History in Politics: On Refugees: Here we go again editorial by Neil Rolde

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First published in Maine Insights- see it HERE

By Neil Rolde

I am in the midst of writing about a bit of forgotten American history in telling the story of the War Refugee Board, a U.S. Government Agency that from 1944 to the end of World War II worked to save refugees from within Nazi-occupied Europe.

In effect, among the 200,000 people it rescued were mostly Jews facing a blanket condemnation to death by the Nazis for the mere fact of being Jewish but there were non-Jewish anti-Nazis helped as well.

Today’s refugee crisis is different in various aspects but the principle remains the same. In this case, the victims are mainly the Moslem citizens of Syria fleeing from their war-torn country by the millions. The doom they faced was not as definitely defined for them as it was by the Nazis for the Jews but death is death whether inflicted from poison gas deliberately or haphazardly from bursting bombs, exploding shells or flying bullets. Continue reading

BUSHNELL ON BOOKS: ‘Real Political Tales’

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Review By Bill Bushnell in the KJ and Morning Sentential

REAL POLITICAL TALES: SHORT STORIES BY A VETERAN POLITICIAN by Neil Rolde

Polar Bear & Company, 2014

175 pages, $12.95

Folks have long suspected that politics is just bad theater, and now award-winning author Neil Rolde proves it.

Rolde is a respected public servant and former state legislator who has written a dozen nonfiction books and one intriguing political novel, “O. Murray Carr.” This is a collection of 10 short stories, all fiction, but based on Rolde’s own political experience in state government. His well-crafted writing always entertains and educates, and this collection certainly does both.

However, if Rolde thought these stories would make readers feel all warm and fuzzy about politics and politicians, he may be disappointed. Instead, he reveals just how petty, self-serving and officious politicians can be, who focus more on power than on people.

The stories describe the political process of state government, in the house and senate, the real power of committees and lobbyists, campaigning, debating opponents and who really answers all those letters to the governor.

“The Real Legislative Process” tells how an elderly freshman representative is introduced to the nasty world of political backstabbing and deceitful promises, and how slick, oily lobbyists can manipulate legislators. In “The Liberal” a legislator finally understands how procedural rules are skillfully used to promote or kill a bill, and why open discussions and debates are merely window-dressing (decisions are often already made beforehand, behind closed doors). One of the best stories, “Fishman,” explains the Electoral College and how state delegates are selected.

Other stories poke fun at stuffy veteran career politicians, tell of hilarious pranks that often backfire, how politicians expertly use the media to promote themselves or embarrass their opponents and how arm-twisting, veiled threats and payback deals produce results in a tight vote.

The unstated message here might be: When a politician says “No problem,” he means for him.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

An evening with Neil Rolde- York Library will host veteran politician

From the Seacoast news article:

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YORK – Neil Rolde, author and statesman has written a work of fiction focused on his experiences titled: “Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician,” (Maine’s Polar Bear & Company Publishing). Rolde has lived a life of political service as well as having a scholarly career researching and writing about the history of Maine politics, some of its celebrated politicians, the state’s varied regions, and Maine Indian Tribes. Rolde has a keen sense of Maine as state and a people. Rolde’s current book is his second work of fiction. His candid style may surprise readers, but his tales promise to transport the reader into the working lives of lawmakers, perhaps leading to greater understanding and respect for those in public office.

“The short stories are fictional, to be sure, but they incorporate almost a quarter of a century working directly in State government and even more years involved in the politics of Maine. They bear out my extensive experience of the political scene from the inside, not as expressed by opinionated media nor by the average person seeing things from outside,” said Rolde.

The York Public Library will host an evening with author Neil Rolde, a York resident, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 23. He’ll discuss his most recent book and he will be available after his presentation for question and answers and book signing. His book will available for purchase at the event.

