Put on your rosy red glasses

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  November 21, 2006

Governor John Baldacci has plans for his second term that will transform the lives of every Mainer. Which will probably annoy those Mainers who don’t want their lives transformed.

According to a secret source whose identity can’t be revealed because that person isn’t authorized to speak to the media on account of being fictional, Baldacci will soon unveil an ambitious agenda designed to answer every criticism ever leveled at him. That agenda is currently 43,000 pages long.

Here are a few highlights:

In his first term, Baldacci successfully merged the state departments of Human Services and Mental Health into the new Department of Health and Inhuman Confusion. As a result, thousands of Medicaid claims have been screwed up for nearly two years, the computer system that was supposed to fix that problem is now more than $40 million over budget, the Riverview Psychiatric Center has been releasing violent people into the community, delays in implementing a new money-saving system for delivering mental-health services have created a potential $30 million budget shortfall, and federal auditors say the department lacks adequate controls over how it spends tax dollars.

Other than that, it’s all good. So Baldacci will build on his triumph by merging the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Education, which were chosen because nobody has a clue what either of them does, and because they both have an “E” in their names. The merged entity will be called the Department of Education, Business Redevelopment, and Incidental Services (DEBRIS).

Goodbye to Learning Results. Hello to Earning Results.

Baldacci has been accused of failing to make “bold moves.” To prove that won’t be the case in his second term, his nominee for commissioner of the new agency will be none other than Tom Connolly, the Portland lawyer and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate arrested on Halloween for standing beside a busy highway costumed as a heavily armed Osama bin Laden.

“If Tom’s convicted of terrorizing, he can do his community service by dressing up as Osama and visiting schools and factories to discuss security issues,” said my source. “Also, his new office will be handy to the state’s quality psychiatric services.”

Baldacci has told reporters that in the next four years, promoting bipartisanship will be his “singular mission.” Which appears to mean he won’t have any other missions. Which is probably just as well.

To encourage unity among his Democrats, rival Republicans, grumpy Greens, and irritable independents, the governor plans to appoint key members of each group to important posts. Failed GOP gubernatorial nominee Chandler Woodcock will head a trade delegation to North Korea. Green standard-bearer Pat LaMarche will be sent to study health care in Sudan. And independent Barbara Merrill will negotiate cheap oil deals in Iraq’s “Triangle of Death.”

As Baldacci often says, “We can’t guarantee results, but we can guarantee opportunity.”

Maine’s top issue in the just-concluded election was high taxes. Baldacci will address the problem with a three-step plan:

He’ll reduce property taxes by raising income taxes.

He’ll cut income taxes by expanding the sales tax.

He’ll ease the impact of higher sales taxes by hiring extra auditors to make sure Chandler Woodcock pays his taxes on time.

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