Potholes & Politics: Local Maine Issues from A to Z

Maine Municipal Association

Potholes & Politics: Local Maine Issues from A to Z is a podcast about municipalities in Maine and the people and policies that bring local government to your doorstep. Through stories, experiences, current events, and interviews with municipal officials this podcast will spotlight the everyday challenges and successes of local governments in our home state. Potholes & Politics is brought to you by Maine Municipal Association. Comments and suggested topics can be sent to mmapodcast@memun.org read less
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Episodes

The Return of the Stormwater Rangers: Tackling Urban Stormwater and Statewide Solutions
Jun 25 2024
The Return of the Stormwater Rangers: Tackling Urban Stormwater and Statewide Solutions
Send us a Text Message.In this episode, Rebecca Squared & Amanda the new kid continue the coversation with Stormwater Super Heros - Giants of municipal water protection activities; South Portland's Stormwater Coordinator Fred Dillon and Portland's Stormwater Coordinator Doug Roncarati and their state level partner Maine Department of Environmental Protection Stormwater Engineer Cody Obropta to tackle issues around development pressures. Does regulation make development harder or does regulation and planning make development cheaper on the community in the long run? Get the one the ground facts from the front lines and learn about the theory of low impact development versus use of green infrastructure and why those buzzwords are coming to an ordinance near you soon. Ever wondered about the intricate dance between stormwater law and water quality standards? Using the Long Creek Watershed as our case study, we delve into the stringent mandates of MS4 permits and the herculean efforts required to restore urban impaired stream habitats. Our discussion extends to the significance of maintaining viable aquatic ecosystems and a closer look at the progressively stricter requirements every five years. You'll gain insights into the benefits of educating service contractors, the impact of clearer statewide standards, and the promising potential of green infrastructure projects.Lastly, explore the innovative ways Portland’s stormwater utility credit program incentivizes redevelopment while addressing pollutant-specific approaches for stormwater management. We highlight how these strategies benefit developers and the broader implications of climate change on future MS4 communities. Tune in to hear about Maine’s unique phosphorus control strategies in lake watersheds and the persistent challenges posed by historical land use and climate change. Wrapping up, we stress the importance of expert consultation and community involvement, all while celebrating the camaraderie and shared humor of those dedicated to tackling these complex environmental issues."Urbanized and developed municipalities and other large public entities require Clean Water Act permits to send stormwater to nearby water bodies due to an increased likelihood of stormwater pollutants."  "Stormwater is precipitation that does not soak into the ground. Runoff accumulates in large quantities as it flows off of rooftops, driveways, roads and other impervious surfaces, picking up soil and polluting chemicals in its wake. It then flows into a storm drain, through an underground network of pipes, where it discharges into local rivers and streams, untreated."  Think Blue Maine https://thinkbluemaine.org/ Map of urban impaired streams: https://maine.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7f8f40a744ad49f3a6cccc7f1330872a Non-Point Source Training Center -
Stormwater 101 with Maine Stormwater Rangers
Dec 13 2023
Stormwater 101 with Maine Stormwater Rangers
Send us a Text Message.Why should you care about stormwater? What is a MS4 regulated community? Why do people pick up their dog poo and put it in a bag only to dump it on the trail or in the storm drain? What is a harbor trout? In this episode, Rebecca Squared & Amanda the new kid talk with Stormwater Super Heros - Giants of municipal water protection activities; South Portland's Stormwater Coordinator Fred Dillon and Portland's Stormwater Coordinator Doug Roncarati and their state level partner Maine Department of Environmental Protection Stormwater Engineer Cody Obropta to tackle these questions and a whole lot more! This episode is part 1 of a two part series. Fred, Doug and Cody share how they became stormwater rangers, what it's important and a small bit of the challenges communities in Maine face with old infrastructure and dense development. "Urbanized and developed municipalities and other large public entities require Clean Water Act permits to send stormwater to nearby water bodies due to an increased likelihood of stormwater pollutants.""Stormwater is precipitation that does not soak into the ground. Runoff accumulates in large quantities as it flows off of rooftops, driveways, roads and other impervious surfaces, picking up soil and polluting chemicals in its wake. It then flows into a storm drain, through an underground network of pipes, where it discharges into local rivers and streams, untreated." Think Blue Mainehttps://thinkbluemaine.org/Map of urban impaired streams: https://maine.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7f8f40a744ad49f3a6cccc7f1330872a Non-Point Source Training Center - https://www.maine.gov/dep/training/npstrc-schedule.html  Rutgers Green Infrastructure Champions Program - https://rutgers.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nuaE-xe4T8e080uhQ-l6vg
Episode 16- The End is Not Here....YET!
Jun 26 2023
Episode 16- The End is Not Here....YET!
