If there’s one thing I’m really good at it’s nothing. Hmm, somehow that didn’t exactly come out the way I’d hoped it would. So, in the interest of dodging a multi-concept, verbal pile-up right here on the virtual on-ramp I’ll just back up and take another run at it. OK, here’s what I’m not saying – I’m not saying that there’s nothing I do well. Like just about everyone else, I do plenty of things well. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about another matter entirely. Like, for instance, what happens on those rare occasions when the situation literally requires you to do nothing? What then? Well, frankly, whenever I find myself someplace where “do nothing” is listed in the official job description, I just figure: “Hey, I’m the man for the job.” What can I say? It’s a gift. Now, as you may have noticed, this particular gift – the ability to do nothing when doing nothing is what’s called for – is a surprisingly rare commodity in contemporary American culture. (read more at Wiscasset Newspaper)
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has issued an Executive Order prohibiting state workers from accessing pornographic and other sexually explicit material on government computers or devices.
“Employees of State agencies are compensated for their public service by Maine taxpayers and as Chief Executive I take employee workplace policies very seriously,” said Governor LePage. “State agencies already have rules to prohibit this behavior at work, but the practice continues. This Order establishes clear rules for all departments and employees across the board.”
All Executive Branch policies banning State employees from using State resources to access pornography will be amended to provide specifically that such misconduct will not be tolerated even when it is incidental in nature, or when it is committed off-duty, according to the Executive Order. It further clarifies policies will be amended to provide clear and unequivocal notice that such misconduct will constitute just cause for termination.
There is an exemption for State employees, such as investigators, required to access pornographic material within their official duties and there are procedures for employees who accidentally access inappropriate material.
The State will be taking all appropriate steps to implement the Governor’s policy directive. This includes formally posting a work rule, informing leadership of the bargaining units that represent employees, and communicating directly with employees.
“While it is exceedingly rare for state employees to access pornography during work hours or using state resources, the State of Maine takes all violations of this policy seriously,” said Joyce Oreskovich, director of the Bureau of Human Resources. “Misconduct such as this, while uncommon, is a violation of the public’s trust and could expose the State to sexual harassment complaints. Governor LePage’s Executive Order provides clear guidance to state employees that this conduct will not be tolerated.”
The Executive Order language is as follows and may be found on the Office of the Governor website http://www.maine.gov/governor/lepage/official_documents/index.shtml :
AN ORDER CLARIFYING STATE MANAGEMENT’S RESPONSE TO CERTAIN PROHIBITED MISCONDUCT
WHEREAS, state agencies provide services to the people of Maine and employ those interested in public service;
WHEREAS, the employees of state agencies are compensated for their public service by the taxpayers of the State of Maine;
WHEREAS, the taxpayers of the State of Maine have a right to expect these employees to spend their work time and to use State owned, leased, or controlled resources in the furtherance of the official business of the State;
WHEREAS, the taxpayers of the State of Maine have a right to expect that during work hours these employees will not act in such a way as to embarrass or discredit the State or the Maine taxpayers;
WHEREAS, unless required to do so in the performance of official duties, State employees using State-owned, leased, or controlled equipment or other resources to create, record, store, copy, transmit, distribute, image, modify, print, download, or display materials that are sexually explicit or pornographic in nature embarrasses and discredits the State and its taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, unless required to do so in the performance of official duties, State employees using State-owned, leased, or controlled equipment or other resources to create, record, store, copy, transmit, distribute, image, modify, print, download, or display materials that are sexually explicit or pornographic in nature is contrary to and inconsistent with furthering the official business of the State;
WHEREAS, the creation, recording, storing, copying, transmitting, distributing, imaging, modifying, printing, downloading, or displaying sexually explicit or pornographic material by State employees using State-owned, leased, or controlled resources constitutes misconduct for which disciplinary action is warranted;
WHEREAS, based on practices developed by previous administrations, there may be some confusion about the appropriate management response to such misconduct;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:
- For purposes of this Executive Order, “accessing pornography” means creating, recording, storing, copying, transmitting, distributing, imaging, modifying, printing, downloading, or displaying sexually explicit or pornographic materials but excludes doing so in the performance of one’s official duties;
- For purposes of this Executive Order, “State resources” includes State-owned, State-leased, or State-controlled I.T. equipment or other resources;
- All Executive Branch policies prohibiting State employees from using State resources to access pornography will be amended to provide specifically that such misconduct will not be tolerated even when it is incidental in nature, or when it is committed off-duty;
- All Executive Branch policies prohibiting State employees from using State resources to access pornography will be amended to provide clear and unequivocal notice that such misconduct will constitute just cause for termination;
- All Executive Branch agencies will take any additional managerial action deemed necessary to ensure that all Executive Branch employees receive adequate notice that using State resources to access pornography constitutes just cause for the termination of his/her employment from the Executive Branch.
