Why I Didn’t Vote This Year

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Yesterday was Election Day in the United States.

 

I did not perform my civic duty as I usually do for one very simple reason: there was just nothing I cared enough about that would sway the general vote.

 

This year no Congressional seats up for grabs/

 

No governor position to fight for.

 

And last, no Presidential election this year to vote on.

 

That didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in some of the elections going on around the state of Maine.  I just wish I lived in some of the other communities to vote on some of the important things that were happening in other towns than my own.

 

I will now give comments on some of those other elections.

 

First up is the Lewiston mayoral race.  For anyone who has read this blog will realize that I have written about current mayor Robert Macdonald a couple different times in recent years.  He is most popularly known for his comments against the growing Somalian community in his city.  This has now caused him to have several opponents for his job as mayor.

 

However, under Lewiston rules, if nobody gets at least 50% of the vote (which they didn’t), a runoff election must be held with the top two candidates to determine a winner of the mayor position.  His opponent, Benjamin Chin, is of Chinese descent and may play a factor toward supporting the immigrant population.  So this runoff may be more an election of the immigrants vs. those who don’t want the immigrants.  Personally, I see Macdonald recapturing his position and will continue his dislike toward the immigrants flooding his town.

 

Portland had 2 interesting referendum questions on its election ballot.  The lesser of the 2 questions, as confusing as it was, now will allow developers to build properties no matter how much it destroys any scenic view within the city.  This basically means that people who pay big money for those wonderful ocean views may lose them to some greedy developer.  Maybe people didn’t understand the question or maybe it was twisted in such a way that nobody could understand the ultimate result of the question.

 

The second referendum question of greater importance was to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for all employees within the city limits by 2019.  While on the surface this would sound wonderful, most small businesses fought this one hard as it would create massive layoffs and possibly have many businesses leave the city.  Thankfully, this was defeated by a 58% to 42% margin.  However, and this is a big however, the city will be raising the wage to $10.10 starting in January.  This means that Portland, Maine will be the 7th highest minimum wage in the country.  I expect to see many businesses to start leaving or scaling back very soon.  Let me point out as a side note that in the near 13 years I worked at Staples, I barely got above the $10.10 rate at the time of my termination.  I think Staples is probably glad they don’t have a store within the Portland city limits as they would probably close it just to save money.

 

Speaking of Staples, my own city of South Portland had one of its city council seats up for grabs by a former Staples sales manager.  I would never vote for the guy because I felt the type of antics that he did to get himself fired from Staples was unprofessional and uncalled for.  What makes it worse for him was that he had a strong ethic to wanting to make the city more business friendly.  While this sounds like a great idea, it throws all the regular taxpayers under the bus and not being supported.  Thankfully, the taxpayers agreed and he was soundly defeated.  Ironically, 7 of my Facebook friends are mutual friends of his, but I am not.  Maybe he is still bitter over being fired from Staples?

 

Overall, this election year was a ho-hum year for the most part with some key issues being decided locally and around the country.  However, next year I will definitely be voting in November as I want to make sure that I cast my ballot for the proper person to be our next President.

 

Until next year…. No I will have posts before next November (I hope).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taxes (What else on this day?)

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There is not a better topic on this day to talk about other than taxes.

 

Yes, taxes.

 

However, this is not about those taxes due today.

 

This is about taxes that could happen here in Maine in the coming months.  Even though these are happening in Maine, some of them may apply to other parts of the country as well.

 

Some of these taxes are disguised as fees.  One such fee (tax) applies to a new one that just started today in Portland, which makes me glad that I don’t shop in Portland.  A 5 cent charge has now been implemented on every plastic and paper bag that a shopper uses also the Styrofoam cups have been banned as well.  While I don’t have a problem with the latter, I do have a problem with the bags.

 

When I go shopping, I always try to use the self-serve checkouts whenever possible.  The reason for this is that I like to have things bagged my way, which can’t be done if some rude cashier rings you up.  I always at least double bag all my purchases as the bags never seem to be strong enough to hold much of anything before they start giving way.  So on average, I would be using about 6 bags or at a cost of 30 cents per purchase.  Do this a couple of times a week every week and it adds up quickly.

 

Of course, I hear those of you say “why not just bring your own reusable bag?”.

 

As someone who worked in retail for about 25 years, I have seen that many of these reusable bags are nasty looking.  Many look like they have been rolled in a mud puddle for hours.  Do people even ever think about washing their bags?  I don’t think so which is why I use a clean new plastic bag.  It is certainly more sanitary even though it may not be environmentally friendly.

