Dear Governor, Believe me, newspapers aren’t the problem

by Jen Lynds
On Jan. 30, three people in Houlton were charged with trafficking in methamphetamine and endangering the welfare of a minor after the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency searched an apartment on Military Street.
Darrell Crandall, MDEA division commander, said that during 2012, MDEA’s lab team processed 13 methamphetamine manufacturing sites in Maine. Eight of those sites were in Aroostook County.
Just two weeks earlier, I wrote an article about how schools across the state were dealing with the new school lunch menu regulations in light of rising obesity rates across the nation. A University of Maine study found late last year that just under 8 percent of Maine’s children and adolescents are obese. As those youth grow into adults, that proportion likely will rise to more than 25 percent, according to the study. And of course, everyone knows that along with drugs and childhood obesity, Maine also has a serious problem with domestic violence, the economy, healthcare, murder, suicide, preventable fires, education, affordable housing, etc.
So I was shocked when I read in the newspaper what Maine Gov. Paul LePage said to a group of school children at St. John Catholic School in Winslow.
“My greatest fear in the state of Maine: newspapers,” LePage told the children on Friday, according to a report from the Central Maine Morning Sentinel. “I’m not a fan of newspapers.”
Umm… what? His greatest fear in the state is newspapers? Its not the very obvious problems with drugs, people abusing and killing their family members, people killing themselves (often because they could not access the mental health services they needed,) children developing Type II diabetes and high blood pressure because they are overweight, teens dropping out of school because they could not access the educational services they needed, and more?
After LePage spoke to the children, he told reporters that he prefers TV and radio news because he believes they don’t spin the news. The governor had warned people before that Maine’s newspapers are full of lies— first at a fisherman’s forum in Rockport and again a year later in Waterville.
In the Waterville incident, he told a group of schoolchildren, “Reading newspapers in the state of Maine is like paying somebody to tell you lies.”
Well… the first thing that comes to mind is, why did the bulk of his campaign efforts appear in newspapers? Why, if he has such disdain for newspapers, is he sending reporters press releases from his office with quotes that he wants included in their stories?
It is startling to me that LePage does not realize how unfair of him it is to criticize newspapers. First of all, newspapers helped him get elected. They  helped spread his message, contained countless articles about his time spent winning votes while shaking hands in coffee shops, they printed interviews, covered events, forums, etc. Their websites streamed his debates.
They continue to cover the LePage administration and the efforts of First Lady Ann LePage.
They will continue to write about him as he works to get re-elected.
While TV news reporters work just as hard as print reporters, TV news is not always accessible to everyone, especially in rural Maine. In some homes, families receive only three channels and cannot always access local newscasts.
But most anyone in Maine can walk into a library and read a newspaper for free. In that library, they can use the Internet for free to read newspapers and go to a website and see a LePage campaign ad or watch a debate that he took part in. Students in schools across the state also have access to a number of newspapers in their libraries. I don’t think that libraries or schools set up chairs and let people watch the nightly news very often, but maybe I am wrong.
LePage has said that he was a victim of domestic violence as a child, and I think that everyone who hears that feels sickened for the pain that he must have suffered.
We have domestic violence in Aroostook County. A lot of it. You can read about it in the newspaper.
LePage should make time for me on his next visit to The County.  I would show him the spot in Monticello where a man stabbed his brother, briefly held two others hostage and kept police at bay for ten hours before lethally overdosing on drugs. Or we could go to the motel in Houlton where a 57-year-old woman was beaten and stabbed to death and robbed of drugs and money. We could walk a short distance away to where the MDEA nabbed five people for manufacturing methamphetamine in a wooded area at the end of a residential street. On the way, I could tell him about a Sherman man who talked his doctor into giving him a pill used to treat erectile dysfunction so he could rape his 11-year-old victim for longer periods of time over a six year span. We could go to the trailer in Amity where a 20-year-old man hunted down a terrorized 10-year-old boy and stabbed him to death along with his 55-year-old father and his dad’s 30-year-old friend.
We could end the trip by looking at all of the empty storefronts and closed plants and manufacturing facilities in the region.
The governor’s greatest fear in the state should not be newspapers. It should be the crime, violence, drug abuse, lack of jobs and economic depression that is crippling Maine.
I work for a newspaper and I see this. Could it be possible that the governor doesn’t?
I am hoping that the governor was just having a bad day when he said what he did. I just want him to solve the problems plaguing the state. That is what I really want to write about.