Archive for June, 2014

(UPDATED) Breaking: LePage Met “Multiple Times” with FBI Known Domestic Terrorist Group, Discussed Executing Democratic Leaders

Posted on June 30, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

(UPDATE) Before even hitting “send” on this draft write-up, there have been new developments of note (“LePage denies he discussed ‘executing’ Maine Democratic leaders”), as LePage has this evening called the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News- twice– and has either claimed:

paul janet

  • That this all didn’t happen/ portions of it happened.
  • There was no five page memo/ well, maybe there was/ well, okay, there WAS a five page memo regarding the legality of arresting and executing members of Democratic leadership.
  • He was going to sue both the BDN and Mike Tipping for the story.

—–

Things definitely heating up quickly in Augusta, as a portion of Mike Tipping’s “As Maine Went” was released today implicating Maine Governor Paul R. LePage Sr of meeting multiple times with a known domestic terrorist group and directing his legal staff to investigate the legality of arresting and executing two of his Democratic rivals, Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves.

Yes- you read that right- “Arrest and Execute”.

as maine wentFrom Tipping’s book, with portions shared on Talking Points Memo this morning of a early February 2013 meeting (AUDIO HERE)between Governor Paul LePage and some folks:

    They (Jack McCarthy and Steve Martin, hosts of the Aroostook Watchmen radio show) also had something more locally relevant to talk about: McCarthy’s hour-and-a-half meeting, two days earlier, with Maine Governor Paul LePage.

    The meeting with the governor had taken place two days after McCarthy and a group of fellow conspiracy theorists calling themselves the Constitutional Coalition held a press conference at the State House. They stood behind a podium in the Hall of Flags (just outside LePage’s suite of offices) and announced that the president of the Maine Senate, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, and Governor LePage had all violated their oaths and should be removed from office. The group explained that they had submitted a set of “remonstrances” to all three government officials on January 14 accusing them of acting unlawfully and had received no reply. Under their unique interpretation of the Maine Constitution, this meant that all three politicians must surrender their elected offices. The men were there to announce their intention to enforce that judgment.

    One of the participants, Constitutional Coalition leader Wayne Leach, made reference to the American Revolution and declared that “hopefully this remonstrance, which uses words, will be sufficient. The weapons, I hope, will not be used.

When LePage heard that they had been asking for a meeting with him and been denied one by his own staff, he quickly took matters into his own hands to rectify the situation:

    This time, however, word of the remonstrances and the press conference made it past the executive office gatekeepers and to the attention of Governor LePage himself. Rather than ignoring the submission and its radical claims, LePage called Merletti at home at 9 a.m. the next morning in order to set up a meeting for that Saturday with members of the Constitutional Coalition. According to a note that Merletti sent to his e-mail list later that day and that was forwarded to LePage and members of his staff, the governor was angry that he hadn’t heard about the remonstrances earlier, and during the call he pledged to fire any staffers found to have been keeping the information from him.

From later that month comes this first-hand account of that meeting.

    After nearly a year of Governor Paul LePage being kept away from the Maine Constitutional Coalition, allegedly by the Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, he was finally able to meet with Coalition members.

    “After we got into the office, I was so relieved. He was cordial, he was open, frank and expressed frustration that we had so much trouble getting to him and he had so much trouble responding to us,” said Jack McCarthy, co-host of the Aroostook Watchmen radio program on AM780 in Monticello, Maine.“This was not an inquisition into our governor,” said McCarthy. “It was not, ‘we’re going to hold you accountable and this is what you did wrong.’ That was not the purpose of this Remonstrance. The purpose of this Remonstrance was to delineate the abuses of the Constitution and demand a resolution.”

Wayne Leach confirmed the multiple meetings:

    Leach, who was reached Monday night at his home in Winslow, confirmed that he and other members of the Constitutional Coalition met privately seven or eight times last year with LePage.

    Leach said his group reached out to a number of state officials – including Alfond and Eves – but LePage was the only one who agreed to sit down with them and who would listen to their grievances. He said the governor listened to their concerns and “was on base with us” for several weeks.

    Those meetings ended “abruptly” in August or September on the advice of the governor’s lawyers, according to Leach.

    “Eventually he shut us off and we came to a dead end,” Leach said.

Here’s what the FBI says about these “sovereign citizens”.

fbi

    The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.

Upon initial news of the book’s excerpts, Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland) and Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D- N. Berwick) today issued the following statements as part of a joint press release:

    Legislative Leaders Condemn LePage’s Meetings with Domestic Terrorists
    During meetings, Sovereign citizens discussed “arrest and execution” of Alfond, Eves

    AUGUSTA— Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland and House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick released the following statements in response to reports that Governor Paul LePage met with and encouraged the Sovereign Citizens, a domestic terrorist movement, associated with violence against public officials nationally.

    Paul LePageAccording to published excerpts of As Maine Went, a new book from Maine blogger and author Mike Tipping, reveals that LePage met with the group eight times for up to three hours. Tipping says, “The central topic of conversation for most of the meetings was the sovereigns’ “remonstrances,” documents they said gave them the authority to arrest and execute Maine House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond for treason. LePage indulged and supported the sovereign’s beliefs. He allowed them to present a number of conspiracy theories, told them he agreed with their interpretation of state law, promised to publicize their beliefs, discussed with them the arrest and hanging of Eves and Alfond and brought in Sheriff Randall Liberty to pursue their case, among other actions.

    “It is disturbing and irresponsible for Governor LePage to have ongoing meetings with people who are dangerous and known to be domestic terrorists,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “We have zero tolerance for threats of violence, whether on the playground or at the State House. And instead of shutting it down, Governor LePage entertained their delusional thoughts and gave these people a voice.”

    Senate President Justin Alfond (r)answers questions at weekly media availability meeting as Speaker of the House Mark Eves (l) looks on.

    Senate President Justin Alfond (r)answers questions at weekly media availability meeting as Speaker of the House Mark Eves (l) looks on.

    “This violent extremist group presents a real and present danger,” said Speaker Eves of North Berwick. “It’s outrageous that the Governor would meet with them and validate their criminal and violent ideas.”

    According to Tipping’s report, Governor LePage began meeting with the Sovereign Citizens during his campaign and held his first meeting about the remonstrances on February 2, 2013. The eighth and final meeting between LePage and the Sovereign Citizens was held on September 14, 2013. Governor LePage rebuffed repeated requests by the Senate President and House Speaker to meet for the first three months they held office. In total, the leaders have met with the Governor only 11 times in two years.

    The Sovereign Citizens came to the Offices of the Senate President and Speaker of the House on multiple occasions during the Legislative Session to deliver remonstrances and delivered them to their private homes. The authorities, including Capitol Police and the FBI, were notified immediately by legislative staff members on those occasions.

The governor’s office then tried to dismiss today’s news as part of LePage’s ongoing discussions with constituents, but were unwilling to clarify as to why the group met with the governor eight times, nor allegations that the group called for the arrests and executions of Democratic legislative leaders:

Carol Weston, Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity, introduces Gov. Paul R. LePage at Hall of Flags rally in June 2013 (photo courtesy of The Maine Wire)

Carol Weston, Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity, introduces Gov. Paul R. LePage at Hall of Flags rally in June 2013 (photo courtesy of The Maine Wire)

    In a prepared statement, the governor’s press secretary Adrienne Bennett, said that LePage has met with “hundreds of Mainers hearing thousands of ideas, concerns and suggestions.” She added, that “hearing those ideas during constituent meetings does not translate to the Governor endorsing the ideas of others.”

    “The Governor meets also with lawmakers, including Sen. Alfond and Speaker Eves,” Bennett said. “Those meetings do not constitute agreement with their views, as well. Lawmakers and constituents do not speak for the Governor.”

    Bennett did not address why LePage met with the group eight times, why a county sheriff was asked to look into their demands or why the governor’s legal staff was asked to draft an opinion of the group’s claims that Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, should be arrested and executed.

It’s now “Defcon 5 Damage Control Time” for the Maine Republican Party, as they find themselves in the spin cycle and about to go through in the wringer!

Top of the order for Team LePage, as newly minted campaign spokesman Alex Willette came out swinging and in his first at-bat, clumsily fouled it off his own foot:

    Alexander Willette, a spokesman for LePage’s campaign, dismissed Tipping and his book, saying the campaign would not respond to the book’s claims.

    “We are not going to respond to the dribbling out of off-the-wall attacks from a shadowy left-wing special interest group,” said Willette, a state representative from Mapleton and assistant House Republican leader who is not seeking re-election in 2014. “This book is just a ploy for attention from the author, who seems desperate to pull the wool over the people’s eyes and sell more of his books.”

No Batter, No Batter, S-W-I-I-I-N-G, Batter!!!

Next up- David Sorensen attacked Tipping/ Maine People’s Alliance by retweeting an obscure reference… (assist by Jason Savage)

Bunt- didn’t even get out of the batter’s box! Sorensen decided to evoke some Eliot Cutler…

Swing anna miss; that’s Strike 2 for Sorensen! So he next went after former Maine Governor John Baldacci…

And… Strike 3; yer outta here!

Next up, Jason Savage, captain of the Maine GOP team:

Neat work here by Prof. Amy Fried, who easily caught that pop-up and ended the inning.

This is a still-evolving story and will be updated as needed.

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Theater at Monmouth Presents 45th Season’s Family Show: “Tales from the Blue Fairy Book” (press release)

Posted on June 26, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

    “Once Upon a Time” Comes to Life at TAM this Summer

blue fairyMonmouth, Maine – Theater at Monmouth’s Family Show opens June 28 at 7 p.m. with a world premiere production Tales from the Blue Fairy Book based on Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book. Adapted by Dawn McAndrews, Tales from the Blue Fairy Book bursts with classic tales from around the globe, including East of the Sun, West of the Moon; The Bronze Ring; The White Cat; and The Stars in the Sky.

