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State to reconsider hiding oil train data

A state committee is asking lawmakers to overhaul a 2015 law that restricted the release of information about transports of crude oil through Maine.

The state committee charged with promoting transparency in government is asking lawmakers to overhaul a 2015 law that made secret information about the transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials by railroad through Maine.

The legislature’s Right-to-Know Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to send a letter to the Judiciary Committee recommending that it reconsider the controversial law in order to ensure that the government is not keeping railroad data secret unnecessarily. Continue Reading →

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Maine political fundraising in full bloom

Here at Political Party Time, we took a break from chronicling campaign shindigs when the 2014 election season ended. But we’re back now, dressed up in our best party clothes and working harder than ever so that you don’t miss any of the fun. And there’s lots of wine, beer, cheese and crackers to be had, as the political fundraising season shifts into high gear. (For the most up-to-date list of events, scroll through the Political Party Time schedule at right, provided through our partners at the Sunlight Foundation.)

We don’t actually go to any of the fundraisers that we write about. It would be unethical for us as non-partisan journalists to pay – er, contribute – money to political candidates, their parties or their PACs. Continue Reading →

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State may have paid millions to unemployed who never looked for work

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While Gov. Paul LePage and the legislature focus on welfare fraud, four straight audits have warned the state that it may be improperly paying hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment checks to people who are not providing the required proof they are looking for work. Continue Reading →

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Internet entrepreneur and a New York Times journalist join Center board

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting welcomes two new members to its board of directors: Fletcher Kittredge, founder and CEO of GWI in Biddeford,  a telecommunications company specializing in providing gigabit fiber networks and cloud telephone services to Maine, and Marie Tessier, Moderator and Op-Talk Blog Contributor at The New York Times. Before joining The Times in 2007, Tessier was an independent journalist specializing in coverage of violence against women, politics, and legal and financial affairs. Her work has appeared on the Women’s eNews and Women’s Media Center Web sites, in Ms. magazine, the Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, in other papers and magazines, and on “Marketplace” radio and National Public Radio. She is the author of “Covering Aviation Safety: An Investigator’s Guide,” from Investigative Reporters & Editors and several book chapters. She is an independent writer whose work has been distributed throughout the English and Arabic-speaking world. Continue Reading →

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Pah-tay with the pols

Today, we introduce our readers to “Political Party Time” — or, as our colleague Kathy Kiely from the Sunlight Foundation calls it, political “money porn.” It’s a window into how politics really work in Maine, where readers can get the inside view of the soliciting that goes on behind the virtuous image promoted by many Maine politicians. Continue Reading →

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Three for the price of one

It’s election season, and the hyperbole machine is redlining. Endorsements, especially, are the time to lay it on thick and attempt to counter the candidate’s greatest weakness. Read John Christie’s “Who Ya Kidding?” column to find the latest examples of “pure wind” in Maine politics. Continue Reading →

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Listen Here: MPBN and WERU interview Center reporters on state’s failing restitution program

For our series on the failures of Maine’s criminal restitution system, staff reporter Marina Villeneuve and editor-in-chief John Christie have been interviewed by radio stations across the state. One of the interviews was with Irwin Gratz of MPBN, which aired Wednesday, Aug. 6. Click here to listen (3:40)
They were also interviewed by Amy Browne of WERU, which aired the same day. Click here to listen (goes until 17:26)
In both interviews, Villeneuve and Christie highlighted the problems with the state’s system, and how it greatly impacts victims of property crime to whom offenders have agreed to pay restitution. Continue Reading →

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