Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just catching up on some 'stuff'

The sun is out this morning and a beautiful day dawned. The weather guy says it won’t last and we’ll be seeing an increase in clouds later in the day with a chance of some shower activity. What’s new? Well, one thing is the nice weather in the morning makes for a nice day at my senior fitness session. You read before that when we have nice weather all goes well there, and it did today as well.

The removal of railroad tracks at the intersection of Forest Avenue and Marginal Way in Portland began last night. I think this is an interesting event because somewhere along the line, I’ve missed something. The last time I read about the Downeaster, I was under the impression a new station was being planned for the Bayside area.

I thought I had read that the tracks would then continue along an existing railroad trestle after some upgrading past the Burnham and Morrill plant and then on to Brunswick and eventually beyond. If the state is now removing those tracks across that intersection, a serious damper is being placed to what I thought were the plans.

I’m surprised at myself for missing that change.

We’ve known for quite some time that the casino in Maine debate was far from over. That knowledge was reinforced a couple months ago when a western Maine legislator introduced a bill to the legislature to allow a casino in that area. One had been planned there during the last statewide vote on Maine casinos. Along with the other proposals, it was defeated by the voters.

This time the legislator introduced the bill without a statewide citizen vote, but the voters of a proposed town would have to approve. I don’t remember how those townspeople voted last time, but I think it was narrowly defeated. In any case, the legislator is saying, “To heck with the citizens’ vote. I want a casino.”

A legislative committee discussed the bill yesterday and deadlocked five to five on deciding if it ought to pass” or not. As a result it will go to the full legislature without recommendation for a full debate. It will be interesting to see if the full legislature will go against the wishes of the people or not. I wouldn’t be surprised at anything this current bunch would do.

Governor Baldacci has signed into law another in a long list of specialty license plates for Maine. This new plate is for animal rights. I saw a picture of one on the Baltimore Sun web site and it is a rather nice looking plate. The plate was designed by Maine adoptions leaders and includes a cat, dog, rabbit, horse, and bird. Along the bottom of the plate replacing “Vacationland” are the words, “Respect, Love, Adopt.”

Like all Maine specialty plates this one will cost you an additional $20 for the first year and $15 at each renewal. After the state takes its share, half the remainder will go to supporting Maine animal welfare and half will go to the state’s neutering program.

High school graduation requirements and the way schools make up storm days have also been topics in Augusta. The Education Committee held a public hearing yesterday on a proposal to change the credits needed to graduate. As usual, some praised the changes while others said the state would take a step backward.

Basically, the bill would give students some choices on what they want to study in high school to best meet their perspectives of what’s important for their future plans. English, Math, science, and social studies would still be required. Students would then choose a fifth area of their choice. The choices would include arts, health, world languages, or a career study. Students would also take other courses, but they wouldn’t need as much proficiency for credit.

It has been a very long time since I was a high school student, but since high school I’ve changed my career choices several times. In high school I would have had a hard time deciding on which programs would best meet my future needs. I wonder what has changed so that today’s students have that knowledge. Perhaps the Department of Education is just trying to find a way to cover up its previous curriculum screwups.

The Governor has signed into law a bill that gives school districts some flexibility in making up “storm days.” Most districts currently build additional days into their schedules to allow for some storm-closed school days, but occasionally they have to go beyond those days and add to make up no school days. As I understand it, generally is one make-up for one closing.

The new law changes the make-up requirements from days to hours giving the districts the flexibility of adding time to existing days so that students are not still in school at the end of June. Is this a good change? I don’t know; I guess we’ll just have to see how the districts address the loss time make up.


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