LePage made news before leaving for a Jamaican vacation by announcing that his eventual goal is to eliminate the state income tax. In the meantime, he has proposed eliminating all state taxes on pensions, a measure which, he believes will encourage more retired people to make Maine their official residence. We say it is irresponsible to cut off sources of income without knowing how you will survive on a reduced budget. We say eliminating income tax will only shift the tax burden to local communities and, in particular, to those who pay property tax. We say Maine is already the oldest state in the union and it seems to us that Maine can achieve better economic health by ensuring that young working people become a larger percentage of the overall population. MECEP's criticism of the LePage plan of tax cuts is here. [posted 3/21/12]
Shock & Appallment: (Ap*pall"ment\, n. Depression occasioned by terror; dismay.) A mere week's worth of headlines:
--LePage: funding MPBN is like corporate welfare,
--LePage school choice proposals divisive
--Gov. LePage has second relative on state payroll
--LePage's energy bills generating opposition
--LePage reiterates message to Millinocket: Go ahead and sue state
--Stakeholders split on LePage department merger plan
--LePage fails test in Millinocket dispute
--LePage unveils plan to restructure DHHS
Take one outrageous position per week and public opinion will be all over you. Bombard the legislature and the people of Maine with round after round of outrageousness and you might eventually benefit from their fatigue or lack of attention. That seems to be strategy being used by the LePage administration. For it's part, the legislature is saying it will not be pressured to rush through legislation. Time will tell if they can keep their pledge. [posted 3/18/12]
LePage's Corparate Sponsored Education Plan will be the subject of public hearings this week. The joint Education Committee will be hosting the hearings beginning at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, according to an article in today's BDN, which also includes the full hearing schedule. Amidst allegations that the LePage administration deliberately delayed the hearings in order to reduce the chance for public input, it is especially important that those who can attend. For those who cannot attend, contact information for the committee is here. [posted 3/11/12]
From Bad to Worse: The DHHS Budget debacle is worse than anyone imagined as the state has been issuing payments to 19,000 Maine citizens who no longer qualify for MaineCare -- and now may need to reimburse the federal government as well. The fact that Paul LePage knew about this (or at least his DHHS Dept. Head, Mary Mayhew knew about this) even while he was haranguing the legislature for questioning the budget numbers he had provided should erase from the minds of Maine people any shred of credibility that LePage still had left.
Meanwhile, LePage has unveiled a set of electricity rate initiatives that critics believe will discourage development of renewable energy sources in Maine. Among other things, the LePage initiative will make Maine more dependent on foreign (in this case Canadian) sources while doing nothing to reduce rates, and while turning a blind eye to the opportunity to keep those electricity dollars within our state.
All of that pales in the face of the most recent controversy, in which the Governor of the State of Maine made news by accusing the town of Millinocket of failing to live up to an agreement to share in the cost of maintaining the Dolby Landfill and that he was withholding $216,000 in education funding from the town as a consequence. A day later, the town of Millinocket countered by saying that the town had actually fulfilled its part of the agreement and LePage is the one who had broken it. Members of the town council went on to call LePage a "bully" and a liar. The Town of Millinocket has released 24 pages of correspondence they claim proves that they had no further obligation in terms of payments to support the Dolby Landfill operation. If LePage is proven wrong in this case, we do not see how he can continue to show his face outside the Blaine House and even pretend to pose as governor of this state. [posted 3/11/12]
DHHS Budget Still a Moving Target: The glitches in the state computer system that resulted in benefit payments on behalf of 19,000 people who were no longer eligible for MaineCare benefits probably cannot be blamed on LePage and DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew However, LePage and Mayhew can be faulted for not coming forward about the problem -- since they have known about it at least since January. This omission is especially flagrant considering LePage repeatedly badgered the legislature to hurry up and make a decision about his proposed MaineCare cuts and ridiculed their claims that the numbers did not add up. [posted 3/7/12]
Another Tenet of Tea Party Extremism Debunked: LePage and the Tea Partiers would have you believe that the rich are rich because they have worked harder and that the poor are poor because they are lazy and dishonest. Only trouble is a recent University of California study found just the opposite.
