Governor Paul LePage’s quote of the day. Read it and weep.

“He has no communication whatsoever with (the commission) in terms of decision-making. He puts people in place who are qualified for the task at hand and he has the utmost confidence in those commissioners.”

That’s what Adrienne Bennett, Governor Paul LePage’s spokeswoman, said yesterday when asked if the Governor has any role in the recent vote of the Public Utilities Commission that sharply cut funding for Efficiency Maine. According to a news report today by Steve Mistler and Kevin Miller of the Portland Press Herald, last year the Efficiency Maine Trust helped homeowners buy 2.5 million discounted low-energy light bulbs and 3,000 businesses reduce their costs for electricity with rebates or subsidies for a wide range of energy-saving improvements.

The Efficiency Maine program was established with bipartisan support by the legislature. Rep. Ken Fredette, the Republican House leader, has been a champion of the program, which was previously supported by all three PUC Commissioners. This time, the two commissioners selected by the governor, Mark Vannoy and Carlisle McLean, voted to sharply reduce the funding for this very valuable program. Only Commissioner David Littell, who was not appointed by the Governor and whose term ends on March 31, voted to sustain the funding for the program.

Land for Maine’s Future

Contrast Bennett’s quote above with the Governor’s interference this week in the work of the Land for Maine’s Future Board. On Tuesday the Governor informed the Board that he would not allow them to complete the land conservation projects they have been working on for years. Although he promised to do it, the governor is now refusing to sell the LMF bonds that are needed to complete these projects. (For more information, see my outdoor news report posted on Tuesday).

Current DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock spoke at the LMF meeting “on behalf of the Commissioners and the Governor.” Chandler said that the Governor met with his commissioners and gave them a statement that announced, “He is not interested in selling more bonds at this time. He is very interested in making sure the heating needs for the people are met this winter. Part of that is for our agencies to sell more timber around the state. He wants that to take place, and is not interested in purchasing any more land.”

Three Commissioners in LePage’s cabinet serve on the LMF Board, along with 5 public members, all of whom were chosen by the governor. One public position is vacant.

Now, let’s take another look at Bennett’s quote:

“He has no communication whatsoever with (the commission) in terms of decision-making. He puts people in place who are qualified for the task at hand and he has the utmost confidence in those commissioners.”

I guess she forgot to add: with the exception of members of the Land for Maine’s Future Board.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.