Western Mts. of Maine. LePage is holding back voter approved bonds that would protect lands like this until he gets what he wants- which is to start up clear cutting in some of Maine's forests.
By State Senator Cathy Breen from Falmouth
Politics gets a bad rap these days. Most days, I disagree with that perception; but it’s no wonder that people feel frustrated when politicians promise one thing, and then do another.
That’s the case right now with Governor Paul LePage and his holding hostage the
Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) bonds--in exchange for increased timber harvesting on state-owned lands.
To be clear, timber harvesting and LMF bonds are totally unrelated. And, in any other circumstance, these two things would have nothing to do with each other. Unfortunately, the only reason these totally unrelated matters have been linked now, is because Governor LePage is trotting out his tired tactic of political hostage taking.
What does this mean to you? Or anyone outside the State House?
Well, currently there are more than 30 projects in 15 of Maine’s 16 counties that are in jeopardy without the governor’s release of $11.5 million in voter-approved bonds.
So there are two reasons to care: First, there’s probably at least one project near you that is in jeopardy. And, second, chances are, you are one of the 419,000 voters who supported the usage of these LMF bond monies.
For nearly three decades, the Land for Maine’s Future program been held in high-esteem by Republicans and Democrats alike--and never before, has any governor played politics with such a widely loved program.
You can see why--the Land for Maine’s Future guarantees the preservation of land for public use such as hunting, fishing, mountain biking, skating, and other traditional Maine pursuits. It has garnered the support from snowmobile clubs, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, conservation groups, fishing and farming groups and local community groups.
Just last weeks, folks in my district, held a press conference at Knight’s Pond in Cumberland to raise awareness of this 215 acres of woods, trails, and fresh water that are now in jeopardy.
This is a case, where to date, more than 200 local donors raised $460,000; the Towns of Cumberland and North Yarmouth have given $300,000 and $100,000 respectively. And, now, all that is pending, is the $225,000 in LMF bond monies that Gov. LePage is refusing to release. So you can see, no one is looking for a handout. Just to close the deal that’s been in the works--and approved by the voters.
At the press conference, NHL Pro Eric Weinrich of Yarmouth made a plea to Gov. LePage to release the voter approved bonds saying, quote, “In sports and in politics there are always good lessons of teamwork. I hope the Governor will agree that many future generations of kids playing pond hockey will all be winners when Knight's Pond gets fully funded."
What’s next? Well, days ago, a group of bipartisan lawmakers put forth a new bill that would curtail the governor’s ability to withhold voter-approved bonds. The bill’s sponsor--and my colleague, Republican State Senator Roger Katz said, quote, “When the people of Maine have spoken at the ballot box, no one person — even a governor — should be able to veto that decision. Politics is rough enough out here these days, but we should not add to the meanness by holding innocent bystanders hostage.”
Senator Katz is right.
Some things don’t need to be this hard. Or this vitriolic. A deal is a deal. And, as a businessman, Governor LePage knows that better than anyone.