All Maine Matters

October 2006



This Month’s Issue
Read November’s Issue of All Maine Matters.


Low Bandwidth - Text Only

Designed by Laisha

All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 10      October 2006 FREE

Letters to the Editor

Running As A Write-In Candidate

Fellow Christians and Conservatives:

Yesterday, I filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office to become an official Write-In Candidate for the United States Senate on November 7, 2006. Many of you may be asking why a write-in campaign now? Simply put, I cannot in good conscience vote for any of the candidates in this year’s race as none is Pro-Life or Conservative. None represents traditional values. If you feel the way I do, I’m asking for your support, write in Beardsley, Michael A., Ellsworth and fill in the arrow or oval on election day.

This Write-In campaign is to give Conservative and Christian voters of conscience a real choice on November 7th. It is a campaign for all of those who realize, like I have, that a vote for the “lesser or three evils” is still a vote for evil but feel not voting is simply unpatriotic and dishonors the memories of those who shed blood to preserve our Constitutional Right to vote. There are many good candidates running for offices like Governor, State Senate, and State Representative as well as numerous local offices. I hope my candidacy will encourage Christians and Conservatives to come out and vote and not sit on the sidelines.

I’m not running as a protest vote or in opposition to any one candidate. I’m running in favor of conservative ideas and ideals. In a sense, my campaign is about fighting for an honest, reliable political language that has become almost extinct. The United States Constitution presupposes that words have objective meaning. Shared, reliable political language is one of the deepest preconditions of a free society (if you doubt that fuzzy language could lead to tyranny look around you).

I’m not going to raise any money (nor will I spend it) to have signs or bumper stickers. Word of the campaign will be spread via word of mouth, email, blogs and every day conversations. By people like you.

I encourage you to check out my website: and read more about why I’m running & sign up to get updates or volunteer to get the word out. If you agree this is a cause worth fighting for, I would be honored if you would write in Beardsley, Michael A., Ellsworth & fill in the arrow or oval on November 7th.


Michael A. Beardsley

= = =

Questions for Gary C. Foster

Gary C. Foster made a number of plausible points in his article on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in your August issue. However much I agree that the government itself has no rights, and all the other highbrow philosophical mumbo-jumbo in the article, I would ask Mr. Foster to address the following considerations.

Firstly, that local control is fundamental to the tradition of democracy in America, especially in New England, and that TABOR erodes local control by imposing a state regulation on how municipalities and school districts can budget.

Secondly, that TABOR is unconstitutional. The Maine constitution stipulates that only the legislature can make tax policy. Maine’s Attorney General has already issued an opinion to this effect, and TABOR, should it pass, will most certainly be challenged and defeated in court.

Thirdly, that the fixed costs that make up the vast majority of most municipal and school budgets rise faster than the Cost of Living Index, the figure upon which the TABOR limit is based. Consider how much health insurance and energy costs alone continue to rise. Consider that the industry standard for teachers, firemen, policemen, and other municipal and school employees is that the majority of health insurance costs are paid by the employer. No municipality or school would be able to find an employee without being willing to negotiate these costs into their collectively-bargained contract. Consider that school buses, heating of public buildings, plow trucks, public works vehicles, police cars, and countless other factors depend on these costs that are virtually impossible to control.

Consider how all of these costs increase much faster than the Cost of Living Index, and tell me how Maine cities, towns, and schools can survive TABOR without a massive education in services and thousands of public sector employees out of work. Countless studies have proven that class size is one of the most important factors in determining a child’s success in school; are we willing to lay off hundreds of teachers and drive up class sizes?

Mr. Foster asserts that the spending limit increases allowed under TABOR would be “reasonable and sustainable,” but he needs to get off his philosophical high horse and discuss the practical implications to local budgeting in order to prove it. For some reason, he and the other TABOR supporters seem suspiciously loath to do this.

Chuck McKay
Newport, ME
= =

Getting the Truth Out!

Dear Editor:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Finally a newspaper that is conservative and is compatible with my own beliefs/opinions. Keep up the good work of getting the TRUTH out to the public. Please keep printing and I will keep reading.

Letti Harvey

= =

TABOR: The Triumph of Minority Rule in a Democracy

Minority Rule. A thought that is not based on the American experience of democracy, which was founded on the premise of majority rule with the protection of minority rights. While well intentioned, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) referendum on the November 7, 2006 ballot could bring minority rule to the State of Maine, your local community, your schools, and even your utility district.

One of the ultimate ironies of TABOR is that it will not be applicable to its number 1 target: the State. Why? Because the Legislature cannot be bound on issues of spending by a referendum vote since they are empowered through the State’s Constitution to set spending on State programs and services. Since TABOR is an attempt to enact a law, not a Constitutional amendment, on the control of government spending, the Legislature will not be bound by it unless it chooses to be. Given history, that is unlikely.

Unlike the Legislature and the State, local government likely will be bound by the proposal and it could bring serious consequences to local services. If the only consideration by a voter is the expectation to “save” money on taxes, he or she is going to vote “Yes” on TABOR. If one looks seriously at the many potential adverse impacts of TABOR, the vote will be “No”.

