Angus King

Recent Stories

Curveballs, naked emperors and BS: post-election reflections of a reporter

German philosopher Max Weber said, “Politics is the art of compromise.”

And, Weber might have added: Elections are the art of exaggeration. We at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting spent much of the spring and summer checking out the claims of the three major candidates for U. S. senate, focusing mostly on what they said they had done to fix the economy and promote jobs. What we found, with some modest exceptions, had more spin on it than a Sandy Koufax (you call look him up) curveball. But there’s more to be learned from politicians “practiced in the art of deception,” to quote the Rolling Stones, which I like to do whenever the opportunity presents itself. Now that the votes have been (mostly) counted, the TV ads silenced and the pundits (there are so many) either crowing or eating crow, we thought we’d try to find some broader meaning from our months of reporting. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

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

Close-up-of-laptop-in-Freeport-Middle-School-algebra-teacher-Alex-Briasco-Brins-class-450x335

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 →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Bloomberg’s Maine Man

King NY

When New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that he’d be founding a Super PAC and spending some of his money in Maine in support of Angus King, the Independent candidate for U.S. Senate was as startled as anyone. “I can tell you without any equivocation that I had no idea he was going to do this Super PAC thing,” King said. “Mayor Bloomberg’s made this decision without any request from me.”

King has met Bloomberg just three times: once at a centrist summit in Oklahoma in 2008, once last week for a fundraiser at the Mayor’s private residence, and once during a 45-minute meeting on a visit this summer to New York City. “We talked about schools, we talked about centrist politics…. It wasn’t in great depth, but it was substantive,” King said in an interview Friday. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Dill, Summers, King: Tough questions, candid interviews

Maine Statehouse, Photo John Christie

The most important issues for voters in this election are jobs and the economy. As part of our series about the U.S. Senate race in Maine, “Setting the Record Straight,” the Center’s reporters have conducted in-depth interviews with the top three candidates about their records of job creation and economic development. Reporters Matt Drange, John Christie and Naomi Schalit pose the hard questions and track down the important details with candidates Cynthia Dill, Charlie Summers and Angus King. We videotaped those interviews, and you can see them below. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

King cites his $900m tax break program as a job creator

Angus King, photo Terry Karkos, Sun Journal

The number one issue on voters’ minds this year is jobs. Angus King, the leading candidate in the U. S. Senate race, claims as governor he helped create jobs in Maine with some of his policies, including a program called BETR. BETR stands for Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement. Until King became governor, businesses had to pay property taxes on equipment they purchased, from paper-making machines to computers. In 1995, then-Gov. King persuaded the legislature that if the state gave the taxes back to the businesses, businesses would expand and create jobs for Mainers. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

King claim about pension funding neglects to tell the full story

Angus King, photo Terry Karkos, Sun Journal

In promoting his independent candidacy for U. S. Senate, Angus King claims credit for improving the financial condition of the state’s pension funding during his two terms as governor. The accuracy of the claim, made on his campaign web site, is important because Maine, like most states, has a history of going deep into debt due to poor financial management of the multi-billion-dollar program. The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting examined the claim for accuracy and completeness, relying primarily on records from the Maine retirement system and legislative studies. The research shows that while the pension system finances improved while King was governor, a major reason wasn’t because of anything he did – it was because he was governor during the stock market’s glory years when the system’s investments went up double digits. King’s use of statistics to make the case for himself have another problem: He counts only the first six years of the governorship, when the pension funding improved, and skips over the final two years, when the funding declined, although it was still better than when he took office. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Unexpected could still hurt King, but current factors favor an independent

Angus King, photo Russ Dillingham, Sun Journal

Independent Angus King, running for the U.S. Senate, could benefit from the special circumstances that sometimes work for non-party candidates in Maine. In recent decades, the state has elected two independent governors and almost did so again in 2010.  The state seems to be unusually favorable to candidates running without a major party label. What are the factors that can be exploited by independents? First, the independent should run for an open seat.  When independents Jim Longley in 1974 and King in 1994, both winners, and Eliot Cutler, the near winner in 2010, ran for governor, no incumbent was in the race.  When independents ran against sitting governors in 1986 and 2006, they lost. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

State’s confidential employees’ pension plan costs state ‘extra’ $3 million

PENSIONS: THE NEXT BUDGET CRISIS

Editor’s note: This is the fifth part in a multi-part series about the state’s debt to teachers and state employees for their pensions. AUGUSTA — As state employees and teachers head into a second day of fighting the governor’s proposal to take almost 10 percent out of their paychecks to cover their pensions and pension debt, about 1,200 state employees known as “confidentials” have no such worry. Those employees — mostly in higher pay grades — will put only 3.65 percent of their pay into the retirement system if Gov. Paul LePage’s pension legislation is approved. This would continue the longstanding gap that goes back to 1981 between regular state employees and the confidentials. Confidential employees are defined as state employees not eligible for collective bargaining because they are either in high-level, policymaking jobs or they are involved in union contract negotiations. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,