LePage says he’s trying to close methadone clinics

Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage said today he would like to close Maine’s methadone clinics.

“I’ve been trying to close down methadone clinics since I’ve been governor,” said LePage during his weekly radio appearance on WVOM. “When it comes to methadone, every expert I’ve talked to says there’s no clinical aspect to it. … It’s no help. It has to be in a program that’s monitored by clinicians.”

The governor’s comments come as the Bangor City Council is considering the expansion of a methadone clinic and as the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing new rules about how the clinics operate. Though two advocates at a public hearing Monday said the proposed rules are aimed at improving quality of service, they said without more funding some clinics will not survive the new mandates. Also timely and relevant is the administration’s rejection Monday of opioid addiction as a qualifying condition under Maine’s medical marijuana program.

LePage said he is not convinced that methadone clinics serve patients properly, especially when it comes to counseling. He said he monitored a clinic several years ago for about 90 minutes and saw a continued parade of people in an out, at about 7-minute intervals.

“You can’t get a lot of therapy in seven minutes,” said LePage, who also expressed concern about patients driving after their methadone doses. LePage was not optimistic that the new rules on methadone clinics, which among other things ramp up paperwork and reporting requirements and introduce new dosage guidelines, will be approved by the federal Center Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“If it’s the federal government, forget it,” said LePage. “It won’t get approved.”

In an unrelated exchange, LePage and the WVOM radio hosts went on full attack against the Bangor Daily News this morning. Give it a listen and decide for yourself. If you’re interested, here’s the story they were talking about, along with a previous fact-check we did last week of LePage’s June town hall meeting in Richmond. — Christopher Cousins

Another $900K earmarked for political ads in Maine

File this under unsurprising news: The airwaves will be blanketed with political ads later this year.

The House Majority PAC, which works in favor of Democrats being elected to Congress, announced that it has upped its television time reservations for the final weeks of the 2016 election cycle to more than $24 million. The PAC has added Maine to its latest list of reservations, to the tune of nearly $900,000. Those new ads will be skewed to the Portland media market nearly 2-1 over the Bangor media market.

Those reservations add to more than $2 million in fall television advertising time that has already been reserved by Democrat and Republican super-PACs.

All of this underscores what we already know: Democrats see Maine’s 2nd Congressional District as a possible pickup. Incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin faces a rematch of the 2014 election against Democrat Emily Cain. That was the most expensive House race in Maine history, with some $6.7 million spent for and against the candidates.

Historically, first-term House incumbents are most vulnerable, and if they succeed in their first re-election bid, they can largely count on much easier paths to re-election in subsequent campaigns. Democrats are counting on a voter turnout bump that typically occurs during presidential election years and a focused attack on Poliquin’s voting record — something he did not have in 2014 — to bolster Cain’s chances.

At this point, Poliquin continues to hold a significant campaign fundraising lead — about $1 million cash on hand — so Cain will likely have to count on outside spending by national groups like the House Majority PAC to level the campaign cash playing field.

Prepare to see a lot of Poliquin and Cain on your television or alternatively, make sure your Netflix subscription is paid up. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick will host the second stop of his statewide listening tour at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday in Kirk Hall, Room 103, at Central Maine Community College at 1250 Turner Street in Auburn. Representatives of Seniors Plus, will speak during the event about ways to help seniors age in place.
  • Republican Gov. Paul LePage announced Monday that he will participate in the Maine Potato Blossum Festival Parade in Aroostook County on Saturday. LePage will then host a public town hall meeting at 3 p.m. at the Fort Fairfield Community Center at 18 Community Center Drive. LePage is also scheduled to have a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Greenville High School.
  • Maine Democrats have set the date for the party’s premiere summertime political event: The Muskie Lobster Bake. The event is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 7 at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport.

Reading list

What are you saying, Van Morrison?

Housework was fun for a minute over the weekend. My wife and I were cleaning up the kitchen and listening to one of my favorite Van Morrison songs. We were really belting it out and even maybe dancing around a little bit. The chorus went like this:

“Doit doo yee doop

Doit doit doo yee doop

Doit doit doo yee doop

Doit doit doo yee doop

Do doop

Do doop”

When the song was over she said, “what’s blue money anyway?” I’m still working on understanding “doit doo yee doop.”

Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.