When he was a city councilor in Waterville, Paul LePage once asked me to lead an effort to recall the mayor.

I said I thought the city would be better served if the mayor resigned, and I would work toward that end before I acted on his request. While I was in the process of doing that, he found someone else to lead the recall effort.

I recently wrote to Gov. LePage, reminding him of that conversation and suggesting that it would be in the best interest of the state if he resigned.

Besides the fact that he has no inclination to work with the other two equal branches of government to improve life for all Maine residents, he has used tax dollars to pay for a fraudulent report, withheld bond money overwhelmingly approved by Maine voters, fired competent employees, bullied legislators and disrespected constituents who disagreed with him.

The reasons for my letter, however, go far beyond the above. LePage promised he would shrink government, lower taxes, decrease business regulation and “put Maine people ahead of politics,” all presumably to attract business. Instead, he has created an image of Maine and Maine people that has made us a laughingstock nationally and internationally, leaving one to wonder why any CEO would want to relocate a business here.

Consider his comments — Mainers are lazy, the state’s middle management is corrupt, our public schools are a last resort for anyone wanting their children to get a good education, we are not business-friendly, the NAACP could kiss his butt, references to refugees and immigrants as “illegal aliens” and his boast that he would often be on the front page telling the president to “go to hell.”


Many people like a leader who is “plain spoken,” but, as I heard someone say the other day, “My drunk uncle is plain spoken but I don’t think that qualifies him to be governor.”

Those same people like the fact that we are turning down federal dollars — even though the states that have accepted them have seen great gains in their economies.

For example, Fitch Ratings, an international leader in credit ratings and research found Republican Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Rick Snyder of Michigan and John Kasich of Ohio have realized substantial, measurable benefits from expanding health care coverage in their states. And, Kentucky, thanks to its decision to accept those federal funds, is projecting it will add 40,000 new jobs through 2020, averaging a salary of $41,000 per job.

A recent report prepared for the Maine Health Access Foundation, projected that accepting federal funds would yield a net savings to Maine’s general fund of $26.7 million in 2016, add about $500 million per year to the state’s economy, and support 4,400 jobs statewide.

Refusing to accept federal health care dollars doesn’t just mean no new jobs, it actually threatens the ones we already have. Just ask the 23 Maine hospitals that were in the red in 2013, thanks in large part to the uncompensated and “free” care they are required to provide.

Refusing to apply for millions of dollars to support and expand early childhood education also robs us of future prosperity by handicapping our youngest residents’ chances of entering school ready to succeed, meet third-grade reading standards, graduate from high school and secure well-paying jobs.


Plenty of people think that those dollars the governor refuses are tax dollars that shouldn’t have been collected in the first place. To those people I ask, what good does it do the people of Maine to have those dollars go to New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio or any other state rather than our own?

The governor claims to be all about results. Well, I see no new jobs, a lagging Maine economy, and children who are our future workforce, hungrier and less secure. I don’t see an understanding that it’s in our economic interest to maximize the potential of those in, or who could be in, our current workforce. Instead I see a mean-spirited attempt to demean, punish and divide Maine residents, and I’m sick of it.

As mayor of Waterville, my job was to be an ambassador for the city, promote its benefits and opportunities and build on the assets we had, not tear them down every chance I got. That was especially true when those assets were human. It was also my job to articulate a vision of economic prosperity and to work across party lines to bring that vision about.

It’s easy to divide people. However, that approach is not helpful in any way to improving the economic security of Maine people. It is, in fact, harmful.

Those are the reasons I wrote asking LePage to resign. If you agree, I encourage you write him, too. It may not do any good, but unlike the governor’s actions, it won’t do any harm.

Karen Heck is a longtime resident and former mayor of Waterville.

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