The Watchdog Index

Nearly 30 years ago, Harper’s Magazine created its Harper’s Index, a one-page listing of “ironic statistics arranged for thoughtful effect.” We herein launch our annual Maine version of the index, derived from stories we’ve reported over the years.

Editor’s note: Nearly 30 years ago, Harper’s Magazine created its Harper’s Index, ©,  a one-page listing of “ironic statistics arranged for thoughtful effect.” The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting herein launches our annual Maine version of the index, derived from stories we’ve reported over the years. 

Number of years state government has been adding tax breaks for businesses to the Maine tax code: 50.

Number of detailed studies of the tax breaks: 0.

Number of Maine pharmacists in the past 10 years who were allowed by the state of keep their licenses despite a history of drug theft and abuse: 13.

Number that were caught stealing and abusing drugs again: 5.

Percentage increase between 2010 and 2012 in drivers and passengers killed in car accidents who were not wearing seat belts: 69.

Age group with largest amount of unbelted car accidents: 16-24.

Amount of tax breaks given to manufacturers of assault weapons by states, including Maine, in past five years: $19 million.

Percentage of incidents in which assault weapons were used in mass killings since 1982: 50.

Number of deaths that prompted the state to require judges rather than bail commissioners to set bail on domestic violence cases: 4.

Percentage of Portland voters who voted for Paul LePage for governor: 19.

Percentage of Albion voters who voted for LePage: 61.

Amount of state pension debt when LePage took office: $4.4 billion.

Amount of pension debt reduction from legislation passed by 2011 legislature and signed by LePage: $1.7 billion.

Frequency that state retirees were eligible for cost of living increases before the pension bill was passed: Once a year.

Number of years the retirees’ cost of living increases were frozen to pay for the pension debt reduction: 3.

Cost of report on recruiting foreign students to the University of Maine System: $363,028.

Number of pages in report: 39.

Percentage of first year’s tuition paid by recruited foreign students that the University system will give to the overseas recruiter: 80.

Amount of contributions to candidates for national office by Chellie Pingree between 1994 and mid-2011: $2,950.

Amount of contributions from mid-2011 to Nov. 2012 (17 months): $105,600.

Date Congresswoman Pingree married multi-millionaire and Democratic Party donor Donald Sussman: June 18, 2011.

Size of University of Maine System reserve contingency fund: $177 million.

Percentage increase in the System’s fund over the past 12 years: 300.

Percentage increase over same period in the cost of running the System: 41.

Number of years former legislators and top state officials had to wait before becoming lobbyists prior to 2013: 0.

Number of years they have to wait starting in 2014: 1.

Cost of settlements paid to state employees who claimed on-the-job discrimination and harassment in the past 10 years: $1,846,118.

Cost to taxpayers for state lawyers to work on those cases: $500,000.

Number of pages in 2010 climate change report commissioned by Gov. John Baldacci: 72.

Number of pages in follow-up report issued by LePage administration: 2.


John Christie

John Christie is the co-founder, former publisher and former senior reporter of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. He has covered local, state and national politics as a reporter, editor and publisher at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and Florida and holds a BA in political science from the University of New Hampshire.
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