Passamaquoddy official says LePage threatened group

ELLSWORTH — Gov. Paul LePage issued an ultimatum to the Passamaquoddy tribe Monday morning: Play by the state’s fishing rules or face consequences from his office, tribal officials said.

Paul LePage
AP file photo

Gov. Paul LePage delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on Feb. 5, 2013, at the State House in Augusta.

According to a Passamaquoddy official who sat in on a phone call from the governor, LePage threatened to withdraw support for issues of importance to the Passamaquoddy — including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the possibility of a casino in Washington County — during a brief call with tribal leaders Monday morning.

Newell Lewey, a member of the Tribal Council, said he and several others sat in on the call, which LePage made to Chief Clayton Cleaves. LePage told the tribe he’d make good on those threats if they didn’t stand down on their claim to authority over tribal members’ right to harvest elvers.

“Gov. LePage also threatened he would shut down the entire fishery,” Lewey said Monday evening, quoting a letter sent by the tribe to Senate President Justin Alfond, informing him about the phone call.

Lewey said there was no mistaking LePage’s intent or anger, describing the governor’s message as “loud, enraged and demanding.”

“He’s going to try to hold us hostage, that’s what he’s going to do,” Lewey said. “I was in there. I heard it. I heard his tone. There was no mistake.”

Repeated efforts to contact LePage’s press secretary this week have been unsuccessful. Efforts to reach Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher also have been unsuccessful.

Rumors also swirled in Augusta on Monday that LePage had threatened to call the National Guard to help enforce the state’s rules on elver harvesting, though that threat has not been confirmed.

For its part, the Passamaquoddy say they aren’t backing down. Lewey said that even if he wanted to, the chief couldn’t back down because the Joint Tribal Council — which represents Passamaquoddys in Indian Township and Pleasant Point — had already spoken.

“The chief of the tribe is acting on a Joint Council Resolution, shaped by the people of the tribe, and the council voted unanimously, all 12 council members, to support the elver fisheries management plan,” he said. “The chief cannot override that.”

The dispute began last week when DMR announced that it would invalidate all but 150 of the 575 elver licenses issued by the tribe. A new state law limits the number of elver permits available to the Passamaquoddy to 200 — 150 permits to set fyke nets anywhere in the state and 50 permits to use dip-nets in the St. Croix River.

Keliher said the Passamaquoddy had put the state out of compliance with rules imposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Enforcement of the law began March 31, and Keliher said any Passamaquoddy fishing with a permit number higher than 150 would be issued a summons and have their nets confiscated.

On Sunday night, there was a confrontation between tribal leaders, backed up by a crowd of Passamaquoddys, and Marine Patrol in Pembroke. State police were called to backup DMR’s effort to enforce its rules and, ultimately, Keliher, who was on scene during the incident, agreed to hold off on issuing summonses, but nets were still confiscated.

Keliher later told legislators in Augusta that the police involved in the Sunday incident had become fearful for their safety due to the number of Passamaquoddy protesting their action.

At least three summonses have been issued to tribal fishermen, though DMR has not returned calls for comment, so the total number of summonses issued is unknown.

Fred Moore III, a former Passamaquoddy representative to Augusta and a member of the tribe’s fisheries committee, said attempts to strip indigenous fishing rights would only result in more tribal fishing.

“They can come and take a couple of us to jail, and 300 more will join in.” he said Monday.

The sovereignty dispute has grown hotter by the day, with the Passamaquoddy attacking the state’s elver management plan and touting the superiority of its own conservation techniques.

Lewy said the state’s effort to protect the elver population by limiting the number of licenses was inferior to the tribal management plan, which instead sets a total allowable catch limit of 3,600 pounds.

“The idea that we have jeopardized the entire fishery for the state is an outright lie,” Lewey said Monday night. “He [Keliher] keeps coming back to that number, that 150 or 200 licenses, but it doesn’t really matter because at 3,600 pounds, we’re shutting down, whether we reach that in early April or mid-May.”

