Brian Hamel, the Republican candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, praised President George Bush on his environmental policies after meeting with the president Thursday when he visited the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.

“The fact that President Bush chose to visit Maine on Earth Day sends a clear message that he recognizes the value of our pristine environment,” Hamel said. “It is extremely important to balance economic opportunities while protecting our natural assets.”

At the same time, Hamel’s campaign opponent, Democrat U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, delivered his own thoughts on the House floor, saying the president “has taken us backward in protecting the environment, and Maine is the worse off for it.” Michaud cited the rollback last summer of pollution controls for coal-burning plants in the Midwest, and noted that many regions of Maine – including Wells – do not meet air quality standards.

Berry on tax referenda

Former Rep. Randy Berry, D-Livermore, who co-chaired the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, may be out but he’s not gone. Berry is getting in his two cents about property tax reforms with his own Web site. “Welcome to MARS! (Maine’s Anti-Referenda Site),” his site reads.

He doesn’t like the Maine Municipal Association’s June referendum, which will ask voters if they want the state to pay for 55 percent of local education costs.

“55 percent of what?” Berry writes, referring to the fact that if approved, the law would require the state to come up with money from the state budget – taxpayers’ money.

He’s not a big fan of Carol Palesky’s 1 percent property tax cap plan either. It doesn’t make sense, Berry says.

Berry’s Web site is: It provides links to information on Maine’s budget and taxes from state sources, and to comparisons of Maine and New Hampshire. (When clicking on state comparisons, a “bonus” section reads: “Have you ever heard anyone say, Why can’t we be more like New Hampshire?’ I think they should go there. And stay there.”)

His site is a requirement of a course he’s taking at Central Maine Community College. Berry says he’s not representing anyone else, and his work is not funded by any group.

Bucks for bear referendum, bucks against

In the campaign for and against a November referendum on whether to ban bear hunting methods that bait bears with jelly doughnuts and other junk food, supporters are slightly in the lead financially.

Campaign reports show that “Hunters for Fair Bear Hunting” so far has raised $3,433. The other group, “Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting,” has raised $363,386 as of March 31. Of that, $102,285 was raised between January and March, and most came from the Humane Society of the United States.

The opposition campaign, Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council, which has support from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, raised $359,332 as of March 31, reports showed.

As big campaigns go in Maine, it’s a lot of money, but no record breaker. Then again it’s early.

Greens not decided

At last week’s Green Independent Party of Maine state convention in Lewiston, members decided not to nominate anyone as the party’s presidential nominee on the Maine ballot.

Instead, party co-chair Heather Garrold said that decision will wait for the results of the national convention June 27 in Milwaukee, at which 19 Maine Green delegates will attend.

David Cobb, Ralph Nader, “uncommitted” and “nobody” were the choices at last weekend’s convention. Support for the choices was split. “We could have harangued into the night and no one would have shifted their position,” Garrold said.

– By Staff Writers Bonnie Washuk and Christopher Williams

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