Friday, February 12, 2016

ME: The Governor Takes Over

What do you do if you're the governor of a state and you can't get your choice for head of the Department of Education approved?

You just appoint yourself.

Yup. The Governor of Maine has appointed himself commissioner of the Department of Education. The legislature wouldn't approve his choice, currently acting commissioner William Beardsley. Beardsley will serve the maximum time allowed for an "acting" commissioner (six months) and then he will become deputy commissioner under the governor.

This would be wacky enough, but Maine's governor is Paul LePage, the one governor in this country who could give batshit crazy lessons to Donald Trump.

These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty—these types of guys—they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.

Yes, that Paul LePage. The one that Esquire's Charles Pierce called "the insane bowling shoe who somehow got elected governor of Maine." Here are some other LePage classics:

Said that a Democratic senator "has no brains and a black heart and claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without Vaseline"

Told robot-building students at a STEM awards ceremony  “Next year I would like you to create a Legislature that doesn’t speak back.”

He's been a big fan of charter schools:  If you’ve got a job and you’re going to be intimidated, give it up and we’ll get somebody who can do the job. I am asking them for the good of the kids of the state of Maine, please go away. We don’t need you. We need some people with backbones.” — LePage calling on the members of Maine’s charter school commission to resign, a day after the seven-member panel rejected four out of five applications for new charter schools.

If you want a good education in Maine, and I get criticized by my opponents because I’m hard on education, but if you want a good education, go to an academy. If you want a good education go to private schools. If you can’t afford it, tough luck. You can go to the public school. 

He has compared the IRS to the Gestapo more than once.

And one of his first acts as governor was to refuse to attend a Martin Luther King Day breakfast and, when called on it, to tell the NAACP to kiss his butt. He also undid decades of environmental reguations, and took down a mural of labor history in the capitol, comparing it to North Korean brainswashing. He sabotaged a $120 million wind power plan.

This Politico article helps explain how such a thing happened. LePage is the Tea Party candidate who got lucky and, in a state where the GOP is a minority party, landed in the governor's mansion, where he hasn't stopped embarrassing the state since.

As commissioner, LePage woud be the sixth person to hold that position in three years. LePage is tired of having his nominations questioned and torn apart, but then, this is the guy who hired a corporate lobbyist to help him rewrite environmental laws. LePage calls confirmation hearings "a shit show."

On the one hand, the law says that a commissioner must have first served as deputy commissioner. On the other hand, Maine law says that in the absence of a commissioner, the governor is required to act on behalf of the department. Whatever the case, LePage seems to determined to make the legislature pay. Or, as suggested in the comments, he's just leveraging hard. The actual vote was scheduled next week, but likme a good pol, he's already run the numbers. Maybe he's hoping to hear sweet screams of, "Dear God, no! Anybody but you!"

"So, if they would rather have me in front of the Education Committee talking about education issues, I would be more than happy to," LePage said. "And that's what's going to happen."

"When they need somebody from education, guess who is going to be appearing?" LePage asked as he tugged on his suit jacket lapels. 

LePage is all about charters and choice and an unfortunate attachment to competency-based education, and his tenure as his own education commissioner should keep that rolling right along. It's probably just as well; the only person who could possibly run the department in the full-on crazy manner preferred by LePage is LePage. One can only hope that he will extend this level of wacknuttery to his entire government, eventually declaring himself King of Maine.


  1. The governor only *anticipated* that the Ed Committee wouldn't approve Beardsley; the nomination hearing was scheduled for next week.

  2. I live in WI, and I like Paul LePage, because he reminds me that, even though our Governor Walker is a moron and a complete tool, things could be worse.