Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gubernatorial Scorecard: Back from Vacation

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Governor Paul LePage recently returned from a Jamaican vacation, which provided fodder for some political controversy, and probably helped him avoid getting into new messes. Here's our fourth Gubernatorial Scorecard, in which we score Governor Paul LePage on political savvy, and on whether what he's trying to do is good policy. Note the running total.

PERMANENT VACATION | LePage has fired Charlie Colgan, the leader and most visible member of the state's Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission, the group that guesses how Maine's economy and tax revenue will do in the future, a key part of the budget process. Forecasts are never exactly right, but being overly optimistic, as Colgan was, causes more problems than guessing low.
POLITICS • Colgan was replaced with LePage-base-friendly ultra-conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center economist Scott Moody | 7/10
POLICY • Colgan's rosy predictions led to repeated rounds of excruciating "emergency" cuts to services; his departure is no loss | 10/10

IN NEED OF A VACATION | Top gubernatorial aide Dan Demeritt resigned his state post April 16, in the wake of reports that he and his businesses are behind on mortgage and utilities payments at several buildings, five of which are now in foreclosure.
POLITICS • Firing someone for financial trouble amid a recession? Heartless | 2/10
POLICY • Having a top aide who can't pay his bills is bad GOP form | 9/10

ACCOUNTABILITY VACATION | Shortly after his return, LePage told a group of business leaders that he was free to go on vacation because of how little the Legislature had gotten done so far. That drew fire from State House Dems and Repubs alike, with House Speaker Bob Nutting retorting, "I'm sorry that the governor still doesn't understand the legislative process and apparently nobody on his staff has explained it to him."
POLITICS • Excellent defense if his policy initiatives continue to crash and burn | 6/10
POLICY • Reckless antagonism of people he needs to achieve his goals | 3/10

STRAIGHT-FACE-TEST VACATION | In a three-day period, the governor: admitted his Environmental Protection commissioner was ineligible for the post because of a conflict of interest; moved that man (Darryl Brown) to a state office LePage has slated for closing; declared the state law the nomination violated needs revision; fired his Economic Development commissioner for making offensive remarks; declined to disavow the racist, classist comments in question.
POLITICS • Created enough moving targets that weaseling out of any actual error will be easy | 8/10
POLICY • Cleaning house incompletely leaves a lot of dirt behind | 3/10

VISIBILITY VACATION | As the Maine Turnpike Authority scandal gains mainstream attention years after the initial sounds of alarm (see "E-ZPass on Ethics," by Lance Tapley, August 4, 2006), LePage is nowhere to be found. This is precisely the sort of ridiculous entrenched-bureaucrat, government-waste problem LePage railed against when campaigning. But he is not stepping up to condemn it as loudly as we might have expected from his pre-election rhetoric.
POLITICS • Missing a massive opportunity to get on message | 1/10
POLICY • Raises a question: Does he really dislike cronyism and waste? | 4/10

This month's total | Politics 24/50 | Policy 29/50 | Last month: 32/50 | Policy 15/50 | Overall: Politics 112/200 | Policy 91/200