Stuck at her grandmother’s house with no cell phone reception or internet, Violet reluctantly turns to The Blue Fairy Book for entertainment. Soon the characters come to life—literally—and pull Violet and her grandmother into their magical tales, leading this 21st-century young girl on a once-upon-a-time adventure of the imagination. “If your heart is truly set on reaching the stars, then you won’t turn back,” the Fairy Man tells her, “Go forward; go forward and mind you take the right road.” Take the right road and come along for an adventure through these colorful tales. From princesses to fairies, kings to dwarves, there’s a magical happily-ever-after for both girls and boys.

Luke Bartholomew returns to TAM for his second season to direct Tales from the Blue Fairy Book. Bartholomew, who played Wintergreen in the 2012 fall musical production, Of Thee I Sing, revels in the multi-layered story telling of the script, “It’s an inventive, fun, and meaningful show for the whole family, perfect for today’s audiences! The fairy tale characters take Violet and her grandmother on a journey of discover full of boundless joy, heart, and adventure…”

The first of Andrew Lang’s Colored Fairy Books, The Blue Fairy Book was originally published in 1889 with illustrations by Henry J. Ford. The twelve Colored Fairy Books combined a myriad of stories from different cultures and sources, many of them appearing for the first time in English.

Each summer, TAM’s Family Show features a children’s literature classic produced for young people and the young at heart. Previous productions have included adaptations of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, and Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit.

Tales from the Blue Fairy Book features Isabella Coulombe as Violet and Wendy Way as the Grandmother. Fairy Tales characters are portrayed by Ardarius Blakely, Anna Doyle, Michael Dix Thomas, and Graham Emmons. Set design Tricia A. Hobbs, costumes by Stephanie Peters, lights by Jim Alexander, and sound by Rew Tippin.

Performance Calendar: OPENING 6/28 at 7 p.m.; additional performance dates 7/5, 7/12, 7/19, 7/26, 8/5, 8/7, 8/12, 8/14, 8/19, 8/21 at 1:00 p.m. Running time is 50 minutes. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. For calendar and reservations, please contact the TAM Box Office at 207.933.9999 or visit http://www.theateratmonmouth.org.

# # #

Theater at Monmouth, founded in 1970, was named the Shakespearean Theater of Maine by the State Legislature in 1975. The theatre’s mission is to present innovative approaches to Shakespeare and other classic plays through professional productions that enrich the lives of people throughout Maine. Since its founding, TAM has produced expertly crafted, engaging productions in its three-month Summer Repertory Season entertaining audiences from 36 states and through Education Tours annually reaching more than 15,000 students statewide.

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(UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: “Illegal Aliens Should Not Get General Assistance”

Posted on June 24, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

9PM UPDATE: Some regional coverage now, as Boston media is paying attention

Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills has now issued a response to this morning’s weekly address of Governor LePage (see below). Within the letter is a detailed statement of why she and her office believe that the rules changes set forth by the administration are unconstitutional, the substantial risks that LePage places all Maine municipalities and citizens, and a detailed timeline of communications between her office, DHHS and that of the Governor.

Note: Using more of his “My Way Or The Highway” approach, Governor Paul LePage has now forced all Maine municipalities to decide whether they will take his side (with a recent rule change in eligibility) or that of Attorney General Janet Mills (who along with ACLU of Maine maintains that the change is unconstitutional) in the ongoing fight over general assistance for undocumented immigrants.

The letter seen below was sent to all Maine cities and towns late last week.

AUDIO: Illegal Aliens Should Not Get General Assistance

      Illegal Aliens Should Not Get General Assistance

    I have always said Maine’s safety net should help our most needy citizens.

    Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

    togethThese vulnerable Mainers include the elderly, children, disabled and mentally ill.

    Illegal aliens who choose to live in Maine are not our most vulnerable citizens. We need to take care of Mainers first. I think most Mainers would agree.

    During my first few days in office in 2011, I issued an Executive Order to repeal Maine’s status as a sanctuary state. In 2004 Democratic leadership banned state officials from asking people about their legal status when they requested benefits. My order rescinded that policy.

    Also in 2011, the State eliminated state welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.

    Last week, we took the next step. We told Maine towns and cities they will no longer get state funding to give to illegal aliens.

    Federal law prohibits states from providing General Assistance to illegal immigrants. This law was enacted in 1996, when President Clinton and the Republican Congress approved sweeping welfare reforms.

    paul janetAttorney General Janet Mills was appointed by the Democratic-led Legislature, and she works for them. Mills has been working aggressively to keep giving General Assistance to illegal aliens. What about “illegal” doesn’t she understand? I find it inexplicable that the state’s top law enforcement official would encourage municipalities to violate federal law.

    It’s really quite simple. Federal law prohibits state reimbursement for illegal immigrants. We are just enforcing the federal law.

    Local taxpayers must speak for themselves. I urge all Mainers to tell your city councilors and selectmen to stop handing out your money to illegals.

    By following federal law and eliminating welfare abuse, we can provide a safety net for our most vulnerable. We will be able to use our resources more effectively and efficiently to better provide Mainers a path to economic independence.

    Thank you for listening.

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Incumbent State Senator John Tuttle Declared Winner of Senate District 33 (York Co) Democratic Primary in Recount, 843-822

Posted on June 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

In the second of two election recounts requested post- June 10th primary (Ralph Tucker was announced as the winner of House District 50 yesterday), incumbent State Senator John L. Tuttle led challenger Representative Andrea M. Boland by a margin of 841 votes to 821 votes in the Senate District 33 Democratic primary. SD 33 formerly SD 3, was redistricted and now contains the towns of Cornish, Parsonfield, Limerick, Newfield, Waterboro, Shapleigh and Sanford. Sanford, which previously included seven wards, is now divided up into three precincts.

DSC_0006After re-examination of the ballots, Tuttle picked up 2 votes to Boland’s 1 additional vote and was declared the winner, 843-822. He will go on to face political newcomer Republican Adam McGee of Sanford in the November general election.

Each released statements immediately after the tallies were certified:

    “I want to thank Representative Boland for running a great campaign and making me a better candidate,” said Senator Tuttle. “This election will be about who will be the best voice for working families in York County. I look forward to continuing to meet with and listen to voters in every community in this district.”

    Representative Andrea Boland (D-Sanford), who was the second-place finisher, thanked her supporters.

    “I congratulate Senator Tuttle for winning the primary,” Representative Boland said.

Some background information regarding recounts in Maine provided by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office recently reads:

    “Maine law requires that a recount must be requested before any ballot boxes can be retrieved or other procedures for a recount are initiated. There is no threshold for an automatic recount in Maine law.

    Following the request for a recount, the Secretary of State works with the Maine State Police to retrieve the sealed ballot boxes and other election material from the municipal election officials of the affected precincts, and they are secured at the Maine State Police headquarters in Augusta. Candidates provide counting teams who are supervised by the Secretary of State, and candidates can have legal representation to help resolve issues around disputed ballots. Once the recount is complete, the candidates can agree to the result or, if the result remains in dispute, they would then appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for a resolution. In the general election, legislative disputes would be resolved by the Legislature.

    Under Maine law, candidates who appear to have lost an election can request a recount in writing within five business days of the election. If the margin of defeat is less than 2%, then the candidate can request the recount free of charge. If the margin of defeat is greater than 2%, the law requires the candidate to pay a deposit that is refunded if the apparent result from Election Day is overturned. If the margin of defeat is greater than 2% but less than 4%, the deposit required is $500. If the margin is greater than 4% but less than 6%, the deposit is $1,000; the maximum deposit for a recount is $10,000 for margins of defeat to be recounted of 10% or greater.”

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Ralph L. Tucker of Brunswick Holds 10 Vote Lead in Recount, Declared Winner of HD 50 Democratic Primary

Posted on June 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The first of two Democratic primary recounts, that of House District 50 (parts of Brunswick), was conducted at the Department of Public Safety headquarters in Augusta today. When all votes were tallied by volunteer members of the public and overseen by the Secretary of State’s office, Ralph L. Tucker won over Jacqueline A. (Jackie) Sartoris, 432-442, the same result totals as calculated after the June 10th primary election.

Ralph L. Tucker of Brunswick

Ralph L. Tucker of Brunswick

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap praised both candidates for their commitment to the process, and thanked Brunswick town clerk Fran Smith and her staff for an expertly-run election. “Both candidates were gratified by the process and the expertise of state elections officials, and given the clear due diligence shown by Brunswick town election officials, the recount was very smooth with no surprises,” said Dunlap.

Tucker, a retired Maine District Court judge, will now go up against Republican Mark Holbrook in November. House District 50, which includes portions of Brunswick, is an open seat as Rep. Charlie Priest is termed out.

Link here to his Tucker for House website and campaign Facebook page.

Tomorrow at 10 am comes the recount for Senate District 33 between incumbent State Senator John Tuttle and challenger Rep. Andrea M. Boland. Tuttle holds a 20 vote lead currently in that race.

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Michaud, Democrats Blast LePage on Drug Abuse Failures: “Political Theater”, “Missing in Action”

Posted on June 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

(Following up on yesterday’s #MEGOV LePage Skips NE Governors’ Regional Opioid Abuse Summit; Dismisses As “Chit Chat” post)

Yesterday Maine Governor Paul LePage skipped an important summit of all New England governors in Waltham, MA to address the ongoing regional heroin epidemic in order to speak at an Augusta press conference regarding reports of Maine’s crime rates dropping dramatically in 2013. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced that despite LePage’s absence, “Maine officials would participate in the work group.”

