Good morning from Augusta, where the news of Thursday was Gov. Paul LePage’s refusal to sign onto a compact from 46 governors about fighting opiate addiction.
As you’d expect from something signed by almost all governors, the compact is non-controversial: It calls for reducing inappropriate opiate prescriptions, outreach efforts, reducing barriers to treatment and increasing access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse potentially fatal overdoses.
But the Republican governor’s office assailed it in a statement, with LePage spokesman Peter Steele saying that it’s “a feel-good measure being promoted by politicians in an election year.”
Steele said it didn’t focus enough on law enforcement and schools. But he also said it “encourages the use of Naloxone, which has not been proven to get drug addicts off deadly opiates.”
Of course, naloxone — marketed under the name Narcan — isn’t designed to treat addiction. It’s designed to revive people who have overdosed, and during an overdose, a likely alternative to the antidote’s is death.
But LePage has been an outspoken advocate against naloxone. Earlier this year, he vetoed a bill to expand access to it, saying the drug “doesn’t truly save lives,” but “it merely extends them until the next overdose,” normalizing drug use.
Research contradicts this stance, but it’s one that people can plausibly reason out in their heads. Thursday’s messaging is an escalation of LePage’s already harsh rhetoric around the drug, criticizing it for not doing things that it’s not designed to do.
LePage is also reasonably isolated on naloxone: Just 19 legislators supported him on the aforementioned veto and he’s one of just four governors to not sign the compact.
Furthermore, LePage said this week that he’s trying to close methadone clinics in Maine. Methadone is an opioid that’s used to treat addiction in a clinical setting. The governor said it’s “no help” to addicted people, but that’s frankly wrong.
Across the board, there’s really no other objective way to describe his addiction stances than that: They’re based on bad information.
Don’t take it from me, just listen to three experts.
Mark Publicker, who was an addiction specialist at the now-shuttered Mercy Recovery Center in Portland, rhetorically asked if “the existence of triple bypass surgery” gives “overweight men the sense that they can eat french fries.”
“The way to help people get sober is to provide them with medication-based rehab, the very treatment that the [LePage] administration seeks to eliminate,” he said.
Gordon Smith, the executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association, called administration’s comments “harmful, for a host of reasons.”
And Kennebec County Sheriff Ryan Reardon said it’s clear that naloxone “was never and will never be a cure,” but his deputies have saved two people with it “and I hope that the persons saved overcome their addictions.”
“They are at least alive to try,” he said. — Michael Shepherd
- Maine’s U.S. representatives both voted against a bill on Thursday that would preempt state GMO food-labeling laws like Maine’s. But the compromise bill, which would require manufacturers to label foods with genetically-modified ingredients, passed with strong support from Republicans and Democrats. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it. Pro-labeling advocates are upset that it doesn’t require physical labels — a QR code, scanned with a smartphone, suffices. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat, called it “a complicated solution to a simple problem.” Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a 2nd District Republican, said it should be left to states.
- Anne Hall of Blue Hill will be the next U.S. ambassador to Lithuania after a unanimous confirmation from the Senate on Thursday. The University of Maine graduate is a career diplomat who speaks six languages and has served previously in Europe, China and South America.
- A coalition supporting Question 2 on November’s ballot will formally kick off their campaign in Scarborough on Friday. The question would establish a 3 percent surtax on income over $200,000 to increase funding to Maine schools. It’s being backed by Stand Up for Students, a coalition including the Maine Education Association, a teachers union, the Maine People’s Alliance, the Maine Children’s Alliance and the Maine Parent Teacher Association. — Michael Shepherd
- Truck attacker kills at least 84 in France Bastille Day crowd — Michel Bernouin, Reuters
- Kerry targets Syria following Nice attack — David Brunnstrom and Andrew Osborn, Reuters
- Angus King backs Clinton, hitting Trump’s ‘judgment and temperament’ — Michael Shepherd, Bangor Daily News
- Court: Great Northern Paper must pay $1.5M for natural gas upgrades it didn’t use — Darren Fishell, BDN
- State calls for more foster homes to meet growing need — Dawn Gagnon, BDN
- Trump expected to pick Indiana’s Pence as running mate — Steve Holland and Emily Stephenson, Reuters
- Why Mike Pence would be Trump’s least worst choice — Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight
- In audition with Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine nails most of his lines — Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times
- Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine: An adorably benign ticket — Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- A malapropism far, far away: A guy in Saco whose wife doesn’t like films of the Star Wars, Star Trek and Marvel ilk is willing to buy your ticket to hang out with him. But he’s not looking for a liaison — this would be “strictly plutonic.”
- Amateur foot masseur for hire: Seeking “cool girls that wouldn’t mind having a foot massage” is a guy who just moved to York County, but don’t be alarmed: He’s “not looking for nothing weird.” Here’s your soundtrack.
- Floor debates on floor debates: Someone in Westbrook has Maine Legislative Records from the 1960s and 1980s if you need paperweights or are researching that book on John Martin. — Michael Shepherd