UPDATE: Speaking to reporters in Augusta, Gov. Paul LePage rebuked the press for its coverage of a former cabinet member’s resignation, saying reporters should have sought comment from him directly instead of going to Maine Department of Labor spokesman Adam Fisher, who was serving as the governor’s spokesman when the news broke. Listen to the audio above.
Check back later for updates.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon with Portland Mayor Nick Mavadones to affirm the administration’s willingness to work with Maine’s largest community in the wake of harsh comments attributed last week to the governor.
Former Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Norm Olsen, in announcing his resignation, claimed that the governor told him not to work with Portland on fishing issues. Olsen further alleged that LePage gave in to lobster lobbyists over ground-fishermen.
LePage has disputed those claims and his office has said the governor supports efforts to aid the groundfishing industry throughout Maine, including Portland.
The governor’s office said Olsen’s resignation was precipitated by communication style rather than policy differences.
Upon hearing of the meeting Thursday, members of Portland’s legislative delegation were dismayed to learn that the governor would not allow any of them to sit in on the meeting.
“I am disappointed that the governor’s actions trump his rhetoric. Last week we heard he has no hard feelings for Portland, yet he’s shutting out Portland’s lawmakers,” said Assistant Senate Democratic Leader, Justin Alfond of Portland. “If the governor is truly interested in resolving contention within the fishing industry, creating jobs at the Portland Fish Exchange and doing what’s right for the people of Maine, then he would have embraced Portland’s lawmakers.”
Added Rep. Anne Haskell, D-Portland: “I am disappointed that the governor did not see the value I could have brought during today’s discussions. As the sponsor of groundfishing legislation, I understand the issue deeply and thought I’d be of value in understanding the governor’s approach.”
Mavadones had requested a meeting with the governor after Olsen’s allegations that LePage refused to work with Portland because the city was politically “against him.”