Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap

Matt Lauzon's comment on my wife's campaign Facebook page

If you work on enough political campaigns, you invariably witness all sorts of dirty campaign tricks and negative mudslinging.

Unfortunately, that kind of tom-foolery has become the norm in national politics, but it is rare to find such tactics deployed at the local level.

As most readers of this blog know, my wife is running for a seat on the Biddeford City Council, and I would like to share with you what has happened to our family over the past 48 hours.

Actually, this sort of stuff has been going on much longer, but let’s keep our focus on recent history.

Matt Lauzon, a former Biddeford resident and a Boston “businessman,” has made it his life’s mission to ruin anyone who has the temerity to question his tactics or techniques in seeking justice for crimes that happened 20 years ago, but were only reported this year.

Lauzon has two objectives: filing a civil lawsuit against the city of Biddeford and disrupting the city’s political landscape. He is heavily vested in both outcomes.

Lauzon is also fixated on me and my wife. I thought we had reached a truce several weeks ago, when he agreed to leave me and my family alone.

You can read his letter to me and my response by clicking on this link: Biddeford Deserves Better.

Unfortunately, Mr. Lauzon has reverted back to his pattern of abusing people and then excusing his actions by hiding behind a veil of being a victim.

Last night, Mr. Lauzon began publicly suggesting that our son is a drug dealer. This is just his latest tirade against me and Laura.

Make no mistake, neither of my kids, my wife or I are perfect people. But if you want to accuse a member of my family with a serious crime, you best have some solid evidence to back it up.

For anyone who does have evidence of any crime being committed, I strongly suggest you call the Biddeford Police Department at (207) 282-5127.

Matt Lauzon is relentless. He generally posts his tirades late at night. When the sun rises, and he sobers up, he quickly deletes his posts, trying to clean his tracks.

As I mentioned before, Matt Lauzon has an agenda. He wants to be a disruptor, and he has zero regard for anyone who gets in his way. He has suggested that Mayor Alan Casavant has sex with his students while teaching at Biddeford High School. He has suggested that the mayor and Police Chief Roger Beaupre had a homosexual relationship. He has also suggested that Casavant had a sexual relationship with Maine District Court Judge Michael Cantara.

Matt 3Matt is a miserable man who plays the role of victim well, all the while spewing vitriol.

I have been covering Biddeford politics for the better part of 20 years. I have seen my fair share of crazy campaigns, but nothing on this level. Candidates’ families and children have never been used as political weapons. As rough as it sometimes gets in Biddeford politics, family and children have always been off limits.

Not anymore, I guess.

Nothing is off limits

As you can see from these attached screenshots, Matt is very, very angry boy.

Matt 1He mocks my mental illness, a subject that I have been very open about. The result? Further stigma that makes others with a mental illness hesitant to speak out.

Lauzon has a mantra of “being positive,” but what has he done to make Biddeford a better community?

As you can see here, he also attacks Vassie Fowler, one of the most generous women you could ever hope to meet. Matt Lauzon can’t hold a candle to Vassie’s ligthouse of making Biddeford a better place. Vassie has been a tireless volunteer and advocate for the city. Her generosity knows no bounds. For years, she has organized and coordinated Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for hundreds of people, including wounded veterans.

For her efforts, Vassie Fowler was given a key to the city.

Matt 4And Matt Lauzon? Well, he goes to city council meetings and screams. He tears down other people. He is full of hate and self-loathing.

Matt Lauzon is a self-absorbed, pathetic human being. He is full of hate.

Mr. Lauzon, a regular visitor to Fantasy Island, claims he has an “iron-clad” case for a civil lawsuit against me and Laura.

My response? Stop yapping your gums, Matt and bring on the lawsuit. You have already failed in getting my wife fired, so your track record is 0-1. Bring on Nightline, NBC’s Dateline, the FBI, Congress, the Governor, the Legislature or Santa Claus. None of your predictions ever come true.

He has about 20 or 30 followers who cheer him on. One of those Lauzon disciples recently described my wife as a C**T on Facebook.  Nice, huh?

As I wrote several weeks ago, Biddeford deserves better.

Someone should deliver that message to Matt and his small band of followers.

It’s been a slow turning

Laura Seaver

Laura Seaver

I have come full circle.

When I first met Laura, she was running for one of two seats on the Old Orchard Beach School Board. I was the editor of a local newspaper, and generally wrote endorsements for various candidates in five different communities.

In that particular race, I endorsed the incumbent, mistakenly thinking there was only one seat up for grabs.

