LePage’s tough southern Maine rhetoric could follow him to Portland town hall meeting

Good morning from Augusta on this somber National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, when we honor the 2,400 victims of the surprise Japanese attack that pushed the United States into World War II. Among today’s ceremonies is one at Fort Allen Park on Portland’s Eastern Promenade, where Gov. Paul LePage is scheduled to make an address.

Flags will be at half staff today for two reasons: to honor both the Pearl Harbor victims as well as those who died last week during an attack in San Bernadino, California.

On the politics front, many eyes are cast toward Lewiston this week, where the runoff in the mayoral election has been attracting state and national headlines for weeks. Voters who haven’t already cast absentee ballots will head to the polls Tuesday to decide between incumbent Robert Macdonald and challenger Ben Chin. The BDN’s Michael Shepherd has been watching that race closely. Check out his prognostications about it from over the weekend by clicking here and be sure to stay tuned to bangordailynews.com for Mike’s coverage tomorrow night.

In Augusta, there will be a few legislative committees meeting this week, including the Commission to Study Difficult-to-Place Patients and the Maine Affordable Housing Working Group today and the Commission in Indigent Legal Services on Tuesday. — Christopher Cousins

BIW lands another destroyer contract (maybe)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has announced that Bath Iron Works is on its way to securing a contract to build another DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in addition to the five that the Navy has already ordered. BIW’s fortune is the result of its competitor, Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi, starting work on an amphibious attack ship and agreeing to send some of its work to Bath.

It’s welcome news for BIW, which has been building Arleigh Burkes for decades. BIW also builds the more advanced and way more expensive Zumwalt-class destroyers, though the Navy’s current plans call for only three of those. — Christopher Cousins

LePage’s next town hall in Portland

Gov. Paul LePage’s next town hall meeting to support his goals of cutting the state income tax, implementing welfare reforms, cutting energy costs and addressing Maine’s high student debt burden is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Center at 88 Bedford St. in Portland. The event is open to the public.

LePage, who has been traveling throughout Maine in recent months for these town hall meetings, could face some difficult questions if his handlers let them through. The governor has been openly critical of southern Maine, particularly liberal-leaning Portland, in the past. In July of this year, for example, he wrote in a letter to a Cape Elizabeth woman that southern Mainers “ignore and welcome” corruption. The governor and the state’s human services department has also been locked in conflict with the state’s largest city over providing General Assistance to some immigrants.

Tuesday night’s event should be interesting. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

The best presents under the tree

My family and I put up our Christmas tree on Sunday, capping the experience with lifting my 5-year-old son to place the star on top. As has long been tradition in my family, we then shut off all the other lights in the house so we could enjoy our tree in its full splendor.

A little later, the little guy laid under the tree with his head near the trunk, looking up.

“Daddy, this is so cool!” he said. “Come lay with me.”

Lying under the Christmas tree and peering up at the lights and ornaments is something my sister and I did every year growing up. He didn’t know it, but my son had triggered a flood of beautiful memories and restored a beloved tradition that has been dormant for too many years. I laid down with him and my other son, staring upwards for at least a half hour, talking about Christmases past and how our cat was waiting for us to go to bed so he could begin destroying our ornaments (is it OK to leave the cat outside until the new year?).

At my boy’s suggestion, we hung three candy canes on a branch against the trunk, as far up into the tree as I could reach, so there would be some left for my boys and their cousin after the presents are opened on Christmas morning. At 5 years old, he’s put a new spin on an old family tradition that I hope continues for generations.

If you have a Christmas tree, I urge you to lie underneath it and just look up for a while. You never know what magic could happen. — Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.