The effective date of this Executive order is February 5, 2015.
February 20, 2015
Photo Courtesy of Flickr
MADISON — A Bible sat open on the pulpit in the chill of an empty church last week; purple cloth was draped over the edge, announcing the change of seasons. The Bible was open to the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 59, which, in general terms, focuses on thoughts of a redeemer being delivered. “Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save and His ear is not too deaf to hear,” Isaiah writes in verse 1. The church was the Madison Congregational Church, at the busy downtown corner of Weston Avenue and Main Street, where the dwindling membership could use that verse as they put the 1892 brick church up for sale to the highest bidder. They pray for a buyer and fear the Madison landmark will fall to the wrecking ball, as other properties in Madison have in the past two years. “We would like to see the building preserved. Financially, we’re running out of money, and we don’t have enough people to support it,” said deacon and lifelong member Charlotte Withee, of Anson. “The biggest thing is the heat. Maybe another church could take it over if someone needs a bigger space. … In the cities a lot of things happen to old churches — turned into restaurants, art galleries and a lot of things — but in Madison that’s not going to happen.” (read more at the Kennebec Journal)
She who believes in spiritual, semi-mystical magic is out in the yard digging a hole. We’ll get to that later. Right now I’m thinking that the cartoon guy with the sign that says “The end of days are here; repent,” is on to something. Dig these headlines: Ebola running wild across the planet. A tornado in Maine. Two hurricanes and an earthquake on the same day in Hawaii, another earthquake rattlingthe pinot noir grapes in the Napa Valley, Gov. Rick Perry being indicted, recycling gone amok in Waterville, the tea party, monsoon rain, and now — wait for it, here it comes — a tick in our backyards that makes us allergic to meat! Say what? A tick that makes us allergic to Big Macs and Whoppers, meatballs, hanger steaks and sirloin tips? OMG, is bologna on that list? This is serious. How does one make a Manwich burger with tuna or tofu? Evangelist Pat Robertson was laughed at for suggesting that earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly an Earth-destroying meteor were all part of God’s punishment for letting someone’s nephew in Las Vegas marry someone’s son from Alabama. Is it possible that this tick is heaven’s punishment for eating fast food? As if obesity and gas weren’t enough, now Burger King has incurred God’s wrath? Maybe vegans have had it right all along. Perhaps vegans are messengers from beyond. Maybe they are “The Others”? I know the economy is struggling. Obama’s numbers are down, and the Red Sox are being shamed by Mo’ne Davis, but this tick thing is out of control. (read more at the Portland Press Herald)
BANGOR, Maine — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once again touched down in Maine on Tuesday to offer his support — and considerable fundraising prowess — to Gov. Paul LePage’s re-election campaign. Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, was making his second stop in the Pine Tree State, after an appearance at Becky’s Diner in Portland and a LePage fundraiser in May. This time, he and LePage toured a recently expanded airplane maintenance and repair operation in Bangor, where Christie touted LePage’s efforts to make Maine more business-friendly, and pledged “millions of dollars” to see him returned to the Blaine House in 2014. LePage is in a tight race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. Independent candidate Eliot Cutler is also running, but lags in the polls. (read more at the Bangor Daily News)
The local weather forecaster says it’s going to rain Monday. Why do I care? I’m not going anywhere on Monday. There is that tiny leak in the roof of the closet in the back of the house, but unless it’s a torrential downpour, the kind they have every June in Manila and Singapore that causes mud slides that kill thousands of people in the Philippines and China, I can’t worry. But then there was that rain we had last week, which revealed the leak. So then why do I and people like me get so obsessed with the weather? Define obsession. Here’s what I watch: Each evening I watch three weather reports, the early, mid-evening and the final one at 11:15 p.m. Okay, that’s probably a lot. Channel 6 starts first, then quickly I cut down to Channel 5, which follows a few seconds later, and then Channel 8, which is always behind. They basically give the same report, but one focuses on the south, the other floats around central Maine and the latter kind of covers Bangor and the north. (read more at the Kennebec Journal)
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced Wednesday the State of Maine is moving forward with its plan to conduct drug tests of convicted drug felons who are applying for or receiving welfare benefits.