I got an e-mail from Laura Kidman the next day. Part of what she wrote: “If I were a newspaper editor, I would get my facts straight. There are two open seats and three candidates.”


I was feeling defensive and returned her e-mail with a curt response, a half-hearted apology and also told her: “If I were going to write to the editor of a newspaper, I would be sure to spell the name of the newspaper correctly.”

This is how our relationship began.

Later in the day, I was complaining about the e-mail exchange to a reporter from another newspaper. That reporter empathized and added that Laura was really cute . . . and single. She offered to show me a campaign photo.

I was smitten, and I immediately returned to my office to write another e-mail to Laura. A response came into my inbox only moments later.

And that’s how it went for the next several days: a series of e-mails that became increasingly flirtatious, leading up to Election Day.

During our e-mail exchange, I made Laura an offer: If she won the election, I would actually bother to cover a meeting of the Old Orchard Beach School Board.  But if she lost the election, I would buy her a cup of coffee.

We had still not met in person.

On Election Day, my gut felt as if it were filled with shards of broken glass. I could not concentrate. I was planning to go to Old Orchard Beach and check the polls, knowing that Laura would likely be there, greeting voters as they entered the high school.

I saw her standing against a wall with other candidates, and my heart sunk. I knew instantly that she was way out of my league.

I shook her hand briefly, and then moved along quickly, trying to look important . . . as if I cared about the other races in Old Orchard Beach, and then left quickly without saying goodbye.

I drove away from the high school that night, cursing myself for believing that I might actually have a chance with this woman.

Long story short: Laura lost that election, and e-mailed me the next day to remind me that I owed her a cup of coffee. She provided me three different phone numbers to contact her.

There were more e-mails, and then a first date, a second date and so on . . .

Bottom line, it’s very unlikely that we would be married today if Laura had won that election.

Sometimes a loss is a big win.

What goes around comes around

After being married only a few years, Laura won other elections; serving two terms on the Biddeford School Committee. And today, she is a candidate for the Biddeford City Council.

This is where it gets tricky. I often get paid to work on political campaigns, but what do I do when my wife is a candidate?

I struggle with wanting to run her campaign, and she pushes back, saying she is going to do things her own way.

Make no mistake, she appreciates my support and advice, but at the end of the day this particular campaign is hers, not mine.

I am personally vested in seeing her win, but I am also reminded that even a loss could be a good thing.

Laura really cares about the city of Biddeford. She has a lot of good ideas about how our city can move forward.

My job is to sit back, and let her do her job; to help her when she asks, but otherwise keep my opinions to myself. And if you know me, you know that is a tall order.

Laura’s campaign won’t really start until Tuesday, and there are seven weeks to go before Election Day.

It just strikes me that if I didn’t make that mistake during my newspaper days, my life would be completely different today.

So, there are two lessons here:

Mistakes can turn out really well, and losses can be very big wins.

Meet your candidates

Mayor Alan Casavant (Sun Chronicle photo)

Mayor Alan Casavant
(Sun Chronicle photo)

Hear ye, hear ye . . .

I have just returned from Biddeford City Hall with the official list of mayoral and city council candidates.

The deadline for filing nomination papers has come and gone; and these are the names you will find on your November 3 ballot.

Let’s start at the top . . .

The Mayor’s Race:

Mayor Alan Casavant is being challenged for a third-term bid by Daniel Parenteau.

Parenteau ran two years ago as one of six candidates for the two at-large council seats. He finished in last place with a little more than 600 votes. He’s gonna need to step up his game if he wants to win this time.

City Council, At-Large:

Laura Seaver

Laura Seaver

There are five candidates running for the two at-large seats on the city council. This could be an epic battle. Finally: Seaver vs. Twomey!

Sorry for the distraction, here are the candidates: Councilor Marc Lessard is hoping to keep his seat. Councilor Clement Fleurent has decided to retire and will not be seeking re-election. The other four candidates (in alphabetical order) are:

Melissa “the Wolverine” Bednarowski. She served one term on the council (2011-2013) and is an outspoken critic of almost everything, but especially hates Alan Casavant.

Doris McCauliffe: if you don’t recognize the name, just think of the lady who screams when addressing the council at public meetings.

Laura Seaver: She’s smart, she’s sexy, she’s funny and super motivated. Did I mention she is a super hottie? (My personal favorite)

And, Joanne Twomey. Yes, Joanne Twomey will be battling a Seaver for a council seat. Epic! Twomey has lost her last three bids for public office, including twice being beaten by Casavant for mayor and losing the Democratic nomination for the District 135 Legislative seat in 2012.

