Goodbye and good luck, Dan
We would be remiss in failing this week to say farewell and good luck to Dan Bookham, who is leaving his position as the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director to begin working for Allen Insurance Agency in Camden.
His departure has been talked about a long time, but with the end of last weekend's Camden Windjammer Festival, it's really official.
During his tenure, we in the newspaper business have found him to be very helpful in providing information about chamber events and community issues. With Dan there has also been the added bonus of his warmth and sense of humor.
Beyond that, he has served the chamber during a period of change and challenge. When he started as executive director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce in January 2009, he was faced with the anticipation of consolidating his chamber with the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rockland within a year.
He and many others have been instrumental in making that shift. The business leaders in Knox and Waldo counties have slowly graduated from thinking in terms of what's best for Rockland versus Camden versus Belfast to a more regional approach. The hope in the future is that we will all succeed together.
He leaves big shoes to fill as the cliché goes, but we are sure the chamber leaders now seeking a new director take this effort very seriously.
In a job that has required many night meetings, events and weekend festivals, Dan has had to sacrifice family time, something many local community leaders can easily relate to, and so he has said this change was in part to give him more time with his wife and child. These are the real priorities in life, and we wish him the best in attending them.
Labor Day 2012
This Labor Day weekend found two different candidates on the campaign trail talking about the same thing — jobs.
The election this year will hinge on who the American people feel will be better for the economy and job growth.
The Republicans argue that in four years, the Barack Obama administration has failed to bring about a full economic recovery.
Mitt Romney said Monday that Labor Day is a chance to “celebrate the strong American work ethic,” according to The Washington Post. He added that with 23 million Americans unemployed, “today is another day of worrying when their next paycheck will come.”
"He can’t tell you that you’re better off,” GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said recently, according to the Post. “Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are now.”
Democrats argue the national deficit is fueled by tax cuts on America's wealthiest supported by the Republicans and two lengthy wars. In addition, they point to the success of the automotive industry bailout in which government loans to car makers have been paid back with interest.
“Folks, let me make something clear — say it to the press,” Vice President Joe Biden said in Detroit in the same Washington Post article. “America is better off today than they left us when they left. . . . Let me just sum it up this way, folks. . . . Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”
Hopefully the voters in Knox County are paying attention and trying to see beyond the mere rhetoric and the Clint Eastwood foolishness to real policy proposals that will impact us here in Maine.
In talking to CBS News during the Republican Convention, Romney proposed cutting "the subsidy for PBS, the subsidy for Amtrak, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts" and "the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Humanities."
He told CBS: "$100 billion a year comes by taking Medicaid, which is the health care program for the poor as well as food stamps, and housing vouchers, and sending those back to the states, and growing them at the rate of inflation, or inflation plus 1 percent in the case of Medicaid. And I think states can do a better job managing those — those efforts — than can the federal government."
We're not sure the state of Maine is ready for that kind of policy change and would question what it will do for the economy and job picture here. Moving something from the federal to state level sounds like a tax shift rather than a real tax cut to us. We've been watching this game played for years between the state government and local municipal government where the state shifts costs for schools (remember the pledge to fund 55 percent?) or roads back to towns.
As the feds spend less on Medicaid, the states will end up having to choose between paying more or cutting services.
In addition, PBS is an easy target in a tough economy, but we wonder how many children will be put further behind by the loss of this kind of quality programming. How many have learned their A B Cs over the years from Bert and Ernie?
We look forward to giving the same scrutiny to the president's message during the Democratic Convention and will be asking all of our local candidates about some of these policy issues during this election season, so stay tuned.
A newspaper time capsule
We wanted to thank Dorothy Seekins of Washington for bringing in a collection of issues of The Courier-Gazette from the 1930s she found under some vinyl flooring in her old farm house while doing some renovations. The papers, which were well preserved in the airtight confines, likely served as insulation. Also included were some copies of The Boston Post.
The papers were quite a bit wider than they are today. We noticed familiar topics on the front pages including property taxes, candidates for office and political conventions. One headline caught our eye from June 16, 1932: "Tax rate makes new high." Rockland's rate was $48.50 per $1,000 in value. How would you like that for a tax rate? Of course the values were less at the time, making the difference.
The find also goes to show that newspapers are not only here to inform, but have many other uses including packing items for moves, starting fires, insulating homes and the local favorite, wrapping fish.