Public Policy and Environmental Action Team Minutes
November 9, 2021
Facilitator: Charles Skold
Minutes: Sarah Braik
Present: Meredith Tipton, Liz Parsons, Charles Skold, Ted Kanellakis, Ruth Roemer, Mary Linneman, Kathleen Coughlin, Ralph Cordes, Sarah Braik, Connie Bingham, Dick Farnsworth and Rep. Grayson Lookner
- Territory Acknowledgement
- Correction from last meeting: tribal leaders meet with AG’s office every 2 weeks, not every week.
- Conversation with Rep. Grayson Lookner, facilitated by Dick Farnsworth a. Overview of major initiatives he has started as a member of the Criminal Justice Committee
- Prison reform-last session’s effort to close Long Creek, the last youth prison in the state, was approved by both chambers but vetoed;
nevertheless seen as a victory.
- There have been more recent incidents involving inappropriate and dangerous restraints; in the current emergency session the Committee is
trying to get a bill to ban restraints on youth in Long Creek.
iii. Another bill to develop smaller facilities: looking to move youth from Long Creek to those smaller facilities. Lookner recommends these smaller facilities should be managed and staffed by a state agency and not
contracted out-DHHS or Education Department, etc.
- Another bill to get rid of solitary confinement, or better regulate it-solitary confinement is not restorative. They are looking for areas where the
Department of Corrections may be willing to work with advocates. It is
modeled on a NY bill. Right now they are working on clarifying a
definition of solitary confinement and to ban its use. Long Creek has a
Special Management Unit that is supposed to be limited to 4 hours but
there are youth in there for days on end. Isolation pods in Warren hold
prisoners for 23 hours at a time.
- Last session passed a bill regulating the use of facial surveillance
technology – Maine now has the strongest legislation in the country on
- Rep. Lookner’s perspective on LD 1626-he is in favor of tribal sovereignty, and doesn’t know the basis of the administrative roadblock, Ben Collings has been
working on this. When Mills was AG there were arguments over tribal water rights. She has a background as a prosecutor.
- What about restorative justice to keep people out of prison to begin with-this is a goal among lots of legislators-a lot of these things are outside the purview of the Criminal Justice Committee; public safety is a whole spectrum of housing, education and work opportunities, which all help keep people out of the criminal justice system. There is a need for community integration services to divert youth from the system. There was another bill decriminalizing possession of smaller amounts of drugs which got through both chambers but was vetoed. Lookner says it was not ideal but better than the status quo, and that it may be reintroduced.
- Availability of appropriate mental health treatment for those in our jails? Rep. Lookner studied this in school and this is one of the reasons he went into public service. He supports the deinstitutionalization that started in the 80’s with the development of supportive housing, employment services etc. so that those with mental illness can experience a normal as possible life in the community. However underfunding has been a chronic problem. Federal money from CARES, ARPA and the infrastructure bill may give us the funds we need. Rep. Laurie Gramlich in Old Orchard Beach may be working on increasing community support services.
- The Criminal Justice Committee has often been at loggerheads with the Administration.
- Diocesan and legislative updates
- All the Diocesan resolutions passed, though those supporting LD 1626, the development of parish territory acknowledgements and the joint
climate/environment resolution from the Diocesan Climate Justice Council and St. Mary’s in Falmouth may have been revised. Next month’s update should clarify this.
- b. The tribal legislation coalition has been meeting weekly developing the advocacy toolkit (below), planning Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving op eds, etc. and gearing up for meetings with legislators for the big push to get LD 1626 passed this Everyone is urged to review the toolkit and take at least one action this month. Actions include writing letters to the editor, contacting your legislator, social media posts, etc.
- Tool for taking action on LD 1626
- Ongoing matters (brief updates)
- Flyer revision (Ralph/Charles) met and looked at the environmental part and revised. They need people who have real passion about what we ought to be doing related to public policy to let Ralph and Charles know.
- South Portland tree protection ordinance update (Liz/Mary)-this was initially to be discussed in the Council in August, then postponed to November, and now pushed back to February, due to other more urgent issues
- The Portland tree ordinance is on hold pending the budget-the sustainability office wants to expand the ordinance to cover the entire city but wants to make sure someone is hired to oversee; but there is no money budgeted at present. Theirs is a simpler approach than South Portland
- World Too Beautiful/Earth Day (Kathleen)-Linda Carleton is concerned that World Too Beautiful may or may not survive-many may have dropped out-she won’t know till it gets going again in December-they would love for us to work with them. Eleanor would love us to be involved with the Earth Day service and we could plan the entire thing and run it. Interested: Kathy could help remotely, Ruth as well, though she is away in April. We need one or two others to help.
- Bridging the Two Maines update-Dick, Mary and Sarah met and talked about planning another session on how to speak with others with differing opinions in a respectful manner and feel good about the opportunity. They decided it would be helpful to hire a facilitator and are in the process of contacting a few possibilities, perhaps someone within the Diocese.
- How to talk to an adversary, with respect
- Ecotips (Barbara)-Barbara and Sarah have started submitting Ecotips every other week for the bulletin and E-Pistle, alternating individual and collective actions, and they would like a third person to join them.
- Keeping the vestry informed-Sarah will be sending our minutes to Senior Warden Anna Marie Christie.
- New matters (please review links prior to meeting)
- Energy Star for Congregations–Ben has asked PPEAT to do some research and make a recommendation to the vestry. This requires a level of expertise no one on this team has, but there are parishioners who do. We believe Meredith and Jamie Cough conducted an energy audit about 12 years ago, and they as well as Sam Allen and Fred Fowler have the technical knowledge and the institutional history to do this. John Watson may also be helpful. We decided that Sarah will email Ben and tell him we support this and would suggest contacting Meredith, Jamie, Sam and John to gauge their interest.
- b. The live premier of Bounty is being sponsored remotely by the Press Herald on November 10 at 9 PM. Bounty is about the 1755 proclamation of the colonial government paying settlers to murder Penobscot people.
- PURPLE, a new short documentary from political mediation organization Resetting the Table (RTT) and Emmy Award-winning Transient Pictures, tells the story of everyday Americans with opposing viewpoints addressing their differences head-on. Filmed in a swing region in rural Wisconsin and Iowa,
PURPLE models a rare conversation that uplifts and inspires even while going toward the heat of passionate political differences. We have been invited to screen with the congregation as a tool to build greater empathy, critical thinking, and civic skills and dispositions. Resetting the Table provides a Discussion Guide, social media toolkit, and support materials for free. TABLED
- Action items
- Everyone is urged to review the toolkit and take at least one action this month. Actions include writing letters to the editor, contacting your legislator, social media posts, etc.
- Tool for taking action on LD 1626
- b. Sarah will follow up on the Energy Star proposal
- Charles and Ralph will continue working on the flyer and would like help with the social justice aspects-email email@example.com.
- We need one or two others to help plan the Earth Day service in April. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
- We need a third person to submit Ecotips (about every 6 weeks) for the bulletin and E-Pistle-contact email@example.com if interested.
- Next meeting Tuesday December 14, 2021, 6-7 PM: Sue Inches will be our guest.