Governor should release the bonds voters approved

The will of the people has always been respected in Augusta, if not in fact feared.

Legislators and governors have typically deferred to the wisdom of voters when it is expressed by a statewide vote.

Last week Gov. Paul LePage signaled he is willing to flout that precedent when he froze $25 million in community development bond funding approved by voters in 2010.

Eleven small communities in Maine could be hurt by his decision, including three in our region.

Livermore Falls has been granted Communities for Maine's Future money to redevelop the Lamb Block on Depot Street. The project is nearing the construction phase.

Monmouth, meanwhile, is the conduit for a $400,000 grant for Theatre at Monmouth to renovate a former Grange hall on the theater's property.

Town Manager Curtis Lunt said contracts are in place and about half the money already spent.

"I trust the governor will not put people out of work or cause a disaster for us," Holt said Friday. "I hope it's a misunderstanding."

Norway Town Manager David Holt last week called the governor's decision "stunning" and "unfathomable."

Norway's $400,000 was to be coupled with other tax credits and donations to renovate the six first-floor storefronts in the historic downtown Opera House and make other improvements. Scores of officials and residents have worked five years to save the prominent 1894 building. The $1.1 million project is set for bidding.

Neither the Governor's Office nor the Maine Department of Economic Development would comment on the issue last week.

All 11 of the projects were part of a $25 million bond approved by Maine voters on June 8, 2010. Of that money, voters specifically approved $3.5 million for downtown revitalization in Maine communities.

The governor has been openly critical of Maine's bonding practices, which include allowing some nongovernmental organizations like Maine's colleges and independent authorities to issue bonds without taxpayer approval.

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, who shares the governor's concerns, has argued that Maine's "moral authority" is attached to those bonds, even though the state would not have a legal obligation to repay those funds if they were not repaid.

By the way, no Maine authority or college has ever failed to meet its bond obligations.

Poliquin has argued that Maine voters should be voting on far more of the state's bonding.

Which would suggest a philosophical distinction between what voters have approved and what they have not.

Yet, here we have the governor, elected — as was his predecessor — with 38 percent of the vote, freezing a bond issue approved by 58 percent of all Maine voters.

Thursday, Orlando Delogu, emeritus professor at the University of Maine School of Law, argued that the governor has no discretionary power to delay voter-approved bonds.

"No such latitude or power exists," he said Thursday in guest column in the Portland Press Herald. 

"On the contrary, the Maine Constitution makes clear that the duty of the governor is to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.'"

A reasonable person could argue that these 11 communities have poured their hearts and souls into these important projects.

Many have worked for years, solicited donations, received outside grants and spent money preparing to execute these projects.

The governor may disagree, but his job as chief executive is to follow the law and obey the will of the people expressed at the ballot box. He should reconsider and allow these funds to flow.

If he does not, the 11 communities should band together, hire a lawyer and challenge him in court.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

Roger Moulton's picture

Lets be smarter with our money

Why don't we take the money from this bond and do something productive with it. Like help to make OPS larger and even possibly Nascar standard. And no I'm not a Nascar fan I've just seen the money that it brings in. Talk about business Savvy, how is dumping a bunch of our money into old buildings business savvy? It's not, it only benefits the eyes of the few Norway residents that actually care about that old building.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Who cares???

Every once in a while I read something in these posts that really gets my attention. I'm not agreeing or dis agreeing with them, I just feel the urge to say something. As a result I sometimes get " lambasted", but I don't care.
" Who cares about these old buildings?". I can understand where he's coming from. In my former career I was fortunate enough to travel to many towns throughout New England. I have seen many down towns, big and small, one thing they all had in common is, they all have a main street.
It was very obvious that every year, more and more of these down towns acquired more vacant store fronts. After a while these old buildings become an eye sore. To me anyway, it was sad. We all realize we're living in a down economy. Government can only do so much to help. So when I hear about people, using innovation, trying something that may, or may not have been tried before. Getting other people involved, and trying to improve even one ugly building, I congratulate them. These vacant store fronts are contributing nothing to the town, if anything their a drain.
Only when people start caring about these old buildings will they become part of the down town again. Hopefully the people's motivation to improve small parts of town will be contagious. If not, it won't be to long before instead of old buildings, we have entire ghost towns........

 's picture

Remember, governor...

...politics before people.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

The editorial is on the mark

LePage's arrogance knows no bounds. "L'etat, c'est moi!"

Deb Plowden said that Cynthia Dill's proppsal for a way to recall elected officials was not worthy even of a hearing.

Plowden was wrong. LePage is the proof though neither Dill nor any who supported a way to recall politicians thought it could be passed and become law in time to effect Mr. LePage. LePage cares only what Lance Dutson and his successor demand of him, but, pols must be made more responsive to their employers - us!

