Archive for August 8th, 2014

LePage, Democratic Leaders Finally Meet To Discuss Riverview Woes, Alexander Report Payments

Posted on August 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Democratic leaders had waited for more than two months for an opportunity to speak with Governor Paul LePage on a number of concerns, not the least of which were the troubling news of Riverview once again failing to qualify for federal re-certification and final resolution of the monies owed back to the state from the Alexander Group for their now widely discredited and plagiarized report.

DSC_0032A reminder: It was reported back on May 23 that Maine had finally suspended payments to Alexander and at that time, Paul LePage indicated that the option was on the table.

    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.

Apparently “the damage” ultimately wasn’t that bad in Paul LePage’s eyes.

Yesterday Democratic leadership finally got their chance to question the governor and others, albeit in a closed door meeting. The news for Maine was pretty bleak, as LePage now has no intention of recouping the $475,000 already paid to the Alexander Group.

While the Governor’s office has had very little to say about the meeting, Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves quickly issued a joint statement about the first meeting between the three since January:

    “Our top priority for the meeting was to press the Governor for answers on the Alexander Group refund and on the latest developments at Riverview,” said House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “It’s clear that he has abandoned the effort to recoup a full refund for the discredited and plagiarized report from the Alexander Group. Of the nearly $500,000 in taxpayer funds paid to the Alexander Group, the state has recouped only $27,000.

    During the meeting, the Governor reiterated the administration’s position that it was confident the state would correct problems at the Riverview Psychiatric Center despite a recent failed bid to qualify for federal re-certification. The state psychiatric hospital lost its certification last September due to mismanagement and dangerous conditions at the hospital. As a result, the federal government said it could [hold back] approximately $20 million in funding for the hospital.

    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.

    “We hope the Governor is right, but we remain concerned,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “We expect the Governor to take seriously the deficiencies in safety conditions for patients and workers that led to the loss of $20 million.

    During the meeting, Governor LePage complained that lawmakers did not pass his 11th hour proposal to increase funding for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. The bipartisan Appropriations Committee passed an amended bill to include funding for substance abuse treatment. At the time, the Governor said he would veto anything but his original proposal so no further votes on the bill were taken.

    “The Governor sat on the sidelines when lawmakers were doing work, whether it was the budget or other important bills. He continues to blame others for his unwillingness and inability to work constructively with the legislature,” said Senate President Alfond.

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)

Today Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Michaud issued a statement of his own:

    “The Alexander Report has been a case study in government waste and poor judgment from the very beginning,” Michaud said.

    “This deeply flawed and controversial report has never been anything more than a political document meant to further Gov. LePage’s re-election. And now, despite public outrage and evidence that parts of the report were plagiarized, the LePage administration is still refusing to seek a full refund of hard-earned taxpayer dollars that could have been used to help working families, improve education and meet other important priorities. This is pure mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility on the part of Gov. LePage. Mainers deserve better.”

    Michaud released a plan earlier this year to appoint an Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services and cited the ongoing scandal revolving around the Alexander Report as an example of one of the many issues of waste and mismanagement the office would be tasked with preventing.

    “Gov. LePage has made a big issues about waste, fraud and abuse as governor, but it’s clear that the biggest culprit of wasting taxpayer dollars is the governor himself,” Michaud said. “Mainers deserve a governor who will work with Democrats, Republicans and independents to address the issues facing Maine and who will use tax dollars wisely.”

In July it was reported that LePage thought Maine should give up on the Riverview Psychiatric Center re-certification efforts, throwing away more than $14 million in federal funding. Michaud’s response at that time:

    “Since taking office, Gov. Paul LePage’s Department of Health and Human Services has been a case study in government waste and mismanagement,” said Michaud. “His mismanagement of Riverview Psychiatric Center is the pinnacle of this and it needs to be addressed immediately. The list of issues at Riverview is exhaustive, troubling and a black eye on this administration and state. Rather than pledging to Mainers that he will address these issues, Gov. LePage is choosing to give up and throw away millions of dollars in funding. His inaction makes Maine vulnerable to lawsuits, puts Riverview on the brink of crisis and leaves Maine taxpayers to foot the bill for his failed leadership.”

Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen took to Twitter, as the thus far sole GOP reaction on the meeting:

Not quite accurate, as the federal government is demanding Maine pay back monies dating back almost a year and will be still on the hook for a hefty sum, even were the hospital to become re-certified.

    We will be seeking the return of that money because the facility has been decertified,” Richard McGreal, associate regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Press Herald this week.

    If Riverview becomes certified, federal money will flow back to the center. But even then the center would not be funded retroactively, and Riverview will still owe the federal money it has used in the months it was ineligible, McGreal said.

    State officials said they have not been told of the pending “disallowance” action and have been drawing from the federal account the entire time. Maine is entitled to $20 million per year in federal money to operate Riverview, representing more than half of the hospital’s $36 million budget.

(To be updated as needed.)

*RELATED: Paul LePage And Gary Alexander: A Timeline

*RELATED: Emergency Hearing On Riverview Psychiatric Center Held; Dems Voice Concerns

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Theater at Monmouth: “What The Butler Saw” (REVIEW)

Posted on August 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

A few notes:

  • Theater at Monmouth now has a blog. The first post, “Made in Maine: Local Talent in TAM’s Summer Company” features discussions with actors Isabella Coulombe, Anna Doyle, and Michael Dix Thomas- all Maine natives. Check it out!
  • In celebration of TAM’s 45th season and the British Invasion theme, Gritty’s in Auburn has created “A Hard Day’s Pint”, an ale available through August with a portion of the proceeds going to support the theater.
  • The huge annual Silent Auction is going on now in Cumston Hall Library’s Reading Room; many items upon which to bid from area merchants and donors. The auction concludes August 21.

