near Jackman. The corridor would be 150 feet wide but eventually could be doubled in width.

The line would then extend its 95-foot towers for another 92 miles south along existing, widened CMP rights-of-way to connect to the New England power grid at Lewiston. It would bring 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Quebec to Massachusetts. ...

In the background on this issue, CMP itself is unpopular because of months of questionable electric bills sent to thousands of customers that have resulted in PUC investigations and a lawsuit alleging fraud. Many customers also have felt the company’s responses to power outages have been inadequate. Reacting to these criticisms, CMP has apologized a little and denied a lot. A recent Bangor Daily News report revealed that the billing problems are continuing.

Hardly adding to its popularity, CMP is no longer CMP, in the sense that it has become a possession of the global corporate giant Iberdrola, headquartered in Bilbao, Spain. ...

A sore point also is that Maine would get none of the new power from Canada, though the state might benefit if the project lowers the price of electricity in New England by replacing higher-priced fossil-fuel plants. Plus, after demands from various interest groups and state officials, CMP agreed during the PUC proceedings to provide $258 million worth of miscellaneous benefits to Maine people over 40 years. ...

Business versus environmentalists?

This battle is not typical. Both the business community and environmentalists are divided. ...

Republicans versus Democrats?

James Melcher, a political-science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, said the corridor issue “doesn’t break down in a clean line” between liberals and conservatives. That’s an understatement. For an environmental issue, to have 71 percent of Republicans oppose the project statewide, as the Critical Insights poll found, compared to 56 percent of Democrats, is nothing short of startling. ...

Urban versus rural?

Professor Melcher told me he felt “an awful lot” of the opposition “has to do with the energy going to Massachusetts.” And many people “don’t like the aesthetics” of a giant power line in the North Woods.

These are factors, for sure, but the fact that there’s such deep, bipartisan opposition in rural Franklin and Somerset counties compared to the more urban and suburban southern counties (though it’s unpopular there, too) is revealing of something more profound.

One corridor adversary, Jonathan Carter, the former Green Party candidate for governor — who lives in the shadow of the western mountains near North New Portland — has thoughts on this unusual political fight.

Carter, a botanist, bemoans that environmental battles in Maine and elsewhere are for the most part about development of what’s left of the environment and what trade-offs can be obtained rather than about conservation and preservation. He asks: Why not make more investments to lower electrical consumption? Why not have more public transportation?

“There’s no room for trade-offs anymore,” he said, about global warming — rather than big windmills and transmission lines feeding consumption and destroying the wilds, the forest should be kept as intact as possible because trees massively soak up carbon dioxide. ...

Although in Maine there are development-restriction easements on some of the “working forest,” and we now have the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the society-changing conservation efforts that Carter argues for are not much discussed. No one is asking Massachusetts citizens, for example, to use less energy as an alternative to building the transmission line to feed their energy appetite.

But the rural Maine people so opposed to the corridor unapologetically want to conserve some of what’s left of “the old Maine,” as the gentleman from Yarmouth dismissively put it. They are conservatives in the best sense. Yes, aesthetics is part of it. And maybe in the context of fighting global warming, conservation and preservation are not such bad ideas.



Portland school budget heads to April 8 board vote

Portland school budget heads to April 8 board vote


PORTLAND — Debate this week could have a significant impact on the proposed $118 million school budget.

The School Board was scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday, after The Forecaster’s deadline. There will also be a joint meeting of the city and school finance committees at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at City Hall, before the School Board votes on the budget next week. ...

During a previous meeting of the city and school finance committees on March 27, Superintendent Xavier Botana said there were several budget drivers in the fiscal year that begins July 1, including an increase in debt service of just over $1 million for the first year of the Lyseth Elementary School renovation project. ...

Both Botana and Anna Trevorrow, chairwoman of the School Board’s Finance Committee, said all of the spending in the proposed budget supports the School Department’s strategic plan, known as the Portland Promise. ...

The council is expected to hold a final vote on the proposed school budget on May 20. That proposal will go to voters for approval in a June 11 referendum.



Portland finance officials get first look at proposed school budget

Portland finance officials get first look at proposed school budget

The district's $118 million spending plan would increase the school part of the tax rate by 5.4%.


Letter to the Editor: Mills is wrong to try to Eco-balance

Letter to the Editor: Mills is wrong to try to Eco-balance

Carter Home


What a total disappointment that the Mills administration has opted to follow the same old model of compromising the health of Maine's environment away. This is called eco-balancing and it employs the notion that CMP's offer to provide $248 million over 40 years will provide a benefit that is equal to or greater than the negative impacts of the 150 mile transmission line that will deliver “dirty power” from Quebec Hydro.

