The Universal Notebook: We need to fund our schools

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There is a rally Wednesday in Augusta for the state to fully fund 55 percent of public education, as Maine voters voted to do in 2003, and to impose a 3 percent tax on income over $200,000, as Maine voted to do in 2016.

In my experience, civic-minded people always support public education. School facilities are an outward expression of a community’s values, education is the best investment we make in our collective future, and, oh, by the way, quality schools increase property values.

On June 13, voters in Brunswick, where I live, will have an opportunity to fund our schools by building a new one, a $28 million elementary school. I have never had and never will have children in the Brunswick schools, but I will be wholeheartedly voting yes in order to replace Robert P.T. Coffin School, an embarrassingly outdated building attended by “temporary” portable classrooms that have been in place for 50 years.

I would also have voted to spend another $6 million to repair the rather sad and tired Brunswick Junior High School next door, but town officials decided back in February to forego fixing up the old junior high in hopes of getting some state funding for a new one.

Brunswick is applying for state funding for both the elementary school and the junior high, but the path to state funding for schools is long and tortuous in the best of times, and the LePage administration has made it even more difficult by not allowing any new school funding applications for six years, thus creating a huge backlog.

So I wouldn’t hold my breath for getting the state to pay for a new school in a town that already received state funding for Brunswick High School in 1995 and Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School in 2011. We need to fund our own schools.

I have lived in Brunswick for only several years, but it has become apparent that town officials move very deliberately and cautiously on major projects such as school buildings, town halls and police stations. I guess that’s a good thing, but the School Department has been actively studying its school facilities for at least six years, holding some 80 public meetings without taking action. Delay in construction costs money. The cost of a new school goes up something like $1 million every year we wait.

Of course, Brunswick has had to deal with a lot of changes since 2011, when the Brunswick Naval Air Station was decommissioned. The school population fell from 3,250 to 2,350, close to 100 employees were laid off, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow School was traded to Bowdoin College for a new Town Hall and Jordan Acres School was closed for structural reasons.

Not only did Brunswick lose the students from the air base and the federal subsidies that came with them, but it also lost 200 students from Durham when that town consolidated with Freeport and Pownal.

While I’m sure good-faith mistakes were made in responding to these changes, I am just as sure that, no matter how you look at it, Coffin School needs to be replaced. Young families are discovering what a great community Brunswick is and the school population is rebounding. Stowe School, which houses grades two through five, was built for 600 students and now has more than 700. A new primary school is simply a must.

In voting for a new elementary school, I will be voting to raise my own taxes nominally, perhaps $300 a year, a contribution I am happy to make to have school facilities we can all be proud of and that tell the young people of Brunswick that we value them and their educations.

The sorry condition of some Brunswick schools is, in part, a reflection of decades of buying down the tax rate by deferring maintenance. Naturally, there are a few folks in town who oppose the school bond referendum. If they are so concerned about property taxes rising, they should take it up with the state Legislature for not funding public education at the mandated 55 percent and, even more so, with Gov. Paul LePage for shifting the costs of public services from the state to the cities and towns.

Come June 13, we will find out just how much the people of Brunswick value public education. A community that names its schools after distinguished local writers should certainly be willing to fund them.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

  • Queenie42

    Thank you, Mr. Beem, for this column. Public education, imho, is a cornerstone of our Democracy. It gives children an equal footing. It does not discriminate.
    At a time when public education is under attack by local, state and federal voices it is even more important that we support all children and their teachers and thus the future.

  • poppypapa

    Hey, Beemster, don’t let little things like a Constitution deter you from your appointed task of demonizing everyone but the spenders in your quest to prove that no amount of spending is enough.

    Article VIII. — Part First.