—–

Who knew a job interview could go so terribly, terribly wrong? Orton's What the Butler Saw is for mature audiences only! Call the box office at 933.9999 for tickets. — with Anna Doyle and James Noel Hoban. (from TAM's Facebook page)

Who knew a job interview could go so terribly, terribly wrong? Orton’s What the Butler Saw is for mature audiences only! Call the box office at 933.9999 for tickets. — with Anna Doyle and James Noel Hoban.
(from TAM’s Facebook page)

The infamous yet never identified “They” remark frequently that in regards to acting, “tragedy is easy; comedy is hard.” When one thinks about this old saying, it has some grains of truth- but what is perhaps an even harder task is making great comedy seem utterly effortless.

TAM’s opening night performance of Joe Orton’s “What The Butler Saw” does exactly that- they nailed it. From director Brian P. Allen’s notes:

    “I think ‘Butler’ lends itself well to TAM. Trust and familiarity among the cast are necessary in order to make the split-second timing of the show work. The six actors need to breathe as one, and while that isn’t always easy to accomplish in a short summer repertory rehearsal period, TAM’s resident company atmosphere generates the environment required to pull off such a delicious farce.”

Yup. What he said.

Set in a private London clinic circa early 1965, the play begins innocently enough- an established psychiatrist (Hoban) is interviewing a beautiful young woman (Doyle) for employment as his secretary.

Or so she thinks. It quickly becomes apparent that more lecherous intentions lurk in the doctor’s plans… but there is also an old cliche about the best laid plans… Cue the wife!

Who is quickly revealed to be not as innocent as SHE could be, either!

Cover ups, misunderstandings, government official and police investigations, costumes and quickly made-up excuses and stories start flying, faster and faster- by the perfectly timed suspenseful cliff-hanger moment of “A-HA!” discovery marking the break for intermission, one can barely breathe for the aching ribs. And immediately as the audience comes back in, the onstage madness picks right back up where they left off. When eventually everyone’s stories all sort out and the play concludes, tears of laughter are just rolling down one’s cheeks.

Oh, what fun!

Lewd, naughty, clever and definitely an “adult situation” sort of play- but omigosh, what a fantastic ride. To use a few more cliches, this was a grand slam- together, the team hit this one over the wall and out of the park.

Cast (in order of appearance)

Dr. Prentice: James Noel Hoban
Geraldine: Anna Doyle
Mrs. Prentice: Denise Cormier
Nicholas Beckett: Graham Emmons
Dr. Rance: Mark S. Cartier
Sergeant Match: Max Waszak

Production Team

Set Designer: Dan Bilodeau
Costume Designer: Kathleen P. Brown
Lighting Designer: Cecilia Durbin
Sound Designer: Rew Tippen
Stage Managers: Jeff Meyers, Melissa A. Nathan

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Mark Dion (Portland): LePage tries again to distract from poor economic performance

Posted on August 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Rep. Dion: LePage tries again to distract from poor economic performance
TANF announcement follows news that Maine’s economy 47th slowest in nation

The best anti-crime program is a job. That’s something we should all agree on. Reducing the need for welfare is also best accomplished by growing jobs. Real jobs with real wages.

The problem for Governor Paul LePage is that he’s failed to live up to his own promises!

mark dionGood morning. I’m Representative Mark Dion of Portland, former sheriff of Cumberland County. And thank you for tuning in.

The governor is reaching into the same old bag of scapegoat politics to once again distract Maine people from his poor performance on jobs and the economy.

You probably just heard the governor use his radio address to announce he’ll finally enforce a law to drug test convicted drug felons whose families rely on TANF.

He probably doesn’t want you to know that many of these felons were guilty of possessing only small amounts of drugs and not members of some massive drug trafficking cartel.

But facts like these destroy the distraction he’s trying to create.

My question to the governor is: “Where have you been?”

The TANF law has been on the books for three years. Three years with no action by the governor’s administration.

But this isn’t really about fixing a problem. It’s about finding someone to blame.

When it comes to scapegoating public assistance, the governor’s never been concerned that his decrees are only loosely connected to the facts.

So why wait until an election year to make these executive decisions?

The governor’s record on the economy makes the answer all too clear.

  • Maine has been scraping along the bottom with each new set of economic figures.
  • We’ve recovered only 63 percent of the jobs lost in the recession.
  • The nation as a whole and New England as a region have recovered all their lost jobs – and added even more on top of that.
  • Employment levels for Mainers of prime working age have not improved since the recession.
  • And earlier this week, Business Insider ranked Maine as the nation’s 47th slowest economy.

    The governor’s strategic response to this sorry financial evaluation? Drug testing.

    C’mon, Governor. We both know Maine’s economy deserves a better solution than that.

    After all, you’ve never missed an opportunity to tout your business savvy.

    You’ve told the people of Maine: “I know what it takes to grow an economy.” You have reminded us countless times that you made your mark as a “turnaround specialist.”

    But an economic turnaround requires more than running over families struggling with addiction and unemployment.

    Maine deserves better than that!

    Maine needs a leader who promotes opportunity and works for solutions – solutions like workforce training, college affordability and support for small business innovators.

    We need a leader to move our economy, boost our middle class and who knows that being poor is not a crime. We need an effective CEO, who relies on the facts – now more than ever.

    Thank you for listening. I’m Representative Mark Dion of Portland.

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