A Mark Eves (D-North Berwick) column in the Sun-Journal argues that maintaining access to healthcare is both ethical and cost effective.
Burning Down the Henhouse: LePage's weekly radio address is little more than an advertisement for his education initiatives, which he claims are being made with the child in mind. We find it hard to see how burning down the henhouse is good for the chicks. But that, however, is just what Lepage wants you to believe. A more realistic assessment of how the proposed changes would affect public schools, is reported in today's PPH. [posted 2/18/12]
Obsessed with the Half that's Empty: Douglas Rooks comments on the news that Maine's employment situation is "worst in the nation" bad and speculates that -- to the extent that it may have scared off out of state businesses -- LePage's negativity may have made the employment situation worse. In other news that LePage and his cohort of education reformers don't want you to hear about, the New York Times writes that the biggest drag on student achievement is, in fact, not teachers or schools but economic status. An older Times article explains why school choice fails. And while the reformers will tell you they are doing it for the students, find it ironic that they seem to be listening much more closely to ALEC and to corporations. [posted 2/12/12]
Truth Serum Instead of Tea: Read about the real press conference that would have taken place yesterday, had LePage and Bowen been stating their true intentions with respect to public schools in Maine. [link]
Challenging the Feds: Maybe it's not about Maine at all Suppose that ALEC wants a governor to challenge federal medicare guidelines and federal willingness to uphold those guidelines. Suppose LePage is their man to do it. Suppose it is about big money wanting to keep more of their money.
There's a lot we don't know here. But we do know that LePage's cuts will hurt many people who truly need the benefits. And we do know big money is capable of this and worse.
In today's news, Dirigo Blue reports that the LePage administration will announce a voucher program that divert public money from public schools to private and religious schools. If Maine schools were overcrowded and swimming in money, maybe this would not be a problem. But then there is the little problem of the Constitution. [posted 2/8/12]
More Simple-Mindedness, More Threats: LePage today took the unusual step of holding a news conference about the work of the Appropriations Committee while the committee was still in session. At the conference, LePage threatened to veto the bipartisan plan that is taking shape, claiming the legislature is abdicating its responsibility to Maine people. It seems to us that passing cuts that violate federal guidelines and deny healthcare to those who need it would be a far greater abdication of responsibility. [posted 2/4/12]
Simple-Mindedness Refuted: LePage has been telling us that it is an either / or proposition. Cut $220 million or close schools. No other way. However, those capable of a little more subtlety in their thinking are at work, crafting a solution to at least part of the problem. The BDN reports, "In the next day or two, the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee will find savings to prevent DHHS from running out of money in April, said co-chair Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop."
Meanwhile, LePage's state treasurer, Bruce Poliquin is in all kinds of hot water over having received tax breaks of more than $40,000 for listing 10 acres of prime waterfront he owns as a tree farm. Poliquin has claimed the exemption since 2004, seemingly unconcerned that the intent of the program is to promote tree growth for commercial harvest. Poliquin's deed, shoreland zoning laws, and the fact that the 10 acres is immediately adjacent to Poliquin's residence all point to the unlikelihood this land ever undergoes more than a light thinning -- and that even should this occur, it would cost Poliquin rather than qualify as "commercial forestry." Maybe this is what LePage was talking about when he said that conservation was a ponzi scheme.
On another front, the treasurer is being investigated by the state ethics panel for failing to disclose several business interests. State law prohibits the treasurer from having any active business interests while serving in that position.
The Education Commissioner, Steve Bowen, got a late Christmas present on Wednesday when LePage issued an executive order compelling him to develop a plan that increases online learning opportunities for Maine’s K-12 students. Steve Bowen was championing digital learning back in the days when he wrote slick right-wing propaganda for Maine Heritage Policy Center, so LePage's "order" here is more like taking the bit out of the horse's mouth.
