Legislative Media Archive

Chief of Navy Reserve visits Sailors in Bahrain

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=78449

Story Number: NNS131226-01Release Date: 12/26/2013 9:18:00 AM A  A  A        

By Lt. j.g. Alex Cornell de Houx and Ensign David Copley, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

U.S. NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY, Bahrain (NNS) — Chief of Navy Reserve, commander, Navy Reserve Force, arrived in Bahrain Dec. 22, as part of a region-wide trip to thank mobilized Sailors for their service and listen to ideas from the fleet.

Following a stop in Djibouti, Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun spent two days in Bahrain meeting with Sailors and holding question and answer sessions.

“I’m here to thank all of you. It’s the holiday season, and you’re out here doing the work your Navy and your country, have asked you to do,” said Braun during an all-hands call with Reserve Sailors.

More than 3,000 members of the Navy Reserve are currently mobilized, leaving behind their families, friends and civilian jobs to support the Navy across the globe.

“Navy Reserve Sailors have continued to answer the call. Almost 80 percent of our mobilizations are filled by volunteers. It really shows the commitment of our Sailors,” said Braun.

In discussions with Sailors, Braun emphasized how the Reserve community is working hand in hand with active duty Sailors to achieve the three tenets of Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert.

“The CNO expects our priorities to be warfighting first, operating forward, and being ready. My goal is to get the skill sets in places the Navy needs. We need to have every Sailor ready to go if the Navy calls on us; whether it’s for one Sailor or 1,000 Sailors,” said Braun.

Another major purpose of her trip was to hear the views of mobilized Sailors and Marines.

“The best ideas always come from the deckplate, not from the halls of the Pentagon,” said Braun. “We are always looking at ways to improve and provide the tools necessary for Sailors’ quality of work, life and service.”

Braun also explained how the Navy’s “Total Force team” of active duty and Reserve Sailors, their families and employers combine to help Sailors effectively accomplish their mission.

Following her discussion with Sailors and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) leadership, Braun departed Bahrain to continue her Middle East tour.

NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. NAVCENT’s mission is to conduct maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote security and stability in the U.S. Central Command AOR.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.

Supporters don Goodwill finds and head to the Little Black Dress fundraiser to aid veterans.

http://www.pressherald.com/life/audience/rack-and-roll_2013-04-28.html

By AMY PARADYSZ

There was nothing little about the Evening of the Little Black Dress — which turned out to be the largest fundraising event ever hosted by Goodwill of Northern New England.

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Steven and Karen Michaud at the Goodwill event. Steven, who recently retired from the Navy, attended in uniform, while Karen modeled a $21 Goodwill ensemble in the Goodwill finds fashion show.

Photos by Amy Paradyscz

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Stephen Houser of Buxton and Renee Thompson, assistant manager of the e-commerce department for Goodwill. Renee’s late father was an Air Force veteran.

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It was also the organization’s first fundraiser for its new Veteran Emergency Response Fund. Between sponsorships, ticket sales, a boutique, and both live and silent auctions, nearly $50,000 was raised.

“It’s for a fund basically to get obstacles out of people’s way,” said Trendy Stanchfield, director of development at Goodwill. “It’s a quick, easy, no-red-tape way to get money into the community.”

Whether the veteran requests help with first month’s rent, or go toward safe tires or heating oil, the fund would directly pay the vendor. The idea is to remove barriers that impede veterans from living to their potential, no matter how long since they have returned to civilian life.

“Sponsorships started the fund,” Stanchfield said. “This is making the fund sustainable.”

The fund will be overseen by a committee of Goodwill staff, veterans and social workers.

Committee member Benjamin Kamilewicz said that when he returned from Iraq almost seven years ago, he struggled with re-entering civilian life but was lucky to have family and community support. “I see veterans who don’t have community,” he said, explaining that organizations like Goodwill can help fill that gap.

“So many things fall through the cracks, and we want to be able to help them,” said Julie Kramer, one of the three event committee members.

“My father was a veteran,” said Renee Thompson, assistant manager of Goodwill’s e-commerce department. “He passed two years ago. I’m really passionate about raising money for veterans and homelessness. My dad struggled with homelessness and alcoholism, and there weren’t opportunities to help take care of this stuff.”

“A significant number of homeless people in Maine are veterans,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, a public affairs officer in the Navy who will be heading to Bahrain next month. “It is heartening to see Goodwill support those who put their lives on the line when they come home and need some basic needs met.”

“A lot of the guys coming back nowadays need a hand up,” said Andy Nightingale, an Army veteran from Saco. “I know a lot of veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers don’t want to accept help. And sometimes it’s easier to ask a stranger or a group than to ask someone who knows you. Your pride can get in the way.”

“I hope this is the first of many opportunities to raise money for this venture and that it’s something that continues,” Thompson said.

“Services like those from Goodwill mean a lot,” Du Houx said.

More than 250 people attended the second annual event — this time at the Ocean Gateway. The evening included a fashion show of upscale looks at Goodwill prices, with most outfits, including shoes and accessories, coming to less than $25 when purchased at local Goodwill thrift stores.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer from Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

amyedits@aol.com

Alex Cornell Houx: Person DB Profile: News Stories

http://climatechange.carboncapturereport.org/cgi-bin//profiler_showlist?key=alex_cornell_houx&pt=2&field=msmstories

Cornell du Houx, Herbig resolve personal dispute out of court

  Matt Hongoltz-Hetling

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm

BRUNSWICK — Two state lawmakers-turned-lovers, Reps. Alex Cornell du Houx and Erin Herbig, have reached a private agreement to settle their legal differences.

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Family releases psych evaluation of embattled Brunswick Rep. Cornell du Houx

Both legislators declined to discuss the details of the pact, which was reached late on May 11.

On Monday, May 14, Herbig, a Belfast Democrat, withdrew a request in Belfast District Court for an order of protection from abuse against Cornell du Houx, who announced he had requested a leave of absence for the last few days of the legislative session.

“Last week, before we came to an agreement, I informed leadership that I will be taking an excused absence for the next few days,” the Brunswick Democrat said.

Herbig and Cornell du Houx were involved in a romantic relationship, but when the relationship went sour, Herbig claimed Cornell du Houx stalked her and invaded her privacy in various ways, despite repeated warnings from legislative leadership and Herbig’s attorney, Chris MacLean.

Maine State Police opened an investigation into her allegations, but they closed the case on May 11.

“It’s over,” spokesman Stephen McCausland of the Maine Bureau of Public Safety said. “There will be no enforcement action.”

Herbig and Cornell du Houx have each said they intend to seek re-election this year.

“I’ve dedicated myself to the people of Brunswick as a lawmaker and to my country as an officer in the Navy,” Cornell du Houx said. “I am looking forward to continuing to serve in the Legislature and running for office.”

Cornell du Houx recently ended a three-year stint at the Truman National Security Project in Washington, D.C., where he said he traveled the country to recruit and train future leaders, elected officials, their staff, nonprofits, and others involved in national security issues and climate change.

Cornell du Houx said he voluntarily left the Truman project.

“I left the Truman National Security Project to focus on my re-election efforts,” he said.

Cornell du Houx made his first public appearance in Brunswick after the controversy, when he attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday for the town’s new train station.

“I went to the Amtrak opening and it was very heartening when members of the community came to to voice their support,” he said. “I am extremely grateful for all the community support I have received.”

Herbig said that she, too, has been buoyed by public reaction.

“I want to thank my family, colleagues, constituents and people from all across the state for their support and encouragement in this very difficult process,” she said in a prepared statement following the agreement.

Cornell du Houx said he will be leaving on a trip to Australia to lead a delegation of veterans to foster international relations later this month, but that it is not a result of the agreement.

“That’s been in the works for about nine months,” he said. “I’ve done previous trips to Malaysia and Indonesia in a similar manner.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or matthh@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hh_matt.

‘350’: National security tied to climate concerns

http://bowdoinorient.com/article/4703

October 30, 2009     

Margot D. Miller

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Students, faculty, staff and community members formed the number “350” to signify the importance of enironmental safety to world leaders. This photograph and others from “350” actions in 181 countries, were displayed in the United Nations building and Times Square in New York.

Students, faculty, staff and community members rallied around issues of climate change last Saturday during “350,” an event devoted to effecting environmental action and awareness.

The distinguished guest list included Maine Governor John Baldacci, former Governor Angus King, Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Micahud as well as State Representative, marine veteran and Bowdoin alumnus Alex Cornell Du Houx ’06.

Saturday’s event was part of the International Day of Climate Action, and extended far beyond the Bowdoin campus.

The name of the campaign, “350,” signifies the acceptable parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

An amount of carbon exceeding 350 ppm, according to scientists cited by the organization, can have a number of devastating effects on the earth’s fragile ecosystems, including a significant rise in sea levels, glacial melting, and an increase in water-borne illnesses.

According to the organization’s Web site, “people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history.”

Bowdoin’s event particularly stressed the consequences of climate change in matters of national security.

The College played host to members of Operation FREE, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations dedicated to informing Americans about the effects of global warming on the safety of the nation.

“We believe national security and climate change are related,” said Cornell du Houx. “We send a billion dollars every single day overseas to foreign states who do not necessarily have the United States’ interests in mind.”

Andrew Campbell, a member of the Maine Army Guard who did a tour in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, agreed.

“We need to take America’s energy future out of the hands of the Saudis, the Russians, and the Venezuelans,” Campbell said. America’s dependence on foreign oil, “undermines our own interests here at home.”

Pingree added that “were it not for our dependance on foreign oil,” we never would “have gotten involved in those conflicts [in Iraq and Afghanistan]”

According to Cornell Du Houx, global climate is a “threat multiplier.” The ecological effects of climate change can cause drought, famine and “migration shifts, which create refugees,” he said.

On June 26, the United States House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The Act seeks to establish a cap and trade system to limit the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted nationally.

Pingree said the passing of the bill was, “one of my favorite moments of my freshman year in Congress.”

Though the American Clean Energy and Security Act was a milestone in the fight against climate change, the Senate has yet to pass it.

“We can take charge of our security. We can take charge of our energy future. We can take charge by setting the direction for other countries to follow around the world,” said Michaud. “We have the power to begin change this year in the United States Congress.” But, he said, “we must push the U.S. Senate in the right direction for clean American power.”

The members of Operation FREE encouraged the audience to take political action to help the progress of the bill in the Senate.

Cornell Du Houx encouraged Bowdoin students to “call Senators Snowe and Collins and let them know that we need to protect America with this climate change legislation.”

According to Cornell Du Houx, “everyone realizes that we need to take control of our energy future” and students especially have the ability “to organize and become involved in this issue.”

“Student organizations are the people who will be leading America tomorrow,” Campbell said. Students make a serious difference just by “voting and contacting senators.”

“Senators really do listen to their constituents,” Cambell added.

Baldacci emphasized the importance of developing sustainable wind turbines to create energy and jobs.

“The future is wind,” he said.

As a former Bowdoin student, Cornell Du Huox recognized the significance of such an event.

“The fact that so many people showed up really shows how everyone is engaged and excited to push for climate change legislation,” he said. “This event was one of the best we have had on our national bus tour.”

Despite the rainy weather, between 150 and 200 people attended.

Though the event had originally been planned to take place on the quad, the crowd was still able to form the number “350” in Morrell Lounge.

President Barry Mills said he was pleased with the event.

“It was an impressive gathering of people from all walks of life in Maine,” he said. “There are few issues that are prominent today that galvanize common purpose among such a broad range of folks.”

Indeed, the issue of climate change weighs heavily on the conscience of many Bowdoin students. According to President Mills, “it is the issue that students talk to me most about.”

“Climate change, drinking water, sustainability issues; our students really care, ” he said.

Director of Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson, however, was somewhat disappointed in student participation.

“To be honest, I thought there would be more students here, but I’m really glad so many community members came out,” she said. “I’d say we filled the room.”

President Mills was particularly happy with the “genuine affection and support that our students and community showed the veterans.” The joining of “veterans to this issue,” he said, “is important as a national statement.”

That spirit of cooperation, the common goal shared by environmentalists and national security organizations alike, set the tone for the day.

Pingree’s closing remarks were imbued with that same sense of shared motivation.

“We want to do something about this. We want to take this into our own hands. We can do this together.”

-Zoë Lescaze contributed to this report.

U.S. military veterans travel to Copenhagen to discuss security threats of climate change

http://www.wwfblogs.org/climate/content/us-military-veterans-travel-copenhagen-discuss-security-threats-climate-change

Submitted by Lynn Englum on 15 December 2009 – 4:24pm

Today (15 December 2009), a veterans group—Operation Free—held a panel in Copenhagen about the security threat posed by climate change. Operation Free is a coalition of veterans and national security groups. In October, the group sent a pair of buses across the country to raise awareness on climate change and the security implications for America and the military.

At the group’s press conference in Copenhagen, the group discussed the two major security threats from a changing climate and continued oil use.

Drought, floods, famine and mass migration can contribute to political and economic instability–making regions more dangerous.

Dependency on a signal source of energy constrains the U.S. and other countries, generating dependency on hostile states and regions

Alex Cornell du Houx, a sergeant in the Marine Corp Reserves stated that, “Climate change is a threat multiplier, meaning it makes the world a more dangerous place.” Climate change has the ability to destabilize already weak regions—meaning politically or economically fragile areas—through droughts, floods, famine and mass migration. Stressed populations with political and economic instability create breeding grounds for terrorism. Recruiting a farmer who has lost his crop and has few prospects for alternative work is much easier than enlisting a thriving farmer with multiple agricultural opportunities. The group also stressed oil dependency as a problem in terms of U.S. security, but also emphasized instability in other regions generated from oil access or limited supplies.

In addition to discussing the threats, veterans addressed the deniers of climate change who claim no problem or threat exists. Michael Green, a former Army Captain, stated, “As a former combat commander, if 95% of my intelligence told me I had an imminent threat and 5% of my intelligence told me there was nothing to worry about, I’d be criminally negligent if I did not act to address the threat…This is not about narrow interests and it’s not about partisanship. This is about long-term security.”   

For further information on climate change and security discussions among the U.S. military, see Climate Change Climbs the Ranks in the Pentagon and CIA.

Metcalfe defends harsh talk about vets on climate

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2009/10/21/Metcalfe-defends-harsh-talk-about-vets-on-climate.print

October 21, 2009 4:00 AM

By Dennis B. Roddy Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican firebrand from Cranberry known for controversial remarks, yesterday refused to back down on comments in which he suggested a group of veterans were “traitors” for promoting a message about climate change.

The group, called Operation Free, was on the Pennsylvania leg of a 21-state bus tour when Mr. Metcalfe leveled the accusation in an e-mail. The veterans had invited him and other elected leaders to attend a visit to Pittsburgh that took place last night.

“As a veteran, I believe that any veteran lending their name, to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy, through cap and tax type policies, all in the name of national security, is a traitor to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution of our great nation!” Mr. Metcalfe said in his e-mail response.

“Remember Benedict Arnold before giving credibility to a veteran who uses their service as a means to promote a leftist agenda. Drill Baby Drill!!!”

Rep. Metcalfe, who served in the U.S. Army from 1980-84, defended the remarks, saying “if the type of policies that an individual promotes undermines the Constitution and the law of the land in our country, then they are not patriots.” He said cap-and-trade proposals on carbon emissions interfere with the rights of businesses and states and violate Constitutional principles. “It looks like, from their violent reaction from their statement, they haven’t disputed that it’s leftist propaganda,” he said of the veterans group.

One member of the group, Alex Cornell Du Houx, a decorated Marine combat veteran who joined in the battle of Fallujah three years ago, said he was troubled by Mr. Metcalfe’s remarks.

“It’s disappointing that a fellow service member would make such comments. We’re just waiting for him to have a chance to apologize for those remarks,” Mr. Du Houx said.

He said both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Marine Corps have begun programs to reduce carbon emissions in their own facilities. “The unfortunate reality is that he stands opposed to our military leaders. They know this is a threat and he should, too.”

State Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, called on Mr. Metcalfe to apologize, calling climate change “an issue that should be treated seriously, not with name-calling.”

Mr. Metcalfe previously triggered controversy this year when he opposed a resolution declaring Domestic Violence Awareness month in Pennsylvania because, in addition to the mention of those abused by spouses, the resolution included a reference to men suffering domestic abuse as well. Mr. Metcalfe said he interpreted that to mean people involved in homosexual relationships and said he would not support it because it “had a homosexual agenda.”

Last year he refused to support a vote to honor the 60th anniversary of a Muslim group in the state because “Muslims don’t recognize Jesus Christ as God.”

The latest remarks by Mr. Metcalfe brought some angry reactions.

“There are some pretty radical politicians out there who say some pretty outrageous things, but I’ve never heard anybody call somebody a traitor merely for speaking their mind,” said Michael Morrill, a spokesman for Keystone Progress, a left-of-center policy group in Harrisburg that is supporting the bus tour.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2009/10/21/Metcalfe-defends-harsh-talk-about-vets-on-climate.print#ixzz2mLFiBEmB

Climate change and national security top priority of bus tour

http://helenair.com/news/local/article_2ce5ef44-b7b8-11de-a984-001cc4c002e0.html

Eliza Wiley Independent Record

Eliza Wiley Independent Record Maine state representative Alexander Cornell du Houx speaks briefly Monday on the importance for our community members to encourage congress to pass energy legislation that cuts carbon pollution, developes clean energy incentives and puts America in control of its energy future.

October 13, 2009 12:15 am    By JOHN HARRINGTON, Independent Record(15) Comments

At the tail end of a record-breaking Montana cold spell, a bus tour crossed the state today as veterans aimed to raise awareness of their concerns about climate change and energy security.

Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security groups, is sending a pair of buses across the country to raise awareness of what it views as threats to American safety brought by climate change and over-reliance on foreign oil. The northern route of the two-pronged tour began Monday in Missoula.

Speaking to a small midday crowd at Memorial Park at the second of three Montana stops Monday, South Dakota veteran Rick Hegdahl said domestically produced energy gives the country more security than buying oil from countries that may not have America’s best interests in mind.

“We are hugely dependent on the Middle East for fossil fuels. That can’t continue,” he said. “I want to see us create energy here that lessens our need for foreign oil.”

Operation Free is supported by organizations like the Truman National Security Project, the National Security Initiative, VoteVets.org and VetPAC.

The group supports the passage by Congress of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would establish a cap-and-trade system for limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases. Under the bill, the government would establish a national limit for greenhouse gas emissions, and firms that emit them could buy and sell the rights for those emissions, providing an economic incentive to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they put into the atmosphere.

Critics claim the cap-and-trade plan would damage the country by raising energy costs – and thus, the costs for many products across the economy.

Introducing the touring veterans, local vet Art Compton acknowledged that the proposed legislation, which has passed the House and been introduced in the Senate, won’t please everyone.

“It may not be perfect, but any bill that’s passed is going to strengthen the United States’ negotiating position at upcoming global climate conferences,” he said.

By passing a bill of its own, Compton said, the U.S. would be in a better place to press countries like China and India to enact similar limits on greenhouse emissions.

Alex Cornell du Houx, a member of the Maine House of Representatives and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he saw firsthand the dangers of people becoming overly dependent on fossil fuel.

Citizens would wait in long lines and risk being out after curfew, du Houx said, in order to secure a simple tank of gas in a country rich in petroleum.

Exacerbating the problem for the United States, he said, is the fact that so many countries that sell oil to America are otherwise hostile.

“The reason veterans are really mobilizing on this and believe it’s important is because they feel it’s a security threat,” he said. “They’ve seen firsthand when they’re deployed why foreign energy is a threat to our security.”

The bus tour went from Helena to Billings, with stops in Miles City and Glendive also planned. The two-week tour wraps up Oct. 24 in Maine.

Reporter John Harrington: 447-4080 or john.harrington@helenair.com

Veterans on bus tour say reducing climate change will help national security

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2009/10/veterans_on_bus_tour_say_reduc.html

By Barbara Miller | bmiller@pennlive.com

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on October 21, 2009 at 12:00 PM, updated October 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM

View full sizeBarbara Miller, The Patriot-NewsAlex Cornell du Houx, a Marine Corps veteran and member of Maine’s House of Representatives, speaks during the Veterans for American Power Tour Wednesday in the Capitol Rotunda. Reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil will make it safer, cleaner and help create jobs, said veterans on the Operation Free Veterans for American Power tour in a press conference Wednesday morning in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, Pa.

Six veterans on the nationwide bus tour Oct. 12-24 urged action to halt global warming, and advocated passage of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. “We send $1 million a day to foreign countries that are not friends to us,” said veteran Alex Cornell du Houx of Maine, saying the funds could be used to invest in clean energy in the U.S.

Alternative energy will also create jobs, said Terry Peck of Harrisburg Local 520 of the Plumbers, Pipefitters and HVACR Technicians Union.

The local is training Marines to be pipe welders for family-sustaining jobs when they leave the service, Peck said. The veterans toured the training center of the union following the press conference.

Vets touring country with message: National security through clean energy

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_04ec0868-bad1-11de-b5df-001cc4c002e0.html

Buy Now

DICK RINIKER

The Veterans Concerned with global warming bus stopped by the Main LaCrosse Library to voice their concerns.Dick Riniker photo

October 17, 2009 12:15 am    By RICHARD MIAL | rmial@lacrossetribune.com(0) Comments

A group of young veterans is touring the country calling for legislation they say will enhance national security by promoting alternative energy.

They are traveling in a bus fueled with biodiesel and emblazoned with the words: “Operation Free. Mission: Secure America with Clean Energy.”

The bus started in Missoula, Mont., on Monday and made stops Friday in Rochester, Minn., and Madison and Milwaukee as well as La Crosse.

Their issue? At a time when scarce resources can lead to war, the United States would be safer if it was more energy-efficient.

Alec Sylvester of River Falls, Wis., was deployed to Baghdad in 2004 with a National Guard unit. Part of their job was to install surveillance cameras at key intersections. The cameras worked well but depended on the local power grid, which was less than reliable. Sylvester’s troops eventually were able to get solar power units for the cameras.

“One of the things I’ve realized since I’ve come home is that we take power for granted,” Sylvester said. “We flip the switch and we don’t even give it a second thought that these lights are going to come on. Let’s not wait for a crisis to do it right.”

Alex Cornell du Houx is a Maine legislator who served with the Marine Corps reserves in Fallujah in Iraq in 2006. He was amazed one day to see a long line of cars, trucks and tractors in the city.

“They were all waiting in line for the entire day for gasoline and diesel,” he said. “They were so reliant on the single source of energy. It made me start thinking about this issue and realizing how vulnerable the United States is because we’re dependent on a single source as well.”

Robin Eckstein of Appleton, Wis., was a convoy truck driver stationed at the Baghdad airport early in the war.

“The two main things we supplied were fuel and water,” she said.

Before each run, they would wonder: “What are we going to encounter today? Are there going to be IEDs? Are we going to be ambushed? Is there going to be sniper fire? Is anybody going to be injured? Is anybody going to be killed?

“If we were transporting this fuel less, we could be saving American lives. We could do that just by being more energy efficient.”

One of the bills the group supports passed the U.S. House on June 26 by a narrow 219-212 vote. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 would increase energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. A companion bill is pending in the Senate.

Veterans on tour will warn of warming climate

http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_c1019132-b7b9-11de-b54e-001cc4c03286.html

PAUL RUHTER/Gazette Staff

Rick Hegdahl of Seattle speaks in Billings as part of the Operation Free bus tour.

October 12, 2009 10:15 pm    MATT HAGENGRUBER Of The Gazette Staff0

Iraq War veterans might not be associated with the fight against climate change, but a group of veterans is touring the country with the message that a hotter Earth poses a major threat to America’s national security.

A bus rolled into town Monday evening with four veterans who served in Iraq and Kuwait. One of them, Marine Alex Cornell du Houx, patrolled the areas around Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. He saw huge lines of cars and trucks waiting for gasoline.

“This country was absolutely crippled because of their reliance on a single source of energy,” he said. “They were willing to riot for fuel.”

Cornell du Houx and the other vets on the tour said that increasing environmental stress from climate change will cause more conflicts, and the American military may be deployed overseas more often to protect national interests.

For example, climate research estimates that rising sea levels will displace millions of people who live within a mile of the ocean, and the vets on the tour are worried that groups like al-Qaida will try to exploit that change against the United States. The group would like to see more green jobs and less reliance on foreign oil.

Sleek campaign literature features similar sentiments from former senators, national security advisers and governors.

Former Billings Mayor Chuck Tooley introduced the veterans, who spoke at First Congregational Church. Tooley served in Vietnam and now runs the Urban Institute at Montana State University Billings. “Beyond our overdependence on fossil fuels, the burning of these fuels releases more carbon dioxide,” Tooley said. “Climate change will force the U.S. to divert its resources away from our security.”

Billings was just the third stop on the tour, which began earlier in the day in Missoula and will run through the northern states before ending in Maine on Oct. 24. Another bus is working its way through southern states.

The tour touts support from several veterans’ and national-security organizations, including the National Security Network, Veterans Green Jobs and VoteVets.org. The tour’s Web site, http://www.operationfree.net, says that the tour is paid for by the Truman National Security Project.

The group has aligned itself with clean-energy legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the group hopes that green jobs will benefit veterans who are returning from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Robin Eckstein, an Army veteran from Wisconsin, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and drove trucks loaded with either fuel or water. Now unemployed, Eckstein is hoping that she can find a green job.

Another vet on the tour, Rick Hegdahl, said he got involved because of what he learned while serving in the Navy in Kuwait just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Hegdahl commanded a patrol boat that would keep watch on giant oil tankers waiting to fill up.

“It really dawned on me that the primary reason we were there was to control the shipping lanes for oil,” he said. “I said, ‘Something’s wrong. Something’s really wrong.’ “

Contact Matt Hagengruber at mhagengruber@billingsgazette.com or 657-1261.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/veterans-on-tour-will-warn-of-warming-climate/article_c1019132-b7b9-11de-b54e-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz2mLCOYjlt

Local Marine Returns Home Safe and Sound

http://www.theirregular.com/news/2007-01-03/Front_Page/1244987.html

by Ramona du Houx, Special to the Irregular

TOPSHAM — The excitement in the air was palpable as over 250 family,friends, and dignitaries, including Governor Baldacci, waited for thebus that carried 56 Marines home on the last leg of a journey thatstarted a year ago when they were informed of their impending deployment toIraq on Dec. 1.After seven months on the front lines in Fallujah, everyone fromMaine’s Alpha Company was about to be reunited with loved ones. Escorted tothe base in Topsham by the State and Topsham police, with the TopshamFire Department, the sound from the sirens made it clear they were on theway.Cheers and tears of joy filled the area, and finally one by one theydisembarked from the bus.In Iraq the unit had a variety of jobs, including convoys, guard duty,security patrols to find IEDs (roadside bombs), ambushes, manningobservation posts, and targeting houses. The men conducted operations in andaround the city, ranging from humanitarian relief to uncovering weaponscaches.”I know one of them pretty well; he’s a real leader,” said GovernorBaldacci, referring to Alex Cornell du Houx, who had worked in thegovernor’s office. “We’re all very proud of him, and the entire unit. Theirethic and tradition about service to country, service to the state, andservice to others always comes first. It’s a great day for the state ofMaine.”Cornell du Houx, a graduate of Carrabec High School, in North Anson hadbeen politically active before deployment.”It’s not a contradiction to be actively involved in the DemocraticParty and actively involved in the military. In fact, they should go handin hand, because both should be a service to one’s country,” saidCornell du Houx in an interview with NBC, before he departed for Iraq.Cornell du Houx served two consecutive terms as co-president of theMaine College Democrats, where he helped the organization grow from threeto 23 chapters and publish the only statewide College Democratsnewspaper in the nation, as they became a strong political force.In his free time at college, Cornell du Houx, a government and historymajor, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, tutored students in thelocal Brunswick schools, and promoted youth issues with AdCareEducational and Campus Compact.Cornell du Houx, a 0351 assaultman who works with explosives, waspromoted to corporal in Iraq and will return to being a senior at BowdoinCollege. He said the fact that the Maine unit all made it home is atestament to the skill and proficiency of Alpha Company.”As one can imagine, the life of a Marine is a very differentexperience from the civilian world. Living in plywood huts, one hot meal a day,with no females present, cut off from the rest of the world,accompanied by the training and mentality needed to kill the enemy, creates aunique atmosphere,” said Cornell du Houx, as he went on to describe moreof what he had seen in Iraq.”One of the major problems facing Iraq is that it really has no civilsociety. This is apparent when patrolling and talking with the IraqiArmy and civilians. I only saw a few soccer games during the whole time Iwas over there. Everyone simply comes home from work and disappearsbehind their compounds. Even the poorest houses are walled in with driedreeds. I’ve seen families visit each other, but the only clubs, activistor social groups that come to mind are the religious gatherings.”Another grave problem is the increased subjugation of women and thequest to control the education system. In my area it wasn’t uncommon tosee women working in the fields harvesting hay while dressed in what wecalled ‘ninja outfits,’ since all one can see are two slits for theireyes. In some wealthier areas the dress code was much more relaxed, butwhenever we entered a house, the women would huddle in a corner, whilethe man of the house, even if it is a kid, came to talk with us. Theyare treated as second-class citizens, and I observed someone driving ablue Bongo, passenger seat empty, while the woman was outside in thecargo section of the truck,” said the corporal.”One of the issues we had as Marines was the fact that we are trainedto accomplish the mission and destroy the enemy. However, in this war weare forced to act as police. It’s really a hard line to play, since youhave to assume everyone around you is there to kill you, yet you haveto act very respectful and pretend that that’s not what you arethinking. This is different from being a police officer where your major taskis to look at everyone as if you are protecting them. This makes our jobinherently harder.”Although Maine’s unit all came home healthy, the New England battalionthey are attached to lost 11 dedicated Marines.”Aside from the occasional ‘Saddam’s revenge’, we managed to stay quitehealthy ‘in country,'” said Cornell du Houx. “As far as our attitudetoward being blown up goes — one can do everything right and still behit by a roadside bomb, so we’d joke around and focus on being vigilant.”As of Friday, Nov. 25, 2006, at least 2,871 members of the U.S.military have died since the beginning of the Iraq War in March, 2003.

Collegiate chickenhawk troubled by opponent’s honoring duty to fight

http://scribeokc.blogspot.com/2005_10_01_archive.html

From The Times Record:

On Dec. 1, Alex Cornell du Houx, a 21-year-old Bowdoin College senior from Solon will head to Iraq for approximately 10 months as part of the Alpha 1st Company Battalion of the Marines. Instead of staying up late to finish off college papers and cram for finals, Cornell du Houx will use his training and experience as a 0351 Assault Man to shoot rockets, deal with demolitions and work the Javelin Missile System. “I am not nervous whatsoever. We are well trained and we’re ready to go,” Cornell du Houx said about the news of his unit’s impending deployment to Iraq. His mother and family are supportive of his plans as well. “I feel for every mom who has a son or daughter who has been deployed, for the innocent Iraqi families that have lost their loved ones, and for the families of 1,966 soldiers who never came home,” said Ramona du Houx, Alex’s mother. “But the overwhelming reality of how unjust this war is only truly hits home when it is your son or daughter who is going into harm’s way.” The senior is most well known on the Bowdoin College campus in his role as development director for the College Democrats of America and as co-president of the Maine College Democrats. Under his leadership, the organization in Maine has grown from two chapters to 23. While Cornell du Houx has actively rallied against many of President Bush’s policies, he feels that his involvement in the Marines is not a conflict of interest. “Regardless of my opinions regarding the war in Iraq, it is my duty as a U.S. Marine to serve and I am ready and willing to do my job to its fullest extent,” he said. Others on campus, particularly his political opponents in the Bowdoin College Republicans, feel differently about his service. Daniel Schuberth, a leader of the Bowdoin College Republicans and College Republican national secretary, said, “I applaud Mr. Houx for his service, just as I applaud any other soldier who is brave enough to take up arms in defense of his country. I find it troubling, however, that one of the most vocal opponents of our president, our country and our mission in Iraq has chosen to fight for a cause he claims is wrong. Mr. Houx’s rhetoric against the war on terror places him in agreement with the most radical fringes of the Democratic Party, and I am left to question his logic and motivation. … Paul Franco, one of Cornell du Houx’s government and legal studies professors, disagrees. “He exemplifies democratic citizenship at its best,” Franco said of Cornell du Houx. “Though he opposes Bush’s war policies, he still feels obligated to fulfill his duty. … This is the exact opposite of what is done by those supporters of the war who would never dream of fighting in it themselves or sending their own children to fight in it.” > more

The professor couldn’t have said it better. The chickenhawk College Republican leader apparently does not understand the principles of duty, honor and patriotic dissent. Another example of politics over principles.

posted by Scribe @ 10/26/2005 09:02:00 AM

Operation Free tour brings message to the Valley

http://www.towncrieronline.com/page/content.detail/id/500781/Operation-Free-tour-brings-message-to-the-Valley.html?nav=5008

November 5, 2009

By J.T. Whitehouse

Save | Post a comment |            

The Veterans for American Power tour made a stop at the Canfield Fairgrounds recently to spread their message of environmental concerns to the Valley. The tour, called Operation Free, consisted of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who say they are tired of America being a slave to foreign oil concerns.

“If we were cut off tomorrow of foreign oil, we wouldn’t have enough to defend our country,” said Ohio 16th District Rep. John Boccieri.

Boccieri was on hand to greet the big blue Operation Free bus as it rolled into the Canfield Fairgrounds on Oct. 20. He gave a brief introduction of what the tour was all about, stating that the speakers on the tour have all served in Iraq and Afghanistan and have seen first hand the ills of the big oil barons.

The main focus of the tour was to persuade the country to take action to decrease and eliminate the need for foreign oil while moving towards solving the climate problems that are facing North America.

One of the main concerns focused on global climate change. According to Boccieri, climate change is being viewed as a serious threat by the military.

“Climate change has been elevated to a national concern,” he said. “That is because the military looks 20 years down the line while politicians are only looking to the next election.”

Climate change comes into the picture as a threat as it can fuel a breeding ground for unrest. The message the veterans presented was that when areas are devastated by drought, floods and major storm damage, unrest can take root and fuel the growth of terrorism.

According to Marine veteran Alex Cornell du Houx, who is currently serving his first term in Maine’s House of Representatives, the military and the CIA have already established climate change departments to monitor the situation. He said that alone should tell people that climate change can be a national security threat.

“The CIA has established a center on climate change,” Cornell du Houx said. “They know it is a factor that could harm our security in the future.”

Although the tour was sending the message that climate change is a serious threat, the veterans also offered a positive message by backing alternative energy such as wind and solar power.

“The steel industry is seeing an increase due to wind turbine construction,” Cornell du Houx said.

Attending the tour stop in Canfield was U.S. Steelworkers union member George Calko of Warren. He was glad to hear positive news for his industry.

“I see this as a huge potential to create jobs,” he said. “We can reduce dependency on foreign oil and reinvent the American manufacturing base, In doing so, we can build wealth through sustainable jobs, create health through a cleaner environment, reduce the impact on the planet and provide a future for generations to come.”

George Pappas of Boardman also attended the Canfield tour stop. He said he wanted more information on a subject that he is concerned about.

“I’ve been following the issue from the environmental impact,” he said. “I came out to get information and the tour’s point of view. It’s an interest that I have been following.”

The tour began in Pine Bluff, Ariz., on Oct. 12 with a southern route and in Missoula, Mont., with a northern route. The northern route made its final stop on Oct. 24 in Maine and the southern finished in Tampa, the following day.

Cornell du Houx said the reliance on foreign oil causes problems for the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that is one of the reasons the veterans are getting behind this issue.

“Our dependence on oil forces our commanders to use troops for securing the convoys of fuel instead of using those same troops for counterinsurgency missions,” he said. “It stretches our forces and results in higher casualties.”

– See more at: http://www.towncrieronline.com/page/content.detail/id/500781/Operation-Free-tour-brings-message-to-the-Valley.html?nav=5008#sthash.NESm4XDk.dpuf

Marines return to a heroes’ welcome in Topsham

http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/showthread.php?36274-Marines-return-to-a-heroes-welcome-in-Topsham&p=200519

Marines return to a heroes’ welcome in Topsham

Darcie_Moore@TimesRecord.Com

10/27/2006

TOPSHAM – They came and they waited, hanging signs and stocking up on little flags, until the bus filled with Marines was only 15 miles away … and then at the exit … and the excitement hit the stomach with the rush to get to nearest the door.

Was it the cold, or the anticipation or the pure joy that made the fingers tremble?

Finally, the big black bus filled with the local men who make up Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines rolled down the street as people screamed and cheered and motorcycles revved. The doors opened and men in desert fatigues and caps began filing out.

To a heroes’ welcome raucously rolled out by more than 250 people at the Marines Reserve Center on the Topsham Annex, 56 Marine Corps reservists stepped off a large charter bus Thursday morning after seven months in Iraq.

After returning from Iraq to California – where they were debriefed about the seven-month mission in Fallujah – the returning soldiers were escorted to their base by state police, Topsham police and the Topsham Fire Department. Mt. Ararat Middle School students were dismissed from school to help welcome the Marines home. They were joined by local, county and state officials, including Gov. John Baldacci.

Some men in the back shouted the name “Cody” as Marines continued to step off the bus and out into the cold fall weather – a change from the temperatures they left in Fallujah and California.

That call was for Lance Cpl. Cody Baker of Topsham, who was greeted by his mother, his fiancée, other family members and friends, according to his mother, Linda Baker.

Baker, a 2002 graduate of Mt. Ararat High School who aspires to be a firefighter, was also greeted by members of the local fire and police departments.

His fiancée, Mindy Phillipon, said she’s ready to start planning their wedding now. Before the bus arrived, she said, “I finally get to take him home. It doesn’t seem like it’s finally happening, I’ve been waiting so long.”

Baker surprised her by asking her to marry him when she visited him in California in February during a week of leave from his counter-insurgency training before he deployed to Iraq in March. You get used to the people around you and normalcy, she said, and having a loved one away for months at a time makes you realize how much they mean to you.

The couple have dated since they were juniors in high school. Minutes before the bus arrived, all she could say was, “I’m so excited.”

Baker, a young man with a deep voice and laughter in his eyes, described the way he believes most soldiers feel about coming back from a war zone -it’s just good to be home and hard to put in words what he is feeling.

“It’s kind of surreal; we thought about it so long,” he said.

He enjoyed the escort and said the signs his family and friends had hung along his arrival route welcoming him and his unit home were “awesome.”

Baker said so it’s good to see the community come out and support the unit, which is made up of men from many Maine towns. Pointing over his shoulder, the flag-painted limousine was pretty cool too, he added with a smile.

Fighting back tears of joy, Baker’s mother immediately slipped into nurturing mode.

“You look thin,” she noted, asking him how much he weighed. He could only tell her how much he weighs with his pack on – 200 pounds, and admitted he’s lost a lot of weight. But his mom was glad to see he hadn’t lost his sense of humor. Baker said he has plenty of stories to tell about his experiences, and that includes many funny ones as well the grim tales of life in war-torn Fallujah.

His immediate plans are simple. After seven months of military food, tonight it’s beer and pizza and just “chilling” on the menu, Baker said. Then, his mom will make him lasagna.

“Thank God for bringing my son home safe and sound,” Linda Baker said as she stood and watched her son be encircled by his loved ones. “He did have a special guardian angel, that was my one comfort.”

Of the returning Marine reservist, she said, “They really have to know from the turnout how proud we are and thankful for what they do.”

Counting at least 40 people at the welcoming party Thursday to greet her son, Linda Baker said, “I was totally overwhelmed to see so many family, friends, neighbors, and students who knew me but never met Cody, just there to honor the men.”

Referring to the saying that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his mother, “I think you can tell an awful lot about a community by the way it treats it troops – its true heroes, and I’m just honored, truly honored, to be part of this community, and very thankful and grateful.”

Baker, a teacher at Mt. Ararat High School, said she had to take another day off from work today, she was so filled with emotions. “I feel complete now. I got my hands on (my son), I saw him for myself and I know he’s OK. I know my family is complete.”

Alex Cornell du Houx, a senior at Bowdoin College when called to duty, said he was happy to be back in Maine. Talking in early January about the training the men would undertake in California before going to Fallujah, he had said, “That seems so long ago from now after putting it into action.”

Asked Thursday about how the reality compared with the expectations, “You never know exactly what to expect,” he said. “But we adapted pretty quickly to the environment.”

The unit had a variety of jobs that kept everyone busy, from convoys, guard duty, patrolling, to “hitting” houses. The men conducted operations in and around the city, ranging from humanitarian relief to uncovering weapons caches and thwarting the insurgency.

Now, however, Cornell du Houx just take some time to relax.

“I’ll be back to Bowdoin at some point,” he said.

A leader of the Maine College Democrats before his deployment, Cornell du Houx said he plans to catch up now on what’s going on in the country. “You get pretty separated from the world,” he said. “It’s really great to be back in Maine.”

“I’m just thrilled that they all made it back safe and sound,” said Cornell Du Houx’s mom, Ramona du Houx. “I’m proud of them all.”

Though the men spoke of injuries suffered by some of the Topsham-based unit members, who were in constant danger while in Iraq, Cornell Du Houx said the fact that they all made it home is a testament to the skill and proficiency of the Marine Corps.

Baker’s 3-year-old nephew, Bryce LaFrance, asked if his uncle was getting on the bus again before it pulled away empty, and the adults relished in telling him, “No, he’s here to stay.”

Ellie

Operation Yellow Elephant++

http://ken_ashford.typepad.com/blog/2005/10/index.html

I’ve had my share of fun with college-age Republicans for their hypocrisy regarding Iraq.  They are all gung-ho about the war and how patriotic they are, but when it comes down to actually fighting the war themselves, they wimp out with lame excuses (“I’m fighting the war at home”, etc.)

But this story takes the cake.  An anti-war college student named Alex Cornell du Houx is being deployed to Iraq (he is a Marine), and he willingly goes because he recognizes it is his duty as a Marine.

The response from the pro-war students?  They slam him.

While Cornell du Houx has actively rallied against many of President Bush’s policies, he feels that his involvement in the Marines is not a conflict of interest.

“Regardless of my opinions regarding the war in Iraq, it is my duty as a U.S. Marine to serve and I am ready and willing to do my job to its fullest extent,” he said.

Others on campus, particularly his political opponents in the Bowdoin College Republicans, feel differently about his service. Daniel Schuberth, a leader of the Bowdoin College Republicans and College Republican national secretary, said, “I applaud Mr. Houx for his service, just as I applaud any other soldier who is brave enough to take up arms in defense of his country. I find it troubling, however, that one of the most vocal opponents of our president, our country and our mission in Iraq has chosen to fight for a cause he claims is wrong. Mr. Houx’s rhetoric against the war on terror places him in agreement with the most radical fringes of the Democratic Party, and I am left to question his logic and motivation.”

The General writes a letter:

Dan Schuberth

Secretary, College Republican National Committee

Dear Mr. Schuberth,

It takes a lot of balls for an officer of the College Republican National Committee to attack a soldier heading off to war. When you did so, you opened yourself up to being assailed as a cowardly yellow elephant and a souless, political hack who selfishly places his partisan ambitions above all that is right and decent. Thank God you didn’t let that stop you.

It’s important for people to know that although Alex Cornell du Houx is honorably keeping the commitment he made to the Marine Reserves in high school, he is still a major player in the Maine College Democrats and a vocal opponent of Our Leader and the Iraq Phase of the Eternal War to Resubjugate Brown People. He doesn’t deserve to face death in battle for the glory of Our Leader and his Administration of the Indicted. That honor should be reserved for people like you, able-bodied, albeit overweight, College Republicans who place the needs of the party ahead of national interest.

I was particularly impressed by your claim that this young Marine opposed his country by opposing the president. It demonstrates that you are capable of doing whatever it takes to destroy your political opponents. Just as such former College Republican greats as Scooter Libby and Karl Rove betrayed the identity of a CIA agent for political purposes, you accuse an Iraq-bound Marine of treason simply because he protests Our Leader’s policies. Obviously, you have the right stuff to go far in today’s Republican Party.

There is still more you can do. Join the Marines and follow du Houx to Iraq, and when an opportunity presents itself, betray him to the enemy. That’s what Dick Cheney would do.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets Denounce ‘Energy Citizens’ Campaign As “Oil Dependence Tour”

Thu, 2009-08-20 11:30KEVIN GRANDIA

http://www.desmogblog.com/veterans-iraq-and-afghanistan-wars-denounce-%E2%80%98energy-citizens%E2%80%99-rallies-%E2%80%9Coil-dependence-tour%E2%80%9D

Operation Free, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and national security organizations, today slammed the ‘Energy Citizens’ Astroturf campaign orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute and other Big Oil interests as a detriment to America’s energy security.

“Veterans understand the connection between energy security, climate change and national security,” said Jon Powers, Chief Operating Officer of the Truman National Security Project and an Iraq war vet.

Describing climate change as a “threat multiplier” for the armed forces, Powers denounced the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign, stating that Big Oil does not have America’s best interests at heart.  “Veterans do not want to see America’s national security in the hands of Big Oil,” said Powers during the press teleconference today.

Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, an Iraq war vet, said the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign is “limiting meaningful debate on a serious national security issue,” and “watering down” the critical message that veterans and clean energy advocates have for Congress, which is to act immediately to address climate change in the interest of national security.  Rep. Cornell du Houx described witnessing long lines of cars and truck waiting for gasoline and diesel while on patrol in Iraq, and said he “never wanted to see the U.S. become even close to that dependent on oil.”

Drew Sloan, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet and former employee at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Rocky Mountain Institute, called the United States’ slow response to the threat of climate change “death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.”  Using an analogy from the battlefield, Sloan called the climate crisis “a wound that will become increasingly difficult to heal” unless America acts fast to address it.

Sloan denounced ‘Energy Citizens’ and other oil and coal industry Astroturfing as “lies and misleading innuendo,” and described an unstable future in which American soldiers could lose their lives fighting wars over dwindling resources.

Iraq and Afghanistan vet Scott Holcomb, a part-time Professor at Georgia Tech, talked about the “lesson that all vets learn at a gut level – that tomorrow is never promised,” and related it to the need to make energy security a national priority.  “Soldiers will not have to go fight in resource wars if we act now,” he said.  “The more we can diversify our energy supplies and create domestic renewable sources, the better off we will be,” said Holcomb.

A group of roughly one hundred Operation Free veterans plans to visit Washington on September 9-10 for a day of action and meetings with Congress to relay the national security imperative of addressing climate change.  Veterans are also working within their local communities on what Powers described as “a real grassroots effort.”

He said that many veterans “continue to protect America when we get out of the service,” and that the group’s work to raise support for action on climate change is “another form of strengthening America.”

“We don’t have the money that Big Oil does to bus people around.  This is a genuine grassroots effort,” said Powers.

http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/

http://othersideofbrunswick.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html

Things came together, in that odd way they often do, as we read the article in Maine Insights while we gobbled our sandwich at the Big Top yesterday.  This publication is an offering from Ramona du Houx, the mother of our local member of the Maine Legislature, Alex Cornell du Houx.  It was formerly known as The Maine Democrat, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In an article entitled All Aboard on page 6, Ms du Houx dabbled in analysis of the facts and economics associated with the extension of Amtrak to Brunswick.  The fact that Maine Insights is a clearly partisan, slobbering tribute to all things associated with the Democrat Party in Maine aside, even her fawning discussion of the issue is reason for concern.

Veterans for wind? “Rally” Tuesday 2pm at U Maine Orono. Someone please speak truth to (wind)power!

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/veterans-for-wind-rally

Posted by Ron Huber on March 29, 2010 at 8:19pm

View Blog

This is a media release just sent me about the “Veterans for American Power Tour” visit to University of Maine Orono. Tuesday, March 30 @ 2:00 p.m. in the University of Maine Memorial Union, Woodbury Bumps Room.

I suppose it’ll be about the wonders of wind, with a few thumbs up for wave & tidal. Someone should make a poster featuring a grinning techie with a construction helmet and a holster full of wrenches saying “We had to destroy the village to save it” with a background of a windmill riddled landscape. Birds bursting in air, weird sonic vibrations etc,

The Wind Warriors will be arriving in a colorfully decorated bus See picture below. The whole thing is (surprise) a front group for windustry. The wrinkle is that its funded by Democratic party activists

National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy & Security Hits Orono

Veterans say oil dependence funds enemies,

climate change destabilizes nations

This Tuesday, as part of a four-month national bus tour, the Veterans for American Power National Tour will come to Bangor, Maine. The tour of US military veterans will highlight the connection between climate change and national security. The Tour was recently extended to 13 additional states as comprehensive climate and energy legislation gains momentum in Congress. Over the course of the full tour, the bus will travel to 27 states and hold over 125 events.

Veterans on the Tour highlight how oil money funds terrorism around the world and how climate change creates terrorist safe havens as it destabilizes weak nations through flood, famine, and drought.

Earlier this year, the Defense Department identified climate change as a strategic threat to international security. Read more about this.

WHAT: Roundtable discussion with local veterans

WHERE: Woodbury Bumps Room, University of Maine Memorial Union, 5778 University Bookstore, Orono ME

WHEN: Tuesday, March 30 @ 2:00 p.m.

VISUAL: 45-foot long wrapped tour bus (photo)

This will be the last of three cities the Tour will visit in Maine. Previously the tour was in New York. It will continue on to Massachusetts later this week. The Tour began January 13th in front of the US Capitol.

The Tour will cover the following states: Virginia, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Washington, DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.

The Veterans for American Power Tour is a campaign of Operation Free, a bipartisan coalition of veterans and national security organizations dedicated to securing America with clean energy. Learn more at http://www.OperationFree.net . Operation Free is a campaign of the Truman National Security Project.

# # #

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Tags: Maine, front, groups, windfarms, windmills

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  Comment by Joanne Moore on April 3, 2010 at 2:46pm

Exactly! 5th columnists destroying us from within by touting wind.

  Comment by Ron Huber on April 3, 2010 at 12:24pm

We need to warm the veterans for american power that many of the winds being exploited in Mars Hill and elsewhere are coming from…Canada, and as everyone knows, socialist wind=socialist electricity. If they set up in the Gulf of Maine – goddess forbid – they’ll be foisting wind energy from Old Europe on us freedom-loving, capital-hugging Americans. What is this Veterans for American Power group, anyway? 5th columnists?

  Comment by donaldsmith on April 3, 2010 at 6:32am

why is there so many assholes think they ar going to save the earth? they are going to spend billions and not even make a dent, plus distory the mt.s dont worry earth will be distoryed soon enough but it wil not be our doing it will be gods . so intead of you that think your gods stop distorying and enjoy what we have now ,you can take al that money with you

  Comment by Joanne Moore on March 29, 2010 at 11:19pm

What I find in looking at this military group more closely is the hilarity of their position. Supporting wind power as a way to free us from terrorism is like going into battle dressed in a loin cloth and feather boa.

  Comment by Ron Huber on March 29, 2010 at 11:00pm

I’m sure they’ll have a some stirring scripted rhetoric

  Comment by Joanne Moore on March 29, 2010 at 10:56pm

OK. I get ya. But I don’t look on it as odd. I guess in my cynicism of politics I assumed both parties were industry sponsored/corporate sponsored and only say and do what their corporate sponsors/masters demand or no more donations into party coffers. Thus I think this phony grassroot group is industry speaking and the “activists” are mere sockpuppets or ventriloquist’s dummies.

  Comment by Ron Huber on March 29, 2010 at 10:29pm

The odd fact was that the organization as you read into its background is a democratic party initiative . Nothing wrong with that; its just different. Usually the astroturf grassroots groups are pure industry sponsored.

  Comment by Joanne Moore on March 29, 2010 at 9:52pm

Ron, what do you mean by “the wrinkle is that its funded by Democratic party activists” ? Sorry, I don’t understand “wrinkle”.

  Comment by Long Islander on March 29, 2010 at 9:09pm

  Comment by Long Islander on March 29, 2010 at 8:52pm

When you go to “Operation Free’s” website you immediately see that one of their campaign director’s is:

Alex Cornell Du Houx

alex@trumanproject.org

207-319-4511

(Washington DC, Maine)

http://www.operationfree.net/about-us/our-team/

He is a state rep from Brunswick and his mother Ramona Du Houx publishes “Maine Insights”, one of the biggest wind power cheerleading publications you will ever find, formerly called “The Maine Democrat – Inclusive and Progressive”. Here is their logo from http://maineinsights.com/

http://www.alexcornell.org/about_alex.html

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The Spectacle Blog

http://spectator.org/blog/54187/obamas-climate-speech-thoughts-maine

OBAMA’S CLIMATE SPEECH: THOUGHTS FROM MAINE

By Ross Kaminsky on 6.27.13 | 3:37PM

And the administration has made it pretty clear that something is our military. I wish we’d mind our business across the world more than we have but I also know that weakness is provocative. The second the lone lion slows down and limps an opportunistic hyena will probe for weakness. This can be the beginning of the end and yes, hyenas will occasionally take down an adult lion. The world is filled with hyenas. As economically painful as it is to maintain an extraordinary U.S. military, it is an investment in safety. Strength and the willingness to use it is all that is respected, quite unfortunately.

But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of former Maine state representative Alex Cornell du Houx. Alex, who served in the Marines and is in the U.S. Naval Reserves understands peace through strength. In fact, while in the legislature Alex worked for an organization called Operation Free which tied our national security to our energy security, specifically the lack thereof given our reliance on foreign oil. As much as I did not agree with many of Alex’s views, I believe he made a valid point – that depending on oil, a portion of which comes from distant and dangerous parts of the world could end up thrusting the U.S. into dire straits if the supply were cut off. I was not quite as concerned as Alex, for I had more faith I suppose in our more proximate foreign suppliers, Canada and Mexico. But nevertheless his point was well taken. But where I differed from Alex was very clear. In fact it started with Operation Free’s logo, a combination of military radar and a wind turbine. It turned out the whole thrust of Alex’s energy security message was we needed to depend on domestic sources, in particular wind power. Rather interesting for we don’t use oil to make electricity, which is what wind would provide. Nevertheless the entire organization was built on spreading the gospel of wind power as the answer to our energy security and thus our national security. It also put forth the idea that climate change would cause disruptions which in turn would make wars more likely. Do I think climate change (if I believed in it) could create conditions making wars more likely? Well, I guess anything is possible, but I’d rate it  # 1 on a 1-10 scale. I’d rate a weakened U.S. military much higher up the scale.

But getting back to my agreement with Du Houx, reasonably maximizing energy independence is a good thing but it has to be accomplished with fuels we use and fuels that work. Three that come to mind are coal, gas and oil – and that’s in alphabetical order. We have these resources. If we don’t use them, some such as coal will get exported to countries that will. There’s much more that can be developed and in fact there are many in the energy world who see North American energy independence within just a few year’s reach. That’s pretty good and worthy from both a security and economic perspective. And probably from an environmental perspective since our extraction processes may be more environmentally sound, e.g., methane. Not only do we no longer hear about Peak Oil (it’s in a place where I think one day it will be joined by Global Warming), but there’s talk that North America could be the new Middle East and the Middle East is likely to see its current leverage ebb. But not because of wind turbines, but rather good old American ingenuity, resilience and using what we were blessed with.

We’re in the worst recession since the great depression perhaps in our country’s history on the planet, we owe $17 trillion and we simply cannot purposely bankrupt our coal industry or unreasonably restrict oil and gas drilling. We need to get money flowing into the country not out of it. We jump start the process with an energy explosion, the attendant lower manufacturing costs and some energy exports. We start running a very tight ship and that includes getting rid of renewable energy subsidies. In fact, get rid of the subsidies to coal, gas and oil. Put some of that money into breakthrough energy research, not nonsense. The history of science teaches us that one day in the future our current use and understanding of energy will seem laughingly primitive. One day we’ll likely see something replace electricity. Heresy. Burn me at the stake. But I base what I say not on a crystal ball but a look back in history. That’s exactly the kind of thing that happens.

By the way, if you’re curious about Alex Du Houx, here’s a photo of him.

http://www.bowdoindailysun.com/2011/10/alex-cornell-du-houx-08-meets-with-president-obama/

And if you read the caption, you are correct in surmising Alex was one of those three wind-industry Energy Committee members that stuffed all 12 citizen sponsored wind bills, like the ones about noise so little children could go to school on a full night’s sleep. Yes, all 12 bills stuffed. OK, since you asked, mystery committee member # 2 was former Greenpeacer Jon Hinck whose wife is the leading wind industry attorney in the state. And mystery committee member # 3 was Stacey Fitts who worked as an engineer for a company involved with wind power that had the brass to boast on its website that one of their engineers was on the state’s wind task force involved in shaping regulations. You can’t make this stuff up. And we have the website screenshots.

When we discovered these connections we were understandably excited as we thought the story might elevate us a notch or two in the court of public opinion. But as they say in the news business, the story never gained any traction. This was just a bunch of cranky citizens opposed to things green who were crying about their views. Probably even some were that most repulsive Maine creature the “Outtastata”. The reality is if they knew how many of us already had solar panels and even small wind turbines they’d have been shocked. Some of us even drove small fuel efficient cars and had energy efficient homes. Some of us heated with wood taken largely from the limbs that fall on the ground of our woodlots over the course of the year. I don’t think any of us drove the Hummers that the wind company execs came to the public hearings in, those dashing veritable ecological super-heroes. It sure would have been nice to get the media on our side or at least neutral. But that just wasn’t in the cards.

VETERANS HAVE A NEW MISSION: MAKING AMERICA MORE SECURE THROUGH CONSERVATION SERVICE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY

http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/apollo/signature-stories/veterans-have-a-new-mission-making-america-more-secure-through-conservation-service-and-energy-efficiency

Veterans who once crawled around attics and other claustrophobic spaces in homes in Iraq and Afghanistan, searching for hidden weapons and suspected terrorists, are now crawling through homes in the United States to track down air leaks and missing insulation. They are part of a new wave of veterans who are turning the skills and determination they developed in the military to a new mission: that of reducing Americans’ energy use and carbon emissions.

“We think veterans are uniquely qualified to lead the environmental restoration here at home,” said Kirsten Maynard of Veterans Green Jobs, which is based in Colorado. “Not only have they seen environmental destruction across the world; they also have technical skills and other kinds of work skills that allow them to do the really tough work that needs to be done – like go into homes and crawl in the attic and the basement. They’ve been trained by the military to do it, and they actually feel comfortable being in that kind of environment.”

Veterans Green Jobs runs a 9-week “Home Energy Auditor Training” (HEAT) for veterans, using a rapid, hands-on “military” style of training and a curriculum that was developed in collaboration with community colleges and industry organizations. Upon completion of the training, graduates receive college credits as well as a home energy efficiency certification. The first class of trainees graduated in June, and another class just began in October.

Geoffrey Talkington, who was among the first wave of HEAT trainees, described in a blog post on the Veterans Green Jobs website this spring how it made him feel to be able to help a low-income U.S. Air Force veteran from Alamosa, Colo., improve the efficiency of his home and reduce his energy bills: “It felt good to help him reduce his energy demand, but more importantly I felt honored to have made an instant friend when Henry sat back, smiled, and said: ‘Thank you for serving over there. You served so my daughter doesn’t have to.’ The bottom line is that we are making a difference, and it is rewarding to connect in such a profound way!”

Ray Curry, another HEAT trainee, described how his home visits as an energy auditor differ from those he participated in while in Iraq: “After deploying to Iraq, I have many-a-buried-memory of entering strangers’ homes. These invasive orders were to directly ensure the safety of my Unit and myself. However, typically finding nothing of note, they made me feel like a perpetrator. As a ‘Green Veteran’ I have now been equipped with the training, tools and team for a different much-needed mission…I am no longer the perpetrator, but the fixer.”

In addition to the HEAT training program, Veterans Green Jobs manages several other green programs for veterans, including the “Veterans Green Corps” initiative, which enlists veterans to do work like trail repair and fire mitigation in forests. The initiative is funded by the U.S. Forest Service. Veterans Green Jobs is also about to embark on an urban tree planting campaign called the “Veterans Urban Canopy Program,” which will see about 4,000 trees planted in the Denver metro area. The Canopy Program is funded by the city of Denver.

“After Vietnam, this country did not really take care of the veterans, and homelessness and drug abuse and other kinds of social problems were caused by the fact that veterans needed extra support they weren’t getting,” Maynard said. “One of our goals was to make sure that didn’t happen again. And we really believe strongly that meaningful work opportunities are one of the most healing aspects of what we can do for people who’ve served.”

Mark Fischer, who counseled Vietnam veterans for many years and now runs the Veterans Conservation Corps in Washington state, said his experiences confirm Maynard’s beliefs. “What I saw was that veterans who had lives that had more of a purpose seemed to do better. Saving the earth, and environmental and energy issues can be meaningful work,” Fischer said.

Fischer’s program, which is run out of the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, puts veterans to work on habitat restoration and protection projects across Washington state. The program has been in existence for four years but has faced challenges recently because state budget cuts eliminated the stipends the program had paid veterans for their conservation efforts. The Veterans Conservation Corps is collaborating with other groups to apply for Recovery Act funds that would create more green jobs training opportunity for veterans in areas ranging from solar panel installation to the greening of the aerospace industry.

In the meantime, the Veterans Conservation Corps has inaugurated a new program, called Veterans Corps, which is modeled on the AmeriCorps program. Although Vet Corps has yet to be officially rolled out nationally, it is being beta tested in Washington state. Through Vet Corps, Fischer and his colleagues have placed some 45 veterans in community colleges and other institutions throughout the state for one-year assignments. Their goal is to help returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan enroll in community college programs, green jobs training programs and other activities that will help them figure out their goals for transitioning back to civilian life.

Vet Corps was part of Senator Ted Kennedy’s Serve America Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in April 2009.

“These veterans served and protected their country while abroad,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, an Iraq war veteran who also serves in the Maine legislature. “Through veterans green jobs programs, we have the opportunity to continue serving and protecting our country by reducing our carbon pollution to make America more secure.”

Cornell du Houx recently invited one of the founders of Veterans Green Jobs to Maine to look at the possibility of launching a program at Southern Maine Community College. His interest in green jobs stems from issues he’s worked on in the legislature, like efforts to turn a former naval air station into a renewable energy hub. But they also stem from his experience in Iraq.

“When I was deployed in Fallujah with the marines, we came across a line of cars, trucks and tractors that were bumper-to-bumper as far as the eye could see. They were waiting there all night and risking their lives for gasoline and diesel. It really struck me how vulnerable and dependent they were on this single source of energy. Likewise, it made me think about how dependent we are and how it puts our security at risk,” du Houx said.

Cornell du Houx is part of an effort by national security and veterans organizations to draw attention to the national security threat that is created by climate change. Their new project, Operation Free, held an event in Washington, DC in September, which was followed by a bus tour by veterans in October. “The reason why national security organizations are taking this as a serious threat, is that not only are we [the United States] dependent on oil, but the conflicts that arise from famines, floods and droughts [caused by climate change] multiply the threat of current conflicts and create instability,” du Houx said.

Operation Free is working to convince the Senate to pass strong clean energy and climate measures. And while they pursue U.S. energy independence on the policy front, hundreds of veterans are pursuing the same goals in local green jobs training programs and post-training job placements.

“It’s a revitalization of a mission they had in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Fischer of the Veterans Conservation Corps. “Once they left the military, that mission is gone, and it’s a big loss. When they lose that purpose it can be disheartening and disorienting. We try to create a meaningful job – for a purpose-driven life.”

NEWS

Rep. Cornell du Houx returns from Australia, reflects on trip

The American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) recently sent a delegation of young American politicians on a coordinated State Department trip to Australia. The two-week trip, which lasted from June 19 to July 2, 2012, was one of many that ACYPL has organized with the aim to foster government-to-government relations and promote a greater understanding of international affairs among our government officials. However, this was the first trip specifically for delegates who are United States veterans, a decision made at the suggestion of Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx.

According to ACYPL’s website, delegates are nominated by an ACYPL committee each year “based on their current political and professional positions and potential for future leadership.” Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx served as the delegates’ escort, assigned this position because of his role as a delegate on a previous ACYPL trip to Malaysia. The nominated delegates from the United States included: Justin Ford, Veterans Director of the Truman National Security Project; Jason Frei, Program Manager of The Boeing Company; Jeff Lieser, Managing Member of Lieser & Skaff, PL; Seth Lynn, Executive Director of the Veterans Campaign, and the Honorable Blair Milo, Mayor of the City of La Porte, Indiana.

While the U.S. delegates managed to fit in a few fun excursions – including an American Football League match and a dolphin watch trip – they kept a busy schedule of meetings and briefings at various government organizations all over the country. Over the course of the two-week stay, the delegates travelled to Sydney, New South Wales; Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT); and Adelaide, South Australia.

In these three locations the US delegates had the opportunity to meet with key representatives from Australia’s major political parties including the Liberal Party of Australia, the Nationals Party, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens. The delegates were additionally briefed by members of leading political organizations such as Belinda Henderson, Executive Officer of the Australian Political Exchange Council and Jim Barron, CEO of Group Training Australia. A trip to the United States Embassy introduced the delegates to Jeffrey L. Bleich, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Australia. One of the unique focuses of this trip was the experience of veterans as politicians, and the US delegates were excited by the opportunity to meet with the Honorable Warren Snowdon, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defense and Stuart Robert, Shadow Minister for Defence and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

Representative Cornell du Houx highlights the importance of the perspective of veteran politicians, explaining that veterans “have a unique ability to show the world our commitment to service beyond combat and dispel stereotypes about Americans as we are not just politicians.” He furthermore notes that because veterans’ “sense of service is higher than partisan, veterans have a track record of working in a bipartisan manner.” Particularly after this trip, Cornell du Houx was reaffirmed in his belief that veterans are strong ambassadors for the United States. Veterans focus on “what is good for the nation as a whole, not just for one political party.”

This was the 19th trip organized by ACYPL to Australia since the organization was founded in 1981. Notably, Australia has been involved in every war with the United States since World War I. The country is one of America’s principal military allies, and there is a large US military presence in Australia. A large component of the trip was to underscore the growing political and economic importance of East Asia and the Pacific, an often overlooked fact. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and the third largest democracy. The Strait of Malacca, located between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian Island of Sumatra, is a bustling portal for trade, sending through nearly a quarter of the goods traded in the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton astutely recognized the importance of this region and conducted her first official visit abroad to Asia, including to Indonesia. Diplomatic trips such as those funded and organized by ACYPL are crucial to fostering stronger relations and greater understanding between the United States and these countries.

Learning more about government practices in Australia, Representative Cornell du Houx was intrigued by the compulsory voting system there. Initially dubious about the effects of an obligatory voting system, Rep. Cornell du Houx came away from the two-week trip with more insight into the potential benefits of the policy. “The neat fact about everyone voting is political parties don’t have to pander to the extremes who tend to vote,” Cornell du Houx explained, “If everyone votes it’s a moderating effect.” Rep. Cornell du Houx cited this revelation as just a small example of many educational experiences from the trip.

A letter to the town of Brunswick

Recently there were sensationalized press reports throughout the state concerning me. I refrained from commenting about them because I believe personal issues should not be public, and I knew that I would be officially cleared of any wrongdoing. I regret any distress this may have caused you. The complaint was withdrawn and dismissed by the court. The state police never saw the need to even interview me, and they stopped the investigation.

In Steve Mistler’s Portland Press Herald article, he reported, “Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the agency today, said police had concluded their investigation on Friday. Cornell du Houx has not been interviewed by authorities.” The issue is officially closed. I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming support that I received.

At no time did my duties to serve the people in our community falter. In fact, while working on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, we successfully held back efforts to ram through proposals that would have undercut energy efficiency and Maine’s renewable energy standards. What is especially rewarding to me is that in a recent major economics report, the policies we kept in place have been proven to bolster Maine’s economy.

“Our strong team, led by members like Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx and Rep. Mark Dion, was able to negotiate effectively. At the end of the day, we did what was best for Maine ratepayers, residential consumers, and businesses alike,” Rep. Jon Hinck, who serves on my committee, said in a press report.

I wrote and we passed a law to weatherize the Statehouse, which will save taxpayers money and shows that we can lead by example. I was also successful in passing legislation to reduce the state’s dependency on oil, which improves our energy security and economic security. Gov. LePage praised another law of mine that protects oil and gas consumers. Ensuring our state and our country meet our veterans’ needs continues to be a passion of mine, and I worked on many veterans’ issues, including the first ever women veterans’ memorial at the Statehouse and women veterans’ recognition program to honor their service.

Many of you know me as a Marine, and I’m proud of my service abroad. Recently, I was commissioned into the Navy Reserve as a public affairs officer by Admiral Johnson, who commanded the United States Sixth Fleet. We conduct operational support for US Central Command (Middle East operations).

In a new book — On Point: Voices and Values of the Young Elected Officials — I was fortunate to become one of seven state lawmakers whose stories are highlighted by Jeff L. Thigpen. I am honored to be in the book, as Jeff said he chose me for my commitment to community service, public service, and service to my country.

“Alex’s personal story exudes a profound sense of duty, honor, and service to country — as an officer in the Navy, community leader, and in the Maine State Legislature. Those unique values have shaped his advocacy work for veterans, renewable energy, and energy independence,” said Jeff in a recent press report.

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell wrote an introduction to the book. I’m incredibly honored that he said, “Alex’s commitment to serving the greater good may be equaled by a rare few, but it is surpassed by none.”

I am dedicated to serving and protecting my community as your representative, through coaching, tutoring, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, chairing the Mitchell Scholar Alumni Council, and as on officer in the Navy.

I also believe in fostering relations for the greater good of our community, state, and country. At the end of June, I will be leading a delegation to Australia on a State Department trip for an exchange in government-to-government cross-cultural relations. The more the world knows about the great opportunities in Brunswick the better. Previously, I have traveled to Malaysia, Indonesia, and China in a similar manner.

I am honored to serve you as your representative in Augusta. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve and protect our community and our country. Please feel free to contact me anytime.

Truly yours,

Representative Alex Cornell du Houx

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx Leads State Department Trip of Veterans and Lawmakers to Australia

Cross-cultural exchange good for international public relations and business.

State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx leaves June 19th to lead United States veterans and delegates on a two-week trip to Australia through the State Department and the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). http://exchanges.state.gov/citizens/profs/acypl.html.

After attending an ACYPL trip to Malaysia last year, Rep. Cornell du Houx discussed the possibility of inviting veterans to participate on another cross-cultural exchange for this year. As a result of these discussions, this is the inaugural ACYPL/State Department trip with both legislative delegates and veterans.

“It’s a great opportunity for veterans to serve their country again in the capacity of helping to build cross-cultural exchanges,” said Rep. Cornell du Houx, an Iraq War combat veteran. “I’m excited that the State Department and ACYPL understood how important it was to open up this opportunity to veterans.”

ACYPL coordinates trips for young American politicians to visit other countries, giving them the chance to increase their experience in international affairs and explore other countries’ governmental processes. ACYPL participants meet with lawmakers and dignitaries of the country visited as well as go on excursions to talk to people from businesses and different sectors of society.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this trip and to explain the innovations and opportunities Maine has to offer to the world,” saidRep. Cornell du Houx. “I’m excited by the chance for me to promote our incredible workforce, our creative economy and our innovative spirit. I intend to spread the news about the great potential of Brunswick Landing and what a wonderful community we have.”

According to their website, ACYPL nominates its American legislative delegates “based on their current political and professional positions and potential for future leadership.”

“I am dedicated to fostering relations for the greater good of our community, state, and country,” concluded Rep. Cornell du Houx.

Protecting heating oil consumers

BY REP. ALEX CORNELL du HOUX and REP. KERRI PRESCOTT

We in Maine understand that the ability to heat our homes and offices in the coldest months of the year is essential to survival. So it was especially disheartening to hear of instances of Maine families prepaying for their home heating oil only to be swindled by oil dealers who failed to supply the fuel or return the money taken.

As state legislators, we are responsible for ensuring that Maine families who pay for heating oil receive this essential resource and do not go cold in winter. Such instances brought to light the need to better protect Maine consumers and starkly discourage disreputable oil dealers from failing to meet the terms of their fuel contracts.

In response, we sponsored and stewarded through the Legislature a bill titled LD 1895, An Act to Protect Consumers by Strengthening the Laws Governing Prepaid Home Heating Oil Contracts.

The new law won approval from the Legislature and has been signed by the governor. It requires oil dealers who offer prepaid contracts for home heating oil, kerosene or petroleum gas to register the dealer’s intent to offer such contracts with the Maine commissioner of professional and financial regulation by June 30 of each year.

Oil dealers will then have to follow up by filing a report with the commissioner by Oct. 30, indicating the manner of compliance and acknowledging an understanding that providing false information is a Class D crime.

These reports will allow the commissioner’s office greater oversight to ensure that Maine consumers are provided with the fuel they have purchased. By clearly informing dealers that failure to stay true to these contracts is punishable, the new law will encourage awareness that being socially reprehensible, such behavior is also criminal.

We worked in a bipartisan manner and wish to thank the many oil dealers who came to the table to work with us and make this legislation a success. The commissioner of professional and financial regulation office and attorney general’s office also were instrumental in the many meetings that crafted the final legislation.

In Maine, we pride ourselves on our resilience to make it through the worst that winter has to offer unscathed. This new law will help ensure that no family goes cold because of unfair business practices that strip us of our warmth and money.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, represents part of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives. He serves on the Energy, Utilities and Technology committee and works with the Truman National Security Project on national security and energy issues.

Rep. Kerri Prescott, R-Topsham, represents most of Topsham. She is the House chairwoman of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, and works for Priority Group of Topsham as the director of communications and Marketing.

New law aims to further protect consumers of heating fuel

The April 11 article about Pinkham’s Corner Fuel of South China filing for bankruptcy highlighted the reasons for a new Maine law that recently took effect.

As the article explained, a number of customers had pre-paid for fuel. They entered into an agreement with the company to pay ahead of time for fuel in order to secure a particular price. The company agreed to supply the fuel.

While the customers followed through on their end of the agreement, the company apparently was unable to deliver all of the promised fuel or return the money received from customers. Although some might get a portion of their money back through the bankruptcy process, it’s entirely possible that none will see a penny. Nor will their tanks be filled.

It’s not a common occurrence, but unfortunately, examples of customers being left out in the cold, almost literally, are not as rare as they should be.

The governor and Legislature recognized the need for better consumer protections, and they took action this year. L.D. 1895, An Act To Protect Consumers by Strengthening the Laws Governing Prepaid Home Heating Oil Contracts, was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage on March 30.

The new law (PL 2012, Chapter 574) won’t help customers of Pinkham’s Corner Fuel, but it may reduce the likelihood that other Maine homeowners will share their fate.

Although it’s not possible to completely prevent similar situations in the future, the law change responds to several recent examples of dealers taking money from Maine consumers, but failing to supply the fuel. In the past 18 months, about 10 fuel companies either went out of business or had significant problems and delays in fulfilling their contracts.

Many legislators were concerned about this issue, and they responded quickly. Reps. Kerri Prescott, R-Topsham, and Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, played key roles.

Maine people can have confidence that the vast majority of fuel dealers in our state are honest and reputable. They serve their customers well and contribute to our communities in many ways. Several dealers, in fact, as well as the Maine Energy Marketers Association, participated in the process of developing this new law, along with the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

As in any profession or industry, however, there are a few unscrupulous dealers and circumstances occasionally overwhelm businesses. The law was changed to discourage these cases in which a dealer doesn’t meet its obligation.

Specifically, the new law requires oil dealers who plan to offer prepaid contracts for home heating oil, kerosene or liquefied petroleum gas to register their intent to offer such contracts with the commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation by June 30 of each year. These dealers must file a report by Oct. 31 each year to indicate the manner of compliance.