Ward One:

Councilor Michael Swanton is being challenged by political newcomer Kathy Russell.

Ward Two:

John McCurry

John McCurry

Councilor John McCurry is the only candidate running unopposed.

Ward Three:

Councilor Stephen St. Cyr is being challenged by Richard Rhames. St. Cyr was appointed to the council earlier this year, and now wants to earn the seat. Rhames has a strong following in that ward (actually in all wards) and will be a strong contender.

Ward Four:

Councilor Robert “Bobby” Quattrone is hoping for a second term but he is being challenged by political newcomer Terry Belanger.

Ward Five:

Hang on to your seats, boys and girls. There are six candidates vying for the Ward Five seat. That’s right, I said SIX candidates.

Councilor Bobby Mills really wants to hold onto his seat for a fourth term, but is being challenged by (let me catch my breath) : Nathan Bean, Perry Aberle, Milton Truman, Carol Boisjoly and Karl Reed, Jr. (who runs a web site named best in your girl)

Ward Six:

Councilor Roger Hurtubise is retiring from political life. His seat is being sought by former city councilor Rick Laverriere and political newcomer Debbie Croteau Lauzon, the mother of Matt Lauzon. Matt Lauzon has played a critical role in shaping this year’s political landscape by keeping the heat on city officials regarding alleged sexual abuse by two former police officers.

Ward Seven:

Councilor Michael Ready is being challenged by former Charter Commission member Ben Neveaux.

And there you have it! Your slate of candidates for the city council.

I’ll post the school committee candidates later, but right now I have a birthday party to attend.

Good luck to all the candidates. On behalf of all Biddeford residents, thank you for stepping forward to serve your community.

When love comes to town

Daniel Parenteau

Daniel Parenteau

And, they’re off!

The 2015 municipal election season in Biddeford has started with a bang, according to this story from the Portland Press Herald.

As someone who has worked professionally on local, statewide and federal campaigns over the last several years, I find all of this somewhat fascinating.

I have been covering Biddeford’s political landscape for nearly two decades, both as former newspaper editor and now as a blogger. I have witnessed more political maneuvering on this side of the Saco River than you can imagine.

But this year’s races are a bit different. There is a groundswell of opinion that says Biddeford needs a clean sweep, from the mayor’s seat all the way down to ward clerks and wardens.

So, because I am a political junkie and a Biddeford native, you can expect me to be keeping a close eye on the developments of these races between now and Election Day.

Today, we start with the race for the mayor’s seat, where two-term incumbent Alan Casavant is facing potential challenges from at least three candidates, including Daniel Parenteau, a self-employed consultant.

As I pointed out previously, this is not Parenteau’s first bid for political office.

Two years ago, Parenteau was one of six candidates for the city’s two at-large city council seats.

He finished in last place with 805 votes, despite support he received from Casavant.

To kick off his campaign, Parenteau has followed Casavant’s lead by creating a Facebook page.

But Parenteau has also gone a step further, deploying a campaign tactic that we generally see reserved for larger-scale campaigns, such as Congressional races.

According to his Facebook page, Parenteau will be conducting a “working tour” of the city. He will spend a few hours every week, working for free at a locally-owned business as a way to connect with voters.

On Friday, Parenteau was stocking shelves at Ray’s Market on the western side of the city.

This, to my knowledge, is a first in Biddeford campaigns.

Parenteau, who talks a lot about being innovative and connected to every day citizens, is putting those ideas into action. His campaign is being innovative, and he is connecting to people at the grassroots level.

It’s a brilliant strategy that positions him as a “man of the people.”

In his last two campaigns, Mayor Casavant used campaign events to collect food for local food pantries. At the time, it was a well-received move that showed Casavant understood the needs of the people.

Today, Casavant’s detractors paint him as a man who is “out of touch with the community.

Speaking of Casavant, the mayor has yet to take out nomination papers, leading some to question whether he will actually seek a third term.

It’s still very early in the process, and most voters — other than the political junkies and those with an axe to grind — will not begin paying too much attention to any of the campaigns until after Labor Day….summer in Maine is just too short.

But one thing is for sure, it’s going to be an interesting political season Biddeford.




The Doctor is In

It’s only July, but it looks like it could be a crowded field in November with several potential candidates jousting for the mayor’s seat in Biddeford.

Mayor Alan Casavant announced in April that he would seek a third two-year term.

