May 23, 2019

Trust Your Elected Government Representative?

AHEM!

An op-ed found on the Maine Wire, says that making laws through the referendum process is not a good way to do it, and lists some of the reasons why this might be so. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t offer a precise solution but does intimate that placing trust in the representatives that got elected as being the best solution. “When we elect lawmakers, we expect them to weigh various proposals. Recognizing that a first draft isn’t always the best, we empower the Legislature to amend bills, sanding off rough edges and trying to fashion the best solution to the problem at hand. They don’t — or at least, shouldn’t — capitulate to an advocacy group simply because that group has a lot of money or yells the loudest.”

From my perspective, the entire process of electing representatives and making laws is flawed and corrupt. The author’s perspective also appears a bit idealistic and probably is rooted in his own connections to the political system. However, to think that wealthy political influencers can control the law making process through the referendum process and such corruption is immune via the legislative process is naive. It’s the only thing that drives all laws in this country.

A troubling part of this process is when political activists begin demanding changes to how the system works when things aren’t going their way or they are feeling threatened. Often overlooked in the emotional action and reaction is that changes to processes work in all directions and often comes round and bites you on the backside.

To suggest doing away with the referendum process, relying solely on elected officials, is both foolish and dangerous. Doing so would further eliminate the right of people to petition the government. Is that what we really want? When’s the last time you saw an elected politician refuse to “go along to get along” in order to carry out the majority wishes of his or her constituency?

It seems in Maine over the past few years, a lot of noise has arisen about the signature gathering process to get referendums onto a ballot. And now we hear suggestions that the process is a terrible way of making laws. Isn’t the real problem a matter of finding a way to keep the referendum process for Maine, or any other state, within the political processes of that state, as well as discovering, somehow, ways to control the flow of money?

Government is dangerous enough without handing them another free pass to disregard the wishes of the voters. Unfortunately, we live in a Socio-Democratic society where all it takes is 51% of the people to force the rest to live by their rules. This may be a terrible political system to live under but I assure you that having no recourse than to simply allow government officials to dictate terms more than they already do, is an even worse suggestion as a possible solution.

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Fish and Game Hypocrisy Over Commenting on Issues?

Back on March 19, 2015, a Maine guide wrote an editorial about the decision by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to issue a certain number of cow moose permits for a Wildlife Management District (WMD) near Greenville. The writer believes that there are not enough moose in this region to justify the number of permits. There is a system in place that allows for public comment on this issue.

In this editorial, it states that in a telephone interview with Judy Camuso, wildlife division director of MDIFW, “Our rules don’t allow for us [to comment] because the public comment period is still open,” Camuso said. “We don’t want to sway people’s comments.”

In a subsequent editorial response, a writer claims that there exists hypocrisy with MDIFW because the department was very outspoken during the recent bear referendum but MDIFW claims it is against the rules to offer public comments while the comment period for that issue is still open.

One might understand, to a degree, the issue about following rules, however, it would appear that the rules for one issue do stand hypocritical to the rules of another issue. The argument can be made that MDIFW has already made their statement about the issuance of cow moose permits by the act of issuing the number of permits they did. They obviously must support the action and was approved by the department.

However, this action would seem to support the argument made by those opposing the department to be able to participate in referendum campaigns when they say that the MDIFW should be able to make a statement only and that public participation in other campaigning programs should be disallowed.

Even though the issues are different, i.e. one a referendum, the other a permit allocation management decision, there does seem to be a bit of unexplained hypocrisy going on here. If the rules prohibit the discussion of an issue “while the comment period is still open” in fear of “sway[ing] people’s comments” then this rule needs to be changed. Can comments be effectively and honestly made if information and explanations are being squelched?

Some, of course want to change the law, to prohibit or censor MDIFW from participating in referendum campaigns beyond the issuance of a statement of position. I disagree with that approach. The state of Maine created a department for the purpose of managing game and other wildlife. While I am not a blind supporter of all things MDIFW, voters do rely on the department to offer the facts and data that they use to make decisions. Those same facts and data must be made transparent and available to all taxpayers.

Having said that, it would only seem the right thing to allow MDIFW to discuss with anyone who questions decisions at all times and not just relegated to an obscure and not very “public” public comment period.