    Section 1. Legislature shall require towns to support public schools; duty of Legislature. A general diffusion of the advantages of education being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people; to promote this
    important object, the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their
    duty to require, the several towns to make suitable provision, at their
    own expense, for the support and maintenance of public schools; and it
    shall further be their duty to encourage and suitably endow, from time
    to time, as the circumstances of the people may authorize, all
    academies, colleges and seminaries of learning within the State;
    provided, that no donation, grant or endowment shall at any time be made
    by the Legislature to any literary institution now established, or
    which may hereafter be established, unless, at the time of making such
    endowment, the Legislature of the State shall have the right to grant
    any further powers to alter, limit or restrain any of the powers vested
    in any such literary institution, as shall be judged necessary to
    promote the best interests thereof.

    • Kevin McCarthy

      Not sure what your point is here other than your usual condescension. The language you cite in the Maine Constitution does not prohibit the State from contributing to the funding of public schools. It’s been doing so for over a hundred years under various statutory schemes. 20-A MRSA 15752 requires the Legislature to “provide at least 55% of the cost of the total allocation for kindergarten to grade 12 education from General Fund revenue sources.”

      • EdBeem

        Thank you.

        • poppypapa

          Looks like you’re rallying fellow name callers to your side, buddy. That’s always a good sign.

      • poppypapa

        Spoken like a charter member of the Ext Left for whom things like Constitutions are “living documents,” mere suggestions except where they align perfectly with progressive ideology, in which case they become inviolate.

        Twist it any way you want, as politicians regularly do, but the words

        “the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their duty to require, the several towns to make suitable provision, at their own expense”

        seem pretty definitive and unambiguous to poor, insensitive, condescending shlubs like this reader.

        Not that it matters in the least.

        • Kevin McCarthy

          Notwithstanding your usual huffing and puffing, this facade of self-deprecation just makes you look foolish. The quoted words simply do not support your thesis whether as a matter of constitutional law or just plain reading comprehension. Were there a valid constitutional objection to this or any other state funding scheme of public schools, it would have been made and litigated long ago. You writing suggest you believe you are making some novel legal argument. You’re not. The only “twisting” occurring here is in your logic.

          • splurker

            stop trying to respond to this idiot – he has all the answers and has nothing better to do but hang out and respond to the column…about as important as a goldfish

          • poppypapa

            “looking foolish” is one thing. “being foolish” is another.

      • EdBeem

        Exactly. The people of Maine mandated the state pay 55% and that income over $200,000 be subject to a 3% tax. The will of the people.

        Title 20-A: EDUCATION


        Chapter 1: GENERAL PROVISIONS


        §2. Policy on public education

        The state policy on public education is as follows. [1981, c. 693, §§5, 8 (NEW).]

        1. State responsibility for public education. In accordance with the Constitution of Maine, Article VIII, the Legislature shall enact the laws that are necessary to assure that all school administrative units make suitable provisions for the support and maintenance of the public schools. It is the intent of the Legislature that every person within the age limitations prescribed by state statutes shall be provided an opportunity to receive the benefits of a free public education.

        [ 1981, c. 693, §§5, 8 (NEW) .]

        2. Local control of public education. It is the intent of the Legislature that the control and management of the public schools shall be vested in the legislative and governing bodies of local school administrative units, as long as those units are in compliance with appropriate state statutes.

  • EdBeem

    BDN: “In his final budget as governor, LePage proposed cutting the entire $12.1 million allocation for General Assistance in the next fiscal year. The program, which gives poor Mainers vouchers to cover basic needs like rent, food and medication on the condition that most seek work, has long been on the fiscally conservative Republican’s chopping block. And LePage has successfully shifted a larger share of its cost to cities in past budgets.”
    Maine Insights: “People across the state, across the political spectrum, have noticed that while Gov. Paul LePage has been in office their property taxes have risen. But how many know the culprit has been the governor’s budgets that have made drastic cuts to municipalities by slashing state revenue-sharing funds? Without this needed source of money, cities have had few options to pay for the services they provide. Many towns have laid off first-responders, cut services to people, and increased property taxes.”

  • Chew H Bird

    So perhaps Mr. Beem might explain how the 2011-2012 school budget of $33,301,672.00 has ballooned to the 2016-2017 amount of $37,695,535.00
    since we have about 900 less students and about 100 less employees?

