To the editor:
The Governor’s press secretary began the town hall meeting in Presque Isle by asking for respect from the audience, and the audience was respectful throughout the nearly 2-hour meeting during which the governor scattered disrespect in wide-flung directions. Defending himself and his administration, he blamed and insulted all he believed to be opposing his efforts, especially targeting Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), Maine Education Association (MEA), Maine Municipal Association (MMA), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Maine Legislature, and local control.
The governor said that NRCM is the biggest job killer in the state, that southern Maine colluded with NRCM to kill jobs in the poorest rural areas, and that the people of northern Maine were in favor of rules that would have allowed local open-pit mining. That is not true.
At public hearings on mining regulations, dozens of people from Aroostook testified for saving the environment from the proposed rules and for saving jobs in the local sporting industry that depends on clean water. Maine’s health, economy, and lifestyle depends on “protecting, restoring, and conserving Maine’s environment, now and for future generations” (http://www.nrcm.org/about-nrcm/), NRCM’s stated mission. Only two or three people from Aroostook testified for rules that would have resulted in serious pollution.
The nonprofit NRCM with 16,000 members. MEA with 24,000 members, AARP with 230,000 Maine members, and MMA are all nonprofits with missions to serve the public good in their respective areas. Altogether, at least 270,000 members of these public service organizations were subjected to the governors disrespect at this meeting because they somehow opposed the Governor’s will.
We need public-service lobbying as a counter balance against the lobbying of big corporate interests such as J.D. Irving whose only motive is profit for the company that wants to do open-pit mining of Bald Mountain. The governor did not once mention lobbying efforts of any major businesses or corporations which have far greater lobbying resources than any of the nonprofits he blames.
He also frequently blamed local control and the legislature for his failures to fix problems. With that blaming, virtually every Maine voter was targeted by his disrespect, since we all have a hand in voting for local town and county officials, school boards, and legislators.
Governor LePage used this town hall forum to campaign for a legislature that will respectfully do his bidding. “Elections matter,” he repeated a number of times.
Indeed they do. We need a legislature which will not allow the governor during his last two years in office to ignore threats posed by global warming and poorly regulated corporate development of our environment. We need a legislature who will respect and protect local interests and local government. We need a legislature who will work cooperatively with major non-profit organizations that advocate for the best interests of all Mainers.
Please, educate yourselves about the issues, and vote in November for a legislature who will meet these needs.