 

This is what it all boils down to.

 

That point of being environmentally friendly.

 

Don’t these people realize that much of the garbage around town may come from those people who don’t even live in town?

 

While it may make them have that “feel good feeling”, in reality the real polluters are countries like China and India, which dump thousands of pounds of garbage into the water every day.  Portland, Maine is just a small dot in the big problem.  It may be a right step, but I feel it is a step in the wrong direction and hurt more people than it helps.  I certainly would not want to be behind someone in line who is using a dirty bag, germs are spread to easily nowadays.

 

Now while this fee (tax) has been implemented, the governor of our state has decided to create his own nightmare legacy by wanting to implement some sweeping changes to the tax bases.

 

Here are just a few of them and my comments about them:

 

  • Eliminate the state income tax. While this is a great idea in concept, how he plans on making up for it will hurt more than help.
  • Putting a tax on services like plumbers, haircuts and repairmen. Consider that some of these people rely on tips; many will see their tips reduced or disappear completely because taxes will be added to their services.  End result will be less money to those who perform services and more money to the unneeded state system.
  • Expanding and raising the sales tax to between 6 and 6.5%. This would be great if it would not hurt the ordinary state resident unlike what governor thinks that tourists would pick up the bulk of this increase.  Also doesn’t he know that tax-free New Hampshire is right next door?
  • Remove the homestead exemption tax on everyone over 65 years old. This would be great except most homeowners are younger than 65 and will get no benefit from this change.
  • Eliminating sales tax exemption for non-profits. This has been abused for years by those so-called non-profits, mostly churches and charities.
  • Lowering the corporate tax rate. This only gives company’s a fatter bottom line and unfortunately the money is not passed along to employees as a pay increase.

 

Overall, the governor’s plan is to shift the tax burden from business to its residents.  Is this a good idea?

 

Not if you want to live in Maine.

 

So if I was governor what would I do?

 

In the order listed above, my solutions would be:

 

  • Keep the state income tax. While it may seem like an outdated burden, it still raises revenue where it needs to.
  • No tax on services. I think that those who provide a service should get a tip and most who pay for those services take the tip from what they give the person at time of service.  Just a bad idea period.
  • I would lower the sales tax back to 5% or better yet lower it to 3%. Lowering the tax rate will allow more money in people’s pockets and will allow people to purchase more therefore.  The state needs to be more competitive in its rate.
  • Keep the homestead exemption for everyone. Since many homeowners have mortgages, giving them a break would be more than desired.
  • I support the taxing of non-profits. In my 25 years in retail, I saw this abused by those who were buying personal items and calling it a non-taxable business expense.  But since the information is submitted to the state regarding every tax exempt transaction and those rejected by the state are subject to the business to pay not only the applicable sales tax, but a fine as well.
  • Raising the corporate tax. While many may say this would be counterproductive to business, the truth is that many businesses have been given reductions in everything from real estate to employee benefits.  It is time that businesses really pay their real fair share.

 

 

While some may disagree with some of my plan, I think that it creates a much fairer playing field as I don’t cater to the special interests of businesses or any group.  Even if you live in another state, I think you will find that my suggestions would make for a more fair system.  If you agree with what I have written, let your representatives know or better yet run for political office yourself and influence the change of our tax system.

 

After all, shouldn’t taxes be fairer even though death isn’t?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About Me

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Last week, I celebrated my birthday.

 

You probably didn’t know it either.

 

In fact, out of my nearly 800 Facebook friends, I received a paltry 10 birthday wishes.

 

Now, I don’t know if I should really be angry about this or just frustrated at this.

 

What bothers me is that some people who had given me wishes in the past were nowhere to be found this year.  I don’t know if they were angry at me because I never recognized their birthday or they were just self-absorbed in themselves.

 

Yes, I said that.

 

People have been so self-absorbed with themselves that they can’t get out of their own way.

 

I like to call these people “self-centered” as they care only about themselves.

 

I have seen a lot of that lately.

 

Now before I begin some of you may consider that I was that way with my last post, when I wrote an open letter to my now-married now-I-guess-ex-girlfriend.  In some ways, I have to agree to that, but those of you who know me would know that I really am not this way in real life.