    Building become “outdated” when they are not properly maintained, or in the case of Jordan Acres, allowed to fail because the engineers, architects, and contractors were not held accountable for design issues and… Even more important… Allowed to fail because our town didn’t take the time to simply shovel the roof…

    I am all for providing a great education for our children but running a taxpayer supported system in a manner disrespectful to the citizens sends a poor message to our community and sets a bad ethical and moral example for the very children we seek to educate.

  • EdBeem

    Pleased to see that Concerned Citizens of Brunswick agrees with me that Gov. LePage is just shifting the tax burden from the state to the towns. Their reason #5 for opposing the June 13 referendum is “Reductions in state aid to towns will increase your property tax.” LePage has not saved anyone any tax money except the rich.

    • poppypapa

      In case you haven’t figured it out; the sun coming up will increase property taxes. Becoming a sanctuary city will increase property taxes.

      In fact, the passage of a year in real world time will increase property taxes.

  • poppypapa

    Hey, Eddie, about that title: “We need to fund our schools.” Damn bold of you, bunky. Right out there on a limb, as they say.

    Here’s some fashion advice for you. Change your shirt; the one you had on when you wrote this column is so Kool-Aid stained it highlights your bloodshot eyes rather than that avuncular little twinkle shown in your head shot.

    I know we’ve been over this before, and now others are pointing it out as well, but you seem unable to absorb it because it doesn’t align with your alternative grasp of reality. We know you are a pioneer of the post-modern, but some of us still hold out for objective truth in matters like budgets and school administration. You’ve often suggested I have no idea what I’m talking about, but never offer substantiation for that view; just gnashing of teeth and furious hand waving.

    So. Here are the facts as I have them in archived data provided by the school department.

    1) The federal subsidy for military dependents peaked in FY 08 at $1,446,926. That was the year enrollment began to decline from it’s previous levels in the 3,300 plus range. Still, if we had 660 military dependents in our schools, which was the usual published number, that would work out to the Navy paying just under $2,200 per student to our school system. Actual expenditures per student that year were $9,898 per student, not including state contributions to employee pension plans of $3,022,000, raising per student spending to $10,842. So in actuality, the Navy students were an overwhelming fiscal drag on the system, and their moving away was in essence a windfall for the budget, since the feds paid less than 25% of the actual cost.

    2) Similarly, tuition paid by other districts peaked at $1,414,409 in the same year. If that paid for 200 students, the payments per child were slightly less than $7,100, or roughly $2,800 less than per student expenditures, and $3,800 less than “all in” per student figures. So once again, Durham students were in fact loss leaders, since they did not come with sufficient funding to cover their total costs.

    3) As to the 100 employees laid off (I believe the advertised figure was 102), I inquired of the school Super to get the details of which positions were eliminated.

    Here’s the response I got:

    “I don’t believe we are required to complete research on your behalf. We
    thought it was a good idea to compile it and we are doing that when we
    have time. You’ll have it when we are finished. Thanks, Paul.”

    Wouldn’t you just know it; the compilation effort apparently fell through one of the numerous cracks in the system. The data was never provided.

    But department data shows this: in FY 09, with 3,101 students, the Department reported they had 212 classroom teachers and a total head count of 510. That works out to 14.6 students per teacher. Two years later, with 2,564 students, they reported 211 classroom teachers and a total head count of 478. According to data published for the upcoming year, 240.4 classroom teacher are in the plan, for a student body in the 2,350 range. Which amounts to less than 10 students per teacher.

    So one could easily speculate why that list of 102 positions that were “cut” never made it onto the table, so to speak.

    Keep in mind that not that long ago we had four elementary schools, creating obvious inefficiencies in staffing, and especially classroom teachers. Now that each individual grade is only taught in one school, one might think classroom teacher staffing efficiency would be maximized, wouldn’t one?