The commissioner must refer to the attorney general any registered dealer who fails to provide the required report or who makes a false statement, which would be a violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Individuals who plan to use a prepaid contract for the next heating season are encouraged to contact the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr) this summer to find out if their dealer has registered.

Ultimately, no law change can prevent fuel dealers from going out of business nor stop all unscrupulous activity. Each of us, as consumers, should be mindful of the risks, as well as the potential benefits, of entering into prepaid contracts. We should read contracts carefully and do our homework regarding the fuel dealer we select.

It’s hoped that this new law will discourage inappropriate behavior by the few unscrupulous dealers, but there’s no guarantee.

As consumers, we must do our part to safeguard our money.

Written by Anne L. Head, commissioner of the state Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

Originally published in the Kennebec Journal

Brunswick on Smithsonian Magazine’s best small towns list

TAOS, N.M.  — Great Barrington, Mass., and Taos, N.M., top a list of “20 Best Small Towns in America” in the May issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

Great Barrington, long a favorite summer and fall getaway destination for vacationers, has a population of just 6,800 but boasts the sophistication of a larger city, with great food, arts, and plenty of hipsters. It’s also surrounded by natural beauty, with lakes, woods and the nearby Berkshire Mountains.

The magazine says the charm of Taos centers around tourists and other outdoor enthusiasts packing the plaza of the old adobe town, along with its many galleries and museums steeped in a deep Hispanic and Native American past. The small mountain hamlet is located in northern New Mexico.

The list was developed by the geographic information systems company Esri, which searched towns with populations less than 25,000 for high concentration of museums, historical sites and other cultural attractions.

Joining Brunswick on the list are Red Bank, N.J.; Mill Valley, Calif.; Gig Harbor, Wash.; Durango, Colo.; Butler, Pa.; Marfa, Texas; Naples, Fla.; Staunton, Va.; Brattleboro, Vt.; Princeton, N.J.;  Siloam Springs, Ark.; Menomonie, Wis.; Key West, Fla.; Laguna Beach, Calif.; Ashland, Ore.; Beckley City, W.Va., and Oxford, Miss.

See the original article in the Portland Press Herald

Legislators say they didn’t know about Brunswick TIF bill

BRUNSWICK — Area legislators said they had nothing to do with a piece of proposed legislation that recently angered town leaders.

“I had no knowledge of legislation … and am very disappointed the governor’s office did not inform us, as it would harm Brunswick dramatically,” state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, said.

The legislation, which was introduced to the State Appropriations Committee on March 30, would have established a revenue split between Brunswick and the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. Had the bill passed, 80 percent of the money from a Tax Increment Finance district would have gone to MRRA for the purpose of redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Town leaders cried foul, claiming that the bill was an attempt to run roughshod over negotiations between MRRA and the town.

State officials said that the bill was an effort to ensure that the former Navy base, now known as Brunswick Landing, and a handful of other former military sites around the state receive the funding necessary for a robust redevelopment process.

George Gervais, who introduced the legislation in his role as commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said he produced the bill after consulting with the LePage administration and the office of the attorney general.

Legislators said they weren’t informed about the bill until after it was defeated.

“I had no prior knowledge of that provision in the change package, nor was I asked for any input into it,” Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, said last week.

Cornell du Houx blasted the bill in a written statement.

“Brunswick and the MRRA are currently in negotiations, and for the state to step in and dictate the terms of the negotiations is terrible policy that harms the town of Brunswick when we should all be working together to strengthen our community,” he said.

The bill was defeated at the committee level because members wanted the public to have more input into the process, a reason that Gervais said he supports.

Gervais maintained that he was not trying to push the bill through without a discussion of its merits.

“I didn’t even know it was going to be discussed that day myself,” he said, “until someone asked me if I was going to be there. … I rushed over and got there late.”

State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said he doesn’t have much to say about administration-generated legislation that hasn’t come before him personally. Typically, he said, he speaks to “only the parts that I vote on.”

Rep. Peter Kent, D-Woolwich, did not return several phone and email messages.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or matthh@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hh_matt.

See the original article in The Forecaster

Brunswick rep responds to debate challenge

I am looking forward to meeting everyone this campaign season at the doors, around town and at community debates and forums. Despite the challenges with our governor, we have been able to protect many important laws and programs and I am looking forward to talking about the challenges, issues and successes in Augusta. It is important to keep the campaign professional and have the debates hosted by a nonpartisan organization. This is standard practice across the state and nation.

The Chamber of Commerce and League of Women Voters have done a tendentious job in the past running these debates. There are a host of environmental, educational, health and other organizations, that would like to have an opportunity to highlight their message with the candidates. If a candidate wants to donate their funds to help with the event, there is nothing stopping them.

We should strive to give the people of Brunswick the most objective and professional venue possible to learn about the candidates where everyone feels welcome and can make an informed discussion. I am looking forward to the upcoming campaign, as meeting everyone and hearing your thoughts are one of the highlights of my job as your representative.

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx

Brunswick

See the original story in The Forecaster

Energy Conservation Makes Sense

With oil prices inching up each day, now is the worst time to undercut energy efficiency programs that have helped put more money in the pockets of Maine families and businesses. But that is exactly what Gov. Paul LePage and his Republican allies are doing.

Common sense will tell you the cheapest form of energy is the one you don’t use. By reducing the use of energy it takes to heat your home or business, the more money you save. This approach has worked here in Maine, for families, and for Maine companies like Renys, but it has also been used across the country and the world, for that matter.

As a veteran who recently served in the war in Iraq, I can tell you I’ve seen first-hand how the U.S. military has capitalized on energy efficiency, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.

The Marines are using energy efficiency foams to reduce energy by 50 percent to 75 percent on their forward operating bases. The Army will have one of the world’s largest electric vehicle fleets in the next three years, with more than 4,000 vehicles, and the Air Force aims to have 50 percent of aviation fuel from biofuel blends by 2016.

By 2016, the Navy plans to launch the Great Green Fleet, which aims to make destroyers more efficient by adding hybrid engines.

Our military is working to become more efficient and use a variety of energy sources because its leaders know energy efficiency saves much needed funds and makes us more secure.

Likewise, in Maine, our energy efficiency programs have helped businesses and Maine families save $465 million during the past year. Maine’s investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy has created more than 12,000 good-paying jobs in our state.

These programs are administered by the Efficiency Maine Trust, which was set up as an independent organization to help Maine people save on their energy bills.

The good news is these programs are working.

Efficiency Maine’s home energy savings rebate program cut these residents’ energy use by an average of 40 percent. They now offer the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which lends homeowners up to $10,000 to invest in weatherization.

Energy efficiency programs invested $42 million into energy projects, which was matched by $ 71 million in private funds. This private-public partnership has lowered energy costs and has helped to create quality jobs.

While these programs have proved to be successful and gained Maine a national reputation and millions of federal dollars, the governor has submitted legislation to undercut the Efficiency Maine Trust. He would like to upend bipartisan energy policy that is proven to work in favor of less cost effective programs that benefit special interests.

Maine is a proven national leader in energy efficiency and alternative energy. We need to build on that reputation — not scare off potential business investors who are looking to see consistency in the state’s energy policy.

As a member of the state Legislature’s Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats to pursue these energy policies, which continue to make Maine more energy secure while creating quality jobs.

We should stand by our successful efficiency policies so our clean energy economy can continue to grow, the people of Maine can become more energy secure and save hard earned funds.

Originally posted in The Times Record March 30th, 2012.

LePage’s energy bills generating opposition

AUGUSTA, Maine — The governor’s energy legislation package has generated significant debate and plenty of opposition during public hearings this week, setting up what could be yet another partisan battle in the coming weeks.

Even before public hearings were held Wednesday and Thursday on two energy-related bills offered by Gov. Paul LePage, House and Senate Democrats criticized the proposals as sweeping changes that “undercut energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

Although the governor has talked for months about his desire to introduce legislation that would reduce energy costs, it wasn’t until late last week that he unveiled his plan.

One proposal, LD 1864, would give the governor more control over the Efficiency Maine Trust, which provides a variety of programs to homeowners and businesses designed to save money.

Currently, that quasi-state agency is overseen by an independent nonpolitical board, but one of the governor’s bills would allow him to select the board chair.

The bill also includes language that creates new programs within Efficiency Maine: a rebate program for the purchase of efficient home heating systems and creating new programs to encourage homeowners to invest in efficient electric heating systems at the expense of other initiatives.

Kenneth Fletcher, Maine’s director of energy independence, testified in favor of the bill.

“We need to empower Maine people with other options. Because I don’t know what the prices of oil will be next week, next winter, or five years from now,” he said Wednesday. “But I am certainly not going to just expect that the problem is going to solve itself.”

Some said the legislation is little more than a power grab that undercuts the agency.

“It’s clear that this bill will make the trust more political,” said Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who serves on the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. “The best interests of Maine’s energy customers are served when Efficiency Maine is nonpolitical.”

Michael Stoddard, director of Efficiency Maine, said the creation of any new programs within Efficiency Maine would need to be funded with existing resources. That would mean taking money out of programs already in place, including weatherization.

Last year, Efficiency Maine completed thousands of weatherization projects, saving homeowners 30-40 percent or more in annual energy bills.

Stoddard said he wasn’t involved in the discussion over the governor’s energy legislation, but he wasn’t surprised by that.

Another bill proposed by the governor, LD 1863, would allow certain power generators, specifically large-scale hydro-power producers, to qualify for the state’s renewable energy portfolio. The governor’s office said this would bring down costs.

Others had a different take.

“The governor’s hydro proposal would take money from Maine people and hand it to a government-owned company in another country,” said Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland, the lead House Democrat on the Energy Committee. “This would do nothing to lower Maine energy prices but would certainly benefit Hydro Quebec.”

There is no restriction on Hydro Quebec or any other entity selling power in Maine but, at the moment, it cannot be counted in state’s renewable energy portfolio. Whether the bill decreases cost is unclear because Hydro Quebec can set its price.

Sen. Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport, who sponsored both LD 1863 and 1864, said more oversight of Efficiency Maine is good and he doesn’t think anyone can oppose the concept of reducing energy costs.

There appeared to be much more support of the hydro energy bill than the Efficiency Maine bill. Chris O’Neill, representing the anti-wind group Friend of Maine’s Mountains, applauded the governor for making cost a priority.

“If we’re going to add more renewable power, let’s get the good stuff,” he said.

Public hearings also were held Thursday on two other energy-related pieces of legislation that originated from the governor’s office.

LD 1872 would change the name of the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security to the Governor’s Energy Office.

LD 1875 seeks to provide pricing transparency to electricity ratepayers to show the total financial effect to ratepayers from electricity supply, transmission and delivery and state and federal government assessments. It also would require the Public Utilities Commission and the Public Advocate to submit their budget recommendations as part of the unified current services budget legislation using a zero-based budgeting process.

All of the governor’s energy bills were supposed to be voted out of committee by the end of this week but debate likely will continue into next week.

Some are upset by the delay.

“The governor said it was a top priority last summer to introduce an energy bill,” said Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, who serves on the Energy Committee. “Now as the legislative session is in the last month, he is trying to recklessly upend good energy policy with almost no notice for a public hearing? The people deserve more time to find out if they will be one of the winners or losers under the plan.”

Governor’s rushed energy proposals likely to increase costs

Dems say governor’s power grab on energy bills will hurt Maine people

AUGUSTA—Democratic lawmakers on the State Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee said the governor’s efforts to ram through sweeping energy proposals that undercut energy efficiency and renewable energy will hurt Maine families and businesses.

On Friday, Governor Paul LePage released four significant energy proposals that could get a public hearing as early as tomorrow.

“The Governor said it was a top priority last summer to introduce an energy bill,” said Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, who serves on the committee. “Now as the legislative session is in the last month, he is trying to recklessly upend good energy policy with almost no notice for a public hearing? The people deserve more time to find out if they will be one of the winners or losers under the plan.”

The governor’s proposals undercut the Efficiency Maine Trust, which has helped businesses and Maine families save money on heating costs. The governor’s proposal would also give him more authority over the energy efficiency agency, which is now overseen by an independent apolitical board. Another proposal would allow certain power generators, like large-scale Canadian hydro-power producers, to qualify for the State’s renewable energy portfolio, which encourages the development of alternative energy sources.

“The Governor’s hydro proposal would take money from Maine people and hand it to a government-owned company in another country,” said Jon Hinck, who is the lead House Democrat on the Energy committee. “This would do nothing to lower Maine energy prices but would certainly benefit Hydro Quebec.”

Maine currently spends less per capita on energy efficiency than all of the New England states. Maine’s investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy has created more than 12,000 jobs in the state.

“At a time of great economic distress, Maine’s energy policy has been a beacon of economic growth creating jobs and yielding lower energy costs,” said Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham, the Democratic Senator on the committee. “This is proof-positive that our energy policies are working. We must continue investing in and prioritizing energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

The governor has been a strong public critic of Energy efficiency and conservation despite its proven effectiveness. Last year, LePage called conservation a “Ponzi scheme.”

Last year, Efficiency Maine completed thousands of weatherization projects, saving homeowners 30-40 percent or more in annual energy bills, at $1.16 per gallon of heating oil saved.

“Absolutely nothing in the bill funds weatherization, which actually helps put more money in the pockets of middle class families and small businesses,” said State Rep. Roberta Beavers, D-South Berwick.

Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who also serves on the committee, said the bill to undercut Efficiency Maine is a thinly veiled power grab.

““It’s clear that this bill will make the Trust more political. The best interests of Maine’s energy customers are served when Efficiency Maine is non-political.”

Eighty percent of homes in Maine are heated with oil. Maine’s high energy costs severely impact household and business budgets each winter.

“Elected officials should be looking at how we can boost efficiency and homegrown renewable power, not undercut it,” said Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth. “The governor’s proposals would move Maine in the wrong direction.”

Brunswick education budget forum draws crowd

BRUNSWICK — With attendance requiring two overflow rooms, the Brunswick School Board heard public input Thursday on a budget process that will aim to close a gap of approximately $3 million.

School officials said Thursday that in the short term they do not expect help from state or federal sources.

“The funding of education is going to shift further and further onto the shoulder of the local municipality,” School Board Budget Committee chairman Rich Ellis said during a presentation on the state’s funding formula. “What that leaves for us as a local municipality is the decision as to what type of educational program are we going to have in this town.”

Following Thursday’s meeting, Ellis and Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said that public comment showed them strong support for schools and a willingness to look at tax increases as a way to close the budget gap, but both acknowledged that Thursday’s forum may not represent consensus among townspeople.

“We heard a lot of support for the schools,” Ellis said. “But I don’t want to discount that it’s hard to come out to these meetings to speak against tax raises.”

Thursday’s meeting to solicit public input was the first in a process that will continue through six more meetings between now and April 25 to determine how — through cuts, new revenue or other measures, including consolidation — the school department might make up decreases in state and federal funding.

“ This is a start to the process,” Ellis said. “Equally as important are the coming meetings, where we talk about each of the programs and supplementing or changing those programs.”

In February, Perzanoski said “there’s nothing that will be left untouched” by this most recent round of cuts, which come as the fourth consecutive year of revenue decreases for the district.

Perzanoski said that tax increases may be included as part of the recommended budget.

“We can come up with the best budget, we think, for the district and bring it forward and the Town Council may decide that they don’t think they can afford the tax increases, so it’s a balance with the whole community,” Perzanoski said. “We’ll try to take everything into consideration, but we are here to advocate for the kids.”

Still, Perzanoski expressed a willingness to compromise.

“As the Rolling Stones say, ‘ You can’t always get what you want.’”

Why and how much

In a presentation that opened Thursday’s meeting, Ellis characterized the decrease in state education subsidy to Brunswick as a “ perfect storm,” with the direction of the two factors that determine how much money Brunswick receives — student population and the valuation of town property — meaning decreases in state funding.

From 2010 to 2011, Perzanoski said, the district lost 127 students while the town’s overall property assessment for purposes of calculating state aid increased.

In the state’s formula, the number of students corresponds with a district’s estimated costs and the property valuation with the ability of the town to pay.

“Think of a town like Harpswell,” Ellis said. “They have very few students but extremely high property values.”

Based on recent trends in Brunswick, Ellis said, “We are becoming more and more like Harpswell.”

According to the presentation by Ellis and Perzanoski, the school department has seen a decrease of around 800 students since 2007. School officials attribute that decline largely to the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and the departure of Navy families affiliated with the base.

On top of decreases in state revenue for the loss of those students, the district was hit doubly hard by the additional loss of federal funds associated with educating students from military families.

During the 2007 school year, the School Department received nearly $1.5 million in federal Impact Aid for students on base. By 2010, that amount had dwindled to $157,945 and last year hit zero.

The expiration of the federal jobs bill is the single largest federal cut to the district from this year to next, dropping to zero from $692,868.

Revenue from Durham students paying tuition to Brunswick also decreased with consolidation of Durham into Regional School Unit 5, from which some residents have recently petitioned to extricate the town.

In 2007, Brunswick educated 174 Durham students; this year, only 40. Compared with last year, the loss in tuition from Durham amounts to $148,703.

With an expected loss of $1.2 million in state subsidy and a decrease in special education funding of $ 170,000, that leaves the school department looking at a budget gap hovering near $3 million.

What to do

People speaking to the School Board on Thursday night expressed worry that another year of cuts would be a critical blow to the district.

Many who said they bought homes in Brunswick because of the town’s reputation for good schools told the School Board that they would consider moving elsewhere if the quality of public education in Brunswick declined. Some said they attended Thursday’s forum to encourage the School Board to recommend that the town increase taxes to curb this fourth year of cuts to the school system.

“We moved to Brunswick for the same reason everyone else did, because we heard the reputation of the public schools is terrific,” parent Sarah Singer said Thursday. “But I’m here today because I’m not confident that the schools will survive another round of cuts.”

Singer, with a son not yet in kindergarten, said that her concerns are shared by parents of other toddlers and parents she met through a Facebook page, “Brunswick Community United,” which she started in response to the budget cuts.

“Within a week, we had 100 members,” Singer said of the 136-member group.

Parent Vladimir Dovitovnikoff, who started another online effort at brunswickschools. wordpress.com, asked that the board “give voters a chance to do the right thing” by proposing a budget that includes local tax increases.

“If there’s waste, let’s cut it,” Dovitovnikoff said. “But it’s hard to see how there can be much waste when we’ve cut for three years, and any future cuts work against (the School Board’s) primary purpose and focus.”

Some parents spoke more specifically about fears of cuts to athletics. Others proposed that the district look at consolidation efforts that could include bringing Durham students back into the fold if the town quits RSU 5.

While some said cuts would encourage them to look elsewhere, Jaed Coffin said that’s not the case with him.

“ This is my hometown,” Coffin said. “We could have no school and I would probably still live here.”

The Brunswick High School graduate and author recalled his positive memories from high school.

“When I look back on my education in Brunswick, I don’t remember a lot about field trips,” Coffin said. “What I remember a lot about are my teachers, people who really made a significant difference in my life.”

Coffin said he would also be willing to pay more or volunteer as he said basketball coaches did when he was in third grade, but also that he expects some cuts after the hits to state funding.

“I think it’s going to happen because you are contingent on the plans in Augusta,” Coffin said. “But, at least coming from my family, we’re not going to hate you. We’re here and we’re sticking around and we’re more than happy to find solutions.”

Under state law, Brunswick voters must approve each year’s school budget in a townwide referendum.

Ellis said that the board will look at specific programs to explore what is needed in each area.

“We’ll look at those functional units and we’ll see what kind of system we’re proposing to build,” Ellis said. “At the end of the day, all of those pieces will add up to a total budget and we’ll see where we are.”

See the schedule of future budget meetings at http://ow.ly/9yfXu.

In Augusta

School officials said they’re not counting on more money from Washington or Augusta for next year’s budget, but Brunswick’s legislative delegation said Thursday night that there still may be options to find additional funding at the state level.

“Money comes out of Augusta in different ways,” Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said after Thursday’s forum. “You don’t just have to get education money, you can get money elsewhere that would offset education money — backfill it another way.”

Gerzofsky declined to specify where that funding might come from, saying only that Brunswick’s lawmakers are “not putting all of our eggs anyplace.”

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, said he’s submitted a bill addressing how cuts in state aid are dealt to communities with dramatic population shifts as in the case of a mill closure or the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

With a month, maybe more, left in the legislative session, Cornell du Houx said that any additions to the legislative calendar could be “tough this late in the session,” and any changes to come out of this session would not affect the 2012-13 school budget.

Since cuts in state funding to Brunswick schools were announced last month, Perzanoski has said he’s not counting on more support from the state.

“ We’ll see,” Perzanoski said. “There’s a lot of talk.”

See the original article in The Times Record

Cornell du Houx begins weekly office hours

BRUNSWICK — Beginning this week, state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, DBrunswick, will hold weekly office hours at the Little Dog Coffee Shop, 87 Maine St., from 7: 30 a. m. to 8: 30 a. m. every Thursday.

“Cornell du Houx believes the informal setting in Little Dog allows for friendly, honest communication, and he is excited for the chance to hear directly from his constituents and neighbors,” a release from his office states.

“It’s important to hear from my constituents so I can understand your questions and concerns, and better represent the people of Brunswick in Augusta,” Cornell du Houx said in the release.

Original in the Times Record on February 14, 2012

Speak up for Schools

To the editor:

As a coach at the junior high and after tutoring in the local school system for four years, I am very disturbed by the cuts facing our school system.

On Feb. 2, the Maine Department of Education announced plans to cut $1.24 million from Brunswick schools. This is on top of deep cuts last year and the loss of about $1 million in federal funds due to the closure of the air station. In total we are looking at a $3 million shortfall next year.

We are facing tough economic times, but cutting education only hurts us more. Education is the best tool we have to create a strong economy and quality jobs.

When companies look for a community to work in, one of their top priorities is an educated work force.

A strong school system also brings families to Brunswick, which again drives our economy.

These budget cuts do not mean cutting superfluous programs. Essential core curriculum, necessary for our children’s intellectual growth and Brunswick’s standing as an amazing place to raise a family, are going to be jeopardized.

I am working with the rest of the legislative delegation to do everything we can to challenge these cuts. I have submitted legislation to help restore and lessen the impact of the cuts.

To better make our case, we need to hear from the community. Please let us know that you are concerned about these cuts so we can let the governor’s office know the people of Brunswick will not stand by and watch our education system be damaged.

You can reach me at acornell@alexcornell.org or feel free to stop by my weekly office hours every Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the Little Dog Coffee Shop.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

Brunswick

Originally published in the Times Record, 2/13/12

School Aid Cut Bandage Explored

BY DARREN FISHELL Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK — State education officials say the funding formula that calls for the Brunswick School Department to experience another year of steep cuts in state aid doesn’t lie.

Nevertheless, local legislators hope that something can be done to curb an expected decrease of $1.24 million in state aid to the district for the 2012-13 academic year.

Brunswick Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski said he is not so hopeful that help or changes to the formula will emerge from legislative discussions that will ultimately determine how state education subsidy funding will be allocated for the budget year that begins July 1.

“There’s been no indication over the last three years that (the state) would be willing to do anything to change the situation, so why would they change it now?” Perzanoski said in his office last week. He referred to the impact that Brunswick Naval Air Station’s closure, a six- year process that culminated in May 2011, has had on Brunswick’s student population.

In Perzanoski’s four years as superintendent, annual cuts in state and federal aid compelled the closure of three elementary schools and the loss of 90 employees, he said.

The formula determining those cuts is based on two primary factors: enrollment and the town’s overall property valuation.

David Connerty-Marin, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Education, said that the enrollment figures are calculated in two parts, with enrollment driving most of a district’s estimated subsidy.

Other factors, such as special education costs and the district’s student- teacher ratio, are factored in to find out how much a district should expect to spend to provide an education in line with Maine Learning Results standards.

The town’s valuation, Connerty Marin said, is then used to determine how much of those costs the municipality should be able to pay.

“The Legislature could change that formula,” Connerty Marin said, “but they have refrained from doing so and there’s no legislation now for that — so, it’s not likely to happen this session.”

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, DBrunswick, said changes to the formula are unlikely to gain a spot on the legislative calendar this session, but he said he’s confident that the numbers Brunswick is seeing now will be different when the Legislature takes action on final school subsidy figures before adjourning in April.

“I think the numbers are going to improve and not get worse,” Gerzofsky said.

Statewide, Connerty-Marin said, the education budget proposed by Gov. Paul LePage reflects an increase of $ 19 million over 2011-12.

“The fact that we’ve been able to not only flat-fund but increase by $ 19 million is good news overall, but it’s not good news for a few districts,” Connerty-Marin said.

While the formula hits Brunswick the hardest in the state this year, Connerty- Marin said that the formula does provide some cushion for Brunswick — and other communities seeing a decline in student population — by comparing three-year averages of student population rather than from one year to the next.

“That three-year average is protecting Brunswick from what they would have seen if funding were based only on enrollment,” Connerty-Marin said.

Using that average means that Brunswick’s cost calculation includes 130 students more than the actual student population for this year, Connerty Marin said.

In the case of Brunswick, the difference in the average enrollments calculated back three years from 2011 and three years back from 2010 still indicates a decline of roughly 200 students, according to annual state enrollment data.

Those enrollment numbers show a sharp decline in students from 2008 to 2009 — from 3,011 students to 2,678.

Separately, Perzanoski said, the loss of the base population has resulted in a cut of around $1 million in federal impact aid that the district received for educating children from Navy families.

Other pieces of the puzzle make the budget gap climb even further, to an expected $3 million, Perzanoski said, “ and that’s before salary increases and benefits.”

Another budget constraint derives from the sharp decrease in the number of Durham students for whom Brunswick receives tuition. In 2007, Brunswick educated 174 Durham students; this year, only 40 Durham residents attend Brunswick schools.

Because that town joined Freeport and Durham to form Regional School Unit 5 to comply with the 2008 state school district consolidation law, most of Durham’s high school students now attend Freeport High School.

The expiration of the federal jobs act means a loss of another $ 693,000 in federal funds for 2012-13, Perzanoski said.

Perzanoski said the cuts would likely hit core subjects — English, social studies, math, science — and staff.

“There’s no way around it,” Perzanoski said. “ There’s nothing that will be untouched.”

This morning, the school department’s budget and finance committee are scheduled to meet to discuss, in part, the recent state subsidy estimate.

Taken by surprise

Perzanoski said he was surprised by the new projections released last week because they swung a previously expected state allocation from the black to the red — from an anticipated increase of around $224,000 to a projected decrease of $1.24 million.

“It would have been nice to have a heads-up,” Perzanoski said.

State Rep. Charlie Priest, a Democrat who represents part of Brunswick, said Wednesday that the change took him by surprise as well.

“That’s a heck of a change,” Priest said. “And it may be justified, but that’s what we want to find out.”

Priest said he is waiting to see forms showing the numbers that were crunched to bring Brunswick to the cuts seen this year.

Gerzofsky and Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, two other Democratic lawmakers who represent Brunswick, said this week that they intend to seek special relief for Brunswick, citing the unique circumstance of the base closure.

“Right now, I’m looking for help — not a magic $1.2 million, but just some help,” Gerzofsky said. “We’re looking for some one-time relief to get us through this year.”

Priest agreed with Gerzofsky that legislative changes are unlikely to happen this year, but Cornell du Houx said Wednesday that he plans to propose legislation that would change the three-year student population averaging method for districts with special circumstances.

“It makes sense for normal school population change,” Cornell du Houx said, “but it doesn’t make sense for a base closure.”

Shortly after a federal Base Realignment and Closure commission voted in August 2005 to close BNAS, lawmakers and representatives of then- Gov. John Baldacci’s administration discussed changing the funding formula in anticipation of Brunswick’s drop in student population, “but it never happened,” Perzanoski said.

“There was a lot of talking but very little to no action,” Perzanoski said Friday, the day after the state released its latest subsidy estimates. “ Rhetoric doesn’t pay the bills for kids’ education and that’s what I’ve heard is a lot of rhetoric and no action.”

Since Friday, Perzanoski said, he has spoken with each member of Brunswick’s delegation, Town Manager Gary Brown and community members about the budget projections.

“People are concerned and we need to try and find a way to bridge this gap,” Perzanoski said Tuesday.

dfishell@timesrecord.com

http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2012-02-09/Front_Page/School_aid_cut_bandage_explored.html

Less Oil Means a More Secure America

The EPA is holding hearings on clean car standards today and I had the opportunity to testify in support of the new standards that will help move us off our dependence on oil.

When I served in Iraq in and around Fallujah, I came across a line of cars, trucks, and tractors that stretched as far as I could see. We decided to investigate and finally reached the end of the line to find they had been waiting all day in 100-degree heat for gas and diesel. It struck me how dependent this nation was on a single source of energy and how crippled it made them. They were so desperate for this single source of energy that when the curfew set in they essentially rioted against us. It also made me pause and think about how the United States was dependent on this single source of energy as well, and how we are essentially forced to line up to countries like Iran and Venezuela for our fuel.

This is one of the reasons I joined Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations to ensure that we have an energy future that makes us more secure, boosts our economy, and keeps our environment healthy.

Our military leaders have taken note, and the Department of Defense, the nation’s largest energy consumer, has a goal to reduce their carbon pollution 20 percent by 2020.  The Quadrennial Defense Review stated, “While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.” The CIA has also opened a center on climate change.

The Army has one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the world – 4000 vehicles in three years. The Air Force will have 50 percent of its aviation fuel from biofuel blends by 2016. The Marines are aiming for a 30 percent energy reduction by 2015. The Navy is launching the Great Green Fleet by 2016, which includes hybrid destroyers and F18s that run off of biofuels. The Navy also aims to reduce petroleum use in commercial fleet by 50 percent by 2015.

When in Iraq, I saw that our dependency on oil was a constant threat to our security and independence. Our dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes.  The Department of Defense has set ambitious goals to reduce our dependence on oil and improve fuel standards because they understand the threat it poses to our nation.

This is not just a lesson for our military.  Not only does cutting our dependence on oil make us more secure, it invests hard earned American money back in to our economy.  Every day, we are sending a billion dollars overseas to pay for oil, money that could be staying in this country and supporting our own economy.  Nearly half of the oil is used is by our cars and trucks. Increasing fuel efficiency will have a huge effect on our national expenditures on oil.

A 54.5 mile-per-gallon standard for cars and light trucks by 2025 is the single biggest step we can take right now to curb this dangerous addiction to oil. It would help my community and countless others around the country improve their economic security.  It will keep America competitive with foreign auto manufacturers, many of whom are already operating under higher standards than our own. And it would strengthen our national security, making us independent and keeping billions of our dollars out of the hands of people who don’t have America’s interests in mind.

By implementing these standards, we will be taking control of our energy future and creating a more secure America.

WMPG Interview on the End of the Iraq War

Rep. Cornell du Houx speaks about the end of the war in Iraq and our national security on WMPG’s “Big Talk”. Click here to listen.

State, Local Officials Mark the End of War in Iraq

On Wednesday, President Obama visited Fort Bragg, North Carolina to commemorate the end of the war in Iraq and thank troops for their service. Several state and local officials who served in the armed forces in Iraq spoke about what the President’s actions to end the war means to them and their fellow veterans.

Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is in the US Army Reserves.

“Through careful planning, negotiating and timing, the President has fulfilled his commitment to the American people to responsibly end the War in Iraq. The efforts of President Obama and our military and diplomatic leaders have given the Iraqi people the tools they need to assume the responsibilities and the challenges that lie ahead.  Although the war has ended, we must always remember the sacrifice made by so many, especially the 4,500 American service members we lost to this conflict. It is our collective responsibility to honor their memory by ensuring that all those brave men and women who served receive the care and benefits they have so rightly earned.”

Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx is in the US Navy Reserves.

“I am incredibly thankful that President Obama has stayed true on his promise to get our troops out of Iraq.  The President has shown that he is committed to securing Iraq’s freedom and independence, and the Iraqis have shown that they are willing and able now to lead this fight on their own.  As a Marine serving in Fallujah, I had the opportunity to experience what happened in Iraq. I am thankful that we have done what we came to do, and am grateful to bring our troops home. The day I came home was one of the happiest, not only of my life, but of my friends’ and family as well. The men and women of our military have, with skill and bravery, brought Iraq back from the brink. Today, they can all be proud of what they’ve accomplished and overjoyed to be coming home. Thousands of brave men and women (4,500) have lost their lives in service to their country over the last 9 years in Iraq. This is an end worthy of their sacrifice.”

Newton, Massachusetts Mayor Setti Warren served in the US Navy.

“As an Iraq war veteran and as a Mayor I have seen firsthand the sacrifices that so many men and women and their families have made throughout the Iraq war. I commend President Obama for doing as he promised during his campaign and ending the war after nearly 9 very long years. As our final troops come home we must commit ourselves to ensuring that all veterans receive appropriate health care, benefits and job opportunities. Since taking office in 2009 President Obama has done tremendous work to provide every veteran with the resources they need and deserve.  Our country is forever indebted to those that serve in uniform to protect our freedom, especially to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Denver City Council Member Chris Herndon served in the US Army.

“As an Iraq veteran, I applaud President Obama for bringing our troops home. The servicemen and women of our armed forces have served with dignity and honor and it is time for them to come home.”

Read the article on the White House Blog

A Maine veteran marks the end of the nine-year war in Iraq

By Alex Cornell du Houx in the Portland Press Herald

After nine years of war in Iraq, every American should be happy to hear that our Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen and women are coming home to their families and that Iraq is on its way to independence.

Personally, I am incredibly thankful that President Obama has stayed true to his promise to get our troops out of Iraq.

The president has shown that he is committed to securing Iraq’s freedom and independence, and the Iraqis have shown that they are willing and able now to lead this fight on their own. The president’s foreign policy has built up America again as a powerful force in spreading democracy, whether it is securing Iraq, transitioning in Afghanistan or helping liberate Libya.

I had the opportunity to experience what happened in Iraq with the Marines in Fallujah. I am thankful that we have done what we came to do, and am grateful to bring our troops home. The day I came home was one of the happiest, not only of my life, but of my friends’ and family’s as well.

The men and women of our military have, with skill and bravery, brought Iraq back from the brink. Today, they can all be proud of what they’ve accomplished and overjoyed to be coming home.

Thousands of brave men and women (4,500) have lost their lives in service to their country over the last nine years in Iraq. This is an end worthy of their sacrifice.

But the transition is not easy, and President Obama has worked to ensure the move home is the best it can be for our veterans. As part of the American Jobs Act, job-makers could earn $5,600 or $9,600 in tax credits by hiring veterans who have been unemployed for more than six months. And since President Obama signed it into law in 2009, the Post-9/11 GI Bill has helped 600,000 veterans go to school. President Obama has shown time and again his gratitude for our veterans, and his commitment to their prosperity after they come home.

So thank you, President Obama, for living up to your promises of finishing the Iraq war, defeating Osama bin Laden, and continuing to draw our troops out of Afghanistan. The United States of America has re-established both its strength and its international reputation. And to our troops returning home, to their families, and to a safe and secure America, happy holidays.

Alex Cornell du Houx is an Iraq War veteran and a state representative from Brunswick.

Make US Strong

By Alex Cornell du Houx, written for Huffington Post

America’s greatness does not come solely from its military might, but also from its unique role as a force to provide stability and opportunity in the world.

While this ability stems in part from our military, it emanates also from the values we hold that help make other nations “great.” WWII was won largely because America won the battle for the hearts and minds of the international community. The Greatest Generation helped rebuild the countries that were ravaged by the war in order to facilitate the growth of healthy, free societies.

Today, the same kind of international development is needed if we are to succeed in fighting terrorism. I saw this firsthand when I deployed to Iraq with the Marines. Our military superiority could not win the battle alone. Instead the combination of a strong military with a robust development program helped pave the way to much more stable country.

This fight does not just need the use of force, it needs the construction of good schools, effective police, and safe communities. Yet there are those in Congress who want to cut funding for international aid. Even though General Petraeus and Secretary Gates agree this development is needed, Conservatives in Congress are unwilling to make the investment in America’s, and indeed the world’s, security.

Our military is eradicating terrorism. International development will make sure it doesn’t come back. Congress wants to cut funding for many government programs, but international aid should not and can not be on the chopping block. America can be great again, as long as we remember and act on the values that made us great before.

To see more, check out the Make US Strong Campaign’s new ad, GI JOE.

Letter to the Editor: It was short-sighted to end funding for weatherization

Portland Press Herald Letter to the Editor from Will Alexander, Brunswick.

Winter feels closer than it should. And as temperatures drop, heating bills are beginning their steady climb. Maine has some of the oldest buildings in the country, which means a lot of the heat that we are paying for is going straight out the walls.

Every year, Mainers send $5 billion out of the state to pay for our oil consumption. It is a drain on the whole Maine economy.

Home weatherization is one of the easiest fixes for this problem. It has relatively low upfront costs, and it begins paying for itself often within only two or three winters.

Still, many families simply can’t afford the upfront investment.

Luckily, Efficiency Maine has helped Maine families with loans and rebates for home weatherization. In doing so, it has produced about $400 million in economic benefits for Maine, and has saved enough electricity to power Maine homes for an entire year.

And yet, under the LePage administration’s leadership, the Legislature struck down crucial funding for Efficiency Maine. Their rationale: it would have raised electricity bills during a tough economic time.

That is true. It would have raised them by $1.13 per month. But this small increase is far outweighed by the resulting benefits. It isn’t just the people who get rebates and loans from Efficiency Maine who benefit, but all Mainers. The money that one homeowner saves gets spent somewhere else within the Maine economy.

I’m proud to say my own representative, Alex Cornell du Houx of Brunswick, is working to help Maine reduce its dependence on foreign oil. He and legislators like him are working hard for our economy, our environment and our security. We should follow their lead.

Or we could keep literally throwing money out our windows.

http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/letters/ferry-not-fireboat-can-serve-workers_2011-11-14.html

Rep. Cornell du Houx Applauds New Benefits for Veterans

When I returned from my deployment with the Marines, so many in my company came home to no job and to an uncertain future. We are fortunate that some jobs are being created, but the unemployment rate for veterans is still more than 25 percent higher than the national average.

Our veterans should never come home to an uncertain future or struggle to make ends meet—especially after dedicating themselves to making America stronger.

As commander-in-chief, President Obama is honoring our veterans by putting forward two pieces of the American Jobs Act that would provide tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed and disabled veterans and expand job training for those newly back from war. His plan is fully paid for in a way that both parties support.

Yesterday the Senate unanimously passed this legislation in a 95–0 vote. The House will be voting next week.

In addition President Obama is immediately taking action by implementing three programs that will help veterans transition into the civilian world and find employment:

Veteran Gold Card: Post-9/11 veterans are now able to download the Veteran Gold Card, which entitles them to enhanced services, including six months of personalized case management, assessments, and counseling at the roughly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers located across the country. This could help serve the more than 200,000 unemployed post-9/11 veterans.

My Next Move for Veterans: The Department of Labor will launch My Next Move for Veterans, a new online resource that allows veterans to enter their military occupation code and discover civilian occupations for which they are well qualified. The site will also include information about salaries, apprenticeships, and other related education and training programs.

Creating a Veterans Job Bank: The administration will launch the Veterans Jobs Bank at National Resource Directory, an easy-to-use tool to help veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them. It already searches more than 500,000 job postings and is growing. In a few easy steps, companies can make sure the job postings on their own websites are part of this Veterans Jobs Bank.

Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 Meets with President Obama

Maine Representative Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 traveled to the White House  for a private reception with President Obama and administration officials to discuss Maine’s PACE program, which gives residents low-interest loans for home weatherization and is being used as a national model for clean energy initiatives.

A George Mitchell Scholar and former Marine, Cornell du Houx serves on the Maine Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and is chair of the Veterans Caucus.

http://www.bowdoindailysun.com/2011/10/alex-cornell-du-houx-08-meets-with-president-obama/#comments

Maine Environmental Group Unveils Plan to Slash Oil Use

An environmental advocacy group has released what it calls a ‘first-of-its-kind’ analysis outlining how Maine–and the U.S.–can significantly reduce the use of oil over the next 20 years. Environment Maine unveiled the report called “Getting Off Oil” as part of a nationwide initiative. According to the study, the U.S. has the potential to cut its oil use by 31 percent below 2008 levels by 2030, a reduction of 1.9 billion barrels a year. And for Maine, the percentage could be even greater.”

Getting Oil Shows that a comprehensive strategy to transition Maine off of oil can reduce Maine’s oil use by nearly 40 percent in the next 20 years,” said Environment Maine Field Associate Andrew Francis today at a Portland news conference.

That’s well above the 30 percent target set by state law earlier this year. The question is: How can Maine achieve the goal? “This report evaluates 17 public policies or measures with the potential to significantly reduce oil consumption in Maine and across the country,” Francis said.

These policies include accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles. There are also calls for a “pay-as-you-drive” system of vehicle insurance, designed to encourage motorists to spend less time behind the wheel.

Fuel economy standards are another crucial part of the plan, says auto dealer Adam Lee, who is Maine’s leading seller of hybrid vehicles. One of the speakers at the news conference, Lee says the state is headed in the right direction.

“Our country’s gotten around to raising fuel eonomy standards again. We went from about 27 miles per gallon to 35, just a couple of years ago. And we now, in the next few years, hopefully, will have a standard of 54 miles per gallon in the next 13 years. We need this standard,” Lee said.

But it’s not all about cars and transportation. The report also calls for policies to curb oil use in Maine’s homes and businesses.

Ashley Richards says weatherization is key. “Weatherizing your home is low-hanging fruit, relative to saving money on fuel consumption.” Richards is the owner of Warm Tech Solutions, which provides energy efficiency services to homes and businesses in southern Maine. “Maine has the oldest housing stock in the country. We have over 450,000 homes that are poorly insulated, and 70 percent of our centrally-heated homes are heated with No. 2 fuel oil,” he says.

Last year, he says 2,500 homes were weatherized with the help of a state rebate known as the Home Energy Savings Program. He says each home saved about $1,400 a year. This rebate program however has now run out of money, and Richards says this is a problem.

“What I mean is we need to fund the Home Energy Savings Program for at least another three years. I believe that when 1 percent of the folks in Maine are pocketing $1,400 a year for weatherizing their home, then weatherizing will become the cool thing to do, just like tattoos are today,” Richards said.

Underpinning these efforts to reduce dependence on oil is the issue of security. That was the point stressed by Democratic state legislator and Iraq war veteran Alex Cornell Du Houx, of Brunswick. “We send $5 billion every single year out of the state of Maine to nations who do not have our interests in mind,” he said. “And by reducing that, we can improve our economic security and our national security and take control of our energy future.”

According to Jamie Py of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, Maine is already well on the way to meeting its oil reduction targets in some areas. He says between 2004 and 2009, annual home heating oil use fell by nearly 200 million gallons as people upgraded to more efficient boilers and furnaces. “And all that’s being driven by the marketplace, so whether or not we need mandates in that area I’m not sure,” Py says.

Py also has words of caution regarding the call for increased deployment of electric cars. “We all have to remember, however, where does the electricity come from? And at the moment, half of the electricity in the United States is generated by coal,” he says.

As electric vehicle usage increases, more electricity will have to be generated to supply them with power. And Py says it’s important to discuss where that power will come from before any mandates are placed on what we should or shouldn’t be driving.

http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3478/ItemId/18476/Default.aspx

Group unveils plan to reduce Maine oil use, urges caution on LePage’s natural gas goals

By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

Posted Oct. 13, 2011, at 12:19 p.m.

Last modified Oct. 13, 2011, at 5:39 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Environment Maine unveiled a plan Thursday to reduce Maine’s dependence on oil by nearly 40 percent by 2030, beating established legislative energy benchmarks without expanding use of natural gas, which is a central component of Gov. Paul LePage’s energy strategy.

Environment Maine field associate Andrew Francis was joined Thursday by state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, Lee Auto Malls board chairman Adam Lee, Warm Tech Solutions owner Ashley Richards and property owner Ashley Salisbury. The press conference took place at Salisbury’s multi-unit 26 Brackett St. building, which was the subject of a recent energy efficiency retrofit largely performed by Warm Tech.

The group assembled to highlight state and federal measures promoted in the larger Environment America report “Getting Off Oil: A 50-State Roadmap for Curbing Our Dependence on Petroleum.”

At a state level, Cornell du Houx said it’s crucial the state Legislature continue funding Efficiency Maine programs that encourage home weatherizations, while Lee trumpeted federal proposals to force auto manufacturers to meet minimum fuel efficiency standards of 54 miles per gallon over the next 13 years.

“Mainers … send $5 billion every single year to nations that do not have our best interests in mind,” Cornell du Houx, who has served with the Marine Corps in the Middle East, said of Maine’s dependence on oil. Maine is ranked the fourth most oil-dependent state in the country.

Lee noted that in 1975, Congress gave car makers 10 years to double the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, and although manufacturers complained, they met the standards and reduced pollution.

“The history of my industry is that they don’t do anything to improve safety or efficiency unless they’re mandated to do so,” Lee told members of the assembled media Thursday morning.

Richards said 2,500 Maine homes were weatherized in 2010 using rebates and other funding programs offered by Efficiency Maine. Each home saved an average of $1,400 on annual heating costs because of the work, which ranges in scope from sealing windows to better insulating walls to finding more efficient heating systems.

Richards said that if the state keeps offering funding programs at that pace, 12,500 homes will be made more efficient in five years, saving a total of 15 million gallons of fuel oil and “putting $67 million back in the hands of consumers.”

He said each weatherization project costs a homeowner an average of $6,000, with about $2,500 of that reimbursed by Efficiency Maine. With about $1,400 in savings per year, each project is making money for its homeowner within three years, he said.

But Richards said his company shrank from 20 employees to 12 when the Efficiency Maine funding dried up, suggesting increased funding for the program would restore jobs as well as save money for property owners.

“Last winter, every month when I saw the fuel truck pull in, it was cause for anxiety,” Salisbury said of the 26 Brackett St. property she owns. “Opening that bill felt a little like getting kicked in the head. Ultimately, I had to consider whether I wanted to keep wasting not only my money, but this precious resource as well.”

Not included in the strategy unveiled Thursday was an expansion of natural gas in the state, which LePage said last month he plans to promote during the upcoming legislative session.

The state Legislature has approved goals to reduce Maine’s dependence on oil by 30 percent by 2030, and by 50 percent by 2050. By implementing the state and federal policies detailed in the Environment Maine report promoted Thursday, organization leaders said, Maine could reduce its oil use by 29 percent by 2025 and by 39 percent by 2030.

Most of the steps called for by Environment Maine at the state level involve providing financial incentives for energy efficiencies in homes and transportation systems, as well as shoring up building codes to further promote such efficiencies.

“Natural gas is not a part of this road map,” Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine, told the Bangor Daily News Thursday. “We’re saying we can do that without turning to other fuel sources that have their own host of environmental problems. We think Maine should be very cautious before we ramp up use of natural gas.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/10/13/energy/group-unveils-plan-to-reduce-maine-oil-use-urges-caution-on-lepage%e2%80%99s-natural-gas-goals/

Environmental group gives high marks to Mid-Coast Democrats

AUGUSTA- The non-partisan Maine Conservation Voters gave Brunswick-area reps. perfect scores for their votes to protect the environment and invest in clean energy during the first session of the 125th Legislature.

Top scores were awarded to Rep. Alex Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, Rep. Peter Kent, D-Woolwich, Rep. Mike Clarke, D-Bath, Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, and Rep. Charlie Priest, D-Brunswick, and Rep. BruceMacDonald, D-Boothbay, and Rep. David Webster, D-Freeport.

“We voted for protections for children and to maintain the naturalresources our economy depends on,” said Cornell Du Houx. “We were able to moderate some of the most dangerous and extreme rollbacks of the environmental protections proposed by Republicans and Governor LePage.”

Legislators were graded on their votes regarding energy efficiency, clean water, children’s health, wildlife and the North Woods. The Maine Conservation Voters 2011 scorecard measured votes on some of the most significant environmental issues passed this year:

*        Children’s Health: LD 412  voting to ban the toxic chemicalbisphenol A (BPA) in food and beverage containers, like baby bottles and sippy cups;

*        Children’s Health: LD 228 voting against the repeal of Maine’s pesticide spraying notification law;

*        Energy Efficiency: LD 1416 voting against weakening the statewide uniform building and energy efficiency code;

*        North Woods: LD 1534 voting against establishing a biased study committee to eliminate the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), the state agency charged with conserving Maine’s vast North Woods.

In past years, MCV scorecards have been used to showcase votes that furthered protections for Maine’s environment, which is central to the state’s economic brand. This year, the scorecard evaluated votes against an anti-environment agenda advanced by certain Republican lawmakers and Governor Paul LePage.

View the full scorecard on the web site for Maine Conservation Voters. <http://www.mlcv.org/&gt;

Rep. Cornell du Houx and Rep. Herbig met with President Obama and Administration Officials at the White House

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx and Rep. Erin Herbig were in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 2011 to attend a private reception with the president and to meet with members of the Obama administration at the White House. These Maine lawmakers are members of the Young Elected Officials Network, a bipartisan network of young elected officials, who were invited to the White House to discuss important state issues they are dealing with, as the nation pulls out of the recession.

Rep. Herbig serves on the Labor Commerce Research and Economic Development Committee where many controversial bills were debated this session.

“It was an honor to be invited to the White House and to talk with other lawmakers from around the country about similar issues that they are facing.  ‘Right to work bills’ and child labor laws that roll back basic rights have been passed in a number of states. Maine is up against the same pressures, most of which we have successfully held back,” said Herbig. “We should be focusing on  jobs and the economy, not legislation that harms working families.”

Out of about 230 young elected officials from across America ten were given the opportunity to meet with President Obama, personally. The president had one on one conversations with each lawmaker before taking individual white house photos. Rep. Cornell du Houx was one of the selected few for his work with veterans and clean energy.

“It was an honor to talk with the president about issues we care deeply about,” said Cornell du Houx. “It’s exciting to know he’s aware of Maine’s leadership in clean energy initiatives.”

Rep. Cornell du Houx is in his second term and serves on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. Over twenty bills were submitted that could have stopped economic development and job growth in the clean energy sector this legislative session. Most of the legislation was targeted at the wind industry which has spent nearly a billion dollars in Maine since 2004.  Due to the work on his committee the legislation was rejected.

“It was great to hear firsthand about the president’s commitment, and plans, in weatherization and promoting clean American power” said Cornell du Houx. “We are aggressively moving forward in Maine to lessen our dependency on oil. Our PACE program that gives residents up to $15 thousand in low interest loans to weatherize their homes has just gotten underway and already is being used as a national model. Our long-term goals to develop offshore wind farms that could export electrical energy to the New England market are moving forward, and will create thousands of good paying jobs.  We’re grateful for the president’s support and focus on clean energy, and look forward to continue to work together with the administration in the near future.”

In addition to President Obama they were briefed and had time to talk with the the following administration officials:

David Agnew – Deputy Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Austan Goolsbee – Chairman, Council of Economic Advisors

Stephanie Cutter – Deputy Senior Advisor to the President

Heather Zichal – Deputy Assistant to the President, Office of Energy and Climate Change

Secretary Shaun Donovan – Department of Housing and Urban Development

Aneesh Chopra – Chief Technology Officer

Nick Rathod – Deputy Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

GOP’s insurance plan is reckless

By Reps. Anne Graham and Alex Cornell du Houx

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2011/05/23/opinion/commentaries/doc4dd6ac91b292f261626043.txt

Friday, May 20, 2011 2:10 PM EDT

As members of the Maine Legislature we hear every week from providers and patients who must deal each day with a confusing and inefficient health-care system. We know that many Maine families are struggling to pay for the care they desperately need for themselves and their family and are asking for help. That’s why, as a lawmakers, we are particularly interested in policies that lower those costs and increase access for more Maine people to that critical care.

Last week, Republicans in the Legislature passed a plan that will make it even harder to do that. They rushed a reckless proposal to overhaul Maine’s health insurance protections through the legislature. Their proposal, LD 1333, will drive up costs for people living and working in rural areas and Mainers over age 48.

Consumers — especially those who are older, sick, suffer from chronic illnesses, and/or live in rural Maine — stand to lose the most from this legislation.

The overhaul will allow insurance companies to charge Mainers three times more than their neighbor for insurance based on their age alone — and an additional amount depending on where they live. Also troubling, the bill has no limit on the additional percentage you could be charged based on what kind of job you have.

According to the Bureau of Insurance analysis of a similar but less drastic plan, those who want to keep their current insurance could see their rates go up by 170 percent.

This legislation will cause health insurance rates in rural Maine to go up on average by 20 percent. Maine people living in the North will experience an average rate increase of 19 percent. Those living Down East will experience an average rate increase of 22 percent.

In addition to making health care more expensive for rural Mainers, the package also repeals rules that limit how far an insurance company can ask policyholders to travel to get care in network.

The bill creates a segregated reinsurance pool run almost completely by insurance companies and business interests that will be paid for with a per-person tax on everyone’s insurance policies. This $25 million to $40 million tax increase is paid for by a monthly tax of up to $6 a month or $72 per year on top of your premium. A family of four would pay an extra $288 per year.

If it turns out that there isn’t enough to fund the pool, Maine will have to do what other states with reinsurance pools have done — limit benefits to the sickest people, or raise the tax. We think it would have been appropriate for legislators to know how much funding will actually be needed from this new tax to cover the people who will be placed in the reinsurance pool, or how much health coverage will need to be cut for these people in order to not raise the tax even more. But the Republicans wouldn’t even consider the question.

Worse, the legislation exempts lawmakers and state employees from the tax while pushing it onto teachers and private sector workers, from those working at Wal-Mart or Bath Iron Works. In fact, group plans, even self-insured plans, will have to help fund this pool yet do not benefit from it.

Doctors, hospitals, business groups and thousands of other Mainers expressed concern about the plan. Not even the Maine State Chamber would endorse the Republican plan. That’s because it was rushed through the legislature with no analysis on the true impact.

First the committee, and then the House and Senate, was forced to vote on a half-baked plan without an opportunity to get the most basic questions answered, such as, “How much will it cost and who does it help?”

The “whoopee pie” bill had more debate than this significant policy.

The plan pits Maine people against each other — the young versus the old, the north versus the south. It allows the insurance industry to shift the cost of health care from one group of Maine people to another, with the result that some will see their insurance costs rise several hundreds of dollars in a year. And that’s without factoring in the monthly premium tax.

Democrats offered several amendments to protect rural Mainers and rural hospitals, to reduce the cost shift to older Mainers and those who must work more dangerous jobs to make a living.  We included in our amendments full support for significant market reforms including the only pieces our Republican colleagues are willing to trumpet, such as allowing the purchase of policies across state lines and allowing small businesses to band together in hopes of better rates.

Our Republican colleagues refused to support any of our efforts to remove the exemption for legislators from their new tax, to actually gather factual information about the cost to taxpayers of the reinsurance pool, or to create fail-safe language to protect rural Mainers from having to travel great distances for their healthcare or pay significant out-of-pocket costs. Given this rejection of friendly corrections, the vast majority of Democrats could not support an obviously flawed and mostly uninformed health insurance package.

This policy is bad for Maine people. It promises a lot, but it can’t deliver, and in the process a lot of people will lose the insurance they have because they simply won’t be able to afford the price increases.

Health care should be a right not a privilege. Reckless legislation does not insure affordable, accessible health care for the people of Maine.

Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, is a pediatric nurse practitioner serving her first term in the House of Representatives. Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, is a former Marine and now currently works with the Truman National Security Project on veterans issues.

Legislators want more time to work on financial safeguards for heating oil customers

By Emily Guerin

The Forecaster

AUGUSTA — A bill that would increase protection for consumers with prepaid contracts for heating oil was put on the back burner Tuesday by lawmakers.

After a brief public hearing, the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee resolved to put off discussion of LD 1536 until next January. In the interim, the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the attorney general and other interested parties and legislators will meet to nail down specifics.

The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, would require oil dealers to file a quarterly report with the AG’s office, showing evidence that the dealer is in compliance with state laws that ensure oil consumer protection.

Cornell du Houx said the bill was a direct result of witnessing what happened to customers who had pre-paid contracts with Thibeault Energy of Brunswick.

“It’s extremely frustrating and we’re looking to see how we can prevent that in the future,” he said.

State law now requires oil companies to have an available reserve equal to 75 percent of the prepaid oil, purchase a bond for 50 percent of the prepayments, or obtain a letter of credit for the purchases.

Under LD 1536, if a company does not comply with the law, the attorney general could issue a civil violation with a fine equal to the amount of the contract plus an additional 5 percent. The attorney general would then disburse a portion of the fine to the consumers who lost money when the company did not deliver the prepaid oil or natural gas.

During the hearing, Anne Head, commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, said the bill left a lot of unanswered questions. She wanted to know what type of reporting currently takes place, how many oil dealers offer prepaid contracts, and how an outside observer would be able to tell if a company is not in compliance with the state law.

In response, Sen. Christopher Rector, R-Thomaston, successfully moved for the delay until next winter.

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-brunswick-thibeault-energy-bankruptcy

Committee hears bill to strengthen consumer protections on prepaid oil purchases

AUGUSTA – A bill to increase consumer protections on prepaid oil purchases received strong support from oil companies who came to testify in favor of the measure during a public hearing on Monday.  Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, submitted the bill in response to the closure of Thibeault Energy, and the resulting loss to prepaid customers.

“I am very pleased with the support from oil dealers who share our concern in ensuring people get the product they have paid for,” said Cornell du Houx.  “This legislation will give us the tools necessary to help protect consumers and ensure that the oil is there when people need it.”

Local oil dealers testified in support of the legislation at the public hearing including, Midnight Oil from Newcastle and Downeast Energy which has locations throughout central and southern Maine.

The proposed legislation would strengthen existing safeguards by requiring oil dealers to file a quarterly report with the state that the dealer is in compliance with the existing provisions under state law relating to prepaid oil, kerosene and propane contracts.

Current law requires that an oil dealer have on hand either 75 percent of the prepaid fuel or provide a surety bond or letter of credit for the purchase of prepaid fuel.

“While current law contains significant protections for consumers there was no mechanism to ensure those protections were in force,” said Cornell du Houx.

In addition, the legislation places consumers in a higher priority when being paid if an oil company goes in to bankruptcy as they are currently one of the last to receive payment.

The bill, which was submitted after the deadline for new legislation in 2011, recently gained the required approval by the ten member Legislative Council made up of House and Senate Republican and Democratic leadership, for inclusion in this legislative session.

The Committee will hold a work session on the bill in the next few weeks and then make a recommendation to the full legislature.

Bill to create Vietnam War Remembrance Day moves forward

AUGUSTA – A bill to designate March 30 as Vietnam War Remembrance Day won initial approval in the Maine House of Representatives with votes on Wednesday and Thursday.  The House voted 146-3 in favor of the amended bill.

As initially proposed the bill set aside a specific day for Vietnam Veterans and had received complaints from some veterans who were opposed to Vietnam Veterans being singled out on a specific day.  Rep. Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, an Iraq War veteran himself, introduced a compromise amendment that gained broad support in the House.

“It is important that we remember the Vietnam War and give proper recognition to those who served their country during that time,” said Cornell du Houx.  “I am pleased that we could find a solution that would gain broad support from all veterans.”

Cornell du Houx amendment would make March 30 Maine’s Vietnam War Remembrance Day similar to national days of remembrance, such as the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and Victory in Europe Day.

The Vietnam War was viewed as the first foreign war in which the US combat forces failed to accomplish their goals.  Soldiers returned in the midst of angry anti-war protests that often placed blame on the individual soldiers. Approximately 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.

The bill will now go to the Senate for further votes.

Rep. Cornell du Houx hosts weekly coffee hour

BRUNSWICK – Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, invites Brunswick residents to his weekly coffee hour at Little Dog Coffee Shop. The coffee hour will be held from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. each Tuesday during legislative session. Come have coffee with Rep. Cornell du Houx to discuss your concerns and have your questions answered.

Little Dog Coffee Shop is located at 87 Main Street in Brunswick. For more information, call Cornell du Houx at 319-4511.

Brunswick legislator presents bill to increase safety for law enforcement

AUGUSTA – Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D – Brunswick, presented a bill on Tuesday to raise awareness of a law that seeks to protect law enforcement officers when they make a traffic stop on the interstate.

Currently, the state has a “move over” law in statute, which requires motorists to get into the passing lane on a divided highway, like the interstate, to give police more room, and if they can’t do that safely, to slow down.  However, many motorists don’t know this law exists.

“When troopers and other law enforcement officers have to get out of their cars on the interstate it can be very problematic,” said Cornell du Houx.  “The combination of high speeds, not much room and the growing problem of driver inattention can be a dangerous mix.”

The bill would raise the fine for failing to move over for two years and create a program to educate the public about the law.

“I am supportive of any proposal that will increase awareness of this law,” said Cornell du Houx.

Cornell du Houx said that compliance with the move over law would increase once more people were aware of the law.

The committee will hold a work session on the bill in the next few weeks before sending it to the full legislature for consideration.

For more information on the bills go to:  http://www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280040384

Energy committee endorses Rep Cornell du Houx bill to provide more transparency of large power companies

AUGUSTA – The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee gave unanimous support on Wednesday, to a bill sponsored by Rep. Cornell du Houx that will provide additional information on the financial health of the state’s large electric companies to the Public Utilities Commission.

“By law, the rates utilities charge must be just and reasonable,” said Cornell du Houx.  “The additional information will help the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and members of the general public  better understand how their utilities are doing, and to ensure that the rates we pay are just and reasonable.”

The bill LD 529:  An Act to Enhance Transparency in the Regulation of Large, Investor-Owned Transmission and Distribution Utilities, requires that that state’s large utilities provide to the PUC financial information that includes the utility’s rate of regulated return on common equity.  This number is often considered the best indicator of a company’s financial health and is important when considering proposed rate increases.

With the growing trend in multinational companies owning utilities the state’s current statutes regarding fiscal disclosure make it very difficult to understand the financial health of local utilities which is key to understanding the need for rate increases.

“The new bill will allow for increased information, with little or no impact or burden on the utility and allow the PUC and members of the general public with this valuable measure of utilities’ financial performance,” said Cornell du Houx.

The bill will now go to the full Legislature for further consideration.

Maine women veterans honored at State House

Crowd fills State House at ceremony to honor Maine Women veterans.

World War II Navy Veteran Lucille Greer is honored for her service during ceremony unveiling plaque for Maine Women Veterans at State House.

AUGUSTA – Maine women veterans were honored with a bronze plaque in a ceremony at the State House on Friday, Feb. 18.

Lawmakers worked with the Maine Veterans Service to raise more than $50,000 to pay for the plaque and for silver commemorative coins with the image of plaque, which were given to Maine women veterans during the ceremony.

More than 250 people attended the dedication, including Maine women veterans and their families.

Women Veterans Plaque hangs on wall in State House Hall of Flags

The plaque design depicts Maine women who served in different U.S. military capacities over four centuries.  This included Hannah Watts Weston, a Revolutionary War patriot, Emily W. Dana, a Civil War nurse, Patricia A. (Chadwick) Erickson, a World War II Army Air Force Service pilot, and Sgt. Annette M. Bachman, a soldier in the Maine Army National Guard who served in the War on Terrorism

Bill to strengthen consumer protections on prepaid oil gains approval to be heard

AUGUSTA – Legislative leadership on Thursday gave approval for a bill to be considered by the Legislature that will strengthen safeguards on prepaid heating contracts to protect consumers from losing oil allotments if a company closes.  Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, submitted the bill in response to closure of Thibeault Energy, and the resulting loss to prepaid customers.

The bill, which was submitted after the deadline for new legislation in 2011, gained the required approval by the ten member Legislative Council made up of House and Senate Republican and Democratic leadership, for inclusion in this legislative session.

“With the closure of Thibeault Energy it has become clear that sufficient safeguard’s where not in place to protect consumers,” said Cornell du Houx.  “I hope that this legislation will provide a long-term solution to protect consumers and prevent oil dealers from failing to hold up their end of the deal in the future.”

The proposed legislation would strengthen existing safeguards by requiring oil dealers to acquire a surety bond for the amount of the prepaid funds. In addition it will require that all pre-paid customers will be the first to receive their money back in bankruptcy. Currently costumers are one of the last to be paid.

Cornell du Houx, will work with other legislators as well as oil dealers to craft final language for the proposal which will then proceed through the full legislative process.

House Republicans Cut National Security Priorities

By Alex Cornell du Houx

The Huffington Post

February 23, 2011 01:14 PM

We all agree that we need to reduce our national debt, and one surefire way to reduce our spending is to fine-tune the national budget. However, certain budget expenditures are vital to America’s security. House Republicans made reckless and dangerous choices in their latest budget proposal, demonstrating that they are willing to make America less safe in order to make a partisan point.

Alpha company and I arrived in Iraq just as the Marine Corps began to provide a new, stronger type of armor. This armor was a smart and needed investment; when we were hit by roadside bombs, this armor saved the lives of Marines in my company. It is unfortunate that Marines in Iraq had to wait so long for the armor to arrive, but this life-saving investment was well worth it.

Unfortunately, many conservatives are making the same mistakes we made in Iraq. They are not equipping America to contend with the 21st century battlefield. They plan on cutting counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and anti-terrorism protections for public transportation. In addition to endangering our troops, they are abandoning our veterans at home – the cuts include funds that keep homeless veterans off the streets.

Below are three dangerous cuts proposed by House Republican leadership:

Counterinsurgency funding. Cut USAID by $121m (9% cut), which will halt new civilian programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are necessary for the counterinsurgency strategy to work. These programs were called for by US military commanders. [Analysis of HR1].

Nuclear terrorism prevention. House cuts would make it easier for someone to steal nuclear material (cut the non-proliferation funding). That material would be easier to get into the country (cut the container screening at DHS). Once it’s here, it’d be harder to detect (cut the Domestic Nuclear Detection office). And if someone manages to set off a dirty bomb in a major city, the first responders won’t know how to deal with it (cut the weapons of mass destruction first responder training). [Program cuts in the FY2011 Continuing Resolution]

Homeless veterans. Terminated the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, the aim of which is to end veteran homelessness in 5 years. There were more than 130,000 homeless veterans in 2009. The VASH program provided housing vouchers for them. Here is a great example of local story: WTNH, New Haven, CT.

Rep. Cornell du Houx presents bill to increase energy efficiency at the State House complex

AUGUSTA – Maine State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, presented a bill today to the legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee that seeks to evaluate and over time reduce energy use at the State House complex.

The bill LD 361: Resolve, To Evaluate the Energy Use of the State House, directs the Efficiency Maine Trust to conduct an energy audit of the State House and to give recommendations regarding ways to save energy and reduce the use of oil.

“We are encouraging many in the state to weatherize their own homes, which has resulted in significant energy savings,” du Houx told the Committee.  “The first step towards these savings is to get an energy audit and we should lead by example by auditing the State House.”

The Efficiency Maine Trust is the statewide organization created by the legislature to help businesses and residents across the state use energy resources more efficiently, reduce energy costs, and lighten the impact on Maine’s environment from the burning of fossil fuels.

The Trust’s recommendations from the State House complex audit will explore both short term energy saving solutions such as the use of energy efficient lighting, increasing insulation and other ways to minimize heat loss as well as long term energy options for the State House such as the use of geothermal or wind energy.

The Committee is expected to continue work on the bill in the next few weeks before sending its recommendation to the full legislature for action.

For more information about the bill go to: http://www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280039486

UPDATED: Governor announces initiatives to help former Thibeault Energy customers; lawmakers propose tighter rules

By Emily Guerin

The Forecaster

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 5:00 pm

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday announced two initiatives to help customers affected by the sudden closure of Thibeault Energy in Brunswick.

In addition, Brunswick-area legislators are proposing a bill to increase consumer protection from sudden oil company closures.

In one of the initiatives announced by LePage, five credit unions will offer 12-month, zero-interest loans of up to $2,000 for customers who lost money when the oil company closed.

Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union, Down East Credit Union, Five County Credit Union, Lisbon Community Federal Credit Union and Midcoast Federal Credit Union will write checks directly to the customers’ new oil companies. The loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis until April 1 and require no credit check.

Low-income customers may be eligible for additional assistance from the Maine State Housing Authority’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. MaineHousing will hold a special screening for former Thibeault Energy customers on Saturday, Feb. 12 to see if they meet the income requirements for LIHEAP. The screening will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Curtis Memorial Library on Pleasant Street in Brunswick.

Cumberland County residents who cannot attend the screening should contact the People’s Regional Opportunity Program in Portland at 553-5900. Sagadahoc County residents should call the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program at 207-859-1500.

Legislators, meanwhile, are looking at existing state law, which gives oil companies several ways to back their delivery contracts. They can choose to reserve 75 percent of the prepaid oil, purchase a bond for 50 percent of the prepaid funds, or obtain a letter of credit for the purchases.

According to Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, the lawmakers’ new proposal would eliminate two of those options and require companies to buy a security bond for the full amount that customers have pre-paid.

“(The proposal) strengthens the law so that in the future this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The announcements came after a meeting Tuesday about the now-defunct oil company. The session, which was closed to the public, was attended by legislators and representatives from MaineHousing, the attorney general’s office, the Office of the Energy Independence and Security and others.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net

This report was updated on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011.

Bill will strengthen consumer protections on advance oil purchases in aftermath of Thibeault crisis

By Ramona du Houx

Maine Insights

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Brunswick-area lawmakers Tuesday proposed legislation to strengthen safeguards on prepaid heating contracts to protect consumers from losing oil allotments if a company closes. The bill was inspired by the recent closure of Thibeault Energy, and the resulting loss to prepaid customers.

“It is unacceptable for customers to be left in the lurch after making a careful savings plan to purchase oil for the winter,” said Rep. Alex Cornell Du Houx, who is sponsoring the bill with full support of area lawmakers. “We have worked to help customers in immediate need, and our legislation will provide a long-term safeguard to protect consumers and prevent oil dealers from failing to hold up their end of the deal in the future.”

The proposed legislation would strengthen existing safeguards by requiring oil dealers to acquire a surety bond for the full amount of the prepaid funds. Current law requires oil dealers to implement one of three safeguards: reserve 75 percent of the prepaid oil, bond 50 percent of the purchase, or have a letter of credit for the purchase.

The bill, which is being submitted after the deadline for new legislation in 2011, must first gain support from the ten member Legislative Council made up of House and Senate Republican and Democratic leadership, to be considered by the full legislature.

The legislation is being introduced as a long term solution, while lawmakers have also worked separately with the private sector to help customers who need to purchase oil immediately. Five Mid-Coast area credit unions have offered to provide no fee, interest free-loans of up to $2,000 for Thibeault Energy customers to purchase oil. The credit unions include; The Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union, Down East Credit Union, Five County Credit Union, Lisbon Community Federal Credit Union, and Midcoast Federal Credit Union.

“Right now we have to make sure that everyone affected gets the heat they need,” said State Senator Seth Goodall. “The credit unions should be commended for offering to help Thibeault’s former customers with an interest free loan.”

Brunswick area lawmakers including Rep. Cornell Du Houx, Sen. Goodall, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, Rep. Peter Kent of Woolwich, Rep. Mike Clarke of Bath, Rep. Kerri Prescott of Topsham, Rep. Charlie Priest of Brunswick, Rep. David Webster of Freeport and Rep. Kimberly Olsen of Phippsburg have been working to provide long-term and short-term resolution for area consumers.

“Since the news broke three weeks ago we have been doing everything we can to make sure nobody freezes on our watch,” said Sen. Gerzofsky. “I commend the bipartisan delegation, the governor, the credit unions, and area oil dealers for coming together to help the community.”

Honored and humbled

By Alex Cornell du Houx

Times Record

Monday, November 8, 2010

I would like to thank the people of Brunswick for voting in the election, whomever you supported. I’m honored and humbled that you chose me to return to the Maine Legislature and will continue to work hard for Brunswick and Maine as the District 66 representative.

I’d like to thank Jonathan Crimmins and Fred Horch for running strong campaigns that brought out the issues, which we all care about. We all share a strong commitment to Brunswick.

We will face many challenges in this legislative session and I am ready to work hard for you to strengthen our community. I’m dedicated to making sure that the redevelopment of Brunswick Landing continues to move forward to create quality jobs, improve education, protect our environment and control wasteful spending.

It was wonderful to get to know so many of you when going door to door.

Thank you all so very much for sharing your concerns and ideas with me and please feel free to contact me anytime, by phone at 207-319-4511 or by e-mail at acornell@alexcornell.org.

Alex Cornell du Houx, Brunswick

LePage, Pingree, Cornell du Houx elected

Bowdoin Orient

November 5, 2010

By Claire Collery

ORIENT STAFF

Red with anger at Democratic incumbents, Maine voters joined the tide of Americans allying themselves with the GOP. On Tuesday, Republicans took the majority in both of Maine’s legislative houses and the governor’s office, ousting Democrats after an eight-year stronghold in Augusta.

Republican Paul LePage came out on top as the new governor with 38.3 percent of the vote. Though almost every poll had projected him as the race’s leader, he had to fight off a late charge from Independent Eliot Cutler.

Cutler, who as little as a month ago was polling in the single digits, finished with 36.5 percent of the vote. His surge relegated Democrat Libby Mitchell to third place, with 19.1 percent of the vote.

Despite the nationwide rightward trend, incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree earned 56.8 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Dean Scontras and hold on to her seat in the U.S. House representating Maine’s first district, which includes Brunswick.

Locally, Bowdoin graduate Democrat Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 also retained his post representing Brunswick in the Maine State House. With 38 percent of the vote, he bested competitors Frederick Horch from the Green Party and Republican Jonathan Crimmins.

Mainers gave the nod to all three of the referendum questions. Question 1 passed with just 50.6 percent of the vote and will allow a casino in Oxford County, pending local approval. Question 2 will issue a $5 million bond to increase access to dental care. Question 3 will invest $9.75 million in land conservation and working waterfront and state park preservation.

It was the governor’s race, which was not conceded by Cutler until midday Wednesday, that most captured the public’s attention. Associate Professor of Government Michael Franz and Professor of Government Christian Potholm attributed Cutler’s impressive gains to a skillfully run campaign that was aided by Maine’s media.

“No campaign I’ve seen in 40 years has ever been helped so much by the two newspapers—the Bangor Daily News and the Portland papers [Press Herald],” said Potholm. “They editorialize once but much more importantly…it showed up in their reporting. ”

The election, which Franz described as a “stunning repudiation of Libby Mitchell,” reached a turning point about a month ago when LePage announced that, if elected, “you’re going to get to see a lot of me on the front page saying, ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.’”

“That was the moment…for the Mitchell campaign to…jump in and get those Republicans and those Independents who had now gone from LePage to undecided,” said Potholm. “[The Mitchell] campaign didn’t do that.”

Franz also explained how the murky and varying methodologies of the different pollsters may have helped bolster Cutler’s popularity, and not always on the surest foundation.

“This, to me, is evidence for why there should be more polling,” said Franz. “The random poll comes out and the numbers might look different purely because of either the sample size or the methodology or the way of asking the question and then boom—the race is totally different.”

“I think the Cutler campaign was very shrewd in the use of their polling,” Potholm agreed.

The race proved constructive for those who oppose negative advertising. While both the LePage and Mitchell campaigns decided to sling a little mud, Cutler opted out and capitalized on his characterization as a victim to garner voter sympathy.

“He did have a narrative to say…’I’m doing nothing but staying above the fray and this is exactly what I’m trying to offer to Maine people’,” said Franz.

But rough-and-tumble LePage won in the end and senior Kylie Huff has high hopes for his tenure in the Blaine House.

“I wanted to pick someone who I knew would cut taxes and spending… A lot of young people are leaving Maine because there are no opportunities for them,” she said. She mentioned a recent Forbes poll that ranked Maine the worst state for business.

“With LePage, I think we’re going to start seeing things turning around,” she said.