 

Now onto my real life examples of the self-centered people:

 

Example 1:

 

Most everyone on Facebook is self-centered.  Whether you make a post about your new baby, your body building techniques, or what you are having for dinner, you are telling me things that I really don’t care about.  The biggest offenders of this are the so-called “celebrity” friends that I have that post endless pictures of them and have no social interaction with anyone.  Certainly, narcissism is alive on Facebook.

 

 

Example 2:

 

In the last few weeks, a former high school class member graduated from a local adult education school and received their GED.  What is disturbing about this is that the person wanted to participate in the city’s graduation ceremonies to make it look like they were a real graduate.  This person was encouraging the fellow former class members to contact the superintendent to have the policy altered to allow for the person to attend the regular ceremonies.  This person said that they will go to the media if he doesn’t get his way.  Personally, I am outraged over this as I don’t believe that any policy should ever be changed just to satisfy one person.  Of course, I would not post it in the Facebook group’s page as it would definitely get deleted very quickly.

 

Example 3:

 

Too many times lately, people have not been paying attention when either entering or leaving a particular doorway.  It don’t matter what doorway, it could be any doorway.  The fact that people don’t realize that somebody is behind them and either don’t look or don’t care to look so the door goes flying into my face.  I see this almost everywhere I go that doesn’t have automatic doors.  Are people who self-centered that they don’t care of what they are doing?

 

Example 4:

 

Yes, we know that you should not text and drive.  However, what about the reverse?  Lately, I have seen a lot of people using their little cellphones and NOT looking where they are going sometimes walking right out in traffic causing people like me to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting them.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this sort of thing of not paying attention while walking causes problems, some causing injury.  I think that these people should stop being so self-centered and put down their phones and pay attention to their surroundings especially when walking in traffic.

 

Example 5:

 

Last Sunday, I posted on Facebook that I was experiencing the saddest day of my life.  Only 4 of my friends inquired what was wrong and a fifth liked this status (seriously liking a sad status, do these people even pay attention to what is written?).  When I explained what was wrong, NONE of them commented any further or showed any sympathy to my distress.  Apparently, they were all self-centered to care.  Ironically out of these 4 people, only 2 gave me birthday wishes a couple of days earlier.  Again, I am not angry just disgusted by the lack of respect of my friends.  This is self-centered behavior at its finest.

 

 

Overall, I hope that these examples have brought to light the fact that people have become more and more self-centered and less social to others.  People have become more self-absorbed and show absolutely no emotion or feelings to others under any circumstance.

 

I believe this has to change or our society is doomed to be a bunch of self-centered people.  I would like to think that I am wrong about that.

 

 

 

Why I Didn’t Attend My High School Reunion (Part 2)

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Writer’s note:  This is the second part in a series as to the reasons why I didn’t attend my high school reunion.  While the information is true, it still may offend some people.  Reader discretion is advised.

 

The high school yearbook.

 

This is the book that is supposed to bring back memories of what happened over the past year of one’s existence in school.  In fact, as I have mentioned in a previous post, my senior high school picture is my profile picture of all my connections on the internet.

 

Not that I am really happy about that picture, much less my existence during my senior year.  Except for the one picture in the book, I am really nowhere to be found.

 

At least that was the way it was for the first 2 years of high school.

 

This story begins during my sophomore of high school.  Actually, this is the first year that I was physically in the high school.

 

At that time, the grades of 7-9 were in junior high and 10-12 were in the high school.

 

When I got to the 10th grade, I started a significant number of computer classes.  Not only that but I was spending as much time as possible after school in the computer lab.  It was not uncommon for me to stay afterschool everyday whether I needed to or not.

 

All this time, I spent in the computer lab caught the attention of the business teacher head, Marshall Sawtelle.  If ever there was somebody who was a teacher’s pet, I was it.  I spent so much time with him that at one point, it seemed that I was a member of his family.  Actually, I met his family at one time and after his passing, his wife said that he always talked about me even years after I left school.

 

Anyway, he asked if I wanted to take control of the billing of yearbook advertising.  It seemed that I wasn’t really asked, but instead forced to do it.  At least, that is how I saw it.

 

For those of you who don’t know what yearbook advertising is, they are ads placed in the back of the yearbook to promote their businesses and to congratulate the current graduating class.  Most importantly, without these ads, the price of the yearbook would be significantly more.  Sometimes it took several times of sending out bills before the advertiser would pay their statement.  This actually was a very important job and I had to keep on top of it to make sure everything kept running smoothly.  So, actually, I was a member of the yearbook club.

 

Or so I thought.