Rolde’s many years of public service include being an assistant to Governor Kenneth M. Curtis of Maine for six years and then 16 years as an elected Representative in the Maine Legislature. He represented his district of York, Maine and became Majority Leader of the Maine House during the 107th legislature from 1975-77. He became the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1990 in an election bid against Bill Cohen. Rolde has won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council. “Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician” is his second fictional work.

The York Public Library is located at 15 Long Sands Road in York.

History in Politics – The Fairest Tax

By Neil Rolde

Governor Paul LePage of Maine says he wants to eliminate Maine taxes, which would devastate thousands and the state's economy. Courtesy photo

Governor Paul LePage of Maine says he wants to eliminate Maine taxes, which would devastate thousands and the state’s economy. Courtesy photo

Maine’s bomb-throwing and wrecker Governor Paul Le Page has a new trick up his sleeve. He now proposes doing away with Maine’s State Income Tax. Installed in the late 1960’s, this major source of State revenue [at least 50 percent of the budget] has provided an irreplaceable foundation of Maine’s economy for more than half a century.

What does the bully boy in the Blaine House offer to put in its place? Apparently nothing!

Cuts, of course, will have to be made in State services. Le Page’s draconian knife no doubt will slash first and foremost at social programs helping the poor from whose ranks he came but whose plight no longer touches him. Indeed, he seems annoyed by their continued presence. He rose above poverty. Why can’t they? And if they can’t, tant pis, which means “all the worse” for them in French. Continue reading

Neil Rolde Looks Back: What Politics Used to Be Like in Maine

By IRWIN GRATZ • OF MPBN
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PORTLAND, Maine – Neil Rolde says the stories in his new book are real; the names were changed to protect – the politicians. Rolde, a former state legislator from York, has written a new book, “Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician.” Rolde told MPBN’s Irwin Gratz that he drew the stories from his own time in Augusta.

Neil Rolde: “They’re people-based, sometimes on real people that I know. And real incidents that I was involved with, but disguised, in a way, in order to bring out that sense, you know – just ordinary folks doing a fairly extraordinary kind of work.”

Irwin Gratz: “Did you also take the license to exaggerate, or are these things as they really happened?” Continue reading

Political Tales book singing at the Harlow gallery a sucess

More than 25 people came out on a rainy Tuesday night to talk with and hear author Neil Rolde. And they weren’t disappointed. Rolde served in Augusta in the House or Representatives for 18 years, before then he worked as Governor Ken Curtis’s righthand man for eight years.

At the signing Rolde told more stories of what it was like passing laws in the 1970’s. And about his life, starting off as a writer trained at the Columbia School of Journalism to becoming a major figure in Maine’s political history, and becoming a historian. Rolde started out as a Republican and switched to being a Democrat after he moved to Maine. He has always been known to be able to work with anyone to get significant laws passed. He help Curtis pass the law that created income tax, it was an effort to lower property taxes.

Maine’s a unique state where the people can still talk with their local lawmakers. Many laws start with a local constituents idea, many citizens testify in committees. State government can and does work and Neil’s Political Tales show how it all happens.

There are signed copies of the book at the Harlow Gallery, 169 Water Street. Total cost $13.66. Or send a check or money order to the publisher: Polar Bear & Co. PO Box 311, Solon, Maine 04979

Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician – Neil Rolde’s book signing launch

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Author/Statesman Neil Rolde has written a new book, Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician.

“If you’ve ever served in a state legislature, lobbied one, or just read about their activities in the newspaper and wondered what goes on behind the scenes, you’ll love this book! From page one I couldn’t put it down and I loved every word of Neil’s stories crafted from ‘behind the scenes’ in the Maine legislature,” wrote Congresswoman Chellie Pingree in the book. “The characters may be fictional, but thanks to Neil’s insights and knowledge, coupled with his wonderful writing style, they all came to life.”