Pingree will keep her job representing Maine’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House, but faced a considerable challenge from Republican Dean Scontras. Though she finished with a 14-point victory, some pre-election polls had had the two in a dead heat.

While Scontras painted himself as an independent outsider with no attachment to either party, Pingree cited the accomplishments of her first term in Washington. Although the Republicans reclaimed the House majority, Pingree stressed in her acceptance speech that she will “work with people on both sides of the aisle to move this country forward, to move our state forward.”

Junior Anna Wright, a Democrat, voted for Pingree and said she was “very happy” about the victory. She echoed the campus sentiment, as expressed in a pre-election poll conducted by the Orient last week, which showed an overwhelming support for Pingree.

“I was excited that we were holding on to some seats in the House,” she said

Cornell du Houx, a Democrat, held onto his seat representing Maine’s 66th District in the State House, winning by only 137 votes. He said he is “excited at the prospect of serving the people of Brunswick for a second term and working hard for them in Augusta.”

He thanked the Bowdoin students that came out to the polls Tuesday and emphasized that he will continue to defend their rights.

“Every single year a bill comes up to prevent students from voting and I will continue to ensure that all students are allowed to vote on campus,” he said. He called the proposition of such a bill a political maneuver by Republicans to dilute the student vote, which is typically Democratic.

When discussing his plans for Brunswick, he cited his desire to continue working on the redevelopment of the Naval Air Station and gave special attention to the advanced composite center at Southern Maine Community College, which is run in conjunction with the University of Maine and Bowdoin.

Cornell du Houx expressed concern over the loss of the Democratic majority in the State House but seemed hopeful that the two parties could work together.

“I hope the Republican Party will work in a bipartisan manner…to create legislation to help Maine and Brunswick. When [the Democrats] were in power, we allowed their legislation to be introduced into committee and be debated on the house floor, and I hope they extend the same courtesy to us.”

Cornell du Houx captures tight race

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Times Record

Thursday, November 4, 2010

BRUNSWICK — Besting his closest opponent by just more than 100 votes, Democratic incumbent Alex Cornell du Houx will return to Augusta in January to represent House District 66 in the Maine Legislature.

Cornell du Houx took 1,415 votes to the 1,222 cast by District 66 voters for Green Independent candidate Fred Horch, and the 1,019 garnered by Republican Jonathan Crimmins.

No write-in ballots were cast, and 134 voters left the ballot space blank.

The win maintains an entirely Democratic legislative delegation for Bruns-wick.

Cornell du Houx could not be reached for comment by press time.

A graduate of Bowdoin College, he spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Reserves and was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. He is currently employed by the Truman National Security Project, based in Washington, D.C., but Cornell du Houx works primarily from Maine.

During the 124th Legislature, he served on the Legal and Veterans Affairs and Leaves of Absence committees.

Horch, 40, a former attorney who now owns F.W. Horch Sustainable Goods & Supplies on Maine Street, campaigned on the belief that the state “is not heading in the right direction,” and that party politics only made things worse. He advocated for single-payer health care, funded in part by an increase in the bottle deposit; and a progressive income tax, raising taxes on the wealthy.

Reached this morning, Horch thanked his family and campaign team, as well as voters who supported him.

“We lost a close one,” he said. “Congratulations to Alex, and thank you to Jonathan Crimmins for running a good campaign. We had fun and tried our best.”

Crimmins, 35, is a psychiatric technician. He said prior to the election that he hoped to help fast-track the permitting process for companies seeking to locate in Maine, and advocated for businesses of all types to be considered for space at the redeveloped naval air station.

Crimmins said today that while he did not envision this outcome when he began the race, he is proud of the way his campaign was run.

“We stayed positive, stayed on the issues and talked to the people of Brunswick about why we needed to make changes as to how we were governed,” he said.

Crimmins said he enjoyed getting to know Horch, that many of their ideas are similar and that he is “fortunate to have gained an ally in working for Brunswick’s future.”

He congratulated Cornell du Houx, adding that “While this term may be different for Alex, in that the Maine House will be under new management, I hope he can work just as hard for Brunswick as he can. We need the attention and we deserve it.”

Olsen to join Cornell du Houx, Kent, Gerzofsky in Augusta

By Stephanie Grinnell

The Forecaster

Nov 03, 2010

BRUNSWICK — A three-way contest in House District 66 was won Tuesday by incumbent Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D- Brunswick, with Green Independent K. Fred Horch close on his heels.

Republican candidate Jonathan Crimmins finished third. The three candidates were separated by about 400 votes.

In a House race with a margin of fewer than 70 votes, Republican Kimberly Olsen defeated Democrat David Chipman for the District 64 seat formerly held by Rep. Leila Percy, D-Phippsburg, who vacated the position due to term limit restrictions.

There were a handful of other contested legislative races in the area Tuesday, as well as an unopposed race: state Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, was unchallenged in House District 63.

House District 66

Cornell du Houx received 1,415 votes to Horch’s 1,220 and Crimmins’ 1,019.

Cornell du Houx said there was some concern in his campaign that Horch could ride a wave of conservative victories to win the race. He congratulated both his opponents for working hard and running clean campaigns.

Moving forward, Cornell du Houx said, he is “committed to working hard for Brunswick and Maine,” particularly regarding the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station next year and creation of quality jobs in composites and clean energy.

The win gives Cornell du Houx a second term. The race marked Crimmins’ second election defeat in the district.

“Obviously, I am disappointed with the way it turned out,” he said. “But I’m happy with the way the campaign ran; it was a positive, upbeat campaign.”

Horch made his first attempt at elected office and said he has no regrets.

“We were delighted with the support we got across parties,” Horch said. “We definitely lost a close one. But we tried our hardest and had fun.”

House District 64

The new face of House District 64, covering Phippsburg, Harpswell and the southern half of West Bath, is Republican Kimberly Olsen of Phippsburg.

Olsen defeated Democrat David Chipman of Harpswell, 2,404 to 2,333.

Olsen described her first political campaign as “an interesting walk.” She said she is thankful for all the support she received.

“It was an honor to be nominated and an honor to be elected,” she said.

Olsen, who was a replacement for original candidate David Mosher, said she said does not have immediate plans and just wants “to get (her) bearings up at the Statehouse.”

Chipman said he campaigned hard for the seat and attributed the loss to “a Republican year.”

“I tried my best,” he said. “And best of luck to Kim.”

House District 65

District 65, covering parts of Bath, Brunswick, Topsham, West Bath and Woolwich, will be represented by Democratic incumbent Rep. Peter Kent of Woolwich. He was challenged by Republican Robert Thompson of Brunswick.

Kent, who defeated Thompson 2,139 to 1,863, earned a second term in the House of Representatives.

“I’m excited to be elected again,” he said Wednesday.

He offered “hats off” to his opponent and encouraged constituents to contact him with their concerns at pskentz5@hotmail.com.

“That’s really how I can do my best,” Kent said. “I would love for people to drop me a short note if they would like to get on my email newsletter distribution list.”

Senate District 10

Democratic incumbent Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, who was challenged by Republican Scott Thomas for the state Senate District 10 seat serving Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell and Pownal, was re-elected with a margin of more than 3,700 votes.

Gerzofsky received 10,125 votes to 6,373 for Thomas, who was making his first bid for elected office. Gerzofsky has served one term in the state Senate and four terms in the state House.

Gerzofsky said he consistently heard from voters at the polls Tuesday he is doing a good job representing his district.

“The voters in my district have been very supportive. They appreciate the hard work I have done,” he said. “It’s an honor to serve the people of Brunswick, Harpswell, Freeport and Pownal. I am looking forward to serving them with all my vigor.”

Thomas said his campaign was “a valuable experience.” While he said he is disappointed he did not win, Thomas said he is interested to see what will happen the next few years with new senators and representatives as well as a new governor taking office.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net

Vote for Cornell du Houx

Times Record

Friday, October 29, 2010

By Mary J. Herman

It is an honor to write in strong support of Alex Cornell du Houx, candidate for the Maine House of Representatives in District 66.

I have gotten to know Alex over the past few years and unabashedly and emphatically believe that he is THE right person to represent Brunswick. He works hard, understands the issues and stays in touch with his constituents. He is a Maine native, a Bowdoin graduate who served our country honorably in Iraq. I am continually impressed by Alex’s maturity, grasp of issues important to Brunswick and our state and always shows good common sense.

We’re lucky to have people like Alex representing us; let’s join together to ensure his return to Augusta!

Mary J. Herman, Brunswick

Leader in veterans’ issues

Times Record

Friday, October 29, 2010

By Rep. Charlie Priest

One of the many things that District 66 voters can be proud of is Alex Cornell du Houx’s work in the Legislature on behalf of veterans. As a Marine who served in Iraq, Alex is very concerned about Maine’s veterans. Not only did he sponsor bills to provide tax relief for veterans but also got the Bureau of Maine’s Veterans Services to study and report to the Legislature on the problems of homeless veterans in Maine. As well, Alex was the initiator of the Veterans Caucus of the Legislature where, under his guidance, legislators from both parties who had served as officers and enlisted personnel came together to discuss the needs of Maine veterans and to help veterans with their problems. As a veteran myself, I appreciated Alex’s willingness to lead in veterans’ affairs.

I hope that the voters of District 66 will send him back to the Legislature so that he can keep working for our men and women who have served in the armed services.

Rep. Charlie Priest, District 63, Brunswick

Don’t vote for the ‘spoilers’

By Jackie Sartoris

Times Record

Friday, October 29, 2010

Election season is always about choices, but this fall’s harvest brings us a wider selection.

Maine’s majority of moderate voters are split, most supporting staid Democrat Libby Mitchell and a smaller percentage polling for newcomer Eliot Cutler.

Cutler, however, is no Angus King. He is only the likely spoiler, not the possible winner.

Meanwhile, Mitchell’s biggest drawback should be her greatest asset: relevant, dutiful government experience, but at a time when government service is ridiculed. The bottom line is that votes for Cutler will hand the governor’s office to someone whom most Mainers strongly oppose: Paul LePage.

*

Locally, in the House District 66 election, we have another three-way race. Here, moderate Brunswick has three articulate and passionate choices. Jonathan Crimmins’ views are far to the right of most Brunswick residents, and in a two-way race he could not win. But Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx could see enough votes go to Green Independent candidate Fred Horch to hand the seat to Crimmins.

What’s odd about this challenge is that Cornell du Houx is not just committed to economic development, education and veterans’ issues, he is notably devoted to environmental issues. Following his admirable service as a U.S. Marine in Fallujah, Iraq, he introduced legislative proposals to reduce dependency on foreign oil and conserve energy while benefiting Maine families, and he actively works on numerous other environmental initiatives.

I like and respect Horch, and wish he would run for local office, but his election now would give Brunswick far less influence in Augusta without a gain for green issues.  Unfortunately, his run could also give the seat to an otherwise unelectable candidate, who will not be an asset to environmental concerns.

Like most people, I want to hire people who know what they’re doing: from doctors and police officers to firefighters and teachers. I want people in vital positions to bore me with their competence and dedication, not excite me with uncertainty or risk.

Governing is hard, complex, and sometimes tedious work, and doing it well is surely no disgrace. I hope that, after this angry election, we can regain a little civility and respect for the essential business of government, without which civility itself is hard to imagine.

In the meantime, I urge Brunswick residents to continue to be the standard-bearers for common sense and thoughtfulness.

Don’t split your vote and help elect people you oppose! Let’s hire two experienced, knowledgeable, dedicated professionals to work for us: Libby Mitchell and Alex Cornell du Houx.

Jackie Sartoris is a former Brunswick town councilor. She lives in Brunswick.

Vote Alex Cornell du Houx ’06

October 29, 2010

Bowdoin Orient

By Judah Isseroff

GUEST COLUMNIST

Tuesday, November 2 is Election Day. Pundits all over the country—and all over this campus—have been speculating and forecasting. Will the election be a referendum on President Obama? Is the Tea Party movement for real?

Americans are angry. Again. They’re mad at unemployment and deficits and, most of all, they are really, really mad at politicians.

What are Americans going to do?

It seems as though American voters have found people who are as mad as they are (in both senses of the word), and they are going to hand over the House of Representatives and Senate seats to these political outsiders.

Let’s pause here so I can quickly go out on a limb and predict the next two years in American politics.

2011: Congress is deadlocked. The biggest legislative battle is the judicial fight over the constitutionality of health care reform. The war in Afghanistan continues to be the war in Afghanistan, a major headache for the administration. Congressional Republicans talk a lot and do little.

2012: Campaign season again!

Now, I must admit that I have indulged my own bit of political punditry, but for good reason.

By virtue of our isolation and busy lives, we here in the Bowdoin bubble don’t really get to experience the American political process as real or even pertinent. However, this election season we have the opportunity to exercise the franchise in a way that is both personal and prudent.

Alex Cornell du Houx is currently the representative to the Maine State Legislature from Brunswick’s District 66. This district encompasses several parts of the Bowdoin campus, including Helmreich House, Burnett House, Howell House, Cleaveland Street Apartments and Stowe Inn. Cornell du Houx also happens to be an alumnus of Bowdoin College, a member of the Class of 2006. He is currently embroiled in a tough re-election fight, and I hope many of you that live in his district will seize the opportunity to vote for him this year.

Cornell du Houx is exactly the sort of candidate that both Mainers and Bowdoin students should be excited to send to Augusta. He grew up in the small town of Solon, Maine, making the most of the opportunities along his path from Bowdoin student to member of the Maine State Legislature. Cornell du Houx completed a nearly year-long tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine while a student at Bowdoin in 2006, thankfully returning safely to complete a degree in government and legal studies.

Representative Cornell du Houx spent his first term in the Maine State Legislature working diligently on veteran, educational and environmental issues. He is undoubtedly a qualified candidate, both savvy in politics and intelligently beholden to his values. Alex offers a unique combination of progressive ideals, small town upbringing and experience in the service that makes him especially capable of providing a vision for the future of Brunswick, and even the state of Maine.

For those of us at Bowdoin, however, Cornell du Houx provides a great deal more. He offers an example, connections and a perspective that to a great extent reflects many of our own.

I would by no means advocate for Bowdoin students to blindly support a candidate solely because he or she graduated from this school. That said, there is something to be said for being proud of—and having a stake in—the success of Bowdoin graduates. In the crudest sense, success encountered by graduates of this College makes a Bowdoin degree an even more valuable asset out in the world.

More importantly, it gives this institution and its members connections to the rest of the world. Cornell du Houx’s success in public office and beyond means the permeation of the Bowdoin ethos into a political realm that sorely lacks the sort of values that brought most of us to this school.

This leads me to my final point. As a Bowdoin graduate, Alex will bring an outlook to Augusta that closely mirrors that of many at Bowdoin. He is sincerely devoted to the achievement of marriage equality in Maine, as are many of us. He understands what is at stake in the fight against global warming with regards to our national security, our economy and our environment. Likewise, many students at this College care deeply about retaining their capacity to make use of Maine’s natural beauty and resources.

This election season has been, and is going to be, an ugly one. While I certainly hope that all of you pay attention to all the congressional races around this country, I want to impress upon you the unique opportunity we have to elect one of our own. Send Representative Alex Cornell du Houx back to the Maine State Legislature.

Mitchell Institute gala raises $150,000, Alex Cornell du Houx receives award

Mitchell Institute gala raises $150,000

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has called the scholarship fund the best thing he has ever done.

Portland Press Herald

SOUTH PORTLAND — Getting a college education wasn’t all that important when he was growing up in Waterville in the 1940s, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell said Friday at the Mitchell Institute’s annual dinner.

Even people who didn’t have high school diplomas could get jobs and support themselves, he said.

“That is much more difficult to do today,” he said. “We are living through one of the greatest transitions in human history.”

Advances in communication and technology have made knowledge and skills essential, he said. That’s why it’s so important to reduce barriers to college.

Friday’s Mitchell Institute Fall Gala, a $200-a-plate dinner at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks, raised $150,000 for college scholarships for students throughout Maine.

Every year, the institute awards a $5,000 scholarship to a senior in each of Maine’s 130 high schools. Since Mitchell founded it in 1995, the scholarship fund has awarded $8 million to 1,800 students.

Friday’s event was a huge money-maker for the effort because Mitchell’s friend Tom Walsh, who owns the hotel, donated the ballroom and the dinner. About 500 people attended, including many of the state’s leading political figures and business leaders.

Mitchell, who helped to broker peace in Northern Ireland and served for six years as the U.S. Senate majority leader, said last year, “This scholarship fund is the best thing that I have ever done.”

Besides giving money, the institute helps its scholars find summer jobs, connects them with mentors, and encourages community service to deepen their ties to Maine. Nearly 70 percent of its college graduates now live and work in Maine.

Those leadership development and networking opportunities are more crucial than the money, said Alex Cornell du Houx, who was a scholarship winner and now chairs the Mitchell Scholarship Alumni Council.

Terri Bastarache, 18, a Mitchell scholar who graduated from Gorham High School in June and is now attending the University of Maine, said the scholarship gave her confidence.

“It means a lot,” she said. “It means they believe in me.”

Criteria for the scholarship are: academic performance and potential, a record of community service and financial need.

The institute awards the scholarships in the spring. On Friday, it gave special recognition to 15 scholars and former scholars.

They were recognized for various achievements or qualities, such as overcoming obstacles, or showing leadership, compassion and perseverance.

This year’s recipients of the institute’s Pioneer Scholar Awards are Sam Portera of Limestone Community School, Nate Kinney of Mount Abram High School, Alex Cornell du Houx of Carrabec High School, Mallory Plummer of Morse High School, Teresa Cooper of Nokomis High School, Ameena Khan of Waterville High School, Kim Lim of South Portland High School, Jaclyn McCurry of Biddeford High School, Kaylie Thornton of Carrabec High School, Terri Bastarache of Gorham High School, Patrick Gallagher of Telstar High School, Hannah Belanger of Upper Kennebec Valley High School, Casandra Engstrom of Ellsworth High School, Andy Estrada of Hall-Dale High School, and Kimberly Dao of Thornton Academy.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: tbell@pressherald.com

Rep. Cornell du Houx is on the air – TV spot features Brunswick business people, Gov. Angus King

Brunswick – Brunswick State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx has unveiled his first campaign ad, featuring two local businesses and an endorsement from one of his highest profile constituents, Gov. Angus King.  With the image of Brunswick Naval Air Station in the background, Cornell du Houx pledges to build on momentum to redevelop the base and work to strengthen Brunswick.

The 30 second ad was shot in and around Brunswick’s House District 66 and highlights local business owners Becky Shepard of Wild Oates Bakery and Doug Lavallee of Scarlet Begonias speaking about Rep. Cornell du Houx and his efforts to assist their operations.

“He fought for us so that we could open Scarlet Begonia’s on time,” Lavallee says of Cornell du Houx in the ad.  “We’ve got a state rep. working hard for us.”

Cornell du Houx also landed an endorsement from former Governor Angus King, a constituent.  King urges voters of District 66, part of Brunswick to re-elect him because “Alex is doing a great job in the House, working hard for Brunswick – Let’s keep him in.”

View the ad on YouTube: Working for Brunswick http://www.youtube.com/user/acornellduhoux

“I am truly humbled by the support I have received from Becky, Doug and Gov. King,” said Cornell du Houx.  “I am working hard to get out and speak with every voter, and the ad is one way to try and reach those people I may have missed so far.  It has been an honor representing Brunswick for the last two-years and I want to earn the support of the people of District 66 once more.”

While television ads are a mainstay of statewide and congressional races, few local races hit the airwaves.  But because Brunswick has a somewhat unique cable market, an ad buy on the Comcast cable will remain concentrated locally. Fellow Bowdoin Alum, Frank Chi volunteered to help produce the ad.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx currently serves the people of Brunswick (District 66) in Maine’s House of Representatives. He serves on the Legal and Veterans Committee, is chair of the Veterans Caucus, and is vice-chair of the National Council of State Legislatures’ Energy and Agriculture Committee and sits on the Criminal Justice Committee. Alex serves on the task force on substance abuse and is a member of the National Council of Environmental Legislatures and Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now. He is also a vice-chair of the DNC Veterans Council and member of the DNC Youth Council.

Alex grew up in the small town of Solon and attended Bowdoin College as a George Mitchell Scholar. He joined the Marine Reserves in 2002 and was deployed to Iraq with the Marines’ Alpha Company in 2006 – where he spent a year patrolling the streets in and around Fallujah. After his return, Alex continued his work serving Maine’s communities through community and public service.

Letter: Re-elect Cornell du Houx

From the Forecaster

Oct 18, 2010

As a teacher in the Brunswick school system, I have seen state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx work hard for our children and urge you to re-elect him. As his record shows, he has been a tireless advocate for Brunswick and for Maine.

At a debate he discussed a measure that he is proposing that would help prevent state funding cuts to Brunswick’s education budget once BNAS is fully closed. The measure he is proposing would exempt the base from the formulas that are used to calculate how much funding each school district receives, as the formula will be affected adversely by the base closure.

Alex has co-sponsored a bill in the Legislature that promotes physical education in school. He understands the importance of promoting physical activity for school children of all ages.

Alex also worked to implement a financial literacy program at Brunswick High School with former state Rep. Tommy Davison at no cost to the district.

Alex has also rolled up his sleeves and volunteered for the past six years in our local schools by tutoring in a variety of subjects. He has also helped our Brunswick Junior High School students by coaching lacrosse and soccer for the past three years.

Whether it is on the soccer field or on the floor of the Legislature, Alex Cornell du Houx is a steadfast advocate for our youth.

Justin Keleher

Bowdoin

Letter: Cornell du Houx is true green

From The Forecaster

I was surprised when Green Party candidate Fred Horch decided to run in House District 66 against Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx this year. After all, in just two years, Alex has not only led a variety of initiatives in the Legislature on weatherization and clean energy business, but has also shown impressive national leadership as vice chairman of the National Council of State Legislators Energy Committee and in his significant work with the Truman Project on the issues of climate change and oil dependence. If ever there was a candidate who needs no Green opposition, it’s Cornell du Houx.

I was even more surprised when I attended one of the debates Horch graciously sponsored and heard his lukewarm response to the promise of all of the alternative forms of energy Cornell du Houx has sponsored in the Legislature – off-shore and on-shore wind, hydro, biofuel, and tidal – none of which seems to interest Horch much. He’s pushing solar, which certainly makes sense for Arizona or Texas. But this is Maine, and though we’re unlikely ever to lead the nation in solar energy, we may well do so in wind, while at the same time becoming considerably less dependent on oil.

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me the real environmental candidate in this election is Cornell du Houx. I only wish he were in my district so I could vote for him.

The Rev. Frank C. Strasburger

Brunswick

By Everett B. Carson

Times Record

Friday, October 29, 2010

Brunswick citizens have an opportunity to keep a talented and dedicated person working for us in the Legislature for the next two years. I encourage all House District 66 voters to support Alex Cornell du Houx when they go to the polls on Nov. 2.

I first met Alex about four years ago after reading a story in The Times Record about his service in Iraq as a Marine while on leave from studies at Bowdoin College. Few young people choose to enlist in the military service while also having the opportunity to go to college.I was interested in meeting him and hearing first hand about his experience.

Our conversation at that time introduced me to a mature and thoughtful young man who was very interested in serving his community and country. Especially interested in protecting our environment and creating clean energy to power the Maine economy, Alex works for a brighter future in many ways.

He has participated in community projects at the local, state, national and international levels. As a state legislator, he works with colleagues from other states on energy and agriculture issues.  And he has volunteered in service programs in Guatemala and Peru.

During his first term in the Legislature, Alex focused on issues that are important for our area and for all of the people of Maine. He advocated for locating a new program to study and develop composites at Brunswick Landing. He strongly supported a proposal  to weatherize all homes and half of Maine’s businesses. He co-sponsored and worked effectively for passage of other common-sense environmental initiatives, including recycling of mercury-containing flourescent light bulbs and funding for open space preservation.

In an age when so much of politics is built on negative campaigning and attacks on other candidates, it is refreshing to find a legislator who is constructive and positive. Alex definitely has a “can do” outlook. Let’s keep him accomplishing good things for the Brunswick area, and for Maine.

Everett B. Carson, Harpswell

Insurance bureau offers help in Brunswick

From The Forecaster

BRUNSWICK — A Consumer Outreach Session to help people with insurance cases and to raise awareness about Maine Bureau of Insurance resources will be held, Wednesday, Oct. 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Maine Street Station.

The session will include an overview of the bureau’s services and time for questions. Additionally, staff members will help individual consumers with their specific cases.

The session is being hosted jointly by Brunswick state Reps. Alex Cornell du Houx, Peter Kent and Charlie Priest.

Consumers unable to attend the event can obtain insurance information and assistance by visiting the bureau’s offices in Gardiner, going online to http://www.maine.gov/insurance, or calling the bureau’s toll-free number 1-800-300-5000.

Maine House candidates spar over transportation issues, Brunswick base redevelopment

By Alex Lear

Sep 15, 2010

BRUNSWICK — The three candidates in Maine House District 66 aired their views on transportation policy and redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station Monday during the second of three forums.

The final forum, covering health care and education, was scheduled for Wednesday. The first, on food and energy, was held Sept. 7.

The series was sponsored by the campaign of Green Independent candidate Frederick Horch, who along with Republican Jonathan Crimmins is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx.

Candidates gave statements and then fielded questions on the future of the base property, which the Navy will leave next year and which will be redeveloped as Brunswick Landing. They followed the same procedure on the topic of transportation.

Cornell du Houx noted that $20 million in revenue to the state is being lost through the base’s shutdown.

“We’ve been working extremely hard as a legislative delegation to make the (redevelopment) transition smooth,” he said, adding that the work in part led to a June bond issue that provided funding for a Southern Maine Community College campus on the property.

“The community college was essential to bring there, because one of the number one things (employers) look for when they come to a place to put their companies is, ‘do we have an educated workforce,’” Cornell du Houx said. “Maine is unique in the fact that we have a composite technology that is emerging. … We’re going to be combining with the Southern Maine Community College, the University of Maine and Bowdoin College to have a unique engineering system” on the base.

He also noted that the base has a robust information technology infrastructure, key in attracting a variety of industries.

Crimmins said he hoped Kestrel Aircraft Co.’s proposed $100 million endeavor at the base comes to fruition. He noted, though, that while the project is expected to generate 300 jobs, the base closure has cost nearly 5,000 jobs.

“We need 4,700 jobs to come back to the break even point,” he noted.

Crimmins called planned renewable technology initiatives at Brunswick Landing “a great idea,” but added that “we have to look at the broader picture. We need to bring in many different types of industries, many different types of organizations.”

He noted that the State Planning Office has said Maine’s primary industry is tourism. He suggested a tourism school be started at the base property, allowing students to gain the education there that they would otherwise have to obtain outside of Maine, “because there’s no school for tourism in the state.”

Crimmins said tax incentives are important in attracting industries, but that caps on the length of those incentives should be extended. “Let’s make sure that a company comes in here not for just five years, not for 10 years, but bring them in for a lifetime,” he said. “If we’re going to invest in them, let’s have them invest in us.”

While he has heard the term “brace for impact” connected to the base closure, Horch said he prefers to think of the event more along the lines of preparing for takeoff.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Brunswick,” he said. “How we develop the base will define our economic future. It will define a lot about the town, so it’s a critical thing to get right.”

Horch said the base should be redeveloped in a way that benefits both Brunswick and the state, and suggested a manufacturer of private aircraft, like Kestrel, isn’t necessarily the best option for Brunswick Landing.

“I am very serious about ending hunger in Maine,” he said. “If we’re going to spend public money … on the base, I want it to be addressing our strategic goals. And one of the goals I think the state should have is ending hunger.”

Horch said Kestrel is a risky endeavor. “As a businessperson, I ask, whose $100 million is it? Whose 300 jobs are they?”

He added that while he is a pilot and enjoys flying, “I think we have some strategic goals here. We have hunger problems, we have transition to energy problems. We have things we can do at the base, and every time we use the base for one of those purposes, we move ourselves closer to our strategic goals.”

Transportation

When the forum’s focus switched to transportation, Crimmins said Maine is at a crossroads, and that he’s read that 238 of its bridges need repair or replacement within the next few years, and that a quarter of its roads need immediate repair.

“Of course, now the question comes, where’s the money come from?,” he asked. “That’s millions and millions if not billions of dollars that are going to be required to fix our roads and bridges.”

Crimmins said that while increased public transportation is an option, Maine is largely a rural state. He praised the concept of passenger rail service coming to Brunswick, but noted its significant expense.

In trying to figure out how the roads and bridges will be funded, Crimmins called for the public to tell its representatives in Augusta what takes priority: “I want you to be able to drive the engine that tells us how we go about doing this.”

Horch said Maine’s transportation situation is unsustainable, that “all of our transportation depends on gasoline, none of which we produce or will ever be able to produce in Maine.

“So we’re completely dependent on a foreign source of energy,” he continued. “And at any moment we’re living with the risk of enormous price increases out of our control, and we really don’t have the ability to cope with that.”

He said he would like to see more people getting from place to place without depending on vehicles, instead going on bicycle or foot.

“More people, fewer cars,” Horch said. “That’s my vision for Brunswick.”

While he supports a train between Brunswick and Portland, Horch said a trolley connecting Brunswick with Freeport and Bath would be a better and less expensive option.

“Let’s do trolleys and trains like we used to do,” he said. “We used to have these systems here in Brunswick … we could bring something like that back.”

Cornell du Houx said that with the money not available to properly repair roads, more public transportation is necessary.

“There’s a reason why Route 1 is called the coastal parking lot in the summer; 8 million people come to Maine in the fall and summer … which is a wonderful thing,” he said, “but I think it would be even more wonderful if they could jump on the train in Boston and come all the way up to Rockland, and past there up to Acadia.”

He said Maine has a large rail infrastructure that was used years ago, but not today, thanks to the rise of the automobile industry.

While vehicles and the highway system serve a tremendous purpose, Cornell du Houx said, he called for an increased movement of passengers and freight by rail and buses.

He said the Amtrak Downeaster is the most successful railroad service in the nation, initially projected to increase ridership by 12 percent, but ultimately achieving a 28 percent jump. An Amtrak study, he said, showed that expanding the line to Brunswick will bring an additional 36,000 riders there.

“I think that will hopefully benefit the businesses in the area,” he said.

Cornell du Houx and Crimmins faced each other in the election two years ago. While Crimmins lost in every precinct, he fared better than previous GOP challengers in a district that Democrats have traditionally dominated.

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-bruncandidates-1

The Disclose Act: A Common Sense Step Toward Honest Election

By Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

Published:

Monday, July 26, 2010 2:10 PM EDT

The 2010 elections are going to be different from any we’ve seen in the last 100 years. I’m not talking about candidates or technology or policy — I’m talking about money.

Earlier this year, in its decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court overturned a century’s worth of election laws in order to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence voters. Now, a corporation like BP can spend as much as it wants to run ads against candidates who want to impose strict regulations on the oil industry, and a hedge fund can spend millions to aid a candidate who shares its interests.

What’s more, the new rules give the same freedom to domestic subsidiaries of foreign companies as to those controlled by U.S. companies, and contain no restrictions on campaign spending by government contractors-creating a real opportunity for pay-to-play deals.

We can’t know exactly how corporations will use their new influence in the 2010 elections. But we can make sure that their campaign expenditures are as limited, and as transparent, as possible.

Last month, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act, a common-sense bill to limit which corporations can pour money into elections, and to make sure that those who do get involved in politics disclose exactly what they are doing. The DISCLOSE Act would close the loophole that allows foreign-controlled domestic subsidiaries to participate in American elections, and make sure that government contractors and recipients of TARP funds couldn’t curry favor by buying campaign ads. It would establish new rules to prevent outside spenders from coordinating their campaign activities with candidates and political parties. And it would also impose strict transparency requirements-all corporate and labor union expenditures for or against a candidate would need to be reported promptly and clearly, and a company’s CEO would have to appear in all of its political ads, much like candidates must “approve the message” of ads funded by their campaigns.

The DISCLOSE Act isn’t perfect, but what it does is simple and important: It takes a harmful Supreme Court decision and ensures that it can do as little damage as possible in a quickly approaching election.

It is now up to the Senate to pass DISCLOSE in time for voters to have the information we need as we go to the polls in November. But in a typically Washingtonian twist, the straightforward bill to promote transparency has run into the fierce opposition of those whose moneyed influence it endangers. Big business lobbyists, who embraced the Citizens United decision and plan to spend millions on the 2010 elections, have been ratcheting up their efforts to defeat DISCLOSE, and have gotten most of the Republican caucus on board.

When the Senate votes on DISCLOSE this Tuesday, the votes of Maien Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will be crucial to its passage. Both have been strong supporters of transparency and accountability in the past, but rarely have the voices against honest government been so loud. They will hear plenty from the business lobby; now they need to hear from ordinary citizens.

Americans have worked for decades to make sure our elections belong to voters, not to the highest bidder. The only way we can fully take back our “government by the people” is to pass a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United.

But in the meantime, we have a basic right to know who is spending money in our elections. The Supreme Court has handed unprecedented political power to big corporations. It’s now the job of our elected officials to protect the power of voters.

Rep. Alex cornell du Houx, D-District 66, represents part of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representat

The Disclose Act: A Common Sense Step Toward Honest Election

By Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

Published:

Monday, July 26, 2010 2:10 PM EDT

The 2010 elections are going to be different from any we’ve seen in the last 100 years. I’m not talking about candidates or technology or policy — I’m talking about money.

Earlier this year, in its decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court overturned a century’s worth of election laws in order to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence voters. Now, a corporation like BP can spend as much as it wants to run ads against candidates who want to impose strict regulations on the oil industry, and a hedge fund can spend millions to aid a candidate who shares its interests.

What’s more, the new rules give the same freedom to domestic subsidiaries of foreign companies as to those controlled by U.S. companies, and contain no restrictions on campaign spending by government contractors-creating a real opportunity for pay-to-play deals.

We can’t know exactly how corporations will use their new influence in the 2010 elections. But we can make sure that their campaign expenditures are as limited, and as transparent, as possible.

Last month, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act, a common-sense bill to limit which corporations can pour money into elections, and to make sure that those who do get involved in politics disclose exactly what they are doing. The DISCLOSE Act would close the loophole that allows foreign-controlled domestic subsidiaries to participate in American elections, and make sure that government contractors and recipients of TARP funds couldn’t curry favor by buying campaign ads. It would establish new rules to prevent outside spenders from coordinating their campaign activities with candidates and political parties. And it would also impose strict transparency requirements-all corporate and labor union expenditures for or against a candidate would need to be reported promptly and clearly, and a company’s CEO would have to appear in all of its political ads, much like candidates must “approve the message” of ads funded by their campaigns.

The DISCLOSE Act isn’t perfect, but what it does is simple and important: It takes a harmful Supreme Court decision and ensures that it can do as little damage as possible in a quickly approaching election.

It is now up to the Senate to pass DISCLOSE in time for voters to have the information we need as we go to the polls in November. But in a typically Washingtonian twist, the straightforward bill to promote transparency has run into the fierce opposition of those whose moneyed influence it endangers. Big business lobbyists, who embraced the Citizens United decision and plan to spend millions on the 2010 elections, have been ratcheting up their efforts to defeat DISCLOSE, and have gotten most of the Republican caucus on board.

When the Senate votes on DISCLOSE this Tuesday, the votes of Maien Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will be crucial to its passage. Both have been strong supporters of transparency and accountability in the past, but rarely have the voices against honest government been so loud. They will hear plenty from the business lobby; now they need to hear from ordinary citizens.

Americans have worked for decades to make sure our elections belong to voters, not to the highest bidder. The only way we can fully take back our “government by the people” is to pass a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United.

But in the meantime, we have a basic right to know who is spending money in our elections. The Supreme Court has handed unprecedented political power to big corporations. It’s now the job of our elected officials to protect the power of voters.

Rep. Alex cornell du Houx, D-District 66, represents part of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representat

Veterans push for energy bill

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Military leaders and veterans joined local officials Saturday at the Portland Public Library to gather support for an energy bill in Congress.

The veterans say that relying on oil is not only bad for the environment, but, they say, it helps fund terrorism by sending American dollars to oil-producing countries overseas.

They support the American Power Act co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. That legislation aims to cut greenhouse gases by creating cleaner energy sources here in the United States.

The veterans say that the Pentagon has looked at areas that could be hit by severe climate change like droughts and floods.

Military leaders believe that when those things happen, people in those countries become poorer, more desperate, and ripe for recruitment by radical groups like Al-Qaeda.

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=118927&catid=2

Climate change push targets Collins, Snowe

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

Using paid advertising combined with media events, activists this week have been targeting Maine’s Republican senators, trying to earn their votes a key climate change vote slated for today (Thursday).

But the national political agenda will not end with the vote. On Saturday, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations will host a town hall meeting here to call for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

A flurry of advocacy ads will try to affect a vote today on what’s called the “Murkowski amendment.”

The name refers to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will bring legislation to the Senate floor for debate today to disapprove of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent endangerment finding that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant and harmful to human health and the environment. Murkowski and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, agreed to bring the joint resolution, S.J. 26, to the floor for up to six hours of debate before voting on a motion to proceed.

If the motion is successful by 51-vote majority, the Senate would then allow for an hour debate before voting on its passage, which also requires 51 votes.

Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations “dedicated to securing America with clean energy,” according to its literature, on Wednesday pushed for a no vote on the Murkowski amendment.

“We need strong climate change legislation to address the security threats associated with climate change and our dependence on oil,” said Maine state Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, an Iraq War veteran with Truman National Security Project and Operation Free, during a press event at Portland City Hall Wednesday.

Rep. Du Houx said Collins and Snowe have shown independence in their handling of national security and environmental issues.

According to her staff, Sen. Collins has not decided how she will vote on the Murkowski resolution. To date, Collins is the only Senate Republican to introduce comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, her staff reported in an email message Wednesday.

“While I support regulating greenhouse gas emissions, I have reservations about the sweeping approach EPA is pursuing,” Collins said in a statement. “For example, for the first time the EPA has classified biomass as not carbon neutral, which could have a negative impact on Maine’s forest products industry. I have not yet decided how I will vote on the Murkowski resolution, and I continue to believe the best way to proceed is for Congress to pass a framework for regulating carbon emissions as Senator Cantwell and I proposed in the CLEAR Act.”

Efforts to solicit a response from the office of Sen. Snowe for comment on her position on the Murkowski amendment were unsuccessful.

Advocacy groups aren’t taking anything for granted.

Du Houx said big dollars are coming from the Truman National Security Project, a national security leadership institute which calls itself “the nation’s only organization that recruits, trains and positions a new generation of progressives across America to lead on national security.”

“The Truman National Security Project, we’ve launched a $3 million ad buy with Republicans for Environmental Sustainability, and that’s airing in Maine and a number of other states,” Du Houx said Wednesday.

Du Houx said the $3 million ad buy will try to sway the outcome of this vote.

“It’s aimed at the senators who we think should be leaders on this issue,” he said. “Senator Collins and Senator Snowe in the past have been very strong on national security and they’ve been strong on environmental issues. We hope they will continue to do that by not supporting the Murkowski amendment.”

Separately, the group Americans United for Change announced on Tuesday the launch of a new ad in Maine, urging Collins to break with fellow Republicans to reject Murkowski’s bid to reject EPA rules on emissions.

The group is pouring $40,000 into Portland from Tuesday through Thursday with an ad mirroring a national spot airing in Washington, according to a press release. The ad urges Collins to back Democrats’ effort to reject the Murkowski resolution, and is based on indications, a group spokesman said, that Collins is inclined to back the legislation.

The ad ties the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the new EPA rules, with a video of a gushing pipeline playing behind other images and narration in the ad.

While activists decried Murkowski’s amendment as an attack on the Clean Air Act, advocates for the amendment say the EPA is acting like a rogue agency. Nicolas Loris, a research assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, said the EPA is beginning the process “of imposing costly and environmentally questionable CO2 cuts by using the Clean Air Act. … Mandating more miles-per-gallon increases the cost of buying a new car and makes them less safe.”

Adam Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, disagreed, saying the endangerment finding makes sense for auto manufacturers. He opposed the Murkowski amendment while speaking at Wednesday’s press event, invoking the memory of Maine Sen. Ed Muskie, a renowned Maine Democratic congressman and environmentalist.

“We need to protect our air and water, we need cars to get better gas mileage, we need to use less oil and gas, and we need to import less oil from abroad,” Lee said. “Doing these things may or may not cost us more money. … Some things are worth paying for. If Ed Muskie could see this, he would roll over in his grave.”

In an interview, Lee explained that he’s one of the few auto dealers speaking up for the EPA regulations and related mileage standards for automobiles.

“It’s an unusual position to take because for whatever reason there don’t seem to be many auto dealers who feel a need to speak out on this,” Lee said. “However, I’ll say the auto manufacturers agree. They do not want to see this pass either because they worked very hard to come up with a national standard last year, a new fuel economy standard. … They feel they got the compromises they needed to make themselves comfortable.”

Beyond today’s vote on the Murkowski amendment, groups are looking long-range at clean-energy legislation.

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Portland Public Library, Operation Free will host a town hall meeting with top retired military leaders and veterans, along with local elected officials, “to discuss the connection between climate change and national security, and call for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.”

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100609115341000128

Military Times Profile on Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

From Leatherneck to Lawmaker:

For combat vet Alex Cornell du Houx, service is a constant

War, according to the old generals’ proverb, is the continuation of politics by other means.  For 27-year-old Alex Cornell du Houx, the proverb is reversed – his career in politics is the continuation of his work as a warrior by other means.  With just over a year on the job representing the people of Brunswick, Maine, the former Marine reservist and combat vet is already making a name for himself as a champion for veterans in local politics.  His bill to provide in-state tuition for veterans from anywhere in the U.S. at Maine’s state universities was into law in September, and he’s now working on measures to alleviate homelessness among veterans.

Meanwhile, memories from his 2006 tour in Fallujah, where he saw “vehicles in lines to get gas that stretched as far as the eye could see,” propel his efforts on the national stage to increase U.S. energy independence.  That’s part of the work he does in his second job, as outreach director for the Truman National Security Project.  It helps keep him engaged in national politics, and it also helps the bills.  Although his legislative work is a full-time job, the pay is part time – about $10,000 a year.

Cornell du Houx was recognized for his efforts in clean energy this spring with an invitation to the White House on Earth Day.  He announced his bid for a second two-year term as a local lawmaker the same day.

Pondering Politics

Cornell du Houx enlisted in the Maine Corps Reserve in 2002, the same year he began studying government and theater at the liberal-leaning Bowdoin College.

By the time he was a junior, his infantry company was activated for duty in Fallujah.  “I personally didn’t agree with the war in Iraq, but it was my duty as a Marine to be there,” he said.

Profiled on NBC Nightly News as his unit prepared to ship out, he became a poster boy for troops who were proud to serve despite their problems with the policies of the war itself.

It was on the final leg of his journey home more than a year later, as he reflected on everything he had seen and done, that he began to ponder the possibility of a life in politics.

Even before he left for Iraq, he was frustrated with how veterans were being treated and the inadequacy of the Montgomery GI Bill, among a host of other issues.  His time downrange had only amplified his frustration.

“I don’t know that I was pissed off, but I was disheartened, “he said.  And on the long bus ride home, he decided he wanted to do something about it.  “I still had a year of school left, but I knew I wanted to continue with some form of public service – political service, community service or military service.”

And while the idea of a young enlisted Marine running for office might surprise some people, Cornell du Houx had been in the trenches of public service long before deploying to war.

A mixed education

An AmeriCorps volunteer who worked in local schools, Cornell du Houx also raised his hand for several service trips to South America.  Back home he built houses with Habitat for Humanity and served on the organizations’ board of director for Maine.  He did this all while going to school at Bowdoin, where he eventually was elected into key posts with College Democrats of America.

He says combining his education and activism with duty in the Marine Corps was a perfect marriage.

“Both Bowdoin and the Marines taught me that service has no political party, no original location,” Cornell du Houx wrote in an essay for Newsweek magazine in 2008.  “The marines taught me strength, vigilance and discipline.  Bowdoin taught me the values of activism, debate, intellectual curiosity and the importance of political participation.  Each of these values helped instill in me the common notion that if we really want to help change our communities, big and small, we must get involved, respect each other and never give up on our visions for tomorrow.”

Campaign plan

Cornell du Houx was still working on his senior thesis when he got a call from Maine’s Speaker of the House asking if he was interested in running for office.  His hard work before and after deployment had not gone unnoticed.

He had been thinking about it, but now it was real.

He formed a campaign committee of close friends and advisers and went to work knocking on doors, introducing himself and asking for money.  Maine’s campaign financing rules require candidates to collect 60 $5 checks from supporters to qualify for state funding.

“It took me about a month literally going door to door asking for $5,” he said.  From there, the state picks up the rest

“When you first start campaigning for yourself, it’s very odd saying, ‘Elect me.’  You don’t want to promote yourself, but the reality is you need to make sure people know what you’ve accomplished.”

But by all accounts he got the hang of it.  On the same day another young upstart was elected president, Cornell du Houx got the news that the voters of District 66 had given him their nod.

When the governor swore him and the other incoming state representative into office, he couldn’t help but remember the last time he swore an oath of serive.

“I hadn’t thought about it until that moment, “he says.  “You feel very humbled and privileged.  You know people have put their trust in you to be there.”

-Jon R. Anderson

Maine Environmentalists Urge Defeat of Murkowski Resolution

06/09/2010 12:32 PM ET

They say the legislation favors the interests of big oil at the expense of the environment.

Environmentalists are urging Maine’s two U.S. Senators to reject legislation they say would block new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The so-called “Murkowski Resolution,” introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, could come up for a Senate vote as soon as tomorrow.

If the so-called “disapproval resolution” is endorsed, it would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and block a variety of other standards announced by President Obama two weeks ago, opponents say.

Opponents of the resolution in Maine, which include the groups Environment Maine and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, held a news conference in Portland today to urge Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to vote against the resolution.

“The people of Maine overwhelmingly want climate change legislation, and we don’t want to side with big oil and their lobbyists. We want to protect our national security, protect our environment and improve our economy,” said state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, a Brunswick Democrat.

Spokespeople for the two senators say they are still reviewing the resolution and have not may any decisions yet.

Maine Environmentalists Urge Defeat of Murkowski Resolution

06/09/2010 12:32 PM ET

They say the legislation favors the interests of big oil at the expense of the environment.

Environmentalists are urging Maine’s two U.S. Senators to reject legislation they say would block new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The so-called “Murkowski Resolution,” introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, could come up for a Senate vote as soon as tomorrow.

If the so-called “disapproval resolution” is endorsed, it would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and block a variety of other standards announced by President Obama two weeks ago, opponents say.

Opponents of the resolution in Maine, which include the groups Environment Maine and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, held a news conference in Portland today to urge Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to vote against the resolution.

“The people of Maine overwhelmingly want climate change legislation, and we don’t want to side with big oil and their lobbyists. We want to protect our national security, protect our environment and improve our economy,” said state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, a Brunswick Democrat.

Spokespeople for the two senators say they are still reviewing the resolution and have not may any decisions yet.

Town meeting set on climate change

By Beth Quimby bquimby@mainetoday.com

Staff Writer

Maine native and Vietnam veteran Maj. Gen. Don Edwards and other military leaders, veterans and local officials will host a town meeting to discuss the connection between climate change and national security and call for the passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

The meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square.

Adam Cote of Portland, who ran for Congress in 2008, will also be at the meeting. He served in Bosnia and Iraq in the U. S. Army.

State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, will moderate the forum.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is being coordinated by Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations working to secure sources of clean energy.

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Town-meeting-set-on-climate-change.html

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx announces his bid for re-election in District 66

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx announced his bid for re-election to the Maine State Legislature in District 66.

Since his election in 2008, Cornell du Houx has worked tirelessly for Brunswick and the state of Maine, to improve every resident’s quality of life.

Green jobs and clean-energy issues have always been a core commitment for Cornell du Houx. His efforts on national security and climate change with OperationFree have been recognized by President Barack Obama and the national media. He has cosponsored and worked on legislation promoting renewable energy investment in the former Brunswick Naval Air Station and across the state. He supported legislation to increase weatherization of Maine homes and businesses, limitations on environmental toxins, and funding for the state’s Land for Maine’s Future program.

He currently works on climate change, energy and national security issues with the Truman National Security Project, when not in session at the State House. His work took him to Copenhagen for the U.N. Climate Change Conference. There he spoke on various panels and addressed the international press, promoting Maine’s leadership in weatherization efforts and the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has resulted in over $1 million for state energy projects.

“Building the clean-energy economy will bring good-paying jobs to Maine, jobs that cannot be outsourced,” said Cornell du Houx. “Over 80 percent of Maine residents rely on oil. The Pentagon has stated that America’s dependency on foreign oil is a National Security threat. Here in Maine, we have great opportunities to produce clean energy from a variety of renewable resources.”

Cornell du Houx has worked hard to ensure jobs and economic development by spearheading legislation to benefit Brunswick. As part of the region’s delegation, he has been a key figure in pushing through a bond package to benefit BNAS redevelopment and bring quality jobs to Brunswick and the region.

He supported an investment of $57.8 million in job creation bonds. “These bonds will put people to work this year, make critical investments in highways, railways, and ports, and strengthen our economy,” said Cornell du Houx.

He has fought passionately for accessible health care for Mainers and pressed for legislation to ensure that insurance companies provide dental care for all children. The bond package he supported also includes an increase in care for children at new dental centers and an increase in the number of dentists in Maine.

As a veteran of the Iraqi War, Cornell du Houx is deeply committed to veterans’ issues and sits on the VA Homeless Veterans Working Group. Cornell du Houx sponsored legislation to evaluate and address the issue of Maine’s homeless veterans and legislation to make Maine one of the first states in the nation to provide any veteran with the advantage our quality, higher-education system at no cost, in conjunction with the 21st-Century GI Bill.

Former US Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell praised Cornell du Houx’s dedication and said, “Alex’s commitment to serving the greater good may be equaled by a rare few, but it is surpassed by none.”

He grew up in the small town of Solon and attended Bowdoin College as a Mitchell Scholar. Cornell du Houx joined the Marine Reserves in 2002 and was deployed to Iraq with the Marines’ Alpha Company in 2006, spending a year patrolling the streets in and around Fallujah.

Legislative Round-up

Please click here for for a list of major bills the the legislature acted on this session.

In total, we considered 423 bills during the shorter second session and sent nearly 150 to the governor to be signed into law, including measures to preserve and create jobs, invest in alternative energy, reform health care, and protect consumers and the environment.

Veterans Talk About U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil — WSCH6

Original story

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A group of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are now touring the country hoping to spread the message that U.S. dependence on foreign oil is threat to national security.

The group, called “Operation Free,” is traveling in a biodiesel powered bus. Their goal is to visit 27 states.

On Monday, they stopped by USM and told students that some of the money that Americans pay for gasoline ends up in the hands of some of this country’s most dangerous enemies.

“Every time the price of oil goes up, Iran makes a lot of money. What they do with that money is they turn around and they finance their nuclear program. They buy sophisticated IED’s that they send to insurgents, militias and terrorists in Iraq that are used against our soldiers,” says former army captain, Mike Breen.

The veterans also say that climate change is a threat in that it causes famine and drought in nations like Somalia and Afghanistan that are already unstable.

“Climate change,” says veteran Karen Eckstein, “has been listed in the quadrennial defense review, which is the Pentagon’s strategic plan for the future. They’ve specifically listed climate change as an accelerant to instability.”

The group will travel to Augusta and Bangor this week and then head to Massachusetts.

Iraq Veterans Speak Out Against US Senate’s Murkowski Resolution Today; Thank Maine Senators For Not Supporting It

Alex Cornell Du Houx, Greg Brown, 1Sky State Organizer and Andrew Campbell at today’s press conference.

By Carol McCracken (Post # 399)

Two Iraq War Veterans spoke against the Murkowski Resolution which “would gut the authority of Senator Edmund Muskie’s Clean Air Act” at a press conference at city hall this afternoon. Portland resident Andrew Campbell and Alex Cornell Du Houx both served in the Iraq War which galvanized their beliefs that this country should not be dependent on foreign energy.

Du Houx first thanked Senators Snowe and Collins for not signing on to this resolution which could come before the U.S. Senate for vote on February 25th. “We send a billion dollars for oil to states who do not have our interests in mind. Some of those countries, like Saudia Arabia, use the money to fund terrorist organizations. We are funding both sides of the war,” “Du Houx said. Du Houx currently serves in the State Legislature. He served with the US Marines in Falluja where he was an “assault man.” He’s also with the Truman National Security Project.

The other Iraq veteran speaking at todays news conference was Andrew Campbell. A former Hill resident, Campbell served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 in Mosul. “The US should not be dependent on only one source of energy,” he said. During his service, he experienced a violent backlash on US soldiers when Iraqi soldiers at the front line were unable to get enough fuel to defend themselves. Campbell is now studying psychology at USM here in Portland. He plans to go on to graduate school for school counseling.

The Murkowski resolution was introduced by US Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

School board rethinks leadership

Original Story

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 2:13 PM EST

BRUNSWICK — A month after an e-mail from School Board chairman Byron Watson to House Speaker Hannah Pingree was deemed “inappropriate” by local legislators and others, At-large School Board representative Michelle Small on Wednesday will ask board members to reconsider Watson’s election as chairman.

According to the agenda for Wednesday’s regular meeting, the board will “consider a motion to reconsider the election of the chair for 2010.”

On Monday, Small confirmed that she requested the agenda item, but declined to comment further on the issue.

The request follows a Feb. 5 e-mail from Watson to Pingree requesting assistance with what he said were “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts to state aid to the Brunswick School Department for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In the e-mail, Watson wrote that Pingree was “gorgeous,” adding, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

Local legislators subsequently took issue with Watson’s choice of words, which Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, called “unfortunate” and “inappropriate.”

At a subsequent School Board budget workshop attended by Brunswick’s legislative delegation, Watson apologized for the e-mail. “There was absolutely a miscalculation in a complimentary icebreaker to a very intelligent lady,” he said, in part. “And even though my counterpart in this has not shown any ill will, the people need to know that no malice was intended in the substandard selection of words. It will not happen again.”

Details The agenda item request follows a Feb. 5 e-mail from Byron Watson to Hannah Pingree requesting assistance with what he said were “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts to state aid to the Brunswick School Department for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In the e-mail, Watson wrote that Pingree was “gorgeous,” adding, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

Watson’s colleagues on the School Board have little to say publicly on the matter.

Phone calls and e-mails sent Monday to board members Marybeth Latti of District 2, Matt Corey of District 3, Janet Connors of District 6 and Michele Joyce of District 7 were not returned by press time today.

District 5 representative Jim Grant declined to comment on the agenda item. District 4 representative Corinne Perreault said she had spoken to several board members about the item. “I think we’re all trying to come up with what we feel is best,” she said.

At-large representative Jack Jones said Monday that he received “a lot of e-mails, mostly negative, and some positive” about the issue, but he also declined to comment further.

Watson, however, wrote in an e-mail to The Times Record on Saturday that he will not resign as chairman. “You don’t get anywhere by continuously giving the school yard bully your lunch money. I will not compromise my principles or the future integrity of the board by caving into a political smear game. There is a lot of work to be done for the people of Brunswick and that is my focus.”

He wrote that the board must “bring closure to this ridiculous matter,” adding, “I feel confident that a strong majority of the board would rather focus on saving jobs than political games.”

All of the legislators who criticized Watson are Democrats. In the past, Watson worked for Republican legislative candidates.

“From the moment these politically motivated attacks started, all the way to this coming Wednesday’s meeting, we will have had two regular board meetings, three budget workshops, and one special workshop with the entire legislative delegation,” Watson wrote. “While cruel and unusual punches are being thrown my way, I have continued to work relentlessly for the children of Brunswick. I was born in Brunswick, raised in Brunswick, educated in Brunswick, and I strive to serve to people of Brunswick.”

Prior to the School Board’s regular meeting, the board will hold a workshop at 6 p.m. to hear from Superintendent Paul Perzanoski about his suggestions — likely to include staff reductions — to address a 2011 budget gap now anticipated to be between $3.5 million and $3.6 million.

Mitchell scholars talk jobs at conference

https://bangordailynews.com/2010/03/02/news/mitchell-scholars-talk-jobs-at-conference/

PORTLAND, Maine – More than 70 current and former recipients of the Mitchell Scholarship Award gathered during a personal and professional development day Saturday at the Sen. George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute. The theme for the day was How to Get a Job in a Tough Economy.

Known as “MILE II” – the Mitchell Institute Leadership Experience II – the daylong conference is a companion to a weekend retreat offered each year to Mitchell scholars.

Twenty Mitchell scholars from the University of Maine participated in the events.

Current students and young professionals gained practical tips and strategies from more seasoned professionals representing myriad industry sectors. Mitchell scholars and alums came from across the state to attend the event, including students from colleges such as Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, University of Maine at Farmington, Husson University, University of New England, St. Joseph’s College and the University of Southern Maine.

“It’s a tough job market right now, but there are still opportunities,” said Joe Foley, executive vice president for marketing at Unum and a Mitchell Institute board member, in his keynote address. “Putting your best foot forward every time really makes a difference.” Unum has hosted this event for the Mitchell scholars for four consecutive years.

Members of the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council prepared and hosted the event, and were on hand to share their insights as well.

“We all know it’s difficult out there right now,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, “but getting these kinds of practical tips and strategies makes a real difference.”

Casandra Engstrom, a Mitchell scholar studying at the University of Southern Maine, said, “Wow. I feel like I am walking away from today with so many new ideas and great pieces of advice.”

Each year the Mitchell Institute awards a $5,000 scholarship to a graduating senior from every public high school in the state. When a new class of Mitchell scholars is selected this spring, a total of nearly 1,800 Maine students will have been supported with nearly $8 million in scholarship commitments.

In addition to financial support, Mitchell scholars receive numerous forms of personal support and opportunities for professional development. These resources – which include mentoring, community service, leadership development and career exploration – are available to Mitchell scholars throughout their college years and beyond.

Mitchell scholars and alums provide nearly 30,000 hours of community service each year, most of it in Maine. Three-fourths of Mitchell scholar alums live and work in Maine after graduation.

The core mission of the Mitchell Institute is to increase the likelihood that young people from every community in Maine will aspire to, pursue and achieve a college education. Each year, a Mitchell scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior from every public high school in Maine who will be attending a two-or four-year postsecondary degree program. Selection is based on academic promise, financial need and a history of community service.

Additional information about the Mitchell Institute is available at http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.

See the original article in The Bangor Daily News

Proposals seek dental care for youngest

Some insurance companies balk, but advocates say it will save money

Original Story

BY ETHAN WILENSKY-LANFORD, Staff Writer

Last November, Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta and president of the Maine Dental Association, saw a 4-year-old patient for the first time in that child’s life. The child’s teeth had significant damage and needed five or six fillings, he said.

He asked the child’s mother why she had waited so long to see him.

“She felt embarrassed,” he said, “but she said the only reason that she didn’t come sooner was because her insurance didn’t allow it.”

Maine law currently allows dental insurance companies to decide when to offer insurance to children. On Wednesday, the Insurance and Financial Services Committee heard arguments in favor of requiring companies that offer dental coverage in Maine to offer it to children from birth.

No one testified against the bill, though several insurer representatives expressed concerns about how it might affect their bottom lines.

“I think it is extremely important for the health of our children,” said Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, who co-sponsored the bill. “It clarifies the message. By allowing enrollment at birth, it educates parents that it is important for the health of the child, rather than sending the message that you should wait until age 4.”

Shenkin said early visits to the dentist are important to teach parents how to care for their children’s teeth and to provide counseling about nutrition. The American Dental Association recommends children should visit a dentist within six months of their first tooth, and not later than their first birthday.

“When children are seen early, by age 1, we can reduce costs by 50 percent by age 4 or 5 years of age,” Shenkin said.

The leading dental insurer in Maine, Northeast Delta Dental, supports the bill.

“The earlier kids get dental attention, the better off we all are,” said the company’s lobbyist, Chris O’Neil.

But representatives from several other insurance companies were concerned that allowing several windows for families to enroll children into their dental plans — such as one O’Neil proposed, 30 days either side of a child’s second birthday — could cost them money, because more people would opt in when their children needed expensive care.

Dental disease is one of the leading reasons for people to go to emergency rooms in the state, and in 2006 was the leading reason for young adults.

According to a report released last month on emergency room visits, the Department of Health and Human Services helped finance 12,000 Mainers who are uninsured or covered by MaineCare in visits to emergency rooms each year at a public cost of $6 million.

Two other bills that supporters say will drastically improve rural and childhood dental care in the state have advanced to the House so far this year, with one of those already becoming law.

L.D. 1520, which was signed by Gov. John Baldacci earlier this month, will make it easier for young dentists to come to the state as dentistry residents.

“We hope that some of them will stay,” said Rep. Richard Blanchard, D-Old Town, who sponsored the bill.

Another bill currently being considered in the House would lift restrictions on MaineCare payments to dental hygienists acting independently, potentially expanding the network of dental care in rural Maine.

Dental hygienists have only been allowed to work independently of dentists for a few years, and by law can only perform preventative care.

This bil, L.D. 233, is estimated to cost Maine taxpayers up to $234,000 annually by 2012. It is now awaiting action in the Senate.

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford – 620-7016

ewlanford@mainetoday.com

Brunswick schools Aid cut sparks spat

Original Story

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Friday, February 19, 2010 2:07 PM EST

BRUNSWICK — Brunswick school officials and local legislators this week continued their efforts to address significant cuts to state aid to education that will likely contribute to a $4 million chasm in the budget for 2010-11.

However, those efforts followed different paths, and recently led to conflict and harsh words among leaders who ultimately hope to achieve the same goal.

On Feb. 10, Superintendent Paul Perzanoski wrote to Maine Education Commissioner Susan Gendron — with courtesy copies sent to the entire Brunswick legislative delegation and Gov. John Baldacci — asking for a review of anticipated education aid cuts that are now expected to reach nearly $3 million, or 9.9 percent of the district budget.

In his letter, Perzanoski referred to a 2008 meeting between education officials and Leighton Cooney, Baldacci’s liaison for Brunswick Naval Air Station redevelopment, at which “a great deal of discussion centered on possible ways to soften the economic ‘perfect storm’ that was on the horizon. Brunswick was noted as the town that would have to endure the greatest amount of burden.”

The “perfect storm” metaphor refers to the combined negative economic impacts of the Navy base’s scheduled closure in 2011, the loss of local jobs affiliated with the base, the loss of federal aid to Brunswick schools for educating Navy children and effects Navy families’ departure would have on the way state government calculates annual subsidies to local school districts.

The day after Perzanoski sent his letter, Brunswick School Board chairman Byron Watson — at a public meeting — expressed his outrage at the “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts in state aid to education Brunswick would experience this year and next. Watson encouraged local residents concerned about the cuts to contact the local legislative delegation “and find out just exactly what they’re doing for you and your children.”

In a Feb. 5 e-mail to House Speaker Hannah Pingree, Watson also pleaded for assistance, asking Pingree “to lobby in favor of seriously reconsidering the drastically disproportionate hit that is being laid upon the Brunswick School System.” He asked how it was possible that Brunswick schools are “taking the second-largest hit in the entire state at the same time that they are losing the Naval base?”

In 2005, following the Base Realignment and Closure vote to close BNAS in 2011, Gov. John Baldacci and Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, then a state representative and now a state senator, attended an editorial board meeting at The Times Record. In response to a question about whether the Department of Education would adapt its annual subsidy formula — in which student population factors heavily — to compensate for an anticipated sharp decrease in the number of Navy children attending Brunswick schools, Baldacci said the BNAS closure would present unique circumstances for Brunswick that would need to be addressed.

On Wednesday, Watson said, “We’re wondering if the ‘special circumstances’ meant we’re going to get our butts handed to us. … We’re getting hammered and we wonder why. There’s got to be something going on because this is ridiculous.”

Watson called the delegation “ineffective leaders,” adding, “We’ve heard nothing from them.”

Liaison committees

All four Brunswick legislators said Thursday that they had not been contacted by any member of the Brunswick School Board. However, Gerzofsky said he spoke to Watson the night he was sworn in as board chairman and advised Watson to “set up a small group of people” to address the curtailment.

Gerzofsky said that he also urged Watson to have School Board members testify before the Legislature’s Education and Appropriations committees about the impact of aid cuts on Brunswick schools.

“I wanted to set up some sort of way of working together to come up with solutions and suggestions,” he said.

According to an agenda released Thursday, the School Board’s policy subcommittee is scheduled to consider appointment of members to a newly authorized Legislative Liaison Committee during its meeting on Feb. 25.

In the meantime, Gerzofsky — who represents Brunswick, Freeport, Pownal and Harpswell — said that members of the Regional School Unit 5 board of directors did call him. As a result, in January, he and Sen. Justin Alfond, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee, met with RSU 5 board members in Freeport. RSU 5 includes Freeport, Pownal and Durham.

“Justin heard things in Freeport that he wasn’t aware of,” Gerzofsky said. “They had really great questions he was able to answer, and a couple of issues he wrote down and brought to his committee the next day.”

Gerzofsky said he would be happy to arrange a similar meeting in Brunswick, but he noted, “So far, it’s 12 o’clock noon on the 18th and nobody has gotten in touch with me. No (Brunswick) School Board members have called me to set up any appointments. And it’s the middle of February.”

Similarly, Rep. Peter Kent, whose district includes part of Brunswick as well as parts of Bath, West Bath, Woolwich and Topsham, said Thursday that he was contacted by members of the RSU 1 school board, and has been meeting with a “coalition” of municipalities, stakeholders and four state legislators for the last month and a half to address budget concerns.

He said he was “curious” why Brunswick School Board members weren’t calling their legislators. “I think to a degree they need to look at themselves,” Kent said. “Why don’t they look at their legislators as players and communicate with them? I have people calling me constantly. … I just have not gotten any communication from (the Brunswick School Board).”

Kent said the RSU 1 coalition has discussed working as a group “to brainstorm ways to reshape the educational system and to approach effecting change in the Legislature.”

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx and Rep. Charlie Priest, who each represent parts of Brunswick, said Thursday that they hadn’t heard from any School Board members either, although Cornell du Houx did meet with Perzanoski in November to discuss anticipated cuts to the Brunswick schools.

Cornell du Houx also took issue with what he called “unfortunate” and “inappropriate” language in Watson’s e-mail to Pingree. Watson wrote that she was “gorgeous,” but noted, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

In other media reports, Gerzofsky and Priest also criticized the tone of Watson’s e-mail.

Of the e-mail, Watson said Wednesday that he and Pingree have “a cordial relationship” and that “she hasn’t expressed any concerns to me at all.”

Pingree’s Feb. 11 response to Watson’s e-mail outlined the “drastic decline in revenues” faced by the state and Baldacci’s proposed budget that reduced school funding in fiscal year 2011 by $35 million. She noted a statewide referendum in June that will include an $8 million bond for the redevelopment of BNAS, and a proposal under consideration by the Legislature to “assist the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and to bring a community college presence onto the base.”

Pingree urged Watson to work with Brunswick legislators to come up with solutions to the budget shortfall.

Gerzofsky noted that state aid to Brunswick education has increased overall in recent years. He added that he “played a big hand in the amendment” to a statewide school consolidation law that allowed Brunswick not to consolidate.

“Charlie and I and Alex are up here (advocating for Brunswick) on a daily basis,” he said. “We’ve certainly testified and worked in our caucuses as hard as we can trying to alleviate some of our issues.”

Gerzofsky also pointed out that the Legislature has yet to approve any of the cuts proposed in Baldacci’s budget, including to aid to education.

‘Leave our egos at the door’

Amid the accusations and criticism, however, Perzanoski said Priest contacted him last week to try to arrange a meeting of legislators and School Board members. Priest said Thursday that that meeting is now tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25. This morning, Gerzofsky said that he and Alfond, Senate chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee, will also attend Thursday’s meeting with the Brunswick School Board.

Priest said it’s crucial that legislators and school officials work together to address the financial crisis facing Brunswick schools.

“I think the real question we need to answer is, presumably (the cuts) are the result of the application of the school funding formula, but we need to make sure Brunswick is not being hit disproportionately,” he said. “If that’s true, is there another area to look at that might enable us to increase the amount of money the state would give to the schools?”

Priest said he hopes members of the Brunswick School Board will visit the State House to speak to Education and Appropriations committee members.

“It’s important for us to be able to show that the town is united behind the delegation to try to help address the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Perzanoski is scheduled to meet this morning with Jim Rier, the Maine Department of Education’s director of finance and operations, to discuss how (state aid) is calculated for reimbursement to the town “and ideas for me to go from here,” he said.

Ultimately, the superintendent said, the only way for school officials and legislators to make progress is “to leave our egos at the door.”

Maine veterans say national security at risk with climate change

Maine veterans say national security at risk with climate change

Original Story

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

Climate change is a national security issue, according to two Maine military veterans who served in Iraq.

Andrew Campbell of Portland was part of a group of military veterans who toured the country promoting clean, sustainable energy as a matter of national security. During his deployment in 2004 and 2005, the six-year veteran of the Army National Guard served in Mosul, Iraq as a logistics specialist with Maine’s 133 Engineer Battalion.

“As a logistics specialist in what was essentially a construction unit, I was able to pay attention to the money we were spending to support these operations over the course of a year,” Campbell said Thursday during a Portland press conference hosted by 1Sky, a national coalition urging climate change legislation in Congress. “It took several million dollars to support the unit for one year, when it came to construction supplies, water, maintenance supplies, food, and a lot of that on oil.”

Campbell noted that the United States spends over $1 billion on oil every day.

A disapproval resolution from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who wants to limit the federal government’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, would run counter to initiatives by federal defense agencies, he said.

“I think it’s a very poor bill from a Department of Defense standpoint because it’s tantamount to saying that all these senators don’t believe climate change is an actual threat to our national security. This is coming at a time when the Department of Defense just released their quadrennial report saying that climate change is, indeed, a national security threat.

In its recent quadrennial review, Pentagon officials concluded for the first time that climate change will act as an “accelerant of instability and conflict,” ultimately placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.

As early as Feb. 25, the resolution can be introduced for a vote and needs only 51 votes to pass, 1Sky reported.

Campbell is a member of Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations who have come together because they believe climate change is a serious threat to the country’s national security.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, agreed with Campbell that personal experience in Iraq offered perspective on the need for a clean-energy economy in the United States.

“This is something that I saw first-hand when I was deployed in 2006 with the Marine Corps in and around Fallujah. We came across a line of cars, trucks and tractors that really went out as far as the eye could see in 130-degree heat, and we finally made it to the front and realized that they were waiting for gasoline and diesel and to the point where we had to break them up for curfew and they were rioting against us,” du Houx recalled.

“It really struck be how this country was so dependent and crippled because of a single source of energy, and likewise America is dependent on a single source of energy,” he said.

He also agreed that defense agencies are ahead of Congress on tackling climate change.

“Our national security organizations are leading on this issue, and we want to see Congress lead as well. The unfortunate reality of the Murkowski amendment is that it sends a message to the world and the United States that climate change is not a threat that needs to be addressed,” du Houx said.

du Houx and mroe than 100 Maine legislators signed a letter joining more than 1,000 state legislators from across the country calling on the U.S. Senate for action on clean energy jobs legislation.

1Sky, which claims 500 allied organizations, 174,000 climate advocates and 2,200 volunteer “Climate Precinct Captains” covering more than 380 congressional districts in 50 states, reported that Maine’s U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have not signed on to the Murkowski resolution.

1Sky, allies walk fine line on clean energy

Original Story

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

A press conference about wind power, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the State House, underscores some of the disagreements over what represents clean energy in Maine.

The Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power will hold a press conference to make a “major announcement” concerning Gov. John Baldacci’s policy to mandate the deployment of more than 1,500, 400-foot tall industrial wind turbines throughout the state, but don’t expect an outpouring of support for wind power.

Instead, task force members will be joined by turbine noise victims, an industrial noise expert, an attorney who works with “wind law” and other interested parties, according to the group’s press release.

The press conference, called amid “growing concerns about health and environmental impacts of wind turbines,” comes a day after a coalition of clean-energy advocates held its own press conference in Portland to defend federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and to promote clean energy.

Greg Brown, the Maine organizer for the 1Sky organization, a national effort to enact comprehensive climate change legislation, acknowledged that wind power is not an end-all, be-all of clean energy.

“I agree personally with more study, I’ve followed closely what’s gone up at Mars Hill. We weigh the pros and cons, and if we situate them in the appropriate areas they’ll be a great boon to the economy,” Brown said.

New England’s second largest Wind Farm on the summit of Mars Hill Mountain, Maine, is an $85 million project by UPC Wind Management featuring 28 wind turbines, each one 389 feet tall and with three blades. The wind farm, when operating at full capacity, generates approximately 42 megawatts of power, enough to power 45,000 average Maine homes, according to the operators of the system.

But criticism of wind power lingers. The press conference, according to the task force, “will come just days after an official with the Maine Wind Industry Initiative said support for wind energy in Maine is dropping, and that the outlook for wind in Maine may now be ‘dire.’”

Brown said wind power is a clean energy option for 1Sky but that various constituents need to reach an understanding.

“It’s an emerging technology as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

Another “clean” energy option that sparks disagreement is nuclear power. When President Barack Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees Tuesday to build the first U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades, the move was widely viewed as a political tactic to advance climate legislation in Congress, at least that was the opinion of Maine Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, who spoke at Thursday’s press conference in Portland.

“For Maine, we have the equivalent of 40 nuclear power plants worth of wind energy off the coast and we have a tremendous weatherization program under way. These are jobs that can’t be exported overseas, but we can’t invest in them beyond the resources to initially get them off the ground until we have some kind of climate change legislation,” du Houx said in an interview.

Regarding the president’s support of nuclear power, du Houx said, “It’s part of his comprehensive bill to bring as much support as possible to the legislation. He said there can be some nuclear power plants as long as there’s climate change legislation put through Congress.”

Asked how to balance the pros and cons of wind power, du Houx said, “Like any new technology, there are challenges that will be addressed and will be overcome.”

“We have the unique ability to accomplish these goals without nuclear power, which I’m very happy with,” he said.

Brown said he had no comment on nuclear power.

“What we’re really looking for with our movement is clean jobs and clean energy. Now that may in fact supersede nuclear power, but what we’re looking at is wind and tidal, solar and photovoltaic, genuinely clean energy and clean energy jobs,” he said.

Veterans Launch New Push for Federal Climate Legislation

Original Story

In a Nov. 2009 article the Apollo Alliance published about veterans green jobs training programs, we interviewed an Iraq war veteran, Alex Cornell du Houx, who is part of an effort by national security and veterans organizations to draw attention to the national security threat that’s created by climate change.

In that article, Cornell du Houx said, “When I was deployed in Fallujah with the marines, we came across a line of cars, trucks and tractors that were bumper-to-bumper as far as the eye could see. They were waiting there all night and risking their lives for gasoline and diesel. It really struck me how vulnerable and dependent they were on this single source of energy. Likewise, it made me think about how dependent we are and how it puts our security at risk.”

The group that Cornell du Houx is part of, Operation Free, ramped up its activities this month in an effort to get the U.S. to adopt comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. They launched a 16-state “National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy Security” and a national television advertisement.

Veterans have a powerful perspective when it comes to climate change and clean energy. Their message about climate change imperiling national security has the potential to appeal to a group of people for whom environmental issues are not a major concern but security issues are.

“The reason why national security organizations are taking this as a serious threat, is that not only are we [the United States] dependent on oil, but the conflicts that arise from famines, floods and droughts [caused by climate change] multiply the threat of current conflicts and create instability,” Cornell du Houx told the Apollo Alliance back in November.