DSC_0032Late in the afternoon, LePage sent out a press release under the guise of calling for the 126th Legislature to reconvene to address LD 1811, “An Act To Appropriate and Allocate Funds To Strengthen the State’s Efforts To Investigate, Prosecute and Punish Persons Committing Drug Crimes”, which read more as finger-pointing than constructive in content:

    “Drug trafficking by ruthless, out-of-state street gangs is on the rise, but Democrats are still pretending Maine does not have a problem with violent drug crime. Organized drug gangs are flooding the state with cheap heroin, but Democrats remain obstinate. They refuse to provide the manpower law enforcement agencies need to prevent these criminals from addicting Mainers with this killer drug.”

    “We even identified funding to add MDEA agents, judges and prosecutors to help combat the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state. That money is still sitting there. I could call the legislature back to take up my bill, but Democratic leaders could simply recess immediately and go home. I cannot force them to do something they are not willing to do.”

    “Democratic leadership stated they won’t call the legislature back unless there is an ‘extraordinary occasion.’ They don’t think that deaths from drug overdoses, babies born addicted to drugs and violent street gangs peddling poison on our street corners amount to an ‘extraordinary occasion.’ But Maine people do.”

Democratic leaders last night issued their own statements in response. Senate President Justin Alfond (Cumberland):

Senate President Justin Alfond (r)answers questions at weekly media availability meeting as Speaker of the House Mark Eves (l) looks on.

Senate President Justin Alfond (r)answers questions at weekly media availability meeting as Speaker of the House Mark Eves (l) looks on.

    “Once again, Governor LePage is stirring the pot by making up stories. If he thinks we should go back in, it is certainly within his authority to call us back,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “We have no intention of calling ourselves back in. We finished a very successful legislative session in May and during that time, Governor LePage was missing in action. Much like then, he refuses to cooperate with lawmakers on solving problems facing our state. The question isn’t what would the legislature do. Governor LePage has a track record of taking our good work and flushing it away.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves (N. Berwick):

    “We will not reconvene the Legislature just so the governor can veto another bill,” said Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Governor LePage has failed to lead, failed to collaborate with lawmakers and failed to stand up for Maine people. He sat on the sidelines, resorted to his ‘my way or the high way’ approach until the last moments of the legislative session and now is playing political games to distract from his poor performance as Maine’s chief executive.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Representative Mike Michaud this morning issued his own statement:

Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

While talking tough about illegal drugs during an election year, LePage’s actions have undermined Maine’s efforts to fight drug trafficking and addiction. Since taking office, he has cut drug intervention and treatment programs, derailed a bipartisan legislative effort to increase enforcement and drug treatment in the state, and even vetoed common-sense legislation that increased access to medicine that can prevent fatal drug overdoses.

“The drug problem facing Maine is serious, real and requires true action – not political theater,” said LePage’s opponent in the race for governor, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. “Sadly, Gov. LePage is only interested in scoring political points in an election year. When it comes to doing the hard work to tackle the problem, he’s absent.

“Gov. LePage had an important opportunity to work with other governors to take a comprehensive, regional approach to an epidemic that is affecting all of our communities. Instead, he chose to play games, govern by press conference, and politicize the issue in an effort to divide this state,” said Michaud.

Maine needs a comprehensive approach to addressing Maine’s drug epidemic, and a governor who will bring people together to address this problem head on. We know what works and what doesn’t. Playing political games and simply throwing people in jail won’t solve this problem and won’t move Maine forward,” said Michaud.

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UPDATED: #MEGOV LePage Skips NE Governors’ Regional Opioid Abuse Summit; Dismisses as “Chit Chat”

Posted on June 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

(5pm UPDATE) Despite earlier today acknowledging the futility of such a move, moments ago Governor LePage’s office issued a statement calling on Democrats to reconvene and pass his “war on drugs” bill:

Governor LePage takes media questions on LD 1811 during March 2014 press conference.

Governor LePage takes media questions on LD 1811 during March 2014 press conference.

    “Drug trafficking by ruthless, out-of-state street gangs is on the rise, but Democrats are still pretending Maine does not have a problem with violent drug crime. Organized drug gangs are flooding the state with cheap heroin, but Democrats remain obstinate. They refuse to provide the manpower law enforcement agencies need to prevent these criminals from addicting Mainers with this killer drug.”

    “We even identified funding to add MDEA agents, judges and prosecutors to help combat the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state. That money is still sitting there. I could call the legislature back to take up my bill, but Democratic leaders could simply recess immediately and go home. I cannot force them to do something they are not willing to do.”

    “Democratic leadership stated they won’t call the legislature back unless there is an ‘extraordinary occasion.’ They don’t think that deaths from drug overdoses, babies born addicted to drugs and violent street gangs peddling poison on our street corners amount to an ‘extraordinary occasion.’ But Maine people do.”

More via BDN:

    Lawmakers had attempted to revise the bill to make it more politically palatable, but LePage signaled he would veto anything but his original proposal and a bipartisan panel of legislators unanimously moved to kill the bill.

    Democratic leaders in the Legislature have said they will not bring lawmakers back to Augusta until the next session begins in 2015. While LePage has the constitutional authority to call lawmakers back into session, he said Tuesday that it would be pointless. Lawmakers, if they chose, could simply recess immediately upon being called back to Augusta, he said.

—–

Earlier this month, Governor LePage issued a statement on the then newly released 2013 drug-induced death statistics in Maine, which read in part:

Governor Paul LePage takes a question from NBC national correspondent Kate Snow during "war on drugs" press conference.

Governor Paul LePage takes a question from NBC national correspondent Kate Snow during “war on drugs” press conference.

    “Our Administration is focusing on the fact that Maine is subject to ever-increasing numbers of out-of-state drug trafficking organizations establishing drug markets in the state. This disturbing trend tears at the very fabric of our communities and puts our children at risk.

    As I have said in the past, we must be proactive in combating drug dealers and target our limited resources to better protect our communities.

    I think we all agree we also need to find more effective and efficient ways to treat addicts and provide them options that lead to successful long-term outcomes. In fact, the State has increased substance abuse funding in recent years from $7 million to more than $9 million. However, until we are able to curb the amount of drugs coming into our state, we will likely see the number of drug-induced deaths continue to rise.”

So with that in mind, it was quite startling to learn that LePage intended to skip a private meeting of all New England governors held at Waltham MA’s Brandeis University today with the goal of regionally addressing opiate abuse, sharing information and developing strategies. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick had previously unveiled his plan to deal with opiate abuse as he called for the summit:

    Patrick said he planned to meet with his counterparts from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine next week to discuss ways they could collaborate to reduce opiate abuse in New England.

    Representatives for Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, Connecticut’s Dannel Malloy, Vermont’s Peter Shumlin and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan confirmed the governors would attend next week’s summit. A spokeswoman for Maine’s Paul LePage, the sole Republican governor in the region, said he would not attend due to a prior commitment.

Today Maine learned what that “prior commitment” was- a photo op in Augusta:

    Crime is down according to the Uniform Crime Reporting Division at the Maine Department of Public Safety. Governor Paul R. LePage and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Morris will release details at a news conference Tuesday.

    Governor LePage credits the overall decline to a variety of factors, including more coordination between law enforcement, the courts, prosecutors and domestic violence advocates.

    “Maine is one of the safest states in the country. We can all be proud of that,” said the Governor. “Our police departments across Maine deserve to be recognized for the work they do. However, while we have good news to report, we still have issues to address. There are some disturbing trends we have identified, which we cannot ignore. Protecting the public’s safety is the greatest responsibility of government.”

However at today’s press conference, LePage wasted no time in pointing fingers at the other five governors for his no-show:

    A spokeswoman for Maine Gov. Paul LePage said he did not attend because of a scheduling conflict but wanted to be kept apprised of details. LePage later complained, however, that as the only Republican governor in New England his point of view might not be heard.

    So rather than listen to chit-chat, I’m here trying to get the work done,” LePage said during a news conference on crime statistics in Maine.

The governor’s office even tweeted the message:

Reuters noted LePage’s past opposition expanding access to naloxone, saying that it could encourage addicts to avoid treatment:

A reminder: At the original press conference where he stood with multiple administration and state law officials, Paul LePage also went on record as calling marijuana a “gateway drug”.

*RELATED: (UPDATED X3) Maine Gov Paul LePage To Reintroduce LD 1811, War On Drugs Bill, As Emergency Measure On Veto Day (May 1)

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Theater At Monmouth’s 45th Season Opens with Variety Show (press release)

Posted on June 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

tam british invasion


    British Invasion Storms Monmouth with Variety Show

Monmouth, Maine – Theater at Monmouth kicks off its 45th Anniversary Season with the return of Black Fly Follies on Saturday, July 5 at 7:30 pm. TAM’s annual variety show, which turns 15 this season, introduces audiences to the summer repertory plays and company members on the Jewel Box stage of Cumston Hall. The 2014 Follies celebrates The British Invasion with improv, show tunes, Jimmy Fallon-style lip sync battles, parodies, and stage combat. This one-night-only extravaganza will be hosted by TAM funny-man, Mike Anthony. Black Fly Follies is a one-of-a-kind experience for new and returning audiences.

Join us for the rest of the plays of Season 45 where there’s something for everyone—Shakespeare’s most ardent lovers take center stage through the iconic story of star-crossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet, and the whimsical, forest of Arden-bound soul-mates of As You Like It. We’ll revisit Oscar Wilde with A Woman of No Importance—surely the inspiration for Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey. And for those who think of the British Invasion as something with more sixties swing we offer Joe Orton’s outrageous farce What the Butler Saw. And for families, a world-premiere adaptation of classic tales from Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book.

