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The Maine Event

Claim:   Article describes incidents in the administration of Maine governor Paul LePage.

MIXTURE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, April 2012]

Meet Maine's New Governor — In case you haven't heard about this guy before, his name will stick in your mind!

The new Maine Governor, Paul LePage is making New Jersey's Chris Christie look like an enabler. He isn't afraid to say what he thinks. Judging by the comments, every time he opens his mouth, his popularity goes up. He brought down the house at his inauguration when he shook his fist toward the media box and said, "You're on notice! I've inherited a financially troubled State to run. Observe...cover what we do...but don't whine if I don't waste time responding to your every whim just for your amusement."

During his campaign for Governor, he was talking to commercial fishermen who are struggling because of federal fisheries rules. They complained that 0bama brought his family to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park for a long Labor Day holiday and found time to meet with union leaders, but wouldn't talk to the fishermen. LePage replied, "I'd tell him to go to hell and get out of my State." The Lame Stream Media crucified LePage, but he jumped 6 points in the pre-election poll.

The Martin Luther King incident was a political sandbag, which brought him National exposure. The 'lame stream' media crucified him, but word on the street is very positive. The NAACP specifically asked LePage to spend MLK Day visiting black inmates at the Maine State Prison. He told them that he would meet with ALL inmates, regardless of race, if he were to visit the prison. The NAACP balked and then put out a news release claiming falsely that he refused to participate in any MLK events. He read it in the paper for the 1st time the next morning while being driven to an event and went ballistic because none of the reporters had called him for comment before running the NAACP release.

He arrived at that event & said in front of a TV camera, "If they want to play the race card on me they can kiss my ass", and he reminded them that he has an adopted black son from Jamaica and that he attended the local MLK Breakfast every year that he was mayor of Waterville. (He started his morning there on MLK Day.)

He then stated that there's a right way and a wrong way to meet with the Governor, and he put all special interests on notice that press releases, media leaks, and all demonstrations would prove to be the wrong way. He said any other group, which acted like the NAACP could expect to be at the bottom of the Governor's priority list!

He then did the following, and judging from local radio talk show callers, his popularity increased even more: The State employees union complained because he waited until 3 P.M. before closing State offices and facilities and sending non-emergency personnel home during the last blizzard. The prior Governor would often close offices for the day with just a forecast before the first flakes. (Each time the State closes for snow, it costs the taxpayers about $1 million in wages for no work in return.) LePage was CEO of the Marden's chain of discount family bargain retail stores before election as governor. He noted that State employees getting off work early could still find lots of retail stores open to shop. So, he put the State employees on notice by announcing: "If Marden's is open, Maine is open!"

He told State employees: "We live in Maine in the winter, for heaven's sake, and should know how to drive in it. Otherwise, apply for a State job in Florida!"

Governor LePage symbolizes what America needs; Refreshing politicians who aren't self-serving and who exhibit common sense.

 

Origins:   Paul LePage is the Republican governor of Maine who was elected to that office in 2010 after serving eight years as the mayor of Waterville. Prior to his stint as Waterville's mayor, LePage was general manager of Marden's Surplus and Salvage, a discount chain with 14 stores throughout the state of Maine. Shortly after LePage took office as governor in January 2011 the laudatory piece about him reproduced above began circulating on the Internet; we found its salient points to be a mixture of varying degrees of truthfulness as described below:
 

  • He brought down the house at his inauguration when he shook his fist toward the media box and said, "You're on notice! I've inherited a financially troubled State to run. Observe ... cover what we do ... but don't whine if I don't waste time responding to your every whim just for your amusement."


  • Although this inaugural statement attributed to Governor LePage is widely quoted on Internet sites, it doesn't appear in either the transcript or the video recording of his inaugural address. Perhaps he said it some other point during his inaugural day ceremonies, but we haven't yet been able to find a source documenting that he did.
     

  • During his campaign for Governor, he was talking to commercial fishermen who are struggling because of federal fisheries rules. They complained that 0bama brought his family to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park for a long Labor Day holiday and found time to meet with union leaders, but wouldn't talk to the fishermen. LePage replied, "I'd tell him to go to hell and get out of my State."


  • While on the campaign trail in September 2010 LePage did make a comment to a group of fishermen about how he would "tell Obama to go to hell," although an Associated Press account of the incident gives it a somewhat different context:
    Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage told a group of fishermen at a GOP forum that he won't be afraid to tell President Barack Obama to "go to hell."

    LePage [said] that he regretted the words he chose in the small coastal town of Brooksville but that he wasn't backing down in his criticism of the administration for what he describes as free-spending, antibusiness policies.

    LePage was responding to a question when he made the remark about Obama, which was captured by a Democratic Party aide who was videotaping the event.

    "As your governor, you're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page, saying 'Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell,'" LePage said to applause.

    LePage's remark was part of a longer discussion of issues at the fishermen's forum. Dennis Blodgett, the town's GOP committee chairman, said much of the discussion focused on "too many federal regulations being crammed down our throats."


  • The NAACP specifically asked LePage to spend MLK Day visiting black inmates at the Maine State Prison. He told them that he would meet with ALL inmates, regardless of race, if he were to visit the prison. He arrived at that event & said in front of a TV camera, "If they want to play the race card on me they can kiss my ass."


  • In January 2011, some news accounts reported that Governor LePage had declined an NAACP invitation to attend an NAACP-sponsored Martin Luther King Day event which included a meeting with black inmates at the Maine State Prison, with the governor stating that he would meet with all prisoners or none at all, and telling the organization to "kiss my butt" when they responded that his proposal was unacceptable:
    Maine Governor Paul LePage declined an NAACP invitation to attend Martin Luther King Day events. He’ll be attending a funeral of a State Trooper.

