Friday, April 18, 2014

Drawing To A Close

Photo by Senator Colleen Lachowicz

This morning, right around one o'clock, the 126th Legislature nearly completed its work. I drove my frost-covered truck west on 202 barely able to focus my too-tired eyes. We will return on Thursday, May 1, at ten o'clock in the morning, to reconsider legislation vetoed by the Governor.

After it is finished, I will reflect on my first term in this most challenging, rewarding, and humbling experience. A few triumphs, lots of setbacks, loads of laughter, and even a few tears. Serving the People of Maine in the Maine Legislature remains the highest honor of my life.

I shall forever remain incredibly grateful to the voters of Winthrop and Readfield. Thank you so much. You have proven that anything is possible.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Ask For Your Help

Dear Neighbor,

As many of you know, I am seeking re-election this year. As I have done for the last two elections, I'm again running as a Clean Elections candidate in order to be beholden to the People only.

If you are a registered voter (Republican, Democrat, Green Independent, or Unenrolled) in Readfield, Winthrop, or a part of North Monmouth, which will be the new District 81, please consider donating $5 in my name online at the following link:

https://www5.informe.org/cgi-bin/online/ethics/cleanelection/home.pl

The deadline is April 20, so please don't delay. I need to collect a total of sixty (60) contributions in order to qualify, so if there is more than one registered voter in your household who wishes to contribute, you will need to make separate contributions in order for them to each be counted.

If you've already contributed, thank you very much.

If you don't live in my district but want to support my campaign, I can collect up to $500 in seed money, with no more than $100 from any individual. If you want to make a seed money contribution, please send me a message. The deadline for seed money contributions is also April 20.

It's been an honor to serve you. I hope I may continue for another term.

Thank you for your continued support.

Take care of your blessings.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Holocaust Survivors Attend State House


Remarks on the Joint Resolution Commemorating the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine’s Legislative Awareness Day and Yom Hashoah, the Day of Remembrance presented by Representative Craig V. Hickman of Winthrop – April 8, 2014

Today, we remember the Holocaust because we must never forget.

African Americans and American Jews have interacted throughout much of the history of this nation. This relationship has included widely publicized cooperation and sometimes conflict, and—since the 1970s—has been an area of significant academic research. The most significant aspect of the relationship was the cooperation during the civil rights movement, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry and tyranny have no place in a free society.

Today, we recognize and honor Holocaust survivors who are citizens of Maine.

::

Ed Benedikt:  Ed Benedikt left Austria, with his sister, on a ‘Kindertransport’ rescue operation, in December 1938. Kindertransports rescued nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from possible capture, by transporting them via train to the UK. There, they were placed into British foster homes, hostels schools or farms. In 1943, Ed and his sister left England and were able to be reunited with their parents in the US.

Dr. Julius Ciembroniewicz:  Dr. Julius Ciembroniewicz was a young teenager when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. Forced into a life on the run, his family was separated and he spent the war hiding in a monastery outside of Krakow. Upon liberation, Dr. Ciembroniewicz was reunited with only two of his family members and restarted his education. After becoming a physician and neurosurgeon, he defected to England and eventually came to the United State. Dr. Ciembroniewicz continues to be active as a neurosurgeon in Augusta and Lewiston.
 

Klaus Heimann:  Klaus Heimann grew up in Berlin and was able to leave with his immediate family just days before WWII broke out. They came to NYC. He had relatives, however, who were not able to get out, and perished in the camps. Klaus became an engineer and then ended up in Maine, and, in his retirement, took to repairing sewing machines.

Cantor Kurt Messerschmidt:  Born in Germany in 1915, Kurt was a coach and teacher at a Jewish school in Berlin until 1943 when he was deported with his fiancĂ©e, Sonja, to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Within the ghetto, despite long days of forced labor, Kurt sought to be a source of comfort and leadership. Kurt and Sonja married in Theresienstadt but soon were separated when Kurt and his brother, Henry, were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and assigned to work detail at Golleschau. Kurt survived Golleschau and a death march and was liberated in 1945. In the early post-war days, Kurt worked as a teacher and translator in Germany while searching for news of his family. After Kurt’s reunion with Sonja, they lived in Munich until 1950 when they emigrated to the US where Kurt continued his profession as a teacher and musician. 

