Commentary

It’s Time to Take Governor Lepage at His Word, Accept His Apology and Move On

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Yesterday afternoon, on orders from Democrat party chairman Phil Bartlett, all Republican house representatives began getting calls to ask Governor LePage to resign. I answered the phone many times thinking it may be the carpet man with my estimates. I wrote down town of residence and party affiliations. Not one call was from House District 5 that I represent and not one call was a Republican, most were Democrats.

Many of the individuals were a pleasure to speak with. There were two that raised their voices when I disagreed with their assessments and they did not want to hear mine. I told them to have a lovely day and hung up the phone.

This went on until about 9:00 pm last night and started up this morning again at 6:56 am, with the first call being a woman from Bar Harbor. I asked her politely to call her state rep or the Governor’s Office to voice her displeasure, and as for me, I am accepting the governor’s apology so we can continue to work policy that moves Maine forward.

I have received four emails from constituents urging me to suggest resignation to our governor. I have received three times that communication from constituents who are disappointed with the statements made, but appreciate the governor’s policies and want him to continue.

I also have knocked on a lot of doors in my district since this incident, and although people are disappointed with Governor LePage’s statement, the ratio was about five-to-one to keep him right where he is.

Many have insinuated I have the power to censure the governor. I do not. There are three branches of government, and each acts independently of the other.

Furthermore, I believe in our First Amendment rights implicitly and agree with Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That being said, it is the Secretary of State that would initiate the removal of a sitting Governor through petition to the Maine Supreme Court.

I don’t see Secretary Dunlap rushing to do so and I find it unlikely he will.

The only avenue available to the legislative body is a Joint Oder of the Legislature, which in reality carries no weight or penalties and is merely a piece of paper that passes through the legislative body, giving the opportunity for some to pound their chests or be indignant and create another lopsided media circus.

This avenue will cost Joe Taxpayer at least $50,000 per day, but likely much more because at this time the house chamber is under construction and we would have to rent the Civic Center. This option remains available in January when the Legislature reconvenes, and I would bet dollars to donuts legislators will be scrambling to be the first to pen this order with no extra costs to the taxpayer.

I spoke yesterday with Scott Thistle, a reporter from the Portland Press Herald, for quite some time. He naturally quoted my most colorful statement which questioned our Governor’s actions, and that I thought maybe the governor had opened a bottle of liquid courage or a bottle of liquid stupid, but either way I was disappointed in his remarks. Actually, I was horrified.

I know that I have said some pretty stupid things after a cocktail or two, so this did not seem outlandish to me considering the difficulties and the constant barrage of negativity, insults and assaults, even death threats Governor LePage faces every single day.

In fact, I know after receiving death threats regarding ethanol in our gas and being sworn at and called terrible names from individuals who were looking for corporate biomass bailouts, it can be infuriating and frightening to serve the public.

Thankfully, most people are wonderful human beings and that has outweighed my fears of being targeted for harm, but I do find myself armed now more often than not.

I was pleased to find out that the governor’s staff was with him prior to his outburst, and my assumption was wrong, and I apologize to Governor LePage for assuming he may have been in his cups.

So what can drive a decent, hardworking human being, a good family man, the leader of our state to utter such a charged statement that has caused such an uproar?

I believe, as I told Scott Thistle, that it was shear frustration with the lopsidedness of how the media portrays him, always latching on to anything that will paint the man in a bad light. It is the media that ignored a Westbrook councilor’s death wish that was made in public while Speaker Eves watched on and did nothing, and that is not an isolated case.

It is a media that tries to insinuate that Governor LePage is a racist, and this started in his first term when he missed a Martin Luther King celebration. It was later found that the governor had a prior engagement celebrating the life of MLK, but the media refused to cover that. Instead they continue to exploit the bad in order to hide the good.

During many of the calls yesterday, I asked if the individuals knew of the many successes of the LePage administration. Did they know that Maine just received a prestigious award for the governor’s policy on combating opioid addiction? The answer each time was no.

I asked if they knew that Maine ended the year with a $93 million surplus because of the governor’s policies.

Did they know that our wait list for services for the disabled and elderly are at an all-time low because of the governor’s policies or did they know that Maine is one of the few states that has seen the per capita income of the work force increase because of the governor’s policy?

These callers knew nothing of success of this administration, they only knew that Governor LePage said something very bad and they wanted him to resign because of it.

Now this is a sorry state of affairs when people are only aware of the bad and have no knowledge, or refuse to acknowledge the good because of partisan politics, which is what Phil Bartlett does regularly, relying on a lopsided media to exploit the bad and cover up the good.

This needs to stop. In the meantime, I am going to take Governor LePage at his word and accept his apology to the Gattine family and the Maine people as genuine and hopefully we will keep working on the tough issues we all face together in this state.

About Beth O'Connor

Representative O'Connor represents House District 5 including the towns of Berwick and North Berwick (part). She can be reached at (207) 289-9047.

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