Veterans group outlines importance of clean energy

Original Story

by Tiffany Gibson

The National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security stopped in Las Vegas Saturday to discuss clean energy options and how alternative projects will help decrease America’s dependence on foreign resources. (Left) Military veterans Robin Eckstein, Chuck Tyler, Patrick Bellon, Sen. Harry Reid and Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx of the U.S. Marine Corps served as panelists during the forum.

As Americans’ dependency on oil and foreign resources increases, military veterans and clean energy activists are traveling the country to educate citizens about what they say will be the repercussions of outsourcing energy.

The Operation Free coalition’s National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security kicked off the two-month tour Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C., and will travel to 16 states.

The tour made its first stop in Nevada this past weekend at the National Guard Las Vegas Readiness Center, 4500 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd. The forum on Saturday consisted of four military veterans and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Army veteran Robin Eckstein said the tour is important because she says U.S. money spent on foreign resources is helping to fund terrorist organizations. She was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and was stationed at the Baghdad airport.

“We’re funding both sides of the war,” she said. “People need to let their friends and family know about climate change and the national security connection.”

Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx, of the U.S. Marine Corps, said he became involved with the cause in 2006.

According to Operation Free, the United States sends $500,000 each minute to foreign regimes for oil and uses 25 percent of the world’s supply — more than all of the countries of the European Union combined.

Cornell du Houx said Nevada is taking a lead with alternative and solar energy projects. He said more states should use multiple forms of energy to prevent the country from relying only on oil.

“Each state has a unique ability to take on clean energy,” he said.

Resident Dick Collins, 63, of Las Vegas, said even though alternative energy projects should be explored, the United States is still outsourcing equipment. In Texas, for example, generators for wind energy are coming from China, Collins said.

Reid responded, saying American-made products are important and the government should focus on more manufacturers at home before buying overseas.

Climate change was another topic discussed at the forum. Reid said global warming shouldn’t be ignored because its effects already have been felt.

For more information on the National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security, visit http://www.operationfree.net. The group’s next forum will be Tuesday in Reno.

Veterans group outlines importance of clean energy

Original Story

by Tiffany Gibson

The National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security stopped in Las Vegas Saturday to discuss clean energy options and how alternative projects will help decrease America’s dependence on foreign resources. (Left) Military veterans Robin Eckstein, Chuck Tyler, Patrick Bellon, Sen. Harry Reid and Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx of the U.S. Marine Corps served as panelists during the forum.

As Americans’ dependency on oil and foreign resources increases, military veterans and clean energy activists are traveling the country to educate citizens about what they say will be the repercussions of outsourcing energy.

The Operation Free coalition’s National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security kicked off the two-month tour Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C., and will travel to 16 states.

The tour made its first stop in Nevada this past weekend at the National Guard Las Vegas Readiness Center, 4500 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd. The forum on Saturday consisted of four military veterans and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Army veteran Robin Eckstein said the tour is important because she says U.S. money spent on foreign resources is helping to fund terrorist organizations. She was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and was stationed at the Baghdad airport.

“We’re funding both sides of the war,” she said. “People need to let their friends and family know about climate change and the national security connection.”

Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx, of the U.S. Marine Corps, said he became involved with the cause in 2006.

According to Operation Free, the United States sends $500,000 each minute to foreign regimes for oil and uses 25 percent of the world’s supply — more than all of the countries of the European Union combined.

Cornell du Houx said Nevada is taking a lead with alternative and solar energy projects. He said more states should use multiple forms of energy to prevent the country from relying only on oil.

“Each state has a unique ability to take on clean energy,” he said.

Resident Dick Collins, 63, of Las Vegas, said even though alternative energy projects should be explored, the United States is still outsourcing equipment. In Texas, for example, generators for wind energy are coming from China, Collins said.

Reid responded, saying American-made products are important and the government should focus on more manufacturers at home before buying overseas.

Climate change was another topic discussed at the forum. Reid said global warming shouldn’t be ignored because its effects already have been felt.

For more information on the National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security, visit http://www.operationfree.net. The group’s next forum will be Tuesday in Reno.

Veterans group outlines importance of clean energy

Original Story — Las Vegas Sun

by Tiffany Gibson

As Americans’ dependency on oil and foreign resources increases, military veterans and clean energy activists are traveling the country to educate citizens about what they say will be the repercussions of outsourcing energy.

The Operation Free coalition’s National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security kicked off the two-month tour Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C., and will travel to 16 states.

The tour made its first stop in Nevada this past weekend at the National Guard Las Vegas Readiness Center, 4500 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd. The forum on Saturday consisted of four military veterans and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Army veteran Robin Eckstein said the tour is important because she says U.S. money spent on foreign resources is helping to fund terrorist organizations. She was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and was stationed at the Baghdad airport.

“We’re funding both sides of the war,” she said. “People need to let their friends and family know about climate change and the national security connection.”

Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx, of the U.S. Marine Corps, said he became involved with the cause in 2006.

According to Operation Free, the United States sends $500,000 each minute to foreign regimes for oil and uses 25 percent of the world’s supply — more than all of the countries of the European Union combined.

Cornell du Houx said Nevada is taking a lead with alternative and solar energy projects. He said more states should use multiple forms of energy to prevent the country from relying only on oil.

“Each state has a unique ability to take on clean energy,” he said.

Resident Dick Collins, 63, of Las Vegas, said even though alternative energy projects should be explored, the United States is still outsourcing equipment. In Texas, for example, generators for wind energy are coming from China, Collins said.

Reid responded, saying American-made products are important and the government should focus on more manufacturers at home before buying overseas.

Climate change was another topic discussed at the forum. Reid said global warming shouldn’t be ignored because its effects already have been felt.

For more information on the National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security, visit http://www.operationfree.net. The group’s next forum will be Tuesday in Reno.

Baldacci off to D.C. to discuss energy

Original Story

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. John Baldacci will be among 11 governors meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House today to discuss a broad range of energy issues.

Baldacci spokesman David Farmer said most of the administration’s top officials dealing with energy issues — including at least three Cabinet secretaries and key advisers — are expected to join the president, vice president and governors.

“It’s a great opportunity for the governor to go to Washington, meet with the president and top administration officials and describe all of the good work going on in Maine, and to seek federal support,” Farmer said. “We think it’s a good opportunity to make the case for Maine.”

Among the topics that Baldacci hopes to discuss are federal support for research into deepwater wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine, ways to coordinate state and federal approaches to ocean energy, Maine’s efforts to weatherize homes and businesses as well as potential climate change legislation.

The other governors invited to the meeting are from Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, Montana, Tennessee, Washington, Alabama, South Dakota and Ohio.

Maine has already received millions in federal grants for research into offshore wind technology. The state also recently announced that roughly $18 million in federal stimulus money will go toward weatherization and energy efficiency in Maine homes and businesses.

The White House originally invited the group of governors to Washington to talk energy in January, but that meeting had to be rescheduled because of the death of Vice President Biden’s mother.

Baldacci is not the only person bending the ear of top Obama administration officials on energy issues, however.

Last week, Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the White House as part of a small delegation of state lawmakers from around the country working on energy issues.

Cornell du Houx also met with Carol Browner, Obama’s assistant on energy and climate, and her staff. Both Vilsack and Browner, as well as Energy Secretary Steven Chu, are expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting with the governor.

“The reason for the two meetings is to let the administration know about the hard work Maine has been doing to weatherize every home and to reduce carbon pollution,” he said. On Tuesday, Cornell du Houx was in Washington again as part of another group working on energy security and climate change issues.

All aboard: Fed funds allocated for Amtrak

Original Story

By Will Jacob

“If you build it, they will come,” said U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree yesterday at a Maine Street Station conference, officially announcing Amtrak’s anticipated passenger train service that will connect Portland to Brunswick by 2012.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) received a $35 million allocation from the Federal Railroad Administration as part of the $8 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money will fund the necessary upgrades to 30 miles of rail lines, owned by Pan Am Railways. The Amtrak Downeaster passenger line, currently running from Boston to Portland, will then extend its service up through Freeport and into Brunswick.

“It’s great news, it’s the best news Brunswick has had in a long time,” said Senior Vice President for Planning & Development and Secretary of the College Bill Torrey, who explained that there will be benefits to both Brunswick and the College.

“Everybody’s happy, and they should be,” he said.

In her announcement at Maine Street Station, Pingree said that work on the rails will begin “right away,” and Amtrak service is expected to arrive by the end of 2012. The proposed schedule would see at least two round trips to Boston each day, with one additional round trip to Portland.

Initial rail improvement work will create over 200 jobs, and new businesses surrounding the Freeport and Brunswick stations could create more. The news is particularly important given that the Brunswick naval air base officially closes its runways today.

“This is a very exciting day for us in Maine. It’s an economic boost,” Pingree said. “These days there’s nothing more important than creating and preserving jobs.”

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins praised the planned Amtrak extension for its “tremendous benefits to Maine, including reducing road congestion, cleaner air, commuting options, and easier access to the state for tourists and economic development opportunities,” according to a joint statement released yesterday.

According to a press release issued by Pingree’s office, Chairman of Trainriders Northeast Wayne Davis said, “Nearly five million people go from the Boston area to Freeport to go shopping. That’s a big market that the Downeaster can tap into.”

Executive Director of the NNEPRA Patricia Quinn stressed how competitive the application process was, as $50 billion worth of projects competed for $8 billion in federal stimulus funding.

“It was extremely gratifying last night to get that call that with this announcement being made around the country, that Maine and the Downeaster service was selected to lead the country in this…renaissance for rail transportation service,” she said.

Quinn said that some orders and requests for bids and rail have already gone out for construction, and that all involved are eager to tackle the project. She speculated that the completion of this project may lead to later connection to the western part of the state from Yarmouth junction.

President Barry Mills said there are many reasons the train is exciting for Bowdoin. He explained how convenient the train will be for students who can take the train home or to Logan airport in Boston. Students, faculty, and staff can also make easy trips in and out of Boston.

“But the second important point for the College is for us to be able to say to the world that there’s train service to Bowdoin College. It makes us a whole lot more accessible in people’s minds, and that will attract students who might think that we are at a place that’s just harder to get to,” he said.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn said that, in his experience, prospective students consider Maine as more “remote and inaccessible” than other areas of New Hampshire, the Berkshires or Vermont. He said that mentioning the possibility of Amtrak coming to Brunswick from Boston during information sessions, however, appeases those concerns.

“I think it could be a great thing for us, and we’ve been talking about it for a while, as a possibility. You could tell it’s something during information sessions that makes eyebrows go up, so I think it’s a winner for us,” he said.

While Bowdoin was not directly involved in the application for funds, Torrey said the College was very interested in supporting the infrastructure of Brunswick, acknowledging the service the train will provide to students, visitors and community members.

With the naval air station closing and the economic downturn, Torrey said that the Maine Street Station project “was a tremendous risk for the town,” and a difficult investment for the College. He said it was a real “joint effort” between the state, the congressional delegation, the town and Bowdoin.

“The College was supportive, we did our share, and I think everybody can feel good. It helps validate all the money that’s been spent,” said Torrey.

Senior VP for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley said the project has been discussed for 30 years, so it is exciting to “see it come together so quickly after Maine Street Station was built.”

“The expansion of Amtrak train service to Brunswick will greatly enhance available transportation options and will make Brunswick a multi-modal community,” said Longley.

“While some alternative transportation options currently exist such as Zipcar…the College and Town have been working together for a number of years to promote additional public transportation initiatives,” she said.

Longley said the Brunswick Explorer, a public bus route scheduled to begin in the fall of 2010, will offer reliable transportation five days a week between Bowdoin, downtown Brunswick and Cook’s Corner. Adding the train service will help students, faculty and staff “reach destinations ranging from Boston to Rockland,” she said.

The last train to connect Portland to Brunswick, operated by Maine Central Railroad, went on its final run in April of 1959.

State Representative and Bowdoin alumnus Alex Cornell du Houx ’06 was excited about the prospect of the Amtrak arriving in Brunswick.

“I think the train service to Brunswick would be a tremendous boost economically, and it opens up many opportunities,” he said. “I certainly wish we’d had a train station and service when I was at Bowdoin.

Quinn left those at the conference with an optimistic message and an invitation.

“Hopefully the next time I’m here…we’re going to be standing here waiting for that train to come and arrive right at this platform,” she said.

GOING GREEN

Original Story

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, got more than 100 legislators to sign a letter calling on Maine’s U.S. senators to take action to promote clean energy jobs, according to the House Majority Office.

It’s part of a national effort by the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now, or CLEAN, which is working with the White House to support pending federal climate change legislation.

“Sens. Snowe and Collins can be comfortable knowing that the people of Maine will stand solidly behind them if they vote in favor of this common-sense legislation,” Cornell du Houx said in a statement.

Urgent to act now in Copenhagen, say Midwest leaders

by Michael Noble – Fresh Energy/WSF Board Member

Original Story

Midwest state and local government elected officials are among the thousands who have converged on Copenhagen, Denmark to urge the leaders of 192 nations to come together to tackle climate change. Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin is the highest ranking midwestern elected official with a public role here, giving a key address. “Why would someone fight to maintain an energy system that basically imports all of our fuels (from outside of Wisconsin)?” Doyle asked. He intends to meet with the largest American manufacturer of wind turbines, General Electric and the largest Danish maker of wind turbines while in Copenhagen.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie is a local government delegate representing not only Des Moines but also local governments around the world as a member of the executive committee of the U.S. Board of Directors of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). “While the rest of the economy is struggling, clean energy jobs are a real bright spot,” according to Minnesota representative Jeremy Kalin (North Branch), national chair of CLEAN, the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now working with the White House and the United States Senate.” Action in Copenhagen and in Congress is critical to scale up the job opportunities.”

“Our dependence on oil is a serious threat to America’s national security, which is why both young people and veterans have called on making America more secure by taking control of our energy future,” said Representative Alex Cornell du Houx (Brunswick, ME), an Iraq war veteran in Copenhagen with the Truman National Security Project. “The world is looking to the United States to lead again on climate solutions,” said Representative Kate Knuth (New Brighton, MN). “We don’t want to replace our dependence on Middle East oil with a new dependence on solar panels from China. It’s all about jobs. We need wind turbines, we need electric cars that are made in America, supporting American families.”

Knuth is also attending the conference as a policy mentor to the youth delegation of 12 emerging leaders from the Midwest, the Expedition Copenhagen project of the Will Steger Foundation. According to Will Steger Foundation executive director Nicole Rom, “Our delegates are the leaders of the future in business, environment and public service. I have no doubt we have a mayor, or Congressional member or governor among them.”

Jamie Racine, a Steger delegate from Racine, Wisconsin, asked a panel of state and local government leaders a tough question about Midwest dependence on tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, a question neither the Governor nor other panelists directly addressed. Doyle is, however, pressing for a binding treaty that would require nations to reduce global warming pollutants. “You cannot get to major carbon reductions without a cap and trade system that brings them down over many years,” said Doyle.

Cownie, Kalin, and Knuth joined nearly 100 other young elected officials from across America in signing a statement calling for urgent action from President Obama and the U.S. negotiators. They must work for a bold and binding agreement that is just and consistent with the science, the statement urges.

“We, young elected officials of the United States, believe freedom, independence, and self sufficiency are at the heart of America, and should be at the heart of our strategy for energy independence in the 21st Century. As elected representatives with a personal stake in our future, we believe it’s time for a bold, new vision for America’s future. We call on Congress to start investing in new, safe energy technologies like wind and solar power that will rebuild our manufacturing base, create jobs, and grow our economy. We need to put millions of Americans back to work refitting our homes and buildings for energy efficiency with jobs that can’t be shipped overseas. The United States can lead once again by forging a bold, binding, and just agreement in Copenhagen that will secure a safe and abundant world for future generations of Americans.”

Rep. Cornell du Houx, other legislators, urge Sens. Snowe and Collins to support green jobs bill

Original Story

by Gerald Weinand

State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx (D-Brunswick) has asked his fellow legislators to join a national effort calling for passage of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733). The effort is being led by the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now (CLEAN), which is working with the White House that will being about action on climate change while creating “green jobs.” Over 100 Maine legislators have signed on to Cornell du Houx’s letter.

Cornell du Houx is also a member of Operation FREE, a group of veterans from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan that want to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and gas.

On his website, Sen. Kerry, the bill’s lead sponsor, describes it as:

This bill takes a more comprehensive approach to the fundamental problems created by climate change and dwindling oil reserves than previous legislative measures. By the time it reaches the floor, the bill will reflect the concerns and advice of six Senate committees and dozens of our colleagues. The result will be a thoughtful, innovative and far-reaching solution to one of our most vital challenges.

Our efforts center around four urgent national priorities: putting America back in control of our energy future, reasserting American economic leadership and competitiveness, protecting our families from pollution, and ensuring our national security.

An in-depth summary can be found here.

About the effort to convince Snowe and Collins of the importance of S. 1833, Cornell du Houx said, “I am incredibly impressed, although not surprised, that Maine legislators have already signed on in large numbers. Maine has more signatories than any other state. Sens. Snowe and Collins can be comfortable knowing that the people of Maine will stand solidly behind them if they vote in favor of this common sense legislation.”

“This legislation is vital for both our economic and national security. We send over $1 billion a day in oil costs to foreign states that do not have our interests in mind,” he said. “This is hard-earned American money that should be invested in our own communities.”

All of this makes sense to those of us that share these priorities, and judging on the keynote speech delivered by Sen. Collins yesterday at the renewable energy seminar in Orono, she does too.

Combat vet takes cause to Denmark

BY SUSAN M. COVER

Staff Writer Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 12/12/2009

Original Story

AUGUSTA — Two events in Fallujah convinced Marine Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx there’s a link between national security and climate change.

A farmer who couldn’t make money off his land turned to terrorism instead and tried to blow up Cornell du Houx’s vehicle.

“He had been given money to set an (explosive) in the road,” he said. “Unfortunately, extremists use vulnerable situations to recruit.”

In another instance, he saw long lines of people waiting for gas and diesel.

“It struck me how crippled the country was because of its dependence on a single source of energy,” he said.

Cornell du Houx, who serves in the Maine House as a Democrat from Brunswick, is taking the message that climate change leads to instability to Copenhagen next week as part of a group of veterans called Operation Free.

They leave Sunday for Denmark to be part of the international conference on climate change.

More than a dozen Mainers are planning to take part in the conference in various capacities.

While there, Cornell du Houx also will participate in a panel in which he will talk about what Maine has done to address global warming, through weatherization and reductions of carbon emissions.

A first-term legislator, Cornell du Houx serves on the Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee. He is a reservist in the Marine Corps.

The Truman National Security Project, based in Washington, D.C., is paying for the trip.

Cornell du Houx said that while most people might not immediately make the connection between climate change and national security, once they understand, they want to take action.

Operation Free believes that countries suffering from droughts and floods become unstable and make good breeding grounds for terrorists, according to the Web site.

Also, countries such as the United States and other places that are so reliant on foreign oil or natural gas are vulnerable.

“Instinctively, people do get they don’t want to be dependent on a foreign state for something they need,” he said.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

scover@centralmaine.com

Larry Bivins Interview of WI veteran Robin Eckstein

Larry Bivins with Gannett interviewed WI veteran Robin Eckstein who is on the Northern Bus Route.

Full story

WASHINGTON — As a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division’s main support battalion in 2003, Robin Eckstein hauled fuel and water for the military in Iraq.

Through that experience, she said, she began to think about how dangerously dependent America was on foreign oil and the need for an alternative energy source.

“I ran missions every day, if not twice a day,” Eckstein said. “It was just apparent that having only one source of energy to refuel our trucks was a problem because it meant more runs, and that meant more risks.”

For Eckstein, a policy addressing clean energy and climate change becameRep. Alex Cornell du Houx is serving his first term in Maine’s House of Representatives. He grew up in the small town of Solon and attended Bowdoin College as a Mitchell Scholar. Cornell du Houx joined the Marine Reserves in 2002 and was deployed to Iraq with the Marines’ Alpha Company in 2006 – spending a year patrolling the streets in and around Fallujah. After his return, Cornell du Houx continued his work serving the Maine communities through political and community service.

Rep. Cornell du Houx led a service trip to Guatemala with the program Safe Passage to help kids move from working in the city dump to gain an education. He also worked in Peru to help build a playground for children in Lima. At home, Cornell du Houx volunteered and serves on the board of Maine’s Habitat for Humanity and volunteered in local schools for the past six years. He coaches lacrosse at Brunswick’s Junior High School and conducted a year of service with AmeriCorps.

Rep. Cornell du Houx also worked for the Office of Health Policy and Finance and is working to promote green energy and jobs in his districts and across the sate. Cornell du Houx is also working to improve veterans’ issues both in Maine and nationwide, including access to higher education and healthcare. He currently works with the Truman National Security Projects on National Security and energy issues. a national security issue, just as it has for scores of other current and former military personnel. But that’s not the only reason the 32-year-old Appleton native is on the road in support of energy policy legislation Congress is considering.

Eckstein also is jobless and says she believes the bill the House has passed and a Senate bill would create jobs.

“We have the manufacturing base in Wisconsin,” she said, “where I think we could really use these clean-energy jobs.”

Last weekend, Eckstein was in Washington to help make a commercial for Operation FREE, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations, on climate change and national security.

Since Monday, she has been on a bus tour as part of an Operation FREE campaign to call attention to climate change as a national security issue. The effort involves two buses, one on a northern swing, the other traveling south.

Eckstein is on the northern route, which began in Missoula, Mont., and rolls into Wisconsin today, with stops in La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee.

“What we want to do is to raise awareness and ensure that Congress leads on this issue,” said Alex Cornell de Houx, an Iraq war veteran and Maine state legislator, who is coordinating the northern leg of the tour.

Cornell de Houx pointed out that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., talked at length about the national security angle when he and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., recently introduced their energy-climate change legislation.

Supporters of the Senate and House proposals call for a cap on the release of carbon dioxide, which scientists say is causing global warming that could have dramatic consequences. The proposals also would require that a percentage of the nation’s electrical power come from renewable energy sources.

“It really struck me how this country was so crippled by its dependence on this one source of energy,” Cornell de Houx said. “We send $1 billion a day overseas to foreign states (for oil) that frankly don’t have our interests in mind. I would rather see that money invested in the U.S.”

HOMELESS VETERANS

Original Story

by Adrienne Bennett · Nov 09th 2009

Wednesday is Veteran’s day – a day to celebrate and honor those who have served. However, thousands of veterans are homeless in our country. It’s a problem that some have set their sights on ending.

In five years, state representative Alexander Cornell du Houx would like to see the issue of homelessness among veterans a thing of the past.

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx: “Veteran homelessness is a very serious issue in Maine. About 11-percent of our homeless population are veterans.

Recently, the Obama Administration vowed to end the problem in every state by 2014.

Adrienne Bennett: “Do you think that’s an attainable goal?”

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx: “It is an attainable goal.”

du Houx, a marine corps veteran and house democrat, heads up a state committee aimed at helping veterans get back on their feet.

Rep. Cornell du Houx: “One of the aspects our task force is looking at is Maine does not have a solid program to deal with substance abuse and mental health issues among veterans. That’s something we need to be investing our resources into.”

Steve Berg is with the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Steve Berg: “The problems we’ve had for 20 years have not been solved.”

Berg says the data doesn’t show a huge number of younger veterans being homeless, but…

Steve Berg: “What we learned with Vietnam era veterans was that the effects of things like PTSD would show up years later – people would be out of service for a long time and all of a sudden wouldn’t be able to cope effectively and end up homeless. I think we have a lot of work to do if we’re not going to repeat the same problems we had with that generation of veterans.”

Rep. du Houx: “If we don’t act now to implement a solid plan to deal with it – it will become a bigger issue as we have more veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Adrienne Bennett, WABI TV5 News.

Former Fox Military Analyst Goes on Offensive for Clean Energy

by Seth Koenig

October 8, 2009

Original Story

BATH — Former Fox News military analyst and Vietnam veteran Donald Edwards is scheduled to visit Bath today to rally support for a clean energy bill making its way through the U.S. Senate.

Edwards, a retired Army major general, agreed to join Iraq war veterans Garrett Reppenhagen and Alex Cornell du Houx for a press conference at Bath City Hall this morning. Reppenhagen is the director of Veterans Green Jobs, while Cornell du Houx is a Democrat representing a portion of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives.

“I think it’s vitally important for our national security that we pass some form of climate change legislation,” said Cornell du Houx, a Bowdoin College graduate. “When I was deployed, we saw — literally — cars lined up bumper to bumper waiting for days to get fuel. It was because they were so reliant on one form of energy. It hit me that I never want to see the United States reach a point where we’re that reliant on one form of energy.”

Edwards, a South Bristol resident, points to his experience as a military leader as a key basis for urging passage of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which was introduced in the Senate last week.

Edwards told The Times Record he recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit with veterans from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Cornell du Houx, those younger veterans told him the country’s dependence on foreign oil leaves them vulnerable to the perils that accompany U.S. involvement in military conflicts overseas.

“I give these young folks a great deal of credit,” Edwards said. “Their perception is, and it’s incredibly accurate, that we buy trillions of dollars in fossil fuels and that money goes to places like Saudi Arabia, where it get funneled to extremists who are shooting at us and killing Americans.”

“Their logic, to me, is unassailable,” he continued. “They’re talking about the fact that with these convoys that are going into Afghanistan, a lot of what they’re convoying are petroleum products. They’re facing the risk of those things getting hit with (roadside bombs) and blowing up in their faces. They were asking questions like, ‘General, why aren’t we using generators that are state-of-the-art and not using fossil fuels?’ I can’t answer that. It’s very, very real to those guys and it’s something that should wake us up in terms of a sense of urgency. We owe these people. They’re off getting wounded by terrorists who are being funded by fossil fuel money.”

The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act includes aggressive greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals of 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Among its provisions, the legislation sets aside money to train workers in renewable energy professions. It also contains incentives to increase public transit options and upgrade heavy trucks used for shipping.

“I think it’s an ice breaker,” Edwards said of the bill. “With a lot of these things, once you get it started, you can build on the momentum. But you’ve got to get it started. I think this bill is a huge first step. And I think five or 10 years down the road there will be other steps.”

Added Cornell du Houx: “Within the national security community, whenever we talk about the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, everyone I talk to immediately sees the link between our reliance on oil and national security and climate change.”

Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets Denounce ‘Energy Citizens’ Campaign As “Oil Dependence Tour”

by Kevin Grandia

Managing editor, DeSmogBlog

Original Story

Operation Free, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and national security organizations, today slammed the ‘Energy Citizens’ Astroturf campaign orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute and other Big Oil interests as a detriment to America’s energy security.

“Veterans understand the connection between energy security, climate change and national security,” said Jon Powers, Chief Operating Officer of the Truman National Security Project and an Iraq war vet.

Describing climate change as a “threat multiplier” for the armed forces, Powers denounced the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign, stating that Big Oil does not have America’s best interests at heart. “Veterans do not want to see America’s national security in the hands of Big Oil,” said Powers during the press teleconference today.

Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, an Iraq war vet, said the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign is “limiting meaningful debate on a serious national security issue,” and “watering down” the critical message that veterans and clean energy advocates have for Congress, which is to act immediately to address climate change in the interest of national security. Rep. Cornell du Houx described witnessing long lines of cars and truck waiting for gasoline and diesel while on patrol in Iraq, and said he “never wanted to see the U.S. become even close to that dependent on oil.”

Drew Sloan, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet and former employee at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Rocky Mountain Institute, called the United States’ slow response to the threat of climate change “death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.” Using an analogy from the battlefield, Sloan called the climate crisis “a wound that will become increasingly difficult to heal” unless America acts fast to address it.

Sloan denounced ‘Energy Citizens’ and other oil and coal industry Astroturfing as “lies and misleading innuendo,” and described an unstable future in which American soldiers could lose their lives fighting wars over dwindling resources.

Iraq and Afghanistan vet Scott Holcomb, a part-time Professor at Georgia Tech, talked about the “lesson that all vets learn at a gut level – that tomorrow is never promised,” and related it to the need to make energy security a national priority. “Soldiers will not have to go fight in resource wars if we act now,” he said. “The more we can diversify our energy supplies and create domestic renewable sources, the better off we will be,” said Holcomb.

A group of roughly one hundred Operation Free veterans plans to visit Washington on September 9-10 for a day of action and meetings with Congress to relay the national security imperative of addressing climate change. Veterans are also working within their local communities on what Powers described as “a real grassroots effort.”

He said that many veterans “continue to protect America when we get out of the service,” and that the group’s work to raise support for action on climate change is “another form of strengthening America.”

“We don’t have the money that Big Oil does to bus people around. This is a genuine grassroots effort,” said Powers.

Montana TV NBC

BILLINGS – A group of military veterans touring the country stopped in downtown Billings Monday evening to speak about the dangers of climate change and its threat to national security.

The group is encouraging congress to pass energy legislation that cuts carbon pollution and puts America in control of its energy future.

“What we want to do is create clean American jobs and take control over energy in the future and we need to see strong climate change legislation go through the senate,” said Alex Cornell Du Houx, military veteran.

The vets will continue their 21-state bus tour Tuesday in Miles City.

War Veterans Make Stop in Capital City

Beartooth NBC News (MT)

Original Story

At the tail end of a record-breaking Montana cold spell, a bus tour crossed the state today as veterans aimed to raise awareness of their concerns about climate change and energy security.

Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security groups, is sending a pair of buses across the country to raise awareness of what it views as threats to American safety brought by climate change and over-reliance on foreign oil. The northern route of the two-pronged tour began Monday in Missoula.

Speaking to a small midday crowd at Memorial Park at the second of three Montana stops Monday, South Dakota veteran Rick Hegdahl said domestically produced energy gives the country more security than buying oil from countries that may not have America’s best interests in mind.

“We are hugely dependent on the Middle East for fossil fuels. That can’t continue,” he said. “I want to see us create energy here that lessens our need for foreign oil.”

Operation Free is supported by organizations like the Truman National Security Project, the National Security Initiative, VoteVets.org and VetPAC.

The group supports the passage by Congress of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would establish a cap-and-trade system for limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases. Under the bill, the government would establish a national limit for greenhouse gas emissions, and firms that emit them could buy and sell the rights for those emissions, providing an economic incentive to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they put into the atmosphere.

Critics claim the cap-and-trade plan would damage the country by raising energy costs – and thus, the costs for many products across the economy.

Introducing the touring veterans, local vet Art Compton acknowledged that the proposed legislation, which has passed the House and been introduced in the Senate, won’t please everyone.

“It may not be perfect, but any bill that’s passed is going to strengthen the United States’ negotiating position at upcoming global climate conferences,” he said.

By passing a bill of its own, Compton said, the U.S. would be in a better place to press countries like China and India to enact similar limits on greenhouse emissions.

Alex Cornell du Houx, a member of the Maine House of Representatives and a veteran of

Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he saw firsthand the dangers of people becoming overly dependent on fossil fuel.

Citizens would wait in long lines and risk being out after curfew, du Houx said, in order to secure a simple tank of gas in a country rich in petroleum.

Exacerbating the problem for the United States, he said, is the fact that so many countries that sell oil to America are otherwise hostile.

“The reason veterans are really mobilizing on this and believe it’s important is because they feel it’s a security threat,” he said. “They’ve seen firsthand when they’re deployed why foreign energy is a threat to our security.”

The bus tour went from Helena to Billings, with stops in Miles City and Glendive also planned. The two-week tour wraps up Oct. 24 in Maine.

Vote for clean energy is vote for national security

Dependence on foreign nations and vulnerable lines of supply should end as soon as possible.

ALEXANDER CORNELL DU HOUX August 27, 2009

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, is an Iraq war veteran who served with the Marines in Fallujah.

BRUNSWICK — When the House of Representatives passed landmark energy legislation earlier this year, it not only made America “greener,” it made us safer.

By creating incentives to use and produce clean energy, this legislation will begin to free us from the foreign oil addiction that binds us to dangerous dealers.

By promoting energy efficiency, the American Clean Energy and Security Act will similarly loosen the grip of oil dependence that distorts our foreign policy.

And by slowing climate change, this bill would help head off what the National Intelligence Council calls one of the gravest long-term threats facing the international system.

All that may sound like too great an impact for a single piece of legislation to claim.

It’s not. The fate of the Clean Energy and Security Act as it moves to the U.S. Senate is inseparable from the fate of our nation’s security.

The crux of the link between energy and security is the fact that the United States consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil but controls less than 3 percent of the supply.

Tipping the other end of the production-consumption scale are nations like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Kazakhstan, to name just a few.

Of the top 10 holders of oil reserves in the world as of April 2008, all but one are considered to be failed states or in danger of becoming failed states.

These are the type of trading partners to whom we are beholden, whose whims we must honor, if we are to feed the energy beast.

The Clean Energy and Security Act would slash our oil needs dramatically by requiring electric utilities to meet 20 percent of their electricity demand through renewable sources and efficiencies by 2020.

At the same time, it increases our ability to create our own energy sources – and not incidentally, jobs – by investing billions in new energy technologies and efficiency.

On another front, our oil addiction gives those who would do us harm a powerful weapon.

Terrorists clearly understand that our economic strength and therefore our overall strength as a nation is tied to affordable energy.

There were fewer than 50 known terrorist attacks against oil and gas facilities before Sept. 11, 2001. By 2006 that number reached 344.

Less immediately tangible than terrorist threats, but indisputably equally dangerous, is the global instability that will result from the effects of climate change on land and livelihoods.

For example, rising sea levels, drought and other extremes of weather will drastically interrupt substance farming, which in turn will lead to mass migration.

A massive influx of people challenges even the most stable of nations. In weaker ones, it creates a vacuum of law in order and a safe haven for terrorists.

The recently passed energy bill reduces carbon emissions from major U.S. sources more than 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

Complementary measures in the legislation, such as investments in preventing tropical deforestation, will achieve significant additional reductions in carbon emissions and slow the march of destruction considerably.

Here in Maine, we see how this affects our lives personally. We’re losing old industry jobs that can be replaced with new energy jobs like wind and wood pellets and other renewable energies – all natural resources we can harvest in our own state.

The United States cannot fight off global warming alone.

But it is a vital step in the right direction and an important signal to our friends – and enemies – that we are serious about protecting the environment because we are unrelenting in our commitment to protect America.

Cornell du Houx garners support for bill to attract veterans to Maine colleges and universities

AUGUSTA – State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, worked with the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee Tuesday to receive a supportive vote for his bill to allow all veterans to pay in-state tuition to attend Maine colleges and universities.

L.D. 1090, An Act to Allow Veterans and Active Duty Military Members to Qualify for In-state Tuition, would qualify a student who is an active member or veteran of the Armed Forces, regardless of the state of residence, for in-state tuition rates for first-time enrollment at any campus of the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System or Maine Maritime Academy.

“Maine can provide a benefit to service members and veterans that will also be an incentive to some of our most ambitious and public service oriented citizens to come to Maine,” said Cornell du Houx, a Marine and Iraq War veteran.

The committee voted 6-4 to recommend passage of the bill to the full Legislature. There was concern expressed by some members that passage of the bill would cause the Maine university system to receive less compensation from the federal government under the new GI bill expected to take effect later this year.

Cornell du Houx explained to the committee that he has been actively involved in Washington D.C. in working to pass the GI legislation and believes his legislation will work in tandem with that program to provide benefits to veterans and service members while bringing more funds to Maine’s colleges and universities through increased enrollment.

On Wednesday, Cornell du Houx’s resolve to study the prevalence of homelessness among veterans in Maine received unanimous support in the House of Representatives. The bill faces more votes in both the House and Senate before going to Gov. John Baldacci.

This resolve would establish a study commission to review and examine, in consultation with a representative of the Veterans Administration, the issue of homeless veterans. As mentioned by President Obama in his press conference on March 24, veterans are over-represented among the homeless population. Veterans are reported to constitute at least one-third of the nation’s homeless. This commission would examine causes, possible solutions and what further assistance can be given to homeless veterans in the state.

“Maine has more veterans per capita than any other state. We have an obligation to provide opportunities for homeless veterans after so many have sacrificed and honorably served our nation,” said Cornell du Houx.

Maine honors veterans with free access to state parks

AUGUSTA — Gov. John Baldacci ceremonially signed legislation on June 30 sponsored by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, allowing for free access passes to state parks for all veterans. Veterans must be residents of Maine, have been honorably discharged and be able to make a good faith effort to provide appropriate documentation as to their status.

“Even though Maine is, or has been, home to many veterans who have served with honor and distinction from the Revolutionary War to our current conflicts this is the first state law to include all Maine veterans,” said Cornell du Houx. “I think free admittance to our state parks, beaches and historic sites is just one of many meaningful ways we can recognize their service.”

Veterans may obtain free day access at the sites by producing a proof of Maine residency and an easily recognizable veteran identification, including veteran discharge papers such as a DD214 showing an honorable character of service; identification cards such as a military ID or Veterans Affairs ID; or veteran’s license plates.

The legislation, LD 1488, was submitted and enacted during the final week of the legislative session after some confusion involving a similar bill that was signed into law earlier in the spring. Earlier legislation, LD 456, sponsored by Sen. Larry Bliss, D-Cumberland, of South Portland, had sought to accomplish the same thing, but LD 456 was ultimately amended and changed, limiting access to only veterans and active duty personnel living in Maine who have served after September 11, 2001. Cornell du Houx, who is a Marine and an Iraq War veteran, was also a co-sponsor of Bliss’ original legislation.

“We all enjoy this state because of the safety that we have as a result of the work that our military does day in and day out,” said Bliss. “Thanking them for their service by allowing them to enjoy our state parks and beaches seems like a natural thing to do. This bill is a way to say ‘thanks for a job well done,’ by allowing our service people to enjoy the beauty of our state without having to pay an entrance fee. They have already paid a price.”

The original idea for the bill came from Cpl. Marshall Archer (USMC), a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a constituent of Bliss. Archer, now a student at the University of Southern Maine, was able to attend the Governor’s signing of the legislation.

Veterans and active duty personnel can contact the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management and ask how they can obtain a state park pass. The number is 626-4464.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx (center right) speaks to the importance of honoring Maine veterans at the ceremonial signing of the bill sponsored by him and Sen. Larry Bliss (right) to allow veterans and active duty military personnel residing in Maine free access to Maine state parks and historic sites. Cpl. Marshall Archer (left) joined other veterans in watching Gov. Baldacci (center left) sign the bill on June 30.

Legislature passes joint resolution in support of Federal funding for Maine Air and Army National Guard Armories

AUGUSTA – State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, was the lead sponsor of a joint resolution memorializing President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to support Maine’s National Guard facilities. A bipartisan group of almost fifty fellow legislators from both the Senate and the House co-sponsored the joint resolution and it passed unanimously in both chambers on June 10.

“Support of the Maine Army and Air National Guard is not only vital to Maine’s and the Nation’s security, but also to Maine’s economy,” said Cornell du Houx, a Marine and Iraq War veteran. “Unfortunately a lack of adequate funds for the maintenance of the over 300 Maine National Guard facilities and training areas throughout Maine has left them in need of rehab and modernization.”

The Maine National Guard has responded to natural disaster situations in Maine and provided other types of community service on numerous occasions. They also have deployed 37 units since September 11, 2001 and 2,231 Maine Army National Guard soldiers have been deployed since that time. The Maine Air National Guard flew over 180 missions in 2008.

“The Maine National Guard has been called upon time and time again in recent years to respond to our nation’s military and security needs,” said Rep. Charlie Priest, D-Brunswick, a co-sponsor of the resolution and a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served in Vietnam. “Our men and women have performed their duty with pride and effectiveness on behalf of the demands of our federal government, but, in order to remain as well trained and well prepared as they must, we need an appropriate level of funding from Washington.”

Copies of the resolution have been sent to President Barack Obama, to the President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and to each Member of the Maine Congressional Delegation.

The Resolution:

(4-1) On motion of Representative CORNELL du HOUX of Brunswick, the following Joint Resolution: (H.P. 1044) (Cosponsored by Senator SULLIVAN of York and Representatives: BEAUDETTE of Biddeford, BEAUDOIN of Biddeford, BECK of Waterville, BICKFORD of Auburn, BOLAND of Sanford, CAREY of Lewiston, CLARK of Millinocket, CLEARY of Houlton, COHEN of Portland, CONNOR of Kennebunk, CROCKETT of Augusta, EATON of Sullivan, FITTS of Pittsfield, GREELEY of Levant, HASKELL of Portland, WALSH INNES of Yarmouth, KNIGHT of Livermore Falls, LEGG of Kennebunk, MARTIN of Eagle Lake, NASS of Acton, NELSON of Falmouth, PIEH of Bremen, PILON of Saco, Speaker PINGREE of North Haven, PIOTTI of Unity, PRATT of Eddington, PRIEST of Brunswick, ROTUNDO of Lewiston, RUSSELL of Portland, SANBORN of Gorham, SMITH of Monmouth, STEVENS of Bangor, THIBODEAU of Winterport, TRINWARD of Waterville, VALENTINO of Saco, WAGNER of Lyman, WATSON of Bath, WHEELER of Kittery, WRIGHT of Berwick, Senators: BARTLETT of Cumberland, COURTNEY of York, DIAMOND of Cumberland, GERZOFSKY of Cumberland, GOODALL of Sagadahoc, President MITCHELL of Kennebec, PLOWMAN of Penobscot) (Approved for introduction by a majority of the Legislative Council pursuant to Joint Rule 214)

JOINT RESOLUTION MEMORIALIZING THE PRESIDENT OF THE

UNITED STATES AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT NATIONAL GUARD FACILITIES

WE, your Memorialists, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Legislature of the State of Maine now assembled in the First Regular Session, most respectfully present and petition the President of the United States and the United States Congress as follows:

WHEREAS, stronger investment in upgraded United States National Guard facilities is needed not only for the security of our states and for the military readiness of the nation, but also as a powerful way to create and preserve jobs; and

WHEREAS, in today’s global environment, our National Guard is called upon far more frequently than in the past for overseas deployments, becoming an operational force whose readiness, training and equipment must be on par with our nation’s active duty force; and

WHEREAS, the National Guard provides crucial capabilities to alleviate suffering and help communities recover from damage when disaster strikes and these critical homeland and overseas missions of today’s National Guard demand higher readiness and greater capability; and

WHEREAS, the Maine National Guard has deployed 37 units since September 11, 2001 and 2,231 Maine Army National Guard soldiers have been deployed since that time and the Maine Air National Guard flew over 180 missions in 2008; and

WHEREAS, in 2008 the Maine National Guard fulfilled 75 requests for general military support; it supported relief efforts during the May 2008 flood in Aroostook County; the Maine National Guard rendered 1,665 Military Funeral Honors; and the 195th Army Band performed 61 times in over 27 communities across the State; and

WHEREAS, the average age of an Army National Guard facility is 41 years, with 24% being more than 60 years old, and the Maine National Guard has over 300 facilities and training areas throughout Maine; and

WHEREAS, Maine has one of the highest energy costs in the country and therefore retrofitting Maine National Guard facilities would help to reduce energy costs and our country’s overreliance on fossil fuels; and

WHEREAS, modernization of our National Guard facilities will put people to work and enhance the quality of life for our troops who regularly train in these facilities; and

WHEREAS, the Maine National Guard contributes over $150,000,000 to our State’s economy through military pay and allowances, civilian payroll and the purchase of goods and services; and

WHEREAS, Army and Air National Guard facilities are not concentrated on large military installations but are instead widely distributed across more than 3,200 communities in America; and

WHEREAS, the average National Guard military construction project is less than half the cost of an active component military construction project so that National Guard facility investments go further and assist communities more broadly; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, on behalf of the people we represent, take this opportunity to respectfully urge and request that President Barack H. Obama request, and the United States Congress authorize and fund, an increase in military construction and facilities maintenance for both the Army and the Air National Guard; and be it further

RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Honorable Barack H. Obama, President of the United States, to the President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and to each Member of the Maine Congressional Delegation.

Rep. Cornell du Houx honors Wild Oats at the State House

AUGUSTA – Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, welcomed owner Becky Shepherd, manager Louisa Edgerton and a friend of the bakery, Finn Woodruff, from Wild Oats Bakery and Café in Brunswick, to the State House in May to receive a special legislative sentiment and recognition from the Maine House of Representatives.

Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe, in the Tontine Mall in downtown Brunswick, has been recognized as a 2009 Editors’ Choice in “Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England.” The Editors’ Choice recommendations designate “Yankee” editors’ and writers’ favorite attractions across New England. Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe was selected as the Best Taste of Home of 2009. The sentiment read in part, “We extend our congratulations to everyone involved in the success of this bakery, cafe and deli on its receiving this regional honor, and we send our best wishes for its future success.”

From left to right, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Cumberland, Rep. Charlie Priest, D-Brunswick, Wild Oats Bakery and Café owner, Becky Shepherd, manager Louisa Edgerton, Finn Woodruff, and Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, with Special Legislative Sentiment recognizing the bakery for having been named “Yankee Magazine Editors’ Choice Best Taste of Home.”

Brunswick delegation welcomes Molly Pitcher back to the State House

Mary K. “Molly” Pitcher, center, of Brunswick was welcomed back to the State House on Thursday by Brunswick Reps. Charlie Priest and Alex Cornell du Houx, both D-Brunswick, and her son, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick. Pitcher worked for the 107th through the 116th Legislatures and served as the Sergeant of Arms of the Senate from the 111th through the 113th Legislatures.

Bowdoin women’s basketball and lacrosse recognized at State House

Reps. Alex Cornell du Houx and Charlie Priest, both D-Brunswick, present Bowdoin women’s basketball Assistant Coach Allison Smith and Head Coach Adrienne Shibles with the special legislative sentiment that honors the team for reclaiming the 2009 New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship. This is the team’s eighth conference title. Shibles was also named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s New England Coach of the Year.

Bowdoin Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Nicky Pearson was also congratulated by Cornell du Houx in his floor speech for leading her team to a second consecutive national championship and for being named the Division III National Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. The local delegation had sponsored a special legislative sentiment on behalf of the lacrosse team back in the fall when they won the championship, but the Legislature was not in session at the time.

Left to right: Allison Smith, Adrienne Shibles, Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, Nicky Pearson and Rep. Charlie Priest.

Rep. Cornell du Houx testifies in support of veterans bills

AUGUSTA – Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, presented two bills that would lower taxes for veterans to the Taxation Committee on Monday. One bill would expand the number of retired veterans who qualify for a homestead exemption and the other would lower taxes on military retirement benefits for veterans who start new businesses in Maine. Many veterans attended the hearings to show their support for the two bills.

“Maine has more veterans per capita than any other state,” said Cornell du Houx. “We should do all we can for those who have sacrificed and honorably served our nation.”

L.D. 1149, An Act to Amend the Veterans Homestead Exemption to Include Certain Medal Winners, adds soldiers and Marines who were awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal or the Afghanistan Campaign Medal to the list of veterans eligible to receive a $6,000 property tax exemption. These medals are authorized for service members who deployed abroad in recent and ongoing conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan. This bill also removes the requirement that the veteran attain the age of 62 before being eligible to receive the property tax exemption.

Current law provides this exemption to veterans of certain wars or conflicts or who were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal once those veterans have reached 62 years of age or receive any form of pension or compensation from the United States Government for total disability as a veteran.

The second bill, “An Act to Provide Tax Relief for Retired Veterans Operating Businesses in Maine”, would provide an income tax deduction for 50 percent of military retirement benefits for a veteran living in Maine who also operates a business in Maine. The business must employee at least one other person who is not related to the veteran in order to qualify for the deduction.

“This bill makes economic sense for both the veteran and the state,” said Cornell du Houx, a Marine Iraq War veteran, in his testimony. “The goal is to encourage veterans to come or stay in Maine and operate a business. It will benefit veterans and provide an economic stimulus to the state.”

More information about the bills is available at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/search.asp

Green jobs bill gaining support at State House

AUGUSTA – The committee hearing room overflowed Wednesday at the State House for the presentation of LD 1181, the “Green Jobs, Green Savings” initiative. Local Reps. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, and Peter Kent, D-Woolwich, were among the almost 100 co-sponsors of the bill sponsored by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham.

The bill, authored by Opportunity Maine, was presented to the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Energy Future, which took public testimony on a number of bills related to Maine’s energy security and independence.

“With the Brunswick Naval Air Station closing we are actively working to transition the base into a vibrant facility that centers around workforce development in the green industry, which is a critical part of this bill,” said Cornell du Houx in his testimony on Wednesday. “This bill will help Maine become a leader in the green economy and promote economic development through workforce education and regional implementation.”

At present, Mainers spend about $3 billion annually on non-transportation energy supply. The “Green Jobs” bill would re-channel 9 percent or less of that spending into purchasing efficiency, which energy professionals agree costs less than supply, and generates more jobs.

Using what they call highly conservative numbers, the bill’s architects predict a net savings for Maine residents of roughly $10 billion due to the ten-year energy savings effort. At the same time, they predict that the bill will easily generate over 10,000 lasting and well-paying jobs.

“Maine needs to take these steps to reduce our long-term energy costs and increase our energy independence,” said Kent. “As a small business person and a home builder an initiative like this couldn’t come at a better time.”

Measures would include free energy audits to all Maine homes, as well as professional weatherization grants and financing, technical assistance, green standards for new buildings and appliances, and specialized assistance to the industrial, commercial and low-income sectors.

In addition, the bill recommends enhanced workforce development funding and a unified state energy authority with bonding capacity and protected funding. The efficiency entity’s core mission would be to ensure that all heating oil, gas and electricity customers could achieve the highest level of savings, with an overall energy reduction of 30 percent by 2020.

The bill will be discussed further by the committee later this month, with a decision expected in late April or early May.

Rep. Cornell du Houx sponsors retired veterans’ tax relief bill

AUGUSTA – A bill sponsored by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, to lower taxes on military retirement benefits was referred by the House of Representatives to the legislature’s Joint Taxation Committee on Feb. 19.

The bill, “An Act to Provide Tax Relief for Retired Veterans Operating Businesses in Maine”, would provide an income tax deduction for 50% of military retirement benefits for a veteran living in Maine who also operates a business in Maine. The business must employee at least one other person who is not related to the veteran in order to qualify for the deduction.

“We can’t ever thank our veterans enough for their service to our country,” said Cornell du Houx, a Marine Iraq War veteran. “This bill gives those who served more opportunity to brace these hard economic times and encourages veterans to work in Maine and stimulate our economy.”

The bill will be scheduled for a public hearing in coming weeks.

More information about the bill is available at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280031298.

Rep. Cornell du Houx works to support veterans

AUGUSTA – Three bills to help veterans sponsored by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, were referred to their committees of jurisdiction on March 25 in the Maine House of Representatives. They include legislation to help homeless veterans, provide tax relief and increase educational benefits.

L.D. 1110, Resolve, Creating a Commission to Study the Issue of Homeless Veterans in the State, was referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs, on which Cornell du Houx serves. This resolve would establish a study commission to review and examine, in consultation with a representative of the Veterans Administration, the issue of homeless veterans. As mentioned by President Obama in his press conference on March 24, veterans are over-represented among the homeless population. Veterans are reported to constitute at least one-third of the nation’s homeless. This commission would examine causes, possible solutions and what further assistance can be given to homeless veterans in the state.

“Maine has more veterans per capita than any other state. We have an obligation to provide opportunities for homeless veterans after so many have sacrificed and honorably served our nation,” said Cornell du Houx, a Marine Iraq War veteran.

A second bill, L.D. 1149, An Act to Amend the Veterans Homestead Exemption to Include Certain Medal Winners, has been referred to the Taxation Committee. The bill adds soldiers and Marines who were awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal or the Afghanistan Campaign Medal to the list of veterans eligible to receive a $6,000 property tax exemption. These medals are authorized for service members who deployed abroad in recent and ongoing conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan. This bill also removes the requirement that the veteran attain the age of 62 before being eligible to receive the property tax exemption.

Current law provides this exemption to veterans of certain wars or conflicts or who were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal once those veterans have reached 62 years of age or receive any form of pension or compensation from the United States Government for total disability as a veteran.

The third veteran’s bill, L.D. 1090, An Act to Allow Veterans and Active Duty Military Members to Qualify for In-state Tuition, has been referred to the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. The bill would qualify a student who is an active member or veteran of the Armed Forces, regardless of the state of residence, for in-state tuition rates for first-time enrollment at any campus of University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System or the Maine Maritime Academy.

These bills will be scheduled for public hearings in coming weeks.

More information about the bills is available at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/search.asp

Property Tax and Rent “Circuit Breaker” Refund

May 24, 2012

Dear District 66 Residents:

Many of you qualify for a rebate on property taxes or rental payments paid in 2010, through the Maine “Circuit Breaker” program.  This is a longstanding program that everyone who qualifies should participate in. The deadline is coming right up next week – its Thursday, May 31st. You canapply for this online <https://portal.maine.gov/tnr/&gt; , or print out an application <http://www.maine.gov/revenue/forms/tnr/11_T&R_downloadable.pdf&gt; and submit in person or by mail (hurry if you plan to use “snail mail!”). This is well worth doing – if you qualify you could receive a refund of up to $1,600.

In general, you qualify for a refund if:

You do not have a spouse or dependent(s) and your 2010 household income was $64,950.00 or less; or

You have a spouse or dependent(s) and your 2010 household income was $86,600.00 or less

AND

Your 2010 property tax was more than 4% of your 2010 household income; or

The rent you paid in 2010 was more than 20% of your 2010 household income

Note: Low-income seniors do not need to meet these requirements. Also, different rules apply if you share ownership with another person, so be sure to check the website to read the details. <http://www.maine.gov/revenue/taxrelief/tnr.htm&gt;

Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 Meets with President Obama

http://www.bowdoindailysun.com/2011/10/alex-cornell-du-houx-08-meets-with-president-obama/#comments

Alex Cornell du Houx ’08, who represents Brunswick in the Maine Legislature, meets with President Obama at the White House.

Maine Representative Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 traveled to the White House  for a private reception with President Obama and administration officials to discuss Maine’s PACE program, which gives residents low-interest loans for home weatherization and is being used as a national model for clean energy initiatives.

A George Mitchell Scholar and former Marine, Cornell du Houx serves on the Maine Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and is chair of the Veterans Caucus.

Group unveils plan to reduce Maine oil use, urges caution on LePage’s natural gas goals

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/10/13/energy/group-unveils-plan-to-reduce-maine-oil-use-urges-caution-on-lepage%e2%80%99s-natural-gas-goals/

By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

Posted Oct. 13, 2011, at 12:19 p.m.

Last modified Oct. 13, 2011, at 5:39 p.m.

Andrew Francis, a field associate with Environment Maine, on Thursday morning announces the release of a report aimed at reducing Maine’s fuel consumption by nearly 40 percent by 2030. Flanking Francis is state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, Portland homeowner Ashley Salisbury and Warm Tech Solutions owner Ashley Richards. Not pictured, but taking part in the announcement Thursday, was Adam Lee, chairman of the board for Lee Auto Malls.

PORTLAND, Maine — Environment Maine unveiled a plan Thursday to reduce Maine’s dependence on oil by nearly 40 percent by 2030, beating established legislative energy benchmarks without expanding use of natural gas, which is a central component of Gov. Paul LePage’s energy strategy.

Environment Maine field associate Andrew Francis was joined Thursday by state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, Lee Auto Malls board chairman Adam Lee, Warm Tech Solutions owner Ashley Richards and property owner Ashley Salisbury. The press conference took place at Salisbury’s multi-unit 26 Brackett St. building, which was the subject of a recent energy efficiency retrofit largely performed by Warm Tech.

The group assembled to highlight state and federal measures promoted in the larger Environment America report “Getting Off Oil: A 50-State Roadmap for Curbing Our Dependence on Petroleum.”

At a state level, Cornell du Houx said it’s crucial the state Legislature continue funding Efficiency Maine programs that encourage home weatherizations, while Lee trumpeted federal proposals to force auto manufacturers to meet minimum fuel efficiency standards of 54 miles per gallon over the next 13 years.

“Mainers … send $5 billion every single year to nations that do not have our best interests in mind,” Cornell du Houx, who has served with the Marine Corps in the Middle East, said of Maine’s dependence on oil. Maine is ranked the fourth most oil-dependent state in the country.

Lee noted that in 1975, Congress gave car makers 10 years to double the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, and although manufacturers complained, they met the standards and reduced pollution.

“The history of my industry is that they don’t do anything to improve safety or efficiency unless they’re mandated to do so,” Lee told members of the assembled media Thursday morning.

Richards said 2,500 Maine homes were weatherized in 2010 using rebates and other funding programs offered by Efficiency Maine. Each home saved an average of $1,400 on annual heating costs because of the work, which ranges in scope from sealing windows to better insulating walls to finding more efficient heating systems.

Richards said that if the state keeps offering funding programs at that pace, 12,500 homes will be made more efficient in five years, saving a total of 15 million gallons of fuel oil and “putting $67 million back in the hands of consumers.”

He said each weatherization project costs a homeowner an average of $6,000, with about $2,500 of that reimbursed by Efficiency Maine. With about $1,400 in savings per year, each project is making money for its homeowner within three years, he said.

But Richards said his company shrank from 20 employees to 12 when the Efficiency Maine funding dried up, suggesting increased funding for the program would restore jobs as well as save money for property owners.

“Last winter, every month when I saw the fuel truck pull in, it was cause for anxiety,” Salisbury said of the 26 Brackett St. property she owns. “Opening that bill felt a little like getting kicked in the head. Ultimately, I had to consider whether I wanted to keep wasting not only my money, but this precious resource as well.”

Not included in the strategy unveiled Thursday was an expansion of natural gas in the state, which LePage said last month he plans to promote during the upcoming legislative session.

The state Legislature has approved goals to reduce Maine’s dependence on oil by 30 percent by 2030, and by 50 percent by 2050. By implementing the state and federal policies detailed in the Environment Maine report promoted Thursday, organization leaders said, Maine could reduce its oil use by 29 percent by 2025 and by 39 percent by 2030.

Most of the steps called for by Environment Maine at the state level involve providing financial incentives for energy efficiencies in homes and transportation systems, as well as shoring up building codes to further promote such efficiencies.

“Natural gas is not a part of this road map,” Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine, told the Bangor Daily News Thursday. “We’re saying we can do that without turning to other fuel sources that have their own host of environmental problems. We think Maine should be very cautious before we ramp up use of natural gas.”

Maine Environmental Group Unveils Plan to Slash Oil Use

http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3478/ItemId/18476/Default.aspx

An environmental advocacy group has released what it calls a ‘first-of-its-kind’ analysis outlining how Maine–and the U.S.–can significantly reduce the use of oil over the next 20 years. Environment Maine unveiled the report called “Getting Off Oil” as part of a nationwide initiative. According to the study, the U.S. has the potential to cut its oil use by 31 percent below 2008 levels by 2030, a reduction of 1.9 billion barrels a year. And for Maine, the percentage could be even greater.

“Getting Oil Shows that a comprehensive strategy to transition Maine off of oil can reduce Maine’s oil use by nearly 40 percent in the next 20 years,” said Environment Maine Field Associate Andrew Francis today at a Portland news conference.

That’s well above the 30 percent target set by state law earlier this year. The question is: How can Maine achieve the goal? “This report evaluates 17 public policies or measures with the potential to significantly reduce oil consumption in Maine and across the country,” Francis said.

These policies include accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles. There are also calls for a “pay-as-you-drive” system of vehicle insurance, designed to encourage motorists to spend less time behind the wheel.

Fuel economy standards are another crucial part of the plan, says auto dealer Adam Lee, who is Maine’s leading seller of hybrid vehicles. One of the speakers at the news conference, Lee says the state is headed in the right direction.

“Our country’s gotten around to raising fuel eonomy standards again. We went from about 27 miles per gallon to 35, just a couple of years ago. And we now, in the next few years, hopefully, will have a standard of 54 miles per gallon in the next 13 years. We need this standard,” Lee said.

But it’s not all about cars and transportation. The report also calls for policies to curb oil use in Maine’s homes and businesses.

Ashley Richards says weatherization is key. “Weatherizing your home is low-hanging fruit, relative to saving money on fuel consumption.” Richards is the owner of Warm Tech Solutions, which provides energy efficiency services to homes and businesses in southern Maine. “Maine has the oldest housing stock in the country. We have over 450,000 homes that are poorly insulated, and 70 percent of our centrally-heated homes are heated with No. 2 fuel oil,” he says.

Last year, he says 2,500 homes were weatherized with the help of a state rebate known as the Home Energy Savings Program. He says each home saved about $1,400 a year. This rebate program however has now run out of money, and Richards says this is a problem.

“What I mean is we need to fund the Home Energy Savings Program for at least another three years. I believe that when 1 percent of the folks in Maine are pocketing $1,400 a year for weatherizing their home, then weatherizing will become the cool thing to do, just like tattoos are today,” Richards said.

Underpinning these efforts to reduce dependence on oil is the issue of security. That was the point stressed by Democratic state legislator and Iraq war veteran Alex Cornell Du Houx, of Brunswick. “We send $5 billion every single year out of the state of Maine to nations who do not have our interests in mind,” he said. “And by reducing that, we can improve our economic security and our national security and take control of our energy future.”

According to Jamie Py of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, Maine is already well on the way to meeting its oil reduction targets in some areas. He says between 2004 and 2009, annual home heating oil use fell by nearly 200 million gallons as people upgraded to more efficient boilers and furnaces. “And all that’s being driven by the marketplace, so whether or not we need mandates in that area I’m not sure,” Py says.

Py also has words of caution regarding the call for increased deployment of electric cars. “We all have to remember, however, where does the electricity come from? And at the moment, half of the electricity in the United States is generated by coal,” he says.

As electric vehicle usage increases, more electricity will have to be generated to supply them with power. And Py says it’s important to discuss where that power will come from before any mandates are placed on what we should or shouldn’t be driving.

GOP’s insurance plan is reckless

By Reps. Anne Graham and Alex Cornell du Houx

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2011/05/23/opinion/commentaries/doc4dd6ac91b292f261626043.txt

Friday, May 20, 2011 2:10 PM EDT

As members of the Maine Legislature we hear every week from providers and patients who must deal each day with a confusing and inefficient health-care system. We know that many Maine families are struggling to pay for the care they desperately need for themselves and their family and are asking for help. That’s why, as a lawmakers, we are particularly interested in policies that lower those costs and increase access for more Maine people to that critical care.

Last week, Republicans in the Legislature passed a plan that will make it even harder to do that. They rushed a reckless proposal to overhaul Maine’s health insurance protections through the legislature. Their proposal, LD 1333, will drive up costs for people living and working in rural areas and Mainers over age 48.

Consumers — especially those who are older, sick, suffer from chronic illnesses, and/or live in rural Maine — stand to lose the most from this legislation.

The overhaul will allow insurance companies to charge Mainers three times more than their neighbor for insurance based on their age alone — and an additional amount depending on where they live. Also troubling, the bill has no limit on the additional percentage you could be charged based on what kind of job you have.

According to the Bureau of Insurance analysis of a similar but less drastic plan, those who want to keep their current insurance could see their rates go up by 170 percent.

This legislation will cause health insurance rates in rural Maine to go up on average by 20 percent. Maine people living in the North will experience an average rate increase of 19 percent. Those living Down East will experience an average rate increase of 22 percent.

In addition to making health care more expensive for rural Mainers, the package also repeals rules that limit how far an insurance company can ask policyholders to travel to get care in network.

The bill creates a segregated reinsurance pool run almost completely by insurance companies and business interests that will be paid for with a per-person tax on everyone’s insurance policies. This $25 million to $40 million tax increase is paid for by a monthly tax of up to $6 a month or $72 per year on top of your premium. A family of four would pay an extra $288 per year.

If it turns out that there isn’t enough to fund the pool, Maine will have to do what other states with reinsurance pools have done — limit benefits to the sickest people, or raise the tax. We think it would have been appropriate for legislators to know how much funding will actually be needed from this new tax to cover the people who will be placed in the reinsurance pool, or how much health coverage will need to be cut for these people in order to not raise the tax even more. But the Republicans wouldn’t even consider the question.

Worse, the legislation exempts lawmakers and state employees from the tax while pushing it onto teachers and private sector workers, from those working at Wal-Mart or Bath Iron Works. In fact, group plans, even self-insured plans, will have to help fund this pool yet do not benefit from it.

Doctors, hospitals, business groups and thousands of other Mainers expressed concern about the plan. Not even the Maine State Chamber would endorse the Republican plan. That’s because it was rushed through the legislature with no analysis on the true impact.

First the committee, and then the House and Senate, was forced to vote on a half-baked plan without an opportunity to get the most basic questions answered, such as, “How much will it cost and who does it help?”

The “whoopee pie” bill had more debate than this significant policy.

The plan pits Maine people against each other — the young versus the old, the north versus the south. It allows the insurance industry to shift the cost of health care from one group of Maine people to another, with the result that some will see their insurance costs rise several hundreds of dollars in a year. And that’s without factoring in the monthly premium tax.

Democrats offered several amendments to protect rural Mainers and rural hospitals, to reduce the cost shift to older Mainers and those who must work more dangerous jobs to make a living.  We included in our amendments full support for significant market reforms including the only pieces our Republican colleagues are willing to trumpet, such as allowing the purchase of policies across state lines and allowing small businesses to band together in hopes of better rates.

Our Republican colleagues refused to support any of our efforts to remove the exemption for legislators from their new tax, to actually gather factual information about the cost to taxpayers of the reinsurance pool, or to create fail-safe language to protect rural Mainers from having to travel great distances for their healthcare or pay significant out-of-pocket costs. Given this rejection of friendly corrections, the vast majority of Democrats could not support an obviously flawed and mostly uninformed health insurance package.

This policy is bad for Maine people. It promises a lot, but it can’t deliver, and in the process a lot of people will lose the insurance they have because they simply won’t be able to afford the price increases.

Health care should be a right not a privilege. Reckless legislation does not insure affordable, accessible health care for the people of Maine.

Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, is a pediatric nurse practitioner serving her first term in the House of Representatives. Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, is a former Marine and now currently works with the Truman National Security Project on veterans issues.

Legislators want more time to work on financial safeguards for heating oil customers

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-brunswick-thibeault-energy-bankruptcy

AUGUSTA — A bill that would increase protection for consumers with prepaid contracts for heating oil was put on the back burner Tuesday by lawmakers.

After a brief public hearing, the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee resolved to put off discussion of LD 1536 until next January. In the interim, the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the attorney general and other interested parties and legislators will meet to nail down specifics.

The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, would require oil dealers to file a quarterly report with the AG’s office, showing evidence that the dealer is in compliance with state laws that ensure oil consumer protection.

Cornell du Houx said the bill was a direct result of witnessing what happened to customers who had pre-paid contracts with Thibeault Energy of Brunswick.

“It’s extremely frustrating and we’re looking to see how we can prevent that in the future,” he said.

State law now requires oil companies to have an available reserve equal to 75 percent of the prepaid oil, purchase a bond for 50 percent of the prepayments, or obtain a letter of credit for the purchases.

Under LD 1536, if a company does not comply with the law, the attorney general could issue a civil violation with a fine equal to the amount of the contract plus an additional 5 percent. The attorney general would then disburse a portion of the fine to the consumers who lost money when the company did not deliver the prepaid oil or natural gas.

During the hearing, Anne Head, commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, said the bill left a lot of unanswered questions. She wanted to know what type of reporting currently takes place, how many oil dealers offer prepaid contracts, and how an outside observer would be able to tell if a company is not in compliance with the state law.

In response, Sen. Christopher Rector, R-Thomaston, successfully moved for the delay until next winter.

— Emily Guerin

Governor announces initiatives to help former Thibeault Energy customers; lawmakers propose tighter rules

By Emily Guerin <http://www.theforecaster.net/users/eguerin&gt;

  E-mail and share <javascript:void(0)>

Feb 08, 2011 5:00 pm

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-brunsthibeaultmeeting

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday announced two initiatives to   help customers affected by the sudden closure of Thibeault Energy in   Brunswick.

In addition, Brunswick-area legislators   are proposing a bill to increase consumer protection from sudden oil   company closures.

In one of the initiatives announced by LePage, five credit unions will offer 12-month, zero-interest   loans of up to $2,000 for customers who lost money when the oil company   closed.

Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union, Down East Credit Union, Five  County Credit Union, Lisbon Community Federal Credit Union and Midcoast   Federal Credit Union will write checks directly to the customers’ new  oil companies.  The loans are available on a first-come, first-served  basis until April 1  and require no credit check.

Low-income customers may be eligible for additional assistance from   the Maine State Housing Authority’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance   Program, or LIHEAP. MaineHousing will hold a special screening for   former Thibeault Energy customers on Saturday, Feb. 12 to see if they   meet the income requirements for LIHEAP. The screening will be from 10  a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Curtis Memorial Library on Pleasant Street in  Brunswick.

Cumberland County residents who cannot attend the screening should   contact the People’s Regional Opportunity Program in Portland at   553-5900. Sagadahoc County residents should call the Kennebec Valley   Community Action Program at 207-859-1500.

Legislators, meanwhile, are looking at existing state law, which gives oil companies several ways to back their delivery contracts. They can choose to reserve  75  percent of the prepaid oil, purchase a bond for 50 percent of the  prepaid funds, or obtain a letter  of credit for the purchases.

According  to Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, the lawmakers’ new proposal  would eliminate two of those options and require companies to buy a  security bond for the full amount that customers have  pre-paid.

“(The proposal) strengthens the law so that in the future this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The announcements came after a meeting Tuesday about the  now-defunct oil company. The session, which was closed to the public,  was attended  by legislators and representatives from MaineHousing, the  attorney  general’s office, the Office of the Energy Independence and Security and  others.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net

This report was updated on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011.

Tips from the Trail: Winning a Three-Way Race

http://www.politicsmagazine.com/blog_post/show/Tips-from-the-Trail-Winning-a-Three-Way-Race

Written by Noah Rothman on December 9, 2010, 9:14 AM

Waging a political campaign against a single opponent is hard enough, but when a viable third candidate enters the race, the election dynamics are thrown off in unpredictable ways. Obstacles confronting candidates in a three-way race range from the portion of the vote required to win to the issue-oriented positioning which compels independents without alienating one’s base. These were the problems faced by freshman Democratic state Representative Alex Cornell du Houx in his run for reelection in Maine’s 66th House district in the city of Brunswick. In this year’s election, he faced both a traditional Republican challenger and a Green Party candidate to his left.

“Both the candidates were well qualified,” says Cornell du Houx. “The Green independent candidate [K. Fredrick Horch] has kids in the community and he ran a downtown store. He also had ties to the local paper and does work at a local college.” As for his Republican challenger, Jonathan Crimmins, Cornell du Houx says that “he had run before and had a family name in Brunswick, so both candidates were well qualified.”

A 27-year-old Iraq War veteran, Cornell du Houx also had to contend with the widespread mistrust of elected officials that pervaded the 2010 elections. “In an anti-incumbent year, I was the Democratic incumbent,” he relates. “That itself posed a challenge running for reelection.”

While New England is known as a safe region for Democrats, Republicans often win there. A tried and tested strategy for winning as a Republican in a light blue area such as Brunswick, Maine, is to split the left-leaning vote between two liberal candidates.

One of the ways Cornell du Houx fought for reelection was by trumpeting his accomplishments. Maine has been relatively unscathed by the economic downturn; the 7.4 percent statewide unemployment rate and 6 percent unemployment rate in the city of Brunswick remain well below the national average. Cornell du Houx attributed much of that to the legislature’s efforts to ensure the revitalization of a recently closed naval air station – which alone created at least 300 local jobs.

The freshman representative’s biggest problem was communicating his accomplishments to voters on a limited budget. “I went door-to-door to every single voting house in Brunswick,” he says. “It was well worth the effort. I got to talk with the vast majority of the community, hear what their concerns were and let them know how I was addressing them.” Cornell du Houx was surprised and dispirited to find that many had little understanding of the work the legislature had completed in the last session. “No one knew what we had accomplished,” he says. “Between the process and the atmosphere, everything was negative.”

Given that close to 20 percent of his district’s voters are military veterans, Cornell du Houx used a targeted direct mailer highlighting his eight years in the Marine Corps and current service in the National Guard as well as his legislative efforts on behalf of members of the military. “We saw people bring that piece to the polls with them,” he recalls.

Endorsements, including one from former Maine Governor Angus King, a resident of Cornell du Houx’s district, were particularly important, since both his opponents had higher name recognition than he did.

Getting out the vote was the final piece of the puzzle. “We did everything,” he remembers. “From providing rides to the polls to sending volunteers out door-to-door to make sure everyone had the opportunity to vote.”

Cornell du Houx won by 11 percent in the strongly Democratic 2008 cycle. This year he narrowly fended off his two challengers, winning 38 percent of the vote to Horch’s 34 percent and Crimmins’ 28 percent. There were 3,340 votes cast, and Cornell du Houx won by 137.

Although the Green candidate received many votes that otherwise would have gone to Cornell du Houx, he says he did well enough among registered Democrats and center-left independent voters to come out on top.

“In the end it comes down to face-to-face, door-to-door presence,” he says. “When community members get to meet you and realize what you have done for them.”

Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at nrothman@campaignsandelections.com

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This is a somewhat inaccurate portrayal of this campaign, ignoring the independent voting tendencies of Maine, the existence of term limits and clean election campaign financing, the dynamics of a concurrent 3-way race for governor and the quality of the incumbent.

In particular I am dismayed that you would indicate that the Green Independent candidate’s votes would have otherwise gone to the Democrat. They were never his votes to begin with. The probable reason the incumbent got such a bad reaction door-to-door is that he has accomplished little in his first term in office.

It should also be noted that the support given the 3rd party candidate was indicative of the numerous community forums that this candidate hosted (inviting all of the candidates to jointly attend and speak on the issues) and the inclusive nature of that campaign. Sure as a “green” candidate he probably did get some liberal voters, but as an independent party he certainly picked up a great number of swing voters who did not like the traditional party choices. The independents in Maine (and probably in that district) are equal in number to either major party.

A large infusion of cash from the state party helped Cornell for last minute mailers helped him pick up the 100 or so vote margin needed to win. In a seat that has been in Democratic hands for at least 2 decades this shows a real weakness for the incumbent beyond the anti-incumbent mood of the country.

In a re-match, now that folks have heard what the 3rd party independent had to say, and have seen how close that election was and how viable he was as a candidate, i am sure that many more Republicans in the district would vote Green Independent just to defeat the Democrat, and even some additional Democrats would consider voting for the Green Independent in the future if the incumbent’s performance does not improve.

To the second commenter- it is very nice of you to cut and paste from the incumbent’s campaign website- you should however note your source or just link to the website instead. This litany of co-sponsored bills shows little initiative and while i’m sure he did originally sponsor some items and means well, the question is whether the incumbent has delivered for the district or if someone else could do better. Clearly a majority of voters chose someone else, the incumbent winning only a plurality. This could be for many reasons, but perhaps having one of the worst attendance records in the entire legislature was a reason for all the votes of no confidence.

If anything, a three-way election indicates the need for a runoff election, or for Instant Runoff Voting, to reflect the true majority sentiment.

I think the main point of the first commenter is that these votes don’t belong to anyone, they have to be earned, and that understanding the dynamic of voting outside of a two-party context is important- Maine is perhaps the most independent-minded state in the country for this.

December 14, 2010 – [ 15:10:07 ]

Anonymous

Sadly it sounds as if someone on the losing campaign is bitter. A great deal was accomplished by a first year legislator and the people of Brunswick recognized that. The Green received an equal amount of funding. To say Republicans would vote for a Green to defeat a Democrat does not pass the straight face test. They are more likely to vote for the Democrat, rather than see a ideological far left candidate win. It is really to bad that people still feel the need to continue a negative campaign even after the election. All three candidates ran solid races and in the end there can only be one winner. In a fair race Rep. Cornell du Houx was re-elected and we should all be working to support positive change in Augusta and not live in the past and complain about the past election.