Digital learning, as we have stated previously, is an important weapon in the Koch Brothers / ALEC plan to dismantle public education. Anyone doubting that there is a conspiracy among 1%'ers to further consolidate power and wealth should check out the Huff Post's recent article about the recent $100 million the Koch Brothers and a few allies recently donated to help defeat Obama in the upcoming election. [posted 2/4/12]
Fact of the Day: $17.00 a year. That's what the LePage tax break means to a person who makes $20,000 per year. LePage continues to speak of his tax break as a tax break for poor and working families, but the fact is that 42.5% of the benefit goes to the top 10% of Maine households. For the top 1 percent of all Maine earners, the average savings will be $2,800 a year. [posted 1/25/12]
School Choice -- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Paul LePage and Stephen Bowen claim to be promoting "school choice" because they want to put students first.
Is it coincidence that the LePage administration has ties to ALEC, and that ALEC and the Koch Brothers have a goal of dismantling public education in America and that "school choice" is one of the means by which they hope to accomplish this?
We think not.
It's not about kids any more than changing the child labor laws was about kids. For LePage and Bowen (former writer for MHPC), its about corporations and giving corporations what they want. More on the national school choice movement here[posted 1/25/12]
Would We Still Be Maine? Paul "Drown Government in a Bathtub" LePage does want to close schools, and even though his recent threat was little more than bully pulpit bluster, he does have another way to close schools that he is likely to talk about in today's state of the state address.
He will use the term "school choice" because, for many, it's hard not to see choice as good. Important to note, however, that parents have school choice right now. The difference is, under the LePage plan, local taxpayer money that currently supports local schools will be diverted outside the local community and outside the public arena -- to schools in larger, more affluent towns, to private schools, to the parents of homeschoolers, and to corporations that offer computer-based learning.
In a rural state like Maine, sending a child to a "school of choice" is highly problematic due to transportation issues. You quickly get a situation where more privileged families have "choice" and the children of poor families get left behind.
In terms of schools, small schools in rural communities will likely suffer the quickest and most. A cold-hearted economist might look at those schools and say they aren't very cost-effective anyway. But we might want to ask, if we give up on the idea of public education as the great melting pot and equalizer, will we still be America? if we lose our rural schools and our rural communities, and if we passively watch them die, will we still be Maine? [updated 1/24/12]
Lots to be appalled about: The showdown over the DHS budget still looms; Lepage's threat to close state schools on May 1 hangs in the air; LePage continues to rail against renewable energy; and rumor has it that the governor will announce a major education overhaul, including a school voucher program in the coming week. We'll likely be writing more about the latter soon. In the meantime, you can read what we've previously written about LePage's education plan here. [updated 1/21/12]
We're not the only ones noticing LePage's sporadic aim when it comes to telling the truth. An editorial in today's Lewiston Sun-Journal advises, "LePage should stick to the facts, not political ploys." Today's Kennebec Journal includes lifetime Republican George Smith's opinion piece that criticizes LePage for breaking a promise to on provide more adequate funding for Inland Fish & Wildlife and for failing to fulfill other promises he made to Maine's sportsmen. [Posted 1/11/12]
As this week's news again shows us, Paul LePage’s brand of politics all too often involves end-runs around the truth. LePage has strongly overstated his case, and yes, has told outright lies in his effort to build public support for his proposed MaineCare cuts. A recent BDN article shows LePage is incorrect in his claims that most of the childless adults who receive MaineCare are able-bodied young men. Dirigo Blue documents that one of the MaineCare recipient “facts” LePage mouthed in a WCSH-TV interview last week is an outright lie. [Click to continue reading]
Running from Reality: Amidst a maelstrom of criticism for his proposed MaineCare cuts, and despite the fact that he is 3 years away from the end of his term, LePage has kicked off his re-election campaign with a $500.00 per plate dinner. Given LePage's claim that there are no rich people in Maine, we do have to wonder who attended the dinner. Perhaps they were all from out of state.
