Study this

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  May 21, 2008

The state of Maine isn’t just spending your tax money on ridiculous endeavors with excessive price tags and no clear public benefit.

It’s also squandering some of it.

The state accomplishes this important governmental function by studying stuff. Lots of stuff. I recently came across a list of review and research projects authorized by the Legislature. Not counting permanent bodies — such as the Maine Pilotage Commission, the We Support Our Troops Advisory Board, and the Maine Regulatory Fairness Board (winner of the coveted Oxymoron of the Year Award) — the state is currently conducting at least 73 studies of crucial matters. Like the “agricultural creative economy.”

Artistic vegetables?

Among the non-agricultural studies of the arts is one to “review Maine’s cultural community and increase visibility of council.”

Try a sex scandal. That always works.

There’s also a panel to “review administration of the relief from disabilities provision to regain the ability to possess a firearm.”

They lost me right after “administration.”

Although that seems straightforward compared to the “work group to evaluate Maine combined bill demonstration project.”

Please don’t let that have anything to do with my life.

There are two studies under way on poisons in children’s toys, one focused on lead and the other on toxic chemicals. There’s also a study on lead in houses and how it affects kids. And another group is determining where in the state children are most at risk of lead poisoning. But nobody is studying how all these studies might be combined.

For sheer incomprehensibility, I like the “review and plan regarding alternative structures to hold and expand transmission assets of investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities.” For sheer futility, there’s the “updated study of the feasibility of establishing a single-payor health care system in the state.” For sheer creepiness, I’d nominate the “deer predation working group.”

Just using the word “payor” instead of “payer” tells you that committee has reached a level of pretentiousness where expensive consultants (consultors?) are required. And I shudder to think of the cleaning bills after the deer predators get finished with their working lunches.

You’re awful, I love you
“I can’t imagine doing it, but I am thinking about it. I might vote for Tom Allen.”

Can you guess the identity of this potential — and conflicted — supporter of Allen, the Democratic 1st District congressman, in his bid to unseat Republican US Senator Susan Collins? I’ll make it multiple choice.

Susan Collins’s mother.


Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine.

The answer is Heath, perhaps the least liberal person in the state (or, at least, the most strident right-winger). He recently sent out an e-mail threatening to vote for Allen, one of the most liberal members of Congress. The reason: “Collins is to the left of Allen on gay rights,” wrote Heath. “Why Senator Collins thinks she needs to out-gay her Democratic rival is a puzzle.”

For the record, both candidates support gay rights, although Allen has backed it longer and more consistently. But this year, Collins got endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, in all likelihood because that group figures she has a better chance of winning.

If Allen gets Heath’s endorsement, they’re probably right.

Get awkward
How many times do you have to do something weird before you’re permanently designated a wacko? I’m not sure, but Hayes Gahagan has to be getting close.

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