Recent Stories

Tax law allows billions in business property taxes to be diverted from paying for local services and schools


Put an addition on your house, and the town assessor will come around, increase the value of your house and your property taxes will go up. Get a TIF, and you, too, have to pay taxes on that new warehouse or factory – but the taxes don’t help pay for the schools, plowing and cops. Continue Reading →

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State universities paying agents to recruit international students

The University of Maine will spend $700,000 to renovate Estabrooke Hall in order to accommodate Study Group. The new space will include classrooms for international students who enroll in Study Group's program and office space for administrators working with the program.

This September, among the new students attending the University of Maine’s orientation in Orono will be two students from China and one each from India, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

They didn’t come here on their own. They were recruited in their home countries by agents paid on a per-head basis by the public university. Continue Reading →

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UMaine student leads ethics discussion at Statehouse

University of Maine student Shelbe Lane, after giving testimony on ethics legislation at the statehouse, with Michael Cianchette, her thesis advisor and chief counsel to Gov. Paul LePage

An honors student from the University of Maine stood before lawmakers Wednesday and, in a clear and confident voice, walked them through an ethics reform proposal that would require more extensive disclosure of the financial affairs of public officials and legislators. Continue Reading →

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King’s laptops leveled playing field, but academic benefits hard to assess


At Freeport Middle School, students in algebra class play “Battleship” on their laptops as they learn to plot coordinates on a graph. At Massabesic Middle School, eighth-graders surf the web on their laptops to create their own National History Day websites. And at King Middle School, students carry their laptops into the field as they chronicle the civil rights movement through eyewitness interviews. These students don’t live in a high-tech mecca like Silicon Valley, but in the nation’s most rural state, where state tax money pays for one white Apple MacBook for every seventh- and eighth-grader in public schools. Laptops from mcpir3
More than 10 years ago, Angus King, then Maine’s governor and now a U.S. Senate candidate, pushed the $10- to $11-million-a-year program through a reluctant legislature.  King sold it as a way to give the state a competitive edge and provide computers to low-income students. Continue Reading →

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University chancellor given authority over top appointments, raises

Michelle Hood, chairwoman of the board of trustees

BANGOR — The University of Maine system trustees on Monday approved policy changes designed to give the chancellor greater authority over appointments, promotions and pay raises. The changes come after press reports about the use of loopholes in the hiring process to give top level jobs to former Baldacci administration officials and about nearly $1 million in discretionary pay raises to system employees. Most of those appointments and pay raises were approved by presidents and top executives at some of the System’s seven campuses. The rules adopted Monday, the result of a study of personnel policies ordered by the new chancellor, James Page, effectively takes final authority over hiring and raises of the System’s top managers away from the presidents and puts it in Page’s hands.All of the controversial pay raises and hiring came under Page’s predecessors. Page said that no management-level “position will be opened or filled without the authority of the chancellor. Continue Reading →

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University System a haven for former top state staffers

James Page, photo John Clarke Russ, BDN

Hiring records at the University of Maine System show loopholes, waivers and personal and political connections played a significant role in the appointment of seven state officials into some of the highest paying non-teaching jobs in the system. Six of the seven worked for the same state agency during the administration of former Gov. John Baldacci and the seventh was a member of the System Board of Trustees during that period. The current and immediately past chairs of the board both said that while they believe there was no improper influence in most of the hires, they also said a review of the process is warranted. And the new chancellor of the System, James Page, said he will add the hiring issue to a review he is doing about recent questions involving System pay raises. “I take the allegations and concerns very seriously, but I’m not prepared to say what the strengths of those allegations and concerns are,” Page said. Continue Reading →

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