David Farmer explains how LePage's campaign will be supported by Maine Heritage Policy Center and Maine People Before Politics, two organizations which are classified as non--profits and thus are exempt from revealing the sources of their funding. We would very much like to know how much of their funding comes from ALEC and ALEC-affiliated corporations. [Posted 1/5/12]
Not a Good Day for Paul LePage: The BDN reports that Rep. Patrick Flood, House chairman of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and other Republicans are refusing to support a key portion of LePage's MaineCare cuts, which would save $60 million by eliminating funding for the private nonmedical institutions that provide for thousands of Maine's elderly who are no longer able to live independently.
A Maine Heritage Policy Center writer, Leif Parsell, has been fired after revelations that he has left a trail of white supremacist-tinged remarks across the blogosphere and that he has been in communication with Neo-Nazi groups. Parsell was hired and fired by MHPC's Lance Dutson, of the recent "social service cuts testimony is a circus" fame. MHPC is a conservative think tank with close ties to ALEC and to the policies of Paul LePage. This recent flap doesn't say much about their judgment -- or their morals. Racism is certainly not what we think of when we think of "Maine heritage." Dutson is distancing himself from Parsell's comments, but he did hire the guy. We're hearing echoes of Philip Congdon here. [Posted 1/3/12]
A somewhat optimistic BDN editorial, “New Year is Time for Paul LePage Version 2.0,” offers suggestions for how LePage might morph into a more successful governor in 2012: "Rather than spout his ideological perspective, the governor should craft practical initiatives that get state government where he wants it to be.” As examples of initiatives, the editorial suggests that LePage could step up Mainecare eligibility thresholds over time rather than all at once, boost job-training programs instead of simply criticizing the unemployed, and reward young entrepreneurs who stay in Maine rather than giving lump sum tax breaks to the wealthy.
Bruce Bourgoine lampoons LePage
for his recent attempts to bullwhip Maine people and the legislature into going along with his proposals..
At at time when we are hearing so much about what is wrong with Maine,
it is refreshing to hear someone say some good things about it. Donald Sussman, North Haven resident and supporter of same-day voter registration remarks that Maine as we know it is worth preserving
as a state: “People here really care about each other. We live in a very special place in America. I think it’s why people live here. It’s very worth investing in and protecting.” [Updated 12/30/11]
Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind
. . . The Maine legislature is gearing up for a busy session ahead
, with everyone from the elderly to welfare recipients to Head Start programs to the Maine oil industry to environmentalists having plenty to worry about. We're taking a few days off and will be posting here again on Dec. 29 or so. Enjoy the snow! [Updated 12/26/11]
Dr. Distortion Rides Again:
In his Saturday radio address, LePage claims
that Maine has more people on Medicaid, Medicare, and welfare than we have paying for those services. As Dirigo Blue documents
, this is a deceptive statement at best because income tax is often paid by a single person in a household while the tally of welfare recipients may list all persons in a household. Additionally, as many have noted, even those who do not pay income tax do pay tax in the form of property tax, excise tax, and sales tax.
What makes LePage's statement just plain nonsensical is that, using LePage's logic, if you were to compare Maine to New Hampshire, which LePage often mentions as a model state, the ratio of those who pay income taxes to those on welfare is THOUSANDS of times "better" in Maine. The fact is New Hampshire doesn't have an income tax, and therefore that state likely has a hundred thousand more on welfare than they have paying taxes (if you only include income tax, as LePage did). But that doesn't tell us anything useful about taxes or welfare in the Granite State.. LePage's statement doesn't tell us anything useful either. [Updated 12/18/11]
More Lies and Distortions:
The stream of lies and distortions from the mouth of Paul LePage has intensified this week.
First it was LePage telling us welfare fraud is a major cause
of the MaineCare budget shortfall. Then it was LePage lying that Forbes Magazine stated Maine needs to cut welfare
in order to rank higher on the list of states with the best climate for business. And today we learn that, in order to make a point, LePage recently claimed that Maine has the highest gasoline excise taxes in the nation
. The fact is that Maine gasoline excise taxes rank 16th.
