The end of the eight-year tunnel fast approaches. And with it, a troubling question: If Gov. Paul LePage is this angry and defiant as he bulldozes his way through his final months in office, what’s he going to be like once he actually checks out of the Blaine House?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Frank Rizzo.

The late Rizzo, who served two terms as Philadelphia’s mayor and, before that, police commissioner, left office way back in 1980. It marked the end of a bombastic tenure that once saw Hizzoner arrogantly challenge a political opponent to a lie-detector showdown – the machine said Rizzo was lying; the other guy passed with flying colors.

Almost a year after Rizzo returned to private life, Philadelphia station KYW-TV caught wind of the fact that Philly’s finest were still providing the former mayor with security around his home. This prompted investigative reporter Stan Bohrman and his crew to stake out the Rizzo residence from an unmarked van, complete with hidden camera and microphones.

The seven-minute-plus video is pure TV gold.

Having watched it three times, I can no longer distinguish between Rizzo, the ex-mayor with the chip on his shoulder, and LePage, the soon-to-be ex-governor with the tree-length log on his. To wit:


LePage has vowed to go to jail rather than abide by the long-overdue, voter-approved expansion of Medicaid to Mainers unable to afford decent health care coverage.

Last week, just before storming out of a meeting with the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee, he called Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, the “most repugnant human I’ve ever seen.” The committee immediately and unanimously called for LePage to apologize, as if he knew the meaning of the word.

Also last week, out of nowhere, LePage joined Republican governors and attorneys general from 15 mostly southern states to ask that the U.S. Supreme Court allow employers to fire workers over their gender identity or sexual orientation. Maine voters, you’ll recall, prohibited that kind of thing 13 long years ago.

The list goes on.

LePage spent a good chunk of his summer trying to withhold money owed to Clean Election candidates. He ultimately failed.

He recently accused Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker of orchestrating a “shakedown” of Maine drivers who don’t pay their out-of-state tolls on time. This from the governor who routinely berates his own low-income constituents as laggards and welfare cheats.


And soon, mark my words, LePage will lock horns one last time with the Legislature as it reworks his five-bill solution to Maine’s child protection crisis. One question: If the system is, even by LePage’s account, so broken, why did he wait 7½ years to try to fix it?

In short, fellow Mainers, the Big Guy is coming unglued. And the closer he gets to giving up his bully pulpit, the more likely he is to lash out – a full-blown narcissist raging at his ever-dimming spotlight.

Which brings us back to Frank Rizzo.

In the first part of the KYW-TV video, a trench-coated Rizzo leads a small cadre of uniformed officers to the television crew’s unmarked van, where the cameraman presents his credentials while Rizzo threatens to throw his equipment “out into the middle of the goddamn street.”

With police passively looking on, a fuming Rizzo then grabs and yanks at camera wires until the picture finally goes dark.

Reporter Bohrman and his crew return to Rizzo’s neighborhood a few days later. Camera rolling and nary a police detail in sight, the journalists approach the former mayor as he walks his dog down the sidewalk.


That’s when things get popcorn-worthy.

Rizzo, still wearing his trench coat and plaid fedora, tells Bohrman to “scram, get out of here.”

After Bohrman reminds him that “we’re allowed to be on the street, sir,” Rizzo snarls to “get away from me or I’m going to throw you out on the street.”

Bohrman persists, asking why Rizzo previously messed up the station’s equipment. Rizzo, repeatedly calling the reporter a “creep,” then goes totally tough guy.

“I’ll put my dog away and I’ll come back and you’ve got one, two, three,” he says, counting the TV crew members. “And I’ll do it alone with yous, in back of that fence … just the four of us, me and you. I’ll show you what kind of a man you are. You’re less than a man, OK? You’re a crumb-creep! … You’re a real crumb-bum! Put that on camera!”

“Crumb-bum” and “crumb-creep” soon morph into “crumb-creep coward.” Finally, when Bohrman insists that he’s there not to fight but rather to get his questions answered, Rizzo anoints him a “crumb-creep lush coward” and heads off down the sidewalk.


“Thank you, Mr. Mayor,” Bohrman calls after him.

Two things worth noting about the video.

First, in both his appearance and demeanor, Rizzo bears an uncanny resemblance to LePage. The scowl, the tight-as-a drum body language, the layer-upon-layer of schoolyard insults – it’s enough to make you wonder if LePage had yet another sibling who slipped out the back door one night and made a beeline from Lewiston to South Philly.

Second, a common trait among men who think the world revolves around them is their inability to de-escalate. The more threatened they feel, the stronger they attack … and attack … until all that remains is their red-hot alloy of rage and paranoia.

Rizzo died still fighting at the age of 70 in 1991, felled by a heart attack while campaigning to return yet again as Philadelphia’s mayor.

LePage, who spent last weekend in the hospital because of undisclosed “discomfort,” might want to take that into consideration as he prepares for his return to private citizenship.


In the meantime, there’s that letter that crossed his threshold Wednesday from the Government Oversight Committee. In it, the committee chairs told LePage they “do not know what fuels your anger” and asked once again that the governor apologize for “your undignified and disrespectful behavior.”

Apologize? Good luck with that.

Better, at this late date, to slip the man a sedative.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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