A few weeks before Casavant’s announcement, Perry Aberele made a statement to a Boston Globe reporter that he would be seeking the seat; and today Dr. Daniel Parenteau, PhD., announced that he will also seek to oust Casavant in November.

Parenteau told the Portland Press Herald he is running because of his concerns about the “trajectory of the city,” saying city hall politics have been stalled by sexual abuse allegations and unsettled contracts with union employees.

Daniel Parenteau

Daniel Parenteau

This is not Parenteau’s first bid for public office.

Two years ago, Parenteau was one of six candidates for the city’s two at-large city council seats. He finished in last place with 805 votes, despite support he received from Casavant.

Only a few weeks after losing his bid, Parenteau was appointed by Casavant to chair a newly-formed Efficiency Committee. (Disclosure: I was also appointed to that committee.)

The “Efficiency” Committee met only three times and never forwarded any recommendations to the city council.

Parenteau is a life-long resident of Biddeford and regularly posts on his blog: Letters to Myself.

Mayor Alan Casavant

Mayor Alan Casavant

As for Aberle, this is not the first time he has considered running for mayor. Aberle finished third in a three-way race for the seat in 2013 with 720 votes, compared to Casavant’s commanding lead of 2,377 votes and 1,043 votes for Joanne Twomey.

(According to the Biddeford City Clerk’s Office, write-in candidate Karl Reed, Jr., received four votes)

Twomey, who served two terms as the city’s mayor before being ousted by Casavant in 2011, has reportedly told her supporters that she will not seek the seat this year.

Another potential candidate is former City Councilor Roch Angers, who organized a citizens meeting earlier this month to hear concerns about sexual abuse allegations that have been leveled against two former police officers.


Roch Angers

During a telephone conversation a few weeks ago, Angers skillfully dodged my question regarding rumors that he might be seeking a seat.

Although Angers, who lost his own bid for an at-large council seat in 2013, was direct in telling me that he is still upset with Casavant for supporting Parenteau in that race, he declined to say whether he would consider another bid for office. “It’s not something I want to talk about at this time,” he said.

George “Pete” Lamontagne, another former city councilor, quelled rumors that he might seek the seat, responding to friends and supporters on Facebook that he is happily retired after many years of faithful public service.

Casavant has won his past two elections with strong numbers, but he will be challenged in this cycle by several factors, including the recent budget, stalled labor contracts and the allegations of sexual abuse.

Although the mayor has no vote on the budget or the contract negotiations, voters will likely hold him responsible either way.

Regarding the sexual abuse allegations, Casavant has said the city is cooperating and complying with the Maine Attorney General’s Office as that agency continues to conduct its investigation of the allegations.

Nomination papers for mayor, city council and school committee will be available from the City Clerk’s office on August 3.

Boys Don’t Cry

Union members protest outside City Hall before the July 7 meeting. (Biddeford Teamsters photo)

Union members protest outside City Hall before the July 7 meeting. (Biddeford Teamsters photo)

Maybe it was the heat.

Maybe it was that more than 150 people had packed themselves into the tiny and cramped Biddeford City Council Chambers.

More than likely, it was because tensions remain high between the city council and the Teamsters union that represents the city’s police, fire and public works department in ongoing contract negotiations.

But for whatever reason, only a few minutes into the July 7 council meeting, chaos erupted and the meeting was quickly adjourned before it ever really started.

It was a spectacle to watch; embarrassing on many levels and completely avoidable.

Although it was a powder keg in search of a match, the first moments of the meeting seemed routine. There was the Pledge of Allegiance and everyone stood, removed their hats and paid homage to our nation’s flag.

And then, Mayor Alan Casavant asked for a moment of silence to recognize the passing of two distinguished citizens.

Again, everyone in the room was completely respectful, bowing their heads in a moment of silence. But then, gazing at the crowd that literally surrounded the council, Casavant simply asked some attendees to stand in the hallway in order to comply with building safety codes.

The crowd of mostly Teamsters and their supporters refused to budge. “We’re not going anywhere,” they shouted, quickly followed by thunderous applause.

One of the councilors (from the videotape of the meeting it remains unclear who it was) responded, “Do you want us to shut it down?”

In unison, the angry Teamsters began chanting: “Shut it down! Shut it down!”

One councilor quickly made a motion to adjourn the meeting, it was just as quickly seconded. And a majority of councilors voted to adjourn the meeting before it ever really started.

The Teamsters were visibly upset. They stood in place, screaming at the councilors and chanting: “Shame on you! Shame on you!”

