Let’s suppose that Paul LePage is right in his belief that Maine’s daily newspapers function as an arm of the Democratic Party. Then we would expect the prejudiced press to depict our governor’s refusal to subsidize Mark Eves’ job as an example of the man’s beastliness. We might expect an article about the incident now in the headlines to begin this way: “The Good Will-Hinckley (GWH) board of directors’ decision to withdraw a job offer to Mark Eves shows students that it’s OK to give in to bullies and that money trumps values….”

Hold on a bit here and remember that newspaper editors and reporters are objective judges of political clashes, so this sentence is completed with “….alumni of the charter school, overseen by the organization, and parents of the students said yesterday.” You see, it’s not the reporter’s opinion. It’s the opinion of a select group of citizens he stumbled across randomly.

You see, this is not a tendentious attack on the governor. It’s just a survey of opinions by involved citizens. So the article in question goes on for 24 paragraphs, featuring quotes about “bullying, cowardice, unfairness and serial abuser of power.” Reach the twenty-fifth paragraph and you learn that “…. at least one parent of a student at the school whole-heartedly agreed with the board’s decision…”

Turns out that a woman from Athens, whose son is a senior at the institution, was very pleased, “especially after she learned that he had made previous statement criticizing charter schools.” More, she had heard an Eves interview which she felt disclosed his ignorance of how Goodwill-Hinckley functions.

That’s just one woman’s opinion, what about those appearing in the previous paragraphs? The opinion “sample” includes a mother, her son, her son’s girl-friend and Christopher Cooper of Alna. Chris appears as the prime witness for the prosecution of LePage and the GWH board. He wrote an eloquent letter condemning the board as “a self-interested player in the tawdry games of our corrupted age.”

The man has something to say as the parent of a GWH student, but the view from Alna, appears to encompass the whole epoch in which we find ourselves. Turns out that in 2010 Christopher Cooper wrote “Everybody Knows The Deal Is Rotten” for a blog called “Common Dreams. Breaking Views and News for the Progressive Community.” His article makes it clear that he regards the weirdo-leftist Dennis Kucinich as his ideal president and Barack Obama as some kind of right-wing deviationist.

The Alna progressive has as much right as the Athens mother to speak on the subject. He has the same kind of family connection.

On the other hand he is not simply an interested citizen. He’s a frothing ideologue who hates Paul LePage, first and foremost, for being a conservative Republican. His political motivations are as relevant as my own. Mine are out front. His were concealed in the article I quote.

If we are interested in examining “a self-interested player in the tawdry games of our corrupted age” we might want to take a closer look at Mark Eves. The Maine State Treasurer, Theresa Hayes, was his rival for Democratic Speaker post back when she was the Democratic representative from Buckfield. Her hopes were dashed when the state’s union leadership called around to forbid the Democratic reps to vote for her.

Her past membership in the Maine Education Association (MEA) and usual support its educational issues didn’t matter. She had voted contrary to their orders just one time and that was enough for them to veto her election as Speaker.

Hayes denounced the Maine Democratic Party as a slavish gofer for the unions and entered the ranks of the Unenrolled. This echoed Eliot Cutler who explained his reason for his Independent race for governor by writing a column in the Bangor Daily News in 2010 saying that his former party had became a tool for the state’s special interests. He singled out the MEA in particular because of its across-the-board hostility to charter schools.

I have no evidence that the MEA specially hand-picked Eves for the Speaker’s chair. He had always been an dependable servant and his other rivals were equally subservient.. As Paul LePage pointed out, Mark Eves has consistently opposed charter schools. The governor clearly assumes that Eves would work to undermine the Good Will-Hinckley charter school if elevated to its leadership. I’m less certain. The large salary he was in line to receive might well have convinced him that charter schools are a good thing—at least those who pay him off.

Here’s a final point we cannot expect Maine’s media to make clear. The money that LePage threatened to withhold if Eves was hired comes from a gubernatorial discretionary fund. Discretionary means, clearly and simply, that the disposition of those funds is entirely up to whoever occupies the Blaine House.

It’s true that Paul LePage despises Mark Eves almost as much as he despises Tom Saviello, but the Speaker’s consistent hostility to charter schools is grounds enough to refuse support. Mr. Cooper may, in his self-righteous fury, condemn the GWH board for cowardice, but he should ask why they thought it a good idea to hire an enemy of the charter school movement in the first place. The fact that he was the most influential Democrat available might have something to do with that. That would fit in with “the tawdry games of our corrupted age” that so disturb him.

If that is so, they are simply following the same path as every organization which hires lobbyists and other influence peddlers. Consider, for example, the MEA’s decision to hire Josh Tardy, the GOP minority leader who was once among their most reliable opponents.


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