Government at any level is nothing more than a provider of services to the public. The level of services provided is based on what people want and are willing to support. All such services are paid by taxes and other revenues. Government provides such services on a relatively large scale for the “common good” because individuals or small groups cannot afford to pay for such services by themselves. As an example, the cost of road maintenance, including winter plowing, is very expensive. Since vehicles are very important forms of transportation to most of us, the failure to maintain or plow our roads is not a viable option. But road maintenance costs need to be paid by somebody and that “somebody” is we the people. All our other key services could also be affected as well by TABOR such as schools, police, fire, libraries, recreation, utility services, etc.

The issue of high taxes has been with us for many years. At the local level, municipal officials have seen dramatic shifts from the State to the local level to provide legislatively mandated services to the public at the expense of the local taxpayer. The single biggest example of this is public K – 12 education. While the 1985 Educational Finance Act set the legislative intent to provide 55% of the cost of such education, the State peaked at about 50% in 1990. Following this, the 1991-92 recession saw the State shift school funding back to the communities to the point that State support bottomed out around 42% as little as two years ago.

The percentage is now increasing thanks to the efforts of the Maine Municipal Association and Maine Education Association to require the State to honor its 1985 commitment for 55% through the successful Question 1 referendum in June of 2004. Unfortunately, the Governor and the Legislature saw fit to effectively repeal Question 1 in favor of LD 1 in January of 2005 that stretched out the attainment of the 55% education level by four years through a convoluted formula that still has local property taxpayers picking up the lion’s share of this expensive tab. TABOR will not help this situation. In fact, it will make it worse on many rural communities where student populations continue to decline because student population is a major component in establishing the TABOR limits on education spending.

Another major component of LD 1 was the expansion of the Homestead Exemption where the State actually decreased the amount of reimbursement to the communities while increasing the property exemption from $7,000.00 to $13,000.00. Guess who paid for that one? Local businesses and non-resident property tax owners. Oh, yes…the local tax mil rates went up as well as the funding mechanism to give this “tax relief”.
On top of this, the State imposed its new school funding model, Essential Programs and Services, to implement the Learning Results program. This resulted in sharp reductions in education aid to those same schools that continue to lose population, leaving communities the horrible choice of either increasing property taxes to maintain quality schools or doing nothing and seeing our children poorly educated. Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner - you picked up this tab, too!

Frustrating? You bet it is. Not only to you as a property taxpayer, but to people like me who work for you in your local town offices or schools.

Since the Legislature may not allow TABOR to apply to State spending, what will its impact be on the other levels of government? Pro-TABOR supporters claim the worst that will happen is that those local governments who in fact experience negative growth factors under the TABOR capping formulas will have flat budgets, unless the override provisions of TABOR are passed in special referendum elections. Opponents claim that such municipalities could actually be forced to decrease their budgets if TABOR passes and the affected communities cannot successfully complete the override procedure.

This is where minority rule comes into the picture as well as additional, yes additional, costs to the local taxpayers. Under TABOR, a municipality, school department, utility district, or even county government can only exceed their growth factor formula through the provisions contained in the proposed law. This involves the need to receive a 2/3s super-majority vote of the appropriate legislative body of the town (council or town meeting) and a majority vote in a special referendum election. For a county, the legislative body is the Court of County Commissioners.

A minority of 34% of the legislative body can stop any attempt to override the TABOR limits and prevent a majority of voters from voting on the issue. For a town with a seven member Council, this would require 5 of the 7 (71% since 4 votes would only be 57%) to support such an override whereas a five member Council would require 4 of the 5 (80% since 3 votes would only be 60%) to do so. In a town meeting of 100 voters, 34 could stop such an effort from going to a public referendum vote. This is minority rule.

And it also requires the government entity to compose a 500 word essay in favor of the spending override and a 500 word essay against it that must be mailed to every registered voter in the affected voting district (obviously at taxpayer expense) prior to the election. Added expense. Added bureaucracy. Added red tape. Added staff time. Added confusion.

By substituting minority rule for majority rule in our democracy, TABOR also overrides any charter adopted by various communities around the State that provides the method for adopting budgets and setting tax rates and overrides the historic voice of the traditional town meeting where issues of budgets and taxes have been decided very ably for hundreds of years. TABOR basically says to the legislative bodies of any community that they can no longer be trusted to tend to their community’s budget and tax concerns. This is a most dangerous premise that needs to be stopped now before TABOR becomes the law of the State.

Just about all of us are mad at Augusta for their antics over the last few years. A better way than TABOR to address those frustrations is to vote for candidates who we believe reflect our concerns through majority rule rather than for a referendum question that would replace our democracy with the specter of minority rule. Trust in our democratic tradition that is based on majority, not minority, rule. Please join me in voting “No” on TABOR.

Gene Conlogue, Town Manager
Millinocket, Maine

= =

Letters to the Editor are most welcome and even encouraged! Email or send it via USPS to PO Box 788, Kingman, ME 04451.

We do publish anonymous letters to the editor, or those signed with a pseudonym.

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2006 All Maine Matters