Mainers should be outraged that CMP is calling Hydro-Quebec power clean renewable power. (simply a lie – beyond fake news) I have visited the source of this power in Northern Quebec. It is a land of utter destruction. Rivers have been reversed and drained in order to create vast power head reservoirs. Thousands of square acres of forests have been destroyed, subsistent Native Canadian hunting and fishing grounds have been submerged, and thousands of caribou drowned. The once mighty Churchill Falls is nothing but a trickle. Canada seems to have ignored the lessons of landscape scale dam construction. More dam construction is planned for northern Quebec and Labrador. Buying this power will only encourage more dam construction.

The horrific landscape destruction, the clear cutting, the creation of flood basins and building of transmission lines all reduce carbon sequestration. In addition, the flooded areas have become huge methane (30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas) emitters from the anaerobic decay of massive amounts of detritus and soil organic compounds. When CMP and Hydro-Quebec say that this project will reduce carbon emissions the equivalent of 280,000 vehicles – it is totally a distortion of the truth. This energy is not clean energy. If allowed to transit Maine, it will mar permanently the Maine forest landscape.

Janet Mills is right when she says "we cannot afford to do nothing," but what she doesn't seem to understand is that if we are serious about mitigating climate change, authorizing a transmission line that will destroy Maine's forest and deliver greenhouse gas producing power to Massachusetts is not the answer. For too long, the status quo has been to deal in trade offs. Every time the environment is compromised there is one half less of healthy ecosphere left. Take the number 1, cut it in half what is left, one half, continue this process just 10 times and only 1/1024 is left. There is no room for compromising anymore – we have lost so much already.

Yes, investing in heat pump technology makes sense as does expanding the use of electric vehicles, but this needs to be accomplished, not as a trade off, but as a legislative action. As far as money for Franklin County communities and the offer of lower electric rates, these are just out and out bribes. In fact, if we are serious about climate change, we should not encourage more electrical consumption by offering lower rates. On the contrary we should be investing in ways to reduce consumption.

The truth be told there is no turning back from the ongoing catastrophic crisis of climate change. We have passed the tipping point and it is virtually impossible to reverse the oncoming changes. What we can do is make intelligent decisions to mitigate more extreme impacts and invest in adaption and survival strategies. The CMP corridor now being endorsed by Mills is taking us in completely the wrong direction.

Study after study has shown that the cheapest and best way to reduce carbon emissions is to protect forests. Over the last several decades there has been an effort to quantify the value of non-market goods and services provided by forests annually – this is often called natural capital. Natural capital’s currency included all ecological service: carbon sequestration, disease regulation, water filtration and purification, flood control, pollinator habitat, nutrient recycling, pest control, soil erosion prevention, air filtration, shade and cooling, and soil formation. Generally speaking half of the natural capital value of forests are related to carbon sequestration and storage in both trees and soils. The other half of the natural capital value is driven by ecological services related to air purification, water quality and water storage (TD Economics & Nature Conservancy of Canada, 2017)

Mills is wrong if she thinks allowing and supporting the destruction of forests in the production and distribution of electricity is sound policy. Her decision to employ the notion of eco-balancing is flawed and will only exacerbate the climate change crisis.

It is not too late for her to reverse course. We must encourage her to think clearly.

Jonathan Carter
Dir. Forest Ecology Network
Former Green Party Candidate for Governor
Lexington Township



Maine's Libertarians, Greens working together on many issues

Maine's Libertarians, Greens working together on many issues

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Two third-party political groups in Maine say they are working together on several aspects of their agendas about which they find common ground, including a shared opposition to mandatory vaccination and a desire to cut corporate welfare.

The Green Independent and Libertarian parties of Maine say in a recent joint statement they have "agreed to work together to promote pro-democratic policies and protect individual liberties." The statement includes 10 policy points, including "end regime change wars" and "teach and enforce our Bill of Rights," including new training for law enforcement officers.

The two parties say they are "united in our desire for honesty and integrity in our political system." They say they also "encourage other state parties, and our national parties to follow suit by engaging in mutually respectful dialogue."



Portland school board votes to double pre-kindergarten program over 5 years

Portland school board votes to double pre-kindergarten program over 5 years

The expanded program is expected to cost $3 million and offer full-day classes to about 260 children, which is about half of the 4-year-olds in the city.




