LePage, Democratic leaders still not talking

AUGUSTA — Although the Maine Legislature reconvened Tuesday after its December break, Democratic leaders and Republican Gov. Paul LePage were still not talking to each other.

Joel Page/Associated Press

The Senate meets Tuesday at the State House in Augusta as the Legislature returns from December break.

LePage canceled a meeting with incoming Democratic leadership on Dec. 4 after asking the Democratic Party to call off a cameraman who had been recording him at public events. The party hired the cameraman and has refused to back down, saying it's only recording public events in the interest of transparency and accountability.

House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick and Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland said Tuesday there's been no change in relations with the governor but they still hope to meet face-to-face with LePage.

The governor's spokeswoman gave no hint that the stalemate would end anytime soon, saying the governor's staff, but not the governor himself, is available.

"We still have an open line of communication with the governor's staff. That will remain open," said Adrienne Bennett, LePage's chief of communications.

For now, the snub isn't impeding the Legislature's work, but Alfond and Eves said constituents have been asking them when they will meet with the governor.

"Every place I go, people are always asking me, have you and the governor met? Have you broken bread?" Alfond said. "It's embarrassing that I have to say no, but I can't make or force anyone to meet with me."

The state budget is a priority for both the governor and lawmakers as they returned to the State House. They must consider $35.5 million in immediate cuts following the governor's curtailment order and face the challenge of balancing the 2014-15 budget, which has a projected revenue shortfall of close to $130 million. They also need to find tens of millions of dollars more to cover cost overruns for social services.

Alfond said he continues to extend an invitation to meet personally with the governor every time he meets with his staff. "They usually smile, shrug their shoulders, and say 'We'll get back to you,'" Alfond said.

"We'll continue to put out every offer, every olive branch to meet with him," Alfond added.

Eves agreed that while both parties are working together, it would be good to have the governor personally involved.

"The problems facing the state are too big for one party to solve alone, so we look forward to working with the Republican Party and the governor to find solutions that are effective," Eves said.

Republicans seem less concerned.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau of Waldo said the media is more interested in the supposed snub than members of the Legislature.

The GOP's second-in-command in the Senate, Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, jokingly suggested a bipartisan Super Bowl gathering.

"All of us would like to see Democratic leadership and the governor sitting together. I'm sure it will happen," Katz said.

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

He's just being a Republican....

Not to mention acting like a five year old.....

 's picture

Mr. LePage and the Democrats

I think Mr. LePage is being a child in the matter of not talking to any Democrats. I personally feel if it is possible Mr. LePage should be booted out of office. He was not wanted by a big majority of the voters and since he has been in office he is wanted even LESS. He is Mr. LePage to me not governor.

Robert McQueeney's picture

This is a democratic problem.

Like Lepage or not, each of us has to admit that he is not the smoothest talking politician, and that he speaks his mind a little too plainly. Having this camera man record everything he can all in an effort to make him look bad, and that is the only reason he is there....... What can be said. None of us would willing go where such a shark was waiting for us. We would all do other things, and yet still get the job done.

If the democrats would show they were much more interested in working with the governor, and less interested in making him look bad, the democrats might gain a little credibility.

Nothing wrong with speaking your mind...

However, some should keep Mr Twain in mind: Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt. Compare LePage to another governor who is known for speaking his mind, Chris Christie. On the other hand, there is no comparison. I disagree with Christie's politics much of the time, but when he speaks his mind, it is clear that he is no fool. Whereas every time LePage speaks without a script, he lodges the foot further down his throat, or just comes off as a whiny complainer.

"If the democrats would show they were much more interested in working with the governor,"

They are trying. They want to meet with him, as legislative leaders do with every Governor. But he is refusing to. He's making himself look bad through his misfired attempt to make the Dems look bad ("I would but they're sending that nasty man around to film me just like all those news organizations do"). It's not the legislators who are sending that tracker around, it's the party leadership. Sure, Eves and Alfond can ask the tracker to stop, but the Party doesn't have to listen, and besides, why should they stop doing what has been a standard practice in politics for the last decade or more? LePage is simply using the tracker as an excuse to refuse to do something he doesn't really want to do anyway. (I have a different problem with the way the Maine Dem party has behaved the last few years but that's a different discussion.)

Jason Theriault's picture

"The Democrats"

First off - the camera guy follows him to public appearances. Call me silly, but if I made a public appearance as the governor, I would assume that media and various people are going to be recording it.

Two -This is just LePage playing the martyr. He knows that he can't just bully people around anymore because he lost the state house. So if he plays "oh woe is me, the dems are trying to get me!" card, he thinks he can try and turn this onto them for the next election.

It isn't going to work.

Cutler is just biding his time....

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage, Democratic leaders still not talking

Mainers Tuesday night 20:20 hst
. .Who really cares ? He doesn't . Judging by the responses we read in this newspaper it seems as if the Maine electorate would rather your Hon. Gov LePage would take a long walk off a short pier
He seems woefully out of touch with reality , as portrayed in these pages in your great state
He didn't go to the Republican national convention either
He has alienated everyone in your state government when it comes to unions and such , including his own AG
He's about LePage , and LePage only
What's his big beef ?
Friends come and go
Enemies accumulate , Hon Gov.
/s , a dis-interested observer in Hawai'i named Steve :)


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