‘Honored and humbled’

By Alex Cornell du Houx

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/11/09/opinion/letters/doc4cd842b627300676345072.txt

Monday, November 8, 2010

I would like to thank the people of Brunswick for voting in the election, whomever you supported. I’m honored and humbled that you chose me to return to the Maine Legislature and will continue to work hard for Brunswick and Maine as the District 66 representative.

I’d like to thank Jonathan Crimmins and Fred Horch for running strong campaigns that brought out the issues, which we all care about. We all share a strong commitment to Brunswick.

We will face many challenges in this legislative session and I am ready to work hard for you to strengthen our community. I’m dedicated to making sure that the redevelopment of Brunswick Landing continues to move forward to create quality jobs, improve education, protect our environment and control wasteful spending.

It was wonderful to get to know so many of you when going door to door.

Thank you all so very much for sharing your concerns and ideas with me and please feel free to contact me anytime, by phone at 207- 319-4511 or by e-mail at acornell@alexcornell.org.

Alex Cornell du Houx, Brunswick

Olsen to join Cornell du Houx, Kent, Gerzofsky in Augusta

By Stephanie Grinnell

Nov 03, 2010 1:00 am

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-staterepssensdist10646566-110510

BRUNSWICK — A three-way contest in House District 66 was won Tuesday by incumbent Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D- Brunswick, with Green Independent K. Fred Horch close on his heels.

Republican candidate Jonathan Crimmins finished third. The three candidates were separated by about 400 votes.

In a House race with a margin of fewer than 70 votes, Republican Kimberly Olsen defeated Democrat David Chipman for the District 64 seat formerly held by Rep. Leila Percy, D-Phippsburg, who vacated the position due to term limit restrictions.

There were a handful of other contested legislative races in the area Tuesday, as well as an unopposed race: state Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, was unchallenged in House District 63.

House District 66

Cornell du Houx received 1,415 votes to Horch’s 1,220 and Crimmins’ 1,019.

Cornell du Houx said there was some concern in his campaign that Horch could ride a wave of conservative victories to win the race. He congratulated both his opponents for working hard and running clean campaigns.

Moving forward, Cornell du Houx said, he is “committed to working hard for Brunswick and Maine,” particularly regarding the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station next year and creation of quality jobs in composites and clean energy.

The win gives Cornell du Houx a second term. The race marked Crimmins’ second election defeat in the district.

“Obviously, I am disappointed with the way it turned out,” he said. “But I’m happy with the way the campaign ran; it was a positive, upbeat campaign.”

Horch made his first attempt at elected office and said he has no regrets.

“We were delighted with the support we got across parties,” Horch said. “We definitely lost a close one. But we tried our hardest and had fun.”

House District 64

The new face of House District 64, covering Phippsburg, Harpswell and the southern half of West Bath, is Republican Kimberly Olsen of Phippsburg.

Olsen defeated Democrat David Chipman of Harpswell, 2,404 to 2,333.

Olsen described her first political campaign as “an interesting walk.” She said she is thankful for all the support she received.

“It was an honor to be nominated and an honor to be elected,” she said.

Olsen, who was a replacement for original candidate David Mosher, said she said does not have immediate plans and just wants “to get (her) bearings up at the Statehouse.”

Chipman said he campaigned hard for the seat and attributed the loss to “a Republican year.”

“I tried my best,” he said. “And best of luck to Kim.”

House District 65

District 65, covering parts of Bath, Brunswick, Topsham, West Bath and Woolwich, will be represented by Democratic incumbent Rep. Peter Kent of Woolwich. He was challenged by Republican Robert Thompson of Brunswick.

Kent, who defeated Thompson 2,139 to 1,863, earned a second term in the House of Representatives.

“I’m excited to be elected again,” he said Wednesday.

He offered “hats off” to his opponent and encouraged constituents to contact him with their concerns at pskentz5@hotmail.com.

“That’s really how I can do my best,” Kent said. “I would love for people to drop me a short note if they would like to get on my email newsletter distribution list.”

Senate District 10

Democratic incumbent Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, who was challenged by Republican Scott Thomas for the state Senate District 10 seat serving Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell and Pownal, was re-elected with a margin of more than 3,700 votes.

Gerzofsky received 10,125 votes to 6,373 for Thomas, who was making his first bid for elected office. Gerzofsky has served one term in the state Senate and four terms in the state House.

Gerzofsky said he consistently heard from voters at the polls Tuesday he is doing a good job representing his district.

“The voters in my district have been very supportive. They appreciate the hard work I have done,” he said. “It’s an honor to serve the people of Brunswick, Harpswell, Freeport and Pownal. I am looking forward to serving them with all my vigor.”

Thomas said his campaign was “a valuable experience.” While he said he is disappointed he did not win, Thomas said he is interested to see what will happen the next few years with new senators and representatives as well as a new governor taking office.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net

Cornell du Houx captures tight race

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Thursday, November 4, 2010 2:23 PM EDT

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/11/04/news/doc4cd191626cb2a077264002.txt

BRUNSWICK — Besting his closest opponent by just more than 100 votes, Democratic incumbent Alex Cornell du Houx will return to Augusta in January to represent House District 66 in the Maine Legislature.

Cornell du Houx took 1,415 votes to the 1,222 cast by District 66 voters for Green Independent candidate Fred Horch, and the 1,019 garnered by Republican Jonathan Crimmins.

No write-in ballots were cast, and 134 voters left the ballot space blank.

The win maintains an entirely Democratic legislative delegation for Bruns-wick.

Cornell du Houx could not be reached for comment by press time.

A graduate of Bowdoin College, he spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Reserves and was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. He is currently employed by the Truman National Security Project, based in Washington, D.C., but Cornell du Houx works primarily from Maine.

During the 124th Legislature, he served on the Legal and Veterans Affairs and Leaves of Absence committees.

Horch, 40, a former attorney who now owns F.W. Horch Sustainable Goods & Supplies on Maine Street, campaigned on the belief that the state “is not heading in the right direction,” and that party politics only made things worse. He advocated for single-payer health care, funded in part by an increase in the bottle deposit; and a progressive income tax, raising taxes on the wealthy.

Reached this morning, Horch thanked his family and campaign team, as well as voters who supported him.

“We lost a close one,” he said. “Congratulations to Alex, and thank you to Jonathan Crimmins for running a good campaign. We had fun and tried our best.”

Crimmins, 35, is a psychiatric technician. He said prior to the election that he hoped to help fast-track the permitting process for companies seeking to locate in Maine, and advocated for businesses of all types to be considered for space at the redeveloped naval air station.

Crimmins said today that while he did not envision this outcome when he began the race, he is proud of the way his campaign was run.

“We stayed positive, stayed on the issues and talked to the people of Brunswick about why we needed to make changes as to how we were governed,” he said.

Crimmins said he enjoyed getting to know Horch, that many of their ideas are similar and that he is “fortunate to have gained an ally in working for Brunswick’s future.”

He congratulated Cornell du Houx, adding that “While this term may be different for Alex, in that the Maine House will be under new management, I hope he can work just as hard for Brunswick as he can. We need the attention and we deserve it.”

LePage, Pingree, Cornell du Houx elected

November 5, 2010

http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2010-11-05&section=1&id=3

By Claire Collery

ORIENT STAFF

Red with anger at Democratic incumbents, Maine voters joined the tide of Americans allying themselves with the GOP. On Tuesday, Republicans took the majority in both of Maine’s legislative houses and the governor’s office, ousting Democrats after an eight-year stronghold in Augusta.

Republican Paul LePage came out on top as the new governor with 38.3 percent of the vote. Though almost every poll had projected him as the race’s leader, he had to fight off a late charge from Independent Eliot Cutler.

Cutler, who as little as a month ago was polling in the single digits, finished with 36.5 percent of the vote. His surge relegated Democrat Libby Mitchell to third place, with 19.1 percent of the vote.

Despite the nationwide rightward trend, incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree earned 56.8 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Dean Scontras and hold on to her seat in the U.S. House representating Maine’s first district, which includes Brunswick.

Locally, Bowdoin graduate Democrat Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 also retained his post representing Brunswick in the Maine State House. With 38 percent of the vote, he bested competitors Frederick Horch from the Green Party and Republican Jonathan Crimmins.

Mainers gave the nod to all three of the referendum questions. Question 1 passed with just 50.6 percent of the vote and will allow a casino in Oxford County, pending local approval. Question 2 will issue a $5 million bond to increase access to dental care. Question 3 will invest $9.75 million in land conservation and working waterfront and state park preservation.

It was the governor’s race, which was not conceded by Cutler until midday Wednesday, that most captured the public’s attention. Associate Professor of Government Michael Franz and Professor of Government Christian Potholm attributed Cutler’s impressive gains to a skillfully run campaign that was aided by Maine’s media.

“No campaign I’ve seen in 40 years has ever been helped so much by the two newspapers—the Bangor Daily News and the Portland papers [Press Herald],” said Potholm. “They editorialize once but much more importantly…it showed up in their reporting. “

The election, which Franz described as a “stunning repudiation of Libby Mitchell,” reached a turning point about a month ago when LePage announced that, if elected, “you’re going to get to see a lot of me on the front page saying, ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.'”

“That was the moment…for the Mitchell campaign to…jump in and get those Republicans and those Independents who had now gone from LePage to undecided,” said Potholm. “[The Mitchell] campaign didn’t do that.”

Franz also explained how the murky and varying methodologies of the different pollsters may have helped bolster Cutler’s popularity, and not always on the surest foundation.

“This, to me, is evidence for why there should be more polling,” said Franz. “The random poll comes out and the numbers might look different purely because of either the sample size or the methodology or the way of asking the question and then boom—the race is totally different.”

“I think the Cutler campaign was very shrewd in the use of their polling,” Potholm agreed.

The race proved constructive for those who oppose negative advertising. While both the LePage and Mitchell campaigns decided to sling a little mud, Cutler opted out and capitalized on his characterization as a victim to garner voter sympathy.

“He did have a narrative to say…’I’m doing nothing but staying above the fray and this is exactly what I’m trying to offer to Maine people’,” said Franz.

But rough-and-tumble LePage won in the end and senior Kylie Huff has high hopes for his tenure in the Blaine House.

“I wanted to pick someone who I knew would cut taxes and spending… A lot of young people are leaving Maine because there are no opportunities for them,” she said. She mentioned a recent Forbes poll that ranked Maine the worst state for business.

“With LePage, I think we’re going to start seeing things turning around,” she said.

Pingree will keep her job representing Maine’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House, but faced a considerable challenge from Republican Dean Scontras. Though she finished with a 14-point victory, some pre-election polls had had the two in a dead heat.

While Scontras painted himself as an independent outsider with no attachment to either party, Pingree cited the accomplishments of her first term in Washington. Although the Republicans reclaimed the House majority, Pingree stressed in her acceptance speech that she will “work with people on both sides of the aisle to move this country forward, to move our state forward.”

Junior Anna Wright, a Democrat, voted for Pingree and said she was “very happy” about the victory. She echoed the campus sentiment, as expressed in a pre-election poll conducted by the Orient last week, which showed an overwhelming support for Pingree.

“I was excited that we were holding on to some seats in the House,” she said

Cornell du Houx, a Democrat, held onto his seat representing Maine’s 66th District in the State House, winning by only 137 votes. He said he is “excited at the prospect of serving the people of Brunswick for a second term and working hard for them in Augusta.”

He thanked the Bowdoin students that came out to the polls Tuesday and emphasized that he will continue to defend their rights.

“Every single year a bill comes up to prevent students from voting and I will continue to ensure that all students are allowed to vote on campus,” he said. He called the proposition of such a bill a political maneuver by Republicans to dilute the student vote, which is typically Democratic.

When discussing his plans for Brunswick, he cited his desire to continue working on the redevelopment of the Naval Air Station and gave special attention to the advanced composite center at Southern Maine Community College, which is run in conjunction with the University of Maine and Bowdoin.

Cornell du Houx expressed concern over the loss of the Democratic majority in the State House but seemed hopeful that the two parties could work together.

“I hope the Republican Party will work in a bipartisan manner…to create legislation to help Maine and Brunswick. When [the Democrats] were in power, we allowed their legislation to be introduced into committee and be debated on the house floor, and I hope they extend the same courtesy to us.”

Keep Cornell du Houx

By Everett B. Carson

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/letters/doc4ccb0e0f9c0be283096377.txt

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:20 PM EDT

Brunswick citizens have an opportunity to keep a talented and dedicated person working for us in the Legislature for the next two years. I encourage all House District 66 voters to support Alex Cornell du Houx when they go to the polls on Nov. 2.

I first met Alex about four years ago after reading a story in The Times Record about his service in Iraq as a Marine while on leave from studies at Bowdoin College. Few young people choose to enlist in the military service while also having the opportunity to go to college.I was interested in meeting him and hearing first hand about his experience.

Our conversation at that time introduced me to a mature and thoughtful young man who was very interested in serving his community and country. Especially interested in protecting our environment and creating clean energy to power the Maine economy, Alex works for a brighter future in many ways.

He has participated in community projects at the local, state, national and international levels. As a state legislator, he works with colleagues from other states on energy and agriculture issues.  And he has volunteered in service programs in Guatemala and Peru.

During his first term in the Legislature, Alex focused on issues that are important for our area and for all of the people of Maine. He advocated for locating a new program to study and develop composites at Brunswick Landing. He strongly supported a proposal  to weatherize all homes and half of Maine’s businesses. He co-sponsored and worked effectively for passage of other common-sense environmental initiatives, including recycling of mercury-containing flourescent light bulbs and funding for open space preservation.

In an age when so much of politics is built on negative campaigning and attacks on other candidates, it is refreshing to find a legislator who is constructive and positive. Alex definitely has a “can do” outlook. Let’s keep him accomplishing good things for the Brunswick area, and for Maine.

Everett B. Carson, Harpswell

Vote for Cornell du Houx

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/letters/doc4ccb0a5ad5482527878046.txt

Web edition — Special to timesrecord.com

By Mary J. Herman

Published:

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:19 PM EDT

It is an honor to write in strong support of Alex Cornell du Houx, candidate for the Maine House of Representatives in District 66.

I have gotten to know Alex over the past few years and unabashedly and emphatically believe that he is THE right person to represent Brunswick. He works hard, understands the issues and stays in touch with his constituents. He is a Maine native, a Bowdoin graduate who served our country honorably in Iraq. I am continually impressed by Alex’s maturity, grasp of issues important to Brunswick and our state and always shows good common sense.

We’re lucky to have people like Alex representing us; let’s join together to ensure his return to Augusta!

Mary J. Herman, Brunswick

Leader in veterans’ issues

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/letters/doc4ccb0b80c257a710021255.txt

Web edition — Special to timesrecord.com

By Rep. Charlie Priest

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:19 PM EDT

One of the many things that District 66 voters can be proud of is Alex Cornell du Houx’s work in the Legislature on behalf of veterans. As a Marine who served in Iraq, Alex is very concerned about Maine’s veterans. Not only did he sponsor bills to provide tax relief for veterans but also got the Bureau of Maine’s Veterans Services to study and report to the Legislature on the problems of homeless veterans in Maine. As well, Alex was the initiator of the Veterans Caucus of the Legislature where, under his guidance, legislators from both parties who had served as officers and enlisted personnel came together to discuss the needs of Maine veterans and to help veterans with their problems. As a veteran myself, I appreciated Alex’s willingness to lead in veterans’ affairs.

I hope that the voters of District 66 will send him back to the Legislature so that he can keep working for our men and women who have served in the armed services.

Rep. Charlie Priest, District 63, Brunswick

Don’t vote for the ‘spoilers’

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/commentaries/doc4ccb0f39c8c34891478318.txt

By Jackie Sartoris

Published:

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:30 PM EDT

Election season is always about choices, but this fall’s harvest brings us a wider selection.

Maine’s majority of moderate voters are split, most supporting staid Democrat Libby Mitchell and a smaller percentage polling for newcomer Eliot Cutler.

Cutler, however, is no Angus King. He is only the likely spoiler, not the possible winner.

Meanwhile, Mitchell’s biggest drawback should be her greatest asset: relevant, dutiful government experience, but at a time when government service is ridiculed. The bottom line is that votes for Cutler will hand the governor’s office to someone whom most Mainers strongly oppose: Paul LePage.

*

Locally, in the House District 66 election, we have another three-way race. Here, moderate Brunswick has three articulate and passionate choices. Jonathan Crimmins’ views are far to the right of most Brunswick residents, and in a two-way race he could not win. But Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx could see enough votes go to Green Independent candidate Fred Horch to hand the seat to Crimmins.

What’s odd about this challenge is that Cornell du Houx is not just committed to economic development, education and veterans’ issues, he is notably devoted to environmental issues. Following his admirable service as a U.S. Marine in Fallujah, Iraq, he introduced legislative proposals to reduce dependency on foreign oil and conserve energy while benefiting Maine families, and he actively works on numerous other environmental initiatives.

I like and respect Horch, and wish he would run for local office, but his election now would give Brunswick far less influence in Augusta without a gain for green issues.  Unfortunately, his run could also give the seat to an otherwise unelectable candidate, who will not be an asset to environmental concerns.

Like most people, I want to hire people who know what they’re doing: from doctors and police officers to firefighters and teachers. I want people in vital positions to bore me with their competence and dedication, not excite me with uncertainty or risk.

Governing is hard, complex, and sometimes tedious work, and doing it well is surely no disgrace. I hope that, after this angry election, we can regain a little civility and respect for the essential business of government, without which civility itself is hard to imagine.

In the meantime, I urge Brunswick residents to continue to be the standard-bearers for common sense and thoughtfulness.

Don’t split your vote and help elect people you oppose! Let’s hire two experienced, knowledgeable, dedicated professionals to work for us: Libby Mitchell and Alex Cornell du Houx.

Jackie Sartoris is a former Brunswick town councilor. She lives in Brunswick.

Vote Alex Cornell du Houx ’06

October 29, 2010

http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2010-10-29&section=2&id=3

By Judah Isseroff

GUEST COLUMNIST

Tuesday, November 2 is Election Day. Pundits all over the country—and all over this campus—have been speculating and forecasting. Will the election be a referendum on President Obama? Is the Tea Party movement for real?

Americans are angry. Again. They’re mad at unemployment and deficits and, most of all, they are really, really mad at politicians.

What are Americans going to do?

It seems as though American voters have found people who are as mad as they are (in both senses of the word), and they are going to hand over the House of Representatives and Senate seats to these political outsiders.

Let’s pause here so I can quickly go out on a limb and predict the next two years in American politics.

2011: Congress is deadlocked. The biggest legislative battle is the judicial fight over the constitutionality of health care reform. The war in Afghanistan continues to be the war in Afghanistan, a major headache for the administration. Congressional Republicans talk a lot and do little.

2012: Campaign season again!

Now, I must admit that I have indulged my own bit of political punditry, but for good reason.

By virtue of our isolation and busy lives, we here in the Bowdoin bubble don’t really get to experience the American political process as real or even pertinent. However, this election season we have the opportunity to exercise the franchise in a way that is both personal and prudent.

Alex Cornell du Houx is currently the representative to the Maine State Legislature from Brunswick’s District 66. This district encompasses several parts of the Bowdoin campus, including Helmreich House, Burnett House, Howell House, Cleaveland Street Apartments and Stowe Inn. Cornell du Houx also happens to be an alumnus of Bowdoin College, a member of the Class of 2006. He is currently embroiled in a tough re-election fight, and I hope many of you that live in his district will seize the opportunity to vote for him this year.

Cornell du Houx is exactly the sort of candidate that both Mainers and Bowdoin students should be excited to send to Augusta. He grew up in the small town of Solon, Maine, making the most of the opportunities along his path from Bowdoin student to member of the Maine State Legislature. Cornell du Houx completed a nearly year-long tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine while a student at Bowdoin in 2006, thankfully returning safely to complete a degree in government and legal studies.

Representative Cornell du Houx spent his first term in the Maine State Legislature working diligently on veteran, educational and environmental issues. He is undoubtedly a qualified candidate, both savvy in politics and intelligently beholden to his values. Alex offers a unique combination of progressive ideals, small town upbringing and experience in the service that makes him especially capable of providing a vision for the future of Brunswick, and even the state of Maine.

For those of us at Bowdoin, however, Cornell du Houx provides a great deal more. He offers an example, connections and a perspective that to a great extent reflects many of our own.

I would by no means advocate for Bowdoin students to blindly support a candidate solely because he or she graduated from this school. That said, there is something to be said for being proud of—and having a stake in—the success of Bowdoin graduates. In the crudest sense, success encountered by graduates of this College makes a Bowdoin degree an even more valuable asset out in the world.

More importantly, it gives this institution and its members connections to the rest of the world. Cornell du Houx’s success in public office and beyond means the permeation of the Bowdoin ethos into a political realm that sorely lacks the sort of values that brought most of us to this school.

This leads me to my final point. As a Bowdoin graduate, Alex will bring an outlook to Augusta that closely mirrors that of many at Bowdoin. He is sincerely devoted to the achievement of marriage equality in Maine, as are many of us. He understands what is at stake in the fight against global warming with regards to our national security, our economy and our environment. Likewise, many students at this College care deeply about retaining their capacity to make use of Maine’s natural beauty and resources.

This election season has been, and is going to be, an ugly one. While I certainly hope that all of you pay attention to all the congressional races around this country, I want to impress upon you the unique opportunity we have to elect one of our own. Send Representative Alex Cornell du Houx back to the Maine State Legislature.

Mitchell Institute gala raises $150,000

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has called the scholarship fund the best thing he has ever done.

http://www.pressherald.com/news/mitchell-institute-gala-raises-_150000_2010-10-23.html?cmpid=morning-news-update-html

Posted: October 23

Updated: Today at 1:16 AM

By Tom Bell tbell@mainetoday.com

Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — Getting a college education wasn’t all that important when he was growing up in Waterville in the 1940s, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell said Friday at the Mitchell Institute’s annual dinner.

Even people who didn’t have high school diplomas could get jobs and support themselves, he said.

“That is much more difficult to do today,” he said. “We are living through one of the greatest transitions in human history.”

Advances in communication and technology have made knowledge and skills essential, he said. That’s why it’s so important to reduce barriers to college.

Friday’s Mitchell Institute Fall Gala, a $200-a-plate dinner at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks, raised $150,000 for college scholarships for students throughout Maine.

Every year, the institute awards a $5,000 scholarship to a senior in each of Maine’s 130 high schools. Since Mitchell founded it in 1995, the scholarship fund has awarded $8 million to 1,800 students.

Friday’s event was a huge money-maker for the effort because Mitchell’s friend Tom Walsh, who owns the hotel, donated the ballroom and the dinner. About 500 people attended, including many of the state’s leading political figures and business leaders.

Mitchell, who helped to broker peace in Northern Ireland and served for six years as the U.S. Senate majority leader, said last year, “This scholarship fund is the best thing that I have ever done.”

Besides giving money, the institute helps its scholars find summer jobs, connects them with mentors, and encourages community service to deepen their ties to Maine. Nearly 70 percent of its college graduates now live and work in Maine.

Those leadership development and networking opportunities are more crucial than the money, said Alex Cornell du Houx, who was a scholarship winner and now chairs the Mitchell Scholarship Alumni Council.

Terri Bastarache, 18, a Mitchell scholar who graduated from Gorham High School in June and is now attending the University of Maine, said the scholarship gave her confidence.

“It means a lot,” she said. “It means they believe in me.”

Criteria for the scholarship are: academic performance and potential, a record of community service and financial need.

The institute awards the scholarships in the spring. On Friday, it gave special recognition to 15 scholars and former scholars.

They were recognized for various achievements or qualities, such as overcoming obstacles, or showing leadership, compassion and perseverance.

This year’s recipients of the institute’s Pioneer Scholar Awards are Sam Portera of Limestone Community School, Nate Kinney of Mount Abram High School, Alex Cornell du Houx of Carrabec High School, Mallory Plummer of Morse High School, Teresa Cooper of Nokomis High School, Ameena Khan of Waterville High School, Kim Lim of South Portland High School, Jaclyn McCurry of Biddeford High School, Kaylie Thornton of Carrabec High School, Terri Bastarache of Gorham High School, Patrick Gallagher of Telstar High School, Hannah Belanger of Upper Kennebec Valley High School, Casandra Engstrom of Ellsworth High School, Andy Estrada of Hall-Dale High School, and Kimberly Dao of Thornton Academy.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: tbell@pressherald.com

Letter: Re-elect Cornell du Houx

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-letterkeleher-102210

Oct 18, 2010

As a teacher in the Brunswick school system, I have seen state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx work hard for our children and urge you to re-elect him.  As his record shows, he has been a tireless advocate for Brunswick and for Maine.

At a debate he discussed a measure that he is proposing that would help prevent state funding cuts to Brunswick’s education budget once BNAS is fully closed. The measure he is proposing would exempt the base from the formulas that are used to calculate how much funding each school district receives, as the formula will be affected adversely by the base closure.

Alex has co-sponsored a bill in the Legislature that promotes physical education in school. He understands the importance of promoting physical activity for school children of all ages.

Alex also worked to implement a financial literacy program at Brunswick High School with former state Rep. Tommy Davison at no cost to the district.

Alex has also rolled up his sleeves and volunteered for the past six years in our local schools by tutoring in a variety of subjects. He has also helped our Brunswick Junior High School students by coaching lacrosse and soccer for the past three years.

Whether it is on the soccer field or on the floor of the Legislature, Alex Cornell du Houx is a steadfast advocate for our youth.

Justin Keleher

Bowdoin

Letter: Cornell du Houx is true green

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-letterstrasburger-101510

Oct 11, 2010 12:00 am

I was surprised when Green Party candidate Fred Horch decided to run in House District 66 against Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx this year. After all, in just two years, Alex has not only led a variety of initiatives in the Legislature on weatherization and clean energy business, but has also shown impressive national leadership as vice chairman of the National Council of State Legislators Energy Committee and in his significant work with the Truman Project on the issues of climate change and oil dependence. If ever there was a candidate who needs no Green opposition, it’s Cornell du Houx.

I was even more surprised when I attended one of the debates Horch graciously sponsored and heard his lukewarm response to the promise of all of the alternative forms of energy Cornell du Houx has sponsored in the Legislature – off-shore and on-shore wind, hydro, biofuel, and tidal – none of which seems to interest Horch much. He’s pushing solar, which certainly makes sense for Arizona or Texas. But this is Maine, and though we’re unlikely ever to lead the nation in solar energy, we may well do so in wind, while at the same time becoming considerably less dependent on oil.

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me the real environmental candidate in this election is Cornell du Houx. I only wish he were in my district so I could vote for him.

The Rev. Frank C. Strasburger

Brunswick

Insurance bureau offers help in Brunswick

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-consumer-outreach-100110

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Oct 01, 2010 12:00 am

BRUNSWICK — A Consumer Outreach Session to help people with insurance cases and to raise awareness about Maine Bureau of Insurance resources will be held, Wednesday, Oct. 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Maine Street Station.

The session will include an overview of the bureau’s services and time for questions. Additionally, staff members will help individual consumers with their specific cases.

The session is being hosted jointly by Brunswick state Reps. Alex Cornell du Houx, Peter Kent and Charlie Priest.

Consumers unable to attend the event can obtain insurance information and assistance by visiting the bureau’s offices in Gardiner, going online to http://www.maine.gov/insurance, or calling the bureau’s toll-free number 1-800-300-5000.

Lady Gaga in Portland —

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2:09 PM EDT

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/09/21/stand_alone_photo/doc4c98e404e2cb5119301719.txt

Maine House District 66 Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, far left, in blue, joins the throngs at Deering Oaks Park in Portland on Monday as they welcome Lady Gaga to the stage during a rally to repeal the Department of Defense’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Republicans, are seen as key votes to break a U.S. Senate filibuster and push a measure to repeal the policy to a vote of the full Senate. Beginning in December 2005, Cornell du Houx served a 10-month tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the Marines Corps’s Alpha Company 1/25.

(Troy R. Bennett / The Times Record)

Maine House candidates spar over transportation issues, Brunswick base redevelopment

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-bruncandidates-1

By Alex Lear

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Sep 15, 2010 9:10 am

BRUNSWICK — The three candidates in Maine House District 66 aired their views on transportation policy and redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station Monday during the second of three forums.

The final forum, covering health care and education, was scheduled for Wednesday. The first, on food and energy, was held Sept. 7.

The series was sponsored by the campaign of Green Independent candidate Frederick Horch, who along with Republican Jonathan Crimmins is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx.

Candidates gave statements and then fielded questions on the future of the base property, which the Navy will leave next year and which will be redeveloped as Brunswick Landing. They followed the same procedure on the topic of transportation.

Cornell du Houx noted that $20 million in revenue to the state is being lost through the base’s shutdown.

“We’ve been working extremely hard as a legislative delegation to make the (redevelopment) transition smooth,” he said, adding that the work in part led to a June bond issue that provided funding for a Southern Maine Community College campus on the property.

“The community college was essential to bring there, because one of the number one things (employers) look for when they come to a place to put their companies is, ‘do we have an educated workforce,’” Cornell du Houx said. “Maine is unique in the fact that we have a composite technology that is emerging. … We’re going to be combining with the Southern Maine Community College, the University of Maine and Bowdoin College to have a unique engineering system” on the base.

He also noted that the base has a robust information technology infrastructure, key in attracting a variety of industries.

Crimmins said he hoped Kestrel Aircraft Co.’s proposed $100 million endeavor at the base comes to fruition. He noted, though, that while the project is expected to generate 300 jobs, the base closure has cost nearly 5,000 jobs.

“We need 4,700 jobs to come back to the break even point,” he noted.

Crimmins called planned renewable technology initiatives at Brunswick Landing “a great idea,” but added that “we have to look at the broader picture. We need to bring in many different types of industries, many different types of organizations.”

He noted that the State Planning Office has said Maine’s primary industry is tourism. He suggested a tourism school be started at the base property, allowing students to gain the education there that they would otherwise have to obtain outside of Maine, “because there’s no school for tourism in the state.”

Crimmins said tax incentives are important in attracting industries, but that caps on the length of those incentives should be extended. “Let’s make sure that a company comes in here not for just five years, not for 10 years, but bring them in for a lifetime,” he said. “If we’re going to invest in them, let’s have them invest in us.”

While he has heard the term “brace for impact” connected to the base closure, Horch said he prefers to think of the event more along the lines of preparing for takeoff.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Brunswick,” he said. “How we develop the base will define our economic future. It will define a lot about the town, so it’s a critical thing to get right.”

Horch said the base should be redeveloped in a way that benefits both Brunswick and the state, and suggested a manufacturer of private aircraft, like Kestrel, isn’t necessarily the best option for Brunswick Landing.

“I am very serious about ending hunger in Maine,” he said. “If we’re going to spend public money … on the base, I want it to be addressing our strategic goals. And one of the goals I think the state should have is ending hunger.”

Horch said Kestrel is a risky endeavor. “As a businessperson, I ask, whose $100 million is it? Whose 300 jobs are they?”

He added that while he is a pilot and enjoys flying, “I think we have some strategic goals here. We have hunger problems, we have transition to energy problems. We have things we can do at the base, and every time we use the base for one of those purposes, we move ourselves closer to our strategic goals.”

Transportation

When the forum’s focus switched to transportation, Crimmins said Maine is at a crossroads, and that he’s read that 238 of its bridges need repair or replacement within the next few years, and that a quarter of its roads need immediate repair.

“Of course, now the question comes, where’s the money come from?,” he asked. “That’s millions and millions if not billions of dollars that are going to be required to fix our roads and bridges.”

Crimmins said that while increased public transportation is an option, Maine is largely a rural state. He praised the concept of passenger rail service coming to Brunswick, but noted its significant expense.

In trying to figure out how the roads and bridges will be funded, Crimmins called for the public to tell its representatives in Augusta what takes priority: “I want you to be able to drive the engine that tells us how we go about doing this.”

Horch said Maine’s transportation situation is unsustainable, that “all of our transportation depends on gasoline, none of which we produce or will ever be able to produce in Maine.

“So we’re completely dependent on a foreign source of energy,” he continued. “And at any moment we’re living with the risk of enormous price increases out of our control, and we really don’t have the ability to cope with that.”

He said he would like to see more people getting from place to place without depending on vehicles, instead going on bicycle or foot.

“More people, fewer cars,” Horch said. “That’s my vision for Brunswick.”

While he supports a train between Brunswick and Portland, Horch said a trolley connecting Brunswick with Freeport and Bath would be a better and less expensive option.

“Let’s do trolleys and trains like we used to do,” he said. “We used to have these systems here in Brunswick … we could bring something like that back.”

Cornell du Houx said that with the money not available to properly repair roads, more public transportation is necessary.

“There’s a reason why Route 1 is called the coastal parking lot in the summer; 8 million people come to Maine in the fall and summer … which is a wonderful thing,” he said, “but I think it would be even more wonderful if they could jump on the train in Boston and come all the way up to Rockland, and past there up to Acadia.”

He said Maine has a large rail infrastructure that was used years ago, but not today, thanks to the rise of the automobile industry.

While vehicles and the highway system serve a tremendous purpose, Cornell du Houx said, he called for an increased movement of passengers and freight by rail and buses.

He said the Amtrak Downeaster is the most successful railroad service in the nation, initially projected to increase ridership by 12 percent, but ultimately achieving a 28 percent jump. An Amtrak study, he said, showed that expanding the line to Brunswick will bring an additional 36,000 riders there.

“I think that will hopefully benefit the businesses in the area,” he said.

Cornell du Houx and Crimmins faced each other in the election two years ago. While Crimmins lost in every precinct, he fared better than previous GOP challengers in a district that Democrats have traditionally dominated.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

House 66 foes spar on BNAS reuse

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/09/14/news/doc4c8fac7184a33887427550.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 2:13 PM EDT

BRUNSWICK — Candidates for the District 66 seat in the Maine House of Representatives met Monday evening at Curtis Memorial Library for a discussion about the redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station and transportation during one of three forums hosted this month by Green Independent candidate Fred Horch.

Horch, along with incumbent Democrat Alex Cornell du Houx and Republican challenger Jonathan Crimmins, listed their priorities for the redevelopment and their opinions on the process so far, as well as on subjects such as tax breaks for businesses locating at Brunswick Landing, which is what the property will be called after the Navy cedes it for civilian reuse in 2011.

Candidates then fielded questions from audience members, including Democratic Sen. Stan Gerzofsky — who questioned how involved Horch and Crimmins had been in the redevelopment process to date and how knowledgeable they were about it.

Cornell du Houx, who is serving his first term in the Legislature, spoke first Monday to an audience of about 35.

“We’ve been working extremely hard as a legislative delegation to make the transition smooth,” he said, pointing to “major pieces of legislation,” including passing a bond question in June that allocated $8 million to, among other projects on the base, create a Brunswick campus of Southern Maine Community College and make accessibility upgrades.

He noted an announcement that Kestrel Aircraft Co. plans to locate a $100 million composite single-engine turbo prop plane operation at Brunswick Landing.

Cornell du Houx said the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the entity charged with redeveloping the base, is negotiating a “commitment … that all of their energy is going to be bought from green energy sources,” and he said he was told by officials at Bath Iron Works that the company is “in negotiations” to build wind turbines.

This morning, MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque confirmed that his group plans to use exclusively “green energy.”

“It’s our goal, when we take over the property, to first buy green energy, and then generate our own green energy,” he said.

When contacted this morning by The Times Record, BIW spokeswoman Dixie Stedman said any characterization of the shipyard as “in negotiations” to build wind turbines is “not correct.”

“We are interested,” she acknowledged. “We are talking with developers. We’re listening, (but) we’re not negotiating.”

Crimmins, who said he grew up “about 500 yards of the end of the (BNAS) runway,” expressed concern that during the redevelopment effort, the town is putting “all of our eggs in one basket.”

“I really hope that Kestrel, when they come in and bring in the $100 million of not only their private funding, but also some public funding in some cases, and the promise of 300 jobs — I really hope that comes to fruition, but that’s only 300 jobs of 5,000 we’ve lost,” he said. “We need 4,700 jobs to get back to the break even point.”

Crimmins said he supports ideas such as a botanical garden proposed to occupy part of the 3,200-acre tract if they are sustainable. “We have to look at a broader picture,” he said. “We need to bring in many different types of industries, many different types of organizations.”

For example, he said, if the Maine State Planning Office says the top industry in the state is tourism, “Let’s put a tourism school on the base.”

Crimmins expressed support for extending tax breaks to businesses interested in locating at Brunswick Landing.

“We need to make sure we’re developing that to the fullest potential,” Crimmins said. “Right now, I don’t think we are. We keep looking for that golden goose that’s going to lay the golden egg, and we need a flock of geese.”

Horch called redevelopment of the base “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How we develop the base will define our future. This is the time to get involved.”

As a Green Independent, Horch favors “private initiative, local initiative,” and less involvement by state government. “Let the people have the base and let private individuals and businesses develop it from the grassroots up,” he said.

Horch said his vision for the redeveloped base includes asking the question, “What are we making on the base that we need?”

If the state will spend public money on the base, Horch said the money should move the state closer to its goals, which he said should include “ending hunger in Maine.”

Instead, he said, MRRA is moving forward with negotiations with Kestrel Air.

“That’s a great announcement, for Gov. Baldacci to show up and say that there’s $100 million investment coming to Brunswick,” Horch said. “As a business person, my question is, whose $100 million is it? Whose 300 jobs are they? If you look at Kestrel — I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade — but they’re a very risky endeavor, and what they’re going to produce is private aircraft … but I think we have some strategic goals here.”

Audience members on Monday questioned the candidates on topics ranging from public funding for Kestrel Air to what specific businesses they envision for the redeveloped base.

Responding to the former, Cornell du Houx said Maine competes with every other state to entice businesses and so must offer incentives, but that he believes they should be minimized.

“The way I justify it to myself is that the company coming in will be providing jobs to the community (so) we’re not necessarily subsidizing the company, but subsidizing the jobs that are there,” he said.

Another person questioned Horch’s statement about letting private businesses and individuals develop the base, and also asked, “How are all those wonderful things you propose going to produce the (lost) income?”

Horch said the MRRA board is “an unelected body” — appointed by Baldacci — and is “making decisions for us in our name — it’s really not a democratic process.”

He said the best way to generate lost revenue is by supporting small businesses started and owned by Maine residents, versus pursuing “speculative investments,” which he said results in a “trickle-down” economy.

At one point, Gerzofsky, who this year is running again for the Maine Senate District 10 seat, asked Horch and Crimmins about their “depth of knowledge … of the biggest economic development area in the state of Maine.”

“I wrote most of the laws Fred or anybody else wants to talk about that have to do with the base,” Gerzofsky said. “I would like to ask any of the other candidates if they have had any involvement in the years we were going through the Brunswick Local Redevelopment Authority and we had all the outreach to see what the people in the community really wanted out at the base …”

“I like to think I’ve been on the base more times than I could possibly count in my head,” Crimmins replied, adding, “If we’re going to hold a requirement that someone has to attend every meeting … there are probably few people in the town of Brunswick or the state of Maine who could serve in public office, Sen. Gerzofsky included … What brought me to this position is my concern for where it’s been and where it’s going.”

Horch said he has read the studies and attended meetings where he could, and has “put a lot of serious thought into this.”

“Recently, seeing what the culmination of all the effort had been, I’ve lost heart a little bit,” he said, pointing in particular to efforts by Brunswick Park and Gardens to gain support for a privately funded botanical garden as part of the base redevelopment plan. “I think there was a lot of community outreach … but I haven’t seen any forward progress.”

Several questioners asked candidates to outline specific industries they envision for the redeveloped base, and Crimmins took the opportunity to elaborate on how Maine could focus on tourism.

“Have them stay here and learn how to operate that convention center” on the base, he said. “Open a culinary school. That’s the type of idea we need for the state of Maine, for the base property itself. We’ve really put our hopes in one basket as far as the aviation side and the green technology … we need to look beyond the narrow focus we’ve got right now.”

Horch said he’d like to see the community college introduce a horticulture program and teach insulation techniques — an idea echoed by Cornell du Houx, who said clean energy and weatherization could be a focus, as could “quality of place”  and the proposed botanical garden.

Horch noted that, unlike Crimmins, he opposes tax breaks for businesses. “Unless we cut services, we’re going to have to raise taxes for business owners like mine,” he said.

During a second hour of the forum, candidates discussed transportation, focusing in large part on the merits and viability of public transportation.

Crimmins said expanded passenger rail to Brunswick is “a very good idea, but at a great cost,” and will have to be subsidized.

He said he does not agree with raising the gas tax to pay for roads, but that he wants to hear from voters on that issue.

“When I think of transportation, I think about more than just cars,” Horch said, adding that the current transportation fuel supply is “unsustainable … none of which we produce or ever will be able to produce in Maine.”

“Let’s build things where they need to be so we don’t have to drive so much,” he said.

Cornell du Houx said current state funding for roads is not sustainable, and more focus on public transportation is the solution.

A third forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, also at Curtis Memorial Library, will focus on health care and education.

bbrogan@timesrecord.com

Is honesty what we would have?

    

By Jonathan Crimmins

  

Published:

Friday, August 13, 2010 2:11 PM EDT

       

Recently, I opened The Times Record to read an opinion piece by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, a current Maine legislator from Brunswick (“Common sense step toward honest elections,” July 28).  The topic of the commentary was the Disclose Act which, at the time, was being debated in U.S. Senate for passage. The legislator spoke glowingly of the need to stem the influence that money can have on a political campaign and state from where the money was coming for each campaign.   

My first reaction was to think that disclosing who was involved in political campaigns is a great idea and can only go to forwarding the ideals that each election equals one person and one vote. The writer even stated that it was a “common-sense bill” — and who cannot agree that common sense is needed at every level of government. The idea stayed with me all day and I thought more about the impact.

The next morning, I heard an interview with an ABC News correspondent, Alex Stone, that turned around my thinking. During the interview it was stated that the bill excluded certain groups and organizations from the need to report where the money came from that funded their political involvement.  Mainly, nonprofit organizations and unions would not have to follow the same procedures as a Fortune 500 business or a small business here in Maine.

Why is that? Why shouldn’t all organizations follow the same procedures?

    

  

  The role of government is not to favor one organization over another and it is not the role to pick the winners and the losers of a particular venture. The role of government is to set the stage for an equal contest amongst those interests.  When government sets a rule for one person or organization and excludes another from its impact the result is scorn and skepticism from the electorate. Unfortunately, the electorate has come to accept this sort of behavior from its elected officials.   

Whether it is tax policy or political campaigns, everyone should operate under the same rules in each arena. Perhaps if the legislator understood this he would have the equality in the political realm that he advocated for in the original opinion piece.

Jonathan Crimmins is a Republican candidate for the Maine Legislature from Brunswick. He is seeking the District 66 seat held by Democrat Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx. Fred Horch also is seeking the seat as a Green Independent Party candidate.

Common sense step toward honest elections

http://timesrecord.com/articles/2010/07/26/opinion/commentaries/doc4c4dca4e1edd9275769945.txt

By Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

Published:

Monday, July 26, 2010 2:10 PM EDT

The 2010 elections are going to be different from any we’ve seen in the last 100 years. I’m not talking about candidates or technology or policy — I’m talking about money.

Earlier this year, in its decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court overturned a century’s worth of election laws in order to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence voters. Now, a corporation like BP can spend as much as it wants to run ads against candidates who want to impose strict regulations on the oil industry, and a hedge fund can spend millions to aid a candidate who shares its interests.

What’s more, the new rules give the same freedom to domestic subsidiaries of foreign companies as to those controlled by U.S. companies, and contain no restrictions on campaign spending by government contractors-creating a real opportunity for pay-to-play deals.

We can’t know exactly how corporations will use their new influence in the 2010 elections. But we can make sure that their campaign expenditures are as limited, and as transparent, as possible.

Last month, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act, a common-sense bill to limit which corporations can pour money into elections, and to make sure that those who do get involved in politics disclose exactly what they are doing. The DISCLOSE Act would close the loophole that allows foreign-controlled domestic subsidiaries to participate in American elections, and make sure that government contractors and recipients of TARP funds couldn’t curry favor by buying campaign ads. It would establish new rules to prevent outside spenders from coordinating their campaign activities with candidates and political parties. And it would also impose strict transparency requirements-all corporate and labor union expenditures for or against a candidate would need to be reported promptly and clearly, and a company’s CEO would have to appear in all of its political ads, much like candidates must “approve the message” of ads funded by their campaigns.

The DISCLOSE Act isn’t perfect, but what it does is simple and important: It takes a harmful Supreme Court decision and ensures that it can do as little damage as possible in a quickly approaching election.

It is now up to the Senate to pass DISCLOSE in time for voters to have the information we need as we go to the polls in November. But in a typically Washingtonian twist, the straightforward bill to promote transparency has run into the fierce opposition of those whose moneyed influence it endangers. Big business lobbyists, who embraced the Citizens United decision and plan to spend millions on the 2010 elections, have been ratcheting up their efforts to defeat DISCLOSE, and have gotten most of the Republican caucus on board.

When the Senate votes on DISCLOSE this Tuesday, the votes of Maien Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will be crucial to its passage. Both have been strong supporters of transparency and accountability in the past, but rarely have the voices against honest government been so loud. They will hear plenty from the business lobby; now they need to hear from ordinary citizens.

Americans have worked for decades to make sure our elections belong to voters, not to the highest bidder. The only way we can fully take back our “government by the people” is to pass a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United.

But in the meantime, we have a basic right to know who is spending money in our elections. The Supreme Court has handed unprecedented political power to big corporations. It’s now the job of our elected officials to protect the power of voters.

Rep. Alex cornell du Houx, D-District 66, represents part of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives.

letters@timesrecord.com

Council OKs poll consolidation

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/07/13/news/doc4c3c8c40d927c415560833.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 2:04 PM EDT

BRUNSWICK — Pending approval from Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap, Brunswick voters from all seven districts will vote at Brunswick Junior High School in November. That change derives from a Town Council decision on Monday to consolidate polls.

The council voted 5-3, with District 5 Councilor Margo Knight absent, to switch from six polling places to one. The move to consolidate came despite strong opposition from three members of Brunswick’s legislative delegation, town councilors Ben Tucker, David Watson and John Perreault, and others.

Town Clerk Fran Smith proposed poll consolidation in a June 15 memo to the council. Smith cited voters’ increased use of absentee ballots, dwindling municipal resources and difficulty finding election workers — as many as 128 for major elections — to staff all six polling places.

Smith wrote that if the council were interested in consolidating polls, residents from all seven districts could vote at Brunswick Junior High School as soon as this November. Alternatively, Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School would be available in November 2011, and pending an economic development conveyance and town acceptance, Neptune Hall on Brunswick Naval Air Station would be available in either June 2011 or November 2011.

The council voted 5-3, with District 5 Councilor Margo Knight absent, to switch from six polling places to one.

Town Clerk Fran Smith proposed poll consolidation in a June 15 memo to the council.

According to Smith, consolidation of polls would reduce costs by between $7,400 and $8,400 per election.

According to Smith, consolidation of polls would reduce costs by between $7,400 and $8,400 per election.

Should consolidation not occur, following reductions in municipal staff, she wrote, “at this point … the cost of elections will continue to rise, since additional help has to be hired to assist with the increasing number of absentee ballots while still fully staffing the polls.”

Still, Smith acknowledged drawbacks to consolidation, including a longer distance for some voters to travel, potential traffic and parking problems, the inability to guarantee schools would be closed each Election Day and “feeling a loss of a sense of community from neighborhood polling places.”

During Monday’s public hearing, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, Rep. Charles Priest and Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, all Brunswick Democrats, spoke against the proposal, which they said would discourage voter participation.

Noting that he’s spoken against such a proposal before three or four previous councils, Gerzofsky said he’s worked “for better than 50 years trying to get people to register to get out and vote … in the early (1960s, I worked) getting people down South to know they were allowed to vote.”

“Democracy is not cheap — it’s not made to be cheap,” Gerzofsky said, adding that Maine consistently ranks in the top five states in voter participation, and often in the top three.

“It’s supposed to be participatory. It’s not a spectator sport,” Gerzofsky said of the U.S. electoral system.

Priest cautioned against repeats of the two-hour lines voters experienced at the 2008 Democratic caucus. Following the meeting, Smith noted that the 2008 Democratic caucus was run by Democratic Party officials.

“We as a town should be encouraging our citizens to get out and vote and to make that the easiest and closest as possible,” former town councilor Louise Ansari said. “Longer lines discourage people from voting. Voters like to get in and out quickly. Having all of our voting sites in operation enables them to do that. I really don’t think you can put a price tag on voter access to our polls.”

Most councilors, however, argued that with increasing absentee voting, poll consolidation would be a wise choice.

“It’s quite clear that in the presidential election, when more than 40 percent of voters voted absentee, that that’s the direction it is going,” Town Council chairwoman Joanne King said. “I think it’s a wise decision to start thinking about making changes in the way we do things.”

“Any perception of us impeding voting, I don’t think is real,” District 5 Councilor Gerald Favreau said.

But Tucker said that while consolidating might seem “inevitable,” the clerk’s office is not yet overwhelmed.

“Voting is the central act in our democratic system, and it’s not something to be nickel-and-dimed,” Tucker said.

Perreault said that at a single polling place, Brunswick voters might see a four- to seven-hour line, and “if getting people in and out quicker costs the town $7,000, that’s a good thing.”

District 1 Councilor David Watson also opposed, arguing that some voters in his district already travel 15 minutes to cast a ballot, and would have to drive even farther to cast ballots at Brunswick Junior High School.

“I don’t think it’s the right time, and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Following the vote, Gerzofsky said he is concerned that November’s gubernatorial election will draw the heaviest voter turnout since 2008.

Cornell du Houx and Priest argued that if consolidation were to be considered, it should have waited until after redistricting occurs with the 2010 U.S. Census.

“If the town wants to make sure there’s a low voter turnout, they should just keep moving the polls around,” Gerzofsky said.

bbrogan@timesrecord.com

Veterans push for energy bill

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=118927&catid=2

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Military leaders and veterans joined local officials Saturday at the Portland Public Library to gather support for an energy bill in Congress.

The veterans say that relying on oil is not only bad for the environment, but, they say, it helps fund terrorism by sending American dollars to oil-producing countries overseas.

They support the American Power Act co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. That legislation aims to cut greenhouse gases by creating cleaner energy sources here in the United States.

The veterans say that the Pentagon has looked at areas that could be hit by severe climate change like droughts and floods.

Military leaders believe that when those things happen, people in those countries become poorer, more desperate, and ripe for recruitment by radical groups like Al-Qaeda.

Climate change push targets Collins, Snowe

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100609115341000128

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

Using paid advertising combined with media events, activists this week have been targeting Maine’s Republican senators, trying to earn their votes a key climate change vote slated for today (Thursday).

But the national political agenda will not end with the vote. On Saturday, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations will host a town hall meeting here to call for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

A flurry of advocacy ads will try to affect a vote today on what’s called the “Murkowski amendment.”

The name refers to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will bring legislation to the Senate floor for debate today to disapprove of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent endangerment finding that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant and harmful to human health and the environment. Murkowski and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, agreed to bring the joint resolution, S.J. 26, to the floor for up to six hours of debate before voting on a motion to proceed.

If the motion is successful by 51-vote majority, the Senate would then allow for an hour debate before voting on its passage, which also requires 51 votes.

Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations “dedicated to securing America with clean energy,” according to its literature, on Wednesday pushed for a no vote on the Murkowski amendment.

“We need strong climate change legislation to address the security threats associated with climate change and our dependence on oil,” said Maine state Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, an Iraq War veteran with Truman National Security Project and Operation Free, during a press event at Portland City Hall Wednesday.

Rep. Du Houx said Collins and Snowe have shown independence in their handling of national security and environmental issues.

According to her staff, Sen. Collins has not decided how she will vote on the Murkowski resolution. To date, Collins is the only Senate Republican to introduce comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, her staff reported in an email message Wednesday.

“While I support regulating greenhouse gas emissions, I have reservations about the sweeping approach EPA is pursuing,” Collins said in a statement. “For example, for the first time the EPA has classified biomass as not carbon neutral, which could have a negative impact on Maine’s forest products industry. I have not yet decided how I will vote on the Murkowski resolution, and I continue to believe the best way to proceed is for Congress to pass a framework for regulating carbon emissions as Senator Cantwell and I proposed in the CLEAR Act.”

Efforts to solicit a response from the office of Sen. Snowe for comment on her position on the Murkowski amendment were unsuccessful.

Advocacy groups aren’t taking anything for granted.

Du Houx said big dollars are coming from the Truman National Security Project, a national security leadership institute which calls itself “the nation’s only organization that recruits, trains and positions a new generation of progressives across America to lead on national security.”

“The Truman National Security Project, we’ve launched a $3 million ad buy with Republicans for Environmental Sustainability, and that’s airing in Maine and a number of other states,” Du Houx said Wednesday.

Du Houx said the $3 million ad buy will try to sway the outcome of this vote.

“It’s aimed at the senators who we think should be leaders on this issue,” he said. “Senator Collins and Senator Snowe in the past have been very strong on national security and they’ve been strong on environmental issues. We hope they will continue to do that by not supporting the Murkowski amendment.”

Separately, the group Americans United for Change announced on Tuesday the launch of a new ad in Maine, urging Collins to break with fellow Republicans to reject Murkowski’s bid to reject EPA rules on emissions.

The group is pouring $40,000 into Portland from Tuesday through Thursday with an ad mirroring a national spot airing in Washington, according to a press release. The ad urges Collins to back Democrats’ effort to reject the Murkowski resolution, and is based on indications, a group spokesman said, that Collins is inclined to back the legislation.

The ad ties the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the new EPA rules, with a video of a gushing pipeline playing behind other images and narration in the ad.

While activists decried Murkowski’s amendment as an attack on the Clean Air Act, advocates for the amendment say the EPA is acting like a rogue agency. Nicolas Loris, a research assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, said the EPA is beginning the process “of imposing costly and environmentally questionable CO2 cuts by using the Clean Air Act. … Mandating more miles-per-gallon increases the cost of buying a new car and makes them less safe.”

Adam Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, disagreed, saying the endangerment finding makes sense for auto manufacturers. He opposed the Murkowski amendment while speaking at Wednesday’s press event, invoking the memory of Maine Sen. Ed Muskie, a renowned Maine Democratic congressman and environmentalist.

“We need to protect our air and water, we need cars to get better gas mileage, we need to use less oil and gas, and we need to import less oil from abroad,” Lee said. “Doing these things may or may not cost us more money. … Some things are worth paying for. If Ed Muskie could see this, he would roll over in his grave.”

In an interview, Lee explained that he’s one of the few auto dealers speaking up for the EPA regulations and related mileage standards for automobiles.

“It’s an unusual position to take because for whatever reason there don’t seem to be many auto dealers who feel a need to speak out on this,” Lee said. “However, I’ll say the auto manufacturers agree. They do not want to see this pass either because they worked very hard to come up with a national standard last year, a new fuel economy standard. … They feel they got the compromises they needed to make themselves comfortable.”

Beyond today’s vote on the Murkowski amendment, groups are looking long-range at clean-energy legislation.

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Portland Public Library, Operation Free will host a town hall meeting with top retired military leaders and veterans, along with local elected officials, “to discuss the connection between climate change and national security, and call for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.”

Maine Environmentalists Urge Defeat of Murkowski Resolution 

06/09/2010 12:32 PM ET     

  They say the legislation favors the interests of big oil at the expense of the environment.

http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3483/ItemId/12525/Default.aspx

   

Environmentalists are urging Maine’s two U.S. Senators to reject legislation they say would block new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The so-called “Murkowski Resolution,” introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, could come up for a Senate vote as soon as tomorrow.

If the so-called “disapproval resolution” is endorsed, it would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and block a variety of other standards announced by President Obama two weeks ago, opponents say.

Opponents of the resolution in Maine, which include the groups Environment Maine and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, held a news conference in Portland today to urge Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to vote against the resolution.

“The people of Maine overwhelmingly want climate change legislation, and we don’t want to side with big oil and their lobbyists. We want to protect our national security, protect our environment and improve our economy,” said state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, a Brunswick Democrat.

Spokespeople for the two senators say they are still reviewing the resolution and have not may any decisions yet.

Town meeting set on climate change

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Town-meeting-set-on-climate-change.html

By Beth Quimby bquimby@mainetoday.com

Staff Writer

Maine native and Vietnam veteran Maj. Gen. Don Edwards and other military leaders, veterans and local officials will host a town meeting to discuss the connection between climate change and national security and call for the passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

The meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square.

Adam Cote of Portland, who ran for Congress in 2008, will also be at the meeting. He served in Bosnia and Iraq in the U. S. Army.

State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, will moderate the forum.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is being coordinated by Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations working to secure sources of clean energy.

http://www.asmainegoes.com/content/du-houx-peanut-walter-and-achmed

http://www.wgme.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wgme_vid_2844.shtml

202 577 5067

(ME) WCSH 6 (NBC):  Veterans Talk About U.S Dependence on Oil

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=116010&catid=2&GID=uk3J2rttL2kwWUE4YrrKNgS3iVcswgM6n5iB+LS6Gtc%3D

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A group of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are now touring the country hoping to spread the message that U.S. dependence on foreign oil is threat to national security.

The group, called “Operation Free,” is traveling in a biodiesel powered bus. Their goal is to visit 27 states.

On Monday, they stopped by USM and told students that some of the money that Americans pay for gasoline ends up in the hands of some of this country’s most dangerous enemies.

“Every time the price of oil goes up, Iran makes a lot of money. What they do with that money is they turn around and they finance their nuclear program. They buy sophisticated IED’s that they send to insurgents, militias and terrorists in Iraq that are used against our soldiers,” says former army captain, Mike Breen.

The veterans also say that climate change is a threat in that it causes famine and drought in nations like Somalia and Afghanistan that are already unstable.

“Climate change,” says veteran Karen Eckstein, “has been listed in the quadrennial defense review, which is the Pentagon’s strategic plan for the future. They’ve specifically listed climate change as an accelerant to instability.”

The group will travel to Augusta and Bangor this week and then head to Massachusetts.

NEWS CENTER

Iraq Veterans Speak Out Against US Senate’s Murkowski Resolution Today; Thank Maine Senators For Not Supporting It.

http://munjoyhillnews.com/2010/02/18/iraq-veterans-speak-out-against-us-senates-murkowski-resolution-today-thank-maine-senators-for-not-supporting-it/

February 18, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments

Alex Cornell Du Houx, Greg Brown, 1Sky State Organizer and Andrew Campbell at todays press conference.

Alex Cornell Du Houx, Greg Brown, 1Sky State Organizer and Andrew Campbell at todays press conference.

By Carol McCracken (Post # 399)

Two Iraq War Veterans spoke against the Murkowski Resolution which “would gut the authority of Senator Edmund Muskie’s Clean Air Act” at a press conference at city hall this afternoon. Portland resident Andrew Campbell and Alex Cornell Du Houx both served in the Iraq War which galvanized their beliefs that this country should not be dependent on foreign energy.

Du Houx first thanked Senators Snowe and Collins for not signing on to this resolution which could come before the U.S. Senate for vote on February 25th. “We send a billion dollars for oil to states who do not have our interests in mind. Some of those countries, like Saudia Arabia, use the money to fund terrorist organizations. We are funding both sides of the war,” “Du Houx said. Du Houx currently serves in the State Legislature. He served with the US Marines in Faluja where he was an “assault man.” He’s also with the Truman National Security Project.

The other Iraq veteran speaking at todays news conference was Andrew Campbell. A former Hill resident, Campbell served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 in Mosul. “The US should not be dependent on only one source of energy,” he said. During his service, he experienced a violent backlash on US soldiers when Iraqi soldiers at the front line were unable to get enough fuel to defend themselves. Campbell is now studying psychology at USM here in Portland. He plans to go on to graduate school for school counseling.

The Murkowski resolution was introduced by US Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

1Sky, allies walk fine line on clean energy

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100218041191000579

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

A press conference about wind power, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the State House, underscores some of the disagreements over what represents clean energy in Maine.

The Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power will hold a press conference to make a “major announcement” concerning Gov. John Baldacci’s policy to mandate the deployment of more than 1,500, 400-foot tall industrial wind turbines throughout the state, but don’t expect an outpouring of support for wind power.

Instead, task force members will be joined by turbine noise victims, an industrial noise expert, an attorney who works with “wind law” and other interested parties, according to the group’s press release.

The press conference, called amid “growing concerns about health and environmental impacts of wind turbines,” comes a day after a coalition of clean-energy advocates held its own press conference in Portland to defend federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and to promote clean energy.

Greg Brown, the Maine organizer for the 1Sky organization, a national effort to enact comprehensive climate change legislation, acknowledged that wind power is not an end-all, be-all of clean energy.

“I agree personally with more study, I’ve followed closely what’s gone up at Mars Hill. We weigh the pros and cons, and if we situate them in the appropriate areas they’ll be a great boon to the economy,” Brown said.

New England’s second largest Wind Farm on the summit of Mars Hill Mountain, Maine, is an $85 million project by UPC Wind Management featuring 28 wind turbines, each one 389 feet tall and with three blades. The wind farm, when operating at full capacity, generates approximately 42 megawatts of power, enough to power 45,000 average Maine homes, according to the operators of the system.

But criticism of wind power lingers. The press conference, according to the task force, “will come just days after an official with the Maine Wind Industry Initiative said support for wind energy in Maine is dropping, and that the outlook for wind in Maine may now be ‘dire.’”

Brown said wind power is a clean energy option for 1Sky but that various constituents need to reach an understanding.

“It’s an emerging technology as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

Another “clean” energy option that sparks disagreement is nuclear power. When President Barack Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees Tuesday to build the first U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades, the move was widely viewed as a political tactic to advance climate legislation in Congress, at least that was the opinion of Maine Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, who spoke at Thursday’s press conference in Portland.

“For Maine, we have the equivalent of 40 nuclear power plants worth of wind energy off the coast and we have a tremendous weatherization program under way. These are jobs that can’t be exported overseas, but we can’t invest in them beyond the resources to initially get them off the ground until we have some kind of climate change legislation,” du Houx said in an interview.

Regarding the president’s support of nuclear power, du Houx said, “It’s part of his comprehensive bill to bring as much support as possible to the legislation. He said there can be some nuclear power plants as long as there’s climate change legislation put through Congress.”

Asked how to balance the pros and cons of wind power, du Houx said, “Like any new technology, there are challenges that will be addressed and will be overcome.”

“We have the unique ability to accomplish these goals without nuclear power, which I’m very happy with,” he said.

Brown said he had no comment on nuclear power.

“What we’re really looking for with our movement is clean jobs and clean energy. Now that may in fact supersede nuclear power, but what we’re looking at is wind and tidal, solar and photovoltaic, genuinely clean energy and clean energy jobs,” he said.

Maine veterans say national security at risk with climate change

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100218021081000684

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

Climate change is a national security issue, according to two Maine military veterans who served in Iraq.

Andrew Campbell of Portland was part of a group of military veterans who toured the country promoting clean, sustainable energy as a matter of national security. During his deployment in 2004 and 2005, the six-year veteran of the Army National Guard served in Mosul, Iraq as a logistics specialist with Maine’s 133 Engineer Battalion.

“As a logistics specialist in what was essentially a construction unit, I was able to pay attention to the money we were spending to support these operations over the course of a year,” Campbell said Thursday during a Portland press conference hosted by 1Sky, a national coalition urging climate change legislation in Congress. “It took several million dollars to support the unit for one year, when it came to construction supplies, water, maintenance supplies, food, and a lot of that on oil.”

Campbell noted that the United States spends over $1 billion on oil every day.

A disapproval resolution from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who wants to limit the federal government’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, would run counter to initiatives by federal defense agencies, he said.

“I think it’s a very poor bill from a Department of Defense standpoint because it’s tantamount to saying that all these senators don’t believe climate change is an actual threat to our national security. This is coming at a time when the Department of Defense just released their quadrennial report saying that climate change is, indeed, a national security threat.

In its recent quadrennial review, Pentagon officials concluded for the first time that climate change will act as an “accelerant of instability and conflict,” ultimately placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.

As early as Feb. 25, the resolution can be introduced for a vote and needs only 51 votes to pass, 1Sky reported.

Campbell is a member of Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations who have come together because they believe climate change is a serious threat to the country’s national security.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, agreed with Campbell that personal experience in Iraq offered perspective on the need for a clean-energy economy in the United States.

“This is something that I saw first-hand when I was deployed in 2006 with the Marine Corps in and around Fallujah. We came across a line of cars, trucks and tractors that really went out as far as the eye could see in 130-degree heat, and we finally made it to the front and realized that they were waiting for gasoline and diesel and to the point where we had to break them up for curfew and they were rioting against us,” du Houx recalled.

“It really struck be how this country was so dependent and crippled because of a single source of energy, and likewise America is dependent on a single source of energy,” he said.

He also agreed that defense agencies are ahead of Congress on tackling climate change.

“Our national security organizations are leading on this issue, and we want to see Congress lead as well. The unfortunate reality of the Murkowski amendment is that it sends a message to the world and the United States that climate change is not a threat that needs to be addressed,” du Houx said.

du Houx and mroe than 100 Maine legislators signed a letter joining more than 1,000 state legislators from across the country calling on the U.S. Senate for action on clean energy jobs legislation.

1Sky, which claims 500 allied organizations, 174,000 climate advocates and 2,200 volunteer “Climate Precinct Captains” covering more than 380 congressional districts in 50 states, reported that Maine’s U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have not signed on to the Murkowski resolution.

School Board rethinks leadership

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/03/09/news/doc4b967df1705e3188364091.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 2:13 PM EST

BRUNSWICK — A month after an e-mail from School Board chairman Byron Watson to House Speaker Hannah Pingree was deemed “inappropriate” by local legislators and others, At-large School Board representative Michelle Small on Wednesday will ask board members to reconsider Watson’s election as chairman.

According to the agenda for Wednesday’s regular meeting, the board will “consider a motion to reconsider the election of the chair for 2010.”

On Monday, Small confirmed that she requested the agenda item, but declined to comment further on the issue.

The request follows a Feb. 5 e-mail from Watson to Pingree requesting assistance with what he said were “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts to state aid to the Brunswick School Department for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In the e-mail, Watson wrote that Pingree was “gorgeous,” adding, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

Local legislators subsequently took issue with Watson’s choice of words, which Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, called “unfortunate” and “inappropriate.”

At a subsequent School Board budget workshop attended by Brunswick’s legislative delegation, Watson apologized for the e-mail. “There was absolutely a miscalculation in a complimentary icebreaker to a very intelligent lady,” he said, in part. “And even though my counterpart in this has not shown any ill will, the people need to know that no malice was intended in the substandard selection of words. It will not happen again.”

Details The agenda item request follows a Feb. 5 e-mail from Byron Watson to Hannah Pingree requesting assistance with what he said were “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts to state aid to the Brunswick School Department for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In the e-mail, Watson wrote that Pingree was “gorgeous,” adding, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

Watson’s colleagues on the School Board have little to say publicly on the matter.

Phone calls and e-mails sent Monday to board members Marybeth Latti of District 2, Matt Corey of District 3, Janet Connors of District 6 and Michele Joyce of District 7 were not returned by press time today.

District 5 representative Jim Grant declined to comment on the agenda item. District 4 representative Corinne Perreault said she had spoken to several board members about the item. “I think we’re all trying to come up with what we feel is best,” she said.

At-large representative Jack Jones said Monday that he received “a lot of e-mails, mostly negative, and some positive” about the issue, but he also declined to comment further.

Watson, however, wrote in an e-mail to The Times Record on Saturday that he will not resign as chairman. “You don’t get anywhere by continuously giving the school yard bully your lunch money. I will not compromise my principles or the future integrity of the board by caving into a political smear game. There is a lot of work to be done for the people of Brunswick and that is my focus.”

He wrote that the board must “bring closure to this ridiculous matter,” adding, “I feel confident that a strong majority of the board would rather focus on saving jobs than political games.”

All of the legislators who criticized Watson are Democrats. In the past, Watson worked for Republican legislative candidates.

“From the moment these politically motivated attacks started, all the way to this coming Wednesday’s meeting, we will have had two regular board meetings, three budget workshops, and one special workshop with the entire legislative delegation,” Watson wrote. “While cruel and unusual punches are being thrown my way, I have continued to work relentlessly for the children of Brunswick. I was born in Brunswick, raised in Brunswick, educated in Brunswick, and I strive to serve to people of Brunswick.”

Prior to the School Board’s regular meeting, the board will hold a workshop at 6 p.m. to hear from Superintendent Paul Perzanoski about his suggestions — likely to include staff reductions — to address a 2011 budget gap now anticipated to be between $3.5 million and $3.6 million.

Proposals seek dental care for youngest

Some insurance companies balk, but advocates say it will save money

http://www.kjonline.com/news/proposals-seek-dental-care-for-youngest_2010-02-24.html

BY ETHAN WILENSKY-LANFORD, Staff Writer

Last November, Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta and president of the Maine Dental Association, saw a 4-year-old patient for the first time in that child’s life. The child’s teeth had significant damage and needed five or six fillings, he said.

He asked the child’s mother why she had waited so long to see him.

“She felt embarrassed,” he said, “but she said the only reason that she didn’t come sooner was because her insurance didn’t allow it.”

Maine law currently allows dental insurance companies to decide when to offer insurance to children. On Wednesday, the Insurance and Financial Services Committee heard arguments in favor of requiring companies that offer dental coverage in Maine to offer it to children from birth.

No one testified against the bill, though several insurer representatives expressed concerns about how it might affect their bottom lines.

“I think it is extremely important for the health of our children,” said Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, who co-sponsored the bill. “It clarifies the message. By allowing enrollment at birth, it educates parents that it is important for the health of the child, rather than sending the message that you should wait until age 4.”

Shenkin said early visits to the dentist are important to teach parents how to care for their children’s teeth and to provide counseling about nutrition. The American Dental Association recommends children should visit a dentist within six months of their first tooth, and not later than their first birthday.

“When children are seen early, by age 1, we can reduce costs by 50 percent by age 4 or 5 years of age,” Shenkin said.

The leading dental insurer in Maine, Northeast Delta Dental, supports the bill.

“The earlier kids get dental attention, the better off we all are,” said the company’s lobbyist, Chris O’Neil.

But representatives from several other insurance companies were concerned that allowing several windows for families to enroll children into their dental plans — such as one O’Neil proposed, 30 days either side of a child’s second birthday — could cost them money, because more people would opt in when their children needed expensive care.

Dental disease is one of the leading reasons for people to go to emergency rooms in the state, and in 2006 was the leading reason for young adults.

According to a report released last month on emergency room visits, the Department of Health and Human Services helped finance 12,000 Mainers who are uninsured or covered by MaineCare in visits to emergency rooms each year at a public cost of $6 million.

Two other bills that supporters say will drastically improve rural and childhood dental care in the state have advanced to the House so far this year, with one of those already becoming law.

L.D. 1520, which was signed by Gov. John Baldacci earlier this month, will make it easier for young dentists to come to the state as dentistry residents.

“We hope that some of them will stay,” said Rep. Richard Blanchard, D-Old Town, who sponsored the bill.

Another bill currently being considered in the House would lift restrictions on MaineCare payments to dental hygienists acting independently, potentially expanding the network of dental care in rural Maine.

Dental hygienists have only been allowed to work independently of dentists for a few years, and by law can only perform preventative care.

This bil, L.D. 233, is estimated to cost Maine taxpayers up to $234,000 annually by 2012. It is now awaiting action in the Senate.

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford – 620-7016

ewlanford@mainetoday.com

Brunswick schools Aid cut sparks spat

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/02/19/news/doc4b7ec49569798330725599.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Friday, February 19, 2010 2:07 PM EST

BRUNSWICK — Brunswick school officials and local legislators this week continued their efforts to address significant cuts to state aid to education that will likely contribute to a $4 million chasm in the budget for 2010-11.

However, those efforts followed different paths, and recently led to conflict and harsh words among leaders who ultimately hope to achieve the same goal.

On Feb. 10, Superintendent Paul Perzanoski wrote to Maine Education Commissioner Susan Gendron — with courtesy copies sent to the entire Brunswick legislative delegation and Gov. John Baldacci — asking for a review of anticipated education aid cuts that are now expected to reach nearly $3 million, or 9.9 percent of the district budget.

In his letter, Perzanoski referred to a 2008 meeting between education officials and Leighton Cooney, Baldacci’s liaison for Brunswick Naval Air Station redevelopment, at which “a great deal of discussion centered on possible ways to soften the economic ‘perfect storm’ that was on the horizon. Brunswick was noted as the town that would have to endure the greatest amount of burden.”

The “perfect storm” metaphor refers to the combined negative economic impacts of the Navy base’s scheduled closure in 2011, the loss of local jobs affiliated with the base, the loss of federal aid to Brunswick schools for educating Navy children and effects Navy families’ departure would have on the way state government calculates annual subsidies to local school districts.

The day after Perzanoski sent his letter, Brunswick School Board chairman Byron Watson — at a public meeting — expressed his outrage at the “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts in state aid to education Brunswick would experience this year and next. Watson encouraged local residents concerned about the cuts to contact the local legislative delegation “and find out just exactly what they’re doing for you and your children.”

In a Feb. 5 e-mail to House Speaker Hannah Pingree, Watson also pleaded for assistance, asking Pingree “to lobby in favor of seriously reconsidering the drastically disproportionate hit that is being laid upon the Brunswick School System.” He asked how it was possible that Brunswick schools are “taking the second-largest hit in the entire state at the same time that they are losing the Naval base?”

In 2005, following the Base Realignment and Closure vote to close BNAS in 2011, Gov. John Baldacci and Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, then a state representative and now a state senator, attended an editorial board meeting at The Times Record. In response to a question about whether the Department of Education would adapt its annual subsidy formula — in which student population factors heavily — to compensate for an anticipated sharp decrease in the number of Navy children attending Brunswick schools, Baldacci said the BNAS closure would present unique circumstances for Brunswick that would need to be addressed.

On Wednesday, Watson said, “We’re wondering if the ‘special circumstances’ meant we’re going to get our butts handed to us. … We’re getting hammered and we wonder why. There’s got to be something going on because this is ridiculous.”

Watson called the delegation “ineffective leaders,” adding, “We’ve heard nothing from them.”

Liaison committees

All four Brunswick legislators said Thursday that they had not been contacted by any member of the Brunswick School Board. However, Gerzofsky said he spoke to Watson the night he was sworn in as board chairman and advised Watson to “set up a small group of people” to address the curtailment.

Gerzofsky said that he also urged Watson to have School Board members testify before the Legislature’s Education and Appropriations committees about the impact of aid cuts on Brunswick schools.

“I wanted to set up some sort of way of working together to come up with solutions and suggestions,” he said.

According to an agenda released Thursday, the School Board’s policy subcommittee is scheduled to consider appointment of members to a newly authorized Legislative Liaison Committee during its meeting on Feb. 25.

In the meantime, Gerzofsky — who represents Brunswick, Freeport, Pownal and Harpswell — said that members of the Regional School Unit 5 board of directors did call him. As a result, in January, he and Sen. Justin Alfond, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee, met with RSU 5 board members in Freeport. RSU 5 includes Freeport, Pownal and Durham.

“Justin heard things in Freeport that he wasn’t aware of,” Gerzofsky said. “They had really great questions he was able to answer, and a couple of issues he wrote down and brought to his committee the next day.”

Gerzofsky said he would be happy to arrange a similar meeting in Brunswick, but he noted, “So far, it’s 12 o’clock noon on the 18th and nobody has gotten in touch with me. No (Brunswick) School Board members have called me to set up any appointments. And it’s the middle of February.”

