AUGUSTA — After a departing cabinet member said the governor didn’t support reviving groundfishing in Portland, the city’s mayor and Gov. Paul LePage sat down to a meeting that smoothed the political waters but came up short on how to lure groundfishing boats back to Maine.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get something more concrete coming out of the meeting,” Portland Mayor Nick Mavodones said after the 40-minute meeting. However, he said LePage assured him there was no ill will toward the city.

“I’m confident, based on what the governor said, that he is going to work with the city of Portland on issues that are important to the city and to the state,” Mavadones said.

LePage was not available for comment after the meeting. But before it started, he blasted the assembled reporters over press coverage of a statement issued by outgoing Commissioner Norman Olsen of the state Department of Marine Resources. Olsen, who resigned abruptly last week, said LePage said that there was to be no further collaboration with the City of Portland to develop measures to return groundfishing boats to Maine.

“Portland was against him, he said, and we will not work with that city,” Olsen’s statement said of the governor. “Rather than work with Portland, he said, we’ll build a new port somewhere.”

Through spokesmen and in several interviews, LePage denied Olsen’s remarks.

On Thursday, he accused reporters of not seeking his side of the story.

“The press, you folks, ran out and wrote all these articles and you never once called us and checked,” LePage said. “Now, I never said that I wouldn’t work with the city of Portland.”

MaineToday Media reporters tried repeatedly to get a comment from LePage or a member of his administration when Olsen resigned, but were told by a spokesman that no one was available. A requests for an interview the next day with LePage at a public event in Dover-Foxcroft was denied. Other Maine news outlets on Thursday also reported seeking comment.

Statements on behalf of the LePage administration — including characterizing the Olsen allegations were “absurd” — were made by Adam Fisher, a spokesman for LePage, and included in news stories.

“How would Adam Fisher know? He was never in my office with the meeting — how would he know?” LePage said to reporters. “Those who write print have been totally dishonest, totally unwilling to do your jobs and you spend too much time on the blogs.”

After the controversial back and forth in the press over what was said and whether it was true, Mavodones requested a meeting with the governor.

On Thursday, he said that Portland and the state missed out on about $39 million in revenues last year because Maine-based boats landed their catch in Massachusetts because of lower fuel prices, their ability to cash in on drag-caught lobsters and other perks.

Olsen had been criticized by members of the lobster industry for supporting the policy of allowing ground fishermen to land and sell some drag-caught lobster in Maine.

That by-catch issue is still on the table, along with other issues, said acting DMR Commissioner Pat Keliher, who also attended Thursday’s meeting.

“We’re going to develop a key list that deals with policy, that deals with science, that deals with infrastructure issues with the fish exchange within the city. And the big one is obviously drag-caught lobster,” he said.

Mavodones said he was pleased to have been able to meet with the governor on such short notice but was disappointed not to be walking away with a more concrete policy commitment.

Mavodones said the administration committed to crafting legislation for next session aimed at helping the ground fishermen. The Legislature recently passed a fuel tax exemption for commercial vessels that will take effect in October that will help the industry, he said.

Rebekah Metzler — 620-7016

[email protected]

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