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The party line

He is again following the party line. Whoever thinks of him as a leader should look again. The Republicans are counting on being able to sell the voter that Obama is responsible for the state of the economy and therefore they are doing everything possible to make sure it looks bad. The problem is that Obama proposed a plan to fix the economy which would have created 2 million jobs, so he claimed, and they blocked the bill in committee. Now if they had passed it and it had failed I would agree that Obama is to blame. As it is now, we will never know if the problem was his plan or Republican obstructionism. Considering the mess the economy was left in by the last administration it's hard to believe that more of the same would improve things any faster than they are improving.

 's picture

Claire

did you know that Berry's bill was also buried by a majority of democrats in the house as well as the Senate. Can you imagine that. His own dweebs voted against him. Must be cause they all realize he is the reason for the state the economy is in. He was defeated in the house 414-0. That's unanimous Claire. And the Senate canned his bill 99-0. Me thinks the Democrats were are as much to blame as the Republicans.

Jason Theriault's picture

Not surprising

LePage is an idiot who doesn't respect those who disagree with him.

Roger Moulton's picture

you are ignorant

Do you know many politicians that do respect those that disagree with them?

 's picture

I know

President Barry doesn't respect anyone. He thinks he the Messiah.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Another Southern Rebel theme

Isn't this another way of saying he's "uppity". Everytime I hear someone complaining about his arrogance I get echos of Civil War rhetoric. He has never done any specific thing that I have ever heard of which is arrogant other than having the nerve to be an educated black man who was elected president and is acting like a president and who has the nerve to think he's as good as a white person.

 's picture

Claire

In order to see his arrogance you need to look beyond his skin color. You like most liberals voted his skin color and never vetted his background. I have a sister in the convent (a Nun mind you) who voted his skin color cause she certainly didn't vet him out and denied that he wrote and pushed the Partial Abortion bill till I showed it to her in black and white. The man is a race baiter and promotes class envy every chance he gets. And he does it with his nose up and talks down to you and you don't even see it. He consistently pits the poor against the rich and middle class as well as the middle class against the rich. How blind are you? The mans parents and grand parents were socialists and he hung out with socialists.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

David, Follow the money.

David,
Follow the money. Perhaps Claire benefits financially from the public money that flows from his adminstration and does not want to jeopardize that gift. Perhaps she’ll turn a blind eye to what you say just for that gift.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

You seem so sure

And yet I wonder if you could come up with a specific example of race baiting. People can have different opinions on political issues and I'm not sure how that makes them arrogant. It may be that he has different opinions than you about abortion. He never hid his position. That's not arrogance. That's a difference of opinion. Class warfare is what the super rich have imposed on middle class America. You should look up the statistics that are all over the internet on where the wealth has been going in this country for the last 20 years. All of it is going in one direction and it is not towards the working man. The multi-millionaires tell you that if they get more tax breaks and government subsidies and no bid contracts they will create jobs. Well after all these years of not creating jobs here and hiding their profits in oversees tax havens you have to wonder if they aren't just playing us. Keep in mind these guys stole 73 trillion dollars of American retirement funds in the last financial debacle. People lost all their savings , their homes , their jobs, their health and in many cases their families. Yet no one got arrested thanks to their well placed connections in Congress. Talking about class warfare isn't arrogance . It's just the new reality in this country.

 's picture

That should have read Partial Birth Abortion bill.

That should have read Partial Birth Abortion bill.

Jason Theriault's picture

It's contagious.

President Obama doesn't think he is Jesus, and this is another example of a weak argument.Maybe you find him arrogant, maybe you don't like his politics, but at not time did he say he was the savoir or Jesus or God or anything remotely close to it. Just like how the IRS hasn't done ANYTHING remotely like how the Gestapo acted. The Gestapo was an active part of the Nazi Holocaust machine.

I know you guys REALLY hate paying taxes, but there is a HUGE difference between paying taxes and being put into a concentration camp.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Incredible!

And he has the gall to compare the I.R.S. to the Gestapo. Denying the will of the people (58%) in a referendum should be an impeachable offense.
Not only has he become an embarrassment to our state, he has now declared himself the dictator. As I said, "incredible"!

Roger Moulton's picture

At least he's honest.

At least he's honest. He states his opinion and sticks by it. He has tried to do everything that he said he would during his campaign. I can't believe that all you ignorant people think we need to give these stupid buildings money. Who cares about these old buildings. We are in a tough economy and you want to sink money into buildings with no parking (lamb block and norway, not sure about the other). In Norway the building that they are talking about is a poor place for any business, the one in LF may have some business but it's not really a booming metropolis. These buildings will never give the community back what it will put into them. So in a down economy should we really spend that kind of money to give some people warm fuzzy feelings about old buildings that aren't worth anything? If they were worth something, someone would have bought them and renovated them on their own. Sorry Lepage has a brain and %58 of voters don't.