    4) Oh…one more thing; the referendum to raise state support to 55% was sold with a promise that property taxes would decline 15% statewide; I think I still have the sign out in the garage. No-one anywhere saw their property tax bill decline, nor would they see it if state aid doubled. The schools would simply increase spending to consume whatever new money was provided. It’s in their nature, and the nature of all bureaucrats and elected employees.

    Kudos to Chew, who has posted some straight talk just below.

    So the question is, oh wise one, just how much more funding would be enough in your mind, and how much should it increase year by year?

    • EdBeem

      One of these days you should try doing something positive in the community so you are not remembered as the crackpot from the other side town.

      • poppypapa

        Apparently you think promulgating hyperbole, emotion, and loosely gathered information that props up your position is doing something positive. I don’t really care if you (or the Beemians) consider me a “crackpot.” I’ll go with forwarding as much documented information as I possibly can as a positive contribution….the best I can do. And challenging elected employees and their appointees when circumstances call for it.

        And I’ll point out anytime I can when various consultants and other hired CYA’ers are selling us a bill of goods, even if you swallow it whole. Oh wait….I should call them ‘purveyors of post-modernism;’ you know, experts in no such thing as objective truth.

        If the ‘community’ prefers disinformation and obstruction, then so be it.

        And when are you going to keep your oft-stated promise and stop responding to me? It’s beginning to look like your word is as reliable as your informational value.

        • EdBeem

          Admit it, all you do is complain.

          • poppypapa

            You crack yourself up, Eddie. You never complain, not about our Governor, our President, or anything else.

            Once again, your utter lack of self-awareness is staggering.

          • EdBeem

            I promote lots of things, most recently the school bond and death with dignity. I have served on school committees and facilities committees. I am a deacon at church. Yes, I complain about LePage and Trump in print all the time and that is because LePage is a national embarrassment and Trump is an international embarrassment. And don’t flatter yourself that only liberals think of you as a crackpot. You offer nothing positive to this community as a self-appointed know-it-all online scold and your information is usually wrong, like not knowing how per pupil costs are calculated.

          • poppypapa

            Let’s be very clear; and I’ve told you this before. The education bureaucracy chooses to leave certain expenses out of the “per student” costs, even though we have to pay those costs or the school budgets will collapse.

            I wonder which costs of running your household you leave out of your budget calculations.

            As I have said to any and all challengers, I compute per student cost by dividing the budget by the number of students. Pretty simple, actually.

            And besides, when the really scary factor is the steep increase in per student costs in recent years, it’s the difference year by year that matters most, and in all likelihood, the bureaucracy’s preferred method would probably make things look worse. Maybe you should think about that, bunky.

            And stop taking my bait, you serial liar.

            Nice to see you flattering yourself, though. And making it clear that complaining is perfectly acceptable when YOU take offense at something.

            Here’s more bait: I say again, why don’t you challenge my facts and data, rather than continuously attacking me for my looks, my baldness, my weight, my reputation and everything else personal you can drum up?

            Rather than countering my thesis and assertions.

            Your ad hominem habits are so telling.

            Oops; excuse me for a moment. I need to wipe my hands off after re-baiting my hook. Think I’ll open a brewski and wait to see how long it takes the carp to bite this time.

      • Queenie42

        LOL. I can’t help but think that if it wasn’t the funding for the schools that gets conservative’s unmentionables in a twist it would be something else to squawk about regarding public schools. I think they are so anti anything public that they would rather see everything private. Schools, police, fire departments and all infrastructure taken over with hefty user fees tacked on. Nothing is of value to them unless someone is making a profit.
        Remember when Halliburton took over meals and other profit making ventures for the troops? Moves like that cost the taxpayers far more and hid the true costs of the war.

        • poppypapa

          Yes; how dare we watch what our “public servants” are doing and question them when we think it appropriate. We should all just shut up, vote up, and pay up.

          Where do you stand on the current White House administration, Q? Got anything unmentionable in a twist?

          I sure hope you don’t consider accurate disclosure as “anti.” And you have no basis for the comment about “rather see everything private.”

