In year's past, whenever a bill to legalize fireworks turned up, so did John Dean, the state fire marshal. He was there to warn of the dangers to people and property inherent in letting idiots like me play with pyrotechnics. For instance, in 2009, Dean said, "Nationally, the average fire loss [caused by misuse of fireworks] is $15,600 per fire. Any financial gain the State might realize from the sale of consumer fireworks could easily be wiped out in a single fire — and that doesn't even account for any injuries or deaths."
This year, Dean didn't show up. That wasn't his decision. GOP Governor Paul LePage told the fire marshal to stay away from the hearing. Asked why, LePage's legal counsel, Dan Billings, told the Bangor Daily News, "I don't think it would be fair to [Dean] to express an opinion contrary — well, not exactly contrary — to what he has said in the past."
Which goes to show that there are limits to the libertarian LePage's laissez-faire attitude. In the governor's opinion, people are capable of making up their own minds about fireworks, just as businesses can decide for themselves how much pollution is too much. But when it comes to public-safety experts like the fire marshal, they need to be told when to shut up.
I hope this new policy of censorship won't blow up in the governor's face. Although, there's something to be said for anything that keeps that mouth from popping off.
Light my fuse by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
: Talking Politics
, Politics, Bill, Dan Billings, More