Gov. Janet Mills can sing.
I don’t mean to imply that simply because she can sing, she should be re-elected and neither do I mean to suggest that the ability to carry a tune be a prerequisite for holding office. However, she can sing, does so enthusiastically and I have found, since once finding myself momentarily in her company enjoying a few impulsive and melodic moments as we rendered “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” that the same joyous and unbridled enthusiasm is manifest in nearly everything she does and has done as governor of the great state of Maine.
Former Gov. Paul LePage’s life story is one of truly extraordinary achievement in the face of daunting obstacles. Unfortunately, although certainly understandably, those achievements came with baggage. That baggage, while finding comradery with some of Maine’s voters—as crass behavior and language becomes sadly fashionable—did not serve Maine well during the chaotic years he was our chief executive. And it lingers.
In February of 2016 LePage denounced candidate Trump. A week later he endorsed him and then he spent $22,000 of our tax dollars on accommodations at a Trump hotel, all while railing against wasteful spending. Such indecisiveness and conflict were a real concern.
He found fault with Obama’s presidency but rather than—or perhaps because he couldn’t—give voice to the particulars of those concerns, chose instead to tell our president to kiss his ass—much easier than trying to present a coherent argument—effectively casting Maine as the crude and uncultured relative in our family of states.
Mills has taken the issue of climate change and our depreciating environment as seriously as any…
Our governor, any governor, is obligated, as provided by the construct of our democracy, to give serious consideration to bills offered by the legislature for his signature and, of course the opposite is true. In the last 100 years Maine governors have found reason, after careful deliberation, thoughtful consideration of the positive or negative impact on Maine citizens, and after accounting for their own, perhaps adverse, political persuasions, to veto 469 such bills, an average of 15 vetoes per term. LePage vetoed 642 bills in his term as governor, not after careful consideration of the pros and cons, not after pondering the effect on Maine citizens but in angry and resentful retribution for one after another perceived slight or offense or simple disagreement.
One of those vetoed required that childcare workers undergo a background check. In 2015, after House Speaker Mark Eves disagreed with LePage on a particular issue, LePage threatened to withhold funding for Good-Will Hinkley, a charitable organization for at-risk youths, unless they fired Eves who’d just been chosen as its president.
During his administration, LePage had several extended meetings with the sovereign citizen movement, a fringe organization that asserts that the U.S. dollar is not legal tender, Maine courts are illegitimate, citizens need not obey the law, and that then-Senate President Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves and others were guilty of treason and should be executed.
In 2017 a majority of Maine voters passed a referendum expanding Maine’s Medicaid program, but LePage refused to sign it and that program, one that ultimately benefited thousands of deserving and long-expectant Mainers, was not signed into law until Mills took office.
Mills has taken the issue of climate change and our depreciating environment as seriously as any and has taken decisive action to achieve a carbon neutral Maine by 2045, far more ambitious that nearly any other U.S. governor and certainly more so than the federal government. LePage characterized concerns about climate change and our infested atmosphere as foolishness.
I suppose LePage might sing “Ain’t Misbehavin’” as well, but not convincingly, not here in Maine where he used to live and not in Florida where he moved to avoid paying Maine taxes.
Phil Crossman lives on Vinalhaven where he owns and operates the Tidewater Motel. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.