Eyed for elimination, estate tax remains controversial on campaign trail

 

Though the so-called “death tax” is on life support these days, some of the candidates vying for a U.S. House seat in Maine’s 2nd District aren’t ready to give up on it.

Fifteen years ago, the federal government taxed more than 600 estates left behind by wealthy Mainers.

During the past five years, the number of Maine estates subject to the so-called “death tax” averaged 42, the consequence of revisions that have pushed ever higher the wealth someone must possess before the government grabs a share.

Put another way, that means the estate tax will apply to only about one in every 2,900 Mainers who dies.

For U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a 2nd District Republican in his second term, that’s still too many. He said recently he remains committed to abolishing the death tax. But the candidates jostling for the chance to run against him next year generally have a sharply different take. ...

Green Party hopeful Henry Bear said the estate tax “does not reward hardworking Mainers. It rewards the lucky.”

Bear said the nation should restore the 70 percent estate tax it had decades ago with a $1 million exemption. At that level, he said, the government could tax “a very small number of very lucky people” and raise $500 billion extra each year. ...

 

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http://www.sunjournal.com/eyed-for-elimination-estate-tax-remains-controversial-on-campaign-trail/

Portland School Board again picks Trevorrow as chairwoman

 

PORTLAND — Anna Trevorrow was chosen Monday afternoon to lead the Portland School Board for a second year. ...

Looking back, she said, it’s “been a privilege to serve as the board chair for the last year,” adding “there are many successes” to celebrate.

Among those successes, Trevorrow said, are “equity resolutions condemning hate speech and asserting a safe haven for Muslim students, state recognition of our exemplary staff, the launch of the TeachPortland program and passage of the (new) transgender policy.”

“I am most proud, however, of having been a part of the launch of the Portland Promise,” she said, “our pledge to the community to … intensify our efforts to ensure that all our graduates are prepared and empowered to succeed in college and career.” ...

In preparing the fiscal year 2018-19 budget, she said, “We will need to make many important decisions to allocate our resources in ways that allow us to make progress toward our goals and enhance the overall student experience.”

“Heading into the next year, I pledge to lead our district’s effort in conjunction with the City Council and our state legislative delegation to ensure that we obtain and steward our resources to the best possible results,” Trevorrow said.

“It takes great schools to have a great city (and) we have been charged with fulfilling this community’s vision for those great schools,” she added. ...

She also noted, however, that “schools are more than brick and mortar” and said the School Board has “significant work ahead to support the implementation of proficiency-based learning, supporting teaching and learning and building our staff’s capacity to serve our diverse student population.” ...

 

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http://www.theforecaster.net/portland-school-board-again-picks-trevorrow-as-chairwoman/

Portland policy provides protections, support for transgender students

 

PORTLAND — The School Board Tuesday was expected to enact an expansive new transgender student rights policy. ...

The board was expected to give final approval to the new protections Nov. 28, after The Forecaster’s deadline.

At the first reading, board Chairwoman Anna Trevorrow said it was especially important to provide support for transgender students after learning that statistically they are more at risk for self-harm, homelessness, harassment and physical violence. ...

The policy defines gender identity as being “a person’s sincerely held core belief of their own gender, whether that individual identifies as male, female, both, neither or in some other way.”

And gender-expansive is defined as being “an umbrella term used to describe people who expand notions of gender expression and identity beyond what is perceived as the expected gender norms.” ...

While the School Department  is required to use a student’s legal name on their official record, the policy adds that “the district shall use the student’s preferred name and pronouns consistent with their gender identity on all other documents including, but not limited to … classroom rosters, certificates, diplomas and yearbook.”

 

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http://www.theforecaster.net/portland-policy-provides-protections-support-for-transgender-students/

Henry Bear: A challenging life, a challenge for Congress

 

LEWISTON — Growing up among French-speaking immigrants in the slums of Lewiston, Henry Bear starting working before his age reached double digits, peddling everything from apples to firewood to his impoverished neighbors.

When his family shattered amid the social and financial pressures, his mother spiraled into depression and his father into drunkenness.

It got so bad that Bear and his six sisters wound up in foster homes. He dropped out of school and joined the Coast Guard at 17, seeking a better life.

Now, at age 61, he’s on a new quest to secure a political office that nobody in those run-down apartments could have imagined for him or anyone living there: a spot in the U.S. Congress.

Bear, who serves in the Maine House as the the non-voting representative of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, declared recently that he would enter the 2nd District U.S. House race as a new member of the Green Party.

