Governor can't take 'yes' for an answer

Cliches become cliches because they are repeated so often. And they are repeated so often because the bit of wisdom they express is usually so obvious.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. You win some, you lose some.

Or the expression that half a loaf is better than none. Clearly, to a hungry person, half a loaf is better than going hungry.

Yet even Republican legislators could be found quietly shaking their heads at the end of the last legislative session over Gov. Paul LePage's inability to accept half a loaf and his eagerness to throw babies out with their bath water.

Perhaps this is what makes the governor endearing to the libertarian wing of his party, people who believe the more wrenches he can jam into the gears of government the better. Indeed, the governor seemed very proud of the record number of vetoes he issued during the last legislative session.

But LePage's showy obstinacy must leave his supporters, those who actually need the Legislature to do a few things, pulling their hair out. They must wonder why the man can't seem to say yes to anything short of everything.

For instance, the governor took a strong law-and-order stand during the legislative session by proposing an expensive plan to add more cops and judges to fight drug crime in Maine.

So, the governor proposed taking $5 million from the unclaimed property fund to pay for the personnel, a curious idea for a get-your-hands-off-my-wallet type of governor. Technically, the money does belong to citizens, not the government.

While many questioned the wisdom of funding more enforcement over more treatment and education, cops and prosecutors flocked to the photo-op arranged for the governor's announcement.

Democrats didn't like taking the unclaimed funds but, along with Republicans, they found another way to fund most of what the governor wanted, but not all. They also identified a continuing source of funding, which the governor had not.

OK, a reasonable person would say, take credit, declare victory and run with most of the loaf.

Yet late on the last day of the session, the governor's office communicated to the Appropriations Committee that he would veto the compromise, so Republican and Democratic leaders scuttled the plan.

Veto sustained.

Now there will be no additional drug agents and no more judges, which must be disappointing to the cops, prosecutors and members of the public who supported the idea.

Wouldn't it have been better to do something rather than do nothing at all?

The governor also wanted more money to help struggling rural nursing homes, many of which he reported are on the verge of financial ruin.

The Legislature responded by sending about $5 million more per year their way, but not until the 2015 budget takes effect in July.

The governor then proposed raiding some anti-smoking programs to send them an additional $5 million to tide them over.

Democrats didn't want to take money from anti-smoking efforts, but the Appropriations Committee came up with another way to send $2 million to the nursing homes.

Again, word came in the 11th hour that the governor would veto the compromise, so leaders in both parties pulled the bill.

Sure, it was only two-fifths of a loaf, but it was something. Now the starving nursing homes get nothing until July.

It's hard to understand why LePage does this, but it was hard to fully understand many of the governor's vetoes, which often seemed based upon misunderstood information or personal pique.

Some things did get done during the second half of the session. Legislators passed the all-important budget over the governor's veto.

The governor allowed a few things to go into law without his signature. And Democrats and Republicans joined to override a few of his vetoes.

Clearly, not every bill needs to become law, and the veto is an important tool of the office.

But it seems the governor could accomplish more of his programs, and more for the state of Maine, if he actively involved himself in the lawmaking process.

His my-way-or-the-highway approach often leaves his agenda items abandoned at the side of the road.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

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

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Comments

 's picture

Has the editorial board gone on vacation?

This piece has been front-and-center for two full weeks and the usual LePage haters have had their usual say, the same spiteful crapola spewed since Jan. 2011.

But it's an election year. Perhaps the paper's expected left turn has happened earlier than usual.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You noticed too that the

You noticed too that the LePage haters just launcher personal attacks against him. They have to solutions. Reminds me of children who don't get the candy or toy they want.

AL PELLETIER's picture

I agree Leblanc

This editorial is pretty much old news and I'm chomping at the bit to do some new and exciting LePage bashing.
How about LePage, the Alexander report, plagiarism and a Federal investigation? Now there's a great topic for an editorial.

 's picture

Keep it going, Al.

It's a whole lot easier than finding something to brag about among the Democrats.

AL PELLETIER's picture

While sipping your coffee

Read "Bill Nimetz" in this mornings PPH. He's trying to get some LePage lovers to chirp.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

LePage has a mind set............

LePage has a mind set I feel is pushing him to punish the State for his perceived injustices endured as a child. That might explain his almost joyful daily practice of denying this State the legislation needed to move forward.
I'm willing to bet that when he would find himself being thrown out of another bar, or losing a fight, or seeing a friend locked up for the night. He began to build a secret hatred for those who didn't have to suffer as he does. This I might add is his perception of the way things were at the time. His view of why someone threw him out of a bar, his view on how that guy cheated to win the fight. Over time, repeating it over and over to himself, he would come to believe that he was the victim in most if not all his failures in life. Becoming Governor is his opportunity to show the people of Maine just how bad things really are. In his own twisted way of expressing his frustration with life, he began vetoing bills. He started to realize that every time he signed that Veto, he got just a little happier. So here we are 160 or so veto's later and the State is going nowhere, nothing is improved as far as unemployment, health care, or assistance programs for the poor. None of those things matter to a little man pissed off at life, all he knows is every time he signs a veto, he smiles a little bit more.............................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"LePage has a mind set I feel

"LePage has a mind set I feel is pushing him to punish the State for his perceived injustices endured as a child."

Feelings are cheap. Feelings and $2.95 will buy your a cup of coffee.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Mark, ....................

You appear to be slipping on your medications again. Take a deep breath, take a pill and put on some nice clean Jammie's, and go to bed. You'll feel better in the morning......................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

People should stick to what

People should stick to what they know best. What is your talent?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"His my-way-or-the-highway

"His my-way-or-the-highway approach often leaves his agenda items abandoned at the side of the road."

Not unlike how democrats run things in Washington DC.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Leadership

General Eisenhower once said that leadership was getting someone to do something you want them to do because they want to do it. The governor needs to go back to school to learn how to lead. As far as I can tell he has not convinced anybody since the day he was elected that he has one single good idea. The people who support him today are the same Kool-Aid drinkers who supported him then. All you hear is well he may not be perfect but he has my support anyway. Seems like he would have to be eating babies to lose their support. And even then they would look the other way. His incompetence and blunders costing the state more and more money are so blatant it boggles the mind that his supporters do not notice. Take the EBT card pictures for instance. Nearly $200,000 dollars spent on cards that anybody can legally use as long as they have a pin number. I am yet to hear how this will even impede one fraud transaction. All we get out of Augusta these days is furious activity accomplishing nothing and our economy reflects it.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Thank you Mr. Rhoades

My letter titled, "Dysfunctional State Government", was a generalization of why our tax dollars are being squandered by partisan bickering in Augusta.
Your editorial, however, did a far better job then my letter did of explaining exactly who is responsible.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

So in short;

LePage is not a Guvnor to say the least, on top of not having any leadership skills not one iota. Meaning he will not be needed in Jan of 2015, since he sucks at anything close to being a constructive decision maker with any relevance to govern.

So, in closing, It is time to throw out baby huey with the water and the tub...

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