Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Some people say they find Gov. Le-Page refreshing. The governor says what he thinks, they say, and he comes across as a plain-spoken regular guy, talking politics like someone you'd meet at the local coffee shop or hear calling up a talk radio show.
Gov. Paul LePage
But we have a right to hold the governor to a much higher standard than we have for any local loudmouth blowing off steam.
Do we have to say it? The governor of the state of Maine should not accuse public employees or anyone else of criminal behavior unless he has at least a shred of evidence. But sadly, we have to say it.
At a town hall meeting in Newport, the governor made an unfounded charge, saying that the problems of state government are a result of the corruption of state employees. That's right, the chief executive of the state called his employees "as corrupt as can be." Even for a governor who has a history of tossing out outrageous allegations without any evidence, this was a stunner.
If the governor knows about any bad actors on the state payroll he should speak up. What are their names? What did they do? Why haven't they been charged with crimes? Why are they still employed?
Don't lose any sleep waiting for answers. The busy governor -- who has already demonized poor people, claiming (without evidence) that welfare fraud was behind program cost overruns; blamed (without evidence) political appointees from the previous administration for hiding computer problems at DHHS; and regularly blames legislators and others for all the problems he was elected to tackle -- rarely follows through with the facts.
Given a day to think over his remarks, the governor could have taken the opportunity to apologize to the people he had publicly maligned. In classic form, however, he issued a letter to employees saying many had been "corrupted by the bureaucracy," had shown a "lack of integrity" and should be looking for work elsewhere.
Forget about politics, this is just bad management, and our sympathies go out to the good people the governor has abused.
And would it be too much to ask Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen or Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew or any of the other commissioners who shared the podium with LePage in Newport on Thursday to have the courage to say something in defense of their employees?
Couldn't one of them stand up and say, "Actually, governor, the people who work for me are honest public servants who are doing their best in a difficult situation"?
His anti-government clap-trap may play well in some circles, but it doesn't educate children or provide health care to the people who need it.
Gov. LePage and all of the commissioners who shared the stage with him in Newport on Thursday owe an apology to state workers and to everyone who doesn't find his out-of-control rhetoric refreshing.