Throughout the season, TAM will present other special events to complement the plays including:

Thursday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. The Making of “A Hard Day’s Night” with Mark S. Cartier
In late 1963, as Beatlemania blossomed in Britain, the Beatles were offered the chance to star in their own rock ‘n’ roll film. Mark S. Cartier traces how the group conquered America, unleashed the British Invasion, hosted their own television special, and launched their first world tour—all while simultaneously helping to create what Andrew Sarris of the Village Voice calls “the Citizen Kane of juke box movies.”

Thursday, August 14 at 7:30 p.m. Point Last Seen with Odelle Bowman
Hannah Nyala, search and rescue tracker, is so attuned to nature’s messages that she can read the history of a footprint and the secrets of desert sand. Adapted from the memoir of the same name, Hannah escapes an abusive marriage by teaching herself to track in the Mojave Desert. This multi-media performance explores finding one’s way in barren landscape.

Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 p.m. Legends: The Music of Judy Garland with Kelly Caufield

An engaging evening featuring many of Judy Garland’s most well-known songs and few surprises. Highlights include beloved hits from her movies, the Gershwin recordings, Broadway and cabaret standards, and more. Directed and co-written by Brian P. Allen. Musical direction by Victoria Stubbs.

Tickets for Black Fly Follies and all other special events are $25. For more information and reservations, contact the TAM Box Office at 207.933.9999 or visit www.theateratmonmouth.org.

# # #

Theater at Monmouth, founded in 1970, was named the Shakespearean Theater of Maine by the State Legislature in 1975. The theatre’s mission is to present innovative approaches to Shakespeare and other classic plays through professional productions that enrich the lives of people throughout Maine. Since its founding, TAM has produced expertly crafted, engaging productions in its three-month Summer Repertory Season entertaining audiences from 36 states and through Education Tours annually reaching more than 15,000 students statewide.

http://twitter.com/TAMonmouth | http://www.facebook.com/TAMonmouth |http://theateratmonmouth.org/

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Paul LePage and Gary Alexander: A Timeline

Posted on June 13, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

(UPDATE: Now cross posted at Daily Kos, Dirigo Blue and The New Maine Times. Originally posted 5/29/14.)

UPDATE: A bit of quick background on this post. While Mainers knew that Tea Party Maine Governor Paul LePage, who won election in 2010 with 38% of the vote, was virulently anti-ACA and fought hard against multiple attempts to expand Medicaid in our state (to date, five bills have been vetoed and then sustained by the GOP in the Legislature), many did not know to what extent the LePage Administration worked or what steps lead to where we found ourselves last week as news of the #LePlagiarism scandal first broke. Thus it became necessary to piece together all of the various known elements and create this timeline, illustrating who Gary Alexander is and how he became known to the administration (LePage in 2011 first offered him the DHHS position that eventually went to Mary Mayhew), as well as the various actions taken by the Governor and his staff.

A year ago, most in Maine had no idea never heard of Gary Alexander. That is no longer the case, as now federal authorities are now looking into the matter.

Gary Alexander and associate Erik Randolph exit Maine HHS Committee hearing, 1/14/14.

Gary Alexander and associate Erik Randolph exit Maine HHS Committee hearing, 1/14/14.

  • December 2010- Gary Alexander, the former head of Rhode Island’s Department of Human Services and current Secretary for the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) publishes “Rhode Island Medicaid Reform: Global Consumer Choice Compact Waiver” through the Galen Institute, on Rhode Island letterhead.

    It is later (2012) used as a cited source in Pacific Research Institute president and CEO’s Sally Pipes’ e-book, “The Pipes Plan: The Top Ten Ways to Dismantle Obamacare”. Pipes, a well known critic of the Affordable Care Act, goes before Congress’ House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to denounce ACA and is found by Mother Jones investigative reporting to have much of her and PRI’s supposed works to be that of ghost writers:

      If Pipes seems supernaturally prolific, there’s a good reason. To assist with her written output, PRI employs a DC-based ghostwriting and PR firm with drug and health care industry clients. That firm, Keybridge Communications, researches, drafts, and edits much of Pipes’ published work in an arrangement that’s unusual for someone at a supposedly independent think tank.

      Several former PRI staffers tell Mother Jones it was well known within the organization that Pipes relied heavily on Keybridge, particularly for her books, and did far from all of her own writing.

  • 1/5/11- Paul R. LePage, Sr. is sworn in as the 74th Governor of Maine.
  • 1/12/11- Alexander is named as Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s pick as that state’s Public Welfare Secretary.
  • 1/20/11- RI NPR tells of how Alexander is reported to have published an unauthorized report on that state’s global waiver:

      Elena Nicolella- the director of RI’s Medicaid program- says there’s very little in Alexander’s report that’s accurate. In fact, it was published without the permission of the Department of Human Services, even though the state seal appears on every page of the report. Nicolella says RI asked The Galen Institute to take that seal off, but it hasn’t and she’s considering a call to the state’s attorneys.
  • 2/1/11- Independent Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee’s administration publicly disputes the claimed numbers of monies saved by Alexander to that state’s Medicaid programs:

      … a spokesman in Chafee’s Health and Human Services Office said officials there do not know how Alexander came up with that number, and could not give their own.

      “The secretary of Health and Human Services is currently reviewing the assumptions, accomplishments and savings projections associated with the global waiver,” spokesman David Burnett said in a statement last week. “Without a detailed understanding of the author’s assumptions, it is difficult to offer a comment on the veracity of the statements contained in the Galen Institute article.”

  • 2/1/11- Rhode Island NPR runs a story on multiple versions discovered and edits of Gary Alexander’s report:

      … a report by RI’s former secretary for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services raised some eyebrows a few weeks ago for making unauthorized claims about RI’s Global Medicaid Waiver. His report appeared on the website of the free market think tank the Galen Institute.

      But now it appears that there were two reports- the current one posted in January and another, featuring stronger language and some different numbers, posted at some point last year.

  • 2/10/11- In lieu of a budget, Governor LePage presents a “jobs bill” before the joint convention of the 125th Legislature. Details of the LePage “jobs bill” are released the following day, among them being denial of Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, health and disability benefits for non-citizen families who are in Maine legally and imposing an arbitrary 5 year cap on TANF funds for all Maine families.
  • 2/23/11-Governor LePage is recorded at a press conference as saying (regarding BPA’s usage and estrogen) that he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems:

      “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”

    On that same day it is reported that Dr. Dora Mills, the former head of Maine’s Center for Disease Control,  was fired from her post as Medical Director of MaineCare. Mills had testified months earlier that BPA removal should be a priority under the Kid-Safe Products Act of 2008. Soon afterwards, other senior DHHS appointees as fired as well.

  • March 2011- Maine Hospital Association lobbyist Mary Mayhew is named head of DHHS. Among those who voice immediate concerns about her hiring is Senator Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston):

    An irate DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew answers questions asked by Rep. Peter Stuckey (D-Portland) on January 14. Beside Mayhew is Gary Alexander, who had previously spoken to the HHS committee about his infamous report denouncing Medicaid expansion.

    An irate DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew answers questions asked by Rep. Peter Stuckey (D-Portland) on January 14. Beside Mayhew is Gary Alexander, who had previously spoken to the HHS committee about his infamous report denouncing Medicaid expansion.

      While legislators unanimously praise Mayhew’s intelligence and toughness, some Democrats opposed her nomination because of her lack of experience managing people and money.

      “She has never managed a budget, and it’s a $3.2 billion budget,” said Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, one of three Democrats who opposed Mayhew’s confirmation in committee. “She has 3,500 employees … She’s very smart, but smart isn’t going to do it all the time.”

      Mayhew’s role as a hospital lobbyist and her lack of experience with social services and welfare programs also raised concerns.

      “I think that is her job — to stand up for the vulnerable people,” Craven said. Craven and others said they worry that Mayhew’s lack of experience will make it harder for her to stand up to political pressures to cut safety net programs.

  • 5/15/11- Via New York Times: “Rhode Island’s Medicaid Experiment Becomes a Talking Point for Budget Cutters” :

      The Rhode Island agreement shares the same goals as the block-grant plan proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, and contained in the budget resolution that passed the House last month, said Conor Sweeney, a spokesman for Mr. Ryan.

      During a Senate Finance Committee hearing in February, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, also pointed to the experiment in Rhode Island as a success.

      “Why don’t we just block-grant every state, take the rules off and let them do these strategies,”
      he asked. “Rhode Island’s obviously already figured it out.”

      Among the governors who support the idea are Chris Christie of New Jersey, who wants to pursue an agreement of his own with the federal government, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who wrote an article for the Op-Ed page in The New York Times last month contending that states’ success with such agreements “shows that we can move beyond demonstration projects and let the federal government relinquish control over Medicaid.”

    The article also made note of the multiple versions of Alexander’s report, huge mathematical shifts in projected savings without explanation and that there was no transparency in how or why the numbers changed:

      In an early version of the paper, Mr. Alexander said that Rhode Island had saved about $150 million during the first 18 months of the agreement. A later version lowered the estimate to $110 million. The paper does not detail how he arrived at those numbers, nor does it explain the reason for the change.

  • Sept 2011- Galen Institute sends out a newsletter to its members with an item under its “STATES ISSUES” section of:

  • 9/25/11- Gary Alexander in his capacity as Secretary of Public Welfare for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee in DC regarding reauthorization of the TANF program.
  • 12/22/12- GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made note of the Alexander/ Rhode Island model “Mitt Romney says Rhode Island demonstrated that it can run Medicaid more cost-effectively than the federal government”, in which Politifact chewed both Romney and Gary Alexander’s report up:

      Gary Alexander, who was secretary of health and human services when the waiver was approved, published a paper with the conservative Galen Institute, pegging the savings at $110 million over 18 months, or $73 million a year.

      The Romney campaign cites the Alexander paper as evidence that Rhode Island saved money.

