Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gubernatorial Wishlist: Good tidings from LePage

Published in the Portland Phoenix

In place of our usual monthly Gubernatorial Scorecard, we're looking at what Governor Paul LePage has been up to through the lens of the holiday season. Augusta gets back to business in mid-January, making the current state of relations between the gov and various groups even more important than usual. Here's what we imagine they're giving each other, and how much it's really worth.

JOB CREATORS | The governor has talked to vast numbers of business leaders around the state, has sought to put business lobbyists' language directly into law and state policy, and has even authorized the assumption of untold millions in liability for a landfill cleanup in the hopes of keeping Maine's mills working even just a little bit longer. What more could he give them? Depends what they give him.
GIFT FOR HIM • 1000 sheets of custom stationery featuring pre-written legislative language, plus a pre-printed signature at the bottom | $250 (companies will cover the lobbyists' drafting fees)
GIFT FROM HIM • More subsidies, tax cuts, and liability reductions | $10 million (that's a conservative estimate)
JOB SEEKERS | Faced with a protest outside his door, LePage this weekend glad-handed with a selected trio from a group who were objecting to his derogatory remarks about people who can't find work in the worst economy in a century. His office put out a nice press release with friendly photo. Then he called the meeting "bullshit" to a reporter.
GIFT FOR HIM • A chess clock, to monitor how much time he spends talking to the rich versus the poor | $20 (if everybody pitches in pennies found on the street)
GIFT FROM HIM • A year of his time really engaging in the issues that affect disadvantaged and out-of-work Mainers | $70,000 (his annual salary)
STATE EMPLOYEES | Simultaneously portraying the rank-and-file of public servants as impossibly overworked and unconscionably lazy, LePage continues to fight to reduce staff numbers and privatize retiree benefits. Some state offices have seen so many departures that even the front-desk staff struggle to know who's in charge.
GIFT FOR HIM • A list of all the stuff he'll have to do for himself if everybody gets either laid off or fired, or becomes too demoralized to stay | free (it's on the state's website)
GIFT FROM HIM • A holiday email message (some acknowledgment that they're working hard might be nice) | free (but he'll have to learn to use email)
THE MEDIA | Before his rude dismissal of concerns about economic justice, LePage hadn't blundered as often lately as he used to. We knew he was missing the limelight; it's clear what pass for Maine's mainstream-media pundits missed him too.
GIFT FOR HIM • Wi-fi-enabled webcam (to webcast real-time audio and video of his every moment) | $110 (the dailies and the TV stations can pool their available cash)
GIFT FROM HIM • A weekly public question-and-answer session (though that "bullshit" line is pretty good) | free (the best part of transparency is its simplicity!)
THE OPPOSITION | LePage continues to act as if he has no opposition in the State House; he's clearly oblivious to how much of the pushback comes from members of his own party. But the Dems are finding their voices too, albeit slowly. It definitely seems that the Occupy movement has given the DINOs some things to talk about.
GIFT FOR HIM • A magnifying glass (they can say it'll help him find a clue; also useful for finding his regular-person supporters) | $10
GIFT FROM HIM • A ruler (he can say they can measure their progress in his state; also useful for determining how low they bow to him) | $5
This month's total | Gifts for LePage $390 | Gifts from LePage $10,070,005