These distortions are alarming. They reveal that either: (1) our governor is a compulsive liar who continues to lie despite the political consequences; or (2) our governor has no grasp of details, and thus his view of reality is wholly distorted by the political agenda he long ago settled on.
Either way, we're appalled, and we're not the only ones
. The appallometer looks to soon reach a new high of 100% Bruce Bourgoine offers commentary on the recent spate of lies in his column, "LePage Lies are Just the Way He Speaks." [Updated 12/17/11]
Impassioned Words of Resistance: Bruce Bourgoine of Dirigo Blue calls LePage out
for claiming that welfare fraud is a major cause of the current budget shortfalls. Joe Niemczura, a self-proclaimed "Maine nurse in exile," argues that it isn't very practical to send Alzheimer's patients out to get part time jobs
and that short of leaving people to die, you don't really save money in the long term by cutting off access to healthcare. [Posted 12/15/11]
Governing by Bulldozer
: 4,000 elderly Mainers could be homeless
and 4,400 medical professionals could lose their jobs
if LePage's proposed MaineCare cuts are approved. LePage's official Facebook page
(image below) downplays the resistance to the Governor's proposal, aims to drum up support, and seems a little too gleeful about the planned cuts for our taste. Meanwhile, as Dirigo Blue reports, LePage himself scooted out of Augusta to attend a Franklin County Capitol for the Day Event
that was not announced to the public until 5:03 PM the day before. That's transparency for ya!
Reports of Maine's Death Greatly Exaggerated:
Paul LePage's Christmas has come early this year: first in the alleged budget overruns at DHHS; second in the Forbes report which again has ranked Maine as 50th for business
. Believe it -- Lepage likes this kind of news because it creates a crisis atmosphere that pressures the legislature to enact his extreme agenda.
Look beyond Forbes and the news isn't quite so bad. Forbes, after all, represents business -- and our state government exists to serve people
, not just business. Beyond that, other reports that haven't been mentioned by our governor rank Maine considerably higher. The most recent Beacon Hill State Competitiveness Report ranked Maine 32nd
in the nation. The 2011 CNBC report listed Maine as 40th
; included in those numbers are Maine at #9 in education and #6 in quality of life. The 2010 Kauffman New Economy Index
ranks Maine at #28. The Tax Foundation 2011 Business Tax climate index
report ranks Maine at #31. [Posted 12/12/11]
Transparent in All the Wrong Places:
LePage pledged to make his administration the most transparent ever -- a pledge he is now conspicuously backing off from
. (More here
). Equally notable and revealing is that he is chronically excessively transparent when neither he nor his staff intends him to be. The most recent example is his comment, "Conservation is a Ponzi scheme
." Of course, he didn't mean it quite that way, but on the other hand, it is doubtful that anyone who truly believes in conservation would associate it with an illegal and fraudulent act.
Last week, after having what was described as a respectful meeting with a group of job seekers, Lepage cut loose afterward with his "Bull shit" comment. LePage is apparently being coached to say that teachers deserve more respect and possibly more pay but has been heard within the half hour complaining that teachers care more about their paychecks than about their students. His off-script comments about Maine workers being unskilled about the unemployed being unmotivated reveal a deep disdain for the people who represent a sizeable portion of his constituency. He has given lip service to caring about the environment but then says bonehead things such as "eagles don't vote" and "whales don't pay taxes." In all, the LePage administration continues to be a carnival ride that careens from one misstatement and PR disaster to the next. [Posted 12/10/11]
Countering the Spin
: Lots of spin from the LePage administration about the alleged budget shortfall due to overspending at DHHS. LePage is re-creating the feverish atmosphere of last spring when Republicans rushed through legislation affecting everything from health insurance to tax cuts to environmental regulations -- all under the guise that we were in a crisis.
Taking a breath, it is important to note that despite repeated requests from Democrats, LePage has not yet substantiated his claim that DHHS is $120 million over budget.