The people are entitled to information. That information cannot be gotten through government and totalitarian censorship. Let the facts speak for themselves and thus let the facts be well seen and heard.

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A Bill To Prevent Non Residents Collection of Petition Signatures

For all of you who expressed concern about HSUS trying again. We have been working very hard to see it NEVER happens again. Please share this message from David Trahan and this report he penned everywhere you can. Follow the link, print it, send it to everyone you know, and let’s never be victimized again, by those with agendas and huge expense accounts from other states.
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SAM ALERT
Important SAM Bill Coming Up for Public Hearing

LD 176, An Act To Amend the Law Governing the Gathering of Signatures for Direct Initiatives and People’s Veto Referenda

Veterans and Legal Affairs
Feb 25, 2015, 10:00a State House, Room 437

LD 176 is a SAM bill to address the serious abuse of our petition gathering process by the Washington D.C. based Humane Society of the United States. This bill will stop non-residents from violating our State Constitution’s ban on the use of non-residents to collect signatures during Maine referendums. Below are excerpts from an expose written by SAM Executive Director detailing the abuse. Please forward to as many people as possible and come to the hearing if possible. To read the whole expose, go to: http://www.sportsmansallianceofmaine.info/…/HSUS_Exposed_Fi…

BILL SUMMARY

This bill prohibits persons who are not residents of the State from collecting signatures on a petition for the direct initiative of legislation or a people’s veto referendum and from handling such a petition in any manner. The bill permits persons who are not residents to provide others with information about a petition. The bill requires a person employed by a petition organization to register with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices and to disclose to the commission information regarding the person’s place of residence, employment history, compensation, +number of signatures gathered in a month and petitions circulated and to wear an identification badge when collecting signatures. The bill requires a petition organization to post a $2,000 bond on a circulator receiving over $2,500 in compensation. The bill makes a violation of any of these provisions a Class E crime.

HSUS Expose Excerpts

“Yet, fully two-thirds (2/3) of the signatures approved for the bear referendum, and probably thousands more, were bought and paid for by PCI Consulting, a professional petition signature collection firm from California.”

Some interesting facts:

“According to Maine Ethics Commission reports, on November 30, 2013, HSUS kicked off their Maine bear referendum petition signature-gathering efforts by reporting a $50,000 check paid for “signature gathering support”.”

“Total paid for signature gathering management – $228,574.00.”

PCI Consulting and HSUS

“PCI Consulting is a professional petition signature collection firm, with a long history of referendum campaigns all over the United States, and with a wide array of wealthy, politically connected clients, ranging from the likes of anti-gun rights billionaire George Soros to organizations advocating the legalization of marijuana. PCI Consulting has worked extensively with HSUS for more than a decade, collecting and managing signature-gathering efforts on other state ballot initiatives.”

Who did PCI Consulting and HSUS hire to collect petition signatures in Maine?

“According to documents supplied by the Secretary of State, and Internet ads paid for by PCI Consulting contractors, PCI and HSUS paid for the signature collection services of several separate groups,”

The Lewiston Team

“Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting and PCI Consulting hired Auburn resident John Michael, a 7-term, ex-State Legislator, to manage the hiring and daily operations of paid signature collectors.”

The Green Party Connection

“State Representative Ben Chipman, Green Party, Portland, is also a professional signature collector and campaign organizer who was deeply involved the effort to collect bear referendum signatures. Chipman collected signatures, and acted as a Notary for petitions. In what can only be described as a potential conflict of interest, he also served in the Legislature when the referendum bill was heard.”

Why did HSUS hire professional out-of-state petitioners?

“Because the bear referendum was not a home grown effort. It was concocted completely in Washington D.C, by HSUS.”

Who Is Blake?

“There is a common name and phone number in the HSUS and Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting ads that solicit non-resident petitioners. That name is Blake, which is his first name; he does not reveal his last name. Using his cell phone number and information collected from the Internet, he can be connected to referendums in Utah (ballot access), and Washington State (universal gun sales background checks). He appears to be a contractor or middleman for PCI Consulting.”

