PORTLAND — Portland Mayor Nicholas Mavodones is asking Gov. Paul LePage to respond to accusations made by a departing cabinet member that the governor said he didn’t want to work with Portland on fishing issues.

Norman Olsen resigned Wednesday as commissioner of the state Department of Marine Resources.
In a statement, he said Gov. Paul LePage said that there was to be no further collaboration with the City of Portland to develop measures to return groundfishing boats to Maine.

“Portland was against him, he said, and we will not work with that city,” Olsen’s statement said of the governor. “Rather than work with Portland, he said, we’ll build a new port somewhere.”

In a letter to LePage, Mavadones requested a meeting with him to discuss Olsen’s statements, as well as “the future of the city and state’s combined efforts to develop and enact policies to help restore the state’s groundfishing fleet.”

[Read Mayor Mavodones’ letter to Gov. LePage]

“I trust you understand that regardless of the veracity of these statements, the public and the City of Portland need to be reassured that economic development in all Maine communities, both large and small, are a priority for the Governor’s office,” Mavodones’ letter reads.

Late Thursday afternoon, LePage’s office said that the governor and Patrick Keliher, the new acting commissioner of Marine Resources, would meet with Mavodones. They noted that LePage had proposed eliminating sales tax on diesel fuel for commercial fishing boats, in an effort to bring more boats back to Portland. The Legislature enacted the tax break.

Adam Fisher, a spokesman for LePage, said this morning that the governor doesn’t make decisions based on which communities are perceived to be “against him.” Fisher declined to respond more to Olsen’s statement. “We aren’t inclined to get into a tit-for-tat response,” he said.