 

When I went to attend my first meeting, I was greeted with hostility.  I tried to explain my job function, but those who were part of this group refused to listen and asked me to leave.  Apparently, under NO condition was I ever welcome to this group even though I was heading up the billing.

 

When I explained the situation to Mr. Sawtelle, he was exasperated that they would do such a thing.  I also explained the same thing to both an assistant principal and the actual principal with no result.  It was apparent that the administration cared nothing about the groups at the school or whoever attended them.

 

I never tried to return to another one of their meetings ever again because I just didn’t want to get embarrassed by the whole situation.

 

However, the group’s hatred toward me didn’t end there.

 

It was too late to get my name on the acknowledgement page during my first year.  However, apparently my name was supposed to be in the yearbook during my junior year, but was edited out by the yearbook group.

 

However, this did not sit well with Mr. Sawtelle.  Rarely did I ever see him not be his jolly self, but this time his buttons were pushed and he decided to do something about it.

 

So as my name was deleted in the senior year as it was in the junior year, Mr. Sawtelle got his revenge by putting my name back into the page at the bottom right before the final copy was sent off to the printer.  Of course, he and I were both happy with the acknowledgement and the yearbook group was not happy.

 

In fact, despite revenge being sweet, those people who were part of the yearbook group continued their hatred of me for what would be the remainder of the school year, which would also be graduation day.

 

I think many of these same people still hate me right up to this date for my name being featured on the yearbook acknowledgement page.

 

At least one person appreciated all the work I did and made sure I finally got the credit I deserved no matter what others thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greater Portland — The Way Life SHOULD NOT Be!

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Last month, Portland Maine legalized the usage of marijuana at least to a limited extent.  As mentioned previously, how this will be handled is yet to be determined.

 

Also last month, South Portland repealed a waterfront ordinance which would have prevented tar sands to be piped in from Canada.  Last night, a packed house of citizens packed city hall meeting of the planning board to express their dissatisfaction with the vote from last month.  After watching this on TV for about an hour last night, I got bored with the same old thing being said over and over.  It was apparent from the occasional “uh-huh” that the planning board was more like the planning bored as well.  The extent of the problem seems to be regarding a new moratorium that the city would like to establish but doesn’t really seem to please the owners of the local oil company.  Gee, any real surprise by that one.  I have the feeling that there will be no moratorium and the public will be shut out of any future discussion as they have already had their vote and repealed the ordinance.  As far as politics is concerned, this issue doesn’t seem to warrant any second chances.

 

Now for the biggest political offender of them all that occurred yesterday.  Scarborough Maine decided to repeal a dog leash ordinance which would have forced dog owners to have their dogs on leashes at all times within city limits except for designated areas to be named in the future.  Like in South Portland, the signs were overwhelmingly in favor of the repeal.  And the signs were everywhere.  You could not drive around Scarborough without seeing the signs of repeal.

 

This referendum was in response to the town responding to a $12,000 fine imposed by the federal government after a plover was killed in its nesting area by a dog loose on the local beach.  The fine was reduced to $500 as long as the ordinance passed.  However, given its failure and the cost of $4,000 for the election the town may be on the hook for as much as $16,000 because of what a loose dog did.

 

Personally, I believe that dogs should be on a leash at all times.  Just because a dog is said to be friendly and won’t hurt anybody doesn’t mean that it really is.  Just because its owner says that he/she responds to voice commands doesn’t necessarily mean that it really does.  Just like people, dogs will do what they want to anybody at any time even without warning

 

Just as an example, quite a few years ago, I was walking down a neighborhood street when a dog darted out of a yard and started charging after me.  I ran away off that street as fast as I could.  However, the owners of the dog made NO attempt to call the dog off or go after it.  Instead the owners just sat on their porch laughing as the dog continued to chase me.  It is this type of irresponsibility that will occur as the ordinance passed in Scarborough allows dogs not to be leashed at any time.  That is until a new ordinance is drawn up restricting loose dogs in the town.  In fact, yesterday while I was out in Scarborough at a local shopping area, I saw a loose dog with its presumably owner about 10 feet behind the dog.  I believe that there will be a lot more of this in the town because the idiots of Scarborough voted the wrong way.

 

Just like South Portland and Portland did a month before.  Welcome to the new way of how life should NOT be!

