"Thinking Beyond Paul LePage"
LePage and the Environment
The Word Conservation to Be Stripped from Public Use? Well, maybe not quite. But if LePage wants to further tip the balance toward business and deal a blow to those pesky environmentalists, folding the Dept. of Conservation into a larger more generic department would be a good start. The stated mission of the Dept. of Conservation is, "to benefit the residents, landowners, and users of the state's natural resources by promoting stewardship and ensuring responsible balanced use of Maine's land, forest, water, and mineral resources." Seen from a cynical view, combining the Dept. of Conservation and the Dept. of Agriculture is another LePage sleight of hand designed to equate forestry with conservation, trees with forestry, and crops with trees.
LePage-appointed Dept. of Conservation head Bill Beardsley has this to say about forestry: "An awful lot of forestry is really producing a product on a particular amount of acreage not unlike a cornfield, only it goes over multiple years." Really? And all this time, we thought there were also animals living in the forest. And we thought the Maine tradition of public use of that "cornfield" was considered important. And we thought that the Dept. of Conservation was also about protecting and preserving those millions of acres of forest and that half-million acres of public land. Now it's all just a big cornfield.[Updated 10/2/11]
LePage -- Friend of the Environment? --"From the moment I started campaigning for Governor, I’ve been unfairly accused by activists with an agenda of my not being supportive of protecting our state’s environment." -Paul LePage, 7/23/11 Radio Address
--"“If we allow these repeals to happen, it would really take Maine back to the 1950s, to a place we thought we had left long, long behind. “We have a great deal invested in the tourism economy in Maine, and that completely relies on us maintaining the environment we — and many people across the country and around the world — love.” -Lisa Pohlmann, NRCM.
In his radio address a week ago, LePage affirmed his "appreciation and commitment to Maine’s pristine environment." As documented by Colin Woodard, LePage's lobbyist-propelled pogram against environmental regulations makes that claim laughable. When invited to say something in support of Maine's quality of place at the Rockport town meeting, LePage quickly changed the subject, showing his discomfort with anything as "touchy feely" as valuing the environment. Here's betting those were his press secretary's words and that LePage was saying them only because he was told he should. Stewardship of the environment has a political and economic cost, and LePage has shown no evidence he has any interest in bearing that cost. Dirigo Blue writes about the governor's newfound environmental ethic here. Not surprisingly, when asked to contribute to the Colin Woodard article, LePage declined. [Posted 8/1/11]
Got Ideology? LePage didn't attend the National Governors Conference last weekend. Perhaps he needed the extra time to rehearse the speech he presented today at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. The spectacle of our Paul LePage speaking at a national conservative forum on healthcare is almost overwhelming in its irony. And where did Paul gain his credentials as a healthcare luminary? Was it after working out the weekly bathroom cleaning schedule at Mardens, or before? (LePage himself credited his observations of the 1970's Canadian healthcare system with shaping his beliefs.) Tarren Bragdon, a former LePage advisor and now of Florida, was part of an expert panel that followed the speech. I'm betting it was his words LePage was spouting. An audio file of LePage's speech is here.
LePage recently signed into law a bill that changes Maine's 38-year tradition of allowing same-day voter registration. A petition drive to restore same-day voter registration kicks off tomorrow. The level of enthusiasm for the petition drive may provide an interesting indicator of public dissatisfaction with the overall direction LePage is taking our state. [Posted 7/8/11]
Where there's Smoke, there's Hot Air: At the Town Hall Meeting in Rockport last week, LePage made what seemed an oddball reference that people were trying to "ban" woodstoves in Maine. Turns out this is another case of overheated rhetoric from LePage. A bill recently vetoed by LePage, LD 547: "Resolve, Directing the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to Conduct a Review of Wood Smoke Laws" merely called for "a study of current laws relating to the control of wood smoke and enforcement procedures to determine if they are sufficient to protect the public." It would have required a stakeholder group to report back to the Legislature next January. The Kennebec Journal article on LePage's veto of this bill is here. [Posted 6/24/11]
investigate whether the LePage administration has deliberately violated several new laws relating to chemicals and human health. MPBN states, " . . . the governor proceeded to eliminate and reassign professional staff at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection charged with implementing and enforcing the BPA phaseout that takes effect in January." If even one child gets sick because of the foot-dragging, it will be on LePage's ledger. [Posted 7/12/11]
Headline: LePage Seeks to Slice Buffer Zone Around Vernal Pools (BDN, 6-6-11). Despite the many good reasons for maintaining buffer zones around these ecologically important seasonal miniature wetlands, and despite the fact that the current law (which simply requires an additional permit if building inside the buffer) has not blocked even one project to date, LePage wants to reduce buffer zones from 250 to 75 feet. What's the problem with the status quo? The problem is that our man of science, Paul LePage, chose to censor the IFW report which recommended leaving the current 250 foot buffer intact. And he is choosing to get a change to this rule, even though it may lead to increased oversight from federal agencies. A couple of weeks ago, LePage told us that eagles don't pay taxes and therefore their nests should be moved if they are blocking development. Any day now, he'll be telling us that frogs don't pay taxes either.
Send the man a copy of Silent Spring! [Posted 6/6/11]
Open for Business / Closed for Everything Else? What does it mean, really, “Open for business?” The problem is not so much what it says but what it doesn’t say. How about, “Also open for workers.” Open for retirees. Open for students. Open for families. Open for environmental protection. Open for farmers. Open for fishermen. Open for immigrants. Open for tourists. Open for innovation. Open for democracy. Open for progress. Open for everyone.
Three perfectly good words: “Open for Business.” Why the controversy? Business is good for Maine. How could anyone be saying that we don’t need more business? How could the placement of these words on a sign lead to such divisiveness? How can the words “open for business” be perceived as partisan?
For starters, let’s just say that if the LePage agenda were not so blatantly pro-business, anti-union, anti-worker, and anti-environment, the sign would be a lot less controversial . . . Read more | Vote in Our New Poll [Posted 6/2/11]
"People pay taxes; eagles don't." --Paul LePage. No kidding. Eagles don't pay taxes. Nor do moose or mice or monarch butterflies. Nor do children or the old or the poor. Does that mean they deserve no consideration? It was just plain dumb thing to say. And yeah, environmental protections do create inconveniences sometimes, and LePage might even be right about the nest in Wiscasset, but it was still a dumb thing to say. Environmental laws are there for a reason -- and (kinda like conflict of interest laws), the system doesn't work very well if you just follow them when it is convenient to do so.