          • Queenie42

            If I thought for one moment you were being even handed in your criticism of government spending I would take you more seriously. But you are not. Never have I read a word by you taking on the trillions of dollars these never-ending wars cost us, not just in money but in the utter waste of human life.
            Never a word about the criminally high cost of prescription medicines in this country that drive people into poverty.
            Never a word about what it costs taxpayers to clean up the toxic waste sites made by the profit before people corporations.
            Don’t try to bully me with your “royal we”. I am not amused.

          • poppypapa

            “Bully you?” The use of the word “we” threatens you? No wonder we have hundreds of college students on a nearby campus seeking regular therapy at their counseling center.

            And claims of harassment are everywhere.

            Do you know what bandwidth means? I’m sorry I can’t thoroughly address every single issue and injustice and wrong that grabs your interest. I choose to pursue the nearby ones that interest me because the facts and data are readily at hand.

            Perhaps you should take up the other issues on your own, and enlighten us with the results you achieve.

            Coupled with growing old, I’ve got enough to keep me busy, thank you. But I wish you’d stop falling into the same rut Eddie does, where you have no response to the information put forth, but instead choose to demonize me on abstract planes.

            Why not challenge the info I present, rather than pick on me?

  • EdBeem

    The title I gave this column was “Fund Our Damn Schools.” Just picked up the Concerned Brunswick Citizens misinformation card. What a lot of hooey!

    • poppypapa

      Speaking to your hand again?

  • Jimmy_John67

    Funny how Ed avoids mentioning the time he moved out of his beloved Yarmouth because the taxes were too high and he no longer wanted to pay his “fair share” to support the schools once he had no use for them. Or the time he acknowledged that for years his house in Yarmouth was assessed below proper value resulting in lower property taxes. Oh well, I guess he simply “forgot” to place a request to have his assessment increased. Seems like Ed’s support for top notch schools only exists as long as someone else is footing the bill.

    The good news however is that since Ed is a leader of such high moral fiber and integrity (at least in his own mind) I have decided to follow his example. With our youngest graduating from high school next month, the wife and I just had an offer accepted on a house in the lakes region of NH. Sure it was a splurge but with the money we will save by not having to pay our “fair share” of the top Maine income tax rate we will still come out well ahead financially. It was the 3% tax rate bump that finally pushed us out of Maine as it no longer made financial sense to live here when we can work from anywhere via the internet. So now Maine will get none of our income and when people scratch their heads wondering why tax revenue is decreasing when the tax rate is increasing they will hopefully cast their gaze to greed leaders like Ed Beem and the fine example he set for people like me.

    With my parting volley I want to thank you Ed and I promise to toast the schools of Maine as I watch the sun set over the NH lakes later this summer counting my tax savings without a shred of guilt because you taught me so well that words are far more meaningful than actions. Sayonara Sucker.

    • EdBeem

      Taxes had absolutely nothing to do with moving out of Yarmouth or moving to Brunswick. Never considered taxes at all. Just finally had some money after a decade of paying college tuitions, decided to buy a new home and found one we liked in Brunswick, which despite the impression one might get from a handful of habitual posters is a pretty progressive community, witness the people it elects to town offices and sends to Augusta. It is a shame that the Coffin School has been neglected all these years, however, and I assume the good people of Brunswick will remedy that on June 13.

      • poppypapa

        Time to connect the dots, pilgrim.

        Building neglect is what you get when those progressives are handed stewardship of capital assets.

        Here’s a couple of keepers for you:

        “What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.”

        “Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.”

        This last one may be too cerebral for you, but others might ‘get it:’

        “Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects
        and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.”

      • Jimmy_John67

        Extra money? In previous discussions you have stated that you were so deep in debt that you didn’t make a cent off of the sale of your home in Yarmouth. So were you lying then or are you lying now?

        If you did in fact have extra money shouldn’t you have used that to pay your fair share instead of indulging in an expensive home purchase which you didn’t need? After all isn’t that the same kind of self serving, greedy action that you constantly berate others for? Perhaps I am missing something but it is beginning to look like you have one standard for yourself and one for everyone else.