      The liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a report saying Alexander was wrong because any savings actually resulted from more than $400 million Rhode Island received in federal stimulus money in 2009 and the shifting of some costs previously paid by the state to the federal government.

      Rhode Island’s current Health and Human Services secretary, Steven Costantino, asked The Lewin Group, a consulting firm, to do a less-partisan analysis after Carcieri left. According to that group’s estimates, the waiver itself saved $23 million over three years, or $7.6 million annually, Costantino said.

      In addition, the deal also provided a $42.7-million windfall for the state over the same three years because the federal government started sharing the costs of some health services, he said.

      Total savings per year: just under $22 million.

  • 1/20/13- Americans For Prosperity PA urges Pennsylvania “Let’s Not Double-Down on a Failing Medicaid Program” and reference Gary Alexander within the write up:

      “The federal government seeks to entice Pennsylvania and other states into expanding their programs by promising to pay all the upfront costs during the initial years and then pulls back in the outlying ones. However, this promise is not altogether true. The head of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Gary Alexander, testified before a congressional committee last month that the expansion would cost $222 million to the state taxpayers in administrative and other costs during the first year, $378 million the second year and $364 million the third year, rising to an estimated $883 million by fiscal year 2020-21.”

    (Via BDN) David Bohrer | U.S. Chamber of Commerce Maine Gov. Paul LePage appeared with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce summit in April 2013. Gary Alexander, the consultant hired by LePage to analyze Maine’s Medicaid and welfare programs, stepped down as Corbett’s welfare chief in February 2013.

    (Via BDN) David Bohrer | U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    Maine Gov. Paul LePage appeared with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce summit in April 2013. Gary Alexander, the consultant hired by LePage to analyze Maine’s Medicaid and welfare programs, stepped down as Corbett’s welfare chief in February 2013.

  • 2/4/13: Pennsylvania confirms that Gary Alexander is stepping down his $143,362-a-year post as that state’s Welfare Secretary by the end of the month:

  • 3/6/13-Alexander quickly lands a lucrative 4 month consulting gig in Arkansas, hired by the Republican controlled legislative budget panel in that state:

      The Arkansas News reported on Tuesday that the former secretary’s firm, Alexander Group LLC, was awarded a $220,000 contract to conduct an independent review as lawmakers there consider an alternative to the proposed Medicaid expansion.

      Alexander’s firm was chosen because of its national reputation, according to the report. In addition to serving in the Cabinet post in Pennsylvania, Alexander previously had served as secretary of Rhode Island’s Department of Health and Human Services.

      However, some members of the panel that hired Alexander’s firm had concerns about how independent Alexander would be in conducting the Medicaid expansion evaluation since their review found him to be critical of President Obama’s health care law while he was serving as Pennsylvania’s welfare secretary.

  • 8/3/13- The Alexander Group Reportlanguishes with the Arkansas legislature pending review, rather than be released publicly:
      Marty Garrity, director of the Bureau of Legislative Research, informs me that Alexander HAS completed a report for the $220,000 he was paid. He submitted it July 5. It’s substantial, maybe 75 to 100 pages, she said.

      It remains secret. It is classified as a legislative “working paper” until a committee of the Legislative Council reviews it. Alexander is expected to appear to talk about it when and if that day occurs. It’s currently in the hands of the executive committee of the council, co-chaired by Sen. Paul Bookout and Rep. John Edwards. I’ve been unable to get an indication so far of plans for release.

  • September 2013- Emails back and forth regarding the Alexander Group contract fly back and forth between LePage administration members, with an apparent lack of following an executive order issued by then Governor John Baldacci dated March 23, 2010 in regards to procurement review:
  • 9/16/13-DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew and Gary Alexander sign a no-bid $925,200 contract for the Alexander Group to perform similar analysis to the work done for Arkansas. It would be another two months (11/20/13) before this would be made known publicly.

    Within the contract are specific dates as to when information by the consultant would be released, specific work to be performed by the Alexander Group, and that the group is required to maintain a Liability Insurance policy to protect against lawsuit costs.

    Completion of the final report is to be by 3/15/14.

    Payment for the work would come from the following sources:

      1. State General Funds $454,875.17
      2. Dedicated/ Special Revenues $276,644.83
      3. Federal Funds $193,680.00
      4. TANF $69,120.00
      5. Medicaid Admin (et al) $124,560.00
  • 9/25/13- Maine Governor Paul LePage signs off on the contract:

      Alexander’s hiring has also put LePage on the defensive. In December, the governor sought to distance himself from the no-bid contract, telling WABI-TV in Bangor, “I don’t know, I didn’t hire him (Alexander), DHHS did … I don’t know much about what they did, so.”

      Emails obtained by the Press Herald through a Freedom of Access Act request show that the governor personally endorsed the contract.

      On Sept. 25, Mayhew notified LePage’s assistant that the contract had been finalized. In a hand-written note atop the email, the governor wrote, “Go for it!”

  • 11/18/13- The Alexander Group presents its $220,000 report, dated 7/5/13, to the state of Arkansas.
  • 11/20/13-It is announced that Maine is partnering with the Alexander Group “to assist in Medicaid program improvements and to bolster existing efforts in program integrity”:

    Mayhew fields  questions from Maine media regarding the $900k+ Alexander Report, while Gary Alexander stands silently by.

    Mayhew fields questions from Maine media regarding the $900k+ Alexander Report, while Gary Alexander stands silently by.

      The work will include a study of the optional Medicaid expansion that has been offered to the state as part of ObamaCare. The study will include an assessment of the financial impact of Medicaid expansion in both the short- and long-term, as well as the impact on other state priorities, including those currently served by MaineCare. The study will also consider potential areas of flexibility for the state, which may include requests for additional flexibility from the federal government to manage MaineCare by state rules instead of federal regulations.

      DHHS and the Alexander Group will undertake a complete assessment of all welfare systems within DHHS to determine how program reforms and additional flexibility can add efficiency, improve patient outcomes and achieve cost savings. A focus of this work will be reducing waitlists and providing appropriate services for the elderly and disabled.

      “We are excited about the opportunity to work with such a knowledgeable group of experts,” said Mary Mayhew, the Commissioner of DHHS. “In the constantly shifting landscape of the Affordable Care Act and ever-changing rules from Washington, it will be extremely helpful to have someone with significant Medicaid experience lending a hand to our program reform efforts.”

    It is learned that Sam Adolphsen, a former staffer at the Maine Heritage Policy Center who now works in the governor’s administration, will be one of the state’s designees to work with the Alexander Group. Adolphsen’s background is in business administration, not social services or health care. He would be named in the contract as the person responsible for the monitoring the performance. In 2014, he would be promoted twice more within DHHS and be named DHHS chief operating officer in May 2014.

  • 12/10/13- The 126th Legislature’s Health and Human Services committee meet to discuss multiple DHHS management failures, including the state’s bungled MaineCare rides system, Riverview’s decertification with resulting loss of federal funds, and the no-bid $1 million contract to the Alexander Group. From a media advisory:

      The committee will have the opportunity for the first time, to examine the nearly $1 million, no-bid contract the LePage Administration signed with Gary Alexander from the Alexander Group. The contract includes the issuance of a five part study reviewing the impact of expanding the state’s health insurance program, Medicaid under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. The first study was due on December 1 but Alexander missed the deadline and to date has not submitted the report as stipulated in the nearly $1 million contract.

        “For the price of Governor LePage’s Tea Party crony, the state could have hired 23 people at Riverview— and we’d be one step closer toward getting recertified and recuperating the $20 million we’ve already lost,” said Craven. “Decisions like these do nothing to help the people of Maine or the financial health of our state.”

  • 12/19/13- “LePage fends off accusation of ‘cronyism’ in hiring controversial welfare consultant” (BDN)

      LePage said he has met with Alexander just three times: One of those meetings took place in 2010, when LePage offered the Rhode Island conservative the job as Maine’s commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, which the governor said Alexander turned down for salary reasons.

      LePage subsequently hired Mary Mayhew, a Democrat who lobbied for the Maine Hospital Association, as DHHS commissioner.

      LePage said Thursday that he also has met with Alexander twice since then; once in March and once more recently, after Alexander’s firm was hired on a nearly $1 million sole-source contract awarded by Mayhew in September.

  • 1/6/14- In a PPH Op-Ed, Maine is warned by PA state auditor Eugene DePasquale about Alexander:

      “Alexander served as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare for just two years. He came to us from Rhode Island and was touted as an efficiency expert who would save our state millions in Medicaid dollars. Instead, we experienced just the opposite.

      For example, under Alexander’s leadership, 89,000 children were removed from our health care programs, and his agency’s mismanagement of the contract to pay home care workers could cost taxpayers as much as $7 million per year.

      In November 2013, my department released the full results of our independent audit of the mismanagement of the home care worker contract during Alexander’s tenure. What we found should serve as a warning to Maine taxpayers and policymakers.”

  • 1/10/14- DHHS claims that per the Alexander Group Report, Medicaid Expansion could cost Maine $807 Million or more, with MaineCare enrollment potentially growing by nearly 100k new enrollees in the first two years alone.

      “This report highlights the fact that Maine’s General Fund is on track to be consumed by the MaineCare program, even without expanding eligibility,” said Gary Alexander. “Expanding eligibility for MaineCare to the able-bodied residents of working age will place at risk existing commitments Maine has to their traditional Medicaid recipients: those who are disabled and those who are elderly.”

      “This study reinforces the unsustainable costs associated with MaineCare expansion and the importance of returning the program to one that cares for its most vulnerable,” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “We cannot, in good conscience, ask the taxpayers of Maine to foot this very large bill to care for able-bodied adults. We must prioritize spending to ensure that the elderly and people with development disabilities who are on wait lists—sometimes for more than two years—get the critical services they need first and foremost.”

