TV-Gate, AKA “The Case of the Disappearing Transom”, Has Been Solved!
As one who tends to be-bop around the State House a fair amount in my capacity as press, it was inevitable that my sharp eyes would notice a wee lil change in the back of the Hall of Flags recently, to wit: A 46″ TELEVISION SET. Which according to BDN, set the Maine taxpayers back almost $1500 bucks.
Not bad, considering just a few weeks ago the Governor didn’t seem to know such funds were available…
Apparently the new entertainment center of LePage’s was also noticed by the Legislative Council, who informed the Governor that he could not watch his soap operas out in the hallway at his leisure and that if he “wanted his M-TV”, it would have to be somewhere else.
In fact, there is even a law about it. Who knew?
(Well, BESIDE Governor LePage, that is…)
So, utilizing all of the gentile, polite manners and compromising abilities have have become a standard trademark for Paul LePage nigh these past few years, his administration sent out a press release that read in part:
As the final weeks of the State of Maine 126th Legislature approach, a disturbing trend is underway by Democratic Leadership within the walls of State House. For the second time this week, Democrats have attempted to silence the Governor and violate his right to freedom of speech.
In their latest act of censorship, Democrats have told the Governor that he cannot have a television in the Office of the Governor lobby area, which is on the second floor of the State House. In a letter, Governor Paul R. LePage informed Democratic Leadership today that the television is placed in the reception area of the Governor’s Office. Senate President Justin Alfond today told Governor LePage in a morning meeting that he could not have the television on display.
“The repeated attempts by Democrats to stifle debate on bills and to prevent me from speaking in front of the Appropriations Committee is a disturbing pattern of censorship that should concern all Mainers,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Now they are saying that the Governor of Maine cannot have a TV in the waiting area. Maine Democrats are taking their cue from the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C., which has violated the free-speech rights of American citizens and used the power of the government to silence those who disagree with them. If I have to remove myself from the toxic climate of censorship by Democrats in the State House to defend the taxpayers of Maine, then that’s what I will do.”
Ah. So to quote Billy Joel: “And if that’s what you have in mind, Then that’s what you’re all about, Good luck movin up cause I’m movin out…”
Wait a minute… did Governor LePage really just blame President Obama for TV-Gate?
Oh, let’s look at that clip.
All over a TV. Oh, and stifling the LePage Administration in their efforts to speak to the Appropriations Committee on matters pertaining to the current budget process.
The Governor went further:
LePage compared Democrats’ refusal to let him address the committee to national controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, September’s terrorist attacks in Libya and the U.S. Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press emails.
Asked why the issue is so important, the governor replied, “It’s freedom of speech. You folks should understand that better than I. It is the First Amendment, then there is the Second and I love them both.”
He later said, “The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out.“
Blink. Is there anyone else concerned with the threatening tone here? Or has it just become acceptable pro forma practice within the Tea Party to threaten to shoot those politicians with whom one has a disagreement?
Determined to get his message out to folks one way or another, the Governor then ordered that his TV be placed in the transom window space above one of his office’s many doorways. Yet it did not stop the controversy, as some asked whether the historic nature of the State House was in some way violated by the removal of said transom to accommodate the television set.
And this- THIS– was when my photojournalist instincts kicked into high gear. Steeling my nerves, stiffening my spine and taking a deep breath, I approached a member of the Governor’s staff…
And asked if I could see the other side of the doorway.
What I found- was that the transom windows are double-hinged. That the window was deliberately opened and folded down, as they are intended to do on occasion. That this doorway has been used as space for a large file cabinet and as such, presumably was previously cleared by the state fire marshall as not a necessary fire escape.
I immediately decided to get to the heart of the matter and ask some hard-driving questions, to seek out the truth. It’s a technique press-like, journalistical people such as myself sometimes like to use.
Walking into the office, I approached the receptionist, who called Governor LePage’s press secretary Adrienne Bennett on the phone to come out and speak with me. I introduced myself and demanded to know:
“So, the transom window was merely folded down as its hinges are designed to do and not removed at all?”
“Yes,” Bennett replied and added, “The wooden oak supporting bar behind the unit was even attached by screws utilizing existing holes in the door frame and that we (the Governor’s office) obtained permission from the Legislative Council before putting it into place.”
As she said that of course; it is a public place, Ms. Bennett smiled nicely and added, “that no one else from the press had yet asked to come in, see the window and take photos of it.”
SCOOP!! And now the mystery is solved.