 's picture

Poor Place to do Business

Mr. Moulton,

Who in the HECK do you think you are? You may not give a rats a$$ about the Town of Norway or its historic bulidings but there are darn well many of us who do give a Rats A$$. You live in Dixfield so why dont you keep your nasty, ignornant, narrow-minded opion to your self and stay on the other side of Route #108. The money was approved by the voters and neither you or our loud mouth govenor should have any say in the matter. The people have spoken.

Roger Moulton's picture

okay

Okay if there are "darn well many of us that do give a rats behind" then you raise the money. Why should residents in the rest of your state have to pay for it? really why should we? lets hear that. I want a nice restored building in my town but I'm not selfish enough to ask the rest of the state to pay for it. How about putting that money into our efficiency/heating programs where people would benefit more than with their eyes. The people have spoken and look at your litte opera house now, nothings happening. I wasn't really that passionate about it but I gotta tell you now I am laughing hysterically that you are so upset by this and am actually quite pleased that the money is frozen. I hope your dumb building never gets finished and the people of this state make another winter. Start caring more about people than being a stuck up person that wants the town to be pretty.

 's picture

Approved by the Voters

Sir, I actually live in Sumner, Maine....a Town that I am very passionate about. And working on communities taking care of thier own, working for a sustainable future for our children. I work with the people of this Town every day. My family came from Norway, my great, great grandparents worked in those old mills in Norway and went to the Opera house at times when they had the few pennies to get in. I am very concerned about the economy and a future for my children & grandchildren. I do however expect that when the State Bond Issues are approved by the voters, that the powers that be will be held accountable for the follow-through on what has been promised. Bear in mind there may have been several votes to approve the Bond that came from your Town as well. Furthermore I am just about as far from being Stuck Up as any person can be. You do not know me so I can not hold that against you. I mean no disrespect, but when something has been promised to any town and its people, yours, mine or anyone elses I expect it to be seen through to the end.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Well stated, Kathy

We'd have quite a country if in November 58% of Americans voted for Romney and after the voting was done and official, Obama said HELL NO! I'm the POTUS and that's the way I want it and , to coin a well known Lepage quote, you can all kiss my butt.

Roger Moulton's picture

keep my nasty comments to myself

I'll keep my nasty comments to myself when we are talking about something in Norway that doesn't require my money or others that don't live in or care about the aesthetic value of Norway. And who do I think I am? A person that has a right to give his opinion here. You are only so angry because you are part of this project and you're afraid my comments may hurt your chances when others realize they have to pay for YOUR opera house. Get a grip. I'd like a new shed cuz the last residents kinda let this one go, do you think you and some others from Norway could pay for me to fix it, I mean you can see it from the road and all.

 's picture

Yep...

...He honestly does what he's told.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

B.S. he is honest.

That's a load of crap. If LePage is honest, someone should suggest Al Capone for sainthood.
If LePage has a brain he still wouldn't know his arse from his elbow.

The Opera House in Norway WAS bought by someone who let it go to ruin. It took years for Norway to get it back rather than to see it crumble. It's historic value is priceless. It is iconic. It is on the national register of historic buildings.

Le Page is a thug who does not have the business savvy to run an outhouse, much less the State of Maine.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If this project is so good

If this project is so good for business, open your own pocket and invest. Good investments always have private money flowing into the project. Bad investments always require public money… funny how that works.

Roger Moulton's picture

okay you say he's dishonest yet you give no proof or example

I don't know why you would even bother to come to a battle of brains unarmed. The Opera house was bought by someone who let it go to ruins because they couldn't make enough income to sustain the building. So let's dump a bunch of money into it so it can host failed business after failed business and then eventually be empty until it goes to ruins again. I don't care if it's on the national register for historic buildings. If a building was truely "priceless" then someone other than people that don't live in Norway would be restoring it now. You say Lepage doesn't have the business savvy to run an outhouse yet you have no examples, all you do is run him down with your lame remarks that you can't back. If you aren't going to turn the opera house into a museum or something then it's historical value means nothing to me. It's just a bunch of older people that were around when it actually could sustain itself that don't want to drive by and see it gone, and again I couldn't care less. I certainly don't care enough to take food off other people's tables just to give you people the warm and fuzzy feeling. If Lepage froze the money he must have the legal right as governor to do so. I'm not saying Paul Lepage is honest in everything he does in life but he did stick to what he said during his campaign and if you don't have facts to back it then please spare us your useless opinion. Your opinion may have use if you add some facts to it. Go watch some more liberal news and leave the unbiased alone. All politicians are bad for us, including the Florida resident Paul Lepage, but he is BY FAR the lesser of the evils we have to deal with.

