Michael Timmons didn’t back Land for Maine’s Future at a critical moment, so he shouldn’t help oversee it.
We’re struggling to find a good-faith explanation for Gov. Le-Page’s latest nominee to the Land for Maine’s Future Board: Michael Timmons, a former Republican legislator who voted in 2015 to sustain the governor’s veto of a bill to fund the conservation program. The nomination is a blatant effort by LePage to disrupt the board’s important work, and the Maine Senate shouldn’t support it.
Founded in 1987, Land for Maine’s Future has helped conserve over 500,000 acres of working forest, farmland and commercial waterfront. Nonprofits across the ideological spectrum, from environmental groups to hunting and fishing organizations, are advocates for the program, and Maine voters have never rejected proposals to fund LMF conservation projects.
Despite this broad base of support, Gov. LePage has stood in the way of Land for Maine’s Future, repeatedly holding on to millions in voter-approved bond funds in order to leverage action on his pet initiatives.
Frustration over the continued stalling fed strong legislative support of a 2015 measure that would have forced the release of the bonds. Timmons, then a state representative from Cumberland, initially voted in favor of the proposal. Then, caving to pressure from LePage and party leaders, he switched sides and voted to sustain LePage’s veto; the override fell five votes short of passage.
Timmons was justifiably slammed for the flip-flop by Cumberland’s councilors and town manager: They’d been counting on money from those bonds to buy the Knight’s Pond Preserve, and he’d assured them that he was behind the bill. (The project became a rallying point for LePage’s critics, and the deal was finalized last October.) Voters in Timmons’ district made their feelings known last November, turning him out of office by a solid margin.
But Timmons has friends in high places. LePage came to his defense in 2015, telling Cumberland officials, “Your anger is misdirected,” and hinting that the criticism was politically motivated.
Now the governor – the official who has done more than anyone else in Maine to to keep conservation funds from being used as voters intended – wants Timmons to have a seat on the panel tasked with vetting local groups’ requests for those funds.
The only qualification that Michael Timmons has demonstrated is his willingness to put his political interests before those of his constituents. He’s shown no commitment to conservation causes, and there’s no case for putting him on the Land for Maine’s Future board.