Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Paul LePage: Resign Already!
Let's cut to the chase: Paul LePage should finally do what's best for the people of Maine and resign as
Governor, effective immediately. Of course, the likelihood he'll see the wisdom in this suggestion is nil. Nonetheless,
a strong case can be made.
His first term in office amply demonstrated the fact that he is incapable of behaving like a rational
human being. Instead, he repeatedly embarrassed himself--not to mention the people and the state of Maine.
Nationally, he was widely perceived as a bullying demagogue who refused to engage in open discussion; let alone recognize the value in ever searching for compromise.
As the curtain rose on a second term (a fact that in itself defied all laws of logic)there were those who
somehow expected-- or hoped-- for a more contrite and diplomatic Paul LePage. Unfortunately it has quickly
become apparent that nothing has changed.
LePage had long been eager to risk the well-being of the state on the altar of Tea Party economics, and he quickly proposed a constitutional amendment to eliminate Maine's income tax. Then, incensed that Democrats in the legislature had the temerity to oppose him, he vowed to veto every bill sponsored by a Democrat until he got his way. The Legislature remained unwilling to force Maine onto the same road to financial ruin that Kansas is currently treading. Their Tea Party governor Sam Brownback rammed through deep income tax cuts that have resulted in a large budget deficit-- and not the huge growth in economic activity and revenues that he'd promised. Nevertheless, LePage threw a public tantrum (disguised as a press conference), complete with fake Christmas trees and plastic pigs. No one could be certain what it all meant, but it did make the national news where LePage--and Maine--once more became laughingstocks. LePage carried through on his threat and vetoed ten bills (nine of which were subsequently over-ridden), followed by sixty four line item vetoes aimed at derailing the bipartisan budget that had been presented for his signature. All sixty four vetoes were over-ridden by the Legislature in record time. Even many Republicans had reached a breaking point and were exasperated by his behavior.
LePage remained on a roll, however. When he discovered that the Good Will-Hinckley School (a boarding school for kids with complex academic, social, behavioral and emotional challenges) planned to hire Mark Eves (who also serves as the Democratic House Speaker) as President, he suffered a meltdown and notified the school's board that if they hired Eves they could kiss $500,000 in state funding goodbye. It was estimated that this might trigger an additional loss of $2 million in private funding--more than enough to threaten the school's survival. To no one's great surprise, the offer to Eves was rescinded.
Any story involving blackmail is likely to catch the media's attention--and this was no exception, but Maine was embarrassed yet again.
In all likelihood, Mr. Eves will sue Mr. LePage (at the very least LePage violated the First Amendment prohibition against using state funds to exact retribution against political opponents), so the story and the national fallout won't be going away anytime soon.
Now, as a result of such impetuous and arrogant behavior, discussion re: possible impeachment has naturally surfaced.
But Maine is saddled with failed policies that have left our economy ranked anywhere from 38th (America's Top States for Business) to 47th or 49th (Business Insider and Forbes, respectively); we can ill afford additional distractions courtesy of the Cirque du Paul LePage. If he really wants to do the right thing, he should resign. By stepping aside he could still the political waters, assist in healing the almost irreparable damage done to the relationship between the Blaine House and the Legislature, and pave the way for future bipartisan progress. The state of Maine deserves no less.