Acting on a Freedom of Access request I filed last week, the LePage administration has now released the letter that Representative John Martin (D - Eagle Lake) sent to the governor complaining about the actions of then-DECD Commissioner Phillip Congdon during his visit to Aroostook County last month.
Here's the text of the letter:
Dear Governor LePage:
Over the “vacation” while attending public functions throughout Aroostook County I was accosted by constituents and residents who were present to hear the comments of your Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development.
The following comments were reported to me:
“The problem with higher education today dates back to the civil rights movement in the ‘60’s that allowed blacks to enter colleges. That resulted in the large amount of remedial education required in colleges.”
“People in Aroostook County ought to get the hell off the reservation and create jobs for Aroostook County. You have not done a good job of educating your kids.”
“We need more hydro power- wind power is no good. You should be heating your homes with light bulbs.”
He also reiterated how he still “has no vision for his department,” months into his tenure.
Governor, I expect that you will summon the Commissioner to your office and deal with his outrageous statements. I would also remind you that I supported 3 of your nominees to date and have spoken on behalf of one. My voice has not yet joined those critical of your administration. Again, I expect that you will immediately resolve this issue.
Along with adding the strange quote about heating homes with light bulbs, which I hadn't heard before and don't quite understand, the letter also shows that Martin did not initially request that Congdon be fired, although he certainly expected some kind of swift action.
Since Congdon's resignation last week, the former commissioner has protested the innocence of his remarks to several reporters, including telling the Sun Journal's Steve Mistler that "Unfortunately, I thought I was talking to people who were sufficiently intelligent enough to understand my real meaning."
On Friday, Al Diamon reported that there actually was a journalist in the room during some of Congdon's remarks in Caribou, but the local scribe failed to see them as newsworthy. She didn't report on them at the time and has subsequently erased her recording of his speech.
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