I remember feeling a huge sense of delight over this story about Maine Gov. James Longley’s Lincoln Continental. Why? Because reporters love to catch politicians in this sort of delicious paradox. Here’s the back story: Longley ran as an independent and said throughout his campaign that the state spent way too much money on just about everything. But Longley also loved his wealth and his privileges, both as a businessman and later as governor. And he REALLY wanted this Lincoln. But he didn’t know how to get it without appearing to violate his pledges of state cost-cutting. That’s why he put a “hold” on this Lincoln contract rather than simply cancelling it. Ultimately, once attention to all this died down, he got his Lincoln.
By ARTHUR FREDERICK
AUGUSTA, Maine (UPI) — Gov.-elect James B. Longley may be driven around the state during his term in a brand-new Lincoln Continental Mark IV.
A lease contract has been signed for the luxury car, but it was learned Monday that Longley has ordered a hold in the contract “until we can review the lease,” according to Col. Donald Nichols, chief of the state police.
Longley aide Jim McGregor at first said he didn’t know of any contract for a Lincoln, and said a decision on a new executive car might not be made for up to 90 days. Later, however, he said he had been the one to tell Nichols to hold up on the Lincoln contract.
“We haven’t reached a decision on a state car,” McGregor said early Monday.
“We might not decide for 30, 60 or 90 days. think a recommendation was made on a Lincoln by Col. Nichols, but I’m not sure of the particulars. We’re not sure now so we are not committing ourselves.”
Nichols said he had urged Longley to trade the Plymouth now used by Gov. Kenneth Curtis for a Lincoln.
“About a month ago he asked me for a recommendation, and I recommended that he get a heavier car,”Nichols said. “I’m familiar with the operation of the governor’s office, so I recommended a Lincoln.”
“As of this time, we’re holding on it to determine how the cost compares with that of the present car that’s under lease to Curtis, a Plymouth Fury,” he said. “On the surface, it appears that the Lincoln would be more expensive, but after checking it seems the Lincoln lease provides more.”
Nichols said the basic lease price would be $2,000 per year. “That seems to be a good deal for the taxpayers,” he said.
Nichols said Lincoln gives a low lease to many government officials, and said the Lincoln would be a safer car for the governor.
“I recommended that he get away from the lighter car,” Nichols said. “It’s going to be doing a lot of traveling and it makes sense from a safety standpoint.”
Later, McGregor said he knew that Nichols had recommended the Continental, and said he had been the one, at Longley’s direction, to tell Nichols to put a hold on the lease contract.
The contract had been signed by state purchasing agent Linwood Rods.
McGregor added that Longley would only use one state car, instead of the present two. One car is now used by Gov. Curtis, and a three-year-old Plymouth is kept at the Blaine House for use by the governor’s family.