Michaud, Democrats Blast LePage on Drug Abuse Failures: “Political Theater”, “Missing in Action”

Posted on June 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

(Following up on yesterday’s #MEGOV LePage Skips NE Governors’ Regional Opioid Abuse Summit; Dismisses As “Chit Chat” post)

Yesterday Maine Governor Paul LePage skipped an important summit of all New England governors in Waltham, MA to address the ongoing regional heroin epidemic in order to speak at an Augusta press conference regarding reports of Maine’s crime rates dropping dramatically in 2013. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced that despite LePage’s absence, “Maine officials would participate in the work group.”

DSC_0032Late in the afternoon, LePage sent out a press release under the guise of calling for the 126th Legislature to reconvene to address LD 1811, “An Act To Appropriate and Allocate Funds To Strengthen the State’s Efforts To Investigate, Prosecute and Punish Persons Committing Drug Crimes”, which read more as finger-pointing than constructive in content:

    “Drug trafficking by ruthless, out-of-state street gangs is on the rise, but Democrats are still pretending Maine does not have a problem with violent drug crime. Organized drug gangs are flooding the state with cheap heroin, but Democrats remain obstinate. They refuse to provide the manpower law enforcement agencies need to prevent these criminals from addicting Mainers with this killer drug.”

    “We even identified funding to add MDEA agents, judges and prosecutors to help combat the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state. That money is still sitting there. I could call the legislature back to take up my bill, but Democratic leaders could simply recess immediately and go home. I cannot force them to do something they are not willing to do.”

    “Democratic leadership stated they won’t call the legislature back unless there is an ‘extraordinary occasion.’ They don’t think that deaths from drug overdoses, babies born addicted to drugs and violent street gangs peddling poison on our street corners amount to an ‘extraordinary occasion.’ But Maine people do.”

Democratic leaders last night issued their own statements in response. Senate President Justin Alfond (Cumberland):

Senate President Justin Alfond (r)answers questions at weekly media availability meeting as Speaker of the House Mark Eves (l) looks on.

Senate President Justin Alfond (r)answers questions at weekly media availability meeting as Speaker of the House Mark Eves (l) looks on.

    “Once again, Governor LePage is stirring the pot by making up stories. If he thinks we should go back in, it is certainly within his authority to call us back,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “We have no intention of calling ourselves back in. We finished a very successful legislative session in May and during that time, Governor LePage was missing in action. Much like then, he refuses to cooperate with lawmakers on solving problems facing our state. The question isn’t what would the legislature do. Governor LePage has a track record of taking our good work and flushing it away.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves (N. Berwick):

    “We will not reconvene the Legislature just so the governor can veto another bill,” said Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Governor LePage has failed to lead, failed to collaborate with lawmakers and failed to stand up for Maine people. He sat on the sidelines, resorted to his ‘my way or the high way’ approach until the last moments of the legislative session and now is playing political games to distract from his poor performance as Maine’s chief executive.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Representative Mike Michaud this morning issued his own statement:

Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

While talking tough about illegal drugs during an election year, LePage’s actions have undermined Maine’s efforts to fight drug trafficking and addiction. Since taking office, he has cut drug intervention and treatment programs, derailed a bipartisan legislative effort to increase enforcement and drug treatment in the state, and even vetoed common-sense legislation that increased access to medicine that can prevent fatal drug overdoses.

“The drug problem facing Maine is serious, real and requires true action – not political theater,” said LePage’s opponent in the race for governor, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. “Sadly, Gov. LePage is only interested in scoring political points in an election year. When it comes to doing the hard work to tackle the problem, he’s absent.

“Gov. LePage had an important opportunity to work with other governors to take a comprehensive, regional approach to an epidemic that is affecting all of our communities. Instead, he chose to play games, govern by press conference, and politicize the issue in an effort to divide this state,” said Michaud.

Maine needs a comprehensive approach to addressing Maine’s drug epidemic, and a governor who will bring people together to address this problem head on. We know what works and what doesn’t. Playing political games and simply throwing people in jail won’t solve this problem and won’t move Maine forward,” said Michaud.

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