SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor LePage is firing back over comments made in a letter by his former Commissioner of Marine Resources, Norman Olsen.
The governor, speaking to reporters after a scheduled event, said Olsen's contention that the governor wouldn't meet with the city of Portland were "unequivocally fabricated." He said he'd be happy to meet with city leaders. The governor's office says there is a meeting scheduled for Thursday between the governor and city officials.
Governor LePage also said that he met 10 times with Olsen between May and the time the commissioner gave his notice. Olsen wrote in a letter to the Kennebec Journal that he was unable to schedule meetings with the governor.
He provided us with memos referring to 9 meetings, as well as letters from lobstermen upset with Olsen. Click here to see them.
Governor LePage said, "The fact of the matter is Mr. Olsen and I -- I guess it goes back to the movie of "Cool Hand Luke" and Paul Newman. 'What we had was a failure to communicate.' End of story."
The governor also accused the press of not contacting his office for comment when the letter came out.
NEWS CENTER had multiple conversations with the governor's office on Thursday and was told no one would be available to comment on camera. We did air a statement from the acting Commissioner of Marine Resources and from the governor's spokesperson.
Olsen declined to speak with us on camera, but sent the following statement:
"All commissioners are routinely involved in any number of meetings and public events that involve the Governor and various participants.
These meetings are called for specific purposes, are focused on a specific topic or agenda, and are strictly time-limited.
The meetings cited in a recent blog were all meetings for specific purposes with other participants, and were focused on specific topics.
They did not provide me any opportunity to confer with the Governor on other substantive issues.
I specifically requested a private meeting with the Governor on specific issues, to receive his guidance on his agenda, to brief him on and receive his support for Department initiatives, and to ensure that we were properly communicating.
I waited six weeks for that meeting, which was divided into two sessions on June 27 and 29.
With specific regard to Portland, the Governor could not have been clearer.
My original statement stands."
Portland Mayor Nick Mavodones had not heard the governor's comments when we spoke with him. He said he was still concerned that what Olsen said the governor said was out there. He also said that he hoped Thursday's meeting with the governor would lead to open communication.
"I am going to look for the governor to give that same indication [that he wants to work with the city] to us in the meeting, that Portland is important, that he and his staff will work with us, and we will be able to have an open door going forward," Mavodones said.