For those who've been following the strange story of the "Help Jack DeCoster" bill in the Maine legislature, a couple of breaking items to report:
First, the bill -- LD 1207 -- just passed the Maine house moments ago, 74-68, after its sponsor, Rep. Dale Crafts (R-Lisbon), presented a new argument as to why it should pass. The bill -- which will take away workers' right to unionize at the notorious egg magnates' companies -- is allegedly the only thing standing in the way of DeCoster making a big sale. The Senate will consider the bill shortly.
DeCoster's Quality Egg LLC, Rep. Crafts alleged on the State House floor today, is about to be sold to the Minnesota-based agricultural cooperative Land O' Lakes, Inc., but the deal will supposedly fall apart if LD 1207 is not passed. As the Sun Journal's Steve Mistler reports, Land O' Lakes has unionized facilities elsewhere in the country, which raises questions about the accuracy of Rep. Crafts' assertions. (As previously reported, he gave erroneous testimony on the bill before the labor committee earlier this session.)
Ever wonder how Jack DeCoster, Maine's infamous egg magnate, has gotten away with it after all these years? One reason is that regardless of what he does -- triggers the largest egg recall in history, gets investigated for cruelty to his birds, gets fined for virtually imprisoning his Latino workers, falsifies trucking records, leaves mounds of dead chickens out in the open and won't bury them until sued -- he always seems to find friends willing to help him out.
Case in point: this week Maine legislators are considering a bill to do DeCoster a favor by depriving his workers of the minimum wage, overtime, and collective bargaining rights. Read the whats, whos, and whys in my piece in the new Portland Phoenix, which dropped today. (Also, check out Steve Mistler's earlier Sun Journal coverage of the bill's hearing.)
And, for your moment of Zen, here's a recent video of Gov. Paul LePage telling a conference of homeschoolers that he favors teaching creationism in Maine's public schools because "knowledge is power."
(Cross-posted from World Wide Wodard)
As long expected, Maine Tea Party Patriots coordinator Andrew Ian Dodge has announced his intention to challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe in the Republican primary next year.
I wrote about Mr. Dodge earlier this winter at Newsweek.com, as he is perhaps the most visible figure in a Libertarian effort to fend off the Christian Right's growing influence in the Tea Party movement. Social issues, he argues, don't matter; getting government out of people's lives does. While no fan of Maine's Tea Party-backed governor, Paul LePage, Dodge is also hostile to Sen. Snowe, who he denounces as Republican In Name Only.
In my Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel column today I discuss the similarities and differences between LePage and the last Maine governor who shot so wildly from the hip, independent James B. Longley. For more on this period in Maine political history, check out Willis Johnson's entertaining book The Year of the Longley.
Some other must-read columns this weekend on similar subjects:
Steve Mistler also looked into the Longley connection, and discusses LePage's remarks with some past gubernatorial communications staff.
Renee Ordway compares LePage spokesperson Dan Demeritt to the mother of an "impish little boy."
Bill Nemitz delves into the legislative confirmation hearings for LePage's executive branch nominees, an important political process that has been overshadowed by LePage's remarks. He gets one Democrat to admit that they're being a "bunch of pansies" in not questioning or opposing some of LePage's less-qualified appointees.
And a bonus: Al Diamon's column from August of last year, when he channeled Longley's ghost for a heart-to-heart chat with Paul LePage.