The Soul Stirrer with embodied faith in action, Pat LaMarche on the Green New Deal

The Soul Stirrer with embodied faith in action, Pat LaMarche on the Green New Deal


Podcast with two-time former Maine Green candidate for governor Pat LaMarche:

Where Greens And Libertarians Can Agree – OpEd

Where Greens And Libertarians Can Agree – OpEd



On Saturday, officers of the Maine state Green Independent and Libertarian parties held a press conference announcing the parties’ ten areas of agreement.

The two parties note in a joint statement that the ten areas of agreement are related to the parties’ effort to work together in areas where they agree. The ten areas of agreement regard pursuing a more peaceful foreign policy, greater respect for individual rights, a more open elections process, and an end to corporate welfare. ...

The Maine parties’ announcement is reminiscent of a press conference Ron Paul held in September of 2008 at the National Press Club with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney, and Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin as his guests. At that press conference, the third party and independent candidates announced their agreement with a policy statement dealing with foreign policy, individual rights, presidential powers, the national debt, the Federal Reserve, and corporate welfare.



Nature’s Calling

Nature’s Calling

The Cathance River Nature Preserve provides a wooded wonderland for the 55+ set to make an exhilarating fresh start.

Sponsored Content: By Highland Green

When Rob Potvin retired from a career in construction management at age 53, he wasted no time sitting still. He and his wife, Kathleen, sailed from Nova Scotia to Maryland. Then they sold their house, stored their stuff, and traveled the country towing an Airstream, in search of a new home. ...

After a three-year search, they bought a home in Highland Green, a 55+ active adult community in Topsham, in large part because it backs up to the Cathance River Nature Preserve, a 230-acre expanse of forest, grassy meadows, and 5 miles of trails. ...

The preserve is the result of a unique compromise forged two decades ago between Highland Green’s developer, John Wasileski, and conservation-minded neighbors who were skeptical when the development was first proposed. Highland Green, originally envisioned as a 700-acre community with an 18-hole golf course and more than 600 homes, drew opposition from a group of residents called Topsham’s Future. The group, led by John Rensenbrink, a Bowdoin professor who founded the U.S. Green Party, worried Highland Green would wipe out a treasured hiking and paddling haven and ruin the rural character of the area.

Their concerns resonated with Wasileski, a former environmental studies minor at McGill University who had worked for the National Audubon Society early in his career. He and Rensenbrink brokered a compromise for a scaled-down version of Highland Green that included fewer homes, a nine-hole golf course, and a 230-acre preserve, to be protected and managed in perpetuity by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Together, Wasileski and Rensenbrink created the nonprofit Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) to promote ecological education and stewardship on site. It was a landmark deal, says Angela Twitchell, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s executive director. ...



Brooksville residents give telecom reps an earful

Brooksville residents give telecom reps an earful


January 30, 2019 by

BROOKSVILLE — On a rainy Thursday evening, residents of Brooksville turned out to make sure that they were heard by Consolidated Communications and the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

As it happens, being heard has been a bit of a problem in the town.

The hearing was the result of a 10-person complaint filed by residents alleging poor landline service, including outages of weeks to a month, as well as generally poor broadband internet service. ...

“If it takes a 10-person complaint just to get a response from the company, that’s not acceptable,” said Brooksville resident Ralph Chapman. “If the company knows there’s a problem in the system, I don’t think it’s useful to use this 10-person complaint as a mechanism to get the reasonable service that you’re required to provide.” ...



Former Green Party candidate takes aim: Democrats not 'the party of diversity'

Former Green Party candidate takes aim: Democrats not 'the party of diversity'


A former Green Party candidate for president took aim at both parties Tuesday, as critics denounced Howard Schultz's potential third-party presidential campaign as a spoiler for Democrats.

Former 2012 and 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, in an appearance on Fox News, said both parties are "working for corporate masters and the fossil fuel giants, and the big banks, and Wall Street, and the war machine. That is not my opinion, that Democrats are the party of diversity. Voters deserve more choices." ...

Ranked-choice voting, which Maine used for a federal election for the first time in 2018, allows voters to rank their preferred candidates. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the fewest first choices is eliminated and voters who liked that candidate the best have their ballots instantly counted for their second choice, which ensures a voter can select a third-party candidate without fearing that candidate will take a vote away from for whichever major-party candidate aligns with that voter's views.



Scientist, not lawyer, needed at DEP

Scientist, not lawyer, needed at DEP

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection needs to be run by a scientist with environmental science expertise. Effective environmental protection is essential to Maine’s largest industry, tourism, as well as its natural resource-based industries of fishing, forestry and agriculture.

