May 20, 2018
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Governor’s remarks about state workers harsh and untrue

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

My mother was the clerk of Newport District Court for around 35 years. I’m not sure whether that’s considered a middle management position or not.

She worked very hard and took a lot of pride in her job and the courthouse. She tended to a ridiculous number of plants to make the place prettier.

I don’t believe she was corrupt, but there was a questionable incident involving the probable illegal harboring of a liquor-doused fruitcake on state property.

And there was Jake, a neighborhood cat who occasionally was allowed to nap in the inbox on the courthouse counter.

Many, many years ago she used to let me practice my baton twirling in the empty judge’s chamber because it had high ceilings and I could toss my baton high.

Once in awhile, the town’s Avon Lady would stop by the courthouse and pick up my mother’s order.

I’m sure none of those things were in the state’s middle management regulation handbook.

But I don’t think corruption was involved.

“Corruption” is an awfully strong word. A bitter and harsh word.

And when a state’s chief executive proclaims at a public meeting that middle management state workers are “as corrupt as you can be,” it’s going to get some attention.

And it did.

The ABC News website, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, KTIV-TV in Sioux City, MSNBC and WBTV 3, a local channel in North Carolina, are just some of the publications, TV stations and websites that carried stories about the alleged corrupt Maine state workers.

Well done, Governor.

I’m not sure whether Lt. Christopher Coleman, head of the Maine State Police’s major crime unit, is considered middle management. I would suspect he is.

You may have seen pictures of Coleman on TV and in the newspaper as he manages some of the most serious crime scenes in the state — such as the shooting of four men in Lamoine and the agonizing and difficult search for missing toddler Ayla Reynolds of Waterville.

I don’t think he’s corrupt, either.

Then there’s Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, who heads up the state’s criminal division.

Middle management? Maybe. Upper middle management, perhaps.

There are convicted murderers and those who love them who may not think too highly of Stokes because he has put a lot of them behind bars. Certainly those who support convicted murderer Dennis Dechaine seem to think Stokes’ whole office is corrupt.

It’s one thing to have those people lob those allegations your way. That comes with the territory.

Quite different when it’s your governor.

I’ve watched Stokes prosecute cases for many years.

I don’t think he’s corrupt, either.

Could there be a corrupt state employee? Well, since there are about 27,000 of them, I would guess it’s a possibility. Are some of them very bad at their jobs? Most likely.

But last week, LePage told a roomful of people that middle management workers in the state were “as corrupt as you can be.”

He’s mad apparently that some of his visions and ideas have not been as easy to implement as he once thought. Even though he’s the governor, he’s getting some push-back.

Imagine that. I mean, he seems so darn easy to get along with.

Though LePage holds himself up as a regular guy, not a politician, he plays to his crowd as well as any politician before him. When he told Barack Obama to go to hell, he was talking to a roomful of hardworking fishermen concerned with increasing federal regulations.

Perhaps he got a sense that last week’s Newport crowd was frustrated with state regulations and licensing fees and state government overall.

A good opportunity to strike a blow to state workers and perhaps get some applause for his “courage” and “willingness” to take the hard stand and to speak the truth.

LePage is governing during a difficult time and he’s making hard decisions and pushing for some changes that are absolutely necessary.

But he’s boorish and continues to prove himself inept at getting his points across without schoolboylike behavior and remarks.

I’m guessing he thinks he’s sort of charming.

He’s not. He’s insulting.

And yes, my mother once stored a fruitcake in the corner of a storage room at the courthouse because the room was the right temperature and the cake had to “season” up for a while.

But she certainly wasn’t corrupt and neither are the vast majority of other state workers, middle management or not.

It’s a harsh accusation and it’s untrue, but thanks to our governor people all over the country are reading headlines about the corrupt state work force in Maine.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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