June 16, 2013

Bill Nemitz: LePage's hot air forms cloud over Maine

Dear Governor LePage,

So what, now you're a weatherman?

Here we are in the middle of the beginning of the end, with the July 1 deadline for passing a state budget just two weeks away, and you're going all meteorological on us.

"Right now ... right now, it's this," you told WCSH's Don Carrigan just the other day. "There's a cloud of blind hatred coming from the third floor (of the State House) from a couple of people. And I don't play that kind of politics."

First, let me just say I have no idea how my friend Carrigan keeps managing to pull this off: He sticks the mike under your chin, you say something that sets two-thirds of your fellow Mainers' hair on fire and Carrigan dashes back to the studio with yet another 60 seconds of pure gold for what someday will be a "Bill Green's Maine" retrospective titled "Legend of the Blaine House Beast -- The Maine Governor Who Growled."

But back to the cloud of blind hatred.

Now I'm no Joe Cupo, Governor, but I'm pretty darned sure that clouds form when hot air rises and runs into cooler air aloft, causing water vapor in the hot air to condense until it blocks out the sun and, in extreme cases, sends us all running for cover.

So, much as I hate to admit it, Big Guy, I think you might be onto something here.

For more than two years now, there's been all kinds of hot air swirling around the second floor of the State House, where you work when you're not holed up across the street in the Blaine House. Aim one of those thermal imaging cameras at your office and I guarantee it will light up like a Christmas tree.

Upstairs where the Legislature works, on the other hand, the atmosphere is noticeably more temperate.

Sure, an occasional squall pops up -- like on Thursday when Minority Leader Ken Fredette said on the House floor that he opposes Medicaid expansion because he has a "man's brain." (Not fair, huh Guv?)

Still, when it comes to the budget, the Dems and the Republicans have done a bang-up job settling their differences and passing a two-year spending plan that pretty much everyone hates. (Which in politics is the equivalent of variable cloudiness with a 50 percent chance of rain: nothing to cheer about, but not bad enough to cancel the whole picnic.)

Heck, even Fredette's man-brain told him to go ahead and support the budget on Thursday because, as he so accurately put it, "Time is now short and we, the Legislature, must act to protect the hardworking people of Maine."

Enter the hot air mass.

"It's just absolutely horrific," you told Carrigan. "It's horrific. I thought the first two budgets that I had in Waterville, when I became mayor, were bad. But this is almost laughable."

Man, are you blowing in every direction these days!

One second, the budget is "horrific" -- a word we normally associate with interstate pile-ups, airplane crashes and people who like to speak in hyperbole.

The next, the $6.3 billion spending package is "laughable" -- a word that connotes amusement, farce and that ever-growing highlight reel they're compiling over at WCSH.

But it gets worse.

Now that both the Maine House and Senate have passed the budget with the two-thirds majorities needed to override a high-pressure gubernatorial veto, the political forecast calls for a 100 percent chance that you'll go ahead and nix the whole deal. We know this because last weekend you went on statewide radio and said you would.

(Continued on page 2)

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