Radio Address - Sen. Alfond on distractions

Posted: April 02, 2011 | Senator Alfond, Weekly Radio Address

Weekly Radio Address – Sen. Alfond – April 2nd, 2011

Good morning. And, thank you for tuning in to the Democratic Weekly Radio Address. I’m Senator Justin Alfond—Assistant Democratic Leader from Portland.

This past week marked the mid-point of the Legislative Session in Augusta. Three months ago we started the session with an ambitious agenda. We heard loud and clear from the voters, that quality job creation is the number one priority. And, like many Americans across the country, Maine people are also suffering the consequences of a downturned economy. As elected officials it is our job to dig in and find reasonable and sustainable solutions that will build Maine’s economy for today and for the future.

As Mainers know, there is a lot of work to do, yet today I am disappointed, frustrated and frankly embarrassed by the distractions coming from the Governor’s office.

Instead of leading our state and fulfilling campaign promises of “people before politics” and “jobs, jobs, jobs,” the self-proclaimed “Front Page LePage” has garnered plenty of national attention for Maine but unfortunately few of it has been positive.

The Governor’s latest move to remove the Labor History Mural from the Department of Labor was a direct assault on all of the working people of Maine, not just organized labor. And, for those of you who haven’t heard, the mural depicts Maine’s labor history including the 1937 shoe mill strike in Lewiston-Auburn and pays homage to Maine icons such as Frances Perkins and Rosie the Riveter, who in real life worked at Bath Iron Works.

In the past, the Governor has talked about the similarities of running Mardens and governing the state—and while that might work for a snow-day policy, it is never a good idea to discount the working people of Maine.

The Governor has acknowledged that his timing wasn’t good for the removal of the mural. Well, I’d argue that the time will never be right to try and erase Maine’s history. But, yes, Governor, I would agree that interior decorating at the Department of Labor should fall to the bottom of your list of priorities—especially when we have a two year budget to pass and jobs to create. Which by the way, a quick side note: you cannot be pro-jobs and anti-workers. It is labor—the working people—who are the job holders that create prosperity for business. Without laborers, there is nothing for administration to administer. But, I guess that would be one way to keep health care costs down for business owners.

I got distracted for a second. Let me explain what happens each time the Governor creates a distraction—whether it be an insult to the NAACP or a re-decorating decision at the Department of Labor. As legislators, we receive hundreds of emails, phone calls and letters from our constituents expressing their outrage—and from the media wanting comments and reaction to the Governor’s gaffes.

So while Mainers are struggling to find jobs, afford gas for their cars, and pay for heating costs, the Governor is issuing press releases playing hide-n-seek with a mural–and then name-calling the very Maine people who show up in protest, “idiots”.

For nearly two weeks, the Governor and thus Maine have been water cooler talk thanks to all the exposure we’ve gotten on CNN, Fox News, the New York Times, and the Daily Show. The once-pristine Maine-brand has been reduced to photo ops of the Governor hanging an “Open for Business” sign at our state’s border. I guess that might help. But what would help more is if the Governor showed us that Maine is open for business by prioritizing the very things that are important to Maine people.

Democrats from day one, have chosen to roll up our sleeves and work with the Governor and the majority party. Democrats from day one, have been clear, that when we disagree we must provide alternatives. I am proud of the work Democrats of done to date. However, we still have much to do. Our biggest task remains. We must create a two year budget that gets the support of both Democrats and Republicans. I look forward to a budget that focuses on improving our economy and creating jobs while taking care of our neediest. Mainers sent us to Augusta to work and after these last two weeks, I truly hope that we can.

This is Senator Justin Alfond and I thank you for listening.