Three years ago, Maine voters made a little-known mayor from a small central Maine city the 74th governor of the state.
And nothing’s been the same since.
Paul LePage came into office insulting the president of the United States and hasn’t slowed down to this day.
The Waterville mayor and Marden’s general manager walked onto the political stage as a long shot in the 2010 Republican primary. But he emerged ahead of better-known names such as Les Otten and Peter Mills with his brand of fist-pounding promises to straighten out the state’s books, be “business-friendly,” cut taxes and reduce welfare.
In the 657 days he has been in office, LePage has been on page one nearly as often as the weather forecast. Usually, he’s out there with blunt – some say crude – remarks, threats and demands.
But there’s a lot more to the LePage story than his self-described “big mouth.” There’s also his record on substantive issues, from the pension debt to the income tax, from business regulation to the environment, domestic violence to education.
The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting presents an in-depth study of the governor: “The Book on Paul LePage: The ‘biggest, baddest person around’ crashes Augusta’s ‘nicey-nice’ club.”
It has been just over a year since former University of Southern Maine president Selma Botman got a new job.
Her position as special assistant to the chancellor on global education was created for her two months after she got a vote of no confidence from more than half the USM faculty. Although that didn’t meet the two-thirds majority to be considered “the will of the faculty,” Botman relinquished the campus presidency at the end of June, 2012.
The sole purpose of the board that regulates pharmacists in Maine is to “protect the public health and welfare,” according to state law. But in thirteen cases over the last decade the board has jeopardized the public’s health by allowing people with a history of substance abuse and theft to hold a license to dispense drugs at pharmacies across the state.
Since the Supreme Court loosened rules on political spending in 2010, the Republican Party, boosted by corporate and billionaire backers, has been painted as the biggest beneficiary. But in New Hampshire and a handful of other states in 2012, including Maine, Democrats flipped the script. Continue Reading →
On July 16, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting publisher and senior editor John Christie interviewed Gov. Paul LePage in the Blaine House dining room. LePage’s wife Ann was present for part of the interview as was press aide Peter Steele. What follows are verbatim outtakes from that 90-minute interview. Continue Reading →
The federal government, saying “intervention … is not a step the United States takes lightly,” has asked a court to allow it to join the Penobscot Indian Nation in their lawsuit against the state over fishing and hunting rights on their ancestral river.
“As a part of its trust obligations to the Nation, the United States has a legal interest in protecting the Nation’s reservation borders and in ensuring that the Nation can fully exercise its sovereign powers … without improper interference from the State and others,” wrote Justice Department lawyers in the Aug. 16 filing with the U.S. District Court for Maine. Continue Reading →
From 1994 to mid-2011, Chellie Pingree’s total contributions to candidates running for national office were $2,950.
But from June 2011 to last November — a period of only 17 months — the Democratic congresswoman from Maine’s first district donated $105,600 to Democratic candidates to Congress and to the party committees that funnel donations to candidates. Continue Reading →
AUGUSTA -- Maine’s "F" grade in government integrity issued last year by a national group has led to a number of reforms in the state's ethics rules this year, including a bipartisan transparency bill proposed by Gov. Paul LePage that he signed into law last week.
The reforms also include two bills signed by the governor to stop the so-called “revolving door” at the statehouse, where lawmakers and executive branch officials leave government service and go directly to work as lobbyists. Continue Reading →
AUGUSTA -- The bill that would have revived Maine’s plan for adapting to climate change was defeated on Wednesday, when the House voted to override the governor’s veto fell short by a single vote.
“This was really an important bill,” said a disappointed Pete Didisheim, advocacy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We were trying to get back into a conversation among towns, officials, businesses and many others about the state’s future in a changing climate.” Continue Reading →
“I feel like a citizen who is seen to be of less value than my neighbors,” said Karen Bessey Pease, after Maine Senate Democrats Wednesday sidelined an effort to give her and other residents of the state’s most rural areas a say in whether wind towers are built in their communities.
“We just asked to have the same rights to determination of zoning issues in our community as our next-door neighbors have,” said Pease, of Lexington Township. “It’s very unfortunate that the Senate voted the way they did.” Continue Reading →
A legislative committee today sided with residents in some of the state's western mountains in their fight to have more say over the construction of industrial wind towers in their backyards. If the full legislature approves the bill, it would be the first significant blow to the state's ambitious Wind Energy Act. Continue Reading →