• Balancing two Maines

    Balancing two Maines

    The Legislature is approaching its mandated April deadline with a flurry of bills submitted near the end of a session full of huge challenges. LD 31 might be one of the most important bills submitted. LD 31 is an amendment to the Maine Constitution requiring that signatures on direct initiative of legislation come from each

  • Tax breaks a slippery slope

    Tax breaks a slippery slope

    While Maine’s Legislature struggles to find sufficient funding for essential programs, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development is working on a submissions list of “low-income communities” eligible for Opportunity Zone investments. In other words, tax breaks. Spokesman Doug Ray recently admitted that the criteria for being added to the selection list are “broad.”

  • Knowledge is power

    Knowledge is power

    Bar Harbor is preparing to welcome the first cruise ship visit of the year next week. As always, town staff and leaders are working on two tracks at the same time: meeting present commitments while planning for the future. Questions brought to the fore in the last year likely will be with us for a

  • Free lunch economics

    Free lunch economics

    In 1999, our national debt was $5.5 trillion, $20,600 for every citizen. Today, our national debt clock ticks away, adding millions each day. Our current federal debt is over $21.2 trillion, quadrupling over the past 20 years. It works out to over $65,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. Last year,

  • Unemployment woes

    Unemployment woes

    Visitors to Mount Desert Island are often pleasantly surprised that there are more businesses open year-round now than there used to be. Many of them close for a month or six weeks for repairs, deep cleaning, to cut the losses often incurred by staying open in the slowest months or just for some well-earned time

  • Forbearance needed

    Forbearance needed

    Despite continued calls for increased civility at every level of public life, we seem to be living in an age of rage. A steady stream of righteous anger is expressed at issue after issue and leader after leader, especially online. It’s a good thing that this country has systems in place to hold leaders to

  • School disparities

    School disparities

    For decades, state and federal education officials and lawmakers have required accountability from our public schools. Assessment tools such as No Child Left Behind, Maine Learning Results, the New England Common Assessment Program and the Maine Educational Assessment tests are intended to quantify students’ grasp of their subjects and chart the progress of individual grade

  • Jail cost worries

    Jail cost worries

    As the county seat, Ellsworth has had a succession of jails over the years. The old county jail on State Street, now the home of the Ellsworth Historical Society, was preceded by a jail in a house on Pleasant Street. The current county jail, attached to the back of the courthouse, has been remodeled at

  • An energy transition

    An energy transition

    When one looks at a map of Maine, it is easy to see that we share most of our border with Canada. In practical terms, we are at the end of the American pipeline for energy sources shared with our neighboring states, for Maine is the most easterly state in the union. This fact creates

  • School planning

    School planning

    Politicians are faulted for “kicking the can down the road” on important policy decisions, especially ones having to do with budgets. But once in awhile, delaying action on big budget questions is the right thing to do. Such is the case with the removal, for the moment, of a $6.4 million bond question from the