Dear Gov. LePage,

I’m writing to congratulate you.

I know, that’s not what you expected to hear after your latest meltdown with the media last week.

But after all the things you’ve done wrong since you took office in January, it looks to me like you’ve finally done something right — and not a moment too soon.

You hired Pete Rogers as your communications director.

I say this for two reasons.

First, I’ve known Rogers, who started Monday, since the days when he was the spokesman for the Maine Army National Guard and I was traveling to Iraq to cover Maine troops serving there. He struck me then, as he still does, as a man of integrity and, equally important, a professional who understands the art of effective communication.

Second, if the latest flap over the recent resignation of Marine Resources Commissioner Norman Olsen proves anything, it’s that you need serious help with your communications skills.

Consider what happened Thursday just before you sat down with Portland Mayor Nick Mavodones and City Manager Mark Rees to deny Olsen’s claim that you had no interest in helping Portland rejuvenate its groundfishing fleet because you thought Maine’s largest city is “against” you.

While a bewildered Mavodones and Rees looked on, you suddenly detoured toward the meeting-room door, summoned in the press contingent waiting outside, and threw one of your trademark tantrums.

“The press, you folks, ran out and wrote all these articles (about Olsen) and you never once called us and checked,” you complained, adding that we in the print media “tend to not like to write the truth.”

Well, Governor, since we’re talking about the truth here, let the record show that you failed to tell it.

The truth is this newspaper and every other Maine media outlet that covered Olsen’s fiery departure July 20 contacted your communications office that day to get your reaction to the commissioner’s lengthy written critique of your leadership abilities (or lack thereof).

And all but one reporter — Mal Leary of Capitol News Service — got the same terse response from Adam Fisher, your spokesman for that day: Olsen’s charges were false and the governor would not be available for further comment.

Fisher, poor guy, normally flaks for the Department of Labor. He was simply filling in that week for Adrienne Bennett, your vacationing press secretary, who’s worked solo since Dan Demeritt, your former communications director, resigned in April for personal reasons.

(As for Leary, he got a few minutes of face time with you late that day only after he threatened to “ambush” you on your way home from the office. He uses that tactic regularly, he told me Friday, because it’s the only way to get you to answer any questions.)

Halfway through your hissy fit Thursday, WMTW-TV reporter Keith Baldi called you out on your claim that nobody tried to get your side of the Olsen saga.

“Governor, I actually did interview Adam Fisher for my story,” protested Baldi.

Your response: “How would Adam Fisher know? He was never in my office with the meeting. How would he know? He was never in my office.”

News flash, Governor: Fisher, on that day at least, was your spokesman. And like it or not, when your spokesman says you’re not available for comment, that’s you saying you’re not available for comment.

Which brings us back to Rogers, who alas, wasn’t there Thursday to tackle you as you brushed past the mayor and city manager (Rees, another new arrival, didn’t even get a “hello”) to lower the boom on the media.

Rogers told me Friday he’s looking forward to “doing some amazing things here that we’ve never been able to do before.”

I wished him luck — and took the liberty of offering a couple of suggestions.

One is to finally organize a communications office that’s worthy of the name, to keep pace with the news rather than struggle to keep up with it, to provide substantive answers to legitimate questions rather than fill the air with meaningless balloon quotes.

The other — and this is by far the biggest challenge facing Rogers — is to control what comes out of your mouth.

By your own admission, Governor, you’re not the smoothest talker in the world. But I’ve got to tell you, there are times when you make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Think I’m exaggerating?

Then please translate this gem from Thursday’s brouhaha: “Most of you in media has been very well.”

Or this response to MaineToday Media reporter Rebekah Metzler after she told you she’d tried, without success, to talk with you about Olsen.

“Yeah, but you can talk with me all you want,” you fumed back at Metzler. “Because what you’re going to write is nothing I’m going to say.”

I know, I know, heat of the moment and all that. But all due respect, Governor, that’s not straight talk from a guy who doesn’t mince words. That’s gibberish.

So even as I give you my hearty thumbs up for hiring a mouthpiece of Pete Rogers’ caliber, I implore you to shut up long enough to listen to him.

He’s very good at communicating with all kinds of people, particularly the media.

You aren’t.

He has a knack for staying on the high road — even when the going gets rough.

You don’t.

Who knows? With Rogers (fingers crossed here), you might even make sense from time to time.

Without him, you’re just unbelievable.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

[email protected]