CONTRIBUTORS

When push comes to shove

Posted May 08, 2012, at 3:41 p.m.

Dear Sen. Katz and Rep. Flood: I am impressed and grateful to you for defending our state’s hardworking employees. You have joined all of the Democrats and many other citizens. I am disappointed there are not more Republicans taking this stance with you.

Most everyone in Maine was appalled when they heard the governor’s comments referring to state employees as “corrupt as you can be.” It is embarrassing to have the chief executive of the state of Maine talking about his employees like this. These hardworking people work for him. They implement the programs and rules that our government comes up with. It is not their fault that there are user fees or license fees, or too much bureaucracy. Governor, you would do well to adopt Harry Truman’s motto: “The buck stops here.” You are the boss, start acting like it.

One thing Maine needs right now is for businesses from outside of the state to consider locating here. We are “open for business” and recently were declared the most peaceful state in which to live. Shouldn’t we be stressing this instead of publicly blaming state employees for whatever problems you think we have?

My two business partners and I manage Lee Auto Malls. We are grateful to our 430 employees who work hard every day to make this a great company. If we have a dealership or a department or an employee that is not succeeding, we assume responsibility for the poor results and try to fix it. We do not blame the employees. If I have a manager who is not successful, it is because I did a poor job training him. While not everyone is perfect for the job, I try to resist lashing out and calling them corrupt. I try to figure out what is wrong and what we need to do to fix it. And we only run a bunch of car dealerships; governor, you run our state.

I recently went to a dinner sponsored by a liberal, left-leaning group that I am quite sure the governor is not a member of. We (I am a member) honored an Augusta attorney who has dedicated his life to serving those who are least able to defend themselves. Walt McKee, the attorney honored, is one of those rare individuals that comes off as natural and humble as could be. He has a reputation of needing no sleep, regularly sending emails at 3 a.m. and having documents ready at 4 a.m. He is passionate and determined to help people that need help and are not always at the top of anyone’s list of pet causes. Sen. David Hastings, R-Fryeburg, noted that in championing the rights of the accused, “Walter has always been able to do that in a way the Legislature has been receptive to, understanding of and responsive to.”

As I sat and listened to the first few speakers and then to Walt McKee himself, my mind started to wander. I snapped back to attention when I heard Walt refer to some of his clients as being bullied, and then he reminded us of how nasty bullies are. We seem to have an epidemic of bullying going on in schools and out of schools. We have kids being killed in hazing incidents. We seem to need reminding of how to behave.

I was taught by my father to stand up for what you think is right, regardless of the consequences. Senators, representatives and commissioners, now is the time to come to the defense of the people that work for you. It is the right thing to do. It is better to stand up to a bully than sit quietly and watch him push people around.

Adam D. Lee is the chairman of Lee Auto Malls in Westbrook .

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