 's picture

58% of the

voters don't seem to get in their thick little skulls, that voting for a bond is voting themselves a new tax hike. Why do think for the last 30 to 40 years there has always been a bond issue to vote on. Cause it was the back door way for Democrats to get the money they wanted for all the lame ideas they have had. Bonds are loans that the state takes out and has to pay back. But our local liberal citizenry just can't seem to grasp that idea.

AL PELLETIER's picture

HA!

An honest politician? Now that's hilarious. And his opinions, well you know what there like. The Opera House in Norway is a beautiful building with much historical significance. To let it succumb to the ravages of nature, like the Ginger Bread house, was too much for most Norway residence to bare. Now ,thanks to Lepage, the will of the people will not be upheld. Hold back the money and hide the mural, we wouldn't want women with little beards to get either. What a legacy!
So far, Roger, your one out of five. Can't wait to see the posts mount up.

Roger Moulton's picture

You ever caught him lying or back peddling?

LIke I said he is trying to or has tried to do everything that he said he would do during campaign. I think they are all crooks even Mr. Lepage but I do commend him for doing what he said he would. And I gotta tell you I couldn't care any less if it's too much for you Norway folk bare to watch it succumb to weather. Why should the rest in the state pay for some dumb building that should have been torn down years ago. Again there isn't any parking, it's on a corner where you should be too focused on making the turn to look at whatever shop that will fail first goes in. It is not a very good place for businesses or someone would have bought it, renovated it and filled it up. Again in a down economy I don't care if it hurts your feelings to watch that building fall, actually outta spite I'd like to have you watch me tear it down. Get a grip or a clue Mr. Pelletier saving buildings to make people feel warm and fuzzy doesn't put food on people's tables.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Too Funny!

If you want to hear some serious back peddling listen to his radio address next Saturday about his Gestapo remark. As a tax payer I would rather see my money spent on saving a building then paying the salary of his spokesperson who constantly has to explain what Lepage meant to say. I don't like paying his daughters salary either, that 40K+++ a year would be better spent feeding the poor as you insist is more important then saving an old building.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Mr. Moulton

Take a ride to Norway and check out your "off the cuff" facts. The Opera House is not on a corner and parking is excellent. The person who owned it had big plans for it when he bought it, but he was not business savvy enough to follow through and let the building nearly fall apart. I really have no warm fuzzy feelings about the Opera House, but I do have strong feelings about a governor, who is employed by the people of Maine, not respecting the majority vote.
When Lepage worked for Marden's how long do you think he would have been employed if he told Mickey Marden (RIP) to go to hell?
By withholding these bond he has told the majority of Maine voters to do just that---go to hell!

Roger Moulton's picture

Okay I was mistaken

Okay I was mistaken about the location of the Norway Opera House. So my parking and failed business comments of course are pretty well void. And I also agree that it is probably Mr. Lepage's responsibility to go with the voters on this one. However I personally believe the voters in this state are ignorant, most don't consider the cost of these bonds they are voting on. I still don't think that we should sink money into these buildings. I don't care if they are an eyesore, tear them down if they are that bad. There are people struggling to eat and heat there homes yet you are all so passionate about a damn building? Forget the building help the people. Now that I see the location of it I don't see why it doesn't just get sold to someone willing to put the money into it. I don't know why people that don't live in Norway and may never see the opera house should have to join your town in paying for it. And while I do live in Dixfield currently I am from the Jay/LF area and know that the "lamb block" building is privately owned and why should we give the owner that kind of money on a building that he is already making money on? I'm not sure who owns it know but if it is the person that owned it last I knew he certainly doesn't need our tax money. Great guy done great things in and for the local community but again spending this kind of money for aesthetic stuff during a down economy is just not smart. 58% of voters made a very bad decision.

 's picture

Let's see...

...38 percent of the people were right in electing LePage. 68 percent of the people of passed the bond issue were wrong. Love your math.

 's picture

Oooops...

...mis-typed - that's 58 percent, not 68. Sorry. That's still 20 percent more that voted for the bonds than voted for LePage.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Nasty!

And just wrong. The Opera House in Norway is in the center of the business district on Main Street. It is NOT on a corner.

And someone DID buy it and let it go to ruin.

THINK before you open your piehole.

Roger Moulton's picture

the center of the business district

I was wrong about the location. But the center of the business district for NORWAY? Yeah that is one giant booming shopping area. I know all kinds of people that drive for miles just to shop in norway. I know somebody bought it read my post before you open your garbagehole. Still a complete WASTE of money. If it's in the center of the business district and stood a chance of being profitable someone else would buy it again. But no your right my taxes should go up for a dumb building in podunk Maine just so you can smile at it when you drive by. Tear it down and put up a giant picture of what it used to look like! lol

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