The people’s business went unfinished. No member of the public was able to address the council. It was a poor reflection of a great city.

The Blame Game

So who’s to blame for the complete breakdown in civility, decorum and common courtesy?

Well, there’s plenty of blame to go around for this circus show, so let’s start at the top.

With nearly two terms under his belt as the city’s mayor, four terms as a state legislator and prior experience as a city councilor (not to mention teaching psychology at Biddeford High School), Mayor Alan Casavant should have seen this coming well in advance.

Casavant should have changed the venue for the meeting to accommodate what everyone knew was going to be a capacity crowd.

Casavant failed to lead because of his embedded belief in the decency of his fellow citizens. He thought he could simply ask for order, and his request would be honored. That’s not how the real world works. It may have worked in his classroom, but the mayor simply cannot be so naïve as to think the meeting was not going to be raucous and overcrowded.

Casavant was elected to be a leader, not to be a nice guy.

In the final moments of the meeting, Council President John McCurry leaned over to Casavant and said, “You need to get a handle on this situation.”

McCurry was right.

But the blame does not rest solely with Casavant.

Assets, not liabilities

Although a majority of the council was angry, there was no need to threaten to “shut down” the meeting. The council could have sat idly until the crowd complied, ordering public access television to be paused and waiting for things to settle down.

Instead, at least one of the councilors issued an ultimatum: “Do you want us to shut it down?”

That did not fly with the Teamsters.

Whether they like it or not, the council has a responsibility to hear its citizens’ concerns and grievances. It also has a responsibility to hear those same concerns from city employees, many of whom are also residents.

I have been covering Biddeford politics for the better part of two decades, and there seems to be a constant, pervasive theme that transcends each administration: City employees are liabilities, not assets. In reality, it is the other way around.

The council has its position in the negotiations, but it is unrealistic to expect that those on the other side of the table are going to simply accept what is offered, especially when the offer (according to sources from within the union) is such a low-ball offer.

Furthermore, the council cannot lay all the blame at the mayor’s feet. They should have made a motion to move the meeting to a different venue at a different time in order to accommodate the crowd.

Instead, they stubbornly insist that all future meetings will be held in the cramped city council chamber.

Men To Boys

Biddeford’s police, fire and public works employees are some of the hardest working, most decent people you will ever come across.

It appears that the union has a legitimate beef with the negotiations. They are being asked to sacrifice a lot. Perhaps, this is the city’s negotiating tool: a ridiculous low-ball offer that can be incrementally worked up.

But we are not talking about buying a Ford F-150 or a Toyota Prius.  We are talking about men and women who will literally put their lives on the line for you and me.

I do not know how much police officers or firefighters are paid, but I guarantee you it is not enough.

On the other hand, the city has limited resources, and public employees need to accept the same realities that private-sector employees are facing.

As I watched the July 7 meeting, I couldn’t help but imagine what would have happened to me if I marched into my employers’ office and started shouting “shame on you” because I was upset about a lack of a raise or losing some benefits. If my employer asked me to wait in the hallway for a few moments while things settled down, and I refused to budge, what do you think would happen?

I would be looking for another job.

That’s how it works in the real world.

Furthermore, it is beyond ironic that public safety employees would refuse to comply with public safety regulations.

Earth to Teamsters: The mayor was not asking you to leave or trying to silence your voices. He simply asked a few of you to step into the adjacent hallway and wait your turn to speak. Was that such an unreasonable request?

Stomping your feet and shouting is for two-year-olds, not for adults.

And let’s be clear, this is not the first time when have witnessed junior high school theatrics from the Teamsters.

During my tenure as a newspaper editor, I recall previous contract negotiations that were just as heated and just as contentious. In fact, during one council meeting, several union members circled City Hall in their vehicles, honking their horns repeatedly in order to disrupt the meeting.

In summary, there’s plenty of blame to go around in this situation. I strongly suggest that the mayor, every member of the city council and the Teamsters all put on their big-boy pants and negotiate in good faith.

Our public employees should be treated with respect.

That respect should also be reciprocated.

Dog Day Afternoon

State Sen. David Dutremble

State Sen. David Dutremble

Like everyone else in Biddeford, State senator David Dutremble is troubled by the allegations of child sexual abuse that has roiled this city for the past several weeks.

On June 23, Dutremble wrote on Facebook: “The more we dig, the sicker I become with my city!!”


I called him out on that post because he is indicting the entire city for allegations that primarily focus on two former police officers.