  • 1/14/14- Bangor Daily News prints a scathing editorial, “Taxpayers foot the bill for LePage manifesto on Medicaid expansion”, blasting both the LePage administration and the so-far released portions of the Alexander Group Report.
  • 1/14/14- Gary Alexander appears to speak about his report before HHS Committee, accompanied by associate Erik Randolph and DHHS Commissioner Mayhew. He speaks very little to either the committee members or the Maine press, deferring to Mayhew.

    Democrats on the HHS Committee had the following response:

      Fundamental flaws in the controversial Alexander report on Medicaid in Maine were exposed today during a hearing on its findings in the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.

      HHS Chairs Sen. Craven and Rep. Farnsworth question DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew during public hearing. Also pictured, Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Waterville)

      HHS Chairs Sen. Craven and Rep. Farnsworth question DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew during public hearing. Also pictured, Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Waterville)

      The controversial report used inflated and inaccurate poverty data; nearly doubled the amount of people that would receive care under the law; and failed to factor in the economic activity and savings offsets the state would see from accepting federal health dollars to cover more Mainers, according to lawmakers and economic and healthcare experts.

      “The research was skewed. Governor LePage got what he paid for,”
      said Rep. Dick Farnsworth of Portland, the House chair of the HHS committee. “We are looking at getting to real data that will give us real insight. We do not find it in these results which have become campaign talking points masquerading as a report.”

      “The report recommendations are not a surprise. This is nothing more than a campaign plan for Governor LePage. Unfortunately, the taxpayers of Maine paid for it,” said Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston, the Senate chair of the HHS committee. “Let’s get beyond campaign issues and move on to the real issues — like getting 70,000 Mainers including 3,000 veterans access to life-saving health insurance.”

      Farnsworth noted that the governor spent nearly $1 million in taxpayers dollars for the Alexander Group report when reliable data from independent sources confirms savings.

      Governor Paul LePage awarded the controversial consultant Gary Alexander the $1 million no-bid contract last September despite Alexander’s record of mismanagement and failed policies in Pennsylvania. As the head of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Alexander cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $7 million and took healthcare away from 89,000 children.

      During the hearing, non-partisan representatives from both the Maine Hospital Association and from Maine Equal Justice Partners echoed lawmakers concerns about the errors and assumptions in the report.

    No-bid contracts in Maine must meet certain criteria as noted in the state’s “Sole Source Justification Guidelines”:

  • 1/15/14-Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) introduce a pair of Medicaid expansion bills to the HHS Committee:

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

      Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D- N Berwick) presented his bill, LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People” before the Health and Human Services Committee in a packed public hearing.

      The second bill that came up for public hearing yesterday before the HHS Committee was presented by Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson. His bill, LD 1640, “An Act To Enhance the Stability and Predictability of Health Care Costs for Returning Veterans and Others by Addressing the Issues Associated with Hospital Charity Care and Bad Debt”, is designed to address the specific needs of Maine’s service members and other Mainers who find themselves excluded from the existing Affordable Care Act.

    Both bills would pass the Legislature, be vetoed by the Governor and have that veto sustained later in session.

  • 1/15/14- Weekly Address Of Governor Paul LePage: Maine Has An Obligation To Help Our Most Vulnerable And Pay Its Bills (MPW post)

      “This week our Administration provided Mainers and lawmakers The Feasibility of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. If Maine opts to expand Medicaid as it did 10 years ago, the report estimates it will cost the state more than $800 million—and that’s without additional risk factors. It does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be shifted onto the middle class who buy their insurance. This will cause private insurance premiums skyrocket.

      The report also predicts between 31 and 36 percent of all Mainers will be receiving taxpayer-funded health care by 2023. In other words, for every three Mainers, one will be on Medicaid at the taxpayer’s expense.

      The funny thing is that the guy who wrote the report has been very successful in getting the federal government to work with states on improving its Medicaid program. So, why aren’t liberals listening to what he has to say?”

  • 1/20/14- It is first reported that DHHS officials worked with the Alexander Group in revising the report multiple times before it was released to the public:

      The document appears to have been edited to present a more seemingly detached analysis of the Medicaid expansion equations. The most politically sensitive passages were softened or removed outright: Sections outlining poor health care outcomes for those enrolled in Medicaid were trimmed or stricken, as were segments and a related appendix outlining the political breakdown of Medicaid expansion, noting “there appears to be a partisan pattern on how states are deciding to expand.”

      An initial version even suggested that considering expansion at all was a waste of time.

      Alexander originally wrote that, given the current level of spending on MaineCare, “there seems to be little point in talking about the expansion scenario that significantly increases costs and accelerates the cost growth rate.” That passage was removed in the final report. Other language changes in the report de-emphasize forecasts that may bring into question efforts by Republican LePage to create jobs and grow the state’s economy.

      The first draft calls the dramatic increase in Maine’s poverty rate “phenomenal.” The final report referred to the increased poverty rate as simply “one causal factor” driving Medicaid growth.

      The final version of the report thanked DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew and her entire staff, and made clear the impact the department had on the study. Alexander wrote that the department contributed not only data necessary for analysis, but recommendations on the report itself, which were included in the final draft.

  • 1/21/14- Maine media report multiple revisions were made between December 16 and January 10 to the report, with copies of four different versions linked.
  • 2/10/14- HHS Chair Rep. Richard Farnsworth puts forth LD 1794,“An Act To Cancel the No-bid Alexander Group Contract To Produce Savings in Fiscal Year 2013-14”. The bill would later pass the Democratic controlled 126th Legislature, but is vetoed by Governor LePage. That veto is later sustained.
  • 2/17/14- PPH reports that “officials at DHHS are weighing whether to defend Alexander’s Medicaid study or divert attention from it”:

      On Feb. 11, DHHS spokesman John Martins emailed Mayhew, Sam Adolphsen, the deputy finance director, and Nick Adolphsen, a legislative liaison. He discussed a memo from Erik Randolph, a member of the Alexander Group, that presumably defended the Medicaid study. Sam Adolphsen wrote Friday that he liked the memo, but questioned whether the agency should wait for the “next attack” to make it public.

      Martins replied: “We are succeeding on all fronts on getting the expansion message out and the focus on the (Alexander Group) report has died down.”

      Martins went on to request “quotable and reliable data” to support the administration’s claim that Medicaid expansion recipients could qualify for subsidies in the federal health care law. He noted that communications directors “across the state have been asked to do (newspaper opinion columns) regarding the impact of Medicaid spending on their programs.”

      He concluded: “We haven’t lost anything – we have this (memo) ready for the next salvo – but I think if we have data, especially data that we can report as new, Commissioner, we can accomplish your message objective without tying it to the (Alexander Group) report.”

  • 2/18/14- Gary Alexander pens an article “Resisting the Medicaid Temptation” for the Galen Institute, which gets picked up by Washington Times:

    Maine Gov. Paul LePage takes a sip from a coffee mug displaying a "no new taxes" message, April 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

    Maine Gov. Paul LePage takes a sip from a coffee mug displaying a “no new taxes” message, April 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

      “In a day when governors and legislatures need more resources for priorities that benefit all citizens, such as education and transportation, the promising of a bigger stream of federal revenue may be too enticing to forgo.

      Yet a recent economic forecast and risk analysis we conducted for the state of Maine flatly contradicts that glowing assessment, suggesting that the hope of using Medicaid expansion to solve state budget woes is as empty as President Obama’s promise that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

      Ten-year projections made on the basis of current expectations reveal that even if the state were to expand Medicaid eligibility, Maine would continue to experience rising rates of poverty and increases in both median and per-capita income.”

  • 2/19/14- Weekly Address Of Governor Paul LePage: Medicaid Spending Is Consuming The General Fund (MPW post)

    lepage head 2

      “Medicaid now consumes 25 percent of all General Fund revenue. If liberals succeed in expanding welfare again, Medicaid will devour 45 percent of the General Fund.

      State government has already eliminated or reduced funding for education, law enforcement, economic development and protection of our natural resources. Quite simply, Medicaid is cannibalizing revenue from all other state agencies.

      That means the state cannot fully pay its 55 percent share of local education costs. It cannot hire more Maine State Troopers or repair National Guard facilities. The state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct scientific marine research on Maine’s fisheries. The state cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending.”

  • 2/24/14- The LePage administration demanded that the communications directors supply public statements in regard to how expansion would adversely affect their budgets to back up the governor’s claims and then makes the requested statements public in bulk as part of a press release, entitled “Maine Agencies Cannibalized by Welfare Spending”.
  • 2/26/14- Senate Assistant Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Augusta) presents his and caucus member Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Wilton)’s Medicaid expansion compromise bill including a three year “sunset provision” to HHS. The day before, the pair unveil their plan to members of their party during a caucus meeting and then take their pitch to the editorial boards of two of the state’s daily newspapers. The bill, LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program” was carried over last July and as such, would need 2/3s vote as an emergency bill and to override a veto from Governor LePage, who is vehemently opposed to expansion. Democratic leaders praise the move:

    Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

    Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

      “We view the proposal as a step forward after months of debate over how to ensure more families can have access to a family doctor,”  said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Our priority has always been securing life-saving health care for 70,000 Maine people. While we have been skeptical of managed care programs in the past, we look forward to hearing the details of the Republican proposal. We will want to make sure that the emphasis is on quality treatment; not simply denying care.”

      “The people of Maine are counting on us to do right by them. They’ve put their faith and their trust in us and asked us to represent them to the best of our abilities,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Health care is a right, and lawmakers who get health care from the state should think twice before denying it to their constituents.”

    The bill would ultimately fail to get past Governor LePage, the fifth attempt to expand Medicaid in the 126th Legislative session.

