Monday, August 23, 2010

Things to Read, Aug. 23 edition

I'm busy finishing my book, but a few items worthy of sharing:

LePage's lackluster record: Maine gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage has been touting his record as mayor of Waterville, which saw a reduction in taxes and improved credit rating and rainy day fund balance. The Bangor Daily News probed this so-called "Waterville miracle" and found the situation was largely due to the state's increase in aid to schools, and that Waterville's tax reduction was actually less than the average for towns of 7,500 or larger. Trenchant reading.

Irving paper silent on Irving Refinery accident: Residents of the east side of Saint John, New Brunswick woke up Friday to discover their cars, lawns, and homes were covered in a gritty gray dust, the result of an accident at the Irving Oil refinery there. The CBC reported the basics a few hours later and followed up Saturday: the oil company said the substances were non-toxic, advised people wear rubber gloves when cleaning it up, and offered car wash vouchers by way of compensation.

Surely, you might think, Saint John's daily newspaper would be all over the story, checking with federal environmental officials and refinery experts to see whether the company's claims were true. But the Saint John Telegraph-Journal is owned by the Irvings, as are all the other English-language daily newspapers and most weeklies in the province. As of this morning -- more than three days later -- the paper's website hasn't even mentioned the accident took place. Mainers might be happy they decided not to bid on the Portland Press Herald a couple years back. [Update, 8/24/10: there's been a repeat incident, but still no coverage at the Telegraph-Journal.] [Update, 8/25/10: CBC reports a previously unreported third incident, health concerns; newspaper website focuses on spaghetti suppers.]

In tough times, tax cuts for the rich: The New York Times' Paul Krugman calls attention to one of the more outrageous developments on Capitol Hill: permanent tax relief for the top one percent of Americans. In a healthy democracy, congressional supporters of such an irresponsible and transparently corrupt policy would be run out of town on a high-speed rail; they'll probably find a way to pass it off as striking a blow for "real Americans." (Indeed, Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have said cutting taxes on the rich will hurt small businesses.) How's this?: the rich can have a tax cut after the deficit is paid off.

Superdelegates uber alles: It's official: Democratic Party superdelegates will retain their powers to reverse the popular vote in the presidential nomination process, a story I broke over at Newsweek earlier this month. At their meeting in St. Louis last week, Democratic National Committee members -- all of whom are superdelegates -- rubber stamped the rules committee recommendation by an overwhelming voice vote. I'd provide a link to news coverage of this development, but apparently there wasn't any. The Associated Press stuck to the DNC press office's talking points.


  1. Actually, there's one daily NB newspaper not owned by Irving: the French-language L'Acadie Nouvelle.

  2. Very true. Thanks for the correction. I should have said "all the other English-language dailies..."