AUGUSTA, Maine — As the snow piled up Friday and some businesses around the state decided to close early, an odd question was heard repeatedly around the halls of the State House and Cross Office Building: “What would Marden’s do?”
Earlier in the week, Gov. Paul LePage’s spokesman, Dan Demeritt, was quoted as summarizing the attitude of the new governor — and former Marden’s executive — toward snow days like this: “The rule of thumb is: If Marden’s is open, Maine is open.”
The statement caught some flak from the state workers’ union, the Maine State Employees Association, which pointed out that several Marden’s stores actually closed earlier than state offices during a Jan. 12 storm.
On Friday, the LePage administration opted to close state offices at 3 p.m. even though many Marden’s stores planned to keep their normal hours.
“The governor understands the roads are slippery and wanted to give workers plenty of time and daylight to get home,” Demeritt said. He described his earlier statement as “a quip,” although he said the underlying message was true.
“The sentiment behind that was if the private sector is up and running, the state will be up and running,” Demeritt said. But the LePage administration is not going to abdicate its decisions on personnel matters to Marden’s or other private businesses, he said.
“We did not call Marden’s,” he said.