Lewiston-Auburn ground zero in war against lead poisoning of kids

The dilapidated condition of Lewiston and Auburn's housing has contributed to a childhood lead poisoning rate that's stubbornly high.

While the state’s public health efforts to fight childhood lead poisoning have been more successful in Bangor, Portland, Saco, Biddeford and Sanford, where the rates of lead poisoning have gone down in the past 20 years, the rates of childhood lead poisoning in Lewiston and Auburn remain stubbornly high. Continue Reading →

Feds rarely enforcing law that protects Maine homeowners from lead poisoning

Keith Dill (left) and Chris Bowden (right) from Renovate Right Construction scraping lead paint on a Sabattus house and vacuuming it with a HEPA vacuum

Part three of four: The 2010 law, the “Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule,” requires that contractors must be trained in and follow lead-safe practices that prevent the spread of lead particles during home renovations. But a Maine Center for Public Reporting investigation has found that the law is widely unenforced, a fact even the federal agency that administers the law admits. Continue Reading →

State expert: ‘Not doing enough’ to eliminate lead poisoning

Marisa Nadeau and two youngest boys, James (left) and Joshua

Part two of four: From 2003 through 2013, 1,512 Maine children, from newborns to 5 year olds, were diagnosed with lead poisoning. Starting this year, the numbers of lead-poisoned children will rise by hundreds more cases annually, as the state lowers the blood lead level that triggers a diagnosis.

What’s being done to solve the problem? Continue Reading →

The problem for Maine kids that won’t go away: lead paint poisoning

CEILING brighter

Part one of four: Childhood lead poisoning may be off the front pages, replaced by trendier hazards such as the chemicals in flame retardant clothing, but the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting has found it is still the No. 1 toxic health hazard for children. The problem is acute and persistent in parts of Maine, especially among poor and immigrant families. Continue Reading →

Irving: No more ‘oil trains’ in Maine

Jackman Railroad Photo 2

Irving Oil has stopped and has no plan to resume shipping oil to its Canadian refinery via Maine rail lines. The decision was made earlier this year and confirmed recently in an email to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. Continue Reading →

LePage ordered an approved $100K payment to charter school stopped when Eves named head of school

Gov. Paul LePage — Photo Robert F. Bukaty, BDN

Gov. Paul LePage reversed a routine and state-approved payment to a Fairfield non-profit that operates a charter school the day it was announced that Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves was named president of the organization, according to a source inside state government.

A confidential source in the state Department of Education (DOE) said that, the day Eves’ appointment became public, a top official of the state DOE was called to the governor’s office “for an impromptu meeting.” Continue Reading →

Transparency advocates question secret budget deal


Secret meetings in the legislature: They’re still going on.

Last week, we exposed how lawmakers on the legislature’s appropriations committee were holding secret meetings to discuss the budget.

Today, in a report by the Sun Journal’s Scott Thistle, we learned that Democratic and Republican leaders secretly negotiated a budget deal without any public input, discussion or review. Continue Reading →

Closed door: Legislators conducting public business in private despite state’s open meeting law

Door at the back of the appropriations chamber that leads to a suite of private rooms where the committee's "chairs and leads" held a private meeting on May 28

The legislature's practice of conducting the public's business — such as budget negotiations — behind closed doors likely violated the state's Freedom of Access Act (FOAA). Center editor-reporter John Christie "crashed" a closed door session of the appropriations committee and confronted legislators about the practice, which one of the state's prominent first amendment attorneys says violates the sprit of FOAA and likely also the letter of that landmark law. Continue Reading →