Paul LePage is at it again.
The controversial Maine governor included Lawrence and Lowell in a list of cities responsible for Maine’s drug crisis while he was in Boston for a conference for New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers on Monday. LePage doubled down on allegations he made last week that 90 percent of drug dealers arrested in Maine were black or Hispanic — and insulted Massachusetts, host of the conference, in the process.
“Meth lab arrests are white,” he told the State House News Service. “They’re Mainers. The heroin-fentanyl arrests are not white people. They’re Hispanic and they’re black, and they’re from Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts; Waterbury, Connecticut; the Bronx and Brooklyn. I didn’t make up the rules. That’s how it turns out. But that’s a fact. It’s a fact. What, do you want me to lie?”
LePage’s comments did not sit well with local officials in those two communities.
“Apparently he hasn’t realized this is an epidemic that has been soaring for decades, affecting every state, neighborhood, family no matter what race, creed or color,” said Rodney Elliott, a Lowell city councilor and former mayor, in a statement to the Globe. “To me this epitomizes his ignorance and he owes the people of. . . Lowell and Lawrence an apology.”
Lawrence City Council Vice President Marc Laplante called LePage’s “reckless and irresponsible.”
“To pin the problem on cities like Lawrence and Lowell tells me he is playing to the cheap seats for cheap political points,” Laplante wrote. “In Lawrence, for example, 75 percent of the opioid drug arrests are from out of towners. Most, by the way, from residents outside Massachusetts. LePage should listen to the experts and note that to successfully address the problem, it must deal with supply, demand, and education across all borders.”
This isn’t not the first time LePage was in hot water over the issue of drugs, race, and out-of-towners. In January, the governor caused controversy when he said drug dealers with names like ‘‘D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty’’ are getting Maine’s white girls pregnant. He later apologized, saying he meant to say ‘‘Maine women’’ and not ‘‘white women.’’