  • 2/26/14- HHS Chairs Senator Margaret Craven and Rep. Richard Farnsworth pen a joint opinion piece for the Bangor Daily News, “Why the Legislature should cancel the Alexander Group contract”.
  • 2/26/14- DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew hosted a large media event in Governor LePage’s cabinet room with a variety of department heads dutifully taking their turns and standing to speak to the gathered Maine press about how their budgets were being “cannibalized” by the monies going into DHHS, as well as a new LePage assertion that “Medicaid Expansion is Bad for the Environment”.
  • 4/9/14- “How the Koch brothers are killing Medicaid expansion in Maine”

      Opponents of accepting federal health care funding have taken a similar approach to health care policy as they have to public opinion in Maine. With every independent study confirming that expansion will boost the state’s economy while saving lives, they needed some way to muddy the waters. Luckily, they had the perfect candidate to stir up the bottom: former Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander.

      Alexander is no stranger to FGA (Foundation for Government Accountability) and ALEC. In 2011, ALEC’s newsletter featured Alexander’s Medicaid privatization ideas as the #2 way to “push back against ObamaCare.” In 2012, Alexander and Herrera headlined an anti-Medicaid expansion panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute. In 2013, Alexander joined Herrera for a conference call with FGA supporters.

      “I thank you, Christie, and your great organization for organizing this,” said Alexander as they ended the call. “You guys are a tremendous repository for all of this information and I look forward to continuing to work with you as we solve the country’s most vexing problems.”

  • April 2014- The original contract is amended to give the Alexander Group an additional two months to complete the final portions of its report, pushing the target due date from May 15 to July 15.
  • 5/13/14- Although more than half of the monies being paid to the Alexander Group and a deadline looming in a few days for the final installment of the five part report to be released, the LePage administration says that only the previously released first portion has been received (“Despite paying welfare consultant more than $500,000, Maine has received only one section of 5-part study”):

      “To my knowledge, just the report we released in January has been delivered thus far,” John Martins, a DHHS spokesman, wrote in an email message Monday.

      Under the terms of the contract that report — the first of five Alexander was to deliver — was due on Dec. 1, 2013. The other portions were due as follows: two on Dec. 20, one on March 15 and the last on May 15.

      The report due Dec. 1 was delivered to DHHS on Dec. 16, but was withheld from the public for more than three weeks while LePage reviewed its contents.

  • 5/16/14- The long awaited and overdue second portion of the Alexander Group report is finally released.
  • 5/17/14- Critics quickly respond to the newly released document (“LePage paid an expensive consultant to recommend what he already tried — and failed — to do”):

      One doesn’t have to read too far into the Alexander Group’s second report to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to realize the state hasn’t gotten its money’s worth. Gov. Paul LePage’s administration spent $925,000 on a no-bid contract for the state welfare system consultant, yet it’s difficult to read the Alexander Group’s 228-page document and take it seriously.

      Based on the Alexander Group’s description of its work and characterization of its own members’ credentials, you’d expect a tremendously useful report with unique insight and innovative policy solutions to some of the genuine challenges facing Maine’s public assistance programs and the low-income people they serve.

      Instead, what Maine has received is essentially a research paper on the structure of the public assistance programs Maine DHHS administers, along with unoriginal policy recommendations that aren’t backed up by analysis.

  • 5/21/14-Maine Governor Paul LePage continues to tout the hiring of Gary Alexander and the report in his weekly address prepared the previous day, “Medicaid Expansion Has Been Disastrous For Other States”:

    “As we said over and over again, there is no free lunch. These states (Arkansas, California and Rhode Island) are facing enormous costs because of Medicaid expansion and ObamaCare. We did not want Maine to get stuck in that position. That’s why we hired a consultant to advise us on how best to manage all of our welfare programs.

    The consultant just released the bulk of his report, detailing what we are doing right and what we can do to improve our welfare programs. Before they could even read it, Democrats jumped up to attack the report. They just won’t face facts.

    Take time to read it before you go on the attack.”

    Bangor Daily News first breaks the story in an editorial, then discusses the apparent plagiarism within the newly released portion of the Alexander Group Report, with one of those from whom the work is lifted weighing in:

      “We don’t think professional standards would include excerpting significant chunks of text without quotation marks,” said Liz Schott, a senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ welfare reform and income support division and one of the report’s three authors. “They listed text and made it appear like their own, and, yes, that appears to be plagiarism.

      It starts with a list about advantages to subsidized work programs. Then, the Alexander Group discusses the experience of other states that have started subsidized work programs. For about two full pages, pages 110 and 111, the Alexander Group uses the CBPP’s work, virtually word or word.

    Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running for Governor against LePage as the Democratic nominee, takes to Twitter to blast the administration:

    Maine Democratic Party also responds:

    Another victim is quoted:

      LaDonna Pavetti, vice president for the family income support division of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said Wednesday morning that in her experience, what the Alexander Group did went far beyond normal or acceptable. The BDN found that pages of the Alexander report appeared nearly verbatim from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ earlier study.

      “I have never seen this,” said Pavetti. “It’s literally two pages of text [that were copied]. It’s not a small piece of text.”

  • 5/23/14-Portland Press Herald publishes the examples of plagerism (“Compare The Alexander Group report and its plagiarized sources”) with an example identically lifted from Jacqueline Kauff’s 2008 report, “Assisting TANF Recipients Living with Disabilities to Obtain and Maintain Employment”.

    The silence of LePage’s supporters is questioned, with millions of dollars cited as examples (“Bill Nemitz: As money goes to waste, LePage supporters’ silence is deafening”) and a quote from Alexander regarding the plagiarism charges:

      “Yes, there are footnoting problems with the report that escaped our review process, but there was no intention to plagiarize,” Alexander said in an email to the Portland Press Herald late Wednesday. “The report does provide credit to the work of others but unfortunately not in the proper format. We regret the error. We will be resubmitting a corrected report.”

    Late in the afternoon, LePage issues a terse statement on the Alexander Group’s plagiarism scandal:

      “I am gravely concerned about these accusations and we will get to the bottom of it. Upon learning of this information today, we have taken immediate action and suspended all payments to the Alexander Group. We will continue to look into these accusations and will take further action, including termination of the contract, if warranted.”

    Democrats quickly weigh in.

      Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Portland): “Mainers have been swindled by Gary Alexander and for six months, Governor LePage and his Republican lawmakers have looked the other way,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “Undoubtedly, this discredited report is an embarrassment for the LePage administration. And Governor LePage’s request to suspend payments is small change compared to the fleecing of our state’s coffers. I urge my Republican colleagues to join me in demanding a full refund from the Alexander Group. We should not be paying premium pricing for pulp fiction.”

      Speaker of the House Mark Eves: “Maine taxpayers deserves a full refund. It’s not enough to suspend payments for this flawed and controversial contractor. It’s fraudulent work. No amount fraud should be tolerated. The contract should be canceled like we have been saying since day one. This has been an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars meant only to boost the Governor’s election campaign.”

      Rep. Richard Farnsworth (D-Portland), House chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and sponsor of LD 1794: “This so-called report from the Alexander Group has been a debacle from the moment the governor secretly gave this nearly $1 million no-bid contract to his Tea Party crony. The taxpayers should not have to pay a single cent for this miserable piece of work, let alone a half million dollars. The people of Maine deserve a full refund. This is not simply an oversight on the part of the Alexander Group and the administration, it is an ethical failure.”

      HHS Committee member Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Waterville): “Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend news. I’m sure the administration wants this to get lost in the weekend. But remember this: there were concerns right from the beginning about how this contract was granted. The Alexander Group has never turned in anything on time. And now plagiarism. We had a bill to cancel payments for this ill advised contact because it has been first and foremost a political contract that has produced political documents. Not a wise use of our tax dollars. We couldn’t get a veto proof vote on that bill. And now this.”

      HHS Committee members Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) and Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) listen to testimony during the public hearings for LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842.

      HHS Committee members Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) and Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) listen to testimony during the public hearings for LDs 1815, 1820, 1822 and 1842.


      HHS Committee member Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook):
      “As I’ve said numerous times, this all started with the procurement, which was illegal, done in secret and never should have moved forward. Gary Alexander and his “group” have no experience as consultants and our DHHS was the first state agency to ever hire them. They never would have won a competitive procurement and never should have been given a contract.”
  • 5/24/14- Much more plagiarism within the newly released portion of the Alexander Group Report discovered (“Mike Tipping: ‘LePlagiarism’ far more extensive than previously believed”):

      A new analysis of the report by a plagiarism detection expert shows that many additional, lengthy sections were lifted verbatim from other sources with little or no attribution. It’s now clear that Alexander was dishonestly passing off the work of others as his own.

      Sometimes, as with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities paper, the source is mentioned, but it’s not made obvious that content was copied wholesale. This is the case on Page 134 of the latest report, which references a paper by Mathematica Policy Research and then uses text from that document nearly verbatim without acknowledging the quotation.

      Similarly, on Page 43 of the MaineCare report, a footnote reads, “Most information modified from Pewstates.org information on the states,” but what isn’t noted is that most of the text on the next four pages was lifted from a specific article on Pew’s Stateline news service.

      In several other cases, no attribution is given at all. This is true of portions of the reports copied wholesale from policy papers published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, as well as text taken from a number of Maine government documents.

    Examples of where Alexander simply copied his own work done in the Arkansas report are shown as well.

    Later that afternoon, Governor LePage suspends payment to Alexander.

  • 5/28/14- Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves send a letter to Governor LePage, demanding that the state’s contract with the Alexander Group be cancelled immediately and that the monies already paid to the consultant be recouped.

