It was at once disappointing, irritating and somewhat amusing to see the Maine Sunday Telegram wasting any ink and paper covering the less-than-profound thoughts of Maine’s current governor re: the candidates for president in 2012 (“LePage says GOP needs a ‘fresh face,'” Feb. 26).

Sure, he was in Washington for a conference with other governors and perhaps felt he had to say something impressive. Good luck with that, huh?

Here are a couple of quotations from the article:

“I would love to see a good old-fashioned convention and a dark horse come out and do it in the fall,” he said.

“I just believe we ought to go to a convention and pick a fresh face,” LePage said.

It’s the last quote here that has me a little worried. Does that quote mean Gov. LePage is perhaps considering positioning himself as a possible presidential candidate (a sort of draft pick) if the spinning-out-of-control Republicans end up having a brokered convention?

Good grief, it’s bad enough we have him as Maine’s governor. Just imagine Paul LePage as U.S. commander in chief!

Bob Barter

Berwick

After reading the article in the Telegram on Feb. 26 about the Governors Association conference in Washington, D.C., I wasn’t disappointed to learn that our governor still has his foot where it usually is, “in his mouth.”

I don’t usually refer to him as “Governor,” but in this letter I will so everyone will know for sure who I am speaking of. Look who is saying that the Republicans running for president aren’t cutting it. The only Republican I know who can’t cut it lives in the Blaine House in Augusta.

One last note: He said he has no plans to meet with Kathleen Sebelius. Kathleen, you don’t know how lucky you are.

Dick Alexander

Portland

With the election in November 2010 of our governor, it is obvious that Maine needs two laws in the books.

One is that we have a recall law enacted. The other is is that the governor must win by 50 percent or over. This is the only way to protect the people of Maine from ideological ideas that will hurt all Mainers, but mostly the ones who didn’t vote for him.

Ernest L. Williams

Scarborough and Lubec

Gov. LePage’s recent education proposals, including public funding for religious schools and the freedom of student school choice, are said to be designed to give “the broadest scope of opportunities” for all Maine students (“LePage proposes sweeping education changes,” Feb. 9).

The proposals, however, appear to create a system that would not only blur the line between church and state, but would also create unstable school districts.

LePage’s establishment of an open enrollment program would make a school’s future more unpredictable, with neighboring schools competing for enrollment figures and subsequent state funding.

Each year, administrators would have to worry about how many students they’d enroll in the following year, and whether or not they’d receive enough state funding to maintain a school. This outflow of students may force some schools to shut down, inconveniencing families of both teachers and students.

LePage also hopes to remove “the statutory language that prohibits public tuition dollars from going to private religious schools,” giving funding to religious schools meeting academic standards. The governor, however, would only be using nonexistent state funding to provide for religious schools, completely disregarding the separation of church and state.

The provision will likely end up in court, meaning the state would have to spend more money defending a lawsuit, when they could be spending it on education.

The vouchers wouldn’t favor religious schools, making it highly reminiscent of Zelman v. Simmons, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state’s proposals. However, the dissenting opinions in that case show that whether or not the government favors these schools is irrelevant to the question of its constitutionality.

Although LePage would require that the schools teach a curriculum aligned with state academic standards, it would be difficult to separate secular education from religious instruction, violating the Establishment Clause altogether.

Michaela Stephenson

Hampden

I read with great interest recent letters to the editor defending and criticizing Gov. LePage. I think all the writers have overlooked a very relevant aspect to this controversy.

It is my view that Paul LePage regards himself as the CEO of the state of Maine, not its governor. By virtue of his perceived position, he believes he has the license to say and do whatever he pleases. He also believes that he alone has the right to determine state policy and operational procedures.

To accomplish his personal goals, he has retained compatible friends and family members for his executive staff. Legislators are expected to serve as his employees, obliged to obey his decisions and not required to function as representatives of the people.

He believes the people of Maine are merely stockholders in his corporation who had the misfortune of hiring him for the position of CEO (aka governor) with a plurality of the stock they hold in the company.

The only redeeming feature in this scenario is that the majority of Maine stockholders do possess the authority to fire this CEO and replace him with a true governor, a competent, compassionate leader who will honor his commitment to protect the interests and uphold the rights of all the people he is elected to serve.

The time to exercise this option is drawing very near.

Phyllis Kamin

Cumberland

I’ve read with interest, and often agreement, letters from fellow Mainers outraged at the latest thing coming from Gov. LePage’s mouth, letters that universally wonder when he will learn compassion, sensitivity or simply basic respect for the office he holds and the people he serves.

The answer is never. Whether he lacks the capacity to grow and evolve or lacks the will, we don’t know; we do know there are zero indicators of change.

My advice is to stop looking for them. My advice is to use your energy and your vote to put someone in that office who has the ability to apprehend the whole picture. Plain speaking is an admirable trait only when the speech has some thought behind it.

Lindsay Knapp

Portland

Legislator misconstrues nature of MaineCare issues

Rep. Margaret R. Rotundo defends MaineCare, making the argument in a Feb. 23 letter to the editor that MaineCare is a “health care program not a welfare service.” This distinction is based on the fact that “payments go to hospitals and health care providers, not directly into the pockets of eligible individuals.”

Let me suggest a rather different typology. If a person receives something of value, that transaction may either involve that person also giving something of comparable value, or not.

The first case corresponds to an economic transaction. The second case corresponds to theft, either legal (welfare, broadly speaking) or illegal (as in bank robbery).

A person receiving Social Security or Medicare may have paid in to the system, but as soon as the benefits exceed what was paid in (including interest), what was an economic transaction becomes a case of welfare.

I am sure that many people on MaineCare need those services, but it only makes sense to acknowledge what kind of transaction is really taking place with that program.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island

Rep. Margaret Rotundo, D-Lewiston, argued in her letter to the editor that MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program, is a “health care program,” not a welfare service. She went on to cite figures about the growth of the program. She suggested that it was not quite as fast as Republicans have suggested.

Arguing about whether to call MaineCare “welfare” or a “public health care program” is just an argument of semantics that will not help us to improve the system. But since she brought it up, are food stamps not welfare either? Are they a “food program”?

As for the growth in MaineCare, Rep. Rotundo cites 10 percent growth in spending in the past six years.

However, total state and federal Medicaid spending in Maine has increased by 45 percent and enrollment has grown by 78 percent in just the past 10 years. Since 1998, the share of Maine’s state budget going to Medicaid has grown from 12.4 to 21 percent.

Notice that we are not arguing about whether MaineCare is growing, but by how much.

The bottom line is that we need to make MaineCare and other welfare programs sustainable.

The bipartisan, 2012 emergency budget plan that cuts the size of MaineCare, a plan that Rep. Rotundo helped craft and that passed in the Senate on Feb. 23, is a good step in that direction.

Hank Fenton

Portland