Friday, January 7, 2011

LePage: Can He Possibly Be Any Worse?

The headline in the Bangor Daily News served up endless inspiration: “LePage Slow to Fill Cabinet.”

Easy pickings for a smart-alecky pundit.

“Maybe he ran out of relatives” - Hmm... too obvious.

“That’s not what his wife said!” - Ugh... better not.

I think I’ll go with: “That’s because no sensible human being would want to have to clean up the colossal pile of bat guano the Baldacci administration is leaving behind.”

Yeah, that should do it.

In its Dec. 31 editorial, the BDN struggled to not gush with admiration over the Italian Scallion. It praised him for everything from school consolidation to shrinking state government, pushing weatherization, and having pellet furnaces installed in state buildings.

Grasping at straws much?

“The hard job of fine-tuning and improving those initiatives falls to the next administration.” Yes, no wonder nobody wants to work for Mr. LePage; he has to deal with those pellet furnaces.

In its adolescent crush-like fawning, the BDN found fault only in Baldacci’s failure to advocate more strongly for all his super-dreamy ideas.

Ahem. Yes, well... while the state’s largest newspaper basks in Baldacci afterglow, allow me to point out that virtually everything he attempted either set us back 30 years or fizzled into a giant waste of time.

Consolidation? No need to beat that horse any more. If you have any doubt, go ask your local school board if they’ve saved any money from consolidation. I dare you.

Meanwhile, high schools across the state continue to waste millions of hours in productivity trying to wrench their curricula into the confines of the PSAT and SAT. While The College Board collects a tidy $50 a year for every 10th and 11th grader in Maine, kids who would rather not go to college, or who lack the skills for college, are left to wonder, even more than they already did, if anybody really cares about them.

Baldacci’s “principled stand” on gay marriage didn’t amount to much after he made virtually no effort to help the new law survive a referendum. He bought the law a nice ring, but then left it at the altar.

Then there’s the Department of Human Services, a steady source of debacles for the last ten years. Time and again he has cut funding for outpatient mental health services, which adds strain to exponentially more expensive jails, psychiatric hospitals, and emergency rooms.

Pennywise and pound foolish, yet again. You can take your car in for regular brake maintenance, or you can wait and let the wrecking company, police, ambulance, insurance companies, newspaper photographers, coroners, and impound lot deal with it later. Time and again, our bald-headed Mr. Nice Guy chose the latter.

Dirigo Health, once championed as an innovative compromise, languishes in near-irrelevance due to underfunding. Baldacci was not able to combat corporate interests to prevent soda tax foes and insurance companies from all but scuttling the program.

Mix it all together and you can start to see why the state still faces a budget crisis even after shedding 1000 employees in the last eight years.

So, no high-priced captains of industry will ever take a pay cut to deal with any of that mess. Who could blame them?

While I wait for my call to become the next Secretary of Innuendo, I’ll be watching closely to see what kind of Marden’s Special-type candidates he can find to salvage some respectability in the state government.

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