        All hope isn’t lost for you however as it is good to see you recognize the failures of progressive officials. Despite years of growing budgets and subsequent tax increases, you clearly point out that Brunswick school facilities have been neglected and test scores have stagnated or declined under 100% progressive leadership. Nice of you to make that connection for your readers here. The only question now is what all that extra money was spent on? Still waiting for you or any one of the progressive town leaders to explain that.

        The good news is I could care less about any of this since in about 45 days I will be leaving the wonderful world of Maine waste and inefficiency in the rear view mirror. One less person will be around to call out your ridiculous double standard and inconsistencies but luckily you have become so unhinged in your senior years that everyone I know already sees you as a sort of side show to be laughed at and pitied. Good luck Ed and hopefully you can let go of your burning hatred of your fellow man as well as your own deep seated self loathing before it is too late.

      • poppypapa

        Neglected by who? Most folks would look to those charged with operating and maintaining it, I would think.

        But apparently “pretty progressive communities” don’t.

        • EdBeem

          I’m sure the responsibility is shared, but this will be the first opportunity since I moved to Brunswick to correct the situation and I will vote to do so.

          • poppypapa

            40 years of watching Brunswick closely gives you that surety.

            Funny how my 20 years of doing it all while residing here, combined with the same outcomes on virtually all schools, gives me a different surety.

          • EdBeem

            You’re so contrary that you won’t even allow me to agree with you. I find it appalling that school administrators, school committee members and citizens allowed this situation to develop. I also believe that pressure to keep taxes down leads to deferred maintenance, since that is one place that can be cut without impacting teaching and learning in the short term. Bottom line: Brunswick kids deserve better, safer, more accessible buildings. I believe the people of Brunswick will approve a new school, don’t you?

          • poppypapa

            You affirm why I made the comment I did. I know you well enough to be pretty certain that when you used the term “sure the responsibility is shared” you would be attempting to peanut butter the blame broadly across the entire town, including the general citizenry who hold no official position. And in fact you did just that here:

            “I find it appalling that school administrators, school committee members and citizens allowed this situation to develop.”

            (note to EAB: it’s called the School Board here in Brunswick, which you’ve been following for 40 years.)

            I place the responsibility primarily on the school administrators who construct the budget, and make all the day by day decisions on operating priorities, and then seek the approval of School Board members to consent, where necessary, with their performance. I don’t for a minute believe that the School Board oversees or directs the paid staff in their conduct.

            So I place the secondary responsibility on the School Board members, which history tells us historically votes in unison, and is largely a rubber stamp operation that is easily manipulated by the careerists. I’ve heard first hand reports of members being brought to tears by other members for even thinking of not following the party line. Whatever split votes have occurred in recent years are a total departure from the normal course of things.

            The tertiary or shared secondary responsibility lies with the Town Council, who have overall responsibility for the town enterprise, including all of the physical assets assigned to the various departments in expectation they will exercise diligent stewardship.

            The Town Council chronically demonstrates abject fear of challenging the School establishment, and I’ve even had a former Council Chair personally tell me she would not take the political risk of challenging them. The mommy mafia is a powerful and threatening force, and if they can’t carry the day, send in a dozen or so munchkins with signs saying “please don’t cut my XYZ.”

            Under these circumstances, the notion that citizens had any significant role in the decline is a real stretch. The only thing the citizens respond to in meaningful measure is emotional manipulation; they almost beg for it. Challenging them to dig more deeply into management malfeasance or dereliction of duty is a waste of time. I know that from personal experience.

            So I knew instinctively that you did not “agree with me.” Because in a nut shell, you wanted to spread the blame so widely that no meaningful recourse existed except biting the bullet and spending the money. No changes to SOP, no accountability, no consequences.

            Same old, same old. Cloaked in the time tested rhetoric of “doing the right thing and supporting our schools.” Even if the so called professionals charged with supporting our schools do exactly the opposite.

