Behind the posturing of elected politicians, there is an actual state government to be run, a government we expect to act efficiently, effectively and professionally.
But judging by two recent revelations, some parts of state government are not being run that way at all.
It has been reported that federal inspectors found troubling instances of abuse, civil rights violations and safety problems during an inspection of the 92-bed Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in May.
After issuing a 93-page report on the problems to Riverview President and CEO Mary Louise McEwen, and threatening to cut off $20 million in federal funding, neither McEwen nor the administration of Gov. Paul LePage told anyone — not the Legislature, the Attorney General's Office or the public — for more than seven weeks.
McEwen received the official report on June 4 while the Legislature was still in session.
The administration would have had another 22 days before adjournment to inform the Legislature and seek help solving a very complex set of problems.
McEwen also should have sought advice from the Maine Attorney General's Office, which deals with the state's legal problems or anything that might turn into a legal problem.
Instead, Riverview's CEO and the governor's administration waited until the Legislature was well out of session, and until three weeks before a federal deadline, to involve the Legislature or attorney general.
What resulted was confusing, hurry-up legislation that practically everyone involved admits will do little or nothing to solve Riverview's short- or long-term problems.
Discussion should now focus on whether McEwen has been given enough personnel to run Riverview, and whether she is the right person to be running it at all.
Similar questions must be raised about Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho after her agency, by its own admission, missed critical deadlines for relicensing dams controlling several water systems.
These are routine, predictable events, and the deadlines have apparently never been missed even once before, let alone three times in succession.
Missing the deadlines means state government no longer directly controls water levels, flow rates and fish passage on three key waterways: Flagstaff Lake in Somerset County just north of Kingfield, and the fabled trout and salmon fisheries on Grand and Sysladobsis Lakes.
DEP Land Use Division Director Mark Bergeron blamed the mistakes on personnel changes and, according to the Portland Press Herald, "miscommunication between me and department staff regarding the deadline."
Here's the really troubling part: Maine loses a say in how these dams are operated until they are relicensed in 25 years.
Bergeron told the Press Herald that the failure was regrettable, but predicted it will have no effect because the state has no problems with the current operators.
Good grief, man! We're talking about two-and-a-half decades.
Woodland Pulp LLC could be sold, it could get new management, change priorities or go bankrupt.
And, if any of those things happen and it affects property owners, recreation, flow rates or fish spawning, the state will have far less input.
In this story and others, the Press Herald has suggested Aho is a "fox in the henhouse," a former lobbyist who often does the bidding of her former industrial clients.
This time around, the PH reports she met with lawyers representing dam owners before these deadlines were missed, suggesting these deadlines may have been missed intentionally rather than accidentally.
One missed deadline? OK. But three in rapid succession.
Aho is just feeding speculation that she doesn't have the public interest at heart.
If these truly were mistakes, were they the result of understaffing? If so, are state staffing cuts getting us incompetence rather than efficiency?
Did they result from the purge of experienced state workers when Gov. Paul LePage came to power?
In any event, these mistakes are serious. Maine's citizens should expect better of Gov. LePage and the people who report to him.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.