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A Bill To Change Signature Gathering Process for Referendums

Hot off the latest vote by anti human groups to ban all things normal, a bill is being proposed in the Maine Legislature that would change the process of how signatures are gathered in order to petition the state to get placement of referendum questions on the ballot. At issue, for some, is the so-called loophole that allows for out-of-state persons to effectively gather signatures, even though Maine law says signature gatherers must be Maine residents.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is supporting the bill. Executive director David Trahan says, “Just the fact that any group in the world could come in and cut a check and get their issue on the ballot,” Trahan said, “that should send a chill down everyone’s back in the state of Maine.”

According to an article in the Central Maine edition of the Morning Sentinel, the text of the bill, not yet released, would:

…clarify state law to say only Mainers can ask for signatures during citizen initiative and people’s veto drives, processes that allow citizens to make and repeal laws, respectively.

It would also make paid signature-gatherers for initiatives register with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. While gathering signatures, they would have to wear a badge that says their name, residence and who’s paying them. They would also have to tell the state what they’re paid and how many signatures they gather. Violating the new provisions would be a misdemeanor crime.

Some opposed to the bill say it isn’t necessary and tramples on the First Amendment.

Secretary of State, Matt Dunlop, says that he, “…don’t think there’s anything wrong with transparency.”

The difficulty, most always, with bill proposals to change and/or increase governmental regulation is all too often people fail to realize that laws created swing in both directions and place the same limits on everyone. While a bill today might seem to solve a problem of today, what happens tomorrow when the tide turns?

As with the proposals that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should not be allowed to actively support or oppose citizen referendums, calling for transparency should be welcomed but a ban should not. Voters must know a department’s position and why. And yes, that door swings in two directions also.

I understand the call for preventing entities from outside the state from taking over the processes and priorities of the Maine people. An opponent of this bill proposal, a person who worked to collect signatures for the late bear referendum, called the bill, “a cowardly way to attack the initiative process.” He further explained that it was his belief that those who signed the petitions were more important than the process and that added restrictions drives up the cost of placing citizen initiatives on the ballot.

I’m not sure I would go so far as to call the bill proposal cowardly, as there is merit in claiming that the signature is more important than the process, providing that the process is legal and ethical and the gathering of signatures actually is a reflection of the citizenry as a whole.

When professional signature gatherers are paid, sometimes handsomely, to garner signatures, what happens to the process of approaching voters for their interest in the issue, especially if being paid an amount for each signature retrieved? There’s a good chance that the signatures do not represent the citizenry as a whole. Wasn’t the establishment of gathering signatures in the amount of a percentage of the last election intended to be a reflection of issues that would appear important enough to the people of Maine or any other state, to place a ballot initiative?

When signature gathering becomes a matter of enough funding to pay enough people ample money to harvest signatures, isn’t this a bastardization of the Initiative process? Can we then, with a straight face, say that the signature is more important than the process?

We might draw two examples that could provide reasonable substantiation of those wishing to change the process. Twice the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) brought a referendum against bear hunting and trapping to Maine – 2004 and 2014. Twice that referendum was defeated but not until after hours and hours of time and gobs of money were spent by both sides. After ten years of debates about bears and bear management, HSUS, able to buy the necessary number of signatures got their initiative on the ballot. Think of the large expenditures, on both sides and for what purpose? Evidently right now that purpose is a couple of proposals to change the laws in which both sides think it might “better the process”, perhaps better explained as increasing their chances of winning next time.

This has become part of the political process whether we like it or not. As with the bear referendum and the debates we were all subjected to, once again voters are being subjected to the same process, both sides wishing to make tougher laws. And when tougher laws are enacted, the people lose.

The people ALWAYS lose!

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Big Bank Account and Little Knowledge: Why HSUS Can’t Be Trusted with Decisions for Maine’s Bears

Press Release from Save Maine’s Bear Hunt:

Augusta, Maine- Three recent pieces of evidence make it extremely clear why the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting can’t be trusted to make healthy decisions for Maine’s wildlife.