**Evelyn Panish:  Born in Germany in 1930, Evelyn lived in Berlin until fleeing with her family to China. In 1940, Evelyn and her family escaped Nazi persecution by emigrating to Shaghai via Russia, Siberia and Manchuria. They emigrated to the US in 1947. 

**Charles Rotmil (hidden child Holocaust survivor):  Born in Alsace Lorraine  in 1932, Charles moved with his family to Vienna in 1938. Two years later, they escaped to Belgium and then to France, in their attempts to flee the war against the Jews. By 1943, his mother and sister had died in a train crash and his father had been gassed in Auschwitz. Father Bruno Reynders, a Benedictine monk, took Charles and his brother under his wing, along with 400 other children. They lived in hiding, under false names, until the liberation in 1945. In 1946, he arrived in the United States. He spent many years as a schoolteacher and now is a filmmaker living in Maine.

**Max Slabotsky (Holocaust survivor):  Born in Belgium in 1931, Max learned the art of tailoring from his father. When he was twelve years old, Max was arrested with his parents and sent to Auschwitz where he was put to work for the Germans. In addition to working on a farm that fed Germans, Max cleaned pipes and sorted the clothes from incoming prisoners. After being liberated by the Russians, he became a paratrooper and lived on a kibbutz in Israel before coming to America in 1955, where he would find success as a well-respected tailor.

::

Just as I did last year, I will close with a quote from James Baldwin, my favorite American author and one of the literary leaders of the Civil Rights Movement:

“One must say YES to life and embrace it wherever it is found, and it is found in terrible places… For nothing is fixed; forever and forever, it is not fixed. The earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fades, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us, and the light goes out.”

Always treat one another with kindness.

Take care of your blessings.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

(**Present in the House Chamber when the Joint Resolution was presented on April, 8, 2014.)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Winthrop Third Graders in the House

A group of Winthrop third graders toured the Blaine House, the Maine State Museum, and the State House today.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Maranacook Community Middle School Chorus in the House

This morning, the Maranacook Community Middle School Chorus serenaded the State House. From the gallery, the students delivered a beautiful arrangement of the National Anthem for the House Chamber.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Back At The State House

Dear Neighbor,

Because of family losses, I was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from Saturday, March 22 to Wednesday, March 26.

My godmother, Frenchie Bell Mitchell, the woman who promised to take care of me if something ever happened to my parents, passed away after a long battle with diabetes and kidney disease. She was 89 years old. Her passing came only weeks after her son, Gary Mitchell, my younger god brother and close childhood friend, died suddenly and unexpectedly of an enlarged heart caused by untreated high blood pressure. He was 44 years old. My 86-year-old mother, who was my godmother's best friend, has been very ill for quite some time in a nursing home in Milwaukee and I had an opportunity to visit extensively with her. She was unable to attend the funeral. 

It was an intense and extremely difficult time for my family. I was blessed to be able to be there. I thank Rep. Lisa Villa of Harrison who gave me a guest pass on the airline she works for so I was able to afford the journey.

Unfortunately, I missed floor votes on those three days. I don't like missing votes, as I take seriously my work as your representative. Many of you corresponded with me about many of the votes on those days. I sincerely apologize for not being able to follow through on those votes. I hope you understand.

After a day and a half of travel, I returned home to Maine safe and sound and happy to be back in my seat.

I remain honored to serve you.

Take care of your blessings,


Craig Hickman

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Electricity Rates

Dear Neighbor,

I write to you today because you will likely notice an increase in your electricity bill at the end of this month. That is because as of March 1, a new standard offer rate of 7.6 cents per kilowatt-hour went into effect.  This is a 10.8 percent increase from last year's standard offer price.

This increase is a result of the lack of natural gas pipeline capacity coming into New England.  Natural gas is the dominant fuel source used to generate electricity in New England and becomes increasingly expensive as we simultaneously increase our use of natural gas for heating fuel.  It is important to understand that the cost of natural gas is still low as it comes out of Pennsylvania and New York.  Because of legislation that originated in the Maine Legislature's Energy Committee last year, the New England governors are now working together to solve this problem in the coming years.   