    NAACP didn’t like that, and questioned his support for them. LePage responded ... uhm ... pretty clearly.

    “They are a special interest. End of story ... and I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it. The fact of the matter is there’s only so many hours in a day, so many hours in a week, and so much that you can do.”

    He’s turned down NAACP invitations before.

    “They invited me to go to the state prison to meet black prisoners. I told them I would go, I’d be more than happy to go, but I would meet all prisoners, and that wasn’t acceptable to them. So tough Luck.”

    To the suggestion that he had a pattern of slighting the N.A.A.C.P., he replied,

    “Tell them to kiss my butt,” adding, “If they want to play the race card, come to dinner; my son will talk to them.”
    However, the referenced event was actually a candidates' forum that took place in September 2010, while LePage was still a candidate for governor, not an event to be held on Martin Luther King Day in January 2011, after LePage took office. The NAACP maintained (and offered documentation demonstrating) that their invitation for LePage to attend the candidates' forum at a prison in Warren made no mention of his meeting only with black prisoners, that LePage never told them he would go to "meet all prisoners" or none at all, that the NAACP never told him his proposal was "unacceptable," and that LePage's staff had simply cited "scheduling conflicts" in declining the NAACP's invitation:
    Gov. Paul LePage lied in recounting an exchange with the NAACP over an invitation to a campaign forum at a Maine prison, the head of the state organization said.

    In his now-famous "kiss my butt" television interview, LePage said the NAACP had invited him to meet with black prisoners and that he declined, but told the group, "I would be more than happy to go, but I would meet all prisoners — and that wasn't acceptable to them, so tough luck."

    That exchange never happened, said Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and president of the NAACP Portland branch.

    The e-mailed invitation, dated June 14 and reviewed by The Portland Press Herald, makes no mention of race and says the candidates' forum is simply at the prison in Warren. It was to take place before all the prisoners, Ross said.

    Ross said neither LePage nor anyone from his campaign indicated the governor would go to "meet all prisoners," because he declined the invitation; and she said the NAACP never said that such a session "wasn't acceptable."

    Ross said she was baffled by the governor's perception that the forum was for black prisoners only.

    Her only communication with the campaign about the event was an e-mail from LePage's campaign scheduler on July 15. The e-mail from scheduler Micki Mullen declined the invitation to the Sept. 24 prison event and an NAACP town hall forum on Oct. 15, citing scheduling conflicts. The e-mail doesn't mention any concern about a segregated prison forum, LePage's desire to "meet all prisoners" or any conversation in which the NAACP turned down LePage's proposal.

    Ross said she was particularly upset by LePage's assertion that the NAACP would view a meeting with all prisoners as not "acceptable."

    Dan Demeritt, LePage's spokesman, said the then-candidate and his staff had a different "characterization" of the prison event, which eventually was canceled. However, after being read a copy of the invitation provided by Ross, Demeritt could not say where the characterization of the event as a forum for black prisoners only came from.

    In an interview, LePage initially responded to complaints that he had turned down invitations to two NAACP Martin Luther King Day events in Portland. After dismissing the NAACP as a "special interest" and referencing the prison forum and the supposed exchange over an alternative visit, LePage was asked about concerns that his actions suggested a pattern of ignoring the group.

    "Tell 'em to kiss my butt," LePage said.


  • The State employees union complained because he waited until 3 P.M. before closing State offices and facilities and sending non-emergency personnel home during the last blizzard. The prior Governor would often close offices for the day with just a forecast before the first flakes. LePage was CEO of the Marden's chain of discount family bargain retail stores before election as governor. He noted that State employees getting off work early could still find lots of retail stores open to shop. So, he put the State employees on notice by announcing: "If Marden's is open, Maine is open!"


  • Governor LePage did keep state offices open until 3:00 P.M. when a winter storm hit Maine in mid-January 2011, with his spokesman stating that the governor's rule of thumb was that "If Marden's is open, Maine is open":
    State workers may want to invest in some snow tires. Gov. Paul LePage seems less willing than his predecessor to close down state offices in bad weather.

    Case in point: During [a] storm which deposited 12-16 inches of snow in Kennebec County, LePage kept state workers at their posts until 3 p.m.

    Under former Gov. John Baldacci, they might not have gone to work in the first place. Baldacci received criticism during his tenure for appearing too eager to close down state government during a snowstorm.

    LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt explained that LePage, former general manager of Marden's Surplus & Salvage, expects state workers to get to work just like employees in the private sector.

    "The rule of thumb is: If Marden's is open, Maine is open," Demeritt said.

    In 2007, when a snowstorm prompted Baldacci to close state offices, the state controller calculated that the state paid stay-at-home workers about $1 million in salary and benefits.
    Last updated:   16 May 2012

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    Sources:

        Bell, Tom and Susan Cover.   "If Marden's Is Open, Maine Is Open."
        The Portland Press Herald.   18 January 2011.

        Murphy, Edward D.   "NAACP Leader Says LePage Lied."
        Kennebec Journal.   19 January 2011.

        Sharp, David.   "Maine Gov. Candidate: I'd Tell Obama to Go to Hell."
        Businessweek.   29 September 2010.

        Sharp, David.   "Maine Storm Packs Heavier-Than-Anticipated Snow."
        The Boston Globe.   12 January 2011.

        The Washington Post.   "Governor on NAACP Flap: 'Tell Them to Kiss My Butt.'"
        15 January 2011.

        WCSH-TV [Portland].   "NAACP Refutes LePage's Version of Prison Invitation."
        14 January 2011.