Next week, the Maine Legislature begins its 2016 session.

Acrid air hangs heavy between historic House and Senate chambers and the executive office upstairs. Five long years have produced no political peace under the Capitol dome, only war between an unreasonable governor, his own Republican party and his natural foe, the Democrats.

In this terrible environment, political engagement has become uncivilized and the rule of law has broken down. It was inevitable that from this quagmire would emerge a frustration so great that a group of legislators, responding to their conscience and that of a weary state, find it necessary to call for the unthinkable — the impeachment of a governor.

This is an unfortunate start for this year’s legislative session, as the state faces the prospect of three more years of irrational acts of a chief executive seemingly run amok.

Independent state Rep. Jeff Evangelos, of Friendship, is one of the spokesmen for a significant group of officeholders who have met to discuss what those less courageous wish to avoid.

Evangelos believes that “a legislator’s oath of office obliges them to uphold the law.”

He has a lot to lose personally, representing a small rural district that voted for Gov. Paul LePage twice.

But as he points out, 49 House Republicans who voted against impeachment of President Richard Nixon lost their subsequent elections.

Following Maine constitutional procedure, a legislative committee will introduce a so-called “bill of particulars,” calling for impeachment proceedings. A majority vote of the House of Representatives is needed to produce an indictment. A Senate trial would follow.

The odds are long, and it’s possible a political decision was already made by the Democrats and their attorney general concerning the 2016 election, sealing the fate of any impeachment attempt.

But a conscientious, courageous group of legislators working for us deserves, at the very least, to present their case. Political transparency is at stake.

So, in abbreviated form, presented for the court of public opinion, let’s review in blunt layman’s language what the “bill of particulars” alleges the governor is guilty of, in no particular order.

• John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System, was forced out of office by the threat of withholding state funding.

• Blackmail was used in the firing of House Speaker Mark Eves as new head of Good Will-Hinckley.

• The president of the World Acadian Congress reportedly was removed by threats to defund that organization.

• The U.S. Department of Labor concluded that the governor and his appointees unduly influenced, with bias, labor hearing procedures.

• The governor improperly interfered in the religious discrimination case against Moody’s Diner.

• A secret commission to investigate the Maine Human Rights Commission violated right-to-know laws created to protect the public.

• The governor’s conduct obstructed release of voter-approved bond funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program.

• He has prohibited Cabinet officers, commissioners and other essential state employees from appearances before legislative hearings and committees.

The list goes on.

According to state law, a person is guilty of official oppression “if, being a public servant and acting with the intention to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office, or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”

It’s a class E crime.

The governor has admitted to his unseemly involvement in the Good Will-Hinckley affair, and is the subject of a civil lawsuit.

He recently decided to finally release conservation funding from voter-approved bonds. LePage said on WVOM radio: “I’ve just lost the energy to keep fighting because this is going to result in an impeachment trial and I’ m not interested in challenging them for an impeachment. … They’ll have to find other excuses to impeach me.”

Maine is tired, too, governor.

The conscience of our state and its governor calls for an end to this political nightmare.

LePage has stated, “If it reaches the point that the people don’t want me, I will leave.”

There are no defenders left. Censure would change nothing with this governor, but he does understand an impeachment threat.

LePage could avoid all this by searching his conscience and surprising us with what would really be in the best interests of Maine and his fellow Republicans.

Be a hero, governor, for everyone, including yourself. Make a spectacular exit.

Peace for the New Year.

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

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