Exhibits 1 & 2- Lack of understanding of bear species in Maine

Below you will find exhibits 1 & 2. Exhibit 1 was posted recently on Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting Facebook page. Exhibit 2 was the cover of a recent mailer that was sent by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting to Maine voters. In each of these, pictures of grizzly bears are shown. The species was confirmed by Nate Webb a biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. (Nate Webb, Ph.D., received his doctorate degree at the University of Alberta, and was the large carnivore biologist overseeing grizzly and black bear management in the province of Alberta for over five years. One of Webb’s duties was teaching bear identification and bear safety to the general public. Webb currently is the IFW special projects biologist.) The problem with this, of course, is that Maine is not home to any native population of grizzly bears. In fact, grizzlies are only found in Alaska, south through Western Canada and into the northwestern U.S. The closest grizzly population is likely to be in Wyoming or Manitoba- nearly 2,000+miles away. Maine has one of the largest populations of black bears anywhere in the country.

1.

GrizzlyBears

2.
BaitingStinks

Exhibit 3- Lack of understanding of Maine bear hunting laws

In this screen shot of a 15 second ad paid for by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting titled “hounds”, taken on October 27 from the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting website (www.fairbearhunt.com/video), seven bear dogs are seen hunting a bear. An eighth dog eventually comes into the shot. Under Maine law, only 6 dogs may be used to hunt bears (see: Maine Statutes, Title 12: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/12/title12sec11302.html) This hunt likely took place in another state, not in Maine.

3.

TVAdHounds

“These three pieces of evidence clearly demonstrate why HSUS and Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting should not be trusted with decisions regarding Maine’s bears,” said James Cote, Campaign Manager for the Save Maine’s Bear Hunt/NO on 1! Campaign. “Maine voters deserve better than this level of deception and misunderstanding- our bears, our safety, our economy and our outdoor heritage are too important be left to outsiders with big bank accounts and little knowledge of bears and bear hunting here in Maine.”

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine is home to a population of 30,000 black bears. Question 1 would eliminate the three most effective methods of controlling the bear population. Hunting over bait, trapping, and hunting with dogs accounts for approximately 93% of Maine’s annual bear harvest.

“If these groups can’t even take the time to talk about the correct species of bear, or show images that are truly reflective of a bear hunt under Maine law, how can we possibly trust them with decisions about managing our healthy bear population?” said Cote. “This is a no-brainer. Let’s trust our experienced bear biologists and game wardens, not the outsiders. Vote NO on 1.”
HSUSGetRight

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Stop Trying To Silence Actual Mainers

From Save Maine’s Bear Hunt:

HowAboutNoPosted on October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014
Re: Letter to James Cote

Dear Katie,

It seems “Mainers” for Fair Bear Bear Hunting will stop at no lengths to silence actual Mainers.

You have failed to convince a judge to muzzle the state’s bear experts from telling the truth about the impact of Question 1. So now, you attempt to twist words, take comments out of context and to convince the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council to remove our advertising from the public airwaves.

Why don’t you tell real Maine citizens that the organization you work for, the Humane Society of the United States, opposed ALL bear hunting in New Jersey and Maryland? Why don’t you tell them that you oppose any effort to hunt Florida black bears even though they have far exceeded the population goals that indicate a healthy and growing bear population?

Why don’t you explain why the organization that pays you to run the Question 1 campaign removed the following quote from its website during the campaign here in Maine?

“As a matter of principle, The HSUS opposes the hunting of any living creature for fun, trophy, or sport because of the animal trauma, suffering, and death that result. A humane society should not condone the killing of any sentient creature in the name of sport.”

Why don’t you explain how this statement is in line with the statements that HSUS makes that it is only opposed to “certain” hunting practices?

The truth is that you don’t think you can win if you tell Maine voters that you could not even raise 5% of your campaign funds inside Maine. That you had to get almost all of the funding for Question 1 from your Washington DC- based employer. That without these outside dollars, there wasn’t even enough public support to qualify Question 1 for the ballot?

Now, to address the allegations in your letter:

The woman in the ad is not “purportedly” screaming in response to a bear attack, as you claim. That is indeed her voice screaming during her son’s actual 911 call as she is being attacked in front of her children. The attack did indeed take place in Florida, a state that your organization worked to prevent from actually controlling its bear population.

Maine voters need to know that the public safety methods allowable if Question 1 were to pass, would only take place after a problem, such as a bear attack or a home entry has already happened. After the bear attacked the woman in Florida, authorities killed the bear.

Maine’s hunting seasons currently in place help prevent the over population of bears that have been an issue in Central Florida, New Jersey and elsewhere. Maine voters should not have to wait for something bad to happen before we control bear numbers. Your definition of “preserving public safety” is not one that I would trust for my own family.