Also important to note that for every $1.00 Maine cuts from Medicare, our state loses $2.00 in federal funding. Cutting people off Medicare is also bad news for Maine hospitals who will continue to treat the newly uninsured anyway --and will pass the costs on to other healthcare consumers. Namely us. The proposed Medicare cuts will do much more than limit access to medical care for the able-bodied childless adults who have been the stated targets of LePage's economizing. According to an article in today's Kennebec Journal, other effects of the proposed cuts include: (1) eliminating funding for Head-Start; (2) decreasing funding for a program that provides low cost drugs to the elderly; (3) reduced funding for Healthy Maine's childcare and home visitation programs.
Dirigo Blue offers more details on the proposed supplemental budget. David Farmer offers harsh criticism of LePage's handling of the DHHS budget in a BDN editorial. [Posted 12/7/11]
More False Choices: LePage says we must eliminate Medicaid benefits for 19,000 childless adults (which currently costs $20 million per year) because we can no longer afford it. That, however, in the words of our leader is "bull shit." The only reason we can no longer afford it is because last spring LePage and the Republicans cut the estate tax and income tax by a combined $100 million a year. [Posted 12/5/11]
Headlines: PPH writes about State Rep. Andrew O'Brien's efforts to get LePage to meet with the unemployed workers he has so often maligned. So far, at least, LePage has declined. Dirigo Blue writes that with huge increases in health insurance looming, Republicans have rejected a bill that would have provided some oversight on rate increases. A BDN editorial criticizes LePage and Maine People Before Politics for their response to the Occupy Movement in Maine. In "Psst . . . Wanna Buy a Law," Bloomberg Business Week documents how corporations that want to change laws in their favor can use ALEC to enact state and national legislation. [Posted 12/3/11]
National Perspective on our struggle to take our government back from corporate lobbyists is provided by Occupy Everywhere, an insightful panel discussion about the Occupy Movement. The Guardian carries a story on how the recent crackdowns on the Occupy movement in various states is the result of pushback from those who stand to be hurt by the movement's demands. The Nation has a disturbing article on how the effort to privatize education in America has gathered substantial momentum. Anyone who doubts that momentum is also evident in Maine should check out the article on the "promise" of digital learning on the the very slick (likely Koch brothers funded) MHPC website. We'll be writing more about school privatization plans for Maine in the week ahead. [Posted 11/29/11]
:Fast and Loose with the Truth: A Dirigo Blue FOAA request has revealed that Paul "Buffalo Count" LePage was only creating another urban myth when he stated that current student work permit laws were to blame for students under age sixteen not being able to work during school vacations. Turns out that when permits are rejected, it is almost always due to incomplete applications (missing a signature, incomplete job description, missing parent authorization) and that the delays in the permit process, when they do occur, almost always occur in the local school superintendent's office -- not at the state labor department. Rather than tweaking the rules to eliminate superintendent's office delays, or rather than holding the applicants to a higher standard (sign where it says signature!), LePage wants to throw out the regulations entirely.
For LePage, it is not about the rights of student workers. It is about further tipping the balance toward business and away from organized labor.
Meanwhile, LePage henchman Bruce Poliquin, who has been running a disinformation campaign against Maine State Housing, is called out for his inaccuracies in a BDN opinion piece. [Posted 11/23/11]
Capital Gains: It's no secret that LePage is a ally of the corporate and a friend of the rich. We have been told that there are no rich people in Maine, that those in top brackets need tax breaks, that the estate tax is too high, that there are too many corporate regulations.. One might almost begin to feel sorry for the rich, but then you read that the top 0.1% of Americans earn 50% of all capital gains and it becomes clear that there really is a class war going on -- and that we are losing.
