LePage v. Katz: Title fight or schoolyard bullying?

I love the way BDN reporter Mario Moretto covers politics. He’s like a color commentator at a sporting event, and the battle between LePage v. Katz and his supporters is perfect game for him.  The way Mario tells it, this fight looks as good as the upcoming Mayweather/Pacquiao one. Except I am not sure if this bout is belongs in a boxing ring or a schoolyard.

Per Moretto’s report, Senator Katz has introduced a bill to limit the governor’s power with regards to voter approved bonds. The governor is refusing to sign off on voter approved land conservation bonds until the legislature approves his plan to increase timber harvesting on state-owned land. Is this tactic just “politics” as sponsor of the timber harvesting bill Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner calls it or is the governor bullying?

The results of a quick Google search for the definition of bullying lead off with:

1 use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.

It doesn’t take a linguist to filter this situation through that definition. The governor is using his influence— his authority over voter approved bonds— to intimidate, to force the legislature to do something he wants— pass the timber harvesting bill.

The next definition in the Google results is provided by www.stopbullying.gov. The .gov means that the federal government may be trying to eradicate this type of “politics” from playgrounds across the country. This definition reads as follows:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.

This definition reminds us that, if bullying techniques get the desired outcome, they will likely be repeated. LePage has held up funds for “Land for Maine’s Future” before. In Moretto’s report House Republican Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, thinks it’s a good thing that this tactic worked with LePage’s plan to repay hospital debt in 2013 and that Lepage’s reelection was something of a mandate to do it again.

Is Fredette saying that the 48% of voters who reelected LePage were not part of the just under 60% of voters who approved those funds in 2010 and 2012? (ballotpedia.org) That doesn’t make sense. Rep. Fredette’s idea that Senator Katz is out of step with fellow Republicans doesn’t make sense either. An elected official insisting that the will of the voters be upheld isn’t a radical idea, nor is standing up to bullying.

But the hype around a title fight and the trash talk around a bully brawl don’t always make sense, either. Whether boxing or bullying, this one is sure to go the distance; and we can count on Mario Moretto for the breakdown of each round.



Update:  Thanks to the gentleman who contacted me about my error regarding the percentage of voters who voted for LePage.  I am new to blogging, very nervous and grabbed the wrong number from a page I had filled with statistics.  My apologies.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.