Maine made history with electoral college vote, amidst protests
Last Monday, when Maine’s four Electoral College electors met in Augusta, they made history. For the first time since 1828, Maine split its Electoral College votes.
Despite rumors that some Republicans would vote against Trump, he received one vote and Democrat Hillary Clinton received three.
In a symbolic move, elector David Bright secretly cast his ballot for the Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but was ruled out of order by the Electoral College President Betty Johnson.
Meanwhile, outside the State House, large groups of anti-Trump protesters clashed with his supporters. Shouting chants, the Trump supporters gathered by the GOP headquarters and told reporters they were there to “ensure the integrity of the Electoral College.” The anti-Trump protesters said they had no hope that the Electoral College would overrule Trump’s victory, but despite this, they wanted their presence seen and grievances heard.
Portland city council approved a new office to connect immigrants with jobs
In their final meeting of the year, the Portland city council voted the Office of Economic Opportunity into existence. The new office’s function is to connect immigrants, who might be fearing discrimination, with businesses and services that could potentially jump-start their career. Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling spoke during the meeting and said that the new office could do more for the city than anything done in the past year. Maine’s notorious for its aging and dwindling workforce, but many believe hiring immigrants is the key to economic vitality.
However, for now, the city needs to still figure out how the office will be paid for. The office will have a start-up budget of $260,000, and $165,000 from that budget still needs to be found through grants.
Catholic Charities reflected on a year of assisting refugees
The director of refugee and immigration services at Catholic Charities Maine, Tarlan Ahmadov, reflected on a year of helping people adjust to their new lives in Maine. He said that the struggles of refugees are ones you might expect — learning a new language, getting used to American ways, and simply figuring out the daily tasks of living, but most Mainers don’t realize that foreigners are so grateful for a safe place to live, that they typically welcome these new challenges, over the ones they faced in their former homes.
Catholic Charities has provided refugee resettlement services in Maine for 40 years. Currently, more than 20 million refugees are waiting and less than 1% of those will be resettled in a safe country. Here in Maine, Catholic Charities provided resettlement services to 623 primary refugees, a number that Ahmadov described as a “small drop in the bucket.”
“In a state like Maine, with an aging population and slow economic growth we’ve seen how refugees can help revitalize communities and provide job support to area businesses,” said Ahmadov in an interview with the Phoenix. “When we invest in our refugee population we are investing in the future of Maine — and I foresee a big return on that investment. They simply have come too far to give up now.”
UNE received a $600,000 grant to develop scholarship and loan repayment program
Delta Dental Plan of Maine awarded a $600,000 grant to UNE’s College of Dental Medicine, to be used for their scholarship and loan repayment program. Currently, over 250 students are enrolled in the dental college.
“Delta Dental Plan of Maine has been a vital and committed partner to the College of Dental Medicine,” said Dean Jon Ryder. “This grant will provide dedicated financial resources to students and graduates so they can practice in regions where dental care is currently difficult for residents to obtain. We are immensely grateful for their support.”
City Manager set to receive a $18,500 raise
Last week, the Portland City Council voted to give City Manager Jon Jennings a 12 percent raise of $18,500, bringing his total annual salary up to $166,500. That’s about $3,200 a week.
The raise is made up of a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment, a 5 percent merit raise and a 5 percent market adjustment, which makes sure Jennings’ pay is comparable to other city staff in New England. Jennings’ salary is the largest of any municipal manager in the state and over twice what LePage earns each year.
The news didn’t jive well with the general public on social media, with many calling it “excessive.” Locals wrote online that “if Jennings’ is getting a cost of living raise, he’s “doing a lot better than the rest of us.”
Over the past 25 years, breweries in Maine skyrocketed
If you’ve ever felt that Maine is filled to the brim with federally licensed breweries, you’re not wrong. Last week, the Bangor Daily News reported that since 1991, that number of breweries in Maine has jumped 3,200 percent. According to the BDN report, that number is in line with national trends and Maine has about 1 brewery for every 13,428 people.
Just here in Portland, a city often dubbed by online pubs like The Matador Network as the “biggest craft beer city in America,” over 25 breweries are in operation.
Bishop Deeley encouraged students to live faith, not be “couch potatoes”
During an Advent Mass event at Cheverus High School, that brought students, families, and faculty together, Bishop Robert P. Deeley reminded the crowd what the Christmas season is all about.
As he spoke to the studentry during his homily, Bishop Deeley urged them to care about world affairs and live out their faith by coming together. The bishop told the students it was the same guidance that Pope Francis gave young people at last summer’s World Youth Day in Poland.
Referencing the Pope, Bishop Deeley asked students not be “couch potatoes” but rather “active players in the field.”
“We need to care for one another,” said Bishop Deeley. “We need to serve one another. God comes to us in Jesus to assure us of his love but also to remind us that love binds us to all those whom God loves, and that is, of course, all the people of the world, particularly those who are in need or suffering anywhere in the world, whether in Aleppo in Syria or in Portland in Maine. Remember, then, what Pope Francis called you, and all young people to do: know in your heart God’s love for you and bring it to others.”