If Bear wins, he would be the first Native American member of Congress from New England and the first in more than a century to claim a House seat from the East Coast. ...

One summer day

One day at the age of 10, after a successful stint selling arts and crafts door to door, Bear returned home to find his mother sobbing and all of his siblings gone. ...

Boyhood

Bear was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in May 1956, smack in the middle of the post-war Baby Boom, almost exactly nine months after his parents got married.

His father belonged to the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, hailing from one of many Native American families in Maine who made a living peddling goods, picking apples, raking blueberries, digging potatoes and other temporary work. ...

His French Canadian mother, who probably had some Indian blood, kept busy raising children in their Roman Catholic household and earning some money sewing moccasins. ...

Coming undone

Bear’s family started to disintegrate well before the day the state Department of Health and Human Services came knocking on his mother’s door.

There wasn’t enough money in a household that depended on food stamps and secondhand clothes, but there was something more.

Bear said his mother’s family never quite accepted the Native American man who married their daughter. There was, he said, “a lot of racism” that he didn’t quite understand at the time. ...

Ultimately, Bear’s mother couldn’t do it any longer.

“She had a nervous breakdown,” and the state intervened, Bear said. ...

Moving on

It turned out that foster care wasn’t bad.

During the next seven years, Bear stayed with four foster families in Auburn, each treating him kindly. ...

He learned years later when DHHS let him review his case file that his father had tried repeatedly to gain custody of the children and that bureaucrats thought he’d done well making the case. But they still turned him down.

Bear said he’s sure the state had a deliberate policy of keeping Native American children away from tribal influence as much as possible. It wanted to see Indians assimilated into the wider culture instead of tied to their people and history, he said.

A career

Bear’s hope that the Coast Guard would offer a path to something better proved altogether true.

He quickly met and married Violet Dotson, an Army brat from Virginia who was part of the first group of women to go to boot camp. ...

He learned about communications and cryptology and moved up the ranks in the service, ending up as a recruiter in New Hampshire during a presidential primary season that made it possible for him to meet President Ronald Reagan and have dinner with Vice President George H.W. Bush.

A lifelong Republican, he found both of them charming and discovered they were “just like us” in real life, a revelation that in some ways opened the door to politics for Bear.

He moved to the Maliseet reservation where he discovered “an acceptance you can only appreciate if you’ve grown up in four foster homes.”

“I learned that there were a lot of people who looked like me up there, thousands of them, and a couple hundred of them were my cousins,” Bear said.

He soon wound up as president of the Central Maine Indian Council and not long after was elected as a tribal council member. ...

As an attorney who set up shop in the house his father built on the reservation years earlier, he represented mostly tribal members in various cases that earned him payment in everything from fiddleheads to fish.

“I got a lot of salmon, deer, bear, bread, and whatever hunters, cooks and fishermen might be able to give me,” Bear said. Cash, though, was rare.

To supplement his income, he also works as a commercial fisherman, a forester and more. He said he tries to hold at least five jobs simultaneously to ensure he’ll have a steady income. Since 2013, he’s held the State House seat as well.

Bear became a Democrat when he thought he might run for a different House seat in Aroostook County, but that fell through. Switching to the Green Party last month to run for Congress suits him as well, he said, because it stands for a “healthy and prosperous community, a progressive and transparent government, and a safer and more inclusive world community.”

Hope

After starting off with so few prospects, it may seem that Bear’s hope to reach Capitol Hill is out of reach.

But he has a dim memory of another, bigger kid in the old neighborhood just down the street from a landmark eatery, Simones’ Hot Dog Stand, a fellow who also came from poverty and family distress.

That guy is Paul LePage, who’s a year away from finishing his second term as Maine’s governor.

 

Henry Bear, a Green Party candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, is challenging U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin for his seat. Bear was in Lewiston this week looking for a place to rent for his campaign office. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Henry Bear, a Green Party candidate in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, right, is challenging U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin for his seat. Bear walked down Lisbon Street in Lewiston earlier this week looking for a place to rent for his campaign office. He was with his wife, Violet, center, and cousin Rick Boucher of Auburn, left. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

2017 Sun Journal head and shoulders photo of Henry Bear.  (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

 

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http://www.sunjournal.com/a-challenging-life-a-challenge-for-congress/

Cheech and Chong raise profile of pot post

A Maine Facebook video appears to show the calming effects of medical marijuana on a boy suffering a seizure.

 

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/29/cheech-and-chong-raise-profile-of-pot-post/

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