Weekly Radio Address: President Alfond: Mainers care less about rhetoric and more about results
Good Morning. This is Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland.
This week, with fireworks and fanfare, we celebrated our nation’s most patriotic holiday—our independence. The birth of our nation.
For me, this is a time to be reminded of the greatness of our country—and, the strengths of Democracy.
I am inspired by the sheer will and tenacity of our country’s earliest lawmakers, our forefathers. They lived in a time of great political divide. It was a time, where blood was shed, literally, for our freedom and independence. It was a time where our founding fathers had divergent political views. In fact, there was perhaps no other time where the stakes could have been higher than in that room of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Yet, through compromise and negotiation, and good faith, the Declaration of Independence was written and adopted, and a nation was born.
That was 236 years ago.
Today, here in Maine, we are living in a different political climate.
Today’s politics, spearheaded by our state’s governor is one of vitriol and name calling, insults, and empty political rhetoric just for the sake of scoring political points.
In the past week, Maine has been front and center in the editorial pages of the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and national TV news. Unfortunately, not touting the good things about Maine, our resources, our businesses, or our people. Instead, we are making headlines because of our governor’s outbursts and vulgar sexual remarks. It’s been said before, his behavior is not fitting in a school yard and certainly isn’t fitting of our state’s highest leader.
Maine has a long history of political firsts…a history of having leaders who are world-renowned and respected, from Margaret Chase Smith to George Mitchell, Bill Cohen, Ed Muskie, and Olympia Snowe just to name a few. These are leaders who not only got things done for Maine, for us, they thrust Maine in to the national and sometimes international spot light for being home to some of the best and brightest, most diplomatic and practical lawmakers in history.
Sadly, we are making a different kind of history these days. We have a governor who not only makes headlines for his temper tantrums but also for turning away opportunity for this state. Economic opportunity. Business opportunity.
Governor LePage is known for saying, “capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s appreciated.”
And so, why then, is there another round of headlines talking about a $200 million dollar business slipping away?
More than a year ago, StatOil, a Norwegian energy innovator, chose Maine as its foothold for a first of its kind off-shore energy project. A project that would employ thousands of people over time and have an economic spin off to other local industries and businesses like BIW, Reed & Reed, and Cianbro, just to name a few. But better yet, it is a unique opportunity to be the home to a significant new cutting-edge industry. The University of Maine said attracting StatOil to Maine is like attracting the next Apple, GM or Google to Maine. The opportunity to play host for world-wide innovator is rare.
But, unfortunately, this week, StatOil has put its plans on hold and is re-evaluating its interest in doing business in Maine. Why? Because the governor, in a last-minute political maneuver, pulled the welcome mat out from underneath StatOil. He changed the rules of the game and withdrew the predictability that comes with inking a deal. In a single act, the governor has signaled to a world innovator that is interested in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Maine, that they are not wanted here in Maine.
“Capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s appreciated.”
Everyone talks about attracting businesses to Maine. A billion dollar industry has come to us and we cannot let them get away. We cannot miss this opportunity.
The governor of the state is not only the state’s chief executive but he—or she—is our state’s marketer in chief. Our chief, our governor ranks third from the bottom in job creation. That’s another headline we don’t need.
As President of the Senate, I along with my colleagues in the Legislature have worked hard to change the tone in Augusta. We understand that the people of Maine care less about political rhetoric and more about results. There are a lot of positive things going on in our state. I want us to share and celebrate in those successes, not be shamed by the negative.
This week, as we continue to reflect on Independence Day, I hope we can all be reminded of what we love not just about our country but about our state. We have chosen to live, work and play here—let’s embrace the spirit of being Mainers.
Thank you for listening. This is Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. Have a great holiday weekend.