Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Road Forks

These are my (probably) my last words to the googlegroup formed for Maine State House candidates. I loved campaigning and wanted another outcome. That said, the State House might be difficult territory in the foreseeable future for a Lefty McLenin like myself.


From dog avoidance strategy to campaign advice and encouragement, to Terry's stark words and Matt's sweet farewell, this googlegroup has been a touchstone for a newbie candidate. Though I was one who, for personal mini-drama-esque reasons, failed to run the campaign I would have liked, I found the sense of support, camaraderie and high jinx here to be fine fodder.

In the last hours of our email group's existence, I stand and salute you all. I salute your engagement, belief in the common good, kindness, humor, focus, intelligence and sense of social justice. Thank you for including me in the effort to move Maine's people toward a higher standard of education, health and egalitarianism. That any one of your number might find my words and work of high enough quality to stand alongside yours still makes me swoon a little.

The realities of Tuesday's party shift have only just begun to sink in with me. As one of the uninitiated, I can only guess at the devastation some must be feeling. For instance, it hardly seems possibly that another AG could begin to do a comparable job, regardless of party affiliation.

The candidates' experience of wearing our hearts and minds on our sleeves for all to see, cannot be duplicated any other way and, win or lose, I would not have missed it for the world. 

Regardless of what political work I do next, whether writing and carping from the riverbanks, or wading again into the rapids, my understanding of those rapids has been exponentially increased by floating a small section and landing safely on a District #53 sandbar. Those of you still in your rafts and kayaks head to Class 5, rock-strewn State House halls with my admiration, gratitude and support. I trust you all have your helmets strapped on tightly.

If you need a paddle, let me know. I have long arms and am a good swimmer.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

Lee Roberts

Former candidate for Dist. #53, Alna, Dresden, Pittston and Wiscasset.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Journalism, real live journalism

Though I often bemoan the quality of our local newspapers, the Lincoln County News and the Wiscasset Newspaper, both of whom I once worked for, today I was twice reminded that journalism is far from dead. The not-for-profit, pure public interest, news organization ProPublica is doing the work of the angels promoting investigative journalism and paying real money for investigative reporting.
As a responsible State House candidate, I decided to stanch the flow of misinformation I hear at some of the doors while campaigning and went looking for real figures about where Recovery Act money is being spent. I found it at ProPublica. Not only is it there, it is accessible, searchable and organized. Here is Maine's page. Have a look and take it on the road.
This was on top of NPR and ProPublica's efforts to expose links between sketchy doctors and the promotion of pharmaceuticals.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

No Beginning No End

Spiral Galaxy M100
Beginning with a three-week stay in the local hospital, this summer, despite maddeningly perfect weather, has been horrible. Sparing the details for another day, suffice to say I have embraced the suck and up is the only direction that remains.

While being buffeted by the winds of ick, drama and heartache, a Tweet came over the Twitterbox a week and a half ago that buoyed me in a surprising weightless way. One of my science-centric Twitter pals put up a link to an article about a theory gaining traction in the astrophysics world--did you know I moonlight as an astrophysicist? No?--that describes the Universe as never having a beginning. This mathematical--I'm assuming it's mathematical, probably some other stuff, too--theory says the Universe has always been here.

Now, I don't know about you, but that little piece of information changes everything. Always is a long time, like forever, right? Considering that the Universe has always been here takes some pressure off. I suspect that I'm not going to articulate this the way I would like. Nevertheless, it seems the subatomic particles that make up everything were always here and by some logic will always be here.

Maybe love, forgiveness and beauty are immeasurable representations of the immeasurability of the universe. Maybe the Classical beginning-middle-and-end manner of seeing everything from careers to relationships to lives to screenplays is handy, but not essential to the cosmos. Maybe the fact that my refrigerator is full and it becomes increasingly challenging to see the back of it really doesn't matter in this scheme of things.

Anyway, if you want to read more about this theory--not such a new one it turns out--head to the Technology Review Blog over at MIT. Be sure to read the comments--those that you can understand--too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Running and Dancing

Update: For now this blog will double as campaign central. The newest news is we have a bank account and can deposit seed money donations made out to "Lee Roberts for Maine State House" c/o The First, P.O. Box 431, Wiscasset, ME 04578. Many thanks in advance.

This weekend we collected our first signatures toward my campaign to gain the District 53 seat in the State House of Representatives. Pretty darned fun. People even wrote $5 checks to the Maine Clean Election Fund in my name. Anyone in District 53, Wiscasset, Alna, Dresden and Pittston, can make a $5 clean election donation online by clicking here. We have to collect 60 from district members before April.

Initially, I had been volunteered to convene the Alna caucus, a smallish job mostly making sure our town has representation in the Democratic Party. Almost simultaneously, House Speaker Hannah Pingree sent an e-mail asking if I would consider running for my local House seat, currently held by my Alna neighbor, Republican Les Fossel, a biggish job with an intellectually and aerobically challenging preamble called a campaign that I must win. I am guessing I came to her attention through my work with Change that Works and the commercial CTW made with me asking Senator Snowe for real health care reform.

Tuesday, while visiting the State House and observing the House in action, from Pingree's consummate leadership to an old friend's unabashed support, I made the final decision to run.

Speaker Pingree, whom I first met when she was about eight as I wrote a story about her mother Chellie's North Haven yarn business, cuts a brainy and efficient figure. If she represents modern Maine politics, despite all appearances to the contrary, things are looking up for us. Pingree welcomed me and checked in more than once during a busy day of work and pomp. She has the ineffable skill of a consummate hostess that gave me the sense that my comfort was a primary part of her day's agenda, and went on to demonstrate an executive's ability to run meetings and the whole freaking House agenda with vigor, focus and humor. You haven't lived 'til you've seen, and heard, her wield a gavel.

Phippsburg native, singer and former waitress at the elegant Elliot House--now defunct--in Bath, Leila Percy put her long arms around me and gave me wonderful advice about how to keep straight the zillions of welcoming Democrats. Handing me a pen and a register of the legislature, replete with pictures and committee assignments, she said, "Whenever you meet a member, write down where and when next to their picture."

Since my brief career with Leila at the Eliott House, I have worked in other restaurants, marine science, hospitality, retail clothing and international airlines, and all that before reporting for the Courier-Gazette, then teaching at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle for 11 years. Later I worked as MPBN's Station Operations Manager and a subeditor at the Lincoln County News. For the last two academic years I have worked at Thomaston's Georges Valley High School as an English teacher or ed tech. The virtual hiring freeze at Maine's high schools has taken its toll on experienced teachers like me looking for work. Lately, my state of underemployment is enabling me to finish my long dormant master's degree in American and New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine.

For those who want my whole CV, I'll attach a copy in the near future. Suffice to say I've had a broad and varied work life with wonderful jobs and co-workers throughout the Midcoast and beyond. I look forward to using my experience in the interest of the people of Wiscasset, Alna, Dresden and Pittston.

So much for the running. Well, almost. I also run on local roads and the occasional treadmill. Whether I will have time to train for and finish the Maine Sport Triathlon as I did last year remains to be seen. A successful State House campaign will certainly require the best of my dance skills, modern and social, literal and figurative.

Cross-posted at Dirigo Blue.