Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

March 8: DoD “Earmarks”

While perhaps not strictly “earmarks,” it has been common practice for members of Congress to advocate strongly for Department of Defense spending in their respective states. Think…Bath Iron Works here in Maine.

Here’s a press release from Jared Golden, our House Representative, announcing his appointment to the House Armed Services Committee. It’s short, but worth a read.

I expect that we’ll discuss some of the following (and more):

  • How should our representatives in the House and the Senate balance what’s best for their constituents vs. what’s best for the country overall?
  • Is this a case where the House, by design, should contain ardent advocates for their constituents and the Senate with those charged with a more “national” view?
  • If we accept that Maine’s representatives in Washington should advocate for us, how hard should they push? How much horse trading is appropriate, and when does it become too much?
  • How do the power hierarchies of tenure and committee assignments affect the “one representative, one vote” concept?
  • Is the system working well enough? Does it need some tweaks? (Like what?) Or is it entirely broken?

Since we’ll start with BIW as a case in point, here are a few short (free) articles related to our subject:

Maine Senators Push Back on US Navy’s Plan to Cut Shipbuilding
Distributed Shipbuilding for an Unmanned Fleet
As its term winds down, Trump’s White House plots a major naval expansion

Found something better? Post a link to it as a comment.

March 1: Local Solar

There has been much publicity and debate around the deployment of large- and small-scale solar projects in the Blue Hill area. Much of the “debate” has been held in the context of public hearings and letters to the Weekly Packet—neither being a great forum for exchange of information.

On Monday, we’ll review the debate as it has been shaped to date, continue the discussion and, hopefully, begin to separate fact from fiction.

Among the specific questions to be discussed are:

  • To what degree should large-scale solar “farms” be specifically regulated on the Blue Hill Peninsula? For example,
    • Should these regulations be structured to ensure minimal safety standards and only moderate impacts on the scenic and other resources, or
    • should they be constructed in a more restrictive way that effectively discourages/prohibits large scale (say, 5+ acre) farms?
  • One of the factors that has come to light is that Versant Power can (and does) limit connectivity of solar power producers to its local substation, which has limited capacity.
    • Should this limited resource be protected to ensure that small-scale producers (like rooftop arrays) can be assured of access to net metering connections to Versant?
    • If capacity were set aside, how can we ensure that it is actually used in a timely manner?

Monday: The Impeachment Trial

We’ll discuss the (second) impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump. So hopefully you’ve been watching the coverage or at least following it in the news.

I guess we’ll discuss the law (Constitution), the politics, the process and, maybe, the outcome.

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