Gov. Paul LePage’s assault on the state’s environmental policy should not come as a surprise. The first alarm came last spring with the Republican Party’s platform. This tea party-inspired dictum, plus LePage’s statements during the campaign, made it clear that Maine’s environmental policy was a target.
We were made vulnerable because of the poor national economy and Libby Mitchell’s candidacy for governor. While Mitchell served Maine well as president of the Senate, she was no match for Paul LePage’s bad-mannered anger. It is difficult to know what impact Dennis Bailey and Thom Rhoads had on the election with their website, the Cutler Files. Given the closeness of the outcome, it seems likely that they contributed to LePage’s slim victory.
Among the many negative aspects of Paul LePage’s election is the fact the Brookings Institution’s analysis of Maine will be ignored as the musings of even more Washington liberals. Instead of following the Brookings Institution’s recommendation to capitalize on Maine’s “brand” to create economic growth, LePage wants to turn the environmental clock backward. He unashamedly doesn’t mind returning to an era when polluted air, harbors, rivers and streams are merely part of the cost of doing business.
Paul LePage’s campaign was in many ways “nativist” in nature. Instead of trying to discover why individuals and businesses from “away” have moved to Maine, he chooses to replicate mistakes made elsewhere. By failing to take into account the priorities of Maine residents who worked hard to preserve the state’s natural assets, LePage is saying “Kiss my butt.”
The Brookings Institution also recommended ways to make doing business in Maine more attractive. These include tax reduction, making sure our regulations actually are achieving their intended purposes, and achieving more favorable utility rates. They encouraged greater investment in higher education and reducing the amount of money being wasted on our schools’ bloated administrative costs.
Health care costs are an important problem in every state. Although the new national health care law was not part of Brookings’ analysis, joining the lawsuit to nullify the new federal law solves none of the problems we are facing. Our health care problems require solutions, not obstructionism.
A liberal is a person who believes in equality. Liberals believe that everyone deserves fair and equal treatment. A conservative is a person who believes in privilege. Conservatives believe that there are certain individuals who, by virtue of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, education or wealth, deserve privileges oth-ers do not.
Liberals do not believe manufacturers, developers or energy suppliers have the inherent right to diminish our environment as part of their right to be in business. Let us hope that the retiring director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Everett “Brownie” Carson, is correct in his hope that members of the business commu-nity will, “Go in, take Paul LePage gently but firmly by his lapels, look him eyeball-to-eyeball and say, ‘Don’t make the mistake of driving people like me away.’”
Thomas A. Latta of Rockport is a retired teacher and school administrator who worked in Michigan and Maine.