            You, my friend, are putty in their hands.

  • poppypapa

    Perhaps Mr. McCarthy will give us his interpretation of these words:

    “the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their duty to require, the
    several towns to make suitable provision, at their own expense”

    Once he does, the rest of us will have the benefit of his reading comprehension and understanding of constitutional law.

    These words of his: ” Were there a valid constitutional objection to this or any
    other state funding scheme of public schools, it would have been made
    and litigated long ago.” are naive in the extreme

    He may think “we are a nation of laws” as well.

    He needs to catch up with the reality of politics as they relate to the ‘principles’ that supposedly constrain the politicians.

    BTW, Eddie asserts that simple passage of a statute can override the State
    Constitution. In which case, we have no Constitution.

    End of problem. Free for all!

    • Kevin McCarthy

      You should have quit while you had some semblance of credibility.

      • poppypapa

        Why? The ‘professional journalist’ who opens these discussions doesn’t seem to require any in his comments, or in many of his columns. Unless credibility means revulsion towards anyone to the right of him. Which is the majority of the population.

        But as long as you’re here, why don’t you demonstrate your credibility by translating the very complex passage cited above into words regular people can understand unambiguously?

        Shouldn’t take more than 60 seconds or so.

        • Kevin McCarthy

          You’ve demonstrated repeatedly your ignorance of the law and your overbearing insistence of the righteousness of your view of the world. You seem to think that sarcasm and condescension is an acceptable, if not exemplary, means of communication. That you can’t read the very Constitutional provision of which you

        • Kevin McCarthy

          You’ve demonstrated repeatedly your ignorance of the law and your overbearing insistence of the righteousness of your view of the world. You seem to think that sarcasm and condescension are acceptable, if not exemplary, means of communication. That you can’t honestly read the very Constitutional provision which you attempt to make the basis of your specious argument goes a long way to undercutting any other argument you attempt to make. And that’s too bad, because you, at least, seem to have some rational and empirical basis upon which to make your argument. Instead, you choose to assert your self-perceived moral and intellectual authority and do it in a way that, intended or not, comes across as an obvious, and personal, failed cheap shot that gains no substance but establishes the ideological vacuum of your rants.

          • poppypapa

            Wow; someone who can harass and bully and dehumanize me like that should at least be able to give us the plain English meaning of the passage I cited, rather than claiming I can’t read and make specious arguments.

            Both you and Beem miss everything but the point made to you. Birds of a feather. Insult, demonize, name-call, and all the rest; just don’t engage in the question on the table.

            What are you afraid of? Why can’t you say what it means in your language?

            Why don’t you just win the argument with points all can understand? You infer you can do it, but you make no effort.


          • Kevin McCarthy

            Hah hah hah. I’ll take it as a backhanded compliment that my words constitute harassment, bullying and dehumanization, instead of the wounded cry of suffering and victimhood that might otherwise attach to your ridiculous assertions. The plain meaning of the passage you cited speaks for itself. Nowhere is there a prohibition on the state’s contribution to public school education. That you choose not to read the words or acknowledge the “plain meaning” of them is your choice. You’re free to embrace it, but don’t try to peddle it as something it’s not.

          • EdBeem

            Poppycock is a classic cherrypicker with extreme tunnel vision. He seizes on one fact and bends and twists it out of shape until it fits his agenda. Here’s what the Maine DOE website says about the history of state funding:

            State Finance

            The second Legislature established the minimum to be raised by each town and plantation, annually, at 40 cents for each inhabitant. 21

            The next evidence of state financial support came in 1828 when 20 townships of public lands were sold and the proceeds of approximately $200,000 were used to establish a common school fund, the income from which was to be distributed according to the number of scholars. This fund was the forerunner and basis for funds for equalization of educational opportunity in later years.