Perhaps Dutremble is upset with the city council that voted 6-2 not to suspend the police chief and deputy police chief.

Perhaps he envies Mayor Alan Casavant’s strong popular support.

Perhaps he is angry with the police chief or the deputy police chief, even though Maine’s Attorney General says they have taken all the right steps during the ongoing investigation.

But one thing is for sure: Dutremble won’t attack the reputation of his employer, the city’s fire department.

His disgust is selective, despite a recent post on the Portland Press Herald’s Facebook page in which a Biddeford man alleged that a “senior fire department official” attempted to molest him when he was a teenager.

Joey GWhere was the outrage? Where was the investigation, the calls for senior members of the fire department to step aside during an investigation? There was none of that. Dutremble was silent.

But he has been very vocal, and has repeatedly expressed his indignation with the Biddeford City Council for doing “nothing” to help the cause of “justice” for the community.

From the council chamber’s podium, Dutremble has expressed outrage and contempt toward the council. And he promised, he would get something done in Augusta.

A career firefighter, Dutremble is by all accounts a good city employee, But a careful look at the legislative session that will soon end calls into serious question his abilities as a legislator.

Who let the dogs out?

Earlier this year, Dutremble introduced a bill (L.D. 107) to name the Labrador retriever as the official state dog. State Rep. William Tuell of East Machias described L.D. 107 as “a waste of time.”

An Arundel dog breeder agreed with Tuell, telling the Portland Press Herald that, “It is stupid. There are so many other issues.”

The Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government quickly killed the bill by a vote of 9-3.

Although Dutremble was not able to pass the dog bill, a new group of his supporters expected him to deliver the goods on a topic about which he has been extremely vocal: the alleged sexual abuse of minors by former members of the Biddeford Police Department.

Now bear in mind, there is no love lost between the city’s police and fire departments.

For the past several months, alleged victim Matt Lauzon has spearheaded the issue of child sexual abuse by two former police officers, and he has been effusive in his praise of Dutremble, at every social media opportunity calling him “courageous” and a “hero.”

It appeared as though Lauzon had found his ideal champion, and that Dutremble had found his ideal cause. Lots of TV cameras, and how can you go wrong trying to help victims of sexual abuse?

The controversy held great promise to cement Dutremble’s reputation as a take-charge legislator who gets things done.

The senator comes out swinging

Dutremble seemed to get off to a very fast start. On May 7, Bangor Daily News reporter Beth Brogan wrote that Dutremble’s legislative staff was “already investigating the existing law and possible changes.”

Lauzon kept the community updated on Dutremble’s progress via Facebook, making it clear that thanks to the senator, Lauzon was meeting in Augusta with the leadership of the Legislature, and that legislative action would be forthcoming very soon.

Each of Lauzon’s admiring Facebook posts about Dutremble seemed to bring an immediate Facebook “Like” from the take-charge and image conscious senator.

There was even a very high profile meeting with Governor LePage on May 12, once again covered by all the TV stations and the state’s biggest newspapers. Pretty heady stuff. Dutremble’s momentum seemed unstoppable.

On May 19, Dutremble confidently strode into a Biddeford City Council meeting, and he was visibly seething. He wasted no time reprimanding the mayor and council for their pitifully poor job performance. It was very theatrical and dramatic. At the same time, he portrayed himself as a bold, decisive leader.

“In regard to state level assistance, I am working, and looking into the best avenue for an independent investigation of the Biddeford Police Department,” he told the council.

While grabbing headlines and severely scolding city officials, Dutremble’s star seemed to be shining very brightly. In fact, one of Lauzon’s staunchest supporters enthusiastically told a city official — in no uncertain terms — that the senator was working hard on a joint resolution from both the Maine Senate and the Maine House of Representatives.

This resolution would enjoy near unanimous support in both chambers of the legislature, the resident bragged. It would call on Attorney General Janet Mills to step away from the investigation of the Biddeford Police Department, and to let the Maine State Police take over the investigation.

With Dutremble having taken charge, the AG’s office would be kicked off the case. Wow, that’s pretty impressive legislative clout.

Bad news for Dutremble

In most cases when nothing happens, that’s not news. But this particular “nothing” will indeed be news in Biddeford.

As of Monday, Dutremble had filed neither a bill nor a resolution. In a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, Dutremble stated that he was not working on a bill, but rather a “letter.”


A letter to whom?

Hard to believe. After going out on a limb just about as far as you can go, the Maine Legislature will soon recess for the summer and Senator David Dutremble will tiptoe back into town completely empty-handed.