 

Angels and Demons of the Media

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The last week or so has brought both the best (angels) and worst (demons) of media that I have ever seen.  Some went way under the radar hoping not to be seen, others exploded everywhere.  This short post describes the ones that caught my eye in the past couple weeks:

  • Angel:  WGME 13 of Portland Maine reports of a bad Santa at the Maine Mall, who is rude to kids.  He gets fired and a new Santa gets hired about a day later.  You almost gotta love that story.
  • Demon:  Same TV channel issues report on woman who gets $100,000 in discrimination lawsuit.  I discuss this more in my blog right here.  Unfortunately, the station failed to mention that the woman was doing a return, which creates a different scenario than just making a purchase.  Intentional or not is unknown but it made this “feel good” story downright sickening and scamming.
  • Angel:  FOX News reports on the violence in Michigan at the State House over Right to Work law.  The scuffle even involved a FOX News reporter.
  • Demon:   Every other TV network ignored the actual violent actions happening in the State House.
  • Demon:  Radio prank to hospital where Kate Middleton was staying causes nurse to commit suicide a couple of days later.  The radio station where this happened suspended the radio personalities involved and they have apologized for their actions.
  • Angel:  There is no angel in pranking.  It is bad no matter what especially when tragedy strikes.  Why do people think that making people angry is a happy thing to do?  I don’t think it is at all funny.

So overall, the demons won over the angels in the media in the past week.  This means that the media does more bad than good at least this week.

 

That Profile Picture — 30 Years Old

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You have probably seen the picture many times across various sites that I am on such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, and LinkedIn.  Chances are you might be sick of it.  I have been asked many times why I never update the picture on any of my sites.  The reason I will explain below.

First off, a little history of the picture.  This picture was the picture featured way back in 1983 in my senior yearbook.  The actual picture was taken back in August of 1982.  So this makes it the 30th anniversary of this picture.  Anybody who knows me knows that I do NOT take a good picture, okay I am probably the worst person in pictures.  You won’t find me in anybody’s album or even in any family pictures.  No, I am not a ghost, but I might as well be though.  I hate everything that I am ever in.  Simply put, I hate the way I looked then and I hate myself even more now.  It is the story of the picture that is most interesting though.

It is was a midweek day back in August in 1982 in the morning.  It was going to be the day in which I would be getting my picture taken for the high school yearbook.  It was the decision of my mother that something should be done with my hair.  Anybody who knows me that I have absolutely the worst hair in the world.  I can’t part it because I am bald, I can’t push it back because it would look bald that way as well.  So I decided to go for my one and only time to a beauty parlor.

This was a very interesting experience to say the least.  After the beautician spent several minutes playing with my limp hair, she suggested that I get a perm.  Easier said than done on that.  The first time she tried curling my hair, it failed miserably.  So she tried a method of tighter curls and more of them.  Thankfully most of them stayed and so I was off to my photo shoot $30 lighter from the hairstyle.

There was about 3 hours between when I finished my hair and the photo shoot, so I had to be careful not to damage the hair.  I was lucky it stayed up that long, but somehow it did.  The photo shoot was at Loring Studios that was located on Congress Street in Portland Maine.  The entire photo shoot lasted about 2 hours and included about 7 different shots.  It would take about 2 months (mid-October) that I would receive the test pictures back and choose the one that would make the yearbook.  This one by far was the best as the others were absolutely horrid.  Sadly, the hair only lasted through the day and was pretty much back to normal by the next day.

Now the real question:  Why do I continue to use this picture?  There are several reasons for that and here are the most important ones:

  • It was a happier time in my life.  I had a somewhat of a girlfriend and was happy about that.  Little did I realize that girlfriend was really lying to me after 10 years and she NEVER really cared at all.  Unfortunately, I never got another “girlfriend” ever again since.
  • I had “friends”.  I say it that way because I believe that many of them are fake and one of them has since turned out to be a real social backstabber and had to be avoided at all costs.  Only these “friends” know if they are real or fake.
  • I knew I was going to have a pretty easy year ahead.  Since I had completed almost all of my required courses, I was able to spend most of the year in computer based classes, most of them in one room.  Bad news:  I had mostly computer classes and they were mostly in one room thus leading to no variety and really lacked social interaction.
  • I was in good health.  Back then I could get out and walk for hours on end, today I can barely complete a lap around the mall without sitting down half way around.  I blame my former employer Staples for that.  (Follow my other blog on that ongoing story)

So I hope I have cleared up part of the reason why I use this picture for everything as everything was much better back then and sadly has never been that good since.  However, tomorrow is another day unfortunately.

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