Moments after learning that she had been ousted from the mayor’s seat, Joanne Twomey declared that the citizens of Biddeford “don’t deserve me.”
She was right.
We deserve better.
In my last newspaper column, published in December 2005, I tried to explain what motivated that column for so many years.
“Political bullies are very much like their school-yard counterparts. They’re just not as clever, and they often cloak themselves in robes of self-described nobility and purpose,” I wrote.
Many people have described Maine Governor Paul LePage as a political bully.
Regardless of your feelings about the governor, what happened this week during one of his “town hall” events was an embarrassment to an entire community.
I suppose it would be easy to understand Ms. Twomey’s irrational outburst — which included lobbing a jar of Vaseline at the governor — if this were a one-time event: a tipping point of rage and resentment triggered by emotion.
But that’s not what it was.
Instead it was just one more incident in a long line of emotional outbursts from Ms. Twomey, a woman who loves creating controversy, grabbing headlines and listening to herself roar with self-righteous indignation.
Twomey has a long history of creating scenes. These outbursts serve no other purpose than to draw attention to Ms. Twomey.
If you listen to her speak, no one cares more than she does for the poor and afflicted, but don’t expect to see her volunteering at a soup kitchen or nursing home. Generally speaking, there are no TV cameras at such places.
Some people have applauded Twomey’s latest tirade. They say the governor got what was coming to him.
But what would they say about her angry outbursts that were directed at other governors, including Democrat John Baldacci and Independent Angus King?
It’s not about politics; it’s about Joanne Twomey and her rage du jour.
In the early 1990s, Twomey was removed by police from City Hall, following another hissy fit, when once again her rage trumped manners and decorum.
As a state representative, she cried on the House floor when she did not get her way. She is a professional victim and the consummate hypocrite.
And her only real accomplishment is tarnishing the image and reputation of my hometown, which is now undergoing a transformative renaissance.
Since Twomey was ousted from office, the city of Biddeford has closed MERC, a controversial trash incinerator. Since Twomey was ousted from office, the city has attracted millions of dollars in new investment, started a curbside recycling program and has seen dozens of new small businesses open in the downtown area, and worked with the neighboring town of Saco to create the River Walk.
But Twomey’s tirade gets far more media attention. Following Thursday’s incident, social media, radio stations and television crews have repeatedly linked Biddeford to Twomey. “The city twice elected her as mayor,” they say.
They don’t bother to mention that she has lost her last three elections. Finally, the people of Biddeford see through her charade of indignation.
Over the last few years, many of our residents have poured blood, sweat and tears into revitalizing Biddeford.
Twomey’s contribution to that effort? Zip. Zero. Nada.
So once again, my community becomes a laughing-stock, a portrait of dysfunctional government, despite all the progress made over the last few years.
Twomey will tell you that she is principled and fighting the good fight on the side of the angels. But let’s look at her track record.
1.) The woman who once bemoaned the idea of a casino in Biddeford — testifying before the Biddeford City Council in 2003 by saying — “In my Christmas village, there is no casino,” suddenly flipped when she got herself into a budget pinch, and she quickly became a cheerleader for a proposed casino. Principled? Really?
2.) The woman who built her political career on the backs of criticizing the owners of the MERC facility was giving them hugs in front of news cameras just two weeks before the 2009 mayoral election.
Just a few weeks later, after winning re-election as mayor, Twomey once again reversed her position. Principled? Really?
3.) During Biddeford’s Democratic caucus in 2012, Twomey said the city needed a “real Democrat” in Augusta, failing to mention that she encouraged Democrat State Rep. Paulette Beaudoin to run for her former legislative seat.
For such a principled person who professes to believe in the people, Twomey does not hesitate to play political hardball, but her victim routine is wearing thin.
Last year, Twomey huffed and puffed before the Biddeford City Council, accusing the city’s police department of discarding perfectly good bicycles that could be given to disadvantaged children.
It was later discovered that those bicycles were deemed beyond repair by the non-profit Community Bicycle Center.
Did Twomey apologize. Nope. Apologizing is not in her DNA.
In summary, Joanne Twomey has become everything she once despised: a petty, vindictive politician who keeps an enemies list.
But she was right about one thing: Biddeford does not deserve her.
PS: Here’s what syndicated columnist and radio talk show host Howie Carr had to say about Thursday’s incident: (At 12:50, he gives a hat-tip to this blog)