Politics & Other Mistakes: How conspiracy theories get started

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If you wanted to make the University of Maine System look open, honest, and forthcoming, you could compare it to the Maine State Police.

UMS is a banana republic overseen by a tin-pot dictator in the person of Chancellor Dannel Malloy. Malloy has purged the campuses of presidents who disagreed with his autocratic rule. He has concealed important information from most of the board of trustees. To his credit, he hasn’t exiled any of his critics to barren islands, but he has lawyers looking into the legality of that option.

Al DiamonStill, Malloy’s ability to cause havoc is limited to gutting liberal arts curricula and paying exorbitant sums to a guy he tricked the trustees into hiring before his full background became public. Malloy can’t enforce his will with arrest powers, a cache of arms, or a SWAT team.

The state police have all that stuff.

Plus, the staties have a super-secret “fusion center” that, no matter what a whistleblower lawsuit says, is not – and they’re offended you would even consider such a thing – spying on law-abiding Maine citizens.

We know this is true because that secretive entity, known as the Maine Information and Analysis Center, put out a report in April that clearly stated it wasn’t invading anyone’s privacy by snooping around in their emails, monitoring their social media posts, or hacking into their bank statements.

Much.

The report is so vague there’s no way to tell what the center is doing. In one of a tiny number of clear statements, it admitted, “The biggest workload for the MIAC in 2021 was receiving and disseminating information and intelligence. This occurred 812 times.”

That’s about 2.2 disseminations each day. Or about as often as Chancellor Malloy lays off a professor.

But the MIAC is hardly the only secretive segment of the state cops’ operation. There’s also the recent announcement that it’s reorganizing “to provide an expedited response to critical calls.”

What does that mean?

At first, the troopers kept it vague. Col. John Cote told the Bangor Daily News: “In the field, we will work to implement our new resources while existing Troopers continue to serve and protect our communities.”

A good college education might allow someone to decode whatever Cote is talking about. It’s also possible it was just blather.

In late May, a prominent legislator asked state Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Sauschuck what the hell was going on and got this text reply: “The MSP are (sic) having some initial concept conversations around a potential reorg but nothing is ready for public release at this time.”

In reality, the staties had already prepared a slide show detailing whatever they were up to. The Bangor paper reported that the program was presented to the Maine Sheriff’s Association in mid-May. When a reporter asked to view the slides, the cops denied the request on the grounds the information would somehow compromise investigations. When the reporter asked for a redacted copy that contained no confidential information, the department coughed up a single slide that read, “Maine State Police, structural reorganization.“

There’s reason to believe this clumsy attempt at secrecy is a violation of Maine’s right-to-know law. Given the strong evidence of an illegal act, it seems like somebody should call the cops.

Oh, wait.

Finally, after negative press coverage, the staties held a news conference last week to announce they were moving some troopers around, adding an overnight shift on a few nights, buying body cameras, and hiring behavioral health specialists. They insisted that none of these changes would in any way affect the level of law-enforcement services they’re providing.

“This does not involve us pulling any resources out of any areas,” Cote said.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Unlike the university system situation, which is pretty obviously an old-fashioned power grab by His Exalted Excellency, Chancellor Malloy, it’s still not clear what the Maine State Police are up to. They operate less like a banana republic and more like a mini version of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Maybe they’re preparing to invade New Brunswick.

Before they send me off to the gulag, email [email protected].