Over the last several months, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has focused on designing its drug-testing measures to ensure privacy and fairness, while reinforcing accountability and integrity in the program. The tests will be required of drug felons who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
“Maine people expect their tax dollars to be spent supporting our most vulnerable citizens – children, the elderly and the disabled,” said Governor Paul LePage. “We must ensure that our tax dollars do not enable the continuation of a drug addiction. “TANF is a short-term benefit that assists families and children with the basic necessities. If someone tests positive for drugs, they are clearly putting their addiction ahead of their family’s needs. Being drug-free is a critical aspect of moving away from poverty and toward self-sufficiency. We must do all that we can to make ensure children’s needs are being met and that the TANF recipient has the best possible chance at economic independence.”
When a person applies for benefits, the individual must report whether he or she has a prior drug-related felony conviction. If the answer is yes, the State will schedule a drug test and notify the individual 24 hours prior to the actual test.
“Our rules are drafted according to the knowledge we have gained over the last several months. As a result, our drug testing program is based on best practices and aligns with federal law,’’ explained Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew.
If a person tests positive, the individual will have the option to be tested a second time. At any time, an individual can avoid termination of benefits by enrolling in an approved and appropriate substance abuse program. Those who fail to disclose they are convicted drug felons will be found in violation of program rules and will face immediate termination of benefits.
The State’s rule will be published in August and must move through the rule-making process, which includes a public hearing.
August 6, 2014
Life is funny, wanna have a cup of coffee? J.P. Devine asks. On The Edge “I can’t do coffee, but I can do Dr. Pepper.” – Cher It’s there in your hand, on your kitchen counter, the table, or in a thermos waiting to go with you. It’s the ubiquitous dark universal drug of choice. Okay, it’s not officially a drug. Then what is coffee? You tell me. Coffee. It’s all about coffee, I drink one a day and I don’t even like it. So why do I do it? Where did it start, this drinking something I only like when it’s iced and it’s 95 degrees? Caffeine hits my brain like a car leaving the track at the Indy 500 head on. Too much at a dinner party, and I turn the room into a club and never shut up until people start drifting into the kitchen and staring back at me, as I stand there talking to empty couches. This embarrasses She, who only drinks fruit juice. So when I do it, it’s decaffeinated. Almost no one does that. People who drink decaf in America are like bare foot skiers in the Alps. Who does this? It’s so rare that the baristas at the various coffee houses stare at me for a moment and then say, ” It’ll take a minute to brew some.” “Why?” “Because you’re the only one who asks for it.” “I can’t be the only one.” “No, someone came in last week and asked for it.” So why do I drink it at all? Where did I learn this? After my father’s death, my mother started sleeping later and later. Then she started having migraines. She was after all, only 48 when her husband died. Menopause and death is a bad brew. (keep reading at the Kennebec Journal)
PORTLAND, Maine — From serene lighthouses to mysterious skulls to myriad self-portraits, Robert Nason’s work covers a panoply of genres, decades and wives. For the seven years he has painted at Running with Scissors in Portland, the 90-year-old has outlasted creatives who are years younger. On Saturday, his show Nason At Ninety opens in the collective’s gallery. Like the man himself, the work dating back to the 1950s is evidence of a multifaceted life. “It’s really an experiment,” he says of the show. His watercolors, oils and charcoals were selected by relatives, friends and a fellow artist who “looked at everything in my studio and storage space, thousands of pieces,” he said. The result? “New and surprising.” That sums up Nason’s approach to life. Unlike his neighbors in the nearby apartment complex where he lives, he is up and out every day in his studio creating. In a cramped room lined with colorful canvases, paints, crayons and work spilling out into the hallway, there is always something to keep him engaged. “I don’t usually wake up and decide what I’m going to do,” he said of his daily practice. “A lot of them are not finished. So as I look around, I see something and I say, ‘That one needs work.’ That gets me going.” (read more at the Bangor Daily News)