Similarly, Rep. Peter Kent, whose district includes part of Brunswick as well as parts of Bath, West Bath, Woolwich and Topsham, said Thursday that he was contacted by members of the RSU 1 school board, and has been meeting with a “coalition” of municipalities, stakeholders and four state legislators for the last month and a half to address budget concerns.

He said he was “curious” why Brunswick School Board members weren’t calling their legislators. “I think to a degree they need to look at themselves,” Kent said. “Why don’t they look at their legislators as players and communicate with them? I have people calling me constantly. … I just have not gotten any communication from (the Brunswick School Board).”

Kent said the RSU 1 coalition has discussed working as a group “to brainstorm ways to reshape the educational system and to approach effecting change in the Legislature.”

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx and Rep. Charlie Priest, who each represent parts of Brunswick, said Thursday that they hadn’t heard from any School Board members either, although Cornell du Houx did meet with Perzanoski in November to discuss anticipated cuts to the Brunswick schools.

Cornell du Houx also took issue with what he called “unfortunate” and “inappropriate” language in Watson’s e-mail to Pingree. Watson wrote that she was “gorgeous,” but noted, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

In other media reports, Gerzofsky and Priest also criticized the tone of Watson’s e-mail.

Of the e-mail, Watson said Wednesday that he and Pingree have “a cordial relationship” and that “she hasn’t expressed any concerns to me at all.”

Pingree’s Feb. 11 response to Watson’s e-mail outlined the “drastic decline in revenues” faced by the state and Baldacci’s proposed budget that reduced school funding in fiscal year 2011 by $35 million. She noted a statewide referendum in June that will include an $8 million bond for the redevelopment of BNAS, and a proposal under consideration by the Legislature to “assist the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and to bring a community college presence onto the base.”

Pingree urged Watson to work with Brunswick legislators to come up with solutions to the budget shortfall.

Gerzofsky noted that state aid to Brunswick education has increased overall in recent years. He added that he “played a big hand in the amendment” to a statewide school consolidation law that allowed Brunswick not to consolidate.

“Charlie and I and Alex are up here (advocating for Brunswick) on a daily basis,” he said. “We’ve certainly testified and worked in our caucuses as hard as we can trying to alleviate some of our issues.”

Gerzofsky also pointed out that the Legislature has yet to approve any of the cuts proposed in Baldacci’s budget, including to aid to education.

‘Leave our egos

at the door’

Amid the accusations and criticism, however, Perzanoski said Priest contacted him last week to try to arrange a meeting of legislators and School Board members. Priest said Thursday that that meeting is now tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25. This morning, Gerzofsky said that he and Alfond, Senate chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee, will also attend Thursday’s meeting with the Brunswick School Board.

Priest said it’s crucial that legislators and school officials work together to address the financial crisis facing Brunswick schools.

“I think the real question we need to answer is, presumably (the cuts) are the result of the application of the school funding formula, but we need to make sure Brunswick is not being hit disproportionately,” he said. “If that’s true, is there another area to look at that might enable us to increase the amount of money the state would give to the schools?”

Priest said he hopes members of the Brunswick School Board will visit the State House to speak to Education and Appropriations committee members.

“It’s important for us to be able to show that the town is united behind the delegation to try to help address the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Perzanoski is scheduled to meet this morning with Jim Rier, the Maine Department of Education’s director of finance and operations, to discuss how (state aid) is calculated for reimbursement to the town “and ideas for me to go from here,” he said.

Ultimately, the superintendent said, the only way for school officials and legislators to make progress is “to leave our egos at the door.”

Veterans Launch New Push for Federal Climate Legislation

http://apolloalliance.org/blog/?m=201002

Monday, February 8th, 2010

In a Nov. 2009 article the Apollo Alliance published about veterans green jobs training programs, we interviewed an Iraq war veteran, Alex Cornell du Houx, who is part of an effort by national security and veterans organizations to draw attention to the national security threat that’s created by climate change.

In that article, Cornell du Houx said, “When I was deployed in Fallujah with the marines, we came across a line of cars, trucks and tractors that were bumper-to-bumper as far as the eye could see. They were waiting there all night and risking their lives for gasoline and diesel. It really struck me how vulnerable and dependent they were on this single source of energy. Likewise, it made me think about how dependent we are and how it puts our security at risk.”

The group that Cornell du Houx is part of, Operation Free, ramped up its activities this month in an effort to get the U.S. to adopt comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. They launched a 16-state “National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy Security” and a national television advertisement.

Veterans have a powerful perspective when it comes to climate change and clean energy. Their message about climate change imperiling national security has the potential to appeal to a group of people for whom environmental issues are not a major concern but security issues are.

“The reason why national security organizations are taking this as a serious threat, is that not only are we [the United States] dependent on oil, but the conflicts that arise from famines, floods and droughts [caused by climate change] multiply the threat of current conflicts and create instability,” Cornell du Houx told the Apollo Alliance back in November.

Las Vegas Sun

Veterans group outlines importance of clean energy

http://m.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/feb/07/veterans-group-outlines-importance-clean-energy/

Tiffany Gibson

The National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security stopped in Las Vegas Saturday to discuss clean energy options and how alternative projects will help decrease America’s dependence on foreign resources. (Left) Military veterans Robin Eckstein, Chuck Tyler, Patrick Bellon, Sen. Harry Reid and Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx of the U.S. Marine Corps served as panelists during the forum.

By Tiffany Gibson

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 (5:18 p.m.)

As Americans’ dependency on oil and foreign resources increases, military veterans and clean energy activists are traveling the country to educate citizens about what they say will be the repercussions of outsourcing energy.

The Operation Free coalition’s National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security kicked off the two-month tour Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C., and will travel to 16 states.

The tour made its first stop in Nevada this past weekend at the National Guard Las Vegas Readiness Center, 4500 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd. The forum on Saturday consisted of four military veterans and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Army veteran Robin Eckstein said the tour is important because she says U.S. money spent on foreign resources is helping to fund terrorist organizations. She was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and was stationed at the Baghdad airport.

“We’re funding both sides of the war,” she said. “People need to let their friends and family know about climate change and the national security connection.”

Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx, of the U.S. Marine Corps, said he became involved with the cause in 2006.

According to Operation Free, the United States sends $500,000 each minute to foreign regimes for oil and uses 25 percent of the world’s supply — more than all of the countries of the European Union combined.

Cornell du Houx said Nevada is taking a lead with alternative and solar energy projects. He said more states should use multiple forms of energy to prevent the country from relying only on oil.

“Each state has a unique ability to take on clean energy,” he said.

Resident Dick Collins, 63, of Las Vegas, said even though alternative energy projects should be explored, the United States is still outsourcing equipment. In Texas, for example, generators for wind energy are coming from China, Collins said.

Reid responded, saying American-made products are important and the government should focus on more manufacturers at home before buying overseas.

Climate change was another topic discussed at the forum. Reid said global warming shouldn’t be ignored because its effects already have been felt.

For more information on the National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security, visit http://www.operationfree.net. The group’s next forum will be Tuesday in Reno.

   

Baldacci off to D.C. to discuss energy

http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/136056.html

Governor among 11 meeting with Obama

By Kevin Miller

BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. John Baldacci will be among 11 governors meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House today to discuss a broad range of energy issues.

Baldacci spokesman David Farmer said most of the administration’s top officials dealing with energy issues — including at least three Cabinet secretaries and key advisers — are expected to join the president, vice president and governors.

“It’s a great opportunity for the governor to go to Washington, meet with the president and top administration officials and describe all of the good work going on in Maine, and to seek federal support,” Farmer said. “We think it’s a good opportunity to make the case for Maine.”

Among the topics that Baldacci hopes to discuss are federal support for research into deepwater wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine, ways to coordinate state and federal approaches to ocean energy, Maine’s efforts to weatherize homes and businesses as well as potential climate change legislation.

The other governors invited to the meeting are from Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, Montana, Tennessee, Washington, Alabama, South Dakota and Ohio.

Maine has already received millions in federal grants for research into offshore wind technology. The state also recently announced that roughly $18 million in federal stimulus money will go toward weatherization and energy efficiency in Maine homes and businesses.

The White House originally invited the group of governors to Washington to talk energy in January, but that meeting had to be rescheduled because of the death of Vice President Biden’s mother.

Baldacci is not the only person bending the ear of top Obama administration officials on energy issues, however.

Last week, Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the White House as part of a small delegation of state lawmakers from around the country working on energy issues.

Cornell du Houx also met with Carol Browner, Obama’s assistant on energy and climate, and her staff. Both Vilsack and Browner, as well as Energy Secretary Steven Chu, are expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting with the governor.

“The reason for the two meetings is to let the administration know about the hard work Maine has been doing to weatherize every home and to reduce carbon pollution,” he said. On Tuesday, Cornell du Houx was in Washington again as part of another group working on energy security and climate change issues.

All aboard: Fed funds allocated for Amtrak

January 29, 2010

http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2010-01-29&section=1&id=1

By Will Jacob

ORIENT STAFF

GRAVY TRAIN: U.S. Congreswoman Chellie Pingree spoke of the business a train route between Boston and Freeport would attract at yesterday’s conference.<br />Tiffany Gerdes, The Bowdoin Orient

TIFFANY GERDES, THE BOWDOIN ORIENT

Picture 1 of 2

GRAVY TRAIN: U.S. Congreswoman Chellie Pingree spoke of the business a train route between Boston and Freeport would attract at yesterday’s conference.

<B>GRAVY TRAIN:</B> U.S. Congreswoman Chellie Pingree spoke of the business a train route between Boston and Freeport would attract at yesterday’s conference.<br />Tiffany Gerdes, The Bowdoin Orient

“If you build it, they will come,” said U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree yesterday at a Maine Street Station conference, officially announcing Amtrak’s anticipated passenger train service that will connect Portland to Brunswick by 2012.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) received a $35 million allocation from the Federal Railroad Administration as part of the $8 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money will fund the necessary upgrades to 30 miles of rail lines, owned by Pan Am Railways. The Amtrak Downeaster passenger line, currently running from Boston to Portland, will then extend its service up through Freeport and into Brunswick.

“It’s great news, it’s the best news Brunswick has had in a long time,” said Senior Vice President for Planning & Development and Secretary of the College Bill Torrey, who explained that there will be benefits to both Brunswick and the College.

“Everybody’s happy, and they should be,” he said.

In her announcement at Maine Street Station, Pingree said that work on the rails will begin “right away,” and Amtrak service is expected to arrive by the end of 2012. The proposed schedule would see at least two round trips to Boston each day, with one additional round trip to Portland.

Initial rail improvement work will create over 200 jobs, and new businesses surrounding the Freeport and Brunswick stations could create more. The news is particularly important given that the Brunswick naval air base officially closes its runways today.

“This is a very exciting day for us in Maine. It’s an economic boost,” Pingree said. “These days there’s nothing more important than creating and preserving jobs.”

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins praised the planned Amtrak extension for its “tremendous benefits to Maine, including reducing road congestion, cleaner air, commuting options, and easier access to the state for tourists and economic development opportunities,” according to a joint statement released yesterday.

According to a press release issued by Pingree’s office, Chairman of Trainriders Northeast Wayne Davis said, “Nearly five million people go from the Boston area to Freeport to go shopping. That’s a big market that the Downeaster can tap into.”

Executive Director of the NNEPRA Patricia Quinn stressed how competitive the application process was, as $50 billion worth of projects competed for $8 billion in federal stimulus funding.

“It was extremely gratifying last night to get that call that with this announcement being made around the country, that Maine and the Downeaster service was selected to lead the country in this…renaissance for rail transportation service,” she said.

Quinn said that some orders and requests for bids and rail have already gone out for construction, and that all involved are eager to tackle the project. She speculated that the completion of this project may lead to later connection to the western part of the state from Yarmouth junction.

President Barry Mills said there are many reasons the train is exciting for Bowdoin. He explained how convenient the train will be for students who can take the train home or to Logan airport in Boston. Students, faculty, and staff can also make easy trips in and out of Boston.

“But the second important point for the College is for us to be able to say to the world that there’s train service to Bowdoin College. It makes us a whole lot more accessible in people’s minds, and that will attract students who might think that we are at a place that’s just harder to get to,” he said.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn said that, in his experience, prospective students consider Maine as more “remote and inaccessible” than other areas of New Hampshire, the Berkshires or Vermont. He said that mentioning the possibility of Amtrak coming to Brunswick from Boston during information sessions, however, appeases those concerns.

“I think it could be a great thing for us, and we’ve been talking about it for a while, as a possibility. You could tell it’s something during information sessions that makes eyebrows go up, so I think it’s a winner for us,” he said.

While Bowdoin was not directly involved in the application for funds, Torrey said the College was very interested in supporting the infrastructure of Brunswick, acknowledging the service the train will provide to students, visitors and community members.

With the naval air station closing and the economic downturn, Torrey said that the Maine Street Station project “was a tremendous risk for the town,” and a difficult investment for the College. He said it was a real “joint effort” between the state, the congressional delegation, the town and Bowdoin.

“The College was supportive, we did our share, and I think everybody can feel good. It helps validate all the money that’s been spent,” said Torrey.

Senior VP for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley said the project has been discussed for 30 years, so it is exciting to “see it come together so quickly after Maine Street Station was built.”

“The expansion of Amtrak train service to Brunswick will greatly enhance available transportation options and will make Brunswick a multi-modal community,” said Longley.

“While some alternative transportation options currently exist such as Zipcar…the College and Town have been working together for a number of years to promote additional public transportation initiatives,” she said.

Longley said the Brunswick Explorer, a public bus route scheduled to begin in the fall of 2010, will offer reliable transportation five days a week between Bowdoin, downtown Brunswick and Cook’s Corner. Adding the train service will help students, faculty and staff “reach destinations ranging from Boston to Rockland,” she said.

The last train to connect Portland to Brunswick, operated by Maine Central Railroad, went on its final run in April of 1959.

State Representative and Bowdoin alumnus Alex Cornell du Houx ’06 was excited about the prospect of the Amtrak arriving in Brunswick.

“I think the train service to Brunswick would be a tremendous boost economically, and it opens up many opportunities,” he said. “I certainly wish we’d had a train station and service when I was at Bowdoin.

Quinn left those at the conference with an optimistic message and an invitation.

“Hopefully the next time I’m here…we’re going to be standing here waiting for that train to come and arrive right at this platform,” she said.

Urgent to act now in Copenhagen, say Midwest leaders

Written By: Michael Noble – Fresh Energy/WSF Board Member

http://www.willstegerfoundation.org/index.php/programs/expeditions/expedition-copenhagen/expedition-blog/item/689-urgent-to-act-now-in-copenhagen-say-midwest-leaders

Midwest state and local government elected officials are among the thousands who have converged on Copenhagen, Denmark to urge the leaders of 192 nations to come together to tackle climate change. Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin is the highest ranking midwestern elected official with a public role here, giving a key address. “Why would someone fight to maintain an energy system that basically imports all of our fuels (from outside of Wisconsin)?” Doyle asked. He intends to meet with the largest American manufacturer of wind turbines, General Electric and the largest Danish maker of wind turbines while in Copenhagen.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie is a local government delegate representing not only Des Moines but also local governments around the world as a member of the executive committee of the U.S. Board of Directors of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). “While the rest of the economy is struggling, clean energy jobs are a real bright spot,” according to Minnesota representative Jeremy Kalin (North Branch), national chair of CLEAN, the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now working with the White House and the United States Senate.” Action in Copenhagen and in Congress is critical to scale up the job opportunities.”

“Our dependence on oil is a serious threat to America’s national security, which is why both young people and veterans have called on making America more secure by taking control of our energy future,” said Representative Alex Cornell du Houx (Brunswick, ME), an Iraq war veteran in Copenhagen with the Truman National Security Project. “The world is looking to the United States to lead again on climate solutions,” said Representative Kate Knuth (New Brighton, MN). “We don’t want to replace our dependence on Middle East oil with a new dependence on solar panels from China. It’s all about jobs. We need wind turbines, we need electric cars that are made in America, supporting American families.”

Knuth is also attending the conference as a policy mentor to the youth delegation of 12 emerging leaders from the Midwest, the Expedition Copenhagen project of the Will Steger Foundation. According to Will Steger Foundation executive director Nicole Rom, “Our delegates are the leaders of the future in business, environment and public service. I have no doubt we have a mayor, or Congressional member or governor among them.”

Jamie Racine, a Steger delegate from Racine, Wisconsin, asked a panel of state and local government leaders a tough question about Midwest dependence on tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, a question neither the Governor nor other panelists directly addressed. Doyle is, however, pressing for a binding treaty that would require nations to reduce global warming pollutants. “You cannot get to major carbon reductions without a cap and trade system that brings them down over many years,” said Doyle.

Cownie, Kalin, and Knuth joined nearly 100 other young elected officials from across America in signing a statement calling for urgent action from President Obama and the U.S. negotiators. They must work for a bold and binding agreement that is just and consistent with the science, the statement urges.

    “We, young elected officials of the United States, believe freedom, independence, and self sufficiency are at the heart of America, and should be at the heart of our strategy for energy independence in the 21st Century. As elected representatives with a personal stake in our future, we believe it’s time for a bold, new vision for America’s future. We call on Congress to start investing in new, safe energy technologies like wind and solar power that will rebuild our manufacturing base, create jobs, and grow our economy. We need to put millions of Americans back to work refitting our homes and buildings for energy efficiency with jobs that can’t be shipped overseas. The United States can lead once again by forging a bold, binding, and just agreement in Copenhagen that will secure a safe and abundant world for future generations of Americans.”

GOING GREEN

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=309756&ac=PHnws

20100117

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, got more than 100 legislators to sign a letter calling on Maine’s U.S. senators to take action to promote clean energy jobs, according to the House Majority Office.

It’s part of a national effort by the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now, or CLEAN, which is working with the White House to support pending federal climate change legislation.

“Sens. Snowe and Collins can be comfortable knowing that the people of Maine will stand solidly behind them if they vote in favor of this common-sense legislation,” Cornell du Houx said in a statement.

Rep. Cornell du Houx, other legislators, urge Sens. Snowe and Collins to support green jobs bill

http://www.dirigoblue.com/diary/935

by: Gerald Weinand

Wed Jan 13, 2010 at 17:02:22 PM EST

State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx (D-Brunswick) has asked his fellow legislators to join a national effort calling for passage of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733). The effort is being led by the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now (CLEAN), which is working with the White House that will being about action on climate change while creating “green jobs.” Over 100 Maine legislators have signed on to Cornell du Houx’s letter.

Cornell du Houx is also a member of Operation FREE, a group of veterans from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan that want to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and gas.

On his website, Sen. Kerry, the bill’s lead sponsor, describes it as:

    This bill takes a more comprehensive approach to the fundamental problems created by climate change and dwindling oil reserves than previous legislative measures. By the time it reaches the floor, the bill will reflect the concerns and advice of six Senate committees and dozens of our colleagues. The result will be a thoughtful, innovative and far-reaching solution to one of our most vital challenges.

    Our efforts center around four urgent national priorities: putting America back in control of our energy future, reasserting American economic leadership and competitiveness, protecting our families from pollution, and ensuring our national security.

An in-depth summary can be found here.

About the effort to convince Snowe and Collins of the importance of S. 1833, Cornell du Houx said, “I am incredibly impressed, although not surprised, that Maine legislators have already signed on in large numbers. Maine has more signatories than any other state. Sens. Snowe and Collins can be comfortable knowing that the people of Maine will stand solidly behind them if they vote in favor of this common sense legislation.”

“This legislation is vital for both our economic and national security. We send over $1 billion a day in oil costs to foreign states that do not have our interests in mind,” he said. “This is hard-earned American money that should be invested in our own communities.”

All of this makes sense to those of us that share these priorities, and judging on the keynote speech delivered by Sen. Collins yesterday at the renewable energy seminar in Orono, she does too.

Combat vet takes cause to Denmark

BY SUSAN M. COVER

Staff Writer Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 12/12/2009

http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/7215021.html

AUGUSTA — Two events in Fallujah convinced Marine Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx there’s a link between national security and climate change.

A farmer who couldn’t make money off his land turned to terrorism instead and tried to blow up Cornell du Houx’s vehicle.

“He had been given money to set an (explosive) in the road,” he said. “Unfortunately, extremists use vulnerable situations to recruit.”

In another instance, he saw long lines of people waiting for gas and diesel.

“It struck me how crippled the country was because of its dependence on a single source of energy,” he said.

Cornell du Houx, who serves in the Maine House as a Democrat from Brunswick, is taking the message that climate change leads to instability to Copenhagen next week as part of a group of veterans called Operation Free.

They leave Sunday for Denmark to be part of the international conference on climate change.

More than a dozen Mainers are planning to take part in the conference in various capacities.

While there, Cornell du Houx also will participate in a panel in which he will talk about what Maine has done to address global warming, through weatherization and reductions of carbon emissions.

A first-term legislator, Cornell du Houx serves on the Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee. He is a reservist in the Marine Corps.

The Truman National Security Project, based in Washington, D.C., is paying for the trip.

Cornell du Houx said that while most people might not immediately make the connection between climate change and national security, once they understand, they want to take action.

Operation Free believes that countries suffering from droughts and floods become unstable and make good breeding grounds for terrorists, according to the Web site.

Also, countries such as the United States and other places that are so reliant on foreign oil or natural gas are vulnerable.

“Instinctively, people do get they don’t want to be dependent on a foreign state for something they need,” he said.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

scover@centralmaine.com

HOMELESS VETERANS

http://www.wabi.tv/news/8446/homeless-veterans

  by Adrienne Bennett  · Nov 09th 2009  · See more Local News

Wednesday is Veteran’s day – a day to celebrate and honor those who have served. However, thousands of veterans are homeless in our country. It’s a problem that some have set their sights on ending.

In five years, state representative Alexander Cornell du Houx would like to see the issue of homelessness among veterans a thing of the past.

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx: “Veteran homelessness is a very serious issue in Maine. About 11-percent of our homeless population are veterans.

Recently, the Obama Administration vowed to end the problem in every state by 2014.

Adrienne Bennett: “Do you think that’s an attainable goal?”

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx: “It is an attainable goal.”

du Houx, a marine corps veteran and house democrat, heads up a state committee aimed at helping veterans get back on their feet.

Rep. Cornell du Houx: “One of the aspects our task force is looking at is Maine does not have a solid program to deal with substance abuse and mental health issues among veterans. That’s something we need to be investing our resources into.”

Steve Berg is with the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Steve Berg: “The problems we’ve had for 20 years have not been solved.”

Berg says the data doesn’t show a huge number of younger veterans being homeless, but…

Steve Berg: “What we learned with Vietnam era veterans was that the effects of things like PTSD would show up years later – people would be out of service for a long time and all of a sudden wouldn’t be able to cope effectively and end up homeless. I think we have a lot of work to do if we’re not going to repeat the same problems we had with that generation of veterans.”

Rep. du Houx: “If we don’t act now to implement a solid plan to deal with it – it will become a bigger issue as we have more veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Adrienne Bennett, WABI TV5 News.

  Larry Bivins with Gannett interviewed WI veteran Robin Eckstein who is on the Northern Bus Route.

http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/article/20091016/WDH0101/910160656/1581/WDH01

October 16, 2009

Iraq war veteran from Wis. hits road for clean energy

By Larry Bivins

Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — As a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division’s main support battalion in 2003, Robin Eckstein hauled fuel and water for the military in Iraq.

Through that experience, she said, she began to think about how dangerously dependent America was on foreign oil and the need for an alternative energy source.

“I ran missions every day, if not twice a day,” Eckstein said. “It was just apparent that having only one source of energy to refuel our trucks was a problem because it meant more runs, and that meant more risks.”

For Eckstein, a policy addressing clean energy and climate change becameRep. Alex Cornell du Houx is serving his first term in Maine’s House of Representatives. He grew up in the small town of Solon and attended Bowdoin College as a Mitchell Scholar.  Cornell du Houx joined the Marine Reserves in 2002 and was deployed to Iraq with the Marines’ Alpha Company in 2006 – spending a year patrolling the streets in and around Fallujah. After his return, Cornell du Houx continued his work serving the Maine communities through political and community service.

Rep. Cornell du Houx led a service trip to Guatemala with the program Safe Passage to help kids move from working in the city dump to gain an education. He also worked in Peru to help build a playground for children in Lima. At home, Cornell du Houx volunteered and serves on the board of Maine’s Habitat for Humanity and volunteered in local schools for the past six years. He coaches lacrosse at Brunswick’s Junior High School and conducted a year of service with AmeriCorps.

Rep. Cornell du Houx also worked for the Office of Health Policy and Finance and is working to promote green energy and jobs in his districts and across the sate. Cornell du Houx is also working to improve veterans’ issues both in Maine and nationwide, including access to higher education and healthcare. He currently works with the Truman National Security Projects on National Security and energy issues. a national security issue, just as it has for scores of other current and former military personnel. But that’s not the only reason the 32-year-old Appleton native is on the road in support of energy policy legislation Congress is considering.

Eckstein also is jobless and says she believes the bill the House has passed and a Senate bill would create jobs.

“We have the manufacturing base in Wisconsin,” she said, “where I think we could really use these clean-energy jobs.”

Last weekend, Eckstein was in Washington to help make a commercial for Operation FREE, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations, on climate change and national security.

Since Monday, she has been on a bus tour as part of an Operation FREE campaign to call attention to climate change as a national security issue. The effort involves two buses, one on a northern swing, the other traveling south.

Eckstein is on the northern route, which began in Missoula, Mont., and rolls into Wisconsin today, with stops in La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee.

“What we want to do is to raise awareness and ensure that Congress leads on this issue,” said Alex Cornell de Houx, an Iraq war veteran and Maine state legislator, who is coordinating the northern leg of the tour.

Cornell de Houx pointed out that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., talked at length about the national security angle when he and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., recently introduced their energy-climate change legislation.

Supporters of the Senate and House proposals call for a cap on the release of carbon dioxide, which scientists say is causing global warming that could have dramatic consequences. The proposals also would require that a percentage of the nation’s electrical power come from renewable energy sources.

“It really struck me how this country was so crippled by its dependence on this one source of energy,” Cornell de Houx said. “We send $1 billion a day overseas to foreign states (for oil) that frankly don’t have our interests in mind. I would rather see that money invested in the U.S.”

Veterans pushing for cleaner energy

http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/event/article/id/28280/

A bus full of veterans traveling across the country to raise awareness about national security and climate change stopped in Dickinson Tuesday.

October 13 2009

By: Ashley Martin <https://jenkins.sierraclub.org/event/author/name/Ashley-Martin/&gt; , The Dickinson Press

<https://jenkins.sierraclub.org/event/comments/id/28280/&gt;

A bus full of veterans traveling across the country to raise awareness about national security and climate change stopped in Dickinson Tuesday.

The veterans — most of whom fought in Iraq — are part of a group called Operation Free, which is made up of veterans from all over the nation who are pushing for cleaner energy legislation.

Veteran Andrew Campbell said the group isn’t about doing away with oil and other “dirty” fuels.

“There’s no getting away from that, there’s no doubt about that,” Campbell said, adding the idea is to move toward cleaner energy.

Clean energy would behoove North Dakota because of the state’s potential for wind energy, Campbell said.

The group says dependence on foreign energy is a threat to national security.

“We’re defending this commodity that is costing American lives and costs us billions of dollars every day and I come back home and see that we’re sending that money right back over seas …” Campbell said. “The future really is in our hands and the answer is doing what we can to start to distance ourselves from our dependence on oil from regions that are unstable and unfriendly.”

Alex Cornell du Houx, who is on the tour, said he wants the nation to become more energy independent.

“For a lot of us, it particularly hits home because of our experiences being deployed and seeing this happen first hand,” Cornell du Houx said.

Robin Eckstein, who was also on the tour, said the effect “dirty” energies have on the environment also puts strain on the military.

“With extra carbon, we end up with a climate disruption and that ends up with the seas rising and you get all the flooding and the storms and things like that and our military is the first one to go to these places, so it’s drawing on the Unites States again,” Eckstein said.

The veterans are being environmentally conscious on their tour and the bus they are riding on runs off of biodiesel.

The veterans got on the bus in Missoula, Mont. on Monday and plan to be at Lewiston, Maine — where their tour ends — by Oct. 24. A second Operation Free bus left Pine Bluff Ark., Monday and will end in Tampa Fla. on Oct. 25.

The buses will carry about two dozen veterans and will tour over 20 states.

Cornell du Houx said the group has seen overwhelming support.

“We have the opportunity in the United States to really lead and lead the world in this,” he said.

Montana TV NBC

By NEWS KULR

http://www.kulr8.com/news/local/64060647.html

Story Published: Oct 12, 2009 at 10:10 PM MDT

Story Updated: Oct 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM MDT

Multimedia

BILLINGS – A group of military veterans touring the country stopped in downtown Billings Monday evening to speak about the dangers of climate change and its threat to national security.

The group is encouraging congress to pass energy legislation that cuts carbon pollution and puts America in control of its energy future.

“What we want to do is create clean American jobs and take control over energy in the future and we need to see strong climate change legislation go through the senate,” said Alex Cornell Du Houx, military veteran.

The vets will continue their 21-state bus tour Tuesday in Miles City.

War Veterans Make Stop in Capital City

Beartooth NBC News (MT)

10/12/09

mms://helix.vision.net/ktvh/mondaynews.wmv

<mms://helix.vision.net/ktvh/mondaynews.wmv>

Montana Public Radio

2009 10 12

Climate change and national security top priority of bus tour

By JOHN HARRINGTON

Helena Independent Record

10/13/09

http://www.helenair.com/news/local/article_2ce5ef44-b7b8-11de-a984-001cc4c002e0.html <http://www.helenair.com/news/local/article_2ce5ef44-b7b8-11de-a984-001cc4c002e0.html&gt;

At the tail end of a record-breaking Montana cold spell, a bus tour crossed the state today as veterans aimed to raise awareness of their concerns about climate change and energy security.

Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security groups, is sending a pair of buses across the country to raise awareness of what it views as threats to American safety brought by climate change and over-reliance on foreign oil. The northern route of the two-pronged tour began Monday in Missoula.

Speaking to a small midday crowd at Memorial Park at the second of three Montana stops Monday, South Dakota veteran Rick Hegdahl said domestically produced energy gives the country more security than buying oil from countries that may not have America’s best interests in mind.

“We are hugely dependent on the Middle East for fossil fuels. That can’t continue,” he said. “I want to see us create energy here that lessens our need for foreign oil.”

Operation Free is supported by organizations like the Truman National Security Project, the National Security Initiative, VoteVets.org and VetPAC.

The group supports the passage by Congress of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would establish a cap-and-trade system for limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases. Under the bill, the government would establish a national limit for greenhouse gas emissions, and firms that emit them could buy and sell the rights for those emissions, providing an economic incentive to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they put into the atmosphere.

Critics claim the cap-and-trade plan would damage the country by raising energy costs – and thus, the costs for many products across the economy.

Introducing the touring veterans, local vet Art Compton acknowledged that the proposed legislation, which has passed the House and been introduced in the Senate, won’t please everyone.

“It may not be perfect, but any bill that’s passed is going to strengthen the United States’ negotiating position at upcoming global climate conferences,” he said.

By passing a bill of its own, Compton said, the U.S. would be in a better place to press countries like China and India to enact similar limits on greenhouse emissions.

Alex Cornell du Houx, a member of the Maine House of Representatives and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he saw firsthand the dangers of people becoming overly dependent on fossil fuel.

Citizens would wait in long lines and risk being out after curfew, du Houx said, in order to secure a simple tank of gas in a country rich in petroleum.

Exacerbating the problem for the United States, he said, is the fact that so many countries that sell oil to America are otherwise hostile.

“The reason veterans are really mobilizing on this and believe it’s important is because they feel it’s a security threat,” he said. “They’ve seen firsthand when they’re deployed why foreign energy is a threat to our security.”

The bus tour went from Helena to Billings, with stops in Miles City and Glendive also planned. The two-week tour wraps up Oct. 24 in Maine.

Veterans on tour will warn of warming climate

MATT HAGENGRUBER

Billings Gazette (MT)

10/13/09

http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_c1019132-b7b9-11de-b54e-001cc4c03286.html <http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_c1019132-b7b9-11de-b54e-001cc4c03286.html&gt;

Iraq War veterans might not be associated with the fight against climate change, but a group of veterans is touring the country with the message that a hotter Earth poses a major threat to America’s national security.

A bus rolled into town Monday evening with four veterans who served in Iraq and Kuwait. One of them, Marine Alex Cornell du Houx, patrolled the areas around Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. He saw huge lines of cars and trucks waiting for gasoline.

“This country was absolutely crippled because of their reliance on a single source of energy,” he said. “They were willing to riot for fuel.”

Cornell du Houx and the other vets on the tour said that increasing environmental stress from climate change will cause more conflicts, and the American military may be deployed overseas more often to protect national interests.

For example, climate research estimates that rising sea levels will displace millions of people who live within a mile of the ocean, and the vets on the tour are worried that groups like al-Qaida will try to exploit that change against the United States. The group would like to see more green jobs and less reliance on foreign oil.

Sleek campaign literature features similar sentiments from former senators, national security advisers and governors.

Former Billings Mayor Chuck Tooley introduced the veterans, who spoke at First Congregational Church. Tooley served in Vietnam and now runs the Urban Institute at Montana State University Billings. “Beyond our overdependence on fossil fuels, the burning of these fuels releases more carbon dioxide,” Tooley said. “Climate change will force the U.S. to divert its resources away from our security.”

Billings was just the third stop on the tour, which began earlier in the day in Missoula and will run through the northern states before ending in Maine on Oct. 24. Another bus is working its way through southern states.

The tour touts support from several veterans’ and national-security organizations, including the National Security Network, Veterans Green Jobs and VoteVets.org. The tour’s Web site, http://www.operationfree.net, says that the tour is paid for by the Truman National Security Project.

The group has aligned itself with clean-energy legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the group hopes that green jobs will benefit veterans who are returning from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Robin Eckstein, an Army veteran from Wisconsin, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and drove trucks loaded with either fuel or water. Now unemployed, Eckstein is hoping that she can find a green job.

Another vet on the tour, Rick Hegdahl, said he got involved because of what he learned while serving in the Navy in Kuwait just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Hegdahl commanded a patrol boat that would keep watch on giant oil tankers waiting to fill up.

“It really dawned on me that the primary reason we were there was to control the shipping lanes for oil,” he said. “I said, ‘Something’s wrong. Something’s really wrong.’ “

Veterans Tour Against Climate Change

http://www.keci.com/Veterans-Tour-Against-Climate-Change/5420389

Christian Hauser (10/12/2009)

    Veteran members of Operation Free are embarking on a 21-state tour to talk to citizens and local community leaders about the looming crisis over climate change and national security. The tour is making stops in Missoula, Helena, and Billings today.
Operation Free veteran Aaron Bailey recently joined Senator John Kerry in unveiling legislation to combat climate change, saying: “There are threats we don’t hear about so often. That’s why we’re here, to bring attention to the double-threat of America’s reliance on fossil fuels, and the national security consequences of climate change that dependence on fossil fuels creates.”
Operation Free is a coalition of veterans and national security groups working together to raise public awareness about national security threats posed by climate change and our reliance on fossil fuels. Its goal is to support climate and energy policies that cut carbon pollution and develop clean energy incentives.
In the words of Operation Free veteran and campaign manager Alex Cornell du Houx: “Our dependence on oil forces our commanders to use troops for securing the convoys of fuel instead of using those same troops for counterinsurgency missions. It stretches our forces and results in higher casualties.”
Group officials say the US spends $1 billion a day buying crude oil from other countries. That puts money into the hands of countries that don’t support us and increases the dangers to our troops overseas. The US military and various national security agencies such as the CIA have warned about grave dangers associated with climate change in the years ahead. Many countries will be unable to cope with a rapidly changing climate, resulting in more unrest and fueling the growth of terrorism.

Former Fox Military Analyst Goes on Offensive for Clean Energy

By Seth Koenig

October 8, 2009

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2009/10/08/news/doc4ace1c2757129360673995.txt

BATH — Former Fox News military analyst and Vietnam veteran Donald Edwards is scheduled to visit Bath today to rally support for a clean energy bill making its way through the U.S. Senate.

Edwards, a retired Army major general, agreed to join Iraq war veterans Garrett Reppenhagen and Alex Cornell du Houx for a press conference at Bath City Hall this morning. Reppenhagen is the director of Veterans Green Jobs, while Cornell du Houx is a Democrat representing a portion of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives.

“I think it’s vitally important for our national security that we pass some form of climate change legislation,” said Cornell du Houx, a Bowdoin College graduate. “When I was deployed, we saw — literally — cars lined up bumper to bumper waiting for days to get fuel. It was because they were so reliant on one form of energy. It hit me that I never want to see the United States reach a point where we’re that reliant on one form of energy.”

Edwards, a South Bristol resident, points to his experience as a military leader as a key basis for urging passage of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which was introduced in the Senate last week.

Edwards told The Times Record he recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit with veterans from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Cornell du Houx, those younger veterans told him the country’s dependence on foreign oil leaves them vulnerable to the perils that accompany U.S. involvement in military conflicts overseas.

“I give these young folks a great deal of credit,” Edwards said. “Their perception is, and it’s incredibly accurate, that we buy trillions of dollars in fossil fuels and that money goes to places like Saudi Arabia, where it get funneled to extremists who are shooting at us and killing Americans.”

“Their logic, to me, is unassailable,” he continued. “They’re talking about the fact that with these convoys that are going into Afghanistan, a lot of what they’re convoying are petroleum products. They’re facing the risk of those things getting hit with (roadside bombs) and blowing up in their faces. They were asking questions like, ‘General, why aren’t we using generators that are state-of-the-art and not using fossil fuels?’ I can’t answer that. It’s very, very real to those guys and it’s something that should wake us up in terms of a sense of urgency. We owe these people. They’re off getting wounded by terrorists who are being funded by fossil fuel money.”

The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act includes aggressive greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals of 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Among its provisions, the legislation sets aside money to train workers in renewable energy professions. It also contains incentives to increase public transit options and upgrade heavy trucks used for shipping.

“I think it’s an ice breaker,” Edwards said of the bill. “With a lot of these things, once you get it started, you can build on the momentum. But you’ve got to get it started. I think this bill is a huge first step. And I think five or 10 years down the road there will be other steps.”

Added Cornell du Houx: “Within the national security community, whenever we talk about the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, everyone I talk to immediately sees the link between our reliance on oil and national security and climate change.”

September 30 2009

White House Press Steak Out 

http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/289219-5

Similar opinion columns share lobbying group roots

By Rebekah Metzler, Staff Writer

Published: Sep 01, 2009 2:40 am

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LEWISTON — A national lobbying group is the source of similar passages in a pair of opinion pieces about national security and energy production written by two different authors, one in Maine and the other Florida, though neither cited the source.

An anonymous e-mail provided links to both columns to the Sun Journal.

Maine Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, who submitted his op-ed piece to the Portland Press Herald, said he had received a talking points from the group Americans United for Change, a progressive political organization based in Washington, D.C.

The other column ran in the Orlando Sentinel on Aug. 5 and was written by Donald L. Kerrick of Jupiter, Fla., according to the Sentinel. Cornell du Houx’s piece ran Aug. 27 in the Portland Press Herald.

“Just as a speechwriter writing a speech, I had someone go through and write it and then I read through it, edited it and then I submitted it,” Cornell du Houx said. “I assumed that everything in there was something original.”

When asked if it was originally from himself, Cornell du Houx said, “You mean actually physically writing it myself? The actual words and text? I had help writing it from Frank (Gallagher).”

Gallagher is the Maine state director for Americans United for Change.

“I look for ways to advance the message on any number of policy issues,” Gallagher said, adding he initiated contact with Cornell du Houx. “A lot of the materials will come from the national organization and then we’ll tailor them to fit the circumstances as they exist in the specific state we’re dealing with.”

Cornell du Houx, a first-term legislator and war veteran, said he also works at the Truman National Security Project on issues of national security and energy. He said the facts found in his column are commonly used by many groups.

“I’m not surprised that those facts are the same. What I am concerned with is that the information like some of the text was similar,” he said. “I’m definitely going to investigate further.”

Gallagher said the practice is “quite common.”

“Every national organization does exactly this — I’m mystified as to why that’s a story,” he said.

But Bob Steele, a former Maine journalist who is the senior faculty in Ethics at The Poynter Institute, said just because other people do it, doesn’t make it right.

“Whether it’s a politician who is writing an op-ed or it’s a business person making a speech at a conference, you should not claim as your own the language and ideas of others; you’re suggesting that your thoughts are original if you don’t give proper credit to others, and ethically that’s not right,” he said.

Steele said general facts and common phrases are often used acceptably without attribution.

“But in a case like this, I would think first of all, elected representatives get a fair amount of content from special interest groups and it is unwise and maybe even naïve to think that it’s only coming to you. And even so, you should give proper attribution for specific language that you’re using, particularly if it’s extensive,” he said.

M.D. Harmon, an editorial writer at the Portland Press Herald who edits opinion submissions, said he receives op-eds, verifies the author is the person identified and then prints them.

“An organization will tell its supporters, ‘please write letters to the editor on this issue.’ That’s fine, we take every one of those letters we get. But when the organization says, ‘please write this (specific) letter to the editor on this issue,’ that’s astro-turfing and when we discover it we stop printing those,” he said, adding that if he had known a similar column had run somewhere else, he probably wouldn’t have printed it.

Cornell du Houx said in the future he would be much more thorough with submissions.

“Any op-eds I write will be thoroughly vetted and researched to ensure that everything is 100 percent original,” he said.

rmetzler@sunjournal.com

Huff Post sent out

Talk Radio

Vote for clean energy is vote for national security

Dependence on foreign nations and vulnerable lines of supply should end as soon as possible.

ALEXANDER CORNELL DU HOUX August 27, 2009

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, is an Iraq war veteran who served with the Marines in Fallujah.

BRUNSWICK — When the House of Representatives passed landmark energy legislation earlier this year, it not only made America “greener,” it made us safer.

By creating incentives to use and produce clean energy, this legislation will begin to free us from the foreign oil addiction that binds us to dangerous dealers.

By promoting energy efficiency, the American Clean Energy and Security Act will similarly loosen the grip of oil dependence that distorts our foreign policy.

And by slowing climate change, this bill would help head off what the National Intelligence Council calls one of the gravest long-term threats facing the international system.

All that may sound like too great an impact for a single piece of legislation to claim.

It’s not. The fate of the Clean Energy and Security Act as it moves to the U.S. Senate is inseparable from the fate of our nation’s security.

The crux of the link between energy and security is the fact that the United States consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil but controls less than 3 percent of the supply.

Tipping the other end of the production-consumption scale are nations like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Kazakhstan, to name just a few.

Of the top 10 holders of oil reserves in the world as of April 2008, all but one are considered to be failed states or in danger of becoming failed states.

These are the type of trading partners to whom we are beholden, whose whims we must honor, if we are to feed the energy beast.

The Clean Energy and Security Act would slash our oil needs dramatically by requiring electric utilities to meet 20 percent of their electricity demand through renewable sources and efficiencies by 2020.

At the same time, it increases our ability to create our own energy sources – and not incidentally, jobs – by investing billions in new energy technologies and efficiency.

On another front, our oil addiction gives those who would do us harm a powerful weapon.

Terrorists clearly understand that our economic strength and therefore our overall strength as a nation is tied to affordable energy.

There were fewer than 50 known terrorist attacks against oil and gas facilities before Sept. 11, 2001. By 2006 that number reached 344.

Less immediately tangible than terrorist threats, but indisputably equally dangerous, is the global instability that will result from the effects of climate change on land and livelihoods.

For example, rising sea levels, drought and other extremes of weather will drastically interrupt substance farming, which in turn will lead to mass migration.

A massive influx of people challenges even the most stable of nations. In weaker ones, it creates a vacuum of law in order and a safe haven for terrorists.

The recently passed energy bill reduces carbon emissions from major U.S. sources more than 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

Complementary measures in the legislation, such as investments in preventing tropical deforestation, will achieve significant additional reductions in carbon emissions and slow the march of destruction considerably.

Here in Maine, we see how this affects our lives personally. We’re losing old industry jobs that can be replaced with new energy jobs like wind and wood pellets and other renewable energies – all natural resources we can harvest in our own state.

The United States cannot fight off global warming alone.

But it is a vital step in the right direction and an important signal to our friends – and enemies – that we are serious about protecting the environment because we are unrelenting in our commitment to protect America.

Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets Denounce ‘Energy Citizens’ Campaign As “Oil Dependence Tour”

Kevin Grandia

Managing editor, DeSmogBlog

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-grandia/iraq-and-afghanistan-war_b_264404.html

Operation Free, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and national security organizations, today slammed the ‘Energy Citizens’ Astroturf campaign orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute and other Big Oil interests as a detriment to America’s energy security.

“Veterans understand the connection between energy security, climate change and national security,” said Jon Powers, Chief Operating Officer of the Truman National Security Project and an Iraq war vet.

Describing climate change as a “threat multiplier” for the armed forces, Powers denounced the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign, stating that Big Oil does not have America’s best interests at heart.  “Veterans do not want to see America’s national security in the hands of Big Oil,” said Powers during the press teleconference today.

Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, an Iraq war vet, said the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign is “limiting meaningful debate on a serious national security issue,” and “watering down” the critical message that veterans and clean energy advocates have for Congress, which is to act immediately to address climate change in the interest of national security.  Rep. Cornell du Houx described witnessing long lines of cars and truck waiting for gasoline and diesel while on patrol in Iraq, and said he “never wanted to see the U.S. become even close to that dependent on oil.”

Drew Sloan, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet and former employee at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Rocky Mountain Institute, called the United States’ slow response to the threat of climate change “death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.”  Using an analogy from the battlefield, Sloan called the climate crisis “a wound that will become increasingly difficult to heal” unless America acts fast to address it.

Sloan denounced ‘Energy Citizens’ and other oil and coal industry Astroturfing as “lies and misleading innuendo,” and described an unstable future in which American soldiers could lose their lives fighting wars over dwindling resources.

Iraq and Afghanistan vet Scott Holcomb, a part-time Professor at Georgia Tech, talked about the “lesson that all vets learn at a gut level – that tomorrow is never promised,” and related it to the need to make energy security a national priority.  “Soldiers will not have to go fight in resource wars if we act now,” he said.  “The more we can diversify our energy supplies and create domestic renewable sources, the better off we will be,” said Holcomb.

A group of roughly one hundred Operation Free veterans plans to visit Washington on September 9-10 for a day of action and meetings with Congress to relay the national security imperative of addressing climate change.  Veterans are also working within their local communities on what Powers described as “a real grassroots effort.”

He said that many veterans “continue to protect America when we get out of the service,” and that the group’s work to raise support for action on climate change is “another form of strengthening America.”

“We don’t have the money that Big Oil does to bus people around.  This is a genuine grassroots effort,” said Powers.

POLITICS: Left-wing groups fire back at ‘Energy Citizens’ (08/20/2009)

Alex Kaplun and Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter

A few environmental groups and other left-wing organizations launched aggressive attacks today aimed at discrediting the “Energy Citizens” campaign created to pressure the Senate to change House-passed climate legislation.

Energy Citizens is organized by the American Petroleum Institute, along with groups such as FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform. That campaign began this week with a rally in Houston.

And while environmentalists and their allies have their own campaigns to push for passage of climate legislation, the groups are taking aim at the industry-backed effort, describing it as an artificial effort to scuttle legislation that would be detrimental to the companies’ bottom line.

Today, a coalition of military veterans, as part of an effort organized by the Sierra Club, denounced Energy Citizens as a distortion of the current debate.

“The people behind this are the oil industry, and it’s really disheartening to see how the front group is watering down any meaningful debate,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, a veteran and campaign coordinator for the group Operation Free, told reporters this afternoon.

The veterans groups said they intend to take their message to Capitol Hill after Labor Day, informing lawmakers of the importance of weaning the United States from foreign oil.

The Sierra Club has been particularly active in going after the industry groups and their grass-roots efforts to influence the legislation. But several other advocacy groups have also jumped into the fray.

Public Citizen Texas today started circulating information on how its members were blocked from attending the Energy Citizens rally in Houston. The group claims the rally was primarily attended by employees of energy companies.

Environmentalists have been claiming in recent days that such efforts are common in the industry-initiated grass-roots campaigns, which attempt to create the appearance of public support for their position through artificial means.

“Energy Citizens is not a grass-roots organization; they are an AstroTurf organization funded by groups that are trying to kill green jobs legislation and the green jobs agenda,” said Eric Maltzer, an environmental strategist involved in the effort.

As exhibit A, critics of the API effort are pointing to an e-mail from the trade group’s president and CEO, Jack Gerard, to member companies. The e-mail, obtained by Greenpeace and verified as legitimate by API, describes the strategy behind the rallies and how API hoped to drive strong turnout.

“The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy and to aim a loud message at those states U.S. Senators [sic] to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill and the Obama Administration’s tax increases on our industry,” Gerard writes in the e-mail.

The e-mail also reveals the message of higher fuel prices API wants to push.

Gerard in his e-mail writes of a Harris Interactive poll that API funded that “demonstrates that our message on Waxman-Markey-like legislation work extremely well and are very persuasive with the general public and policy influentials” — referencing the House energy and climate bill from Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). “After hearing that Waxman-Markey-like legislation could increase the costs of gasoline to around $4 a gallon … these audiences changed their opinions on the bill significantly.”

Greenpeace accuses API of fudging the facts.

House puts menu bill on Senate’s plate

BY SUSAN M. COVER

Staff Writer Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 06/03/2009

http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/6421643.html

All of today’s: News | Sports

from the Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — Calorie counts would appear beside burgers, salads and fries on fast-food menu boards in Maine under a bill that gained initial approval Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven, sponsored the bill to require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, and at least one in Maine, to post caloric content on menu boards.

After rigorous debate, the House supported the bill 88-56 and sent it to the Senate.

“This is a great bill,” said House Majority Whip Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham. “It provides important public health information to consumers and families.”

Other supporters said Maine would join Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Connecticut in providing information to families to help combat obesity. If enacted, the bill in Maine would take effect Feb. 1, 2011.

Opponents said it’s an unnecessary burden on business that won’t change behavior.

“Is the next step to ban certain people from eating certain foods?” said Rep. Kerri Prescott, R-Topsham.

Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, said people have enough information now to make good decisions about what’s healthy and what’s not.

“I’ve never met anybody who picked up a Big Mac who thought they were getting health food,” he said.

Harvell and other Republicans emphasized the need for personal responsibility and said the Legislature should not take another step toward becoming “big sister.”

“In our codependent society, it’s only a matter of time until we’re sitting with our therapist blaming our parents for being fat,” Harvell said.

Yet supporters said obesity is a serious public health problem linked to heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.

Rep. Patricia Jones, D-Mount Vernon, said fast-food companies already have calorie information brochures, but that they are “hidden” behind counters.

“One of the major public health initiatives is to create an environment by which people can make healthy choices,” she said.

And Rep. Lisa Miller, D-Somerville, said people often drastically underestimate the number of calories in prepared food. She said families on the go don’t have time to closely examine all the items they order.

“It’s important to have these labels if you’re going to eat out this much,” she said.

As amended by the Health and Human Services Committee, L.D. 1259 exempts salad bars and buffets. It also requires chain restaurants to display the average caloric value for beer, wine and spirits.

Republicans said although the bill targets chain restaurants, many of those are franchises owned and operated by Maine people.

“We are talking about Maine small-business owners who are trying to make a go of it,” said Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland.

But bill supporter Rep. Alex Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, said he spent time at a local health clinic where he saw children coming in with Type 2 diabetes. He said parents weren’t aware that what they were feeding their children led to poor health. “Some salads are much more unhealthy than a sandwich,” he said.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

scover@centralmaine.com

Veterans discuss the economy today

Submitted By Giselle Goodman,

Staff Writer

on Tuesday, May. 5 at 9:11 am

PORTLAND — A group of veterans will discuss the economic challenges Mainers, especially Mainers who are veterans, face on a daily basis.

The group, brought together by State Representative and Iraq War Veteran Alex Cornell du Houx (D-Brunswick), will discuss the economy, the wars and how difficult young soldiers are having finding jobs once they return to America after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The discussion is being held  at 1 p.m. at the Portland Historical Society, 489 Congress St.

Hard talk on state budget

news@TimesRecord.Com

http://www.timesrecord.com/website/main.nsf/news.nsf/0/8C185CC03C8AEA27852575AC005EEE32?Opendocument

05/04/2009

By Darren Fishell, Times Record Contributor

BRUNSWICK — Taking time off from a special weekend work session to address state budgetary shortfalls announced late Friday, Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, Senate chairman of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, visited Brunswick on Saturday morning to speak about the latest proposed cuts to the 2010-11 biennial budget.

Diamond spelled out the latest bad news for Maine state government’s budget during a public forum hosted by Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, at Bowdoin College. Diamond’s committee launched hearings today on Gov. John Baldacci’s proposal to fill a new approximately $575 million drain on the state’s revenue stream.

Diamond opened by explaining that state government continues to wrestle with a projected $1.4 billion loss of revenue over 2009, 2010 and 2011. That effort is complicated, he said, by a need to pass a balanced two-year budget before an early May deadline to ensure that programs funded through Medicaid receive federal funds. In light of the outbreak of H1N1 swine flu, Diamond said, making sure that hospitals receive this money is particularly important.

Before the latest shortfalls were announced on Friday, the expected revenues for 2010-11 stood at $6.1 billion. Now, the Legislature is working with projected revenues of $5.8 billion for 2010-11, with an additional shortfall of $129.3 million to be made up before the current budget cycle concludes on June 30.

The plan Baldacci unveiled Friday closes this year’s budget gap mostly through the use of the state’s reserve funds, taking $75.5 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund for 2009 and 2010 and an additional $40.6 million from the Working Capital Fund.

Baldacci proposes to address challenges in the budget for 2010-11 — which takes effect on July 1 — with cutbacks in education and health and human services funding, changes to the tax code, and internal savings ranging from suspending merit increases for state employees to shutting down state government for 24 days during the 2010-11 biennium.

The full details and figures of the latest budget proposal can be found online at http://www.maine.gov/governor/baldacci/policy/finances.html.

Diamond’s presentation Saturday was the first of Gerzofsky’s planned three-part series, which on May 15 will address tax changes followedon May 22 by an overview of a bond proposal for the redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Public reaction

“They have to make some tough decisions,” Jim Bouchard, who serves on the government liaison committee of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, said before the discussion. “I’m hoping to hear that people are really going to get behind these guys and help to get this situation straightened out.”

Nobody seemed to disagree that the situation demanded a lot from legislators and would be challenging still for the state during the coming years.

“They’re caught in a terrible bind — a horrendous bind — and they don’t have enough money coming in and they have expenses that are very important,” said Brunswick resident Herschel Sternlieb. “You either need to borrow your way out of it or tax it or cut services.”

Which combination of those options represents the best strategy for state government elicited the greatest difference of opinion at Saturday’s forum. The widest rift emerged over the issue of taxation as a viable method of creating revenue.

“You can’t talk about the budget without talking about the income side of that,” said Walt Sawyer, suggesting that the Legislature examine ways to increase revenue through taxation. “That was all the discussion was about — there’s a gap, we’ve got to cut.”

Bouchard, however, voiced his belief that the cuts addressed an ongoing problem — state government’s inability to live within its means.

“I’ve always been opposed to expansion of the taxes just because we can’t afford that anymore,” Bouchard said.

Harpswell resident Bill Ewing also felt the issue of cuts spoke to an ongoing problem but favored considering taxes as a viable way to raise revenues.

“I think it’s too bad that it wasn’t thought of earlier and that tax increases are so totally off the table as a knee-jerk reaction to people who are just going to complain about taxes no matter what,” Ewing said.

Diamond — in response to a question from the audience — said that a tax increase would not automatically increase revenue.

He noted that the latest Maine Revenue Services calculations show that the sales tax now generates 31 percent less revenue than expected and that the so-called “sin taxes” on cigarettes and liquor draw $12 million less than projected.

“The governor,” Diamond said, “feels this is, generally speaking, a bad time to raise taxes.”

Citizens also expressed specific concern about ramifications for education. Diamond said that money already committed for school construction or renovation would not be touched but that future construction projects and renovations would be put on hold. Diamond also said that the Legislature would re-evaluate spending on state-mandated testing.

Local impact

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, said that the big challenge for Brunswick will arrive in fiscal year 2011, which starts on July 1, 2010. The town will experience a loss of $1 million in federal education aid and the closure of BNAS on top of state cuts — proposed to take effect this July — of $40,000 to homestead exemptions (property tax aid) and $350,000 in general purpose aid to education.

“We need to start thinking about it now to prepare for those cuts in the future,” Cornell du Houx said. “A million dollar cut to the town of Brunswick equals about a 4 percent increase in taxes, which is something that we really don’t want to do.”

Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, said that a statewide bond proposal in the works for funding a community college as a part of the BNAS redevelopment will be helpful but won’t be able to provide immediate assistance.

“All that stuff’s not going to arrive immediately in 2011 to the point where it’s going to change the local picture,” Priest said. “It’s a lot of preparation and a lot of investment that’s going to pay off, but we’ve got to get through those few years of investment.”

The key, Priest said, will be gathering statewide support for the community college bond issue, which he said will provide training that will benefit the entire state.

“(There) is the machinist in Houlton,” Priest said, citing the potential for a statewide impact, “who wants people to be trained in high-tech machinery — and they can get that training here.”

Legislator brings fresh view to helping veterans

State House: Alexander Cornell Du Houx wants better things for those returning from war.

By MATT WICKENHEISER, Staff Writer April 15, 2009

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=250931&ac=PHnws

Learn more about state Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx’s bills.

AUGUSTA — When Alexander Cornell Du Houx returned from a tour in Iraq, he saw veterans struggling with the military’s health care bureaucracy, and dealing with substance abuse and other issues.

The GI Bill, which used to cover tuition, room and board for veterans going to college, barely covered his books and meals.

And veterans, both old and young, were still homeless in Maine and the United States, which Cornell Du Houx said was “shameful.”

Cornell Du Houx, 26, ran for a seat in the Legislature, planning to address these and other issues. The Brunswick Democrat now represents District 66 in the House of Representatives, and has filed four bills aimed at benefiting veterans.

“It’s our duty, as a state and as a country, to ensure all veterans who served their country have the opportunity to continue serving and working in our state,” he said.

Cornell Du Houx joined the Marine reserves when he graduated from high school in 2002, and also was accepted at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Still a sergeant in the reserves today, Cornell Du Houx deployed to Iraq in 2006 with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Regiment. The company patrolled rural areas, did security in the streets of Fallujah and protected supply routes.

His time in Iraq has shaped how he views issues taken up by the Legislature.

“One thing I will never forget is how in Iraq, kids would come up and ask me for water, not for candy, because of the lack of basic needs,” he said.

Then he came home to find the local food pantry serving 100,000 meals annually, showing people in the U.S. need help with basic needs, too. Seeing that need abroad and at home reinforced the importance of economic investments and spending on education and health care, he said.

His military experience in the current environment has shaped an important voice in the 124th Legislature and on the Legal Affairs and Veterans Committee, suggested Peter Ogden, director of Maine’s Bureau of Veterans Services.

“Having a young veteran, an Iraq war veteran, come back (and) look at those issues is important,” Ogden said. “What’s happening to veterans today, the dynamics of what’s going on in the military today, is different than what some of us understand. It’s important to have the perspective of a current-serving young person.”

Cornell Du Houx has filed four veteran-related bills:

• LD 647, which would provide an income tax deduction on 50 percent of military retirement benefits for a veteran who runs a business in Maine with at least one employee.

• LD 1090, which would qualify a student who is an active military member or veteran for in-state tuition rates for first-time enrollment at any campus of the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System or the Maine Maritime Academy, regardless of their state of residence.

• LD 1149, which would expand a $6,000 property-tax exemption to veterans who were awarded a number of medals, including the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. The bill also would remove the requirement that veterans be 62 before they are eligible to receive the exemption.

• LD 1110, which would establish a study commission to review and examine the issue of homelessness among veterans.

Cornell Du Houx said his bill calling for a commission would likely be modified today in a work session to instead use a task force, thereby saving money. He said he envisions bringing together stakeholders involved in the issue to examine problems ranging from education, job searches, mental health and housing.

Ogden said the task force could be a real benefit in clearly identifying what services for veterans exist in the state and where there are gaps. One thing the state needs to figure out is how to quickly and efficiently access veteran-related money from the federal government,…

Legislator brings fresh view to helping veterans

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State House: Alexander Cornell Du Houx wants better things for those returning from war.

By MATT WICKENHEISER, Staff Writer April 15, 2009

Learn more about state Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx’s bills.

(Page 2 of 2)

Ogden said. It also needs to partner with groups that have a track record of successful programs to bring funds here, he said.

Ogden said that overall, there are 150,000-plus veterans in Maine, one of the highest per-capita ratios in the country. The idea of giving a tax break on military retirement benefits could really help the economy, he said. Military members often retire between the age of 40 and 45, and they want to keep working.

“I think that would be attractive to get people to come to Maine,” Ogden said.

Sen. Nancy Sullivan, D-Biddeford and Senate chairwoman of the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee, characterized Cornell Du Houx as “extremely conscientious.”

“He sees places where things need to be changed, and he’s willing to change them. You have to respect that in a young man,” Sullivan said.

He has good ideas, Sullivan said, and some of his bills might pass, although it’s hard to get funding for ideas in these tight economic times.

“Who can argue with the fact that returning military vets have a lot of issues facing them that the average person does not have?” she said.

Staff Writer Matt Wickenheiser can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

mwickenheiser@pressherald.com

Employee Free Choice Act: A sustainable stimulus

By Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

Published:

Friday, May 29, 2009 2:02 PM EDT

The economic challenges Mainers and Americans face are diverse and serious. I wonder how we honor the men and women who fight to protect our way of life when we allow them to slip through the cracks in an economy where there are fewer and fewer opportunities. I wonder how crippled the economic futures of young men and women will be by the reckless and irresponsible decisions that created the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. I wonder what steps our elected leaders will take to rebuild an economy that works for everyone.

While Wall Street only recently went into crisis mode a few months ago, working families have been feeling the pain of our imbalanced economy for years. American workers have generated soaring productivity over the last 25 years, but wages have gone flat. Too many working families have been forced to turn to second jobs, credit cards and toxic loans just to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, the corporate executives have squandered workers’ increasing profitability on their own jet-setter lifestyles.

Thankfully, we have a president who is committed to standing with us in confronting the greatest economic crisis of our lives. If there’s one thing that really strikes me about President Obama, it’s his understanding of what Americans are going through. He doesn’t need economists to tell him that working families have been stretched to the limit — in many cases, past the limit — just trying to make ends meet.

Workers must have the tools to level the playing field if we are ever going to build an economy that works for everyone. We need the Employee Free Choice Act.

This common-sense piece of legislation would give workers the freedom to join a union without intimidation and bargain collectively for better wages and benefits.

Corporate interest groups have falsely attacked this much-needed legislation on the basis of some misguided notion that it would take away the right to a secret ballot. It is important to be clear on this point: Workers will still have the opportunity to call for a secret ballot election if they so choose.  However, this legislation gives workers an additional choice: to form a union when a simple majority of workers sign authorization cards. Majority sign-up isn’t a new practice. More than 500,000 workers have joined unions through the less-divisive majority sign-up process at companies like AT&T since 2003.

The real debate comes down to whether you think corporate CEOs or workers should get to decide how workers form their union. Today, the boss decides for you. The Employee Free Choice Act puts that decision back in the hands of workers.

Right now, as working families are struggling in this economy, we need the Employee Free Choice Act to land on the president’s desk without delay. Union membership not only leads to better pay, health care, pensions and job security for workers — it’s good for the economy, too. When working people can bargain together for their fair share, the increased purchasing power stimulates the economy.

That helps local communities and businesses to prosper. That’s a sustainable stimulus package for Maine, and for America.

In the midst of today’s economic uncertainty, we need to be doing everything we can to strengthen and grow the middle class. Working people know that the power to bargain collectively is the surest way to secure livable wages and quality health care.

The Employee Free Choice Act is the key to making sure that working families earn their fair share for their hard work.

We need our two U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, to join with working people and pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Rep. Alex Cornell Du Houx, D-District 66, is an Iraq War veteran from Brunswick.

Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 Meets with President Obama

http://www.bowdoindailysun.com/2011/10/alex-cornell-du-houx-08-meets-with-president-obama/#comments

Alex Cornell du Houx ’08, who represents Brunswick in the Maine Legislature, meets with President Obama at the White House.

Maine Representative Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 traveled to the White House  for a private reception with President Obama and administration officials to discuss Maine’s PACE program, which gives residents low-interest loans for home weatherization and is being used as a national model for clean energy initiatives.

A George Mitchell Scholar and former Marine, Cornell du Houx serves on the Maine Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and is chair of the Veterans Caucus.

Group unveils plan to reduce Maine oil use, urges caution on LePage’s natural gas goals

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/10/13/energy/group-unveils-plan-to-reduce-maine-oil-use-urges-caution-on-lepage%e2%80%99s-natural-gas-goals/

By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

Posted Oct. 13, 2011, at 12:19 p.m.

Last modified Oct. 13, 2011, at 5:39 p.m.

Andrew Francis, a field associate with Environment Maine, on Thursday morning announces the release of a report aimed at reducing Maine’s fuel consumption by nearly 40 percent by 2030. Flanking Francis is state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, Portland homeowner Ashley Salisbury and Warm Tech Solutions owner Ashley Richards. Not pictured, but taking part in the announcement Thursday, was Adam Lee, chairman of the board for Lee Auto Malls.

PORTLAND, Maine — Environment Maine unveiled a plan Thursday to reduce Maine’s dependence on oil by nearly 40 percent by 2030, beating established legislative energy benchmarks without expanding use of natural gas, which is a central component of Gov. Paul LePage’s energy strategy.

Environment Maine field associate Andrew Francis was joined Thursday by state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, Lee Auto Malls board chairman Adam Lee, Warm Tech Solutions owner Ashley Richards and property owner Ashley Salisbury. The press conference took place at Salisbury’s multi-unit 26 Brackett St. building, which was the subject of a recent energy efficiency retrofit largely performed by Warm Tech.

The group assembled to highlight state and federal measures promoted in the larger Environment America report “Getting Off Oil: A 50-State Roadmap for Curbing Our Dependence on Petroleum.”

At a state level, Cornell du Houx said it’s crucial the state Legislature continue funding Efficiency Maine programs that encourage home weatherizations, while Lee trumpeted federal proposals to force auto manufacturers to meet minimum fuel efficiency standards of 54 miles per gallon over the next 13 years.

“Mainers … send $5 billion every single year to nations that do not have our best interests in mind,” Cornell du Houx, who has served with the Marine Corps in the Middle East, said of Maine’s dependence on oil. Maine is ranked the fourth most oil-dependent state in the country.

Lee noted that in 1975, Congress gave car makers 10 years to double the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, and although manufacturers complained, they met the standards and reduced pollution.

“The history of my industry is that they don’t do anything to improve safety or efficiency unless they’re mandated to do so,” Lee told members of the assembled media Thursday morning.

Richards said 2,500 Maine homes were weatherized in 2010 using rebates and other funding programs offered by Efficiency Maine. Each home saved an average of $1,400 on annual heating costs because of the work, which ranges in scope from sealing windows to better insulating walls to finding more efficient heating systems.

Richards said that if the state keeps offering funding programs at that pace, 12,500 homes will be made more efficient in five years, saving a total of 15 million gallons of fuel oil and “putting $67 million back in the hands of consumers.”

He said each weatherization project costs a homeowner an average of $6,000, with about $2,500 of that reimbursed by Efficiency Maine. With about $1,400 in savings per year, each project is making money for its homeowner within three years, he said.

But Richards said his company shrank from 20 employees to 12 when the Efficiency Maine funding dried up, suggesting increased funding for the program would restore jobs as well as save money for property owners.

“Last winter, every month when I saw the fuel truck pull in, it was cause for anxiety,” Salisbury said of the 26 Brackett St. property she owns. “Opening that bill felt a little like getting kicked in the head. Ultimately, I had to consider whether I wanted to keep wasting not only my money, but this precious resource as well.”

Not included in the strategy unveiled Thursday was an expansion of natural gas in the state, which LePage said last month he plans to promote during the upcoming legislative session.

The state Legislature has approved goals to reduce Maine’s dependence on oil by 30 percent by 2030, and by 50 percent by 2050. By implementing the state and federal policies detailed in the Environment Maine report promoted Thursday, organization leaders said, Maine could reduce its oil use by 29 percent by 2025 and by 39 percent by 2030.

Most of the steps called for by Environment Maine at the state level involve providing financial incentives for energy efficiencies in homes and transportation systems, as well as shoring up building codes to further promote such efficiencies.

“Natural gas is not a part of this road map,” Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine, told the Bangor Daily News Thursday. “We’re saying we can do that without turning to other fuel sources that have their own host of environmental problems. We think Maine should be very cautious before we ramp up use of natural gas.”

Maine Environmental Group Unveils Plan to Slash Oil Use

http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3478/ItemId/18476/Default.aspx

An environmental advocacy group has released what it calls a ‘first-of-its-kind’ analysis outlining how Maine–and the U.S.–can significantly reduce the use of oil over the next 20 years. Environment Maine unveiled the report called “Getting Off Oil” as part of a nationwide initiative. According to the study, the U.S. has the potential to cut its oil use by 31 percent below 2008 levels by 2030, a reduction of 1.9 billion barrels a year. And for Maine, the percentage could be even greater.

“Getting Oil Shows that a comprehensive strategy to transition Maine off of oil can reduce Maine’s oil use by nearly 40 percent in the next 20 years,” said Environment Maine Field Associate Andrew Francis today at a Portland news conference.

That’s well above the 30 percent target set by state law earlier this year. The question is: How can Maine achieve the goal? “This report evaluates 17 public policies or measures with the potential to significantly reduce oil consumption in Maine and across the country,” Francis said.

These policies include accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles. There are also calls for a “pay-as-you-drive” system of vehicle insurance, designed to encourage motorists to spend less time behind the wheel.

Fuel economy standards are another crucial part of the plan, says auto dealer Adam Lee, who is Maine’s leading seller of hybrid vehicles. One of the speakers at the news conference, Lee says the state is headed in the right direction.

“Our country’s gotten around to raising fuel eonomy standards again. We went from about 27 miles per gallon to 35, just a couple of years ago. And we now, in the next few years, hopefully, will have a standard of 54 miles per gallon in the next 13 years. We need this standard,” Lee said.

But it’s not all about cars and transportation. The report also calls for policies to curb oil use in Maine’s homes and businesses.

Ashley Richards says weatherization is key. “Weatherizing your home is low-hanging fruit, relative to saving money on fuel consumption.” Richards is the owner of Warm Tech Solutions, which provides energy efficiency services to homes and businesses in southern Maine. “Maine has the oldest housing stock in the country. We have over 450,000 homes that are poorly insulated, and 70 percent of our centrally-heated homes are heated with No. 2 fuel oil,” he says.

Last year, he says 2,500 homes were weatherized with the help of a state rebate known as the Home Energy Savings Program. He says each home saved about $1,400 a year. This rebate program however has now run out of money, and Richards says this is a problem.

“What I mean is we need to fund the Home Energy Savings Program for at least another three years. I believe that when 1 percent of the folks in Maine are pocketing $1,400 a year for weatherizing their home, then weatherizing will become the cool thing to do, just like tattoos are today,” Richards said.

Underpinning these efforts to reduce dependence on oil is the issue of security. That was the point stressed by Democratic state legislator and Iraq war veteran Alex Cornell Du Houx, of Brunswick. “We send $5 billion every single year out of the state of Maine to nations who do not have our interests in mind,” he said. “And by reducing that, we can improve our economic security and our national security and take control of our energy future.”

According to Jamie Py of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, Maine is already well on the way to meeting its oil reduction targets in some areas. He says between 2004 and 2009, annual home heating oil use fell by nearly 200 million gallons as people upgraded to more efficient boilers and furnaces. “And all that’s being driven by the marketplace, so whether or not we need mandates in that area I’m not sure,” Py says.

Py also has words of caution regarding the call for increased deployment of electric cars. “We all have to remember, however, where does the electricity come from? And at the moment, half of the electricity in the United States is generated by coal,” he says.

As electric vehicle usage increases, more electricity will have to be generated to supply them with power. And Py says it’s important to discuss where that power will come from before any mandates are placed on what we should or shouldn’t be driving.

GOP’s insurance plan is reckless

By Reps. Anne Graham and Alex Cornell du Houx

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2011/05/23/opinion/commentaries/doc4dd6ac91b292f261626043.txt

Friday, May 20, 2011 2:10 PM EDT

As members of the Maine Legislature we hear every week from providers and patients who must deal each day with a confusing and inefficient health-care system. We know that many Maine families are struggling to pay for the care they desperately need for themselves and their family and are asking for help. That’s why, as a lawmakers, we are particularly interested in policies that lower those costs and increase access for more Maine people to that critical care.

Last week, Republicans in the Legislature passed a plan that will make it even harder to do that. They rushed a reckless proposal to overhaul Maine’s health insurance protections through the legislature. Their proposal, LD 1333, will drive up costs for people living and working in rural areas and Mainers over age 48.

Consumers — especially those who are older, sick, suffer from chronic illnesses, and/or live in rural Maine — stand to lose the most from this legislation.

The overhaul will allow insurance companies to charge Mainers three times more than their neighbor for insurance based on their age alone — and an additional amount depending on where they live. Also troubling, the bill has no limit on the additional percentage you could be charged based on what kind of job you have.

According to the Bureau of Insurance analysis of a similar but less drastic plan, those who want to keep their current insurance could see their rates go up by 170 percent.

This legislation will cause health insurance rates in rural Maine to go up on average by 20 percent. Maine people living in the North will experience an average rate increase of 19 percent. Those living Down East will experience an average rate increase of 22 percent.

In addition to making health care more expensive for rural Mainers, the package also repeals rules that limit how far an insurance company can ask policyholders to travel to get care in network.

The bill creates a segregated reinsurance pool run almost completely by insurance companies and business interests that will be paid for with a per-person tax on everyone’s insurance policies. This $25 million to $40 million tax increase is paid for by a monthly tax of up to $6 a month or $72 per year on top of your premium. A family of four would pay an extra $288 per year.

If it turns out that there isn’t enough to fund the pool, Maine will have to do what other states with reinsurance pools have done — limit benefits to the sickest people, or raise the tax. We think it would have been appropriate for legislators to know how much funding will actually be needed from this new tax to cover the people who will be placed in the reinsurance pool, or how much health coverage will need to be cut for these people in order to not raise the tax even more. But the Republicans wouldn’t even consider the question.

Worse, the legislation exempts lawmakers and state employees from the tax while pushing it onto teachers and private sector workers, from those working at Wal-Mart or Bath Iron Works. In fact, group plans, even self-insured plans, will have to help fund this pool yet do not benefit from it.

Doctors, hospitals, business groups and thousands of other Mainers expressed concern about the plan. Not even the Maine State Chamber would endorse the Republican plan. That’s because it was rushed through the legislature with no analysis on the true impact.

First the committee, and then the House and Senate, was forced to vote on a half-baked plan without an opportunity to get the most basic questions answered, such as, “How much will it cost and who does it help?”

The “whoopee pie” bill had more debate than this significant policy.

The plan pits Maine people against each other — the young versus the old, the north versus the south. It allows the insurance industry to shift the cost of health care from one group of Maine people to another, with the result that some will see their insurance costs rise several hundreds of dollars in a year. And that’s without factoring in the monthly premium tax.

