Tear me apart

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  December 12, 2007

Are people in southern Maine finally smartening up? Consider the evidence:

In November, Portland voters kicked Democratic kingpin Jim Cloutier off the City Council and Green Independent financial whiz Ben Meiklejohn off the School Committee.

After a brief flirtation with artiness, Westbrook has decided it doesn’t want to be “the next Portland” and will remain “crappy old Westbrook.”

The Portland Press Herald’s circulation keeps declining.

Rustic Overtones reunited.

Now, if they’d just bring back the Skinny and the Brunswick Naval Air Station, and get rid of the MERC incinerator and Channel 13’s Lucas Colavecchio, southern Maine would be a paradise.

Except, it’d still have that ugly neighbor: northern Maine.

It’s so difficult to enjoy the cottage on Kennebunkport’s Gold Coast, the art galleries in Ogunquit, or the Casino Royale martini at an Old Port wine bar knowing that just a few miles away good ol’ boys are sitting around their mobile homes, dressed in dirty wife-beaters, drinking PBRs, and watching mixed-martial-arts marathons on cable TV they don’t pay for because they traded an old chain saw and a bottle of Seagram’s 7 to a guy who hooked them up illegally. Just sharing a state with these bumpkins is enough to put one off one’s tapas.

In yet another sign southern Mainers' IQs are on the rise, South Portland Mayor James Soule has come up with a solution to this unseemly juxtaposing. In his December 3 inaugural address, Soule called for the south to secede and form its own state. One with some class. And a better appreciation of all his city has to offer, such as the Maine Mall and ... uh ... lots of other big-box stores and chain restaurants.

Soule pointed out that SoPo generates over $45 million a year in sales taxes, but receives annual school subsidies of just $4.1 million. “The state of Maine needs South Portland more than South Portland needs the state of Maine,” he said.

You sure? We’ve got plenty of Wal-Marts and Tim Horton’s of our own.

Nevertheless, there’s something attractive about Soule’s proposal — aside from the opportunity it affords for over half of Maine’s population to avoid living in the same state with Jim Soule. In fact, some northerners have been pushing the idea of a split for years. In 2000 and 2005, Republican state Representative. Henry Joy of Crystal (motto: When You Get To Benedicta, You’re Still Not Here) introduced bills in the Legislature to have the north do its own seceding.

Joy’s idea differed from Soule’s in that it called for nine counties — Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington — to disengage and form a new state with the suggested name of Acadia. Soule recognized that such a division wasn’t extensive enough to rid his neighborhood of riffraff. He’d leave behind all Joy’s counties, plus Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, and Lincoln. His new state would be composed only of prosperous Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York.

In his speech, the mayor didn’t mention what name he’d prefer for the seceded section, but Nouveau Massachusetts has a nice ring. Nicer than Snotsylvania, anyway.

Even though this latest call for sundering the bonds is coming from southern Maine, Joy stills thinks the idea has merit. If the state split, he said, “It would really invigorate people in northern Maine to know they didn’t have that powerful bloc of votes in the Portland area to sit on them. Everything in Augusta goes Portland’s way.”

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