            In 1883, the banking corporations were required to pay to the State one-half of one per cent semi-annually on their capital stock. This has significance, as it was the first state appropriation from tax money for school aid. The amount was not large compared with present day sums, for during the period 1833 to 1849, the revenue average only $31,511 per year. Adding this to the municipal tax of 40 cents per inhabitant, the total amount of school funds available for the operation of public schools in 1849 was $289,961. The bank tax did not prove to be a stable source of revenue due to a tax on state banks imposed by the Federal government, and it seemed likely that this school resource would disappear entirely. To supply the deficiency in 1863, the sums to be raised by taxation were increased to 75 cents per inhabitant, and in 1868, to $1.00. The Legislature of 1872 provided a broader basis for support by the enactment of a tax of one mill per dollar on all property in the state for common schools. The proceeds of this tax were to be paid to the state and distributed to towns and cities according to the number of scholars between four and twenty-one. The same session reduced the per capita tax from $1.00 to 80 cents where it remained until 1969.

          • poppypapa

            Citing the Constitution is “cherry picking?”

            No wonder you can’t stand the Scalias, the Thomases, and the Gorsuchs.

            Nothing stops the legislature from passing laws in direct contradiction to the Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Your citations showing they do so only demonstrates how they cast aside their oaths of office to be popular.

            If the Constitution does not constrain at the highest level, then every provision it includes, including those you cherish, has no weight.

            Like the passages used, for example, to rationalize affirmative action. And those to justify Roe Wade.

          • poppypapa

            And here I thought you had the ability to discern tongue in cheek commentary. You cannot harass, bully, or dehumanize be without my permission, and I do not grant it to you.

            But you can try. Now as to the passage, you seem not to understand that Constitutions were created to constrain Government, while laws have generally been enacted to constrain humans.

            You want a prohibition? After reading the positive declaration that it is the responsibility of the towns? You are a “living constitution” type plain and simple.

            OK, here are the words again:

            “the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their duty to require, the several towns to make suitable provision, at their own expense”

            Please stop dodging the question, and tell me what transform you apply to that passage to convert it to this:

            “the Legislature shall not have the duty to require the towns to make suitable provision at their own expense (for public education) and shall appropriate any such funds they wish to cover the costs either in part or in whole.”

            I guess I had never thought of “word processing” in this sense….inputting given words into a machine and having them come out the other end meaning exactly the opposite of what they meant going in.

            I predict great wealth in your future if you can perfect this machine. Of course, it will come at the expense of the vast majority of the legal profession, who have claimed this market for their own.

            In closing, couldn’t you just once confront the words before your eyes and tell us how you twist them into your understanding?

          • Kevin McCarthy

            Your comment is idiotic.

          • poppypapa

            Wow; what an insightful, precious, and substantive comment. No wonder you’re a certified Beemian.

            Eddie loves when his fans chime in with such erudite commentary; your next promotion should be coming momentarily. It will include the “Oder of the Cherry” pendant and medal.

            And thanks for the scholarly discourse on the nuances of constitutional law. Did you and the big BO do law school together??

            Glad you reminded me; I need to rebait the hook.

          • Kevin McCarthy

            It’s as erudite, articulate and substantive as your efforts as trolling.

      • EdBeem

        No point trying to reason with Poppycock. That combination of ignorance and arrogance — a trait he shares with LePage and Trump — cannot be reached via reason. They are always right, everyone else is wrong, the facts be damned.

        • poppypapa

          No one is more arrogant than our lord of the op-ed page.

          That aside, why don’t you damn my facts with yours that counter them.

          You continue to offer broad bloviation instead of substantive rebuttal. Appeals to emotion rather than reason. Ad hominem rather than rational correction.

          You are a model of what’s wrong with progressives. You think that posturing yourself as caring and feeling is more than sufficient to prevail against any argument, any challenge.

          Not to mention your inability to control your obsession with responding to me, which you have sworn off dozens of times.

          Actually, I have it down as 42.6 times.

          One more thing; you share your traits with Liz Warren, Al Gore, Hill Clinton, Libby Mitchell, and all the rest of your heroes. Oops; I almost forgot Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. And Maxine Waters.

          Nanner nanner nanner!