Dear Governor LePage,

It’s been too long, hasn’t it, Big Guy?

I know you’ve been busy and, in my own way, so have I. But I’ve followed your exploits all spring and couldn’t let the week end without firing an admittedly out-of-nowhere question your way:

Why don’t you trust Maine hunters?

I’m talking about “An Act to Allow a Moose Permit to Be Transferred to a Family Member” – a seemingly obscure bill passed overwhelmingly and without fuss by both chambers of the Legislature late last month.

The measure’s aim could not have been more true. Sponsored by Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, it would allow someone who wins a moose-hunting permit in the state’s annual lottery to transfer said permit to a deserving family member no later than 30 days before the start of the moose-hunting season.


Why, with only 2,815 permits being awarded this year out of more than 50,000 applicants, would a lucky winner do such a thing?

Well, in this case, as Sen. Miramant explained to me this week, a constituent with a permit has a relative who’s dying of cancer and wanted to bag a moose while there’s still time.

Now, I admit, as someone who’s been grappling with cancer myself lately, that I have a soft spot for anyone looking to counterbalance the latest CT scan with an item on his or her bucket list.

That sentiment was clearly shared by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when, much to their credit, they gave a thumbs-up to Miramant’s proposal a few weeks ago.

But then the bill landed on your desk. And rather than add your rubber stamp to this piece of compassionate and bipartisan lawmaking, out came your fully loaded veto pen.

You lamented in your veto letter how people often complain “that Maine’s hunting and fishing laws are too complicated and this bill simply compounds this problem by adding yet another wrinkle to our hunting laws.”


Too complicated? A grandson with a permit saying to his dying grandfather, “Here, Grampa, you take it,” is too complicated?

You also noted that some of your constituents “are frustrated that after applying for years, they are never drawn in the moose lottery.”

Cry me a river. I can only imagine how some of these folks must feel about their hard-earned weekly investments in the Maine Lottery.

But here’s the part that stopped me in my tracks, Governor. As you so tactfully put it in your veto message, “This bill … opens up a brand new avenue for families to engage in new schemes concerning the moose lottery to try to game this system in new and innovative ways.”

My first reaction upon reading that was you mistakenly thought this was a welfare bill and thus the phrases “engage in new schemes” and “game the system” were simply your default reaction – kind of like that picture of you with the goofy smile that my computer tosses back at me whenever I punch “Paul LePage” into Google.

But then it hit me. You, the chief executive of the great State of Maine, suffer from STD. Also known as selective trust deficit.


We already know far too well how that applies to welfare recipients: Until they can prove otherwise, their singular reason for existing is to mooch off hardworking Maine taxpayers – many of whom make so little in their low-paying jobs that they’re also welfare recipients.

Smooth-talking guys in suits, on the other hand – and this is where the “selective” part of your disorder comes in – treat Maine like their personal ATM via state-funded reports they plagiarized and shady “job creation” schemes that line only their pockets at the expense of every man, woman and child in Maine. And yet you offer up not so much as a whimper.

Enter the hunters, who have long been considered part of your base – at least until now.

Sen. Miramant tells me his bill is simply an attempt to untie the hands of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, who told lawmakers through his legislative liaison that he occasionally gets heart-wrenching requests to help make a sportsman’s dream come true.

In this case, an entire family entered the lottery in the hope someone would win a permit and could simply hand it over to their dying loved one. But until now, the law hasn’t given the commissioner the discretion to sign off on such a humanitarian gesture.

So the Legislature gave the commissioner the green light, confident that he will use his good judgment in distinguishing between those permit transfers that are for the right reasons and those that aren’t.


“It was very bipartisan,” Miramant told me. “Republicans and Democrats, all of a sudden everybody felt like they’d worked on something together. It was like you were at a ‘Make a Wish’ thing – you’d just done something really good.”

Hear that, Governor? No nasty accusations about hidden agendas. No political hostage-taking. Nothing but bonhomie in a place that’s seen far too little of such a thing since you took office four-plus years ago.

Then you vetoed it.

And then on Tuesday, the Legislature overrode your veto.


I won’t succumb to the temptation to connect the dots between your life as a street kid in Lewiston and your lingering reluctance to trust so many of your fellow Mainers.


But I will say this, Governor. A big part of leadership is believing in the people you lead, knowing in your gut that when given a chance to do the right thing, that’s exactly what most (if not all) of them will do.

Another sign of a true leader is recognizing that when we lift an individual out of a particular need, we simultaneously lift ourselves as a community, as an entire state.

But that’s not you, is it, Big Guy? As you harrumphed in that veto letter, “It is time we stop legislating for that one exceptional circumstance only to create a whole host of new, unintended consequences; and that is the only thing I see flowing from enactment of this bill.”

That’s not leadership, Governor. That’s the same old anger that’s been your weapon of choice since the day you first took office.

It’s about time it backfired.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.