Parental Involvement: Speaking of buffalo counts, LePage has been spouting a lot of hot air about teachers being to blame for our Maine's unskilled labor pool. According to this NY Times article, the degree of parent involvement in a child's education -- especially during primary grades -- has a huge impact on that student's achievement as a high school student. [Posted 11/23/11]
Government regulations are off the hook as a source of our economic. woes, and green jobs are a part of the solution, but not for the reasons you think. Hear more about this and the rest of an enlightening 9 minute conversation about the U.S. economy on this NPR audiocast: "What's Ailing The Economy? What Isn't " [Posted 11/15/11]
Created Crises and False Choices: Compassion or Education? -- You can only choose one. Or so Paul LePage would have us believe. According to a story in today's BDN, LePage told members of the Higher Education Council, "If lawmakers do not reduce Medicaid and welfare benefits, education funding will need to be cut to bring the state budget into balance."
Reducing the estate tax is a choice made by Paul Lepage. Cutting income taxes on the wealthiest of Mainers is another choice. Eliminating taxes on pensions is another choice he would like to make. If the cost of these choices is hurting the poorest of the poor, then those who made those choices need to be held accountable.
"LePage himself will use this manufactured crisis as a mandate for making unprecedented reductions in social services and in the size of state government -- the changes he has wanted all along. For Maine people, it will be change under the gun rather than change because we believe in it."That's what we wrote back in June. This moment and this false choice was engineered months ago -- with more hard choices yet to come. [Posted 11/10/11]
"You start a conversation you can't even finish it.
You're talkin' a lot, but you're not sayin' anything."
The Talking Heads could have been talking about a LePage town meeting, according to a recent letter from a student. After attending LePage's recent "open conversation" at Colby College. Eli Dupree, the student, found the event a frustrating one to attend. He writes, "Instead of promoting dialogue, it actively participated in the reduction of political discourse to bite-sized, pre-approved position statements."
Dupree goes on to say, "LePage said nothing in his monologue -- and I call it a monologue, because fielding "audience questions" selected specifically for his talking points does not a dialogue create -- that I could not learn from a quick glance over his campaign web site."
With his stream of capitol for a day events, LePage is working very hard to maintain the illusion of dialogue and the illusion that he is listening.
As announced yesterday by the Bangor Daily News, LePage is holding another "Capitol of a Day" event in Ellsworth tomorrow, Nov. 10. We suspect this event was announced to LePage supporters prior to the general public, as has been done in the past. [Posted 11/9/11]
Rep. Andy O'Brien (D-Lincolnville) has written an open letter to Paul LePage, admonishing LePage for his criticism of the unemployed and urging the governor to consider the needs of job-seekers as well as those of so called job creators. Dirigo Blue has posted the letter.
Disappointing that the editors at the Portland Press Herald and the Sun-Journal see it necessary to score a few points for impartiality by respectively editorializing that LePage is "learning on the job" and "growing into the job." As the Sun-Journal itself reported, press access to LePage was extremely limited during the last few months of the legislative session. If the LePage staff has succeeded at anything, it is in reducing the truly ignorant and outrageous things LePage has said by making sure he speaks on script. If a governor can gain popularity and get props from the press just because he has said fewer stupid things recently, then, well, we have descended to a new low in terms of the standard of what we expect from our leaders. [Posted 10/29/11]
Covert LePage Scapegoat Operation Revealed.
While LePage is up to 47% in the polls, it is important to note that scapegoat sightings are up 400%
Click to read more.
LePage's Approval Ratings Rise . . . Among the Less Educated. A new poll shows LePage's approval ratings have increased from 31 to 47 percent. According to the poll, "Men, less highly educated Mainers and the youngest residents polled were most likely to approve of the job the governor is doing." Which goes to show the LePage's handlers are doing a pretty good job of controlling the message, and of limiting press exposure (e.g., no recent, "I'd laugh at them, the idiots," comments). LePage has been in the news every day talking about jobs, and for some of those who look no deeper than sound bites, that has apparently been enough to make their impression of LePage a more positive one. [Posted 10/27/11]
LePage & Jobs -- A Parable
It's the Agenda, Stupid: Last week, LePage told us Maine has a shortage of skilled workers. This week, he tells us Asian automakers will build plants here if we lower our energy costs. (Guess those automakers don't need skilled workers, but whatever.) Before that, it was we could have jobs if we just got rid of regulations. And before that, the solution was to lower taxes on "job creators." Even the less skeptical among us should be beginning to feel it is more about LePage's agenda and less about jobs. [Posted 10/6/11]
In other news, Dirigo Blue notes LePage has named a former chemical industry lobbyist to head the Maine DEP. A Kennebec Journal article wonders if LePage has something to hide and states that despite his pledge to the contrary, LePage is the least transparent governor in the last 30 years. A BDN Article, "Lepage: Plenty of Jobs, Not Enough Skills," implies that the governor thinks the unemployed are to blame for their own lack of employment. The comments section below the article shows that Maine citizens do not take kindly to his comments. [Posted 9/10/11]
Things that Come in Threes: Paul LePage Announces 3 Cabinet Choices, January 7, 2011: Standing with LePage are (from left), Norman Olsen, now former head of the Department of Marine Resources; Darryl Brown, now former head of the Department of Environmental Protection; and Philip Congdon, now former head of the Department of Economic and Community Development.