When I first heard about the potential joint resolution a few weeks ago, a colleague of mine called a media person who is wise to all that goes on in Augusta. The reporter literally burst out laughing and said, “That’ll never happen.”

The same colleague has access to a direct line into the Governor’s office, and into the leadership of the Maine State Senate. Calls were made to see how much progress the senator’s resolution had made, and the response from this staffer was shocking.

“Yeah, we’ve heard rumblings that Dutremble is interested in this issue, but nobody’s seen anything in writing,” the staffer said. “Nothing exists, not even a bill summary or just a title. One thing’s for sure, nobody’s touching that with a 10-foot pole.”

Nothing in writing? How could that be?

Biddeford’s senator had repeatedly chastised the mayor and city council in public for “doing nothing,” but he never filed a bill? Not even a bill summary or even a simple bill title?

What about the resolution — that was never in writing, either?

Now, it is possible that Dutremble has spent weeks working on a letter, but another electronic records search was completed by the Governor’s office and Senate staff just two days ago, and that yielded no results. There’s no record of anything having to do with a joint resolution and Senator David Dutremble.

To the likes of Lauzon and his supporters, it must be incomprehensible that Dutremble utterly failed to produce. But to those who understand the basic rules of politics, Dutremble’s shockingly elementary mistakes explain everything.

A failure to communicate

David Dutremble is a state senator. You’d think he’d be astute enough to know that his party is in a life and death struggle, if not with the Republicans, then certainly with Republican Governor Paul LePage.

The Attorney General, Janet Mills, is a high profile Democrat. She and LePage have been in an ugly war on any number of issues. Their battles litter the landscape to such an extent that it’s no exaggeration to say Mills and LePage may be the two most bitter political enemies in Maine.

The only politician in Maine seemingly unaware of this conflict is David Dutremble.

Dutremble apparently thought it was okay to approach Democratic legislative leaders to help pass a resolution that would hand the Democrats a huge political defeat, and hand the governor a huge political victory.

Think about it. Dutremble’s resolution would have removed Mills from an important investigation (thereby calling into question her competence in all investigations). The Governor could take the credit for showing leadership by having the meeting with Lauzon, and the resolution — approved by most Democrats — would give the governor valuable ammo in his continuing claim that Mills is unfit to be AG.

There is no way that any resolution or bill was ever going to be passed, or even brought to the floor of either chamber. It was never going to see the light of day.

Senator Dutremble’s unsophisticated legislative idea painfully illustrated his lack of understanding of how things work in Augusta.

Playing checkers, not chess

Matt Lauzon’s meeting with LePage took place well before the “news” surfaced that Dutremble would get near unanimous support for his bipartisan resolution.

It remains unclear what role Dutremble played in arranging Lauzon’s meeting with LePage. Maybe it was a large role, maybe it was miniscule, but one thing about the meeting is crystal clear: The governor barred Dutremble from attending.

At the time, Dutremble’s naïve supporters were jubilant that the meeting with the governor had taken place. They thought they were on their way to “justice.” All they had to do was keep following Senator Dutremble.

Nobody seemed worried that LePage had barred Dutremble from the meeting. None of them, including Dutremble, seemed to understand the significance of what had transpired. None of them seemed to understand that the Governor and the legislative leaders were playing chess, while Dutremble and some of Lauzon’s supporters were playing checkers.

None of them apparently even considered the idea that LePage gladly took full advantage of a political freebie, personally gift-wrapped by Dutremble.

The governor was able to embarrass a Democratic senator, take another shot at the AG, express concern about sexual abuse and bask in the resulting media coverage — all in one neat little package.

Oblivious, Dutremble pressed on, “crafting” the near-unanimous resolution that seems not to have been written, the non-resolution he promised a trusting constituent was right around the corner.

Outside, looking in

Thanks to his clumsiness during this legislative session, David Dutremble is now on the outside looking in, and that position is probably permanent.

In Augusta, memories are long.

Dutremble’s repeated calls to get the AG’s office “off the case” in Biddeford was a major political faux pas, and the total cost of that mistake to his full constituency is yet to be calculated.

One certain cost is the people of Biddeford now have less influence because Dutremble now has zero influence. That’s a price we all pay.

But the senator also failed to see that in trying to pass this ill-fated legislation, his reputation is now directly tied to the reputation of the man whose cause he has decided to champion.

