Tag Archives: Maine

Election Surprise: Health Care Galvanizes Voters

A voter casts his ballot at Hillsboro Old Stone School on November 7, 2017 in Purcellivlle, Va. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Health care appears to have played an unexpectedly robust role in Tuesday’s off-year elections, as Democrats swept statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey and voters told pollsters it was a top concern.

The health headline of the night came in Maine, where voters by a large margin rebuked Republican Gov. Paul LePage and approved a referendum  expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Maine is one of 19 states that has not expanded the program to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $16,600 for an individual. An estimated 70,000 to 90,000 Mainers could gain insurance under the expansion.

The Legislature has passed similar bills five times, but LePage vetoed each one. And despite Tuesday’s outcome, he held firm in his opposition. The governor announced Wednesday that he would not implement the expansion, which he said would be “ruinous” for the state’s budget, unless it is fully funded by the Legislature.

Medicaid expansion might also be back in play in Virginia. Voters there not only elevated Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam to the governorship, they may have steered Democrats to a takeover of the state House of Delegates, which has been the primary source of opposition to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to expand Medicaid. As of Wednesday morning, Democrats had picked up 15 of the 17 seats they would need to take over the majority with several races too close to call or requiring a recount.

And while it was not a headline issue in the governor’s race, health care proved decisive to Virginia voters, according to exit polls funded by a pool of media organizations.

Health care was by far the top issue for voters, according to the poll, which asked voters which of five issues mattered most to them. Nearly 4 in 10 said health care was the issue most important to their vote, followed by gun policy at 17 percent, taxes at 15 percent, immigration at 12 percent and abortion at 8 percent. Among those voters who cited health care, 77 percent voted for Democrat Northam, making it his strongest issue by a wide margin.

The fallout will depend on who holds which views, said Rodney Whitlock, a former GOP Senate staffer. If health care is a top concern for Democrats, “that doesn’t have a lot of meaning for Republicans,” he said. But if independents are the ones who see health as a salient voting issue, “that means much more.”

But Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University, said the election results suggest that health care has again become a positive for Democrats. “You don’t have to say you love the ACA, but that you don’t want to drop millions of people” from coverage, he explained.

In New Jersey, voters said they were more concerned with state issues, with property taxes and corruption topping the list of topics they told exit pollsters drove their votes. But health care was third.

Still, the election results likely hinged on a host of concerns, warned Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Health issues are still strongly viewed through partisan lenses, he said, and the voting probably was more of a referendum on President Donald Trump than on health care. But the results in the Maine referendum could have repercussions beyond that state, showing that Medicaid expansion is “far more popular” than Republicans have acknowledged. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

In Ohio, voters defeated what some called a confusing ballot measure aimed at limiting prescription drug prices to no more than the amount paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. A similar measure was voted down in California last year.

Diner owner under fire for yelling at misbehaving toddler

There are many seemingly intractable divides in our society: Israel, abortion — and whether parents should remove a misbehaving toddler from a restaurant:

child misbehavior
Marcy’s Diner owner Darla Neugebauer is interviewed by local Portland (ME) news about her yelling at the screaming child in her restaurant.

The owner of a Portland diner is defending her actions – and comments she made on social media – that have left many outraged.

Marcy’s Diner on Oak Street in Portland’s downtown is a busy place on the weekends. Owner Darla Neugebauer said that’s partly what led her to snap at a child on Saturday.

Neugebauer said the child’s parents had ordered three pancakes and then didn’t feed them to the girl, causing the child to cry loudly. After attempts to get the family to leave, or to take the girl outside, the diner owner said she slammed her hands down on the counter and told the girl to be quiet.

If a child screams in the forest and there are no bloggers there to witness it, can it still cause an uproar on Facebook?

I watched the clip below a couple of times and, while the actions of owner Darla Neugebauer might shock someone outside of New England, she doesn’t strike me as someone who is more menacing than just being a bit too brash for her own good — or for people outside of that part of the country.

I also wouldn’t have given the story legs by continuing it online.

Nonetheless, if the child had screamed for more than an hour, that seems well over the time limit required for Neugebauer to have simply offered crayons or a ramekin of Cheerios in an attempt to nicely quiet the child and make the meals of her other paying customers bearable. It appears the parents of the child in question had wrongly decided that they could react to the kid’s acting out in public in the same way they might do at home: let her scream until she wore herself out.

I was eating in a restaurant the other night and at the table next to me were what appeared to be a grandparent and parent, who seemed willfully unaware that the two toddlers with them were screaming and running around the other tables in the restaurant taunting one another and laughing. One child even ran into me and another person seated at another table. Everyone seemed annoyed by it but the two adults in a position to stop it.

Finally what appeared to be a manager of some sort came over and stood near the offenders’ table and glared at the parents and kids. They got the message— this time — and left.