Given that, I wanted to share some information that will help you understand electricity service in Maine and the industry structure.  Hopefully, this will put you on the path to being more in control of your electricity costs.
  
You will notice that your electric service is made up of two parts: supply and delivery.

In 2000, Maine became a national leader in Electricity Restructuring.  Today, electric utility companies own and operate the distribution (wire) infrastructure bringing electricity to customers (DELIVERY).   

The electricity itself is supplied by something called the standard offer, or by other competitive electricity providers (CEP) that a customer may choose (SUPPLY).

In Maine, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), regulates the utilities that provide electricity everywhere....street lights, ballparks, malls, homes, and offices. In our neck of the woods, that utility is Central Maine Power (CMP).  

Maine's residential customers' supply comes through something called the standard offer. The standard offer is the default option for consumers who don't choose a competitive electricity provider, and is created by taking a three-year average of the cost of electricity the Maine Public Utilities Commission sources through a competitive bid process among electricity suppliers. 

Today, residential and small commercial customers are seeing competitive retail supply offers from a variety of companies.  Here is some information to help you understand this market so you can decide if you would like to keep your standard offer or go with a CEP.  

Remember, customers who make no choice will continue to receive standard offer service. For those customers who choose to go with a competitive option, they need only make arrangements with their new supplier who will then work with the utility to make the switch, and the new service be put in place around the time of the utility's next monthly billing cycle.

Nine questions to ask when choosing a supplier

1. What will I pay per "kilowatt hour" (kWh) of electricity?
2. Are there any additional customer charges or other recurring fees?
3. Is this offer a fixed-rate offer? If not, how can it change, and how do I find out when, and by how much, the rate will change?
4. Is there a contract? If so, how long is it for?
5. Is a deposit required? If so, how much?
6. What are my payment options?
7. What happens when my contract period expires?
8. What if I miss a payment?
9. Is there a penalty if I break the contract?

This table lists CEP offerings as of March 1, 2014.

Prices can change without notice, so I strongly urge you to go to the website or call the CEPs to confirm before signing up.

Competitive Electricity Provider
Rate for CMP Customers (¢/kWh)
Rate for Bangor Hydro Customers (¢/kWh)
Term
Early Termination Fee
Telephone
Standard Offer(PUC)
7.56
7.58
Until 3/1/15
n/a
n/a
7.55*
7.55*
Dec. 2014
$50
855-207-1600
7.59

8.97
7.59

8.97
6 Months Fixed

24 Months
$100

$100
866-573-2674

866-573-2674
7.49
7.49
Fixed till 12/31/14
$50
866-842-1084
7.9
8.1
7.9
8.1
One year
$75
855-485-3353
8.499
7.99
8.499
7.99
6-12 Months
Variable
855-857-6937
8.8
8.8
12 Months
$100
800-296-2721
6.69
8.64
6.69
8.64
6 months Fixed
12 months Fixed
Variable
888-313-9086
7.59

9.99
7.59

9.99
6 Months Fixed

12 or 24 Months Fixed
$60 + offset of unused

portion of elec. to others
888-997-8979

*Dead River says that its rate will not be higher than the standard offer.
All of these entities have applied for and received a license from the PUC to sell electricity. This means, among other things, that they have demonstrated that they have the technical and financial ability to sell electricity. The PUC does monitor CEPs for adherence to license conditions and to other applicable state laws, but CEPs are not regulated the way CMP and Bangor Hyrdo Electric and other utilities are. We do not have access to the CEPs' business plan or profit numbers, for example. However, the price you get is shaped by competition so regulation is not necessary.

The above table contains a summary of terms. The offerings can change at any time; I strongly recommend that you check the current price and read all terms and conditions prior to signing up for any service. For example, some may require that you allow them to perform a credit check, or to report you to credit reporting agencies in the event that you fail to make payments. Keep in mind that the Terms and Conditions are sometimes not readily found on the website; sometimes you only see it as you get closer to actually signing up.

Take care of your blessings,

Craig