June 25, 2018
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Fighting corruption, LePage style

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the Family Business Forum at Husson University's Gracie Theater in April 2012.


First suggestion: When calling state workers corrupt, prove it. Without specific examples of corruption or obstruction, the only result of your words will be a decline in employee morale, not helpful in increasing productivity.

Second: If you do happen to call state middle managers corrupt without specific examples, detail how you plan to change the ill behavior. That way workers have clear guidelines about how to improve.

Third: If you don’t have examples of corruption and don’t have a plan to end what you call corruption, consider apologizing. Say you spoke off the cuff, as you sometimes do, and that corruption was too strong a word to use.

It was possible that Gov. Paul LePage spoke quickly at the town-hall style meeting in Newport last week — calling middle management “about as corrupt as you can be” — without realizing the implication of what he was saying. But the following day, on Friday, his office formalized his comments by issuing a letter to state employees.

In the letter, LePage said, “Roadblocks have been put up, hurdles have been thrown in the way, and information has not been passed up to senior management. Those employees want to keep doing the same thing because it was always done that way … In my opinion, it shows that they have been corrupted by the bureaucracy.”

Instead of using generalities, it would be more effective to write about specific ways employees can improve. Should they update their technological skills? Communicate more clearly? Be more creative? Instead, the letter tells state workers to change their attitude and agree with LePage’s policies.

Any government or business can operate more efficiently, and it’s a good goal to want employees to improve. But criticizing people who don’t share your view will only create resentment and cut down on a necessary flow of diverse ideas. For someone who disagrees freely, LePage should understand when others do the same.

If the issue is about more than state employees not aligning themselves with LePage’s stance, and workers are truly not doing their jobs, then changes should be made. But it would be helpful to spell out the problems first and devise a specific way to tackle them.

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