Let’s face it. One thing we can agree on is that Governor LePage is direct. In fact, he and his campaign officials have embraced his “candor” in his campaign ads which hold him out to be “blunt,” “honest,” and “one-of-a-kind.” He’s the kind of person that would like us all to think he just tells it like it is! For example, he told the NAACP to “kiss [his] butt.” He made lewd comments about a state Senator indicating that that Senator would be “the first one to give it to the people without Vaseline.” And, let’s not forget that he’s called our state employees “corrupt.”
But Governor LePage doesn’t believe that all state employees are corrupt. No, he only thinks that middle management employees are corrupt. Of course, he did explain that most of the middle management state employees had not been appointed by him and were protected by union contracts. So, it must be that being a union member makes them corrupt. For those who he apparently does not believe are corrupt, political appointees and the governor’s office staff, he has chosen to provide them with preferential treatment.
To facilitate this preferential treatment, Governor LePage created and implemented a policy to benefit 54 political appointees and the governor’s office staff by substantially increasing their paid vacation time. Unlike what we have come to see, Governor LePage has now chosen to remain silent by refusing to disclose who is benefiting from this preferential treatment and how much it costs the taxpayers.
In his victory speech in 2010, he vowed to “reverse the trend of high taxes, streamline regulations and shrink the size and scope of government” claiming his priority would be to “put Maine people ahead of politics.” Here we are close to four years later and we can agree that Governor LePage has not “put Maine people ahead of politics.” He supported legislation to gouge the Workers’ Compensation Act, he has vetoed legislation to increase the minimum wage, and he cut benefits to the state’s pension system. He has attacked state workers regularly throughout his time in office.
However, when it comes to the very select group of state workers that he himself chose, they not only avoid the cuts affecting the rest of the state’s workers but they actually get more – whether it’s his daughter with her $41,000 entry-level job and $10,000 housing stipend or his political appointees with their special vacation benefits.
It’s time for our state to realize that LePage’s only priority is to improve the lives of the people around him. All other Mainers will pay the price.
About the author: Karen Bilodeau is an attorney and partner at the workers’ rights law firm, McTeague Higbee. She can be reached at 207-725-5581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.