Democrats offered several amendments to protect rural Mainers and rural hospitals, to reduce the cost shift to older Mainers and those who must work more dangerous jobs to make a living.  We included in our amendments full support for significant market reforms including the only pieces our Republican colleagues are willing to trumpet, such as allowing the purchase of policies across state lines and allowing small businesses to band together in hopes of better rates.

Our Republican colleagues refused to support any of our efforts to remove the exemption for legislators from their new tax, to actually gather factual information about the cost to taxpayers of the reinsurance pool, or to create fail-safe language to protect rural Mainers from having to travel great distances for their healthcare or pay significant out-of-pocket costs. Given this rejection of friendly corrections, the vast majority of Democrats could not support an obviously flawed and mostly uninformed health insurance package.

This policy is bad for Maine people. It promises a lot, but it can’t deliver, and in the process a lot of people will lose the insurance they have because they simply won’t be able to afford the price increases.

Health care should be a right not a privilege. Reckless legislation does not insure affordable, accessible health care for the people of Maine.

Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, is a pediatric nurse practitioner serving her first term in the House of Representatives. Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, is a former Marine and now currently works with the Truman National Security Project on veterans issues.

Legislators want more time to work on financial safeguards for heating oil customers

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-brunswick-thibeault-energy-bankruptcy

AUGUSTA — A bill that would increase protection for consumers with prepaid contracts for heating oil was put on the back burner Tuesday by lawmakers.

After a brief public hearing, the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee resolved to put off discussion of LD 1536 until next January. In the interim, the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the attorney general and other interested parties and legislators will meet to nail down specifics.

The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, would require oil dealers to file a quarterly report with the AG’s office, showing evidence that the dealer is in compliance with state laws that ensure oil consumer protection.

Cornell du Houx said the bill was a direct result of witnessing what happened to customers who had pre-paid contracts with Thibeault Energy of Brunswick.

“It’s extremely frustrating and we’re looking to see how we can prevent that in the future,” he said.

State law now requires oil companies to have an available reserve equal to 75 percent of the prepaid oil, purchase a bond for 50 percent of the prepayments, or obtain a letter of credit for the purchases.

Under LD 1536, if a company does not comply with the law, the attorney general could issue a civil violation with a fine equal to the amount of the contract plus an additional 5 percent. The attorney general would then disburse a portion of the fine to the consumers who lost money when the company did not deliver the prepaid oil or natural gas.

During the hearing, Anne Head, commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, said the bill left a lot of unanswered questions. She wanted to know what type of reporting currently takes place, how many oil dealers offer prepaid contracts, and how an outside observer would be able to tell if a company is not in compliance with the state law.

In response, Sen. Christopher Rector, R-Thomaston, successfully moved for the delay until next winter.

— Emily Guerin

Governor announces initiatives to help former Thibeault Energy customers; lawmakers propose tighter rules

By Emily Guerin <http://www.theforecaster.net/users/eguerin&gt;

  E-mail and share <javascript:void(0)>

Feb 08, 2011 5:00 pm

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-brunsthibeaultmeeting

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday announced two initiatives to   help customers affected by the sudden closure of Thibeault Energy in   Brunswick.

In addition, Brunswick-area legislators   are proposing a bill to increase consumer protection from sudden oil   company closures.

In one of the initiatives announced by LePage, five credit unions will offer 12-month, zero-interest   loans of up to $2,000 for customers who lost money when the oil company   closed.

Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union, Down East Credit Union, Five  County Credit Union, Lisbon Community Federal Credit Union and Midcoast   Federal Credit Union will write checks directly to the customers’ new  oil companies.  The loans are available on a first-come, first-served  basis until April 1  and require no credit check.

Low-income customers may be eligible for additional assistance from   the Maine State Housing Authority’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance   Program, or LIHEAP. MaineHousing will hold a special screening for   former Thibeault Energy customers on Saturday, Feb. 12 to see if they   meet the income requirements for LIHEAP. The screening will be from 10  a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Curtis Memorial Library on Pleasant Street in  Brunswick.

Cumberland County residents who cannot attend the screening should   contact the People’s Regional Opportunity Program in Portland at   553-5900. Sagadahoc County residents should call the Kennebec Valley   Community Action Program at 207-859-1500.

Legislators, meanwhile, are looking at existing state law, which gives oil companies several ways to back their delivery contracts. They can choose to reserve  75  percent of the prepaid oil, purchase a bond for 50 percent of the  prepaid funds, or obtain a letter  of credit for the purchases.

According  to Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, the lawmakers’ new proposal  would eliminate two of those options and require companies to buy a  security bond for the full amount that customers have  pre-paid.

“(The proposal) strengthens the law so that in the future this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The announcements came after a meeting Tuesday about the  now-defunct oil company. The session, which was closed to the public,  was attended  by legislators and representatives from MaineHousing, the  attorney  general’s office, the Office of the Energy Independence and Security and  others.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net

This report was updated on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011.

Tips from the Trail: Winning a Three-Way Race

http://www.politicsmagazine.com/blog_post/show/Tips-from-the-Trail-Winning-a-Three-Way-Race

Written by Noah Rothman on December 9, 2010, 9:14 AM

Waging a political campaign against a single opponent is hard enough, but when a viable third candidate enters the race, the election dynamics are thrown off in unpredictable ways. Obstacles confronting candidates in a three-way race range from the portion of the vote required to win to the issue-oriented positioning which compels independents without alienating one’s base. These were the problems faced by freshman Democratic state Representative Alex Cornell du Houx in his run for reelection in Maine’s 66th House district in the city of Brunswick. In this year’s election, he faced both a traditional Republican challenger and a Green Party candidate to his left.

“Both the candidates were well qualified,” says Cornell du Houx. “The Green independent candidate [K. Fredrick Horch] has kids in the community and he ran a downtown store. He also had ties to the local paper and does work at a local college.” As for his Republican challenger, Jonathan Crimmins, Cornell du Houx says that “he had run before and had a family name in Brunswick, so both candidates were well qualified.”

A 27-year-old Iraq War veteran, Cornell du Houx also had to contend with the widespread mistrust of elected officials that pervaded the 2010 elections. “In an anti-incumbent year, I was the Democratic incumbent,” he relates. “That itself posed a challenge running for reelection.”

While New England is known as a safe region for Democrats, Republicans often win there. A tried and tested strategy for winning as a Republican in a light blue area such as Brunswick, Maine, is to split the left-leaning vote between two liberal candidates.

One of the ways Cornell du Houx fought for reelection was by trumpeting his accomplishments. Maine has been relatively unscathed by the economic downturn; the 7.4 percent statewide unemployment rate and 6 percent unemployment rate in the city of Brunswick remain well below the national average. Cornell du Houx attributed much of that to the legislature’s efforts to ensure the revitalization of a recently closed naval air station – which alone created at least 300 local jobs.

The freshman representative’s biggest problem was communicating his accomplishments to voters on a limited budget. “I went door-to-door to every single voting house in Brunswick,” he says. “It was well worth the effort. I got to talk with the vast majority of the community, hear what their concerns were and let them know how I was addressing them.” Cornell du Houx was surprised and dispirited to find that many had little understanding of the work the legislature had completed in the last session. “No one knew what we had accomplished,” he says. “Between the process and the atmosphere, everything was negative.”

Given that close to 20 percent of his district’s voters are military veterans, Cornell du Houx used a targeted direct mailer highlighting his eight years in the Marine Corps and current service in the National Guard as well as his legislative efforts on behalf of members of the military. “We saw people bring that piece to the polls with them,” he recalls.

Endorsements, including one from former Maine Governor Angus King, a resident of Cornell du Houx’s district, were particularly important, since both his opponents had higher name recognition than he did.

Getting out the vote was the final piece of the puzzle. “We did everything,” he remembers. “From providing rides to the polls to sending volunteers out door-to-door to make sure everyone had the opportunity to vote.”

Cornell du Houx won by 11 percent in the strongly Democratic 2008 cycle. This year he narrowly fended off his two challengers, winning 38 percent of the vote to Horch’s 34 percent and Crimmins’ 28 percent. There were 3,340 votes cast, and Cornell du Houx won by 137.

Although the Green candidate received many votes that otherwise would have gone to Cornell du Houx, he says he did well enough among registered Democrats and center-left independent voters to come out on top.

“In the end it comes down to face-to-face, door-to-door presence,” he says. “When community members get to meet you and realize what you have done for them.”

Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at nrothman@campaignsandelections.com

Comments

Your comments are valuable to us. Thank you.

This is a somewhat inaccurate portrayal of this campaign, ignoring the independent voting tendencies of Maine, the existence of term limits and clean election campaign financing, the dynamics of a concurrent 3-way race for governor and the quality of the incumbent.

In particular I am dismayed that you would indicate that the Green Independent candidate’s votes would have otherwise gone to the Democrat. They were never his votes to begin with. The probable reason the incumbent got such a bad reaction door-to-door is that he has accomplished little in his first term in office.

It should also be noted that the support given the 3rd party candidate was indicative of the numerous community forums that this candidate hosted (inviting all of the candidates to jointly attend and speak on the issues) and the inclusive nature of that campaign. Sure as a “green” candidate he probably did get some liberal voters, but as an independent party he certainly picked up a great number of swing voters who did not like the traditional party choices. The independents in Maine (and probably in that district) are equal in number to either major party.

A large infusion of cash from the state party helped Cornell for last minute mailers helped him pick up the 100 or so vote margin needed to win. In a seat that has been in Democratic hands for at least 2 decades this shows a real weakness for the incumbent beyond the anti-incumbent mood of the country.

In a re-match, now that folks have heard what the 3rd party independent had to say, and have seen how close that election was and how viable he was as a candidate, i am sure that many more Republicans in the district would vote Green Independent just to defeat the Democrat, and even some additional Democrats would consider voting for the Green Independent in the future if the incumbent’s performance does not improve.

To the second commenter- it is very nice of you to cut and paste from the incumbent’s campaign website- you should however note your source or just link to the website instead. This litany of co-sponsored bills shows little initiative and while i’m sure he did originally sponsor some items and means well, the question is whether the incumbent has delivered for the district or if someone else could do better. Clearly a majority of voters chose someone else, the incumbent winning only a plurality. This could be for many reasons, but perhaps having one of the worst attendance records in the entire legislature was a reason for all the votes of no confidence.

If anything, a three-way election indicates the need for a runoff election, or for Instant Runoff Voting, to reflect the true majority sentiment.

I think the main point of the first commenter is that these votes don’t belong to anyone, they have to be earned, and that understanding the dynamic of voting outside of a two-party context is important- Maine is perhaps the most independent-minded state in the country for this.

December 14, 2010 – [ 15:10:07 ]

Anonymous

Sadly it sounds as if someone on the losing campaign is bitter. A great deal was accomplished by a first year legislator and the people of Brunswick recognized that. The Green received an equal amount of funding. To say Republicans would vote for a Green to defeat a Democrat does not pass the straight face test. They are more likely to vote for the Democrat, rather than see a ideological far left candidate win. It is really to bad that people still feel the need to continue a negative campaign even after the election. All three candidates ran solid races and in the end there can only be one winner. In a fair race Rep. Cornell du Houx was re-elected and we should all be working to support positive change in Augusta and not live in the past and complain about the past election.

‘Honored and humbled’

By Alex Cornell du Houx

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/11/09/opinion/letters/doc4cd842b627300676345072.txt

Monday, November 8, 2010

I would like to thank the people of Brunswick for voting in the election, whomever you supported. I’m honored and humbled that you chose me to return to the Maine Legislature and will continue to work hard for Brunswick and Maine as the District 66 representative.

I’d like to thank Jonathan Crimmins and Fred Horch for running strong campaigns that brought out the issues, which we all care about. We all share a strong commitment to Brunswick.

We will face many challenges in this legislative session and I am ready to work hard for you to strengthen our community. I’m dedicated to making sure that the redevelopment of Brunswick Landing continues to move forward to create quality jobs, improve education, protect our environment and control wasteful spending.

It was wonderful to get to know so many of you when going door to door.

Thank you all so very much for sharing your concerns and ideas with me and please feel free to contact me anytime, by phone at 207- 319-4511 or by e-mail at acornell@alexcornell.org.

Alex Cornell du Houx, Brunswick

Olsen to join Cornell du Houx, Kent, Gerzofsky in Augusta

By Stephanie Grinnell

Nov 03, 2010 1:00 am

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-staterepssensdist10646566-110510

BRUNSWICK — A three-way contest in House District 66 was won Tuesday by incumbent Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D- Brunswick, with Green Independent K. Fred Horch close on his heels.

Republican candidate Jonathan Crimmins finished third. The three candidates were separated by about 400 votes.

In a House race with a margin of fewer than 70 votes, Republican Kimberly Olsen defeated Democrat David Chipman for the District 64 seat formerly held by Rep. Leila Percy, D-Phippsburg, who vacated the position due to term limit restrictions.

There were a handful of other contested legislative races in the area Tuesday, as well as an unopposed race: state Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, was unchallenged in House District 63.

House District 66

Cornell du Houx received 1,415 votes to Horch’s 1,220 and Crimmins’ 1,019.

Cornell du Houx said there was some concern in his campaign that Horch could ride a wave of conservative victories to win the race. He congratulated both his opponents for working hard and running clean campaigns.

Moving forward, Cornell du Houx said, he is “committed to working hard for Brunswick and Maine,” particularly regarding the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station next year and creation of quality jobs in composites and clean energy.

The win gives Cornell du Houx a second term. The race marked Crimmins’ second election defeat in the district.

“Obviously, I am disappointed with the way it turned out,” he said. “But I’m happy with the way the campaign ran; it was a positive, upbeat campaign.”

Horch made his first attempt at elected office and said he has no regrets.

“We were delighted with the support we got across parties,” Horch said. “We definitely lost a close one. But we tried our hardest and had fun.”

House District 64

The new face of House District 64, covering Phippsburg, Harpswell and the southern half of West Bath, is Republican Kimberly Olsen of Phippsburg.

Olsen defeated Democrat David Chipman of Harpswell, 2,404 to 2,333.

Olsen described her first political campaign as “an interesting walk.” She said she is thankful for all the support she received.

“It was an honor to be nominated and an honor to be elected,” she said.

Olsen, who was a replacement for original candidate David Mosher, said she said does not have immediate plans and just wants “to get (her) bearings up at the Statehouse.”

Chipman said he campaigned hard for the seat and attributed the loss to “a Republican year.”

“I tried my best,” he said. “And best of luck to Kim.”

House District 65

District 65, covering parts of Bath, Brunswick, Topsham, West Bath and Woolwich, will be represented by Democratic incumbent Rep. Peter Kent of Woolwich. He was challenged by Republican Robert Thompson of Brunswick.

Kent, who defeated Thompson 2,139 to 1,863, earned a second term in the House of Representatives.

“I’m excited to be elected again,” he said Wednesday.

He offered “hats off” to his opponent and encouraged constituents to contact him with their concerns at pskentz5@hotmail.com.

“That’s really how I can do my best,” Kent said. “I would love for people to drop me a short note if they would like to get on my email newsletter distribution list.”

Senate District 10

Democratic incumbent Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, who was challenged by Republican Scott Thomas for the state Senate District 10 seat serving Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell and Pownal, was re-elected with a margin of more than 3,700 votes.

Gerzofsky received 10,125 votes to 6,373 for Thomas, who was making his first bid for elected office. Gerzofsky has served one term in the state Senate and four terms in the state House.

Gerzofsky said he consistently heard from voters at the polls Tuesday he is doing a good job representing his district.

“The voters in my district have been very supportive. They appreciate the hard work I have done,” he said. “It’s an honor to serve the people of Brunswick, Harpswell, Freeport and Pownal. I am looking forward to serving them with all my vigor.”

Thomas said his campaign was “a valuable experience.” While he said he is disappointed he did not win, Thomas said he is interested to see what will happen the next few years with new senators and representatives as well as a new governor taking office.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net

Cornell du Houx captures tight race

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Thursday, November 4, 2010 2:23 PM EDT

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/11/04/news/doc4cd191626cb2a077264002.txt

BRUNSWICK — Besting his closest opponent by just more than 100 votes, Democratic incumbent Alex Cornell du Houx will return to Augusta in January to represent House District 66 in the Maine Legislature.

Cornell du Houx took 1,415 votes to the 1,222 cast by District 66 voters for Green Independent candidate Fred Horch, and the 1,019 garnered by Republican Jonathan Crimmins.

No write-in ballots were cast, and 134 voters left the ballot space blank.

The win maintains an entirely Democratic legislative delegation for Bruns-wick.

Cornell du Houx could not be reached for comment by press time.

A graduate of Bowdoin College, he spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Reserves and was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. He is currently employed by the Truman National Security Project, based in Washington, D.C., but Cornell du Houx works primarily from Maine.

During the 124th Legislature, he served on the Legal and Veterans Affairs and Leaves of Absence committees.

Horch, 40, a former attorney who now owns F.W. Horch Sustainable Goods & Supplies on Maine Street, campaigned on the belief that the state “is not heading in the right direction,” and that party politics only made things worse. He advocated for single-payer health care, funded in part by an increase in the bottle deposit; and a progressive income tax, raising taxes on the wealthy.

Reached this morning, Horch thanked his family and campaign team, as well as voters who supported him.

“We lost a close one,” he said. “Congratulations to Alex, and thank you to Jonathan Crimmins for running a good campaign. We had fun and tried our best.”

Crimmins, 35, is a psychiatric technician. He said prior to the election that he hoped to help fast-track the permitting process for companies seeking to locate in Maine, and advocated for businesses of all types to be considered for space at the redeveloped naval air station.

Crimmins said today that while he did not envision this outcome when he began the race, he is proud of the way his campaign was run.

“We stayed positive, stayed on the issues and talked to the people of Brunswick about why we needed to make changes as to how we were governed,” he said.

Crimmins said he enjoyed getting to know Horch, that many of their ideas are similar and that he is “fortunate to have gained an ally in working for Brunswick’s future.”

He congratulated Cornell du Houx, adding that “While this term may be different for Alex, in that the Maine House will be under new management, I hope he can work just as hard for Brunswick as he can. We need the attention and we deserve it.”

LePage, Pingree, Cornell du Houx elected

November 5, 2010

http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2010-11-05&section=1&id=3

By Claire Collery

ORIENT STAFF

Red with anger at Democratic incumbents, Maine voters joined the tide of Americans allying themselves with the GOP. On Tuesday, Republicans took the majority in both of Maine’s legislative houses and the governor’s office, ousting Democrats after an eight-year stronghold in Augusta.

Republican Paul LePage came out on top as the new governor with 38.3 percent of the vote. Though almost every poll had projected him as the race’s leader, he had to fight off a late charge from Independent Eliot Cutler.

Cutler, who as little as a month ago was polling in the single digits, finished with 36.5 percent of the vote. His surge relegated Democrat Libby Mitchell to third place, with 19.1 percent of the vote.

Despite the nationwide rightward trend, incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree earned 56.8 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Dean Scontras and hold on to her seat in the U.S. House representating Maine’s first district, which includes Brunswick.

Locally, Bowdoin graduate Democrat Alex Cornell du Houx ’08 also retained his post representing Brunswick in the Maine State House. With 38 percent of the vote, he bested competitors Frederick Horch from the Green Party and Republican Jonathan Crimmins.

Mainers gave the nod to all three of the referendum questions. Question 1 passed with just 50.6 percent of the vote and will allow a casino in Oxford County, pending local approval. Question 2 will issue a $5 million bond to increase access to dental care. Question 3 will invest $9.75 million in land conservation and working waterfront and state park preservation.

It was the governor’s race, which was not conceded by Cutler until midday Wednesday, that most captured the public’s attention. Associate Professor of Government Michael Franz and Professor of Government Christian Potholm attributed Cutler’s impressive gains to a skillfully run campaign that was aided by Maine’s media.

“No campaign I’ve seen in 40 years has ever been helped so much by the two newspapers—the Bangor Daily News and the Portland papers [Press Herald],” said Potholm. “They editorialize once but much more importantly…it showed up in their reporting. “

The election, which Franz described as a “stunning repudiation of Libby Mitchell,” reached a turning point about a month ago when LePage announced that, if elected, “you’re going to get to see a lot of me on the front page saying, ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.'”

“That was the moment…for the Mitchell campaign to…jump in and get those Republicans and those Independents who had now gone from LePage to undecided,” said Potholm. “[The Mitchell] campaign didn’t do that.”

Franz also explained how the murky and varying methodologies of the different pollsters may have helped bolster Cutler’s popularity, and not always on the surest foundation.

“This, to me, is evidence for why there should be more polling,” said Franz. “The random poll comes out and the numbers might look different purely because of either the sample size or the methodology or the way of asking the question and then boom—the race is totally different.”

“I think the Cutler campaign was very shrewd in the use of their polling,” Potholm agreed.

The race proved constructive for those who oppose negative advertising. While both the LePage and Mitchell campaigns decided to sling a little mud, Cutler opted out and capitalized on his characterization as a victim to garner voter sympathy.

“He did have a narrative to say…’I’m doing nothing but staying above the fray and this is exactly what I’m trying to offer to Maine people’,” said Franz.

But rough-and-tumble LePage won in the end and senior Kylie Huff has high hopes for his tenure in the Blaine House.

“I wanted to pick someone who I knew would cut taxes and spending… A lot of young people are leaving Maine because there are no opportunities for them,” she said. She mentioned a recent Forbes poll that ranked Maine the worst state for business.

“With LePage, I think we’re going to start seeing things turning around,” she said.

Pingree will keep her job representing Maine’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House, but faced a considerable challenge from Republican Dean Scontras. Though she finished with a 14-point victory, some pre-election polls had had the two in a dead heat.

While Scontras painted himself as an independent outsider with no attachment to either party, Pingree cited the accomplishments of her first term in Washington. Although the Republicans reclaimed the House majority, Pingree stressed in her acceptance speech that she will “work with people on both sides of the aisle to move this country forward, to move our state forward.”

Junior Anna Wright, a Democrat, voted for Pingree and said she was “very happy” about the victory. She echoed the campus sentiment, as expressed in a pre-election poll conducted by the Orient last week, which showed an overwhelming support for Pingree.

“I was excited that we were holding on to some seats in the House,” she said

Cornell du Houx, a Democrat, held onto his seat representing Maine’s 66th District in the State House, winning by only 137 votes. He said he is “excited at the prospect of serving the people of Brunswick for a second term and working hard for them in Augusta.”

He thanked the Bowdoin students that came out to the polls Tuesday and emphasized that he will continue to defend their rights.

“Every single year a bill comes up to prevent students from voting and I will continue to ensure that all students are allowed to vote on campus,” he said. He called the proposition of such a bill a political maneuver by Republicans to dilute the student vote, which is typically Democratic.

When discussing his plans for Brunswick, he cited his desire to continue working on the redevelopment of the Naval Air Station and gave special attention to the advanced composite center at Southern Maine Community College, which is run in conjunction with the University of Maine and Bowdoin.

Cornell du Houx expressed concern over the loss of the Democratic majority in the State House but seemed hopeful that the two parties could work together.

“I hope the Republican Party will work in a bipartisan manner…to create legislation to help Maine and Brunswick. When [the Democrats] were in power, we allowed their legislation to be introduced into committee and be debated on the house floor, and I hope they extend the same courtesy to us.”

Keep Cornell du Houx

By Everett B. Carson

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/letters/doc4ccb0e0f9c0be283096377.txt

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:20 PM EDT

Brunswick citizens have an opportunity to keep a talented and dedicated person working for us in the Legislature for the next two years. I encourage all House District 66 voters to support Alex Cornell du Houx when they go to the polls on Nov. 2.

I first met Alex about four years ago after reading a story in The Times Record about his service in Iraq as a Marine while on leave from studies at Bowdoin College. Few young people choose to enlist in the military service while also having the opportunity to go to college.I was interested in meeting him and hearing first hand about his experience.

Our conversation at that time introduced me to a mature and thoughtful young man who was very interested in serving his community and country. Especially interested in protecting our environment and creating clean energy to power the Maine economy, Alex works for a brighter future in many ways.

He has participated in community projects at the local, state, national and international levels. As a state legislator, he works with colleagues from other states on energy and agriculture issues.  And he has volunteered in service programs in Guatemala and Peru.

During his first term in the Legislature, Alex focused on issues that are important for our area and for all of the people of Maine. He advocated for locating a new program to study and develop composites at Brunswick Landing. He strongly supported a proposal  to weatherize all homes and half of Maine’s businesses. He co-sponsored and worked effectively for passage of other common-sense environmental initiatives, including recycling of mercury-containing flourescent light bulbs and funding for open space preservation.

In an age when so much of politics is built on negative campaigning and attacks on other candidates, it is refreshing to find a legislator who is constructive and positive. Alex definitely has a “can do” outlook. Let’s keep him accomplishing good things for the Brunswick area, and for Maine.

Everett B. Carson, Harpswell

Vote for Cornell du Houx

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/letters/doc4ccb0a5ad5482527878046.txt

Web edition — Special to timesrecord.com

By Mary J. Herman

Published:

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:19 PM EDT

It is an honor to write in strong support of Alex Cornell du Houx, candidate for the Maine House of Representatives in District 66.

I have gotten to know Alex over the past few years and unabashedly and emphatically believe that he is THE right person to represent Brunswick. He works hard, understands the issues and stays in touch with his constituents. He is a Maine native, a Bowdoin graduate who served our country honorably in Iraq. I am continually impressed by Alex’s maturity, grasp of issues important to Brunswick and our state and always shows good common sense.

We’re lucky to have people like Alex representing us; let’s join together to ensure his return to Augusta!

Mary J. Herman, Brunswick

Leader in veterans’ issues

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/letters/doc4ccb0b80c257a710021255.txt

Web edition — Special to timesrecord.com

By Rep. Charlie Priest

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:19 PM EDT

One of the many things that District 66 voters can be proud of is Alex Cornell du Houx’s work in the Legislature on behalf of veterans. As a Marine who served in Iraq, Alex is very concerned about Maine’s veterans. Not only did he sponsor bills to provide tax relief for veterans but also got the Bureau of Maine’s Veterans Services to study and report to the Legislature on the problems of homeless veterans in Maine. As well, Alex was the initiator of the Veterans Caucus of the Legislature where, under his guidance, legislators from both parties who had served as officers and enlisted personnel came together to discuss the needs of Maine veterans and to help veterans with their problems. As a veteran myself, I appreciated Alex’s willingness to lead in veterans’ affairs.

I hope that the voters of District 66 will send him back to the Legislature so that he can keep working for our men and women who have served in the armed services.

Rep. Charlie Priest, District 63, Brunswick

Don’t vote for the ‘spoilers’

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/10/29/opinion/commentaries/doc4ccb0f39c8c34891478318.txt

By Jackie Sartoris

Published:

Friday, October 29, 2010 2:30 PM EDT

Election season is always about choices, but this fall’s harvest brings us a wider selection.

Maine’s majority of moderate voters are split, most supporting staid Democrat Libby Mitchell and a smaller percentage polling for newcomer Eliot Cutler.

Cutler, however, is no Angus King. He is only the likely spoiler, not the possible winner.

Meanwhile, Mitchell’s biggest drawback should be her greatest asset: relevant, dutiful government experience, but at a time when government service is ridiculed. The bottom line is that votes for Cutler will hand the governor’s office to someone whom most Mainers strongly oppose: Paul LePage.

*

Locally, in the House District 66 election, we have another three-way race. Here, moderate Brunswick has three articulate and passionate choices. Jonathan Crimmins’ views are far to the right of most Brunswick residents, and in a two-way race he could not win. But Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx could see enough votes go to Green Independent candidate Fred Horch to hand the seat to Crimmins.

What’s odd about this challenge is that Cornell du Houx is not just committed to economic development, education and veterans’ issues, he is notably devoted to environmental issues. Following his admirable service as a U.S. Marine in Fallujah, Iraq, he introduced legislative proposals to reduce dependency on foreign oil and conserve energy while benefiting Maine families, and he actively works on numerous other environmental initiatives.

I like and respect Horch, and wish he would run for local office, but his election now would give Brunswick far less influence in Augusta without a gain for green issues.  Unfortunately, his run could also give the seat to an otherwise unelectable candidate, who will not be an asset to environmental concerns.

Like most people, I want to hire people who know what they’re doing: from doctors and police officers to firefighters and teachers. I want people in vital positions to bore me with their competence and dedication, not excite me with uncertainty or risk.

Governing is hard, complex, and sometimes tedious work, and doing it well is surely no disgrace. I hope that, after this angry election, we can regain a little civility and respect for the essential business of government, without which civility itself is hard to imagine.

In the meantime, I urge Brunswick residents to continue to be the standard-bearers for common sense and thoughtfulness.

Don’t split your vote and help elect people you oppose! Let’s hire two experienced, knowledgeable, dedicated professionals to work for us: Libby Mitchell and Alex Cornell du Houx.

Jackie Sartoris is a former Brunswick town councilor. She lives in Brunswick.

Vote Alex Cornell du Houx ’06

October 29, 2010

http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2010-10-29&section=2&id=3

By Judah Isseroff

GUEST COLUMNIST

Tuesday, November 2 is Election Day. Pundits all over the country—and all over this campus—have been speculating and forecasting. Will the election be a referendum on President Obama? Is the Tea Party movement for real?

Americans are angry. Again. They’re mad at unemployment and deficits and, most of all, they are really, really mad at politicians.

What are Americans going to do?

It seems as though American voters have found people who are as mad as they are (in both senses of the word), and they are going to hand over the House of Representatives and Senate seats to these political outsiders.

Let’s pause here so I can quickly go out on a limb and predict the next two years in American politics.

2011: Congress is deadlocked. The biggest legislative battle is the judicial fight over the constitutionality of health care reform. The war in Afghanistan continues to be the war in Afghanistan, a major headache for the administration. Congressional Republicans talk a lot and do little.

2012: Campaign season again!

Now, I must admit that I have indulged my own bit of political punditry, but for good reason.

By virtue of our isolation and busy lives, we here in the Bowdoin bubble don’t really get to experience the American political process as real or even pertinent. However, this election season we have the opportunity to exercise the franchise in a way that is both personal and prudent.

Alex Cornell du Houx is currently the representative to the Maine State Legislature from Brunswick’s District 66. This district encompasses several parts of the Bowdoin campus, including Helmreich House, Burnett House, Howell House, Cleaveland Street Apartments and Stowe Inn. Cornell du Houx also happens to be an alumnus of Bowdoin College, a member of the Class of 2006. He is currently embroiled in a tough re-election fight, and I hope many of you that live in his district will seize the opportunity to vote for him this year.

Cornell du Houx is exactly the sort of candidate that both Mainers and Bowdoin students should be excited to send to Augusta. He grew up in the small town of Solon, Maine, making the most of the opportunities along his path from Bowdoin student to member of the Maine State Legislature. Cornell du Houx completed a nearly year-long tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine while a student at Bowdoin in 2006, thankfully returning safely to complete a degree in government and legal studies.

Representative Cornell du Houx spent his first term in the Maine State Legislature working diligently on veteran, educational and environmental issues. He is undoubtedly a qualified candidate, both savvy in politics and intelligently beholden to his values. Alex offers a unique combination of progressive ideals, small town upbringing and experience in the service that makes him especially capable of providing a vision for the future of Brunswick, and even the state of Maine.

For those of us at Bowdoin, however, Cornell du Houx provides a great deal more. He offers an example, connections and a perspective that to a great extent reflects many of our own.

I would by no means advocate for Bowdoin students to blindly support a candidate solely because he or she graduated from this school. That said, there is something to be said for being proud of—and having a stake in—the success of Bowdoin graduates. In the crudest sense, success encountered by graduates of this College makes a Bowdoin degree an even more valuable asset out in the world.

More importantly, it gives this institution and its members connections to the rest of the world. Cornell du Houx’s success in public office and beyond means the permeation of the Bowdoin ethos into a political realm that sorely lacks the sort of values that brought most of us to this school.

This leads me to my final point. As a Bowdoin graduate, Alex will bring an outlook to Augusta that closely mirrors that of many at Bowdoin. He is sincerely devoted to the achievement of marriage equality in Maine, as are many of us. He understands what is at stake in the fight against global warming with regards to our national security, our economy and our environment. Likewise, many students at this College care deeply about retaining their capacity to make use of Maine’s natural beauty and resources.

This election season has been, and is going to be, an ugly one. While I certainly hope that all of you pay attention to all the congressional races around this country, I want to impress upon you the unique opportunity we have to elect one of our own. Send Representative Alex Cornell du Houx back to the Maine State Legislature.

Mitchell Institute gala raises $150,000

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has called the scholarship fund the best thing he has ever done.

http://www.pressherald.com/news/mitchell-institute-gala-raises-_150000_2010-10-23.html?cmpid=morning-news-update-html

Posted: October 23

Updated: Today at 1:16 AM

By Tom Bell tbell@mainetoday.com

Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — Getting a college education wasn’t all that important when he was growing up in Waterville in the 1940s, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell said Friday at the Mitchell Institute’s annual dinner.

Even people who didn’t have high school diplomas could get jobs and support themselves, he said.

“That is much more difficult to do today,” he said. “We are living through one of the greatest transitions in human history.”

Advances in communication and technology have made knowledge and skills essential, he said. That’s why it’s so important to reduce barriers to college.

Friday’s Mitchell Institute Fall Gala, a $200-a-plate dinner at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks, raised $150,000 for college scholarships for students throughout Maine.

Every year, the institute awards a $5,000 scholarship to a senior in each of Maine’s 130 high schools. Since Mitchell founded it in 1995, the scholarship fund has awarded $8 million to 1,800 students.

Friday’s event was a huge money-maker for the effort because Mitchell’s friend Tom Walsh, who owns the hotel, donated the ballroom and the dinner. About 500 people attended, including many of the state’s leading political figures and business leaders.

Mitchell, who helped to broker peace in Northern Ireland and served for six years as the U.S. Senate majority leader, said last year, “This scholarship fund is the best thing that I have ever done.”

Besides giving money, the institute helps its scholars find summer jobs, connects them with mentors, and encourages community service to deepen their ties to Maine. Nearly 70 percent of its college graduates now live and work in Maine.

Those leadership development and networking opportunities are more crucial than the money, said Alex Cornell du Houx, who was a scholarship winner and now chairs the Mitchell Scholarship Alumni Council.

Terri Bastarache, 18, a Mitchell scholar who graduated from Gorham High School in June and is now attending the University of Maine, said the scholarship gave her confidence.

“It means a lot,” she said. “It means they believe in me.”

Criteria for the scholarship are: academic performance and potential, a record of community service and financial need.

The institute awards the scholarships in the spring. On Friday, it gave special recognition to 15 scholars and former scholars.

They were recognized for various achievements or qualities, such as overcoming obstacles, or showing leadership, compassion and perseverance.

This year’s recipients of the institute’s Pioneer Scholar Awards are Sam Portera of Limestone Community School, Nate Kinney of Mount Abram High School, Alex Cornell du Houx of Carrabec High School, Mallory Plummer of Morse High School, Teresa Cooper of Nokomis High School, Ameena Khan of Waterville High School, Kim Lim of South Portland High School, Jaclyn McCurry of Biddeford High School, Kaylie Thornton of Carrabec High School, Terri Bastarache of Gorham High School, Patrick Gallagher of Telstar High School, Hannah Belanger of Upper Kennebec Valley High School, Casandra Engstrom of Ellsworth High School, Andy Estrada of Hall-Dale High School, and Kimberly Dao of Thornton Academy.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: tbell@pressherald.com

Letter: Re-elect Cornell du Houx

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-letterkeleher-102210

Oct 18, 2010

As a teacher in the Brunswick school system, I have seen state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx work hard for our children and urge you to re-elect him.  As his record shows, he has been a tireless advocate for Brunswick and for Maine.

At a debate he discussed a measure that he is proposing that would help prevent state funding cuts to Brunswick’s education budget once BNAS is fully closed. The measure he is proposing would exempt the base from the formulas that are used to calculate how much funding each school district receives, as the formula will be affected adversely by the base closure.

Alex has co-sponsored a bill in the Legislature that promotes physical education in school. He understands the importance of promoting physical activity for school children of all ages.

Alex also worked to implement a financial literacy program at Brunswick High School with former state Rep. Tommy Davison at no cost to the district.

Alex has also rolled up his sleeves and volunteered for the past six years in our local schools by tutoring in a variety of subjects. He has also helped our Brunswick Junior High School students by coaching lacrosse and soccer for the past three years.

Whether it is on the soccer field or on the floor of the Legislature, Alex Cornell du Houx is a steadfast advocate for our youth.

Justin Keleher

Bowdoin

Letter: Cornell du Houx is true green

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-letterstrasburger-101510

Oct 11, 2010 12:00 am

I was surprised when Green Party candidate Fred Horch decided to run in House District 66 against Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx this year. After all, in just two years, Alex has not only led a variety of initiatives in the Legislature on weatherization and clean energy business, but has also shown impressive national leadership as vice chairman of the National Council of State Legislators Energy Committee and in his significant work with the Truman Project on the issues of climate change and oil dependence. If ever there was a candidate who needs no Green opposition, it’s Cornell du Houx.

I was even more surprised when I attended one of the debates Horch graciously sponsored and heard his lukewarm response to the promise of all of the alternative forms of energy Cornell du Houx has sponsored in the Legislature – off-shore and on-shore wind, hydro, biofuel, and tidal – none of which seems to interest Horch much. He’s pushing solar, which certainly makes sense for Arizona or Texas. But this is Maine, and though we’re unlikely ever to lead the nation in solar energy, we may well do so in wind, while at the same time becoming considerably less dependent on oil.

Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me the real environmental candidate in this election is Cornell du Houx. I only wish he were in my district so I could vote for him.

The Rev. Frank C. Strasburger

Brunswick

Insurance bureau offers help in Brunswick

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-consumer-outreach-100110

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Oct 01, 2010 12:00 am

BRUNSWICK — A Consumer Outreach Session to help people with insurance cases and to raise awareness about Maine Bureau of Insurance resources will be held, Wednesday, Oct. 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Maine Street Station.

The session will include an overview of the bureau’s services and time for questions. Additionally, staff members will help individual consumers with their specific cases.

The session is being hosted jointly by Brunswick state Reps. Alex Cornell du Houx, Peter Kent and Charlie Priest.

Consumers unable to attend the event can obtain insurance information and assistance by visiting the bureau’s offices in Gardiner, going online to http://www.maine.gov/insurance, or calling the bureau’s toll-free number 1-800-300-5000.

Lady Gaga in Portland —

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2:09 PM EDT

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/09/21/stand_alone_photo/doc4c98e404e2cb5119301719.txt

Maine House District 66 Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, far left, in blue, joins the throngs at Deering Oaks Park in Portland on Monday as they welcome Lady Gaga to the stage during a rally to repeal the Department of Defense’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Republicans, are seen as key votes to break a U.S. Senate filibuster and push a measure to repeal the policy to a vote of the full Senate. Beginning in December 2005, Cornell du Houx served a 10-month tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the Marines Corps’s Alpha Company 1/25.

(Troy R. Bennett / The Times Record)

Maine House candidates spar over transportation issues, Brunswick base redevelopment

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/m-bruncandidates-1

By Alex Lear

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Sep 15, 2010 9:10 am

BRUNSWICK — The three candidates in Maine House District 66 aired their views on transportation policy and redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station Monday during the second of three forums.

The final forum, covering health care and education, was scheduled for Wednesday. The first, on food and energy, was held Sept. 7.

The series was sponsored by the campaign of Green Independent candidate Frederick Horch, who along with Republican Jonathan Crimmins is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx.

Candidates gave statements and then fielded questions on the future of the base property, which the Navy will leave next year and which will be redeveloped as Brunswick Landing. They followed the same procedure on the topic of transportation.

Cornell du Houx noted that $20 million in revenue to the state is being lost through the base’s shutdown.

“We’ve been working extremely hard as a legislative delegation to make the (redevelopment) transition smooth,” he said, adding that the work in part led to a June bond issue that provided funding for a Southern Maine Community College campus on the property.

“The community college was essential to bring there, because one of the number one things (employers) look for when they come to a place to put their companies is, ‘do we have an educated workforce,’” Cornell du Houx said. “Maine is unique in the fact that we have a composite technology that is emerging. … We’re going to be combining with the Southern Maine Community College, the University of Maine and Bowdoin College to have a unique engineering system” on the base.

He also noted that the base has a robust information technology infrastructure, key in attracting a variety of industries.

Crimmins said he hoped Kestrel Aircraft Co.’s proposed $100 million endeavor at the base comes to fruition. He noted, though, that while the project is expected to generate 300 jobs, the base closure has cost nearly 5,000 jobs.

“We need 4,700 jobs to come back to the break even point,” he noted.

Crimmins called planned renewable technology initiatives at Brunswick Landing “a great idea,” but added that “we have to look at the broader picture. We need to bring in many different types of industries, many different types of organizations.”

He noted that the State Planning Office has said Maine’s primary industry is tourism. He suggested a tourism school be started at the base property, allowing students to gain the education there that they would otherwise have to obtain outside of Maine, “because there’s no school for tourism in the state.”

Crimmins said tax incentives are important in attracting industries, but that caps on the length of those incentives should be extended. “Let’s make sure that a company comes in here not for just five years, not for 10 years, but bring them in for a lifetime,” he said. “If we’re going to invest in them, let’s have them invest in us.”

While he has heard the term “brace for impact” connected to the base closure, Horch said he prefers to think of the event more along the lines of preparing for takeoff.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Brunswick,” he said. “How we develop the base will define our economic future. It will define a lot about the town, so it’s a critical thing to get right.”

Horch said the base should be redeveloped in a way that benefits both Brunswick and the state, and suggested a manufacturer of private aircraft, like Kestrel, isn’t necessarily the best option for Brunswick Landing.

“I am very serious about ending hunger in Maine,” he said. “If we’re going to spend public money … on the base, I want it to be addressing our strategic goals. And one of the goals I think the state should have is ending hunger.”

Horch said Kestrel is a risky endeavor. “As a businessperson, I ask, whose $100 million is it? Whose 300 jobs are they?”

He added that while he is a pilot and enjoys flying, “I think we have some strategic goals here. We have hunger problems, we have transition to energy problems. We have things we can do at the base, and every time we use the base for one of those purposes, we move ourselves closer to our strategic goals.”

Transportation

When the forum’s focus switched to transportation, Crimmins said Maine is at a crossroads, and that he’s read that 238 of its bridges need repair or replacement within the next few years, and that a quarter of its roads need immediate repair.

“Of course, now the question comes, where’s the money come from?,” he asked. “That’s millions and millions if not billions of dollars that are going to be required to fix our roads and bridges.”

Crimmins said that while increased public transportation is an option, Maine is largely a rural state. He praised the concept of passenger rail service coming to Brunswick, but noted its significant expense.

In trying to figure out how the roads and bridges will be funded, Crimmins called for the public to tell its representatives in Augusta what takes priority: “I want you to be able to drive the engine that tells us how we go about doing this.”

Horch said Maine’s transportation situation is unsustainable, that “all of our transportation depends on gasoline, none of which we produce or will ever be able to produce in Maine.

“So we’re completely dependent on a foreign source of energy,” he continued. “And at any moment we’re living with the risk of enormous price increases out of our control, and we really don’t have the ability to cope with that.”

He said he would like to see more people getting from place to place without depending on vehicles, instead going on bicycle or foot.

“More people, fewer cars,” Horch said. “That’s my vision for Brunswick.”

While he supports a train between Brunswick and Portland, Horch said a trolley connecting Brunswick with Freeport and Bath would be a better and less expensive option.

“Let’s do trolleys and trains like we used to do,” he said. “We used to have these systems here in Brunswick … we could bring something like that back.”

Cornell du Houx said that with the money not available to properly repair roads, more public transportation is necessary.

“There’s a reason why Route 1 is called the coastal parking lot in the summer; 8 million people come to Maine in the fall and summer … which is a wonderful thing,” he said, “but I think it would be even more wonderful if they could jump on the train in Boston and come all the way up to Rockland, and past there up to Acadia.”

He said Maine has a large rail infrastructure that was used years ago, but not today, thanks to the rise of the automobile industry.

While vehicles and the highway system serve a tremendous purpose, Cornell du Houx said, he called for an increased movement of passengers and freight by rail and buses.

He said the Amtrak Downeaster is the most successful railroad service in the nation, initially projected to increase ridership by 12 percent, but ultimately achieving a 28 percent jump. An Amtrak study, he said, showed that expanding the line to Brunswick will bring an additional 36,000 riders there.

“I think that will hopefully benefit the businesses in the area,” he said.

Cornell du Houx and Crimmins faced each other in the election two years ago. While Crimmins lost in every precinct, he fared better than previous GOP challengers in a district that Democrats have traditionally dominated.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

House 66 foes spar on BNAS reuse

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/09/14/news/doc4c8fac7184a33887427550.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 2:13 PM EDT

BRUNSWICK — Candidates for the District 66 seat in the Maine House of Representatives met Monday evening at Curtis Memorial Library for a discussion about the redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station and transportation during one of three forums hosted this month by Green Independent candidate Fred Horch.

Horch, along with incumbent Democrat Alex Cornell du Houx and Republican challenger Jonathan Crimmins, listed their priorities for the redevelopment and their opinions on the process so far, as well as on subjects such as tax breaks for businesses locating at Brunswick Landing, which is what the property will be called after the Navy cedes it for civilian reuse in 2011.

Candidates then fielded questions from audience members, including Democratic Sen. Stan Gerzofsky — who questioned how involved Horch and Crimmins had been in the redevelopment process to date and how knowledgeable they were about it.

Cornell du Houx, who is serving his first term in the Legislature, spoke first Monday to an audience of about 35.

“We’ve been working extremely hard as a legislative delegation to make the transition smooth,” he said, pointing to “major pieces of legislation,” including passing a bond question in June that allocated $8 million to, among other projects on the base, create a Brunswick campus of Southern Maine Community College and make accessibility upgrades.

He noted an announcement that Kestrel Aircraft Co. plans to locate a $100 million composite single-engine turbo prop plane operation at Brunswick Landing.

Cornell du Houx said the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the entity charged with redeveloping the base, is negotiating a “commitment … that all of their energy is going to be bought from green energy sources,” and he said he was told by officials at Bath Iron Works that the company is “in negotiations” to build wind turbines.

This morning, MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque confirmed that his group plans to use exclusively “green energy.”

“It’s our goal, when we take over the property, to first buy green energy, and then generate our own green energy,” he said.

When contacted this morning by The Times Record, BIW spokeswoman Dixie Stedman said any characterization of the shipyard as “in negotiations” to build wind turbines is “not correct.”

“We are interested,” she acknowledged. “We are talking with developers. We’re listening, (but) we’re not negotiating.”

Crimmins, who said he grew up “about 500 yards of the end of the (BNAS) runway,” expressed concern that during the redevelopment effort, the town is putting “all of our eggs in one basket.”

“I really hope that Kestrel, when they come in and bring in the $100 million of not only their private funding, but also some public funding in some cases, and the promise of 300 jobs — I really hope that comes to fruition, but that’s only 300 jobs of 5,000 we’ve lost,” he said. “We need 4,700 jobs to get back to the break even point.”

Crimmins said he supports ideas such as a botanical garden proposed to occupy part of the 3,200-acre tract if they are sustainable. “We have to look at a broader picture,” he said. “We need to bring in many different types of industries, many different types of organizations.”

For example, he said, if the Maine State Planning Office says the top industry in the state is tourism, “Let’s put a tourism school on the base.”

Crimmins expressed support for extending tax breaks to businesses interested in locating at Brunswick Landing.

“We need to make sure we’re developing that to the fullest potential,” Crimmins said. “Right now, I don’t think we are. We keep looking for that golden goose that’s going to lay the golden egg, and we need a flock of geese.”

Horch called redevelopment of the base “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How we develop the base will define our future. This is the time to get involved.”

As a Green Independent, Horch favors “private initiative, local initiative,” and less involvement by state government. “Let the people have the base and let private individuals and businesses develop it from the grassroots up,” he said.

Horch said his vision for the redeveloped base includes asking the question, “What are we making on the base that we need?”

If the state will spend public money on the base, Horch said the money should move the state closer to its goals, which he said should include “ending hunger in Maine.”

Instead, he said, MRRA is moving forward with negotiations with Kestrel Air.

“That’s a great announcement, for Gov. Baldacci to show up and say that there’s $100 million investment coming to Brunswick,” Horch said. “As a business person, my question is, whose $100 million is it? Whose 300 jobs are they? If you look at Kestrel — I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade — but they’re a very risky endeavor, and what they’re going to produce is private aircraft … but I think we have some strategic goals here.”

Audience members on Monday questioned the candidates on topics ranging from public funding for Kestrel Air to what specific businesses they envision for the redeveloped base.

Responding to the former, Cornell du Houx said Maine competes with every other state to entice businesses and so must offer incentives, but that he believes they should be minimized.

“The way I justify it to myself is that the company coming in will be providing jobs to the community (so) we’re not necessarily subsidizing the company, but subsidizing the jobs that are there,” he said.

Another person questioned Horch’s statement about letting private businesses and individuals develop the base, and also asked, “How are all those wonderful things you propose going to produce the (lost) income?”

Horch said the MRRA board is “an unelected body” — appointed by Baldacci — and is “making decisions for us in our name — it’s really not a democratic process.”

He said the best way to generate lost revenue is by supporting small businesses started and owned by Maine residents, versus pursuing “speculative investments,” which he said results in a “trickle-down” economy.

At one point, Gerzofsky, who this year is running again for the Maine Senate District 10 seat, asked Horch and Crimmins about their “depth of knowledge … of the biggest economic development area in the state of Maine.”

“I wrote most of the laws Fred or anybody else wants to talk about that have to do with the base,” Gerzofsky said. “I would like to ask any of the other candidates if they have had any involvement in the years we were going through the Brunswick Local Redevelopment Authority and we had all the outreach to see what the people in the community really wanted out at the base …”

“I like to think I’ve been on the base more times than I could possibly count in my head,” Crimmins replied, adding, “If we’re going to hold a requirement that someone has to attend every meeting … there are probably few people in the town of Brunswick or the state of Maine who could serve in public office, Sen. Gerzofsky included … What brought me to this position is my concern for where it’s been and where it’s going.”

Horch said he has read the studies and attended meetings where he could, and has “put a lot of serious thought into this.”

“Recently, seeing what the culmination of all the effort had been, I’ve lost heart a little bit,” he said, pointing in particular to efforts by Brunswick Park and Gardens to gain support for a privately funded botanical garden as part of the base redevelopment plan. “I think there was a lot of community outreach … but I haven’t seen any forward progress.”

Several questioners asked candidates to outline specific industries they envision for the redeveloped base, and Crimmins took the opportunity to elaborate on how Maine could focus on tourism.

“Have them stay here and learn how to operate that convention center” on the base, he said. “Open a culinary school. That’s the type of idea we need for the state of Maine, for the base property itself. We’ve really put our hopes in one basket as far as the aviation side and the green technology … we need to look beyond the narrow focus we’ve got right now.”

Horch said he’d like to see the community college introduce a horticulture program and teach insulation techniques — an idea echoed by Cornell du Houx, who said clean energy and weatherization could be a focus, as could “quality of place”  and the proposed botanical garden.

Horch noted that, unlike Crimmins, he opposes tax breaks for businesses. “Unless we cut services, we’re going to have to raise taxes for business owners like mine,” he said.

During a second hour of the forum, candidates discussed transportation, focusing in large part on the merits and viability of public transportation.

Crimmins said expanded passenger rail to Brunswick is “a very good idea, but at a great cost,” and will have to be subsidized.

He said he does not agree with raising the gas tax to pay for roads, but that he wants to hear from voters on that issue.

“When I think of transportation, I think about more than just cars,” Horch said, adding that the current transportation fuel supply is “unsustainable … none of which we produce or ever will be able to produce in Maine.”

“Let’s build things where they need to be so we don’t have to drive so much,” he said.

Cornell du Houx said current state funding for roads is not sustainable, and more focus on public transportation is the solution.

A third forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, also at Curtis Memorial Library, will focus on health care and education.

bbrogan@timesrecord.com

Is honesty what we would have?

    

By Jonathan Crimmins

  

Published:

Friday, August 13, 2010 2:11 PM EDT

       

Recently, I opened The Times Record to read an opinion piece by Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, a current Maine legislator from Brunswick (“Common sense step toward honest elections,” July 28).  The topic of the commentary was the Disclose Act which, at the time, was being debated in U.S. Senate for passage. The legislator spoke glowingly of the need to stem the influence that money can have on a political campaign and state from where the money was coming for each campaign.   

My first reaction was to think that disclosing who was involved in political campaigns is a great idea and can only go to forwarding the ideals that each election equals one person and one vote. The writer even stated that it was a “common-sense bill” — and who cannot agree that common sense is needed at every level of government. The idea stayed with me all day and I thought more about the impact.

The next morning, I heard an interview with an ABC News correspondent, Alex Stone, that turned around my thinking. During the interview it was stated that the bill excluded certain groups and organizations from the need to report where the money came from that funded their political involvement.  Mainly, nonprofit organizations and unions would not have to follow the same procedures as a Fortune 500 business or a small business here in Maine.

Why is that? Why shouldn’t all organizations follow the same procedures?

    

  

  The role of government is not to favor one organization over another and it is not the role to pick the winners and the losers of a particular venture. The role of government is to set the stage for an equal contest amongst those interests.  When government sets a rule for one person or organization and excludes another from its impact the result is scorn and skepticism from the electorate. Unfortunately, the electorate has come to accept this sort of behavior from its elected officials.   

Whether it is tax policy or political campaigns, everyone should operate under the same rules in each arena. Perhaps if the legislator understood this he would have the equality in the political realm that he advocated for in the original opinion piece.

Jonathan Crimmins is a Republican candidate for the Maine Legislature from Brunswick. He is seeking the District 66 seat held by Democrat Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx. Fred Horch also is seeking the seat as a Green Independent Party candidate.

Common sense step toward honest elections

http://timesrecord.com/articles/2010/07/26/opinion/commentaries/doc4c4dca4e1edd9275769945.txt

By Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

Published:

Monday, July 26, 2010 2:10 PM EDT

The 2010 elections are going to be different from any we’ve seen in the last 100 years. I’m not talking about candidates or technology or policy — I’m talking about money.

Earlier this year, in its decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court overturned a century’s worth of election laws in order to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence voters. Now, a corporation like BP can spend as much as it wants to run ads against candidates who want to impose strict regulations on the oil industry, and a hedge fund can spend millions to aid a candidate who shares its interests.

What’s more, the new rules give the same freedom to domestic subsidiaries of foreign companies as to those controlled by U.S. companies, and contain no restrictions on campaign spending by government contractors-creating a real opportunity for pay-to-play deals.

We can’t know exactly how corporations will use their new influence in the 2010 elections. But we can make sure that their campaign expenditures are as limited, and as transparent, as possible.

Last month, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act, a common-sense bill to limit which corporations can pour money into elections, and to make sure that those who do get involved in politics disclose exactly what they are doing. The DISCLOSE Act would close the loophole that allows foreign-controlled domestic subsidiaries to participate in American elections, and make sure that government contractors and recipients of TARP funds couldn’t curry favor by buying campaign ads. It would establish new rules to prevent outside spenders from coordinating their campaign activities with candidates and political parties. And it would also impose strict transparency requirements-all corporate and labor union expenditures for or against a candidate would need to be reported promptly and clearly, and a company’s CEO would have to appear in all of its political ads, much like candidates must “approve the message” of ads funded by their campaigns.

The DISCLOSE Act isn’t perfect, but what it does is simple and important: It takes a harmful Supreme Court decision and ensures that it can do as little damage as possible in a quickly approaching election.

It is now up to the Senate to pass DISCLOSE in time for voters to have the information we need as we go to the polls in November. But in a typically Washingtonian twist, the straightforward bill to promote transparency has run into the fierce opposition of those whose moneyed influence it endangers. Big business lobbyists, who embraced the Citizens United decision and plan to spend millions on the 2010 elections, have been ratcheting up their efforts to defeat DISCLOSE, and have gotten most of the Republican caucus on board.

When the Senate votes on DISCLOSE this Tuesday, the votes of Maien Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will be crucial to its passage. Both have been strong supporters of transparency and accountability in the past, but rarely have the voices against honest government been so loud. They will hear plenty from the business lobby; now they need to hear from ordinary citizens.

Americans have worked for decades to make sure our elections belong to voters, not to the highest bidder. The only way we can fully take back our “government by the people” is to pass a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United.

But in the meantime, we have a basic right to know who is spending money in our elections. The Supreme Court has handed unprecedented political power to big corporations. It’s now the job of our elected officials to protect the power of voters.

Rep. Alex cornell du Houx, D-District 66, represents part of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives.

letters@timesrecord.com

Council OKs poll consolidation

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/07/13/news/doc4c3c8c40d927c415560833.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 2:04 PM EDT

BRUNSWICK — Pending approval from Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap, Brunswick voters from all seven districts will vote at Brunswick Junior High School in November. That change derives from a Town Council decision on Monday to consolidate polls.

The council voted 5-3, with District 5 Councilor Margo Knight absent, to switch from six polling places to one. The move to consolidate came despite strong opposition from three members of Brunswick’s legislative delegation, town councilors Ben Tucker, David Watson and John Perreault, and others.

Town Clerk Fran Smith proposed poll consolidation in a June 15 memo to the council. Smith cited voters’ increased use of absentee ballots, dwindling municipal resources and difficulty finding election workers — as many as 128 for major elections — to staff all six polling places.

Smith wrote that if the council were interested in consolidating polls, residents from all seven districts could vote at Brunswick Junior High School as soon as this November. Alternatively, Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School would be available in November 2011, and pending an economic development conveyance and town acceptance, Neptune Hall on Brunswick Naval Air Station would be available in either June 2011 or November 2011.

The council voted 5-3, with District 5 Councilor Margo Knight absent, to switch from six polling places to one.

Town Clerk Fran Smith proposed poll consolidation in a June 15 memo to the council.

According to Smith, consolidation of polls would reduce costs by between $7,400 and $8,400 per election.

According to Smith, consolidation of polls would reduce costs by between $7,400 and $8,400 per election.

Should consolidation not occur, following reductions in municipal staff, she wrote, “at this point … the cost of elections will continue to rise, since additional help has to be hired to assist with the increasing number of absentee ballots while still fully staffing the polls.”

Still, Smith acknowledged drawbacks to consolidation, including a longer distance for some voters to travel, potential traffic and parking problems, the inability to guarantee schools would be closed each Election Day and “feeling a loss of a sense of community from neighborhood polling places.”

During Monday’s public hearing, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, Rep. Charles Priest and Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, all Brunswick Democrats, spoke against the proposal, which they said would discourage voter participation.

Noting that he’s spoken against such a proposal before three or four previous councils, Gerzofsky said he’s worked “for better than 50 years trying to get people to register to get out and vote … in the early (1960s, I worked) getting people down South to know they were allowed to vote.”

“Democracy is not cheap — it’s not made to be cheap,” Gerzofsky said, adding that Maine consistently ranks in the top five states in voter participation, and often in the top three.

“It’s supposed to be participatory. It’s not a spectator sport,” Gerzofsky said of the U.S. electoral system.

Priest cautioned against repeats of the two-hour lines voters experienced at the 2008 Democratic caucus. Following the meeting, Smith noted that the 2008 Democratic caucus was run by Democratic Party officials.

“We as a town should be encouraging our citizens to get out and vote and to make that the easiest and closest as possible,” former town councilor Louise Ansari said. “Longer lines discourage people from voting. Voters like to get in and out quickly. Having all of our voting sites in operation enables them to do that. I really don’t think you can put a price tag on voter access to our polls.”

Most councilors, however, argued that with increasing absentee voting, poll consolidation would be a wise choice.

“It’s quite clear that in the presidential election, when more than 40 percent of voters voted absentee, that that’s the direction it is going,” Town Council chairwoman Joanne King said. “I think it’s a wise decision to start thinking about making changes in the way we do things.”

“Any perception of us impeding voting, I don’t think is real,” District 5 Councilor Gerald Favreau said.

But Tucker said that while consolidating might seem “inevitable,” the clerk’s office is not yet overwhelmed.

“Voting is the central act in our democratic system, and it’s not something to be nickel-and-dimed,” Tucker said.

Perreault said that at a single polling place, Brunswick voters might see a four- to seven-hour line, and “if getting people in and out quicker costs the town $7,000, that’s a good thing.”

District 1 Councilor David Watson also opposed, arguing that some voters in his district already travel 15 minutes to cast a ballot, and would have to drive even farther to cast ballots at Brunswick Junior High School.

“I don’t think it’s the right time, and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Following the vote, Gerzofsky said he is concerned that November’s gubernatorial election will draw the heaviest voter turnout since 2008.

Cornell du Houx and Priest argued that if consolidation were to be considered, it should have waited until after redistricting occurs with the 2010 U.S. Census.

“If the town wants to make sure there’s a low voter turnout, they should just keep moving the polls around,” Gerzofsky said.

bbrogan@timesrecord.com

Veterans push for energy bill

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=118927&catid=2

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Military leaders and veterans joined local officials Saturday at the Portland Public Library to gather support for an energy bill in Congress.

The veterans say that relying on oil is not only bad for the environment, but, they say, it helps fund terrorism by sending American dollars to oil-producing countries overseas.

They support the American Power Act co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. That legislation aims to cut greenhouse gases by creating cleaner energy sources here in the United States.

The veterans say that the Pentagon has looked at areas that could be hit by severe climate change like droughts and floods.

Military leaders believe that when those things happen, people in those countries become poorer, more desperate, and ripe for recruitment by radical groups like Al-Qaeda.

Climate change push targets Collins, Snowe

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100609115341000128

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

Using paid advertising combined with media events, activists this week have been targeting Maine’s Republican senators, trying to earn their votes a key climate change vote slated for today (Thursday).

But the national political agenda will not end with the vote. On Saturday, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations will host a town hall meeting here to call for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

A flurry of advocacy ads will try to affect a vote today on what’s called the “Murkowski amendment.”

The name refers to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will bring legislation to the Senate floor for debate today to disapprove of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent endangerment finding that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant and harmful to human health and the environment. Murkowski and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, agreed to bring the joint resolution, S.J. 26, to the floor for up to six hours of debate before voting on a motion to proceed.

If the motion is successful by 51-vote majority, the Senate would then allow for an hour debate before voting on its passage, which also requires 51 votes.

Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations “dedicated to securing America with clean energy,” according to its literature, on Wednesday pushed for a no vote on the Murkowski amendment.

“We need strong climate change legislation to address the security threats associated with climate change and our dependence on oil,” said Maine state Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, an Iraq War veteran with Truman National Security Project and Operation Free, during a press event at Portland City Hall Wednesday.

Rep. Du Houx said Collins and Snowe have shown independence in their handling of national security and environmental issues.

According to her staff, Sen. Collins has not decided how she will vote on the Murkowski resolution. To date, Collins is the only Senate Republican to introduce comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, her staff reported in an email message Wednesday.

“While I support regulating greenhouse gas emissions, I have reservations about the sweeping approach EPA is pursuing,” Collins said in a statement. “For example, for the first time the EPA has classified biomass as not carbon neutral, which could have a negative impact on Maine’s forest products industry. I have not yet decided how I will vote on the Murkowski resolution, and I continue to believe the best way to proceed is for Congress to pass a framework for regulating carbon emissions as Senator Cantwell and I proposed in the CLEAR Act.”

Efforts to solicit a response from the office of Sen. Snowe for comment on her position on the Murkowski amendment were unsuccessful.

Advocacy groups aren’t taking anything for granted.

Du Houx said big dollars are coming from the Truman National Security Project, a national security leadership institute which calls itself “the nation’s only organization that recruits, trains and positions a new generation of progressives across America to lead on national security.”

“The Truman National Security Project, we’ve launched a $3 million ad buy with Republicans for Environmental Sustainability, and that’s airing in Maine and a number of other states,” Du Houx said Wednesday.

Du Houx said the $3 million ad buy will try to sway the outcome of this vote.

“It’s aimed at the senators who we think should be leaders on this issue,” he said. “Senator Collins and Senator Snowe in the past have been very strong on national security and they’ve been strong on environmental issues. We hope they will continue to do that by not supporting the Murkowski amendment.”

Separately, the group Americans United for Change announced on Tuesday the launch of a new ad in Maine, urging Collins to break with fellow Republicans to reject Murkowski’s bid to reject EPA rules on emissions.

The group is pouring $40,000 into Portland from Tuesday through Thursday with an ad mirroring a national spot airing in Washington, according to a press release. The ad urges Collins to back Democrats’ effort to reject the Murkowski resolution, and is based on indications, a group spokesman said, that Collins is inclined to back the legislation.

The ad ties the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the new EPA rules, with a video of a gushing pipeline playing behind other images and narration in the ad.

While activists decried Murkowski’s amendment as an attack on the Clean Air Act, advocates for the amendment say the EPA is acting like a rogue agency. Nicolas Loris, a research assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, said the EPA is beginning the process “of imposing costly and environmentally questionable CO2 cuts by using the Clean Air Act. … Mandating more miles-per-gallon increases the cost of buying a new car and makes them less safe.”

Adam Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, disagreed, saying the endangerment finding makes sense for auto manufacturers. He opposed the Murkowski amendment while speaking at Wednesday’s press event, invoking the memory of Maine Sen. Ed Muskie, a renowned Maine Democratic congressman and environmentalist.

“We need to protect our air and water, we need cars to get better gas mileage, we need to use less oil and gas, and we need to import less oil from abroad,” Lee said. “Doing these things may or may not cost us more money. … Some things are worth paying for. If Ed Muskie could see this, he would roll over in his grave.”

In an interview, Lee explained that he’s one of the few auto dealers speaking up for the EPA regulations and related mileage standards for automobiles.

“It’s an unusual position to take because for whatever reason there don’t seem to be many auto dealers who feel a need to speak out on this,” Lee said. “However, I’ll say the auto manufacturers agree. They do not want to see this pass either because they worked very hard to come up with a national standard last year, a new fuel economy standard. … They feel they got the compromises they needed to make themselves comfortable.”

Beyond today’s vote on the Murkowski amendment, groups are looking long-range at clean-energy legislation.

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Portland Public Library, Operation Free will host a town hall meeting with top retired military leaders and veterans, along with local elected officials, “to discuss the connection between climate change and national security, and call for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.”

Maine Environmentalists Urge Defeat of Murkowski Resolution 

06/09/2010 12:32 PM ET     

  They say the legislation favors the interests of big oil at the expense of the environment.

http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3483/ItemId/12525/Default.aspx

   

Environmentalists are urging Maine’s two U.S. Senators to reject legislation they say would block new rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The so-called “Murkowski Resolution,” introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, could come up for a Senate vote as soon as tomorrow.

If the so-called “disapproval resolution” is endorsed, it would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and block a variety of other standards announced by President Obama two weeks ago, opponents say.

Opponents of the resolution in Maine, which include the groups Environment Maine and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, held a news conference in Portland today to urge Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to vote against the resolution.

“The people of Maine overwhelmingly want climate change legislation, and we don’t want to side with big oil and their lobbyists. We want to protect our national security, protect our environment and improve our economy,” said state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, a Brunswick Democrat.

Spokespeople for the two senators say they are still reviewing the resolution and have not may any decisions yet.

Town meeting set on climate change

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Town-meeting-set-on-climate-change.html

By Beth Quimby bquimby@mainetoday.com

Staff Writer

Maine native and Vietnam veteran Maj. Gen. Don Edwards and other military leaders, veterans and local officials will host a town meeting to discuss the connection between climate change and national security and call for the passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

The meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square.

Adam Cote of Portland, who ran for Congress in 2008, will also be at the meeting. He served in Bosnia and Iraq in the U. S. Army.

State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, will moderate the forum.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is being coordinated by Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations working to secure sources of clean energy.

http://www.asmainegoes.com/content/du-houx-peanut-walter-and-achmed

http://www.wgme.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wgme_vid_2844.shtml

202 577 5067

(ME) WCSH 6 (NBC):  Veterans Talk About U.S Dependence on Oil

http://www.wcsh6.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=116010&catid=2&GID=uk3J2rttL2kwWUE4YrrKNgS3iVcswgM6n5iB+LS6Gtc%3D

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A group of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are now touring the country hoping to spread the message that U.S. dependence on foreign oil is threat to national security.

The group, called “Operation Free,” is traveling in a biodiesel powered bus. Their goal is to visit 27 states.

On Monday, they stopped by USM and told students that some of the money that Americans pay for gasoline ends up in the hands of some of this country’s most dangerous enemies.

“Every time the price of oil goes up, Iran makes a lot of money. What they do with that money is they turn around and they finance their nuclear program. They buy sophisticated IED’s that they send to insurgents, militias and terrorists in Iraq that are used against our soldiers,” says former army captain, Mike Breen.

The veterans also say that climate change is a threat in that it causes famine and drought in nations like Somalia and Afghanistan that are already unstable.

“Climate change,” says veteran Karen Eckstein, “has been listed in the quadrennial defense review, which is the Pentagon’s strategic plan for the future. They’ve specifically listed climate change as an accelerant to instability.”

The group will travel to Augusta and Bangor this week and then head to Massachusetts.

NEWS CENTER

Iraq Veterans Speak Out Against US Senate’s Murkowski Resolution Today; Thank Maine Senators For Not Supporting It.

http://munjoyhillnews.com/2010/02/18/iraq-veterans-speak-out-against-us-senates-murkowski-resolution-today-thank-maine-senators-for-not-supporting-it/

February 18, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments

Alex Cornell Du Houx, Greg Brown, 1Sky State Organizer and Andrew Campbell at todays press conference.

Alex Cornell Du Houx, Greg Brown, 1Sky State Organizer and Andrew Campbell at todays press conference.

By Carol McCracken (Post # 399)

Two Iraq War Veterans spoke against the Murkowski Resolution which “would gut the authority of Senator Edmund Muskie’s Clean Air Act” at a press conference at city hall this afternoon. Portland resident Andrew Campbell and Alex Cornell Du Houx both served in the Iraq War which galvanized their beliefs that this country should not be dependent on foreign energy.

Du Houx first thanked Senators Snowe and Collins for not signing on to this resolution which could come before the U.S. Senate for vote on February 25th. “We send a billion dollars for oil to states who do not have our interests in mind. Some of those countries, like Saudia Arabia, use the money to fund terrorist organizations. We are funding both sides of the war,” “Du Houx said. Du Houx currently serves in the State Legislature. He served with the US Marines in Faluja where he was an “assault man.” He’s also with the Truman National Security Project.

The other Iraq veteran speaking at todays news conference was Andrew Campbell. A former Hill resident, Campbell served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 in Mosul. “The US should not be dependent on only one source of energy,” he said. During his service, he experienced a violent backlash on US soldiers when Iraqi soldiers at the front line were unable to get enough fuel to defend themselves. Campbell is now studying psychology at USM here in Portland. He plans to go on to graduate school for school counseling.

The Murkowski resolution was introduced by US Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

1Sky, allies walk fine line on clean energy

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100218041191000579

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

A press conference about wind power, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the State House, underscores some of the disagreements over what represents clean energy in Maine.

The Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power will hold a press conference to make a “major announcement” concerning Gov. John Baldacci’s policy to mandate the deployment of more than 1,500, 400-foot tall industrial wind turbines throughout the state, but don’t expect an outpouring of support for wind power.

Instead, task force members will be joined by turbine noise victims, an industrial noise expert, an attorney who works with “wind law” and other interested parties, according to the group’s press release.

The press conference, called amid “growing concerns about health and environmental impacts of wind turbines,” comes a day after a coalition of clean-energy advocates held its own press conference in Portland to defend federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and to promote clean energy.

Greg Brown, the Maine organizer for the 1Sky organization, a national effort to enact comprehensive climate change legislation, acknowledged that wind power is not an end-all, be-all of clean energy.

“I agree personally with more study, I’ve followed closely what’s gone up at Mars Hill. We weigh the pros and cons, and if we situate them in the appropriate areas they’ll be a great boon to the economy,” Brown said.

New England’s second largest Wind Farm on the summit of Mars Hill Mountain, Maine, is an $85 million project by UPC Wind Management featuring 28 wind turbines, each one 389 feet tall and with three blades. The wind farm, when operating at full capacity, generates approximately 42 megawatts of power, enough to power 45,000 average Maine homes, according to the operators of the system.

But criticism of wind power lingers. The press conference, according to the task force, “will come just days after an official with the Maine Wind Industry Initiative said support for wind energy in Maine is dropping, and that the outlook for wind in Maine may now be ‘dire.’”

Brown said wind power is a clean energy option for 1Sky but that various constituents need to reach an understanding.

“It’s an emerging technology as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

Another “clean” energy option that sparks disagreement is nuclear power. When President Barack Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees Tuesday to build the first U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades, the move was widely viewed as a political tactic to advance climate legislation in Congress, at least that was the opinion of Maine Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, who spoke at Thursday’s press conference in Portland.

“For Maine, we have the equivalent of 40 nuclear power plants worth of wind energy off the coast and we have a tremendous weatherization program under way. These are jobs that can’t be exported overseas, but we can’t invest in them beyond the resources to initially get them off the ground until we have some kind of climate change legislation,” du Houx said in an interview.

Regarding the president’s support of nuclear power, du Houx said, “It’s part of his comprehensive bill to bring as much support as possible to the legislation. He said there can be some nuclear power plants as long as there’s climate change legislation put through Congress.”

Asked how to balance the pros and cons of wind power, du Houx said, “Like any new technology, there are challenges that will be addressed and will be overcome.”

“We have the unique ability to accomplish these goals without nuclear power, which I’m very happy with,” he said.

Brown said he had no comment on nuclear power.

“What we’re really looking for with our movement is clean jobs and clean energy. Now that may in fact supersede nuclear power, but what we’re looking at is wind and tidal, solar and photovoltaic, genuinely clean energy and clean energy jobs,” he said.

Maine veterans say national security at risk with climate change

http://www.portlanddailysun.me/cgi/story2.pl?storyid=20100218021081000684

By David Carkhuff

Staff writer

david@portlanddailysun.me

Climate change is a national security issue, according to two Maine military veterans who served in Iraq.

Andrew Campbell of Portland was part of a group of military veterans who toured the country promoting clean, sustainable energy as a matter of national security. During his deployment in 2004 and 2005, the six-year veteran of the Army National Guard served in Mosul, Iraq as a logistics specialist with Maine’s 133 Engineer Battalion.

“As a logistics specialist in what was essentially a construction unit, I was able to pay attention to the money we were spending to support these operations over the course of a year,” Campbell said Thursday during a Portland press conference hosted by 1Sky, a national coalition urging climate change legislation in Congress. “It took several million dollars to support the unit for one year, when it came to construction supplies, water, maintenance supplies, food, and a lot of that on oil.”

Campbell noted that the United States spends over $1 billion on oil every day.

A disapproval resolution from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who wants to limit the federal government’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, would run counter to initiatives by federal defense agencies, he said.

“I think it’s a very poor bill from a Department of Defense standpoint because it’s tantamount to saying that all these senators don’t believe climate change is an actual threat to our national security. This is coming at a time when the Department of Defense just released their quadrennial report saying that climate change is, indeed, a national security threat.

In its recent quadrennial review, Pentagon officials concluded for the first time that climate change will act as an “accelerant of instability and conflict,” ultimately placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.

As early as Feb. 25, the resolution can be introduced for a vote and needs only 51 votes to pass, 1Sky reported.

Campbell is a member of Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations who have come together because they believe climate change is a serious threat to the country’s national security.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, agreed with Campbell that personal experience in Iraq offered perspective on the need for a clean-energy economy in the United States.