Send us a Text Message.Well, the 1st Session was meant to end June 15, but we are in the 1st Special Session that won't end....at least amicably so it seems. Here is where we are this week...and soon we will be in your communities too! LD 1857- Resolve, to Establish a Public Safety Health and Wellness Grant Pilot Program, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Copeland of Saco. Reconsidered, House amendment “A” provided the Department of Public Safety with 10% of the $2 million grant for the administration of the program. The amendment was adopted and engrossed by both House and Senate.  This bill was advanced on behalf of MMA’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC). (See “Silver Linings” in Legislative Bulletin 05-26-2023)LD 1664 -An Act to Increase Reimbursement Under the General Assistance Program, Sen. Marianne Moore of Washington Co. The House amendment “A” removed the emergency preamble and fixing the appropriation accordingly was adopted and engrossed by both House and Senate. This bill was advanced on behalf of MMA’s LPC.  (See “GA Funding & Study on The Horizon” in Legislative Bulletin 05-26-2023) LD 1493 – An Act to Increase Affordable Housing by Expanding Tax Increment Financing, sponsored by Rep. Raegan LaRochelle, of Augusta, will come from Taxation Committee with a divided report. The majority report is “Ought to Pass as Amended.”  This bill was advanced on behalf of MMA’s LPC. (See “Pine Trees, Chickadees, Workforce Affordable Housing” in Legislative Bulletin June 2, 2023)LD 101 - An Act to Return to the Former Owner Any Excess Funds Remaining After the Sale of Foreclosed Property, sponsored by Rep. Chad Perkins of Dover-Foxcroft, will come from Taxation Committee “Ought to Pass as Amended.” (See “Tax Acquired Property Update” in Legislative Bulletin 6-09-2023)LD 130 -An Act to Eliminate Senior Citizen Property Tax Stabilization and Expand the Homestead Property Tax Exemption, sponsored by Sen. Rick Bennett of Oxford Co., will come from Taxation Committee with two “Ought to Pass as Amended” reports. MMA supports the majority report. (See Clarification-Property Tax Stabilization Act in this Legislative Bulletin 6-09-2023 or 06-02-2023)The Appropriations Committee will have made decisions on all funding issues including the supplemental/Part II budget (LD 258) and all items sitting on the “table” waiting for funding.  Staff encourage you to engage with your legislators when opportunity allows and make pho
Episode 15 - Special Session Winding Up - Updates & Action Calls
Jun 5 2023
Episode 15 - Special Session Winding Up - Updates & Action Calls
Send us a Text Message.Our necessary hiatus from our weekly podcast has been afforded a brief reprieve. Advocacy staff have been drinking from a firehouse of legislation and hearings on platform bills that have been waiting since cloture for printing and assignment to committee hearings.  For the first time, MMA has needed to hold a May LPC meeting as bills are still cranking out with significant municipal impact, assigned short turn around public hearing dates and even shorter work session dates. This is the time of year when good public policy dies because of lack of time to dig in and understand or worse....bad public policy not well thought through passes without review. In the coming weeks, we'll be calling on municipal officials to weigh in with their voices directly to members of the legislature to help inform them of impacts, request adequately funding measures, and make corrections. We really need you now! This week we break down what has happened on a couple of MMA's platform bills and how you can help their fate. This week we break down: LD 1857 - An Act to Create the Public Safety Health and Wellness Reimbursement Fund to Benefit Public Safety Workers and Volunteers, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Copeland of Saco,  was unanimously supported out of committee but in a form that requires and appropriations battle instead of on going funding. LD 1493 - An Act to Increase Affordable Housing by Expanding Tax Increment Financing, sponsored by Rep. Raegan LaRochelle of Augusta,  was amended to avoid a fiscal note, but still provides an incredibly powerful tool for communities to advance their housing goals with local policy, but received a divided report out of Taxation.LD 130 - An Act to Eliminate Senior Citizen Property Tax Stabilization and Expand the Homestead Property Tax Exemption, Sen. Richard Bennett of Oxford County, also received a divided report in Taxation. While both versions  advance sensible policy changes to the hastily enacted senior property tax freeze legislation LD 280 passed last year, the majority report removes the significant hardship placed on municipal tax collectors, assessors and communities.  LD 1223 - An Act to Clarify Cost Allocations and Insurance in the Joint Use of Public Utility Equipment, sponsored by Sen. Nicole Grohoski from Hancock County, attempted to address a corporate imbalance for municipal pole attachment projects, to advance broadband connections via use of utility poles that exist in publicly owned way "rent" free.  The final version was amended with agreement from the major players and afforded a sunset date setting the stage for a future legislative battle. Finally, in the good news category, we announce the winners of the first annual Douglas M. Eugley Memorial Scholarship for Public Service! Congratulation to Zachary White, of Skowhegan,  Carolyne Sauda, of Bangor.  Mary-Hollie Whitmore, of Milford,  who we wish well in their college endeavors and hope to see in a future LPC Committee!
Bonus Episode - Policing Ethics Lessons from the Holocaust
Mar 27 2023
Bonus Episode - Policing Ethics Lessons from the Holocaust
Send us a Text Message.As we prepare for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and several other stakeholders had the opportunity to receive an important history lesson in context from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.. In this episode, Rebecca Graham sits down with Noel March who facilitated  bringing a special law enforcement program out of D.C. to Maine through the Maine Community Policing Institute and the Maine Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was able to take part of The Museum's Law, Justice, and the Holocaust Program on the road to Maine, one of only two places outside Washington D.C. who have benefitted from the learning opportunity. The signature program, Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust (LEAS), is presented in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League. Established in 1999 at the request of DC Metropolitan Police Department, the program is suitable for recruit, in-service, and command professionals in law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels. To date, this innovative program has reached more than 150,000 officers from the US and 80 countries worldwide.The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In 2023, that day is Tuesday, April 18.