July 17, 2012

Bill Nemitz: Yes, there is a man with authority to mute LePage

Dear Secretary of State Summers,

Can I dispense with the formalities and just call you Charlie? Because what I'm about to ask you could not be more personal.

It's about your moment in history, Charlie. Your chance to shine. Dare I say your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect Maine from a looming constitutional crisis the likes of which this great state has never seen.

Our governor has lost his mind.

What else is new, you ask?

I'll tell you what.

Less than a week after he lit up the Internet with his weekend radio address about how the Internal Revenue Service is "the new Gestapo" as it prepares to collect penalties from people who don't obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, ever-impulsive Gov. Paul LePage did himself one better Thursday.

He told Paul Heintz, a remarkably persistent reporter for the Vermont weekly newspaper Seven Days, that the IRS is going to start killing people.

I kid you not, Charlie. Just like that kid in the old Bruce Willis movie, Paul LePage now sees dead people.

He also said Canadians are streaming south as we speak because their country's health-care system is already killing folks up there ... and that he wants to apologize to Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II ... and that he's also got a soft spot for "people that were accused of being communists during McCarthyism." See what I mean, Charlie? The guy's barn door is swinging on one hinge -- and even the screws on that are coming loose!

So why am I writing to you?

Simple. For months, readers have been calling, emailing and stopping me on the street to ask, "How can we get rid of this guy? Can't we start some kind of recall petition?"

The short answer is no. The Constitution of the state of Maine has no such provision -- at least not yet.

"Then can we impeach him?" they plead.

Not with a Republican-controlled Legislature, we can't -- especially when we have House Speaker Robert Nutting calling objections to LePage's "Gestapo" crack nothing more than "manufactured outrage." (Ever been to Auschwitz, Bob?)

So no recall and no impeachment.

But there is a third option, Charlie. And that's where you come in.

Go to Article V, Part First, Section 15 of the state Constitution: "Temporary mental or physical disability of the Governor." Now scroll down to the third paragraph:

"When the Secretary of State shall have reason to believe that the Governor is unable to discharge the duties of that office, the Secretary of State may so certify to the Supreme Judicial Court, declaring the reason for such belief. After notice to the Governor, a hearing before the court and a decision by a majority of the court that the Governor is unable to discharge the duties of the Office of Governor, the court shall notify the President of the Senate ... "

It goes on to deal with the succession of executive power and what happens if the governor gets his marbles back, but you get the gist of it, right, Charlie?

You -- and only you -- stand between Maine's welfare (no, Charlie, not that kind of welfare) and a chief executive who appears to be a misfiring neuron or two away from a sippy cup.

What's causing this extended meltdown?

Well, I'm no psychiatrist, but I've got a hunch it has something to do with LePage going to Vermont, arguably the most liberal state in the nation, in the first place. He was there to help raise funds for Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock, who's got to be wishing he'd gone with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie right about now.

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