“This is something that I saw first-hand when I was deployed in 2006 with the Marine Corps in and around Fallujah. We came across a line of cars, trucks and tractors that really went out as far as the eye could see in 130-degree heat, and we finally made it to the front and realized that they were waiting for gasoline and diesel and to the point where we had to break them up for curfew and they were rioting against us,” du Houx recalled.

“It really struck be how this country was so dependent and crippled because of a single source of energy, and likewise America is dependent on a single source of energy,” he said.

He also agreed that defense agencies are ahead of Congress on tackling climate change.

“Our national security organizations are leading on this issue, and we want to see Congress lead as well. The unfortunate reality of the Murkowski amendment is that it sends a message to the world and the United States that climate change is not a threat that needs to be addressed,” du Houx said.

du Houx and mroe than 100 Maine legislators signed a letter joining more than 1,000 state legislators from across the country calling on the U.S. Senate for action on clean energy jobs legislation.

1Sky, which claims 500 allied organizations, 174,000 climate advocates and 2,200 volunteer “Climate Precinct Captains” covering more than 380 congressional districts in 50 states, reported that Maine’s U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have not signed on to the Murkowski resolution.

School Board rethinks leadership

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/03/09/news/doc4b967df1705e3188364091.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 2:13 PM EST

BRUNSWICK — A month after an e-mail from School Board chairman Byron Watson to House Speaker Hannah Pingree was deemed “inappropriate” by local legislators and others, At-large School Board representative Michelle Small on Wednesday will ask board members to reconsider Watson’s election as chairman.

According to the agenda for Wednesday’s regular meeting, the board will “consider a motion to reconsider the election of the chair for 2010.”

On Monday, Small confirmed that she requested the agenda item, but declined to comment further on the issue.

The request follows a Feb. 5 e-mail from Watson to Pingree requesting assistance with what he said were “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts to state aid to the Brunswick School Department for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In the e-mail, Watson wrote that Pingree was “gorgeous,” adding, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

Local legislators subsequently took issue with Watson’s choice of words, which Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, called “unfortunate” and “inappropriate.”

At a subsequent School Board budget workshop attended by Brunswick’s legislative delegation, Watson apologized for the e-mail. “There was absolutely a miscalculation in a complimentary icebreaker to a very intelligent lady,” he said, in part. “And even though my counterpart in this has not shown any ill will, the people need to know that no malice was intended in the substandard selection of words. It will not happen again.”

Details The agenda item request follows a Feb. 5 e-mail from Byron Watson to Hannah Pingree requesting assistance with what he said were “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts to state aid to the Brunswick School Department for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In the e-mail, Watson wrote that Pingree was “gorgeous,” adding, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

Watson’s colleagues on the School Board have little to say publicly on the matter.

Phone calls and e-mails sent Monday to board members Marybeth Latti of District 2, Matt Corey of District 3, Janet Connors of District 6 and Michele Joyce of District 7 were not returned by press time today.

District 5 representative Jim Grant declined to comment on the agenda item. District 4 representative Corinne Perreault said she had spoken to several board members about the item. “I think we’re all trying to come up with what we feel is best,” she said.

At-large representative Jack Jones said Monday that he received “a lot of e-mails, mostly negative, and some positive” about the issue, but he also declined to comment further.

Watson, however, wrote in an e-mail to The Times Record on Saturday that he will not resign as chairman. “You don’t get anywhere by continuously giving the school yard bully your lunch money. I will not compromise my principles or the future integrity of the board by caving into a political smear game. There is a lot of work to be done for the people of Brunswick and that is my focus.”

He wrote that the board must “bring closure to this ridiculous matter,” adding, “I feel confident that a strong majority of the board would rather focus on saving jobs than political games.”

All of the legislators who criticized Watson are Democrats. In the past, Watson worked for Republican legislative candidates.

“From the moment these politically motivated attacks started, all the way to this coming Wednesday’s meeting, we will have had two regular board meetings, three budget workshops, and one special workshop with the entire legislative delegation,” Watson wrote. “While cruel and unusual punches are being thrown my way, I have continued to work relentlessly for the children of Brunswick. I was born in Brunswick, raised in Brunswick, educated in Brunswick, and I strive to serve to people of Brunswick.”

Prior to the School Board’s regular meeting, the board will hold a workshop at 6 p.m. to hear from Superintendent Paul Perzanoski about his suggestions — likely to include staff reductions — to address a 2011 budget gap now anticipated to be between $3.5 million and $3.6 million.

Proposals seek dental care for youngest

Some insurance companies balk, but advocates say it will save money

http://www.kjonline.com/news/proposals-seek-dental-care-for-youngest_2010-02-24.html

BY ETHAN WILENSKY-LANFORD, Staff Writer

Last November, Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta and president of the Maine Dental Association, saw a 4-year-old patient for the first time in that child’s life. The child’s teeth had significant damage and needed five or six fillings, he said.

He asked the child’s mother why she had waited so long to see him.

“She felt embarrassed,” he said, “but she said the only reason that she didn’t come sooner was because her insurance didn’t allow it.”

Maine law currently allows dental insurance companies to decide when to offer insurance to children. On Wednesday, the Insurance and Financial Services Committee heard arguments in favor of requiring companies that offer dental coverage in Maine to offer it to children from birth.

No one testified against the bill, though several insurer representatives expressed concerns about how it might affect their bottom lines.

“I think it is extremely important for the health of our children,” said Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, who co-sponsored the bill. “It clarifies the message. By allowing enrollment at birth, it educates parents that it is important for the health of the child, rather than sending the message that you should wait until age 4.”

Shenkin said early visits to the dentist are important to teach parents how to care for their children’s teeth and to provide counseling about nutrition. The American Dental Association recommends children should visit a dentist within six months of their first tooth, and not later than their first birthday.

“When children are seen early, by age 1, we can reduce costs by 50 percent by age 4 or 5 years of age,” Shenkin said.

The leading dental insurer in Maine, Northeast Delta Dental, supports the bill.

“The earlier kids get dental attention, the better off we all are,” said the company’s lobbyist, Chris O’Neil.

But representatives from several other insurance companies were concerned that allowing several windows for families to enroll children into their dental plans — such as one O’Neil proposed, 30 days either side of a child’s second birthday — could cost them money, because more people would opt in when their children needed expensive care.

Dental disease is one of the leading reasons for people to go to emergency rooms in the state, and in 2006 was the leading reason for young adults.

According to a report released last month on emergency room visits, the Department of Health and Human Services helped finance 12,000 Mainers who are uninsured or covered by MaineCare in visits to emergency rooms each year at a public cost of $6 million.

Two other bills that supporters say will drastically improve rural and childhood dental care in the state have advanced to the House so far this year, with one of those already becoming law.

L.D. 1520, which was signed by Gov. John Baldacci earlier this month, will make it easier for young dentists to come to the state as dentistry residents.

“We hope that some of them will stay,” said Rep. Richard Blanchard, D-Old Town, who sponsored the bill.

Another bill currently being considered in the House would lift restrictions on MaineCare payments to dental hygienists acting independently, potentially expanding the network of dental care in rural Maine.

Dental hygienists have only been allowed to work independently of dentists for a few years, and by law can only perform preventative care.

This bil, L.D. 233, is estimated to cost Maine taxpayers up to $234,000 annually by 2012. It is now awaiting action in the Senate.

Ethan Wilensky-Lanford – 620-7016

ewlanford@mainetoday.com

Brunswick schools Aid cut sparks spat

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2010/02/19/news/doc4b7ec49569798330725599.txt

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:

Friday, February 19, 2010 2:07 PM EST

BRUNSWICK — Brunswick school officials and local legislators this week continued their efforts to address significant cuts to state aid to education that will likely contribute to a $4 million chasm in the budget for 2010-11.

However, those efforts followed different paths, and recently led to conflict and harsh words among leaders who ultimately hope to achieve the same goal.

On Feb. 10, Superintendent Paul Perzanoski wrote to Maine Education Commissioner Susan Gendron — with courtesy copies sent to the entire Brunswick legislative delegation and Gov. John Baldacci — asking for a review of anticipated education aid cuts that are now expected to reach nearly $3 million, or 9.9 percent of the district budget.

In his letter, Perzanoski referred to a 2008 meeting between education officials and Leighton Cooney, Baldacci’s liaison for Brunswick Naval Air Station redevelopment, at which “a great deal of discussion centered on possible ways to soften the economic ‘perfect storm’ that was on the horizon. Brunswick was noted as the town that would have to endure the greatest amount of burden.”

The “perfect storm” metaphor refers to the combined negative economic impacts of the Navy base’s scheduled closure in 2011, the loss of local jobs affiliated with the base, the loss of federal aid to Brunswick schools for educating Navy children and effects Navy families’ departure would have on the way state government calculates annual subsidies to local school districts.

The day after Perzanoski sent his letter, Brunswick School Board chairman Byron Watson — at a public meeting — expressed his outrage at the “overly disproportionate, ridiculously excessive and just unbelievably unequal” cuts in state aid to education Brunswick would experience this year and next. Watson encouraged local residents concerned about the cuts to contact the local legislative delegation “and find out just exactly what they’re doing for you and your children.”

In a Feb. 5 e-mail to House Speaker Hannah Pingree, Watson also pleaded for assistance, asking Pingree “to lobby in favor of seriously reconsidering the drastically disproportionate hit that is being laid upon the Brunswick School System.” He asked how it was possible that Brunswick schools are “taking the second-largest hit in the entire state at the same time that they are losing the Naval base?”

In 2005, following the Base Realignment and Closure vote to close BNAS in 2011, Gov. John Baldacci and Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, then a state representative and now a state senator, attended an editorial board meeting at The Times Record. In response to a question about whether the Department of Education would adapt its annual subsidy formula — in which student population factors heavily — to compensate for an anticipated sharp decrease in the number of Navy children attending Brunswick schools, Baldacci said the BNAS closure would present unique circumstances for Brunswick that would need to be addressed.

On Wednesday, Watson said, “We’re wondering if the ‘special circumstances’ meant we’re going to get our butts handed to us. … We’re getting hammered and we wonder why. There’s got to be something going on because this is ridiculous.”

Watson called the delegation “ineffective leaders,” adding, “We’ve heard nothing from them.”

Liaison committees

All four Brunswick legislators said Thursday that they had not been contacted by any member of the Brunswick School Board. However, Gerzofsky said he spoke to Watson the night he was sworn in as board chairman and advised Watson to “set up a small group of people” to address the curtailment.

Gerzofsky said that he also urged Watson to have School Board members testify before the Legislature’s Education and Appropriations committees about the impact of aid cuts on Brunswick schools.

“I wanted to set up some sort of way of working together to come up with solutions and suggestions,” he said.

According to an agenda released Thursday, the School Board’s policy subcommittee is scheduled to consider appointment of members to a newly authorized Legislative Liaison Committee during its meeting on Feb. 25.

In the meantime, Gerzofsky — who represents Brunswick, Freeport, Pownal and Harpswell — said that members of the Regional School Unit 5 board of directors did call him. As a result, in January, he and Sen. Justin Alfond, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee, met with RSU 5 board members in Freeport. RSU 5 includes Freeport, Pownal and Durham.

“Justin heard things in Freeport that he wasn’t aware of,” Gerzofsky said. “They had really great questions he was able to answer, and a couple of issues he wrote down and brought to his committee the next day.”

Gerzofsky said he would be happy to arrange a similar meeting in Brunswick, but he noted, “So far, it’s 12 o’clock noon on the 18th and nobody has gotten in touch with me. No (Brunswick) School Board members have called me to set up any appointments. And it’s the middle of February.”

Similarly, Rep. Peter Kent, whose district includes part of Brunswick as well as parts of Bath, West Bath, Woolwich and Topsham, said Thursday that he was contacted by members of the RSU 1 school board, and has been meeting with a “coalition” of municipalities, stakeholders and four state legislators for the last month and a half to address budget concerns.

He said he was “curious” why Brunswick School Board members weren’t calling their legislators. “I think to a degree they need to look at themselves,” Kent said. “Why don’t they look at their legislators as players and communicate with them? I have people calling me constantly. … I just have not gotten any communication from (the Brunswick School Board).”

Kent said the RSU 1 coalition has discussed working as a group “to brainstorm ways to reshape the educational system and to approach effecting change in the Legislature.”

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx and Rep. Charlie Priest, who each represent parts of Brunswick, said Thursday that they hadn’t heard from any School Board members either, although Cornell du Houx did meet with Perzanoski in November to discuss anticipated cuts to the Brunswick schools.

Cornell du Houx also took issue with what he called “unfortunate” and “inappropriate” language in Watson’s e-mail to Pingree. Watson wrote that she was “gorgeous,” but noted, “I’m not writing to hit on you, though.”

In other media reports, Gerzofsky and Priest also criticized the tone of Watson’s e-mail.

Of the e-mail, Watson said Wednesday that he and Pingree have “a cordial relationship” and that “she hasn’t expressed any concerns to me at all.”

Pingree’s Feb. 11 response to Watson’s e-mail outlined the “drastic decline in revenues” faced by the state and Baldacci’s proposed budget that reduced school funding in fiscal year 2011 by $35 million. She noted a statewide referendum in June that will include an $8 million bond for the redevelopment of BNAS, and a proposal under consideration by the Legislature to “assist the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and to bring a community college presence onto the base.”

Pingree urged Watson to work with Brunswick legislators to come up with solutions to the budget shortfall.

Gerzofsky noted that state aid to Brunswick education has increased overall in recent years. He added that he “played a big hand in the amendment” to a statewide school consolidation law that allowed Brunswick not to consolidate.

“Charlie and I and Alex are up here (advocating for Brunswick) on a daily basis,” he said. “We’ve certainly testified and worked in our caucuses as hard as we can trying to alleviate some of our issues.”

Gerzofsky also pointed out that the Legislature has yet to approve any of the cuts proposed in Baldacci’s budget, including to aid to education.

‘Leave our egos

at the door’

Amid the accusations and criticism, however, Perzanoski said Priest contacted him last week to try to arrange a meeting of legislators and School Board members. Priest said Thursday that that meeting is now tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25. This morning, Gerzofsky said that he and Alfond, Senate chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee, will also attend Thursday’s meeting with the Brunswick School Board.

Priest said it’s crucial that legislators and school officials work together to address the financial crisis facing Brunswick schools.

“I think the real question we need to answer is, presumably (the cuts) are the result of the application of the school funding formula, but we need to make sure Brunswick is not being hit disproportionately,” he said. “If that’s true, is there another area to look at that might enable us to increase the amount of money the state would give to the schools?”

Priest said he hopes members of the Brunswick School Board will visit the State House to speak to Education and Appropriations committee members.

“It’s important for us to be able to show that the town is united behind the delegation to try to help address the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Perzanoski is scheduled to meet this morning with Jim Rier, the Maine Department of Education’s director of finance and operations, to discuss how (state aid) is calculated for reimbursement to the town “and ideas for me to go from here,” he said.

Ultimately, the superintendent said, the only way for school officials and legislators to make progress is “to leave our egos at the door.”

Veterans Launch New Push for Federal Climate Legislation

http://apolloalliance.org/blog/?m=201002

Monday, February 8th, 2010

In a Nov. 2009 article the Apollo Alliance published about veterans green jobs training programs, we interviewed an Iraq war veteran, Alex Cornell du Houx, who is part of an effort by national security and veterans organizations to draw attention to the national security threat that’s created by climate change.

In that article, Cornell du Houx said, “When I was deployed in Fallujah with the marines, we came across a line of cars, trucks and tractors that were bumper-to-bumper as far as the eye could see. They were waiting there all night and risking their lives for gasoline and diesel. It really struck me how vulnerable and dependent they were on this single source of energy. Likewise, it made me think about how dependent we are and how it puts our security at risk.”

The group that Cornell du Houx is part of, Operation Free, ramped up its activities this month in an effort to get the U.S. to adopt comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. They launched a 16-state “National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy Security” and a national television advertisement.

Veterans have a powerful perspective when it comes to climate change and clean energy. Their message about climate change imperiling national security has the potential to appeal to a group of people for whom environmental issues are not a major concern but security issues are.

“The reason why national security organizations are taking this as a serious threat, is that not only are we [the United States] dependent on oil, but the conflicts that arise from famines, floods and droughts [caused by climate change] multiply the threat of current conflicts and create instability,” Cornell du Houx told the Apollo Alliance back in November.

Las Vegas Sun

Veterans group outlines importance of clean energy

http://m.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/feb/07/veterans-group-outlines-importance-clean-energy/

Tiffany Gibson

The National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security stopped in Las Vegas Saturday to discuss clean energy options and how alternative projects will help decrease America’s dependence on foreign resources. (Left) Military veterans Robin Eckstein, Chuck Tyler, Patrick Bellon, Sen. Harry Reid and Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx of the U.S. Marine Corps served as panelists during the forum.

By Tiffany Gibson

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 (5:18 p.m.)

As Americans’ dependency on oil and foreign resources increases, military veterans and clean energy activists are traveling the country to educate citizens about what they say will be the repercussions of outsourcing energy.

The Operation Free coalition’s National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security kicked off the two-month tour Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C., and will travel to 16 states.

The tour made its first stop in Nevada this past weekend at the National Guard Las Vegas Readiness Center, 4500 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd. The forum on Saturday consisted of four military veterans and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Army veteran Robin Eckstein said the tour is important because she says U.S. money spent on foreign resources is helping to fund terrorist organizations. She was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and was stationed at the Baghdad airport.

“We’re funding both sides of the war,” she said. “People need to let their friends and family know about climate change and the national security connection.”

Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx, of the U.S. Marine Corps, said he became involved with the cause in 2006.

According to Operation Free, the United States sends $500,000 each minute to foreign regimes for oil and uses 25 percent of the world’s supply — more than all of the countries of the European Union combined.

Cornell du Houx said Nevada is taking a lead with alternative and solar energy projects. He said more states should use multiple forms of energy to prevent the country from relying only on oil.

“Each state has a unique ability to take on clean energy,” he said.

Resident Dick Collins, 63, of Las Vegas, said even though alternative energy projects should be explored, the United States is still outsourcing equipment. In Texas, for example, generators for wind energy are coming from China, Collins said.

Reid responded, saying American-made products are important and the government should focus on more manufacturers at home before buying overseas.

Climate change was another topic discussed at the forum. Reid said global warming shouldn’t be ignored because its effects already have been felt.

For more information on the National Veterans Tour for Clean Energy and Security, visit http://www.operationfree.net. The group’s next forum will be Tuesday in Reno.

   

Baldacci off to D.C. to discuss energy

http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/136056.html

Governor among 11 meeting with Obama

By Kevin Miller

BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. John Baldacci will be among 11 governors meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House today to discuss a broad range of energy issues.

Baldacci spokesman David Farmer said most of the administration’s top officials dealing with energy issues — including at least three Cabinet secretaries and key advisers — are expected to join the president, vice president and governors.

“It’s a great opportunity for the governor to go to Washington, meet with the president and top administration officials and describe all of the good work going on in Maine, and to seek federal support,” Farmer said. “We think it’s a good opportunity to make the case for Maine.”

Among the topics that Baldacci hopes to discuss are federal support for research into deepwater wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine, ways to coordinate state and federal approaches to ocean energy, Maine’s efforts to weatherize homes and businesses as well as potential climate change legislation.

The other governors invited to the meeting are from Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, Montana, Tennessee, Washington, Alabama, South Dakota and Ohio.

Maine has already received millions in federal grants for research into offshore wind technology. The state also recently announced that roughly $18 million in federal stimulus money will go toward weatherization and energy efficiency in Maine homes and businesses.

The White House originally invited the group of governors to Washington to talk energy in January, but that meeting had to be rescheduled because of the death of Vice President Biden’s mother.

Baldacci is not the only person bending the ear of top Obama administration officials on energy issues, however.

Last week, Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the White House as part of a small delegation of state lawmakers from around the country working on energy issues.

Cornell du Houx also met with Carol Browner, Obama’s assistant on energy and climate, and her staff. Both Vilsack and Browner, as well as Energy Secretary Steven Chu, are expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting with the governor.

“The reason for the two meetings is to let the administration know about the hard work Maine has been doing to weatherize every home and to reduce carbon pollution,” he said. On Tuesday, Cornell du Houx was in Washington again as part of another group working on energy security and climate change issues.

All aboard: Fed funds allocated for Amtrak

January 29, 2010

http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2010-01-29&section=1&id=1

By Will Jacob

ORIENT STAFF

GRAVY TRAIN: U.S. Congreswoman Chellie Pingree spoke of the business a train route between Boston and Freeport would attract at yesterday’s conference.<br />Tiffany Gerdes, The Bowdoin Orient

TIFFANY GERDES, THE BOWDOIN ORIENT

Picture 1 of 2

GRAVY TRAIN: U.S. Congreswoman Chellie Pingree spoke of the business a train route between Boston and Freeport would attract at yesterday’s conference.

<B>GRAVY TRAIN:</B> U.S. Congreswoman Chellie Pingree spoke of the business a train route between Boston and Freeport would attract at yesterday’s conference.<br />Tiffany Gerdes, The Bowdoin Orient

“If you build it, they will come,” said U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree yesterday at a Maine Street Station conference, officially announcing Amtrak’s anticipated passenger train service that will connect Portland to Brunswick by 2012.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) received a $35 million allocation from the Federal Railroad Administration as part of the $8 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money will fund the necessary upgrades to 30 miles of rail lines, owned by Pan Am Railways. The Amtrak Downeaster passenger line, currently running from Boston to Portland, will then extend its service up through Freeport and into Brunswick.

“It’s great news, it’s the best news Brunswick has had in a long time,” said Senior Vice President for Planning & Development and Secretary of the College Bill Torrey, who explained that there will be benefits to both Brunswick and the College.

“Everybody’s happy, and they should be,” he said.

In her announcement at Maine Street Station, Pingree said that work on the rails will begin “right away,” and Amtrak service is expected to arrive by the end of 2012. The proposed schedule would see at least two round trips to Boston each day, with one additional round trip to Portland.

Initial rail improvement work will create over 200 jobs, and new businesses surrounding the Freeport and Brunswick stations could create more. The news is particularly important given that the Brunswick naval air base officially closes its runways today.

“This is a very exciting day for us in Maine. It’s an economic boost,” Pingree said. “These days there’s nothing more important than creating and preserving jobs.”

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins praised the planned Amtrak extension for its “tremendous benefits to Maine, including reducing road congestion, cleaner air, commuting options, and easier access to the state for tourists and economic development opportunities,” according to a joint statement released yesterday.

According to a press release issued by Pingree’s office, Chairman of Trainriders Northeast Wayne Davis said, “Nearly five million people go from the Boston area to Freeport to go shopping. That’s a big market that the Downeaster can tap into.”

Executive Director of the NNEPRA Patricia Quinn stressed how competitive the application process was, as $50 billion worth of projects competed for $8 billion in federal stimulus funding.

“It was extremely gratifying last night to get that call that with this announcement being made around the country, that Maine and the Downeaster service was selected to lead the country in this…renaissance for rail transportation service,” she said.

Quinn said that some orders and requests for bids and rail have already gone out for construction, and that all involved are eager to tackle the project. She speculated that the completion of this project may lead to later connection to the western part of the state from Yarmouth junction.

President Barry Mills said there are many reasons the train is exciting for Bowdoin. He explained how convenient the train will be for students who can take the train home or to Logan airport in Boston. Students, faculty, and staff can also make easy trips in and out of Boston.

“But the second important point for the College is for us to be able to say to the world that there’s train service to Bowdoin College. It makes us a whole lot more accessible in people’s minds, and that will attract students who might think that we are at a place that’s just harder to get to,” he said.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn said that, in his experience, prospective students consider Maine as more “remote and inaccessible” than other areas of New Hampshire, the Berkshires or Vermont. He said that mentioning the possibility of Amtrak coming to Brunswick from Boston during information sessions, however, appeases those concerns.

“I think it could be a great thing for us, and we’ve been talking about it for a while, as a possibility. You could tell it’s something during information sessions that makes eyebrows go up, so I think it’s a winner for us,” he said.

While Bowdoin was not directly involved in the application for funds, Torrey said the College was very interested in supporting the infrastructure of Brunswick, acknowledging the service the train will provide to students, visitors and community members.

With the naval air station closing and the economic downturn, Torrey said that the Maine Street Station project “was a tremendous risk for the town,” and a difficult investment for the College. He said it was a real “joint effort” between the state, the congressional delegation, the town and Bowdoin.

“The College was supportive, we did our share, and I think everybody can feel good. It helps validate all the money that’s been spent,” said Torrey.

Senior VP for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley said the project has been discussed for 30 years, so it is exciting to “see it come together so quickly after Maine Street Station was built.”

“The expansion of Amtrak train service to Brunswick will greatly enhance available transportation options and will make Brunswick a multi-modal community,” said Longley.

“While some alternative transportation options currently exist such as Zipcar…the College and Town have been working together for a number of years to promote additional public transportation initiatives,” she said.

Longley said the Brunswick Explorer, a public bus route scheduled to begin in the fall of 2010, will offer reliable transportation five days a week between Bowdoin, downtown Brunswick and Cook’s Corner. Adding the train service will help students, faculty and staff “reach destinations ranging from Boston to Rockland,” she said.

The last train to connect Portland to Brunswick, operated by Maine Central Railroad, went on its final run in April of 1959.

State Representative and Bowdoin alumnus Alex Cornell du Houx ’06 was excited about the prospect of the Amtrak arriving in Brunswick.

“I think the train service to Brunswick would be a tremendous boost economically, and it opens up many opportunities,” he said. “I certainly wish we’d had a train station and service when I was at Bowdoin.

Quinn left those at the conference with an optimistic message and an invitation.

“Hopefully the next time I’m here…we’re going to be standing here waiting for that train to come and arrive right at this platform,” she said.

Urgent to act now in Copenhagen, say Midwest leaders

Written By: Michael Noble – Fresh Energy/WSF Board Member

http://www.willstegerfoundation.org/index.php/programs/expeditions/expedition-copenhagen/expedition-blog/item/689-urgent-to-act-now-in-copenhagen-say-midwest-leaders

Midwest state and local government elected officials are among the thousands who have converged on Copenhagen, Denmark to urge the leaders of 192 nations to come together to tackle climate change. Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin is the highest ranking midwestern elected official with a public role here, giving a key address. “Why would someone fight to maintain an energy system that basically imports all of our fuels (from outside of Wisconsin)?” Doyle asked. He intends to meet with the largest American manufacturer of wind turbines, General Electric and the largest Danish maker of wind turbines while in Copenhagen.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie is a local government delegate representing not only Des Moines but also local governments around the world as a member of the executive committee of the U.S. Board of Directors of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). “While the rest of the economy is struggling, clean energy jobs are a real bright spot,” according to Minnesota representative Jeremy Kalin (North Branch), national chair of CLEAN, the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now working with the White House and the United States Senate.” Action in Copenhagen and in Congress is critical to scale up the job opportunities.”

“Our dependence on oil is a serious threat to America’s national security, which is why both young people and veterans have called on making America more secure by taking control of our energy future,” said Representative Alex Cornell du Houx (Brunswick, ME), an Iraq war veteran in Copenhagen with the Truman National Security Project. “The world is looking to the United States to lead again on climate solutions,” said Representative Kate Knuth (New Brighton, MN). “We don’t want to replace our dependence on Middle East oil with a new dependence on solar panels from China. It’s all about jobs. We need wind turbines, we need electric cars that are made in America, supporting American families.”

Knuth is also attending the conference as a policy mentor to the youth delegation of 12 emerging leaders from the Midwest, the Expedition Copenhagen project of the Will Steger Foundation. According to Will Steger Foundation executive director Nicole Rom, “Our delegates are the leaders of the future in business, environment and public service. I have no doubt we have a mayor, or Congressional member or governor among them.”

Jamie Racine, a Steger delegate from Racine, Wisconsin, asked a panel of state and local government leaders a tough question about Midwest dependence on tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, a question neither the Governor nor other panelists directly addressed. Doyle is, however, pressing for a binding treaty that would require nations to reduce global warming pollutants. “You cannot get to major carbon reductions without a cap and trade system that brings them down over many years,” said Doyle.

Cownie, Kalin, and Knuth joined nearly 100 other young elected officials from across America in signing a statement calling for urgent action from President Obama and the U.S. negotiators. They must work for a bold and binding agreement that is just and consistent with the science, the statement urges.

    “We, young elected officials of the United States, believe freedom, independence, and self sufficiency are at the heart of America, and should be at the heart of our strategy for energy independence in the 21st Century. As elected representatives with a personal stake in our future, we believe it’s time for a bold, new vision for America’s future. We call on Congress to start investing in new, safe energy technologies like wind and solar power that will rebuild our manufacturing base, create jobs, and grow our economy. We need to put millions of Americans back to work refitting our homes and buildings for energy efficiency with jobs that can’t be shipped overseas. The United States can lead once again by forging a bold, binding, and just agreement in Copenhagen that will secure a safe and abundant world for future generations of Americans.”

GOING GREEN

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=309756&ac=PHnws

20100117

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, got more than 100 legislators to sign a letter calling on Maine’s U.S. senators to take action to promote clean energy jobs, according to the House Majority Office.

It’s part of a national effort by the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now, or CLEAN, which is working with the White House to support pending federal climate change legislation.

“Sens. Snowe and Collins can be comfortable knowing that the people of Maine will stand solidly behind them if they vote in favor of this common-sense legislation,” Cornell du Houx said in a statement.

Rep. Cornell du Houx, other legislators, urge Sens. Snowe and Collins to support green jobs bill

http://www.dirigoblue.com/diary/935

by: Gerald Weinand

Wed Jan 13, 2010 at 17:02:22 PM EST

State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx (D-Brunswick) has asked his fellow legislators to join a national effort calling for passage of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733). The effort is being led by the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now (CLEAN), which is working with the White House that will being about action on climate change while creating “green jobs.” Over 100 Maine legislators have signed on to Cornell du Houx’s letter.

Cornell du Houx is also a member of Operation FREE, a group of veterans from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan that want to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and gas.

On his website, Sen. Kerry, the bill’s lead sponsor, describes it as:

    This bill takes a more comprehensive approach to the fundamental problems created by climate change and dwindling oil reserves than previous legislative measures. By the time it reaches the floor, the bill will reflect the concerns and advice of six Senate committees and dozens of our colleagues. The result will be a thoughtful, innovative and far-reaching solution to one of our most vital challenges.

    Our efforts center around four urgent national priorities: putting America back in control of our energy future, reasserting American economic leadership and competitiveness, protecting our families from pollution, and ensuring our national security.

An in-depth summary can be found here.

About the effort to convince Snowe and Collins of the importance of S. 1833, Cornell du Houx said, “I am incredibly impressed, although not surprised, that Maine legislators have already signed on in large numbers. Maine has more signatories than any other state. Sens. Snowe and Collins can be comfortable knowing that the people of Maine will stand solidly behind them if they vote in favor of this common sense legislation.”

“This legislation is vital for both our economic and national security. We send over $1 billion a day in oil costs to foreign states that do not have our interests in mind,” he said. “This is hard-earned American money that should be invested in our own communities.”

All of this makes sense to those of us that share these priorities, and judging on the keynote speech delivered by Sen. Collins yesterday at the renewable energy seminar in Orono, she does too.

Combat vet takes cause to Denmark

BY SUSAN M. COVER

Staff Writer Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 12/12/2009

http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/7215021.html

AUGUSTA — Two events in Fallujah convinced Marine Sgt. Alex Cornell du Houx there’s a link between national security and climate change.

A farmer who couldn’t make money off his land turned to terrorism instead and tried to blow up Cornell du Houx’s vehicle.

“He had been given money to set an (explosive) in the road,” he said. “Unfortunately, extremists use vulnerable situations to recruit.”

In another instance, he saw long lines of people waiting for gas and diesel.

“It struck me how crippled the country was because of its dependence on a single source of energy,” he said.

Cornell du Houx, who serves in the Maine House as a Democrat from Brunswick, is taking the message that climate change leads to instability to Copenhagen next week as part of a group of veterans called Operation Free.

They leave Sunday for Denmark to be part of the international conference on climate change.

More than a dozen Mainers are planning to take part in the conference in various capacities.

While there, Cornell du Houx also will participate in a panel in which he will talk about what Maine has done to address global warming, through weatherization and reductions of carbon emissions.

A first-term legislator, Cornell du Houx serves on the Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee. He is a reservist in the Marine Corps.

The Truman National Security Project, based in Washington, D.C., is paying for the trip.

Cornell du Houx said that while most people might not immediately make the connection between climate change and national security, once they understand, they want to take action.

Operation Free believes that countries suffering from droughts and floods become unstable and make good breeding grounds for terrorists, according to the Web site.

Also, countries such as the United States and other places that are so reliant on foreign oil or natural gas are vulnerable.

“Instinctively, people do get they don’t want to be dependent on a foreign state for something they need,” he said.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

scover@centralmaine.com

HOMELESS VETERANS

http://www.wabi.tv/news/8446/homeless-veterans

  by Adrienne Bennett  · Nov 09th 2009  · See more Local News

Wednesday is Veteran’s day – a day to celebrate and honor those who have served. However, thousands of veterans are homeless in our country. It’s a problem that some have set their sights on ending.

In five years, state representative Alexander Cornell du Houx would like to see the issue of homelessness among veterans a thing of the past.

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx: “Veteran homelessness is a very serious issue in Maine. About 11-percent of our homeless population are veterans.

Recently, the Obama Administration vowed to end the problem in every state by 2014.

Adrienne Bennett: “Do you think that’s an attainable goal?”

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx: “It is an attainable goal.”

du Houx, a marine corps veteran and house democrat, heads up a state committee aimed at helping veterans get back on their feet.

Rep. Cornell du Houx: “One of the aspects our task force is looking at is Maine does not have a solid program to deal with substance abuse and mental health issues among veterans. That’s something we need to be investing our resources into.”

Steve Berg is with the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Steve Berg: “The problems we’ve had for 20 years have not been solved.”

Berg says the data doesn’t show a huge number of younger veterans being homeless, but…

Steve Berg: “What we learned with Vietnam era veterans was that the effects of things like PTSD would show up years later – people would be out of service for a long time and all of a sudden wouldn’t be able to cope effectively and end up homeless. I think we have a lot of work to do if we’re not going to repeat the same problems we had with that generation of veterans.”

Rep. du Houx: “If we don’t act now to implement a solid plan to deal with it – it will become a bigger issue as we have more veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Adrienne Bennett, WABI TV5 News.

  Larry Bivins with Gannett interviewed WI veteran Robin Eckstein who is on the Northern Bus Route.

http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/article/20091016/WDH0101/910160656/1581/WDH01

October 16, 2009

Iraq war veteran from Wis. hits road for clean energy

By Larry Bivins

Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — As a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division’s main support battalion in 2003, Robin Eckstein hauled fuel and water for the military in Iraq.

Through that experience, she said, she began to think about how dangerously dependent America was on foreign oil and the need for an alternative energy source.

“I ran missions every day, if not twice a day,” Eckstein said. “It was just apparent that having only one source of energy to refuel our trucks was a problem because it meant more runs, and that meant more risks.”

For Eckstein, a policy addressing clean energy and climate change becameRep. Alex Cornell du Houx is serving his first term in Maine’s House of Representatives. He grew up in the small town of Solon and attended Bowdoin College as a Mitchell Scholar.  Cornell du Houx joined the Marine Reserves in 2002 and was deployed to Iraq with the Marines’ Alpha Company in 2006 – spending a year patrolling the streets in and around Fallujah. After his return, Cornell du Houx continued his work serving the Maine communities through political and community service.

Rep. Cornell du Houx led a service trip to Guatemala with the program Safe Passage to help kids move from working in the city dump to gain an education. He also worked in Peru to help build a playground for children in Lima. At home, Cornell du Houx volunteered and serves on the board of Maine’s Habitat for Humanity and volunteered in local schools for the past six years. He coaches lacrosse at Brunswick’s Junior High School and conducted a year of service with AmeriCorps.

Rep. Cornell du Houx also worked for the Office of Health Policy and Finance and is working to promote green energy and jobs in his districts and across the sate. Cornell du Houx is also working to improve veterans’ issues both in Maine and nationwide, including access to higher education and healthcare. He currently works with the Truman National Security Projects on National Security and energy issues. a national security issue, just as it has for scores of other current and former military personnel. But that’s not the only reason the 32-year-old Appleton native is on the road in support of energy policy legislation Congress is considering.

Eckstein also is jobless and says she believes the bill the House has passed and a Senate bill would create jobs.

“We have the manufacturing base in Wisconsin,” she said, “where I think we could really use these clean-energy jobs.”

Last weekend, Eckstein was in Washington to help make a commercial for Operation FREE, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations, on climate change and national security.

Since Monday, she has been on a bus tour as part of an Operation FREE campaign to call attention to climate change as a national security issue. The effort involves two buses, one on a northern swing, the other traveling south.

Eckstein is on the northern route, which began in Missoula, Mont., and rolls into Wisconsin today, with stops in La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee.

“What we want to do is to raise awareness and ensure that Congress leads on this issue,” said Alex Cornell de Houx, an Iraq war veteran and Maine state legislator, who is coordinating the northern leg of the tour.

Cornell de Houx pointed out that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., talked at length about the national security angle when he and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., recently introduced their energy-climate change legislation.

Supporters of the Senate and House proposals call for a cap on the release of carbon dioxide, which scientists say is causing global warming that could have dramatic consequences. The proposals also would require that a percentage of the nation’s electrical power come from renewable energy sources.

“It really struck me how this country was so crippled by its dependence on this one source of energy,” Cornell de Houx said. “We send $1 billion a day overseas to foreign states (for oil) that frankly don’t have our interests in mind. I would rather see that money invested in the U.S.”

Veterans pushing for cleaner energy

http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/event/article/id/28280/

A bus full of veterans traveling across the country to raise awareness about national security and climate change stopped in Dickinson Tuesday.

October 13 2009

By: Ashley Martin <https://jenkins.sierraclub.org/event/author/name/Ashley-Martin/&gt; , The Dickinson Press

<https://jenkins.sierraclub.org/event/comments/id/28280/&gt;

A bus full of veterans traveling across the country to raise awareness about national security and climate change stopped in Dickinson Tuesday.

The veterans — most of whom fought in Iraq — are part of a group called Operation Free, which is made up of veterans from all over the nation who are pushing for cleaner energy legislation.

Veteran Andrew Campbell said the group isn’t about doing away with oil and other “dirty” fuels.

“There’s no getting away from that, there’s no doubt about that,” Campbell said, adding the idea is to move toward cleaner energy.

Clean energy would behoove North Dakota because of the state’s potential for wind energy, Campbell said.

The group says dependence on foreign energy is a threat to national security.

“We’re defending this commodity that is costing American lives and costs us billions of dollars every day and I come back home and see that we’re sending that money right back over seas …” Campbell said. “The future really is in our hands and the answer is doing what we can to start to distance ourselves from our dependence on oil from regions that are unstable and unfriendly.”

Alex Cornell du Houx, who is on the tour, said he wants the nation to become more energy independent.

“For a lot of us, it particularly hits home because of our experiences being deployed and seeing this happen first hand,” Cornell du Houx said.

Robin Eckstein, who was also on the tour, said the effect “dirty” energies have on the environment also puts strain on the military.

“With extra carbon, we end up with a climate disruption and that ends up with the seas rising and you get all the flooding and the storms and things like that and our military is the first one to go to these places, so it’s drawing on the Unites States again,” Eckstein said.

The veterans are being environmentally conscious on their tour and the bus they are riding on runs off of biodiesel.

The veterans got on the bus in Missoula, Mont. on Monday and plan to be at Lewiston, Maine — where their tour ends — by Oct. 24. A second Operation Free bus left Pine Bluff Ark., Monday and will end in Tampa Fla. on Oct. 25.

The buses will carry about two dozen veterans and will tour over 20 states.

Cornell du Houx said the group has seen overwhelming support.

“We have the opportunity in the United States to really lead and lead the world in this,” he said.

Montana TV NBC

By NEWS KULR

http://www.kulr8.com/news/local/64060647.html

Story Published: Oct 12, 2009 at 10:10 PM MDT

Story Updated: Oct 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM MDT

Multimedia

BILLINGS – A group of military veterans touring the country stopped in downtown Billings Monday evening to speak about the dangers of climate change and its threat to national security.

The group is encouraging congress to pass energy legislation that cuts carbon pollution and puts America in control of its energy future.

“What we want to do is create clean American jobs and take control over energy in the future and we need to see strong climate change legislation go through the senate,” said Alex Cornell Du Houx, military veteran.

The vets will continue their 21-state bus tour Tuesday in Miles City.

War Veterans Make Stop in Capital City

Beartooth NBC News (MT)

10/12/09

mms://helix.vision.net/ktvh/mondaynews.wmv

<mms://helix.vision.net/ktvh/mondaynews.wmv>

Montana Public Radio

2009 10 12

Climate change and national security top priority of bus tour

By JOHN HARRINGTON

Helena Independent Record

10/13/09

http://www.helenair.com/news/local/article_2ce5ef44-b7b8-11de-a984-001cc4c002e0.html <http://www.helenair.com/news/local/article_2ce5ef44-b7b8-11de-a984-001cc4c002e0.html&gt;

At the tail end of a record-breaking Montana cold spell, a bus tour crossed the state today as veterans aimed to raise awareness of their concerns about climate change and energy security.

Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security groups, is sending a pair of buses across the country to raise awareness of what it views as threats to American safety brought by climate change and over-reliance on foreign oil. The northern route of the two-pronged tour began Monday in Missoula.

Speaking to a small midday crowd at Memorial Park at the second of three Montana stops Monday, South Dakota veteran Rick Hegdahl said domestically produced energy gives the country more security than buying oil from countries that may not have America’s best interests in mind.

“We are hugely dependent on the Middle East for fossil fuels. That can’t continue,” he said. “I want to see us create energy here that lessens our need for foreign oil.”

Operation Free is supported by organizations like the Truman National Security Project, the National Security Initiative, VoteVets.org and VetPAC.

The group supports the passage by Congress of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would establish a cap-and-trade system for limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases. Under the bill, the government would establish a national limit for greenhouse gas emissions, and firms that emit them could buy and sell the rights for those emissions, providing an economic incentive to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they put into the atmosphere.

Critics claim the cap-and-trade plan would damage the country by raising energy costs – and thus, the costs for many products across the economy.

Introducing the touring veterans, local vet Art Compton acknowledged that the proposed legislation, which has passed the House and been introduced in the Senate, won’t please everyone.

“It may not be perfect, but any bill that’s passed is going to strengthen the United States’ negotiating position at upcoming global climate conferences,” he said.

By passing a bill of its own, Compton said, the U.S. would be in a better place to press countries like China and India to enact similar limits on greenhouse emissions.

Alex Cornell du Houx, a member of the Maine House of Representatives and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he saw firsthand the dangers of people becoming overly dependent on fossil fuel.

Citizens would wait in long lines and risk being out after curfew, du Houx said, in order to secure a simple tank of gas in a country rich in petroleum.

Exacerbating the problem for the United States, he said, is the fact that so many countries that sell oil to America are otherwise hostile.

“The reason veterans are really mobilizing on this and believe it’s important is because they feel it’s a security threat,” he said. “They’ve seen firsthand when they’re deployed why foreign energy is a threat to our security.”

The bus tour went from Helena to Billings, with stops in Miles City and Glendive also planned. The two-week tour wraps up Oct. 24 in Maine.

Veterans on tour will warn of warming climate

MATT HAGENGRUBER

Billings Gazette (MT)

10/13/09

http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_c1019132-b7b9-11de-b54e-001cc4c03286.html <http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_c1019132-b7b9-11de-b54e-001cc4c03286.html&gt;

Iraq War veterans might not be associated with the fight against climate change, but a group of veterans is touring the country with the message that a hotter Earth poses a major threat to America’s national security.

A bus rolled into town Monday evening with four veterans who served in Iraq and Kuwait. One of them, Marine Alex Cornell du Houx, patrolled the areas around Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. He saw huge lines of cars and trucks waiting for gasoline.

“This country was absolutely crippled because of their reliance on a single source of energy,” he said. “They were willing to riot for fuel.”

Cornell du Houx and the other vets on the tour said that increasing environmental stress from climate change will cause more conflicts, and the American military may be deployed overseas more often to protect national interests.

For example, climate research estimates that rising sea levels will displace millions of people who live within a mile of the ocean, and the vets on the tour are worried that groups like al-Qaida will try to exploit that change against the United States. The group would like to see more green jobs and less reliance on foreign oil.

Sleek campaign literature features similar sentiments from former senators, national security advisers and governors.

Former Billings Mayor Chuck Tooley introduced the veterans, who spoke at First Congregational Church. Tooley served in Vietnam and now runs the Urban Institute at Montana State University Billings. “Beyond our overdependence on fossil fuels, the burning of these fuels releases more carbon dioxide,” Tooley said. “Climate change will force the U.S. to divert its resources away from our security.”

Billings was just the third stop on the tour, which began earlier in the day in Missoula and will run through the northern states before ending in Maine on Oct. 24. Another bus is working its way through southern states.

The tour touts support from several veterans’ and national-security organizations, including the National Security Network, Veterans Green Jobs and VoteVets.org. The tour’s Web site, http://www.operationfree.net, says that the tour is paid for by the Truman National Security Project.

The group has aligned itself with clean-energy legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the group hopes that green jobs will benefit veterans who are returning from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Robin Eckstein, an Army veteran from Wisconsin, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and drove trucks loaded with either fuel or water. Now unemployed, Eckstein is hoping that she can find a green job.

Another vet on the tour, Rick Hegdahl, said he got involved because of what he learned while serving in the Navy in Kuwait just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Hegdahl commanded a patrol boat that would keep watch on giant oil tankers waiting to fill up.

“It really dawned on me that the primary reason we were there was to control the shipping lanes for oil,” he said. “I said, ‘Something’s wrong. Something’s really wrong.’ “

Veterans Tour Against Climate Change

http://www.keci.com/Veterans-Tour-Against-Climate-Change/5420389

Christian Hauser (10/12/2009)

    Veteran members of Operation Free are embarking on a 21-state tour to talk to citizens and local community leaders about the looming crisis over climate change and national security. The tour is making stops in Missoula, Helena, and Billings today.
Operation Free veteran Aaron Bailey recently joined Senator John Kerry in unveiling legislation to combat climate change, saying: “There are threats we don’t hear about so often. That’s why we’re here, to bring attention to the double-threat of America’s reliance on fossil fuels, and the national security consequences of climate change that dependence on fossil fuels creates.”
Operation Free is a coalition of veterans and national security groups working together to raise public awareness about national security threats posed by climate change and our reliance on fossil fuels. Its goal is to support climate and energy policies that cut carbon pollution and develop clean energy incentives.
In the words of Operation Free veteran and campaign manager Alex Cornell du Houx: “Our dependence on oil forces our commanders to use troops for securing the convoys of fuel instead of using those same troops for counterinsurgency missions. It stretches our forces and results in higher casualties.”
Group officials say the US spends $1 billion a day buying crude oil from other countries. That puts money into the hands of countries that don’t support us and increases the dangers to our troops overseas. The US military and various national security agencies such as the CIA have warned about grave dangers associated with climate change in the years ahead. Many countries will be unable to cope with a rapidly changing climate, resulting in more unrest and fueling the growth of terrorism.

Former Fox Military Analyst Goes on Offensive for Clean Energy

By Seth Koenig

October 8, 2009

http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2009/10/08/news/doc4ace1c2757129360673995.txt

BATH — Former Fox News military analyst and Vietnam veteran Donald Edwards is scheduled to visit Bath today to rally support for a clean energy bill making its way through the U.S. Senate.

Edwards, a retired Army major general, agreed to join Iraq war veterans Garrett Reppenhagen and Alex Cornell du Houx for a press conference at Bath City Hall this morning. Reppenhagen is the director of Veterans Green Jobs, while Cornell du Houx is a Democrat representing a portion of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives.

“I think it’s vitally important for our national security that we pass some form of climate change legislation,” said Cornell du Houx, a Bowdoin College graduate. “When I was deployed, we saw — literally — cars lined up bumper to bumper waiting for days to get fuel. It was because they were so reliant on one form of energy. It hit me that I never want to see the United States reach a point where we’re that reliant on one form of energy.”

Edwards, a South Bristol resident, points to his experience as a military leader as a key basis for urging passage of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which was introduced in the Senate last week.

Edwards told The Times Record he recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit with veterans from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Cornell du Houx, those younger veterans told him the country’s dependence on foreign oil leaves them vulnerable to the perils that accompany U.S. involvement in military conflicts overseas.

“I give these young folks a great deal of credit,” Edwards said. “Their perception is, and it’s incredibly accurate, that we buy trillions of dollars in fossil fuels and that money goes to places like Saudi Arabia, where it get funneled to extremists who are shooting at us and killing Americans.”

“Their logic, to me, is unassailable,” he continued. “They’re talking about the fact that with these convoys that are going into Afghanistan, a lot of what they’re convoying are petroleum products. They’re facing the risk of those things getting hit with (roadside bombs) and blowing up in their faces. They were asking questions like, ‘General, why aren’t we using generators that are state-of-the-art and not using fossil fuels?’ I can’t answer that. It’s very, very real to those guys and it’s something that should wake us up in terms of a sense of urgency. We owe these people. They’re off getting wounded by terrorists who are being funded by fossil fuel money.”

The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act includes aggressive greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals of 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Among its provisions, the legislation sets aside money to train workers in renewable energy professions. It also contains incentives to increase public transit options and upgrade heavy trucks used for shipping.

“I think it’s an ice breaker,” Edwards said of the bill. “With a lot of these things, once you get it started, you can build on the momentum. But you’ve got to get it started. I think this bill is a huge first step. And I think five or 10 years down the road there will be other steps.”

Added Cornell du Houx: “Within the national security community, whenever we talk about the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, everyone I talk to immediately sees the link between our reliance on oil and national security and climate change.”

September 30 2009

White House Press Steak Out 

http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/289219-5

Similar opinion columns share lobbying group roots

By Rebekah Metzler, Staff Writer

Published: Sep 01, 2009 2:40 am

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LEWISTON — A national lobbying group is the source of similar passages in a pair of opinion pieces about national security and energy production written by two different authors, one in Maine and the other Florida, though neither cited the source.

An anonymous e-mail provided links to both columns to the Sun Journal.

Maine Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, who submitted his op-ed piece to the Portland Press Herald, said he had received a talking points from the group Americans United for Change, a progressive political organization based in Washington, D.C.

The other column ran in the Orlando Sentinel on Aug. 5 and was written by Donald L. Kerrick of Jupiter, Fla., according to the Sentinel. Cornell du Houx’s piece ran Aug. 27 in the Portland Press Herald.

“Just as a speechwriter writing a speech, I had someone go through and write it and then I read through it, edited it and then I submitted it,” Cornell du Houx said. “I assumed that everything in there was something original.”

When asked if it was originally from himself, Cornell du Houx said, “You mean actually physically writing it myself? The actual words and text? I had help writing it from Frank (Gallagher).”

Gallagher is the Maine state director for Americans United for Change.

“I look for ways to advance the message on any number of policy issues,” Gallagher said, adding he initiated contact with Cornell du Houx. “A lot of the materials will come from the national organization and then we’ll tailor them to fit the circumstances as they exist in the specific state we’re dealing with.”

Cornell du Houx, a first-term legislator and war veteran, said he also works at the Truman National Security Project on issues of national security and energy. He said the facts found in his column are commonly used by many groups.

“I’m not surprised that those facts are the same. What I am concerned with is that the information like some of the text was similar,” he said. “I’m definitely going to investigate further.”

Gallagher said the practice is “quite common.”

“Every national organization does exactly this — I’m mystified as to why that’s a story,” he said.

But Bob Steele, a former Maine journalist who is the senior faculty in Ethics at The Poynter Institute, said just because other people do it, doesn’t make it right.

“Whether it’s a politician who is writing an op-ed or it’s a business person making a speech at a conference, you should not claim as your own the language and ideas of others; you’re suggesting that your thoughts are original if you don’t give proper credit to others, and ethically that’s not right,” he said.

Steele said general facts and common phrases are often used acceptably without attribution.

“But in a case like this, I would think first of all, elected representatives get a fair amount of content from special interest groups and it is unwise and maybe even naïve to think that it’s only coming to you. And even so, you should give proper attribution for specific language that you’re using, particularly if it’s extensive,” he said.

M.D. Harmon, an editorial writer at the Portland Press Herald who edits opinion submissions, said he receives op-eds, verifies the author is the person identified and then prints them.

“An organization will tell its supporters, ‘please write letters to the editor on this issue.’ That’s fine, we take every one of those letters we get. But when the organization says, ‘please write this (specific) letter to the editor on this issue,’ that’s astro-turfing and when we discover it we stop printing those,” he said, adding that if he had known a similar column had run somewhere else, he probably wouldn’t have printed it.

Cornell du Houx said in the future he would be much more thorough with submissions.

“Any op-eds I write will be thoroughly vetted and researched to ensure that everything is 100 percent original,” he said.

rmetzler@sunjournal.com

Huff Post sent out

Talk Radio

Vote for clean energy is vote for national security

Dependence on foreign nations and vulnerable lines of supply should end as soon as possible.

ALEXANDER CORNELL DU HOUX August 27, 2009

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, is an Iraq war veteran who served with the Marines in Fallujah.

BRUNSWICK — When the House of Representatives passed landmark energy legislation earlier this year, it not only made America “greener,” it made us safer.

By creating incentives to use and produce clean energy, this legislation will begin to free us from the foreign oil addiction that binds us to dangerous dealers.

By promoting energy efficiency, the American Clean Energy and Security Act will similarly loosen the grip of oil dependence that distorts our foreign policy.

And by slowing climate change, this bill would help head off what the National Intelligence Council calls one of the gravest long-term threats facing the international system.

All that may sound like too great an impact for a single piece of legislation to claim.

It’s not. The fate of the Clean Energy and Security Act as it moves to the U.S. Senate is inseparable from the fate of our nation’s security.

The crux of the link between energy and security is the fact that the United States consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil but controls less than 3 percent of the supply.

Tipping the other end of the production-consumption scale are nations like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Kazakhstan, to name just a few.

Of the top 10 holders of oil reserves in the world as of April 2008, all but one are considered to be failed states or in danger of becoming failed states.

These are the type of trading partners to whom we are beholden, whose whims we must honor, if we are to feed the energy beast.

The Clean Energy and Security Act would slash our oil needs dramatically by requiring electric utilities to meet 20 percent of their electricity demand through renewable sources and efficiencies by 2020.

At the same time, it increases our ability to create our own energy sources – and not incidentally, jobs – by investing billions in new energy technologies and efficiency.

On another front, our oil addiction gives those who would do us harm a powerful weapon.

Terrorists clearly understand that our economic strength and therefore our overall strength as a nation is tied to affordable energy.

There were fewer than 50 known terrorist attacks against oil and gas facilities before Sept. 11, 2001. By 2006 that number reached 344.

Less immediately tangible than terrorist threats, but indisputably equally dangerous, is the global instability that will result from the effects of climate change on land and livelihoods.

For example, rising sea levels, drought and other extremes of weather will drastically interrupt substance farming, which in turn will lead to mass migration.

A massive influx of people challenges even the most stable of nations. In weaker ones, it creates a vacuum of law in order and a safe haven for terrorists.

The recently passed energy bill reduces carbon emissions from major U.S. sources more than 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

Complementary measures in the legislation, such as investments in preventing tropical deforestation, will achieve significant additional reductions in carbon emissions and slow the march of destruction considerably.

Here in Maine, we see how this affects our lives personally. We’re losing old industry jobs that can be replaced with new energy jobs like wind and wood pellets and other renewable energies – all natural resources we can harvest in our own state.

The United States cannot fight off global warming alone.

But it is a vital step in the right direction and an important signal to our friends – and enemies – that we are serious about protecting the environment because we are unrelenting in our commitment to protect America.

Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets Denounce ‘Energy Citizens’ Campaign As “Oil Dependence Tour”

Kevin Grandia

Managing editor, DeSmogBlog

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-grandia/iraq-and-afghanistan-war_b_264404.html

Operation Free, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and national security organizations, today slammed the ‘Energy Citizens’ Astroturf campaign orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute and other Big Oil interests as a detriment to America’s energy security.

“Veterans understand the connection between energy security, climate change and national security,” said Jon Powers, Chief Operating Officer of the Truman National Security Project and an Iraq war vet.

Describing climate change as a “threat multiplier” for the armed forces, Powers denounced the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign, stating that Big Oil does not have America’s best interests at heart.  “Veterans do not want to see America’s national security in the hands of Big Oil,” said Powers during the press teleconference today.

Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, an Iraq war vet, said the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign is “limiting meaningful debate on a serious national security issue,” and “watering down” the critical message that veterans and clean energy advocates have for Congress, which is to act immediately to address climate change in the interest of national security.  Rep. Cornell du Houx described witnessing long lines of cars and truck waiting for gasoline and diesel while on patrol in Iraq, and said he “never wanted to see the U.S. become even close to that dependent on oil.”

Drew Sloan, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet and former employee at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Rocky Mountain Institute, called the United States’ slow response to the threat of climate change “death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.”  Using an analogy from the battlefield, Sloan called the climate crisis “a wound that will become increasingly difficult to heal” unless America acts fast to address it.

Sloan denounced ‘Energy Citizens’ and other oil and coal industry Astroturfing as “lies and misleading innuendo,” and described an unstable future in which American soldiers could lose their lives fighting wars over dwindling resources.

Iraq and Afghanistan vet Scott Holcomb, a part-time Professor at Georgia Tech, talked about the “lesson that all vets learn at a gut level – that tomorrow is never promised,” and related it to the need to make energy security a national priority.  “Soldiers will not have to go fight in resource wars if we act now,” he said.  “The more we can diversify our energy supplies and create domestic renewable sources, the better off we will be,” said Holcomb.

A group of roughly one hundred Operation Free veterans plans to visit Washington on September 9-10 for a day of action and meetings with Congress to relay the national security imperative of addressing climate change.  Veterans are also working within their local communities on what Powers described as “a real grassroots effort.”

He said that many veterans “continue to protect America when we get out of the service,” and that the group’s work to raise support for action on climate change is “another form of strengthening America.”

“We don’t have the money that Big Oil does to bus people around.  This is a genuine grassroots effort,” said Powers.

POLITICS: Left-wing groups fire back at ‘Energy Citizens’ (08/20/2009)

Alex Kaplun and Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter

A few environmental groups and other left-wing organizations launched aggressive attacks today aimed at discrediting the “Energy Citizens” campaign created to pressure the Senate to change House-passed climate legislation.

Energy Citizens is organized by the American Petroleum Institute, along with groups such as FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform. That campaign began this week with a rally in Houston.

And while environmentalists and their allies have their own campaigns to push for passage of climate legislation, the groups are taking aim at the industry-backed effort, describing it as an artificial effort to scuttle legislation that would be detrimental to the companies’ bottom line.

Today, a coalition of military veterans, as part of an effort organized by the Sierra Club, denounced Energy Citizens as a distortion of the current debate.

“The people behind this are the oil industry, and it’s really disheartening to see how the front group is watering down any meaningful debate,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, a veteran and campaign coordinator for the group Operation Free, told reporters this afternoon.

The veterans groups said they intend to take their message to Capitol Hill after Labor Day, informing lawmakers of the importance of weaning the United States from foreign oil.

The Sierra Club has been particularly active in going after the industry groups and their grass-roots efforts to influence the legislation. But several other advocacy groups have also jumped into the fray.

Public Citizen Texas today started circulating information on how its members were blocked from attending the Energy Citizens rally in Houston. The group claims the rally was primarily attended by employees of energy companies.

Environmentalists have been claiming in recent days that such efforts are common in the industry-initiated grass-roots campaigns, which attempt to create the appearance of public support for their position through artificial means.

“Energy Citizens is not a grass-roots organization; they are an AstroTurf organization funded by groups that are trying to kill green jobs legislation and the green jobs agenda,” said Eric Maltzer, an environmental strategist involved in the effort.

As exhibit A, critics of the API effort are pointing to an e-mail from the trade group’s president and CEO, Jack Gerard, to member companies. The e-mail, obtained by Greenpeace and verified as legitimate by API, describes the strategy behind the rallies and how API hoped to drive strong turnout.

“The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy and to aim a loud message at those states U.S. Senators [sic] to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill and the Obama Administration’s tax increases on our industry,” Gerard writes in the e-mail.

The e-mail also reveals the message of higher fuel prices API wants to push.

Gerard in his e-mail writes of a Harris Interactive poll that API funded that “demonstrates that our message on Waxman-Markey-like legislation work extremely well and are very persuasive with the general public and policy influentials” — referencing the House energy and climate bill from Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). “After hearing that Waxman-Markey-like legislation could increase the costs of gasoline to around $4 a gallon … these audiences changed their opinions on the bill significantly.”

Greenpeace accuses API of fudging the facts.

House puts menu bill on Senate’s plate

BY SUSAN M. COVER

Staff Writer Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 06/03/2009

http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/6421643.html

All of today’s: News | Sports

from the Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — Calorie counts would appear beside burgers, salads and fries on fast-food menu boards in Maine under a bill that gained initial approval Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven, sponsored the bill to require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, and at least one in Maine, to post caloric content on menu boards.

After rigorous debate, the House supported the bill 88-56 and sent it to the Senate.

“This is a great bill,” said House Majority Whip Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham. “It provides important public health information to consumers and families.”

Other supporters said Maine would join Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Connecticut in providing information to families to help combat obesity. If enacted, the bill in Maine would take effect Feb. 1, 2011.

Opponents said it’s an unnecessary burden on business that won’t change behavior.

“Is the next step to ban certain people from eating certain foods?” said Rep. Kerri Prescott, R-Topsham.

Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, said people have enough information now to make good decisions about what’s healthy and what’s not.

“I’ve never met anybody who picked up a Big Mac who thought they were getting health food,” he said.

Harvell and other Republicans emphasized the need for personal responsibility and said the Legislature should not take another step toward becoming “big sister.”

“In our codependent society, it’s only a matter of time until we’re sitting with our therapist blaming our parents for being fat,” Harvell said.

Yet supporters said obesity is a serious public health problem linked to heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.

Rep. Patricia Jones, D-Mount Vernon, said fast-food companies already have calorie information brochures, but that they are “hidden” behind counters.

“One of the major public health initiatives is to create an environment by which people can make healthy choices,” she said.

And Rep. Lisa Miller, D-Somerville, said people often drastically underestimate the number of calories in prepared food. She said families on the go don’t have time to closely examine all the items they order.

“It’s important to have these labels if you’re going to eat out this much,” she said.

As amended by the Health and Human Services Committee, L.D. 1259 exempts salad bars and buffets. It also requires chain restaurants to display the average caloric value for beer, wine and spirits.

Republicans said although the bill targets chain restaurants, many of those are franchises owned and operated by Maine people.

“We are talking about Maine small-business owners who are trying to make a go of it,” said Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland.

But bill supporter Rep. Alex Cornell Du Houx, D-Brunswick, said he spent time at a local health clinic where he saw children coming in with Type 2 diabetes. He said parents weren’t aware that what they were feeding their children led to poor health. “Some salads are much more unhealthy than a sandwich,” he said.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

scover@centralmaine.com

Veterans discuss the economy today

Submitted By Giselle Goodman,

Staff Writer

on Tuesday, May. 5 at 9:11 am

PORTLAND — A group of veterans will discuss the economic challenges Mainers, especially Mainers who are veterans, face on a daily basis.

The group, brought together by State Representative and Iraq War Veteran Alex Cornell du Houx (D-Brunswick), will discuss the economy, the wars and how difficult young soldiers are having finding jobs once they return to America after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The discussion is being held  at 1 p.m. at the Portland Historical Society, 489 Congress St.

Hard talk on state budget

news@TimesRecord.Com

http://www.timesrecord.com/website/main.nsf/news.nsf/0/8C185CC03C8AEA27852575AC005EEE32?Opendocument

05/04/2009

By Darren Fishell, Times Record Contributor

BRUNSWICK — Taking time off from a special weekend work session to address state budgetary shortfalls announced late Friday, Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, Senate chairman of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, visited Brunswick on Saturday morning to speak about the latest proposed cuts to the 2010-11 biennial budget.

Diamond spelled out the latest bad news for Maine state government’s budget during a public forum hosted by Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, at Bowdoin College. Diamond’s committee launched hearings today on Gov. John Baldacci’s proposal to fill a new approximately $575 million drain on the state’s revenue stream.

Diamond opened by explaining that state government continues to wrestle with a projected $1.4 billion loss of revenue over 2009, 2010 and 2011. That effort is complicated, he said, by a need to pass a balanced two-year budget before an early May deadline to ensure that programs funded through Medicaid receive federal funds. In light of the outbreak of H1N1 swine flu, Diamond said, making sure that hospitals receive this money is particularly important.

Before the latest shortfalls were announced on Friday, the expected revenues for 2010-11 stood at $6.1 billion. Now, the Legislature is working with projected revenues of $5.8 billion for 2010-11, with an additional shortfall of $129.3 million to be made up before the current budget cycle concludes on June 30.

The plan Baldacci unveiled Friday closes this year’s budget gap mostly through the use of the state’s reserve funds, taking $75.5 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund for 2009 and 2010 and an additional $40.6 million from the Working Capital Fund.

Baldacci proposes to address challenges in the budget for 2010-11 — which takes effect on July 1 — with cutbacks in education and health and human services funding, changes to the tax code, and internal savings ranging from suspending merit increases for state employees to shutting down state government for 24 days during the 2010-11 biennium.

The full details and figures of the latest budget proposal can be found online at http://www.maine.gov/governor/baldacci/policy/finances.html.

Diamond’s presentation Saturday was the first of Gerzofsky’s planned three-part series, which on May 15 will address tax changes followedon May 22 by an overview of a bond proposal for the redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Public reaction

“They have to make some tough decisions,” Jim Bouchard, who serves on the government liaison committee of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, said before the discussion. “I’m hoping to hear that people are really going to get behind these guys and help to get this situation straightened out.”

Nobody seemed to disagree that the situation demanded a lot from legislators and would be challenging still for the state during the coming years.

“They’re caught in a terrible bind — a horrendous bind — and they don’t have enough money coming in and they have expenses that are very important,” said Brunswick resident Herschel Sternlieb. “You either need to borrow your way out of it or tax it or cut services.”

Which combination of those options represents the best strategy for state government elicited the greatest difference of opinion at Saturday’s forum. The widest rift emerged over the issue of taxation as a viable method of creating revenue.

“You can’t talk about the budget without talking about the income side of that,” said Walt Sawyer, suggesting that the Legislature examine ways to increase revenue through taxation. “That was all the discussion was about — there’s a gap, we’ve got to cut.”

Bouchard, however, voiced his belief that the cuts addressed an ongoing problem — state government’s inability to live within its means.

“I’ve always been opposed to expansion of the taxes just because we can’t afford that anymore,” Bouchard said.

Harpswell resident Bill Ewing also felt the issue of cuts spoke to an ongoing problem but favored considering taxes as a viable way to raise revenues.

“I think it’s too bad that it wasn’t thought of earlier and that tax increases are so totally off the table as a knee-jerk reaction to people who are just going to complain about taxes no matter what,” Ewing said.

Diamond — in response to a question from the audience — said that a tax increase would not automatically increase revenue.

He noted that the latest Maine Revenue Services calculations show that the sales tax now generates 31 percent less revenue than expected and that the so-called “sin taxes” on cigarettes and liquor draw $12 million less than projected.

“The governor,” Diamond said, “feels this is, generally speaking, a bad time to raise taxes.”

Citizens also expressed specific concern about ramifications for education. Diamond said that money already committed for school construction or renovation would not be touched but that future construction projects and renovations would be put on hold. Diamond also said that the Legislature would re-evaluate spending on state-mandated testing.

Local impact

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, said that the big challenge for Brunswick will arrive in fiscal year 2011, which starts on July 1, 2010. The town will experience a loss of $1 million in federal education aid and the closure of BNAS on top of state cuts — proposed to take effect this July — of $40,000 to homestead exemptions (property tax aid) and $350,000 in general purpose aid to education.

“We need to start thinking about it now to prepare for those cuts in the future,” Cornell du Houx said. “A million dollar cut to the town of Brunswick equals about a 4 percent increase in taxes, which is something that we really don’t want to do.”

Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, said that a statewide bond proposal in the works for funding a community college as a part of the BNAS redevelopment will be helpful but won’t be able to provide immediate assistance.

“All that stuff’s not going to arrive immediately in 2011 to the point where it’s going to change the local picture,” Priest said. “It’s a lot of preparation and a lot of investment that’s going to pay off, but we’ve got to get through those few years of investment.”

The key, Priest said, will be gathering statewide support for the community college bond issue, which he said will provide training that will benefit the entire state.

“(There) is the machinist in Houlton,” Priest said, citing the potential for a statewide impact, “who wants people to be trained in high-tech machinery — and they can get that training here.”

Legislator brings fresh view to helping veterans

State House: Alexander Cornell Du Houx wants better things for those returning from war.

By MATT WICKENHEISER, Staff Writer April 15, 2009

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=250931&ac=PHnws

Learn more about state Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx’s bills.

AUGUSTA — When Alexander Cornell Du Houx returned from a tour in Iraq, he saw veterans struggling with the military’s health care bureaucracy, and dealing with substance abuse and other issues.

The GI Bill, which used to cover tuition, room and board for veterans going to college, barely covered his books and meals.

And veterans, both old and young, were still homeless in Maine and the United States, which Cornell Du Houx said was “shameful.”

Cornell Du Houx, 26, ran for a seat in the Legislature, planning to address these and other issues. The Brunswick Democrat now represents District 66 in the House of Representatives, and has filed four bills aimed at benefiting veterans.

“It’s our duty, as a state and as a country, to ensure all veterans who served their country have the opportunity to continue serving and working in our state,” he said.

Cornell Du Houx joined the Marine reserves when he graduated from high school in 2002, and also was accepted at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Still a sergeant in the reserves today, Cornell Du Houx deployed to Iraq in 2006 with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Regiment. The company patrolled rural areas, did security in the streets of Fallujah and protected supply routes.

His time in Iraq has shaped how he views issues taken up by the Legislature.

“One thing I will never forget is how in Iraq, kids would come up and ask me for water, not for candy, because of the lack of basic needs,” he said.

Then he came home to find the local food pantry serving 100,000 meals annually, showing people in the U.S. need help with basic needs, too. Seeing that need abroad and at home reinforced the importance of economic investments and spending on education and health care, he said.

His military experience in the current environment has shaped an important voice in the 124th Legislature and on the Legal Affairs and Veterans Committee, suggested Peter Ogden, director of Maine’s Bureau of Veterans Services.

“Having a young veteran, an Iraq war veteran, come back (and) look at those issues is important,” Ogden said. “What’s happening to veterans today, the dynamics of what’s going on in the military today, is different than what some of us understand. It’s important to have the perspective of a current-serving young person.”

Cornell Du Houx has filed four veteran-related bills:

• LD 647, which would provide an income tax deduction on 50 percent of military retirement benefits for a veteran who runs a business in Maine with at least one employee.

• LD 1090, which would qualify a student who is an active military member or veteran for in-state tuition rates for first-time enrollment at any campus of the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System or the Maine Maritime Academy, regardless of their state of residence.

• LD 1149, which would expand a $6,000 property-tax exemption to veterans who were awarded a number of medals, including the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. The bill also would remove the requirement that veterans be 62 before they are eligible to receive the exemption.

• LD 1110, which would establish a study commission to review and examine the issue of homelessness among veterans.

Cornell Du Houx said his bill calling for a commission would likely be modified today in a work session to instead use a task force, thereby saving money. He said he envisions bringing together stakeholders involved in the issue to examine problems ranging from education, job searches, mental health and housing.

Ogden said the task force could be a real benefit in clearly identifying what services for veterans exist in the state and where there are gaps. One thing the state needs to figure out is how to quickly and efficiently access veteran-related money from the federal government,…

Legislator brings fresh view to helping veterans

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State House: Alexander Cornell Du Houx wants better things for those returning from war.

By MATT WICKENHEISER, Staff Writer April 15, 2009

Learn more about state Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx’s bills.

(Page 2 of 2)

Ogden said. It also needs to partner with groups that have a track record of successful programs to bring funds here, he said.

Ogden said that overall, there are 150,000-plus veterans in Maine, one of the highest per-capita ratios in the country. The idea of giving a tax break on military retirement benefits could really help the economy, he said. Military members often retire between the age of 40 and 45, and they want to keep working.

“I think that would be attractive to get people to come to Maine,” Ogden said.

Sen. Nancy Sullivan, D-Biddeford and Senate chairwoman of the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee, characterized Cornell Du Houx as “extremely conscientious.”

“He sees places where things need to be changed, and he’s willing to change them. You have to respect that in a young man,” Sullivan said.

He has good ideas, Sullivan said, and some of his bills might pass, although it’s hard to get funding for ideas in these tight economic times.

“Who can argue with the fact that returning military vets have a lot of issues facing them that the average person does not have?” she said.

Staff Writer Matt Wickenheiser can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

mwickenheiser@pressherald.com

Employee Free Choice Act: A sustainable stimulus

By Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx

Published:

Friday, May 29, 2009 2:02 PM EDT

The economic challenges Mainers and Americans face are diverse and serious. I wonder how we honor the men and women who fight to protect our way of life when we allow them to slip through the cracks in an economy where there are fewer and fewer opportunities. I wonder how crippled the economic futures of young men and women will be by the reckless and irresponsible decisions that created the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. I wonder what steps our elected leaders will take to rebuild an economy that works for everyone.

While Wall Street only recently went into crisis mode a few months ago, working families have been feeling the pain of our imbalanced economy for years. American workers have generated soaring productivity over the last 25 years, but wages have gone flat. Too many working families have been forced to turn to second jobs, credit cards and toxic loans just to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, the corporate executives have squandered workers’ increasing profitability on their own jet-setter lifestyles.

Thankfully, we have a president who is committed to standing with us in confronting the greatest economic crisis of our lives. If there’s one thing that really strikes me about President Obama, it’s his understanding of what Americans are going through. He doesn’t need economists to tell him that working families have been stretched to the limit — in many cases, past the limit — just trying to make ends meet.

Workers must have the tools to level the playing field if we are ever going to build an economy that works for everyone. We need the Employee Free Choice Act.

This common-sense piece of legislation would give workers the freedom to join a union without intimidation and bargain collectively for better wages and benefits.

Corporate interest groups have falsely attacked this much-needed legislation on the basis of some misguided notion that it would take away the right to a secret ballot. It is important to be clear on this point: Workers will still have the opportunity to call for a secret ballot election if they so choose.  However, this legislation gives workers an additional choice: to form a union when a simple majority of workers sign authorization cards. Majority sign-up isn’t a new practice. More than 500,000 workers have joined unions through the less-divisive majority sign-up process at companies like AT&T since 2003.

The real debate comes down to whether you think corporate CEOs or workers should get to decide how workers form their union. Today, the boss decides for you. The Employee Free Choice Act puts that decision back in the hands of workers.

Right now, as working families are struggling in this economy, we need the Employee Free Choice Act to land on the president’s desk without delay. Union membership not only leads to better pay, health care, pensions and job security for workers — it’s good for the economy, too. When working people can bargain together for their fair share, the increased purchasing power stimulates the economy.

That helps local communities and businesses to prosper. That’s a sustainable stimulus package for Maine, and for America.

In the midst of today’s economic uncertainty, we need to be doing everything we can to strengthen and grow the middle class. Working people know that the power to bargain collectively is the surest way to secure livable wages and quality health care.

The Employee Free Choice Act is the key to making sure that working families earn their fair share for their hard work.

We need our two U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, to join with working people and pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Rep. Alex Cornell Du Houx, D-District 66, is an Iraq War veteran from Brunswick.

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