  • On April 21st at 6pm Neil host a book signing with beer, wine and cheese. He will speak about Political Tales and answer questions at 6.45 pm- 8pm
  • Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician is published by Maine’s Polar Bear & Company.

neil p“The personal element is stronger in the affairs of legislative bodies than of any other branch of government, but it is a hard thing to convey in straight reporting. The public understanding of the legislative process is poorer as a result. As an experienced and influential legislator, with a great gift for storytelling, Neil Rolde is the ideal person to remedy this defect, and this volume of Political Tales delivers on that promise,” wrote U.S. House of Representative Barney Frank in the book. “The stories are educational and entertaining in equal measure, and people who read them will be better prepared to understand what goes on when legislators meet and transact important public business.”

The tales can transport the reader into what the working lives of some lawmakers must be like as they are true to reality.

“The short stories are fictional, to be sure, but they incorporate almost a quarter of a century working directly in State government and even more years involved in the politics of Maine. They bear out my extensive experience of the political scene from the inside, not as expressed by opinionated media nor by the average person seeing things from outside,” said Rolde.

Mr. Rolde’s many years of public service include being an assistant to Governor Kenneth M. Curtis of Maine for six years and 16 years as an elected Representative in the Maine Legislature. He represented his district of York, Maine and became Majority Leader of the Maine House during the 107th legislature from 1975-77. He became the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1990 in an election bid against Bill Cohen.

“The stories were engaging – reminding an insider of the ‘old days,’ and giving an outside observer a good sense of what truly goes on behind the scenes. It certainly brought me back to the days when I was sitting in one of those leather chairs, hearing the gavel come down and wondering what was about to happen next!” added Pingree.

Anyone reading the stories should gain respect for our lawmakers and will be surprised by Rolde’s candid style.

“They illustrate that our governments are made up of human beings – and in Maine at least, doing their level best to deal with the needs of the population at the lowest possible cost. It was said that we Maine legislators worked for a salary of three cents an hour,” said Rolde.

One has to ask which stories reflect Neil’s own experiences?

“All of them and none of them,” said Rolde. “They are fiction. Some contain actual events in which I participated but in different settings and circumstances. I have tried to cover the complexities of the two different positions I held in Augusta, first the administrative side working for the Governor in the Executive Department and then the legislative side as an elected State Representative. Also included are boards, commissions and non-profits, many on which I served, that help form the matrix of stability in the U.S. There are even references to Washington, D.C. and how it can and does interact with the States.”

Rolde’s books are extensively researched and most involve the history of Maine and its people. The plight of Native Americans has been a reoccurring theme in Rolde’s life since his childhood and he helped Maine’s tribes while he worked in the Curtis administration. These experiences led him to write one of Maine’s definitive historic books: Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians.

Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician also show us Neil’s wealth of knowledge, humor and wit.

“All of this is part of the American political scene. Bashing the leaders we elect goes back to President George Washington, even though he was elected unanimously. Mud slinging is as American as apple pie,” said Rolde. “I once had a fantasy of introducing a bill requiring every American to serve at least one term in a government body. That might add a sense of reality and humanity to our governance. Alas, it is ‘an idea whose time hasn’t and will never come.’”

Send a check or money order for $12.95 to Polar Bear & Company, PO BOX 311, Solon, Maine 04979. Or call 207.643.2795

Rolde has won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council.

Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician is Neil’s second fictional work.

A list of Neil Rolde’s books:

Breckenridge Long: An American: An American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man who Denied Visas to the Jews
Continental Liar from the State of Maine: James G. Blaine
Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians
The Interrupted Forest A History of Maine’s Wildlands
Maine A Narrative History
Maine Downeast and Different an Illustrated History
An illustrated history of Maine
Your Money or Your Health: America’s Cruel, Bureaucratic, and Horrendously Expensive Health Care System How It Got That Way and What to Do About
Rio Grande Do Norte: The Story of Maine’s Partner State in Brazil What It’s Like, What Its past Has Been, and What Are Its Ties to Maine
The Baxters of Maine: Downeast Visionaries
So You Think You Know Maine
Maine in the World: Stories of Some of Those from Here Who Went Away
O. Murray Carr: A Novel
Sir William Pepperrell of Colonial New England