LePage Spins Schoolkids, Bashes Newspapers

As reported in the BDN and Maine Sunday Telegram, Paul LePage spent part of Friday morning complaining to a captive audience of schoolkids that his greatest fear is of newspapers and that he is “not a fan of newspapers.”

Later, he stated to a reporter that newspapers “spin the news” rather than providing reporting that is “fair and objective.”

This follows comments from last March in which LePage said, also to students, “Reading newspapers in the state of Maine is like paying somebody to tell you lies.”

It’s interesting to note that the careers of Republicans such as Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have not been likewise incapacitated by the alleged liberal bias of Maine newspapers.

Mr. “Fair and Balanced” (who not so long ago stated “If you want a good education, go to a private school,”) also said that private schools such as the one he spoke at Friday were “showing the rest of the people in Maine that you’re getting the best education, and every child in Maine deserves to have the same good education that you’re all getting.”

Meanwhile, this week’s news about charter schools, the holy grail by which LePage hopes to transform education in this state, is not particularly rosy.  A New York Times article provides further evidence that overall, despite their costs, charter schools have failed to provide promised benefits.  A Washington Post article details the mounting evidence on how online learning corporations are being let in through back doors to write state legislation that subsequently opens the front doors to corporate profits.

Paul LePage doesn’t want you to read that stuff, however.  Just tune in to his weekly Saturday morning radio address and he will tell you all that you need to know.

LePage Swears, Storms Out of Meeting

News Coverage
“LePage Swears, Storms Out of Meeting . . . ”
(Bangor Daily News)
“Governor Enraged During Meeting with Local Legislators” (The Republican Journal)
“Independents Recall Rocky Meeting with LePage” (Portland Press Herald

Opinion:
Bill Nemitz:  A Letter to LePage, the Tigerhearted (Portland Press Herald)
“LePage Cannot Walk Alone” (Bangor Daily News)
“Governor’s Budget Reveals Things He Probably Didn’t Intend”
(Kennebec Journal)

Myths Busted / LePage Still in Hiding

Myth #1:  LePage and Forbes magazine want you to believe that cutting tax rates is the most important thing we can do to bring more business to Maine.  Jim Clair, chair of the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission in Augusta, states an educated workforce is far more important:  “The single most important factor for a company like mine, which I think is indicative, in many ways, of the way Maine’s economy is going to grow, is by having highly-competent technical people who are prepared to learn the rest of their lives,” Clair says. “That’s our single biggest issue.”

Myth #2:  LePage and many Republicans want you to believe that Maine’s social safety net is a magnet for uneducated, unemployed people who move here to join the welfare rolls.  However, Charlie Colgan of USM’s Muskie School states most who move here are highly educated:  “The majority of the people who moved to Maine from 2005 to 2010 were 18 to 34 years old, and a majority had a college degree or better.”

Meanwhile, Governor LePage, who called off a budget meeting with Democratic leaders a month ago, still has not responded to Senate President Justin Alfond’s dinner invitation and still has failed to meet with Democrats.

Governor LePage has apparently been using all the time he has saved by not meeting with Senator Alfond to work on YouTube videos such as the one released today.  The YouTube video is kind of like a press conference, except that there are no reporters present, and the only questions are scripted ones asked by LePage’s press secretary, and the only answers are scripted answers, and LePage gets to repeat tired old lines about his tax cut being not being for the rich, and the they can do re-takes and edit it until it only shows what they want it to show.  Like we said, it’s kind of like a press conference — Bin Ladin style.

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.

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.

Paul LePage Drops Out: National Governor’s Association Not Worth His Time

Like a dog in a library . . .

Paul LePage recently announced that he is withdrawing Maine from membership in the National Governor’s Association.  According to LePage, he is doing so because the $0.04-per-Maine-citizen cost is excessive, considering that he isn’t “getting anything out of it.”

As we know from the mural reversal and other issues, LePage is not always forthcoming about his motivations.   Therefore, we should take his stated reason for pulling out of the National Governor’s Association with a grain of salt.

Since we can’t take LePage’s word for it, we can only speculate.  The real reason for LePage’s action is almost certainly one of the following:

(1) It just might be true, as LePage has stated, that there is little value to be gained from spending time with the top governorial minds in America.  However, to the uninitiated at least,  the organization seems to offer some value. The mission of the NGA, as stated on their website, reads “. . .  the bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors—promotes visionary state leadership, shares best practices and speaks with a collective voice on national policy.”    Current areas of focus include providing job opportunities for the disabled, developing policy for funding pensions, and reducing expenditures for inmate healthcare.  Sounds to us like practical stuff — and that the $60,000 could potentially be recouped in a hurry.  But then, on the other hand, LePage seems to get plenty of advice from the American Legislative Exchange Council for free.

(2) It may be that the NGA meetings actually offer a great deal of value but that LePage, like a dog in a library, is not able to access that value.  For a man whose talent in political discourse often is limited to three word sentences such as, “Kiss my butt,” participating in more sophisticated discourse may be a stretch.  When a student drops of out college, it generally tells us more about the student than about the college, and that probably is true in this case.

(3) It could likely be that LePage, with his “looked-down-upon Maine education” simply feels out of his league.  Being around dozens of brighter minds undoubtedly makes him feel inferior.  Besides some of the words other governors use likely have more than six letters in them, and they don’t all lace their conversation with profanity or tell old jokes about nuns.

(4) It may be that LePage hopes that dropping out out of a national bi-partisan organization during campaign season sends a political message and heightens his cred as a tough guy who is minding the bottom line.  (No matter that that the state owes millions for medicaid overpayments).  What we would say to that is that true courage involves sitting down with your political enemies and opening your mind to ideas that do not conform to your worldview.  LePage, however, has never shown any interest in doing this.

On the government level, there has been little flap about the governor’s decision.  Even Emily Cain, perhaps eager for an opportunity to support SOMETHING the governor does, seemed to approve of the decision.  However, a closer look at her remarks shows that her fingers are not necessarily being pointed at the NGA.  “You should always be asking, ‘Am I getting something out of this that benefits the people of Maine and the state of Maine?’” she said.  The subtext of her response seems to be that if LePage isn’t getting anything out of the meetings — and if he is going to skip out early as he did last year — there is really no point to sending him.