      “From day one, the Alexander contract has been highly questionable. The no-bid contract received no public review, no opportunity for legislative oversight and no adequate vetting of this contractor. Worse, it used federal funds intended to help struggling families and hungry children. This is truly a case of egregious fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

    They also wrote to Republican leaders:

    Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) issued a statement saying he had reached out to LePage’s office and had been, “reassured they are taking these allegations very seriously, are taking appropriate steps to look into their validity, and considering the appropriate course of action going forward.”

    HHS Chair Rep. Richard Farnsworth weighs in:

      “This so-called report from the Alexander Group has been a debacle from the moment the governor secretly gave this nearly $1 million no-bid contract to his Tea Party crony. The taxpayers should not have to pay a single cent for this miserable piece of work, let alone a half million dollars. The people of Maine deserve a full refund. This is not simply an oversight on the part of the Alexander Group and the administration, it is an ethical failure.”

    Gary Alexander and DHHS Commissioner Mayhew react to questions from HHS Committee member Rep. Peter Stuckey (D-Portland), 1/14/14.

    Gary Alexander and DHHS Commissioner Mayhew react to questions from HHS Committee member Rep. Peter Stuckey (D-Portland), 1/14/14.

    Later that same day, it is learned that the contract itself will be scrutinized by federal authorities:

      Gerry Petruccelli, a University of Maine Law School professor who has specialized in business and contract law, said Wednesday the language in the contract between Alexander and the state was “fuzzy” enough that the state may have little legal recourse.

      Meanwhile officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Boston referred all questions on the use of federal funds to pay Alexander to the Office of the Inspector General.

      John Martins, a spokesman for DHHS confirmed Wednesday, that of the $501,760 that Alexander had already been paid about half of it or $249,185 was federal funds.

      Phil Coyne, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the federal OIG, HHS regional office in Boston said investigators would be reviewing the state’s contract with the Alexander Group to determine if the federal funds used to pay the consultant were used appropriately.

    The governor’s press secretary responded:

    lepage sots angry self

      “Could there be a coincidence that Democrats are pushing out these letters days before their convention?” she wrote. “The governor will not allow politics to interfere with getting to the bottom of these allegations. As the governor has stated previously, he immediately suspended payment one week ago (Wednesday, May 21 upon learning of these claims), proper follow up is being conducted looking into the validity of these accusations, and appropriate action will be taken, including and up to termination of the contract, if warranted.”

      Bennett’s statement did not specifically address whether the state had protections within the contract to recoup its money.

    LePage went on the record as well:

      On Tuesday, the governor released a statement to the Portland Press Herald, saying, “I will take every action we can. I am not happy about this.”

      He added that the state may attempt to reclaim the $500,000 it has already paid The Alexander Group.

      “It’s all a matter of the extent of what the damage is,” he said.

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  • Troy Jackson for Congress Addresses 2014 Maine Democratic Convention (Video, Transcript)

    Posted on June 2, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

    Troy Jackson for Congress Addresses 2014 Maine Democratic Convention (as prepared)

        Troy Jackson’s Speech

      Hello fellow Democrats! My name is Troy Jackson and I’m running for Congress because I believe the middle class needs a voice. I’m running for Congress because I don’t hear enough people in Washington saying things that need to be said.

      DSC_0101Like so many, I grew up in a place in Maine where people work unimaginably hard their entire lives only to scrape by and have little to show for it. Too many times, I watched families pack up and leave despite their best efforts. The vast wealth that was made off of Maine’s natural resources was hoarded by industrial landowners from far away who saw us as a tool and the forests of our home as a commodity.

      I really started questioning this when I had a family of my own. Most of you don’t need me to tell you this, but when you have children you stop thinking about yourself and start to see the world around you in an entirely different way. You start to realize you have to do better because your family’s future depends on it.

      In order to do the best I could for my family, I was willing to take any logging job to keep a roof over our heads. Within a few years’ time that meant leaving Allagash every week for jobsites far away from home while Canadian companies cut wood all around our little town. As most of us that live paycheck to paycheck do, I tried to accept it as just the way things are.

      But I knew something wasn’t right, especially on Sunday nights. You see, Sunday nights I would pack my lunchbox and some clothes for the week, preparing for my long drive early in the morning to places on the Golden Road. And Sunday nights, my son, who was three or four by then, would ask me not go. He would tell me that he was going stay awake, holding my hand all night so when morning came I would still be there.

      I used to watch him fight to stay awake with his little hand wrapped around my thumb, as if, by strength of will alone, he could keep me home. As if all the strength he had in his little hand could counter generations of corporate greed that was keeping other young children in the St. John Valley from their parents. It was during those long Sunday nights that would turn into early Monday mornings that I stopped accepting things for the way they were and started thinking about the way they should be.

      DSC_0090Those days took me back to being 12 years old, standing behind my father and his fellow loggers when all they were asking for were decent wages for their hard work. I remember my fear as the rich landowners told them to take what they were being offered or they’d get nothing at all. The fear I felt then was probably nothing compared to the desperation my father must have felt as he stood with his son in front of the man that held his livelihood in his hands. I knew then, just as I knew as a young man with a growing family, and just as I know now, that there was no compromise to be had with people that use their power to keep others down. Instead, you have to make a stand, whether it’s blocking the Canadian border and forcing their hand, or standing up to a tea party Governor when too few are willing to do it. I’ve known people like those land owners and people like Paul LePage all my life. They may think its okay to abuse us and tell us we’re stupid and should go back to the woods. Let me tell you something; when they say I have a black heart, I wear their insult as a badge of honor, because it means that I’m standing up for men and women that have been forgotten and left behind for far too long.

      You’re gonna hear a lot about compromise in this campaign. That’s not why I’m running. I am running for Congress for every family who has laid their heads down at night with the ache of being powerless to change their situation. I am running for every child that watched their parent pack up and go to work away from home for the week, and for every parent who had to let go of their child’s hand to do it. I am running for every person whose story ever went untold while the lobbyists with offices around capitol buildings made damn sure the corporate story was told by passing off things like trickledown economics and free trade as the only option for our future.

      100_4843I stand before you today because I put more faith in the proud loggers of Allagash than in the foreign companies who play them like chess pieces. I put more faith in the lobstermen in Jonesport that literally fly the flag of their union and their right to organize than in the Koch brothers that fly the flag of corporate greed. I put more faith in the folks reviving Lewiston’s downtown than in big box stores like Wal-Mart that are killing downtowns across America. I put more faith in Rumford’s millworkers than in the corporations that want to outsource every single good paying job we have. I put more faith in the nurses in Bangor than in the insurance companies who watered down healthcare reform and prevented us from having a single-payer, universal healthcare system. And I put more faith in our state employees whose pensions were taken out from under them in a “compromise” than I do in the rich who got a 400 million dollar tax cut in exchange.

      My mother is one of the strongest people I have ever known. When I was growing up, she taught me that once you’ve worked hard for your family the best thing you can do is help others.

      She dropped out of school at 15 when she became pregnant with me. She didn’t go back to finish her high school diploma until I was five. When I got a little bit older she found a way to go to college to become a teacher. She was able to take care of me, go to her classes, and get her schoolwork done, all while keeping our home together. When she started teaching, she was making $14,000 a year.

      For a little more than half of that first year we lived in small home on the St. John River. I remember playing with Matchbox cars down by the river and thinking it was a fun place to live.

      But for my mother, it was nothing more than a shack without heat or running water. To her, it was the embodiment of failure.

      When the summer waned and fall came to Maine I remember the cold. And this is why I don’t like to tell this story: Because Mum would remind me how lucky we were, because we weren’t the only family living just like this, and right around us and all over the world people had it much worse. They were colder and more scared than we were, maybe right up the road.

      I think back to those cold nights when I would hear my mother cry. I didn’t know teachers are some of the most poorly paid professionals in this country. And while I knew we were poor, I didn’t know what the term “income inequality” meant.
      I’m not running for Congress because I’ve wanted to for a long time or because I can use it as springboard to bigger and better things.

      I’m running because of income inequality, poverty, unfairness, corporate greed and political cowardice. I have known these things my entire life and I have watched them wreck communities and tear people’s lives and families apart. And during those cold nights in that small shack along the river I never would have thought I would one day have the opportunity to do something about it. If you’re going to run for Congress, you have to know in your heart – in your soul – why you’re running. I run for all those cold nights all across America and all those crying mothers and all those aching families of the middle class I damn sure intend to!

      DSC_0118So I won’t back down when bullies like Paul LePage want to blame struggling parents for the world’s problems. If he doesn’t scare me, John Boehner and Paul Ryan sure as hell won’t.

      I won’t back down when Wall Street wants yet another bank and CEO bailout and hedge fund managers don’t want to be regulated. I won’t back down when some, even in our own party, want to hold hands with the Tea Party to extend tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. I won’t back down when the GOP tries to go after social security and Medicare. I won’t back down when corporate politicians on both sides of the aisle try to pass more free trade agreements. And when the privileged elite tries to keep me quiet with their checkbooks and their political machine, whether it’s at the Canadian border in 1998 or on the campaign trail today, I sure as hell won’t back down.

      We have been told to sit down and shut up for too long, and all it’s got us is less and less while it’s given the wealthy and the privileged more and more, and it’s time we stood up and changed the conversation.

      When the Tea Party goes after the powerless, I will be their power. When Congress forgets the words of the middle class, I will be their voice. When Republicans target the downtrodden, I will be their shield. And when they try to pull the ladder of success up behind them, I will grab it and be there holding it in place, because that ladder is supposed to be there for everyone. Because, damn it, we built that ladder. It’s ours. And no one gets left behind. That is what being a Democrat is about, and that’s what you’ll get from me. I ask you to rise up and stand shoulder to shoulder with me – with your support and with your vote. I won’t let you down. Thank you, Democrats.

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