When the buses full of prisoners rolled out of Machiasport before sunrise Friday, everybody got a good look at the kind of thing Gov. Paul LePage does best.

The Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport had been in his sights for some time. He wrote it out of his budget last year, only to see the Legislature appropriate the money to keep it open for another year.

And this month he opposed a bill that would have kept the prison operating a while longer, while its economic impact on one of the poorest parts of the state was studied. That bill looked to be headed for passage, too, but the governor did not sit around waiting for it to happen.

Instead, at 4 in the morning, he moved out all the prisoners and laid off all the employees, imposing his will on any interested parties who may have thought they deserved a say in whether the facility should continue to operate.

The Legislature can have its prison – just with no prisoners and no guards. Oh, and it doesn’t look like they’ll need that study now.

A stunt like this would have been shocking a few years back, but it’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect. He’s not big on checks and balances. Whether it’s a voter-approved bond he won’t issue, a life-saving medicine he won’t distribute or a renewable energy project he can disrupt, the governor knows how to say “no.”

Seeing what he can do to stop government action is almost enough to make you forget the many things that he cannot do when action is what we need. A trip to the campus of the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta would offer a powerful reminder on that score.

That state facility lost its accreditation in 2013, when inspectors documented the use of pepper spray, electric stun guns and handcuffs on patients, among other examples of abuse and neglect exacerbated by short staffing, inadequate training and a lack of space to separate court-ordered forensic patients from those committed strictly for mental health treatment.

Losing accreditation represented an appalling failure of the administration to fulfill its duty to care for people who are seriously ill. It was also a huge financial kick in the teeth for Maine.

Without accreditation, Riverview is ineligible for federal Medicaid reimbursements, potentially costing the state $20 million a year. While many of the deficiencies found in the 2013 inspection have been improved, the state will not regain its good standing without building a free-standing addition to house low-security patients.

And that’s not happening because that would require skills that Gov. LePage does not posses.

See, he can shut a facility down, but he can’t build one.

He can make pronouncements, he can call people names, he can order buses in the middle of the night. But he can’t work with anyone whose interests are not already in line with his own. The slightest conflict turns to stalemate. Either the governor steamrolls his opponents or nothing happens.

The frustrating thing is, LePage may not be wrong about Downeast Correctional. Prisons are not economic development programs. There could be more efficient ways of building the Washington County economy and managing the state’s prison population.

But moving in that direction would require a conversation that involves more than one person — and that is not something the governor is interested in doing.

He claims that his motive for closing the facility is purely financial, but that doesn’t make sense. The prison costs about $5 million a year to run, and shutting it down would save some portion of that, but it will still cost something to house the same number of inmates somewhere else.

Failing to regain Riverview’s accreditation cost the state four times as much as it costs to run Downeast Correctional, but LePage is willing to keep us on the hook if it means he doesn’t have to cooperate with legislators.

Gov. LePage will be delivering his final State of the State address Tuesday night, and his political supporters have lately been promoting his legacy after eight years in office. The chief executive will likely toot his own horn during the speech, taking credit for Maine’s low unemployment rate and other benefits of the long national recovery that happened to coincide with his term in office.

But he won’t be able to talk about the times he got everyone to work together for the common good, because there aren’t any.

The empty prison in Machiasport is a true testament to LePage’s legacy. The empty space near Riverview where a building ought to be is another.

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