Saturday/Sunday, May 5-6, 2012: LePage’s leadership, drug addiction and education

Posted May 04, 2012, at 4 p.m.

Who wants to work for the state of Maine?

I am stunned by the recent accusations of our governor that his own middle managers are corrupt and beyond his control. The governor made these accusations without providing a shred of evidence to support them. My guess is that the governor has no such evidence. He would rather blame the bureaucracy than provide the leadership that supports and encourages the best from each employee.

Gov. LePage speaks about the “bureaucracy” being in the way of his creating a new culture in state government. What kind of culture does he want to create? Does he want to model this new work culture on the values of the private sector? Remember Enron, Goldman Sachs and the infamous Bernie Madoff? Government is not a business and it cannot be run like a business. Government is not about profit. Government is about service.

Contrary to the governor’s belief, our state government is filled with talented and dedicated public servants who did not go to work at the state for the money, or status, or, God knows, appreciation for the myriad of public services they provide for the citizens of Maine. In fact, their own boss felt he had the right to publicly humiliate them. Many of our state employees are committed to performing their jobs well despite the daily intimidation, ridicule and bullying that is Gov. LePage’s style of leadership as he works to create his “new culture” of state government.

Gail Mackinson

Palermo

LePage morale

Gov. LePage’s human resource philosophy appears to be “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

Dean Red

Bar Harbor

The governor needs to know more about addiction

Substance use involving tobacco, alcohol and other drugs certainly threatens public health and safety, but the issue for Mainers is not simply prescription drug misuse, as recently suggested by Gov. LePage — it is the disease of addiction, no matter what the substance. It is a complex brain disease driven by genetic, psychological and environmental influences that requires medical attention.

While the governor may believe that “drug abuse in the country is not shrinking — it’s growing,” and that “methadone clinics for profit don’t work,” his opinion does not measure up to the facts. The percent of the population actually engaged in risky substance use or that is addicted has remained steady over the last decade.

He is right that is imperative to make sure that proscribing procedures work well. But he must understand that methadone has an extraordinary track record of clinical success. Just recently the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, noted, “For more than 30 years, methadone has been used safely and effectively to treat people with opioid addiction, particularly heroin. … We must not lose sight of methadone’s powerful benefits as a therapeutic medication for both pain and addiction.”

Mainers, especially our governor, must understand that substance use is a preventable public health problem and addiction is a treatable medical condition. His recent remarks do not point us in that direction.

William H. Foster, Ph.D.

President and CEO

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

at Columbia University

Phippsburg

Gubernatorial education

Perhaps Governor LePage needs to have his hearing checked? Perhaps he has a selective memory? Or perhaps he only listens to those who agree with him?

Last week, the governor whipped up his supporters by taunting the Maine Education Association. After branding all state employees as corrupt, he claimed that he had challenged the MEA to step up to the plate on professional development for teachers but that he hadn’t heard from us yet.

Actually, the MEA has had numerous discussions with Commissioner of Education Steve Bowen and the governor where we outlined our views for professional development and improving the profession.

The truth, which the governor tunes out, is that the MEA has spent tens of thousands of members’ dues dollars improving the skills of educators over the last 20 years.

We conduct annual conferences at which pedagogical leaders provide training and we provide mentors and support for those seeking certification by the prestigious National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

MEA/NEA provides support for local projects such as the Priority School program at Carrabec High in North Anson and the self-governance initiative at the Reiche School in Portland and we fund numerous grants to improve instruction in our schools.

One of MEA’s primary purposes is to promote and advocate for professional excellence among teachers and education support professionals and we take it very seriously. We only wish the governor would do likewise and not play politics with public education.

Chris Galgay

President, Maine Education Association

Turner

LePage problem

Sen. Katz and Rep. Flood have a very big LePage problem. How do we distance ourselves from an increasingly politically suicidal governor when we have supported by our votes his basic anti-labor and anti-state employee agenda over the past legislative session? Not easy when our districts include the largest number of state employees and retirees in Maine.

One can certainly understand that a weekend’s reflection would be necessary to weigh the political courses of action. Now we have a true masterpiece of political expediency and hypocrisy in a joint statement shedding crocodile tears about the nasty governor’s beating up yet again on state workers.

Count on the amnesia of your constituents concerning the votes we cast to enable the bullying — pension cost-of-living freezes that ignore retirement obligations, layoffs, wage freezes, suspension of longevity payments, flat funding of state employee health care, assaults on state employee union rights, on and on. Perhaps the emergence of a Democratic opponent, Penny Plourde, entered into some of Mr. Katz’s weekend calculations as he mulled his politically expedient response. A misstep now wouldn’t do in his march toward the senate presidency and the Blaine House.

The worst thing is the lack of conviction and cynical arrogance that presumes that they can have it both ways — spout platitudes about hard-working state employees while hurting them where it counts, on the floor of the Legislature. Have you no shame?

Tim Bolton

Augusta

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/04/opinion/saturdaysunday-may-5-6-2012-lepages-leadership-drug-addiction-and-education/ printed on July 29, 2014