By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Entering the hall he was met by a chorus of boos. He looked defiantly at the crowd and asked, “Is that the best you can do?” The boos grew louder.
A second challenge went out, bringing an even louder response. Finally the crowd quieted down and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie replied, “I tell you the truth and you boo me; they [entrenched politicians] lie to you and you cheer them.”
Governor Paul LePage is treated in a similar fashion. Unlike former gubernatorial candidate and the Maine media’s choice Elliot Cutler, LePage does not possess the polished image sought by The Press. No, he speaks and acts not like a politician, but the common man, honestly and right to the point.
Questions are answered quickly and from the heart, as opposed to entrenched politicians, who will give you an answer that is calculated to offend the least amount of voters, but is not necessarily the way they feel.
Governor LePage is being skewered by the media, Democrats, Maine state union leaders and many spineless Republican legislators for using the word “corrupt” in describing mid-level state management. Gee, where can you hear that same kind of dialogue?
Why, in just about in every coffee shop in the state, from Eastport to Kittery, where people gather and discuss the goings on in Augusta. I’ve even heard it behind closed doors at political meetings.
To solve problems, you have to honestly articulate the problems. Problems cannot be solved by putting on rose-colored glasses and hoping they will go away or somehow correct themselves.
So what’s the big deal?
There are two distinct types of people employed in state government. First, there are the state workers. These are the low-level employees that keep our state running. They are people looked down upon by higher-ups. Their knowledge of the day-to-day problems within their sphere could probably save taxpayers millions of dollars. But why listen to them? They’re just ground-level workers.
Then there is middle management (aka state employees). Many, not all, are firmly entrenched in government and don’t want to rock the boat. These are the people Governor LePage is upset about. If you know any state workers, how many times have you heard them speak negatively of their supervisors? How many fear they will get in trouble by passing on their complaints or solutions to their supervisors?
Paul LePage has stepped up to the plate.
Retired and current members of the Maine State Employees Association demonize him for trying to shore up and bring the pension system into solvency. These same members cheer the politicians that pillage their retirement fund and bear responsibility for the system teetering on insolvency.
The LePage Administration has exposed corruption, abuse and incompetence that have gone on for years. The arrest and conviction of the former director of the Maine Turnpike Authority reveals that when any party is in control for four decades, a climate is created where those with strong political ties feel they can pillage state coffers.
They imagine themselves invincible to detection and prosecution. After all, “Don’t You Know Who They Are?” Governor LePage does—just another stupid, arrogant, criminal politician.
The governor tried to stop one of the biggest political scams introduced to Maine, The Clean Election Law. After collecting a number of five-dollar checks, candidates turn them into the state and receive a predetermined amount of money, which enables the candidate to finance their campaign without being helped by outside contributors, thus freeing the candidate from outside influences. Right!
Corporations are portrayed as evil for allegedly ignoring the law and contributing to clean election candidates. Are the unions evil when they break the same law?
Then there’s term limits—well, I suppose technically. Many legislators get around the “spirit of the law” by teaming up with another legislator and just swap positions when they are termed out, enabling them to serve the maximum term in their new position. When they reach their term limit, they just switch positions again and carry on. PT Barnum would be proud.
Lose an election. Don’t worry! The Party will find a place for you, qualified or not.
Unemployment, welfare and worker’s compensation fraud? Like Medicare/Medicaid fraud—it’s just anecdotal.
Many of our anxiety-ridden weeping Nels and Nancys would like to replace Governor LePage, put on rose-colored glasses and reduce the anxiety level by returning to the status quo.
Are we going to stand by and let them?