I feel for parents whose kids act out in restaurants, crying or throwing tantrums. One more meal ruined by something that can be largely beyond your control no matter what non-parents think. What is not beyond their control is whether a misbehaving toddler rises to the level of ruining the dining experience of others around them.

Also, this was the “other top story” for the news broadcast that night? I wonder what that other story was? Perhaps a fight on Twitter over Ariana Grande licking donuts?

I had the video on live connect on this page, but it autostarts and that is annoying, especially since it starts so loudly.

Go to the link below to watch.

Source: Portland Diner owner under fire for yelling at toddler, Facebook posts

The wins keep on coming for GLAD

Also a GLAD win, but this time it’s out of Maine:

For immediate release                                                          

Contact: Carisa Cunningham

January 30, 2014

GLAD Celebrates Breakthrough Ruling in Favor of Transgender Student

Transgender Students Must Have Full Access to School Facilities, Says Maine High Court

Bangor, Maine, — Today, Maine’s highest court ruled that denying a transgender girl the use of the girls’ restroom at her school violated her rights under Maine’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against transgender people. The decision in Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders’ lawsuit Doe v. Clenchy marks the first time a state court has ruled that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathrooms that match who they are.

NOTE: There will be a media call at 3:00 p.m. EST with GLAD Attorneys Jennifer Levi and Bennett Klein, as well as with Wayne Maines, the plaintiff’s father.  The call-in number is 888-390-3983.

The ruling stated in part, “[The school] agreed with Susan’s family and counselors that, for this purpose (as for virtually all others), Susan is a girl.  Based upon its determination that Susan is a girl, and in keeping with the information provided to the school by Susan’s family, her therapists, and experts in the field of transgender children, the school determined that Susan should use the girls’ bathroom.”

“This is a momentous decision that marks a huge breakthrough for transgender young people,” said Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, who argued the case before the Maine Law Court on June 12. “Schools have a responsibility to create a learning environment that meets and balances the needs of all kids and allows every student to succeed. For transgender students this includes access to all school facilities, programs, and extracurricular activities in a way that is consistent with their gender identity.”

“A transgender girl is a girl and must be treated as such in all respects, including using the girls’ restroom. This ruling is consistent with what educators and human rights commissions – including the Maine Human Rights Commission — around the country have concluded,” said GLAD Senior Attorney Bennett Klein, who was co-counsel with Levi in the case.

The litigation arose after officials at an Orono elementary school denied Nicole Maines, a transgender girl who was then in fifth grade, use of the girls’ restroom. The school had previously allowed Nicole to use the girls’ room but reversed course after the misconduct of one male student who followed Nicole into that facility.

“We are very grateful and relieved that the Court said our daughter should not be singled out for different treatment at school simply because she is transgender,” said Wayne Maines, Nicole’s father. “As parents all we’ve ever wanted is for Nicole and her brother Jonas to get a good education and to be treated just like their classmates, and that didn’t happen for Nicole. What happened to my daughter was extremely painful for her and our whole family, but we can now close this very difficult chapter in our lives. We are very happy knowing that because of this ruling, no other transgender child in Maine will have to endure what Nicole experienced.”

GLAD and Jodi L. Nofsinger of Berman & Simmons, P.A. represented Susan in the lawsuit.

Learn more about the case and read previous case documents here.

Read the full decision here: http://glad.org/uploads/docs/cases/doe-v-clenchy/doe-v-clenchy-decision-1-30-14.pdf

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.


I will never understand the hangups people have around trans people and bathrooms. I mean, we’ve had unisex bathrooms for years, have we not? And we have laws against peeping Toms and public lewdness, so if some guy is stupid enough to pass himself off as trans just to get into a women’s bathroom, that infraction is covered by current law — an infraction that is unlikely for so many reasons, but right-wing objections don’t have to make sense, they just have to make people emotional and fearful.

Which reminds me of the time — true story — when I was going to class on-campus at the University of Colorado, it was right after a final exam, and I walked dazed into a bathroom, picked a stall, went in and sat down.

Then a pair of women’s shoes appeared in the stall to my right. Then the same thing appeared in the stall to my left. I got up and peered slightly out the stall door. No urinals and tampon machines everywhere.

Shit. I was in the women’s bathroom with my pants around my ankles. As a gay man, this is one of the least likely things I thought I would ever write.

I waited for the women on either side of me to exit — I was wearing big brown workboots, BTW — and sprinted from the stall to the women’s bathroom door. At which I met a woman coming in, who looked at the door (yep, it says “Women”) and looked at me.

“Sorry. Wrong bathroom.”

She just kept going and ignored me.

Earthquake in Maine, felt in Boston

Sitting in my quiet condo typing away on the laptop when the vases on the table start tinkling because they’re shaking. Then I can see my laptop and those vases moving with the table as the building starts to creak.

The first time I can remember feeling that sort of shaking in Boston. Aside from the shaking, no worse for the wear here.

4.5 quake centered in Maine. Interesting.

Of course, the graphic below is making the rounds now online.