All Maine Matters

October 2006



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All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 10      October 2006 FREE

The Token Conservative
Consequential Contests
By Jon Reisman

My friend Rep. Doug Thomas (R-Ripley) is a passionate man of strong convictions. Last summer when he called this November’s contests “the most important election in a generation”, my initial reaction was a bit of doubting Thomas. But, believe it or not, the man from Ripley is a sage.

The referendum on the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the gubernatorial and legislative races could well set Maine’s course for a generation. The sideshows of interest group electioneering, “Clean Elections” funding and the regulation of political speech add some spice.

If TABOR passes, the public sector will hopefully stop growing faster than the economy, encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and economic dynamism. If TABOR is defeated the public sector will continue to grab a larger and larger share of the pie, a trend which bodes ill for economic vitality and Maine’s place in a globalizing world.

The heart and soul of TABOR is that if the public sector believes it must have more, it has to ask. Based on the bond issues approved in Maine over the last twenty years, and the paucity of proposals rejected, I’m not sure that the left should be so concerned.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees is worried, however- worried enough to pass a unanimous resolution trashing TABOR. It’s a move that puts the University squarely in open opposition to GOP Gubernatorial nominee Chandler Woodcock and, if polls are to be believed, some 70% of the citizenry. The University System wants a $37 million 20% bump in state appropriations. I think the Trustees are praying for Democratic victories in November. To underscore that belief, the search committee for a new a Chancellor (salary above $200,000/yr) has 4 Trustees on it, 3 of them partisan Democratic players- former union boss Charles O’Leary, former Democratic Party Chair Victoria Murphy, and former State Senate candidate Marge Medd.

After these stunts, I hope the University doesn’t need Republican support, because they don’t deserve it. I can practically guarantee that embarrassing questions about the lack of intellectual diversity at UMS are going to be asked. I’ll enjoy hearing the answers.

The Governor’s race would be entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. John Baldacci is an uninspired and uninspiring leader. Barbara Merrill, Pat LaMarche and Chandler Woodcock each offer a credible alternative for different political niches. I believe Senator Woodcock will take the Blaine House with a narrow plurality. If the incumbent is returned to office, Maine will continue to drift without vision or honesty towards an ever greater nanny state and dysfunctional economy.

The State Ethics Commission is now regularly deciding not whether they will regulate political speech, but to what extent. Deciding what “independent” expenditures constitute “direct advocacy” requiring matching “clean election” funds is an exercise in hair splitting that belies a dismaying reality: the 1st Amendment’s plain meaning that there shall be no law abridging freedom of speech, especially political speech, has been breached. Now bureaucrats respond to partisan interest group advocacy to regulate disfavored political speech. This bodes ill for freedom.

Jon Reisman is the University of Maine System’s token conservative. He teaches Environmental Policy and Political Correctness in American Society.

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