About 80 percent of current legislators ran their recent campaigns using Clean Election Act funds, including 90 percent of the Republican caucus.

Of more interest is that every single newly seated senator was a Clean Election candidate.

According to Alison Smith, co-president of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, the numbers are an impressive demonstration of Maine Republicans using the Clean Elections Fund “pretty aggressively as a recruiting tool to get good candidates to run.”

Good.

Ten years after Clean Elections became part of Maine’s campaign landscape, the money is being used as intended. Working-class people are being funded by their fellow citizens and winning elections.

In addition to direct donations, the major funding mechanism for Clean Elections is the check-off box on the Maine income tax form. Taxpayers can “check” that they want to contribute to the fund. It does not affect the refund and the $1 is not added to the total owed; the “check” is merely an indication of support to continue public funding for Clean Elections.

So, check off the box and contribute to citizen-funded campaigns.

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Rumford Hospital is getting a $1.9 million check from the state, a long overdue — and partial — MaineCare reimbursement.

Central Maine Medical Center’s check will be much bigger: $32.6 million. And, Central Maine Healthcare’s Bridgton Hospital will be getting $4.5 million.

Those hospitals are among dozen across the state to be getting money owed from 2007, 2008 and part of 2009.

Cheers. Cheers. And more cheers.

The money is part of Gov. Paul LePage’s supplemental budget, and is welcome news for the hospitals that have been operating without cash reserves for years and which are all currently hovering in a wage freeze to contain costs.

We wouldn’t expect the hospitals to go on any grand spending sprees, but the money will go a long way toward helping these health care providers catch up.

What the payments will also do is contradict criticism that the governor has not “done anything” to help Maine since he was elected. Paying hospitals a significant portion of what they’re owed is a tremendous help indeed.

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A house or business has caught fire every day this week in Western Maine. Setting aside the suspected arson fires in Readfield and Auburn, the causes of these fires have been varied.

A candle started a fire in Wilton, but in most of the other cases destruction was so complete that the cause of the fires may never be known.

It’s worth a reminder, as we’re still in the winter heating season, to be careful about fire sources, such as heaters, wood stoves, ashes and candles. Especially since, on Valentine’s Day, there may be some desire to light a warm fire and a fragrant candle.

Do that, but do it carefully to avoid burning down the house.

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