Correcting the governor



By W. Kent Olson

Gov. Paul LePage asserted in a May 19 Mount Desert Islander op-ed that the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) “denied high-paying mining jobs to rural Mainers.”

That’s false.

To prevent another Superfund site like Callahan Mine in Brooksville, the NRCM lobbied against the weakening of Maine’s extraction regulations and won. It miffed him.

He stated that by urging a national monument in Northern Maine, NRCM ignores rural people, and that “town after town has voted against” it.

Nice try.

Three towns had straw ballots, and 53 percent of 2,949 registered voters stayed away. People reported intimidation. Likewise, conspicuous no-park signs dissuaded two investors from buying a hotel there. They cited the anti-business climate and bought in Bangor instead. Reticence is understandable in a hateful community atmosphere, of which LePage is inciter-in-chief.

Mainers want the park two-to-one, northerners included. Objective surveys – preferences registered in relaxed anonymity – confirm it across party, income, age, residence. Smell the numbers, governor. Try the majority for a change.

LePage boasted the legislature approved his bill to block the monument.

Yes. A property rights governor marshaled government to prevent a landowner from selling her property to her country for a dollar.

He wrote the NRCM “is trying to end run” the people.

Actually, the NRCM promotes the park to the world. See www.nrcm.org.

LePage claimed Sen. King “did not invite or even notify” the governor’s office about the May 16 Orono national park listening session. Yet Bangor Daily News wrote: The senator’s staff said his office “informed Maine Forest Service Director Doug Denico before King’s announcement and was told by Denico that he would personally notify the governor.”

The governor said King and the NRCM “don’t want … open dialogue.”

Openness favors the park. Every time LePage belches and splutters on it, the project gets a boost. When the national park happens, he’ll get a junior ranger badge.

1,300 people attended the meeting in Orono. The governor’s lawyer, Avery Day, was accorded the VIP lectern, as was Lucas St. Clair. The meeting followed King’s and NPS Director Jarvis’s discussion with Katahdin-area officials. Maine has debated a decade-plus. Few issues have generated such extensive dialogue.

Another LePage hobgoblin: “Liberals from Portland and wealthy coastal towns … have never visited the North Woods.”

Well.

People from all over visit Debouille, Bow Loop, Rip, Big Black, Chase, Lobster, Rainbow, Hermitage, Long, 100-mile, Patten Logging, Carry Bog, T1-R3 BKP WKR, Shin, Goose Eye, Aziscohos, 5th Debsconeag, 4th St. John, 3rd Machias, 2d Roach, 1st Davis, Ambejackmockamus, Slewgundy, Sysladobsis and the state-abandoned Eagle Lake locomotives.

“Let’s be honest, folks,” the governor said, “this park…is not about good jobs for rural Mainers.”

Actually, Maine’s majority supports the proposal’s multiple positives, including benefits proven to accrue to workers, businesses and communities outside national parks.

A retail analogy the governor might appreciate: A national park is like a shopping mall’s most desirable anchor store – platinum brand, bombproof reputation, guaranteed repeat clientele, able to impart confidence to entrepreneurs ready to buy in. Ask any Mount Desert Island merchant.

Our free-market governor holds the anti-free-market position. No advisor dares call him on it.

The NRCM, he wrote, “is determined to preserve a pristine environment with no human activity.”

The NRCM wants a pristine environment with optimum human activity, per the 1916 law establishing the Park Service mission: “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The NRCM supported the 19-mile loop road, now open, and favors park-appropriate development.

LePage advised Quimby to donate her land to Maine “as a complement to Baxter.”

She said no, no, no. How many more times will he bloody the gubernatorial schnozzle on Roxanne’s fist?

A federal asset better complements Baxter because “national park” is a stronger consumer draw than is a Maine designation. Our national system, though underfunded, is better financed than the state’s, expertly handles high visitation, has hardy nonprofits and for-profit concessioners supporting it and attracts charitable dollars.

And Maine’s Henry David Thoreau National Park will generate international appeal.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Except for Paul LePage.

Ken Olson, president and CEO of Friends of Acadia 1995-2006. The viewpoints are his. He lives in Bass Harbor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *