Clark Canfield, Huffington Post
Maine’s blunt-speaking governor is again creating a ruckus with his offhanded remarks – this time by calling state government middle managers “about as corrupt as can be.”
At a town hall-style meeting in Newport on Thursday night, Republican Gov. Paul LePage was asked why there are so many fees associated with getting a cosmetologist license.
In response, the governor said state government is too big and too costly and that the state workforce is part of the problem. LePage told the crowd that he has control over appointed state workers, but has little authority over middle managers and other unionized state employees.
“The problem is, middle management of the state is about as corrupt as can be,” LePage said in remarks first reported by MaineToday Media.
Two weeks after taking office, he stirred up a controversy when he called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a special interest group and told critics to “kiss my butt” over his decision to not attend the NAACP’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Portland.
He later raised eyebrows when he dismissed the dangers of a chemical additive used in some plastic bottles by saying the worst that could happen was “some women may have little beards.”
A year ago, he riled labor groups, artists and others by removing a huge mural depicting the state’s labor history from the Labor Department headquarters. When asked what he’d do if anybody tried to block the mural from being taken down, he said, “I’d laugh at them, the idiots.”
This governor is accruing a number of offenses against the people he is supposedly governing. But let’s focus on the cosmetology issue that started this particular ruckus.
Is LePage accusing the middle managers of taking bribes? If so, it would be a matter for law enforcement. But of course that’s not it. What he’s accusing them of, really, is creating systems that are unnecessarily complex and expensive. But on what authority do they do these things? Why, on state law–the kind that LePage and the Maine Legislature pass. If they don’t like what the middle managers do, then they write clear laws that limit what fees and regulations there are.
This is what is most offensive about LePage and so many other Republicans. They are charged with leading, of setting an example, providing guidance, and conducting oversight. LePage was confronted with a citizen complaint which may or may not be valid. The proper response would have been, I’ll look into it and, if need be, correct it. But how much easier it is–and how unlike a genuine leader it is– to trash state employees.
LePage hired his own daughter to serve as an assistant to his chief of staff. She receives a salary of $41,000. A lot of people would call that corruption.