Menace to Maine



To the Editor:

I come from a long line of Maine Republicans, but I am a Democrat. Therefore, you can understand that I was a little down after the 2014 elections. Governor Paul LePage was re-elected. The State Senate flipped to Republicans and promptly selected very conservative members as president and majority leader. The Maine House saw its Democratic edge slide.

It looked pretty bad. But, thanks to LePage, a victory of sorts has been snatched from the jaws of defeat.

It seems that the governor’s incessant antagonism towards political opponents in his first term was just the warm up for a much bigger act.

He proposed a budget after re-election with little if any prior consultation with his own party’s legislative leaders. That not only was distasteful to Democrats, but also was toxic for many Republicans. Then he threatened to run primary opponents against any Republicans who didn’t back the entire budget.

LePage’s daughter made robocalls to people in, among others, the Senate president’s district accusing him of supporting welfare benefits for illegal aliens. When the disputes piled up late in the session, rather than attempt dialogue, he resorted to a Christmas tree stunt, complete with squeaky pigs and ornaments bearing the faces of legislators from both parties.

Pretty soon, the governor was completely out of the budgetary loop. When he started vetoing bills willy-nilly, or not vetoing but thought he was vetoing, with the stated purpose of just wasting legislators’ time, he was steamrolled by leaders and members of his own party.

LePage has repeatedly refused to issue bonds for projects that voters have already approved. This has angered many legislators from both parties, as well as a wide range of citizens groups, including the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), now led by a former Republican legislator.

LePage has refused to fill vital vacancies in state government because, according to him, the entire legislature is so dysfunctional he can’t work with them on appointments even though there is scant evidence his prior appointments have not been approved.

The governor has publicly admitted he threatened to withhold, and may have in fact withheld, state funds for The Goodwill-Hinckley School, which had hired House Speaker Mark Eves, with whom he has political differences that he claims are really defects in his character. LePage’s attack on the private life of a legislator has shocked Republicans and Democrats alike. Unsurprisingly, he now finds himself the defendant in a lawsuit in Federal Court.

LePage has gratuitously attacked the integrity of Republican Senator Katz, a co-chair of the bipartisan Government Oversight Committee that unanimously agreed to a bipartisan request by legislators to investigate the ethics of his behavior in the Goodwill-Hinckley controversy. That attack, complete with a not-so-veiled threat of retribution, led to a prompt, strong, public rebuke by your Republican Senate leaders.

Now he appears to have decided he cannot and will not deal with anyone in the legislature. So, less than one year into his second term, he is appearing before the public, as he did at Mount Desert Island High School on Oct. 6, not as the chief executive of the state government, but as a radical outsider. He said he will use the citizen initiative process for a mess of a referendum to bypass legislators he was elected to work with.

Watching the governor in person, it’s easy to see that he believes that in the political arena, he alone is brave and righteous. Everyone else, including his own natural allies, is craven and corrupt.

The governor has turned out to be something of a menace to lawful, peaceful, productive governance. Good thing, because if he were capable of controlling his volcanic rage he might be able to get more of his really bad ideas through the legislature.

Heck of a good job, governor. Keep it up. And whatever you do, please don’t resign. You’re all we’ve got until the next election.

Gail Marshall

Mount Desert

 

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