Maine’s Attorney General’s office has statutory authority to represent all governmental entities, including agencies, in legal matters, whether as plaintiffs or defendants. Duplication of the AG’s legal expertise is unnecessary within the DEP.


Importantly, we need to begin to restore citizens’ trust in government by data-driven decisions that honor the best nonpolitical, nonpartisan knowledge available. Also, repair of the diminished morale of the department’s able staff can be led by science-based, rather than the previous political-ideology-based, management.

Recent experience within the DEP’s rulemaking on metal mining issues shows major rule changes made without scientific justification and an embarrassing lack of understanding of the technical complexities of the issues. The legislative policy committee demonstrated its inability to access scientific expertise in its rush to enact current law that violates the laws of physics with regard to groundwater contamination. Having scientific expertise at the head of the DEP does not guarantee good policy, but continuing in the mode of scientific ignorance cannot be helpful.

Legislators on the policy committee that makes recommendations on confirmation, and state senators who will vote on such confirmation, should quickly encourage our new governor to withdraw Jerry Reid’s nomination as DEP Commissioner (without prejudice) and replace it with an expert scientist.


Ralph Chapman



Originally published as a letter to the editor:

Ralph Chapman reflects on eight years in the Maine House

Ralph Chapman reflects on eight years in the Maine House

by Anne Berleant

A scientist and a legislator elected to four consecutive terms in the Maine House, Brooksville resident Ralph Chapman ended his final days representing District 133—Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Sedgwick and Surry—as a member of the Green Independent Party after leaving the Democratic Party in mid-2017. ...

“I’m in a healing mode,” he added with a smile.

Basically, the legislature was “more corrupt than expected” when he first walked into the State House in Augusta. He fell out with his caucus early. “I didn’t accept loyalty as the primary mode of operation, and since I refused to be told how to vote, I was outcast. It’s a loyalty-based bullying culture, which was a disappointment and a source of frustration.” ...

One issue Chapman hoped to address was metal mining. A resident of Brooksville, home to the ongoing Superfund site at the former Callahan Mine, and a neighbor to Blue Hill, site of the former Kerramerican Mine, Chapman worked to pass legislation that would prohibit groundwater contamination from metal mining.

“The reason why I ran for office was to bring the tools of science to bear. That was a spectacular failure with regards to the metal mining issue,” he said. Both Democrats and Republicans “chose to ignore the science and pass legislation to allow permanent, unremediable groundwater contamination of toxic heavy metals and acids, thereby opening the state to the same problems it’s had with [Callahan and Kerramerican] mines.”

Over his four terms, Chapman said he witnessed civility decline in the legislature “as it has society wide,” and less bipartisan effort on one of the legislature’s biggest jobs: crafting and passing the state’s biennial budget. ...

Chapman encourages participation in state and local government in all forms, from voting to running for office.

“The leaders of our community might not necessarily be elected officials [but] are amongst us and all of them are the quiet, self-effacing behind-the-scenes, hardworking folks getting things done and inspiring others to get things done.”



The Green Party of the United States, the First US Ecosocialist Party

The Green Party of the United States, the First US Ecosocialist Party

Clearly, since Bernie ran openly as a socialist, the word is coming back into use and out of the bogeyman closet at last! But people attach so many different meanings and connotations that it is best to articulate what may be its best use in 21st century USA. Among those trying to get a handle on it is the Green Party of the US, which recently in its revised platform declared in support of a socialism-in-process:

Some call this decentralized system “ecological socialism,” “communalism,” or “the cooperative commonwealth,” but whatever then terminology, we believe it will help end labor exploitation, environmental exploitation, and racial, gender, and wealth inequality and bring about economic and social justice due to the positive effects of democratic decision making. Production is best for people and planet when democratically owned and operated by those who do the work and those most affected by those decisions . . . not at the whim of centralized power structures of state administration or capitalist  CEO’s and distant boards of directors.

I personally like the phrase “ecosocialism,” but not everyone does, so objections to it must be raised and addressed honestly. I can think of two principal related reasons why some object. First, when some people hear the word “socialism,” they still flash on the late-stage Soviet Union, as if that were the only possible model, but this response short-circuits thinking before it can get off the ground.

The second reason is related because it assumes that it will be too hard to overcome the first objection among other people, even if one is comfortable with the term.  If we regard corporate globalism as the chief enemy of the people of the world, and as left activists, we must do so, then surely we ought not to be timid in using a term that unequivocally challenges that hegemony, namely socialism. However, it is incumbent upon us to clearly define what we mean by socialism, and not let false narratives be put in our mouths.

