Governor Stifles Legislative Inquiries to Agencies

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There was a time when a request from a legislator was a top priority for response from any state agency. If a member of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, for example, had a question about anything – from a legislative bill to a pending fishing rule change – he or she could wander into the DIF&W Commissioner’s office and get an answer. A written request from a legislator went right to the top of the Commissioner’s to-do pile for a fast response. Top staff at the department treated legislative requests in the same manner, making responses their highest priority.

Those days are apparently over. I recently obtained a February 22, 2012 memo from Carlie McLean to the Commissioners of the state’s natural resources agencies. Carlie is Governor LePage’s Senior Natural Resources Advisor. It’s important to state that I did not obtain this memo from anyone in any state agency.

Busy Week Ahead at Legislature and Elsewhere

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I’m approaching the busiest week I’ve had in a long time, starting with meetings at Maine Audubon on Monday, followed by three days at the legislature, and ending on Friday with the annual Milfoil Summit in Auburn.

It’s exciting to be collaborating with my friend Ted Koffman, the executive director of Maine Audubon. When he was in the legislature, Ted sponsored a very important bill to protect and enhance our native brook trout, on behalf of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, for which I worked at the time. Since he took the top job at Audubon, that organization has added brook trout to its extensive agenda of issues and projects, and its good to have their interest in a key fisheries issue.

Having Fun at Portland's Hot Suppa!

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There’s one key ingredient not in the food that makes a restaurant special:  Fun. And we had a lot of that at Portland’s Hot Suppa.

Our friend Rusty Atwood recommended brothers Alec and Moses Sabina’s small 40-seat restaurant, and we owe him big time now. This is a very special experience.

Located at 703 Congress Street in the west end, Hot Suppa is a popular breakfast and lunch place, and we originally planned to eat lunch there. But after taking a look at their dinner menu, we changed our mind. And we are so glad we did.

LURC Hearing Draws Big Crowd

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Thursday, February 16. 12:30 pm, Room 437 at the State Capitol, 30 minutes before the hearing on a bill to reform the Land Use Regulation Commission. Chaos.

People began arriving at 10 am this morning for the 1 pm hearing. Committee clerk Megan Ricker put out sign-up sheets for speakers  at 11:30 am. This not being my first rodeo, I signed up to speak first, as a proponent of LD 1798, even though I strongly oppose two of its sections. The opponents list was much longer than the proponents list, and proponents always get to speak first. I also placed my coat and briefcase on a seat by the window in the hearing room, to reserve a spot there.

Returning to the room at 12:20 pm, I found the room jammed, every seat taken, lots of people standing. But miracle of miracles, my jacket and briefcase kept my seat open!

DIF&W Revenue Short $900,000

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Seven months into this fiscal year, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s revenue is $900,000 less than expected, and $825,000 less than the agency raised in the same period last year. The state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

The department also spent $850,000 more in January of 2012 than it did in January of 2011, although you can’t draw any conclusions from that, because the agency’s monthly spending pattern is erratic from year to year.

We do know for certain that the department has $1.2 million of surplus funds in its carrying account, mostly because dozens of staff positions remain vacant. Some have been vacant for years and will never be filled. They’re maintained on the books to help the agency meet state requirements for savings through attrition.

New Landowner Relations Program On Its Way

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Special thanks today to Chilton Paint Company (and Furniture), a new sponsor of this outdoor news blog.

An exciting new landowner relations program is well on its way, with the endorsement today by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee of an amended version of LD 1613 submitted by the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and SWOAM’s Tom Doak and DIF&W’s Mark Latti were here to support their amendment.

This bill was originally proposed by SWOAM and represents a significant achievement for that organization in this legislative session.

SWOAM launched a project in 2010 create a strong partnership between Maine’s private landowners and those who use their land for recreation.

Everything's Big at Winslow's Big G's Deli

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At Winslow restaurant Big G’s, the G stands for great food. The Big stands for, well BIG!

It’s always fun to find a unique restaurant that marches to a different food drummer. Gerry Michaud has created a deliciously fun place.

Founded by Gerry and his business partner Jerry Gerard in 1986, Big G’s has grown from a small shop serving 16 sandwiches to a 200 seat restaurant  with 30 employees and an astonishing menu including tacos, pasta dishes, soups, and their signature sandwiches, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, 6 am to 7 pm.

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