Letter to the editor: Lawmakers stand up for respectful discourse

from the Bangor Daily News, September 8, 2018

It was heartening to read that the Government Oversight Committee took the unusual step last week of demanding that Gov. Paul LePage apologize for his caustic comments about a legislator.

At a public meeting, the governor shocked those in attendance by lashing out at a fellow Republican, Sen. Thomas Saviello, describing him as “the most repugnant human being I’ve ever seen,” and implying that Sen. Saviello is a habitual liar.

In response, the committee told the governor his behavior was “undignified and disrespectful” in a letter signed by committee chairs Sen. Roger Katz, a Republican, and Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, a Democrat, and supported unanimously by all 12 committee members.

“Governor LePage, we do not know what fuels your anger, but your behavior … was unacceptable, and we condemn it,” the letter said.

At the Maine Council of Churches, our faith calls us to treat each other with respect and dignity. We are grateful to Sen. Katz, Rep. Mastraccio and the rest of the committee for standing up for civil discourse and speaking out when an elected official falls far short of the expectations of his office.

Because of our deep commitment to civil discourse, we ask elected officials to sign a covenantpromising to treat each other with respect, which includes a commitment “to refrain from personal attacks, while maintaining the right to vigorously disagree.” Sen. Katz, Rep. Mastraccio and Sen. Saviello have signed the covenant. Gov. LePage has not.

Bonny Rodden
president, Maine Council of Churches