We need to invent a form of socialism that not only can replace the dominant feudal-like corporate structures we detest but just as importantly, be culturally acceptable to the general public. In the USA, of course, this is a challenge, but one we are capable of handling.

The Green Party platform description goes a long way toward clarifying our intent. Despite ideological resistance, even the strictest libertarian is not threatened by the existence of a cooperative health food store, or the municipally run library, though they can be termed socialist structures. Why? Because there is no government coercion!

But what if these cooperative enterprises were the dominant structures? What if we could have a referendum to yank the corporate charters of the most objectively malevolent mega-corporations—the ones that grossly offend the environment, human rights and practice extreme labor exploitation? What if we declared, as the ultimate collective sovereigns (remember “We, the People declare our own Constitution) that these offenders had not more than one year to sell off inventory and dismantle themselves or their Boards of Directors would be arrested for such crimes as poisoning the air, soil, and water, along with various fraudulent representations, and their corporate assets seized?

If the products and services provided were truly needed, they could be produced under terms consistent with ecosocialist values. We need to re-activate the original intent definition of socialism to mean “control by the working class” including those currently not employed—all those who have nothing to sell but their labor. This involves expropriating the expropriators. It does not mean, of course, killing them off or wholesale imprisoning them, although some cases must undergo careful evaluation in that regard. The word “socialism” is a defiant repudiation of the rule of capital which now has a stranglehold not only on “the” economy (as if there could only be one!) but on all three branches of this government, and of the pervasive culture of commercialism.

Some will object, with good reason, “What about all the employees who are displaced? They would rather work under exploitative conditions that have no income at all!” Of course, we need to plan ahead to provide at least equal if not better compensation from the moment of dissolution. We can do this!

There is work to be done until everyone has sufficient housing, food and water, energy supply, health services, and educational opportunities. Once we have achieved this, then we need to apply this test to the rest of the world—no end to the need for labor, once we reject the notion that only when a profit is to be made by the capitalist class, shall there be a demand for labor! Bad premise! It is a matter of re-allocation of resources away from a war economy and mega-profits fora few to humane objectives. It will be the responsibility of a Green eco-socialist government to facilitate this transition.

Will we allow private business? Indeed, for this is where we see the rewards of innovation via entrepreneurial energy and the motivation to invent. But these enterprises need to be run within the context of reasonable ecological and human rights parameters and at a scale consistent with local supervision. Instead of positive socialist features within the context of an overall capitalist economy (e.g. the Scandinavian countries), we do just the opposite! We allow creative small businesses to operate within the context of a decentralized cooperative economy. Not everyone wants the responsibility to be an owner or manager and will be satisfied to work for an entrepreneur, under humane and generous working conditions. We need to terminate conglomerates by outlawing one company owning another company, though it may be permissible for one family to own more than one small business.

Needless to say, as part of this radical change, we need to break up the huge media complex that dominates news coverage that increasingly is hardly respected, and appropriately so! We have to encourage honest journalism that feels no need to self-censor due to the need to conform to the value system of upper levels of corporate management, including CIA infiltration (note: Operation Mockingbird).

I look forward to an honest commitment to Truth, which is the daughter of Reality, no matter where she leads. Truth matters, but Reality does not care what people merely “believe.” It just is! If people in media positions are free to and encouraged to act with honor, we can get the truth. With truth we can pursue justice; and with justice, peace among all peoples becomes a realistic objective. All in favor, say “Aye!”

Jon Olsen is co-chair of the Maine Green Independent Party. He is a long time peace and justice activist and a Green Party member for 30 years. A graduate of Bates College in Maine with a degree in philosophy, he went to the University of Hawai’i for a Master’s Degree in the same field. He returned to Maine in 2001, serving twice on the Steering committee of the Maine Green Independent Party. He has conducted town caucuses and gathered signatures for Green Party gubernatorial candidates. His recent book, Liberate Hawai’i, describes the legal and historical research done by Hawaiian scholar-activists. The book documents the illegal claim of the US to the sovereignty of Hawai’I and demonstrates its fraudulent nature as well. Olsen draws a parallel with the similar fraudulent attempt by the late USSR to do the same to Lithuania.

This article is based on an article originally published in Vol. 34, Winter/Spring 2017, Green Horizons Magazine, GREEN PARTY and SOCIALISM—Engagement, but Marriage?  by Jon Olsen. Note: The actual title of the article was mistitled as “But Marriage?” should have been “But is there a Marriage?”