LePage Proclaims Support for Day of Prayer event in Houston Texas on August 6. The Morning Sentiel has details on the story here. Information on the event itself are available on the event website here. Our own mildly ironic take on LePage's decision to officially support the event is here. [Posted 7/20/11]
LePage and Rick Perry's Day of Prayer
True Colors Come Out in Heritage Speech: Questioner: "How is your insurance commissioner doing?" (laughs). LePage laughs. "Let me see how I can ask this in a way that you can actually answer." (laughs.) LePage laughs. "Many of us have found that the insurance commissioners in the states pose somewhat of a barrier."
LePage: "Well, let’s put it this way. I believe that when you work with somebody and if you’re the boss, then you have to have the ability to work with like-minded people. So when they don’t agree, you invite’em to join the labor force." (Mila Kofman, previous Maine insurance commissioner with a reputation for holding the line for consumers, resigned in May.)
In response to another question, LePage mentioned that Maine people were not good writers or speakers but they do pay attention to the bottom line. LePage also said that he has a love-hate relationship with the press, claiming "I love the press but they hate me." It is quite the opposite, actually, as LePage provides reporters with no shortage of things to write about, yet frequently is unhappy with what they do write. LePage doesn't like the press. Some people don't like mirrors. Probably for much the same reason.
In other news, Dirigo Blue documents how recent Maine education bills can be paired with model legislation from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Bloomberg reports on the subversive ways the Koch brothers are peddling their conservative politics in Maine and elsewhere. A Bangor Daily News story details how LePage wants to strip away health insurance benefits from 30,000 low income working Mainers.
It is a sad day in Maine truly, when so much of our politics is so ideologically extreme, and when so much of this ideology comes from outside our state. [Posted 7/18/11]
Paul. LePage has declined to attend the National Governor's Conference in Salt Lake City this weekend, explaining that if it were up to him, Maine would not even be a member of the non-partisan NGA. "It's non-partisan and that's a problem, because it's gridlock," stated LePage. (MPBN, 7-15-11).
Two focus areas of this years conference are funding higher education and competing in the global marketplace. (Seattle Times, 7-15-11)
This is not the first time LePage has declined to attend an event most of us would have thought to be important. Attending a conference whose purpose is to discuss ideas and understand other viewpoints does not seem to be up the governor's alley. As he states in the article, LePage wants to get things done. He does not seem to understand that getting things done in a solely partisan way only ensures those same things will get undone four years from now. [Posted 7/16/11]
Our list, "11 Things We Learned from the 2011 Legislative Session," is now up on this site.
On the LePage budget:
Lincoln County Town Hall: LePage Defends. . . (Dirigo Blue)
LePage Budget Unfair (PPH)
On Charter Schools:
Jammed Hood Latch . . . (Dirigo Blue
Charter Bill Critique (MDIschools.net)
LD1553 Testimony (MDIschools.net)
Billionaires Privatize Education (Thinkprogress.org)
On Cuts to Teacher Retirement:
The Future of Public Teaching (Maine Politics.net)
Teacher Benefit Cuts (MDIschools.net