Maine Can Do Better than be Copycat State

We agree wholeheartedly with a recent Grace Hinrich Portland Press Herald opinion piece suggesting Maine has a lot more going for it than was reflected in the recent ranking of the state as the nation’s worst place for business.

For many reasons, including its geographical location, Maine faces unique challenges.  However, due to its natural resources and tradition of entrepreneurship, Maine also has unique opportunities.  The glass is half full  Let’s focus on that.

LePage Off Cliff; Fox Into Hen House

After spending eight days perched on an imaginary cliff of his own making, Paul LePage stepped down from that cliff yesterday when he announced he was calling off his beef with Democrats over the tracker issue.

LePage again demonstrated an aptitude for throwing people under the bus at the same time he is proportedly trying to make peace with them by stating he will meet with Democrats “any time they have something worthwhile to say.”

There is no word on whether he will accept Senate President Justin Alfond’s dinner invitation, although the Democratic senator probably shouldn’t put the soup on yet

In other news, the Natural Resources Council of Maine has brought to public attention that the North Jackson Company of Michigan, a company with “entrenched” interests in mining, has been contracted by the LePage administration to help Maine rewrite its mineral mining regulations. The NRCP is criticizing the selection as giving mining interests too much clout in writing the rules that will govern mining companies, rather than involving more stakeholders and  taking a more balanced approach.

In addition to criticizing this as fox guarding the hen house kind of move, some have observed that LePage’s debt to Michigan Chamber of Commerce for its foul-smelling $225,000 contribution to LePage’s 2010 election campaign is now being repaid.  Contributions to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce are anonymous, but it seems safe to bet that those donors included the mining industry and in particular the North Jackson Company.

It’s bad enough when the fox is left to guard the hen house.  When you hear the farmer got a payoff from the fox, it gets that much worse.

Maine’s Biggest Asset — Quality of Place

Amidst the annual parade of state rankings, many of which — for Maine — seem to be negative economic ones, comes a ranking of Northern Maine as #7 on the Lonely Planet List, “Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2013.”

This kind of positive ranking is an opportunity for Maine, the LePage administration, and state government as a whole to press a re-set button.  Maine has a lot going for it.  Maine has a quality of place that many other states can only dream about.  Maine has what many, many tourists want — and more of them will come here and spend their money if we provide the needed infrastructure, promote the opportunities, and preserve the uniqueness and natural beauty of our state.

Thus far, the LePage administration’s stance has been to rail against any form of regulation and to refuse to recognize that quality of place enhances the state economy.

In the past year, LePage and the Republicans passed legislation that weakened LURC, the regulatory body which traditionally has been responsible for preserving the character of and presiding over any development of the northern Maine woods.  As part of that legislation, in keeping with the Republican belief that regulation is inherently bad, the Land Use Regulation Commission was renamed the “Land Use Planning Commission.”  More than a few have expressed concerns that the new commission will lead to more haphazard development of the Northern Maine Woods.

We encourage Paul LePage to celebrate Lonely Planet’s recognition of Maine as being in the national top 10.  We also encourage the LePage administration to celebrate the quality of place that we do have in Maine — and to work to preserve this all-important physical and economic asset that is such a big part of the heritage of our state.

The MPBN story on the Lonely Planet ranking is here.

 

Derailed by Tracker: LePage Puts Budget Meeting on Hold

“LePage doesn’t like the press. Some people don’t like mirrors. Probably for much the same reason. “–AppalledbyLePage, 7/19/11

Paul LePage today cancelled a meeting with Democratic leaders as a one-man protest against the presence of a Democrat-hired tracker who has been following him to public events.  The meeting was intended as an opportunity to address the $35 million budget shortfall that faces Maine.

The story has been covered by the Boston Globe, MPBN, and elsewhere.

The presence of trackers is nothing new in modern politics.  According to the Boston Globe, Angus King and Susan Collins, among others, have had to deal with the presence of trackers.

What’s new is the presence of a tracker becoming front page headlines.   What’s new is political brinkmanship (I won’t meet with you guys unless you pull the tracker) resulting from this tactic.

According to the Bangor Daily News, LePage complained that, at a Veteran’s Day event, the tracker filmed him as he spoke with an elderly veteran in what he considered a private conversation.  However, as stated in an MPBN article, Maine Democratic Party spokeswoman Lizzie Reinholt says the tracker got permission from the Veterans’ home to attend the event and never recorded any private conversation.

Reinholt went on to say that the tracker has been instructed to leave an event if asked to do so.

We may never know the truth of whether the tracker did or did not videotape that specific conversation.  However, regardless of what was or was not recorded, we have been reminded, once again, that Paul LePage is willing to ignore political responsibilities and hurt Maine people in order to make a political point.