On Monday, the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee said a bill aimed at tightening elver rules and creating steeper fines ought to pass, as amended.

The bill, LD 632, would make second and subsequent elver license violations a criminal rather than civil offense; make a $2,000 fine for violations mandatory; create a mechanism to seize any elver catch that contains illegal harvested elvers; make “assisting in illegal harvesting of elvers” a civil offense; and require that a license holder be able to furnish a photo ID before selling his catch.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Passamaquoddy official says LePage threatened group

Mario. 13.04.02 13:13
Something's ƒishy in Denmark
We think your Hon Gov is po'ing everyone in the great state of Maine , including native peoples like the Mic - Maq , Penobscot , Massoit , Iriquois . Lakota and many , many others . Remember now , " He will come like a thief in the night , " silently , possibly with a bow and arrow
Merrie Monarch festival ( International Hula Championships ) here all this week
Out there we call it the ' coconut wireless .'
h t h ? /s , the Steve Dosh ohana , Hawai'i • 

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Dictator with a touch of anger issues

Lewey said there was no mistaking LePage’s intent or anger, describing the governor’s message as “loud, enraged and demanding.”

“He’s going to try to hold us hostage, that’s what he’s going to do,” Lewey said. “I was in there. I heard it. I heard his tone. There was no mistake.”

It appears his vacation trip to Jamaica, wasn't getting enough rum and ghangi experiences.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jer ? The guy is a bully who

Jer ? The guy is a bully who has admitted to being beaten as a child • 
It's right in the paper
/s Steve

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Then Pauline, my moms best girlfriend for years, raised him after he ran off from his abusive life. But he turned around and was the same, bully and out of control punk.

I worked with Paulines" natural son and knew of him and his ways then.
My baby brother would be out at Paulines and Eds camp at Tacoma and so I know of his anger issues and bully antics.

I drove Pauline and my mom to Florida back in 1986 and that is where I got more about his issues and anger bully tactics.

He lived at the Jolly at the holly strip joint in Lewiston, and had some really bad issues then too.

Tony Capola's picture

Not a job that I would want

Being the Press Secretary for LePage has got to be one of the toughest jobs in the entire state. She must try and sweeten all of his angry barbs and thoughtless comments on a daily basis.
I don't believe that, should he run for re-election, he would state a ghost of chance even if his opponent was Daffy Duck! You can bet there will be a primary battle for the Republican nomination and he will stand little chance of being nominated.
He has no respect for himself, the office he holds or, more importantly, the people of Maine. The Republicans can be very proud of their governor. His predecessor was a sneak and a liar but this guy is much worse; he’s a BULLY.
Doesn’t he get it; the Dems took back the legislature due, in large part, his antics during the first 18-months he was in office.
His angry words and baseless attacks may well reach the point where it would be very easy to impeach him with little opposition.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Sounds Fishy

Paul hasn't got the slightest about fishing. When he was at Tacoma Lake he would throw his tiny pole at the water and then finally Pauline and Ed told him to stop it, it was called indecent exposure and pollution.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Great, now he's starting a feud with the Passamaquoddy's...

Someone has to get this guy into "Anger Management" classes soon, before its to late for all of us................

Joe Flanders's picture

LePage has no respect for

LePage has no respect for anyone. He has got to go.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Joe ? He has very low self

Joe ? He has very low self esteem for someone of his age and stature • 

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


He has no respect for himself, so why anyone else. He has had anger, bully issues all his life. It is time for Maine to heave ho this POS...

Steve  Dosh's picture

Jer ? In the short lived TV

Jer ? In the short lived TV series " Freaks and Geeks ," by Jud Apatow , the gym teacher said it best when he advised some kid , " Go pick on someone your own size. There's a bus in the parking lot. " /s , Steve h t h ( hope this helps ) ?


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