Cynthia: Mike, finally some transparency out of the LePage administration!
Gov. LePage is withholding money from the Land for Maine’s Future program to show that his earlier threats to cut funding for Good Will-Hinckley are consistent with his assumption of omnipotence, right?
Mike: It’s the “unitary executive,” and it is far from limited to Gov. LePage. Presidents and governors claim as much power as they can, like President Obama with his immigration actions. That is why we have checks and balances, and vice-versa. Legislators claim all the power they can as well, and some think the solution to every problem is a new law, since that is how they exercise their power. And when those branches overreach, the courts step in. It is a beautiful, uniquely American system.
Cynthia: Maine’s unitary executive is an excellent overreacher — and unique — but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Where you see art I see autocracy.
Paul LePage says no LMF money can go to legal expenses, but Bill Shakespeare and John Paul Stevens warn that eradicating attorneys leads to totalitarianism. The governor is being sued so he wants to starve the lawyers?
Maybe it’s a good thing every crackpot can now carry a gun. We might need a militia to get our land conservation money from the governor’s iron fist. And the same GOP senator who brought us the “constitutional carry” bill now wants a law to protect his car’s liberty.
Do Republicans believe militiamen have a Second Amendment right to park, Mike?
Mike: The Bard was making one of the original lawyer jokes, not hailing the profession as a palisade. I can’t speak to Justice Stevens’ meaning, but one should always be wary of those wearing bowties. Ask my goomba, Sen. Tom Saviello. Meanwhile, the responsible ownership of firearms is a much better bulwark against tyranny than a bar card, while the diffusion of power is best of all.
But to answer you, Republicans know the U.S. and Maine constitutions protect the right to own and bear arms. Apparently there is a difference of opinion in the GOP on how businesses give cars the boot, and clearly there is a disagreement on booting LMF funds. But getting rid of all the lawyers may not be a bad course of action…
Cynthia: Who needs lawyers when we’ve got heavily armed “sportsmen” supporting the LMF program? Gov. LePage is messing with the same crowd that likes to kill bears! This fight over land conservation could get nasty!
Or it could get bogged down in legislation and end with another OPEGA Report.
Bold action is needed to break this impasse over land conservation money! Impeachment! A lawsuit! Anything but another OPEGA report!
Does the governor have the guts to defund the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability?
Mike: More lawsuits will not solve anything, and, despite the rage against LePage in some quarters, the governor has not committed an impeachable offense. The Constitution requires a misdemeanor, and there is no evidence he has committed one. Or should we ignore that provision and proceed to the pillory?
And I don’t see the administration defunding OPEGA, since Gov. LePage generally supports their work and recommendations. Heck, that was why he wanted an executive branch corollary, to undertake similar reviews and improve state government.
But you raise an interesting point — where do the “yes on 1” people fall in this debate? Are they making common cause with the bear hunters? What a difference a year makes!
Cynthia: A “misdemeanor in office” is whatever wrongful act the Legislature deems it to be. Abuse of power, failing to abide by the will of the people, undue influence — any of these things could be the subject of articles of impeachment.
For checks and balances to work, we need players willing to throw a check now and again. LePage is slamming lawmakers into the boards, and their response is a referral to OPEGA for another report. The “yes on 1” people are likely “yes on checks,” as are the frustrated board members of LMF.
You can’t play hockey by simply buying shiny new skates. You have to get in the darn rink. Lawmakers need to get in the game and throw a few checks.
Mike: And if the governor refused to obey the laws after the Law Court’s veto decision, he would rightly face impeachment. But in all these controversies, no one has yet proved he broke the law or did not fulfill his oath of office. No different than Obama pushing the envelope. As long as the president obeys the court when he loses, he will not be impeached. The same analysis applies to Gov. LePage.
But if we’re moving to hockey metaphors, Gov. LePage is the 1970s Flyers — big, bruising, aggressive, and effective, with the added bonus of beating communists! Lawmakers can get in the rink, or, switching sports, they can follow the Ravens and try to change the rules. Or, more simply, bodychecks and unbalanced lines.
Cynthia: The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment, according to the Constitution, meaning no assist from the Judiciary is required. A simple majority vote that the governor’s actions are “misdemeanors in office” would send the matter to the Senate, which has the sole power to try the issue and render a judgment. That’s the contest the Framers had in mind, and that’s the game the people of Maine want to watch. Democracy works when people’s heads and hearts are in the game.
The Legislature has the sole power to act. The question that remains is whether it has the soul power.