LePage on legislators and energy: ‘You can’t fix stupid’

After a mill bankruptcy in Lincoln and a closure in Old Town this week, Gov. Paul LePage, offered up another terse criticism of legislators he says haven’t addressed high energy costs.

When asked on Tuesday why he couldn’t get the Legislature to do what he wants, LePage said, “Because you can’t fix stupid.”

He went on to largely echo a statement from his office a day earlier, saying that lawmakers are “looking for this golden parachute somewhere, this rainbow that’s going to make everything OK, but it doesn’t work that way,” according to WGME.

“Unless we find a way to lower our energy costs, these companies that we have manufacturing will leave,” the Republican said.

The remarks sparked criticism from a usual suspect, Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland, who noted that LePage has vetoed renewable energy bills that the Legislature has passed and said, “We’re trying to do it,” but “we can’t do it alone and we can’t do it when we’re blaming each other either.”

But a Republican also chimed in. Rep. Norman Higgins of Dover-Foxcroft, who sits on the Legislature’s Energy Committee, wrote in a Monday post on Facebook that the news of the Lincoln mill closure and LePage’s response blaming legislators for not supporting his policies were “equally sad.”

“What policies! We are still waiting Governor!” he wrote. “How about stop blaming others and be the leader we need to move our state forward!” — Michael Shepherd

How much money for energy upgrades is in Maine’s trees?

While we’re on the topic of energy, legislators are examining a pot of revenue that could be available for a longstanding LePage proposal — to fund energy upgrades for low-income people with $5 million from increased timber harvests on state land.

On Tuesday, Maine State Forester Doug Denico presented at the second meeting of the Commission to Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund, made up of legislators and special interests. The committee is charged with reporting recommendations regarding the fund to the Legislature by December.

But it’s unclear how much money could be diverted from the fund that holds timber revenues: Denico said there was $7 million in it at the end of 2015’s fiscal year, but that it needs at least $2.5 million as a contingency, and an assistant attorney general has said that some of the money must be used to maintain public lands.

Of course, the recent mill troubles could also lower state timber revenue, since they buy much of that wood. There’s a lot more to be decided by the time the commission’s recommendations come. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

End of baseball season a sweet sorrow

Today, I read something in the Boston Globe that amazed me: It was only on Monday that the Boston Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, despite a disappointing season that has the team’s record at 77-80.

On one hand, the season’s end this weekend is merciful — the Sox are a mess. But I always get a little sad when baseball season ends. For more on the feeling, consult this great New Yorker piece from a fellow fan.

“What I’m most irritated with the Red Sox about is that they’re leaving me,” writes Nicholas Dawidoff. “Even in this lost season, they have been excellent company in 2015.” — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.