By W. Kent Olson
Paul LePage governs some of the people some of the time, takes a taxpayer salary all of the time and steps away from lecterns, meetings, commissions, swearings-in, state-of-the-state addresses whenever moved to make a pointless point or is slighted, always whining, seething or both.
He calls it “people before politics.” Others call it petulance before professionalism.
Insolence, ignorance, immaturity – not his fault. An impudent press, he claims, provokes it.
We pay Gov. LePage $70,000 and subsidize his housing, the Blaine mansion. But he decides the circumstances under which he might act as a chief executive.
He treats the governorship like a no-show job.
I ask the Maine legislature, how about docking his pay for nonperformance of duty?
In the latest insult to his office (let us count the ways), he takes arms against the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the muscled, adept, 57-year-old environmental organization that has worked Augusta politics 10 times longer than he has.
NRCM is a pack of druids, in LePage’s mind. Druids eat people and worship trees. Druids threaten Maine more than heroin does, or labor murals, national parks for the economically distressed, solar energy, transgender bathrooms and public land bonds.
As MPBN reported on the Republican state convention, held last month in Bangor, “Gov. Paul LePage energized the crowd with a fiery speech blasting Democrats, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, an environmental advocacy group, and the progressive group, the Maine People’s Alliance.
“Not only are they the enemies,” he said, “they intimidate. They will do and say anything. They lie through their teeth, and they scare Republicans in election years because they gang up on people.
“This summer, you are going to hear an awful lot about a little war that is developing between one governor and a whole lot of rich nonprofits around the state of Maine,” he continued, “because the Natural Resources Council of Maine has got to go.”
Shall I bring a baseball bat to this little war, or just my toe-nail clippers?
Regardless, we kneel. Count on a gang of grossly wealthy NRCM members showing. I’ll be among them. Plus, NRCM staff – khaki-clad, over-pedigreed, overpaid trust fund babies born with silver snail-darters in their mouths.
My teeth are terminal, sir, gums bled out from lying. I regret intimidating the Republican Party. NRCM’s executive director forced me to. So I swear truth to you: The prospect of fighting an actual governor, even a part-timer – Maine’s best current governor – makes me wanna scurry to Jonesport and hide in Grampy Earl’s bait barrel.
To echo Nixon: I could do that, but it would be wrong.
So name the time, place, weaponry. I’ll be there, though bloody visions tremble my bones.
LePage calls us foes. I confess perverse pride. Nixon omitted me, a small tater, from his enemies list. Now I’m richer than Trump and Roxanne combined and make the governor’s list! (You included me, sir, right? The guy who bankrolled NRCM’s half-billion dollar war chest?) Nice to be recognized.
The governor’s war declaration sparked donations. Millions from biggies like me, lotsa pennies from the little people, the teeny-weeny sliver of a mini-minority of NRCM’s mega-elitist membership.
Please crank up the bellicosity. Though richer than Croesus, NRCM needs more money. That – not nature-saving – is what it’s about, as you say. (Ka-ching!)
Lepage’s followers agree when he says “NRCM has got to go.” After he parts the waters, I’ll lead the exodus. Please allow us to evacuate women, children and cross-dressers before you start the program. They’ll take the Rockland ferry. Will Vinalhaven accept all 16,000 of us?
I have a pup tent, o captain my captain, so don’t worry about me. Oh, does the state reimburse moving expenses?
Here’s how we minimize battlefield blood, sir. You show up with your team, I with mine, accompanied by the big, bad boneheaded anti-LePage media. You’ll instantly quit and kvetch your chauffeured way to Augusta, where the brave legislature should ding your paycheck for yet another of your lazy derelictions.
(LePage and I agree: Public dolees should work, especially ones living in government housing, so man up.)
Outcome: NRCM declares victory, lives to fight another day, a richer one.
The governor will be able to recognize me in the trenches: A 69-year-old wearing a knee brace, tri-focals, Groucho mask and a druid costume, smoking a cheroot, quaking like an aspen … and laughing like a loon.
Go easy, King LePage. We fall on our swords at your merest gesture.
And if you don’t show at all, worry not. Maine understands.
Kent Olson is a resident of Bass Harbor.