Your use of Maine bear biologist Randy Cross’s emails is completely disingenuous. The email was written in 2012, and was related to someone’s question about encountering bears under Maine’s current program of controlling bears. Mr. Cross, Judy Camuso, Jen Vashon, and others have all been open that they are very concerned about their ability to control Maine’s bear population without the methods Question 1 would prohibit.

The truth is that bear attacks and conflicts are increasing all across the country. Your contention that attacks like the ones we reference are somehow not relevant to Maine’s Question 1 is based on one fact. Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have done a wonderful job of controlling bear numbers for decades. That gives you the luxury of claiming that attacks that have occurred in New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, California and elsewhere aren’t a real fear in Maine.

Maine has 30,000 bears. And they have increasingly been seen close and within human population centers as both the number of bears and humans continue to increase. Just this last year we’ve seen them in Kennebunk, Topsham, and just last week a nuisance bear had to be killed in Lebanon.

Under your plan, Mainers would have the ability to contact the authorities only after something bad has happened. Our ads make sure that actual Mainers know what that looks and sounds like. We believe that makes those ads very relevant.

Sincerely,

James Cote, Campaign Manager- Save Maine’s Bear Hunt/NO on 1!

Katie Hansberry’s letter asking the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council to take down recent ads can be found by CLICKING HERE.

PumpkinWarning

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Bears Must Be Pansies!

I find it really extremely funny as I read through some of the opinion pieces that some in Maine and outside the state have offered to news media in support or opposition to next Tuesday’s bear hunting referendum. It is laughable and in some cases really phoney as a three dollar bill.

But I’ll not go down that road because, well, to be honest, I think people are sick and tired of reading how somebody doesn’t have facts because they disagree or there is no proof and claims of false advertisements. Yes, and now we have lawsuits. We are in a campaign and campaigns provide multiple platforms in which all sides can lie, cheat and steal, make promises and get away with it like thieves in the night. Puke!

But in this one instance, I really feel badly for the bears. They don’t get no respect! A letter to the editor writer, in an attempt to paint his opposition as a bunch of fear-mongering liars, actually paints a picture of bears as being nothing but a bunch of sissified panty-waists.

In rational discourse we might learn about where certain predators fall in the hierarchy of who’s on top and who’s on bottom. In Maine, not including man, I think a black bear is probably considered top dog….or in this case top bear, the apex predator, the one animal that others don’t want to mess with very often, if at all. (Note: I put man as top predator because there are some who have enough sense to get in out of the rain.)

I guess for the ignorant, the question should be, how did a bear obtain the distinction of top killer? After all, that’s what predators are notorious for. Does “hungry as a bear” have any meaning for you? Does the idea that a hungry bear kills deer fawns and moose calves, help in gaining that distinction? A well-fed bear is of little concern to humans; a damned hungry one and you best get the hell out of the way! I/we have no control over food supplies for bears. Talk to Mother Nature about that.

In this opinion piece, linked to above, the author describes bears as: gentle, elusive, intelligent, timid and peaceful. If this is true then the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of previous scientists, who labeled the black bear a top predator, much have been wrong. Can that be?

The poor bear.

In perceiving bears in the manner of them being gentle, elusive, timid and peaceful, one has to wonder….no, not really. I wonder – I doubt all that many others do actually wonder – if this is what is often described as “new understanding” or “new knowledge” and “shifting the paradigm” and how we discuss wildlife issues.

The poor bear. What a wuss!

PussieBear

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New Poll Shows 57% of Mainers Oppose Bear Referendum

Readers should be aware as well that according to this information provided by the Portland Press Herald, the same poll shows that as more and more people “educate” themselves about the bear hunt, they oppose the referendum.

This should be considered normal, if we were only dealing with facts. Instead we are dealing with a lot of propaganda. It is my opinion the majority of information being given by those in opposition to the referendum is factual or strongly based on facts. The other side? Not so much. It is, therefore, relatively easy to conclude that those opposed to the referendum are doing a better job of swinging voters.

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Evidently HSUS Thinks There are Grizzlies in Maine

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BrownBear2
BrownBear3

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Maine AFL-CIO and Tourism Association Urge a NO Vote on Q 1

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