Every time Dutremble walks into a room to talk about sexual abuse — whether in Biddeford or in Augusta — he is now equated with Matt Lauzon. They are one and the same.

Unfortunately, while Dutremble was plotting to get unanimous support for his resolution, Lauzon and his supporters were running amok on social media and in public meetings.

Word gets around, even in Augusta

Despite many claims that he’s about to go “professional,” Lauzon keeps acting like a junior high school kid.

At a forum hosted by Dutremble, Lauzon publicly speculated that the Biddeford police chief had had homosexual relations with a current police commissioner, and with a former police officer.

Lauzon also intimated that the chief had participated in group sex. He intimated that a Maine district judge had a homosexual relationship with Biddeford’s mayor. He publicly speculated that Biddeford’s mayor, a former teacher at the city’s high school, had slept with his students.

One of Lauzon’s supporters came to a city council meeting, and in the most foul, graphic and detestable street language, proclaimed from the podium his certainty that Biddeford’s mayor and police chief currently and frequently engage in oral sex.

Similar examples of Lauzon’s “dialogue” are legion, but it sickens the stomach to list each instance. And each instance has been a costly chink in Dutremble’s armor.

No matter how valid the cause, no bill will ever be passed in Augusta with proponents who carry themselves in such a fashion.

Matt Lauzon (far left) taunts and tries to distract Mayor Alan Casavant during a press conference.

Matt Lauzon (far left) taunts and tries to distract Mayor Alan Casavant during a press conference.

After one city council meeting, as the mayor was being interviewed by television reporters, Lauzon ducked and hid behind the cameras, popping out like a jack-in-the-box to make faces at Casavant as he answered questions.

Absolutely no filter or maturity. Absolutely no decorum and common decency, and absolutely no common sense.

Unfortunately, to the detriment of a very serious issue that deserves sober and mature discussion, Lauzon and some of his supporters keep shooting themselves in the foot, over and over again, inflicting more and more damage on Dutremble’s political reputation and, more importantly, the pending investigation by Maine’s attorney general.

Not understanding that word gets around, and that the media and many others are completely appalled by the crass and boorish social media dialogue that Lauzon has been fomenting, the senator finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

He can’t turn back now, and Lauzon’s posse has proven that it cannot change its stripes. They, and their behavior, will determine Dutremble’s political future.

One new law, and it isn’t Dutremble’s

It is clear that on the issue of sexual abuse, Biddeford’s senator accomplished absolutely nothing in this legislative session.

Meanwhile, early in the process, Biddeford’s city council asked Dutremble to file emergency legislation that would ease state restrictions on discussing an ongoing criminal investigation.

He didn’t do it.

The city council also asked him to file emergency legislation that would keep convicted pedophiles from living too close to public parks and playgrounds where young children congregate.

He didn’t do it.

And there’s no record of his introducing a joint resolution that supposedly was going to be almost unanimous.

So, what did he do?

He repeatedly berated Biddeford’s mayor and city council for “doing nothing.” Apparently he didn’t notice that Biddeford passed a new ordinance that bars convicted pedophiles from living within 750 feet of a public park or playground where young children congregate. It’s now the law in Biddeford.

Meanwhile, Dutremble’s wife announced that her husband had allowed her to read all the victim statements he has collected, the same confidential victim statements he has refused to hand over to the Attorney General’s office, thereby raising the legitimate question of whether he is impeding an ongoing criminal investigation.

Apparently, Dutremble believes that Attorney General Mills is either incompetent or not trustworthy.

Senator Dutremble doesn’t get to introduce new bills Augusta until next January, and his joint resolution will again have no chance.

One thing’s for sure, with the Legislature almost recessed and his opportunity to make a difference having completely evaporated, it’ll be interesting to see if he goes to the next city council meeting to condemn and berate the mayor and council for not doing enough in their positions as servants to the citizens of Biddeford.

And remember Dutremble’s own words: he is “sick” with his city, which begs the question why would he want to represent us in Augusta?

Considering the situation, Dutremble should be applauded for his desire to get something done. He wanted to do a good deed, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But criticizing the council for “doing nothing” and coming home from Augusta with nothing makes him a hypocrite.

Even more disturbing is the idea that Dutremble’s fumble likely impeded the process of justice now being reviewed by the attorney general’s office. It is a lose-lose situation.

David Dutremble is an exemplary city employee but, regrettably, he is proving to be a legislator who can’t get anything done.

As citizens who have been paying close attention to this explosive issue, and considering Dutremble’s lofty proclamations, an explanation from the senator is the very least we deserve.