Monday, February 25, 2008

State of the Union

I never listen to my own advice... even when that would prove to be the best medicine. I just reviewed some snippets from todays meeting with Chief Justice Saufley and the Judiciary Committee and I am seething mad. That's usually a recipe for disaster when I blog since I have a hard time biting my tongue when I'm mad. But since I'm not going to take my own advice and keep my mouth shut for a few days, here you go...

If you haven't heard the news coming out of the Judiciary Committee meeting today you're in for quite a shock . We are one of the highest taxed states in the nation along with ranking towards the bottom nationally in per capita income for our collective citizenry. We are now facing a budget deficit in the neighborhood of $200 million dollars. UNBELIEVABLE you say???!!!! Well, that's not a typo.

Every single man, woman and child will be adversely affected by this shortfall. Social services are being cut to the bone or eliminated completely, the judicial system (which is reportedly the most underfunded judicial system in the nation) is being slashed and many, many Mainers will lose their jobs as a result. How does that proposed casino from a few years ago look now? Thanks a bunch for your great leadership Governors King & Baldacci.

The Judiciary Committee let it slip today that there are no funds available to pay the 4th Qtr bills. Wow. The proposed solution? Cut hours, cut jobs, place a moratorium on criminal trials and defer payment on outstanding bills. What do all of these cuts add up to? Delay in the criminal trial process, violations of your constitutional rights to a speedy trial, a mass exodus of qualified and competent defense attorneys who will no longer take criminal appointments and finally, the closing of law firms due to the State's inability to pay their bills on time. I would argue that this is all the result of a perfect storm of circumstances. We have the failing health of our National economy coupled with an ineffective, short-sited and incompetent legislature who failed to forecast the pending disaster.

The State of Maine has placed itself in this position. The Governor and members of the Legislature have failed all Mainers by failing to bring new jobs and industry into the State. I really wonder if we tried to bring a casino into one of our more depressed areas of the State if the folks would still find it morally objectionable? If you do, ponder this question... Darryl the Gambling Degenerate is going to gamble his 401k, mortgage and paycheck somewhere, whether you like it or not. We can no longer survive by selling lobsters and the Maine Vacation experience alone. I guarantee that business plan has shown signs of illness for a number of years and as a result, we are now in the current predicament.

Call your local representative and ask him/her how they propose to fix the problem. Tell them you won't stand for any more Band-Aid on bullet hole solutions. Push for change because like it or not, change is coming. It's up to the citizens of this state to decide what form the change will come in.

William T. Bly, Esq.
Maine OUI Lawyer