Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: The NFL has an Opportunity to Push Back Against Domestic Violence

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

5pm UPDATE: Here is the letter.

nfl boycottNOTE: Last week, Governor Paul LePage went onto WVOM’s George Hale and Ric Tyler Show and during his interview, said that he was “boycotting the NFL”. He also referred himself in the third person when discussing his chances for re-election:

    “The governor does not agree [that it’s a tight race]. … The governor says that he’s either going to be blown out by a landslide or he’s going to win by a landslide. … The Maine people are either going to throw me out or take me in wholeheartedly, but I don’t think this is going to be close.”

He has still not spoken publicly about his meeting with Democratic leadership, despite new reports that the situation with Augusta’s Riverview Psychiatric Center is more dire and will be even more expensive than thought even last week.

This week, he chose to use his weekly address to double down on his condemnation of the NFL. A reminder: The only professional football team in all of New England is still located in Massachusetts, not Maine.

No word from RGA Chair Chris Christie (the New Jersey governor who favors the Dallas Cowboys over his own local teams) who was in Maine supporting LePage on Tuesday, on his views of the LePage “NFL boycott”.

———

Audio link here.

The NFL has an Opportunity to Push Back Against Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence does not discriminate. This crime affects thousands of people, no matter their age, race or economic background.

DSC_0112Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Most domestic violence victims are women, but this is not just a women’s issue. Men must be part of the solution to end the pattern of abuse.

Recently, the National Football League has taken heat for how it sanctions players who commit a domestic violence crime.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a mere two-week suspension to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. This man knocked his fiancée unconscious, then dragged her out of an elevator. Rice pled not guilty, but the video doesn’t lie. Sadly, his fiancée is now his wife.

If a two-week suspension is the “punishment” for knocking a woman unconscious, then there is something very wrong with the NFL culture.

This week in a letter to Goodell, I told him I’m appalled that he promotes permissive disciplinary procedures that could ultimately result in the death of innocent people.

NFL quarterback Michael Vick served 2 years in prison for running a dog-fighting ring, but an NFL player who commits a violent crime against a woman gets a two-week suspension. The NFL mandates harsher penalties for players who violate the league’s personal-conduct policy or abuse drugs than those who commit domestic violence. This defies common sense.

Taking thugs and wife beaters off the field may be bad for business, but the NFL is playing games with people’s lives.

I don’t know if Commissioner Goodell is familiar with domestic violence or if it has affected his family personally. However, I can tell you firsthand that domestic violence is about a perpetrator having power and control over another individual. Too many times, it leads to murder.

I have a zero-tolerance position on domestic violence. There is no excuse for this type of behavior in our society. Until all of us make an effort to end this abuse, the cycle will continue.

NFL players are role models for young men, and many of them excel at that. But if some players are allowed to act violently toward women, then young men will think that behavior is acceptable. It tarnishes all players and gives the NFL a bad name.

This is not about winning or losing. This is about life or death. The NFL has an opportunity to change the rules. We urge Goodell to do the right thing.

Thank you for listening.

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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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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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  • Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: “New Welfare Rule: State to Start Drug Testing Convicted Felons”

    Posted on August 6, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Audio link here.

      New Welfare Rule: State to Start Drug Testing Convicted Felons
      Drug testing of convicted felons who are applying or receiving welfare is nothing new.

      Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

      In 2014, at least 18 states introduced plans that would require drug screening or testing for welfare applicants or recipients.

      DSC_0113Today, I am announcing that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is moving forward with its plan to conduct drug tests of convicted drug felons who are applying for or receiving welfare benefits.

      Over the last several months, the State has been focused on drug-testing measures that not only ensure privacy and fairness, but also reinforce accountability in the program.

      The tests will be required for drug felons who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF. Federal rules support drug testing as part of the federal TANF money that Maine receives.

      When people apply for welfare benefits, they must report whether they have a prior drug-related felony conviction. If the answer is yes, the State will schedule a drug test and notify the individual 24 hours prior to the actual test.

      If a person tests positive, they will have the option to be tested a second time. At any time, an individual can avoid termination of benefits by enrolling in an approved substance abuse program. Those who fail to disclose they are convicted drug felons will lose their welfare benefits immediately.

      Our welfare programs, including TANF, are designed to be a short-term benefit that assists families and children with the basics of everyday living. If someone tests positive, they are putting their drug habits or addictions ahead of their family’s needs. We must do all that we can to ensure children’s needs are being met and that TANF recipients have the best possible chance at economic independence.

      Being drug-free is a critical aspect of escaping from poverty and moving toward self-sufficiency.

      Protecting the trust of taxpayers is one of my greatest responsibilities. I will do everything in my power to ensure welfare benefits are used for the truly needy and not provided to support people’s drug habits or addictions.

      However, it’s no secret: Maine has a drug problem. When we identify people who are on drugs, we must make an effort to help them break their addiction. Our welfare system depends on it, but more importantly, our society does.

      If you have a drug problem or know someone struggling with addiction, the State has resources to help. Please call 2-1-1 and someone will help you find services in your area. Addiction does not have to control your life. Again, call 2-1-1 for help today.

      Thank you for listening.

    —–

    Democratic leaders Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves have issued their own responses in a press release, agreeing with the Governor’s statement that this is “nothing new” while accusing the chief executive of politicizing enforcement of a three year old law.

    More later on the Mike Michaud proposed “Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services” mentioned in the release- here is a clip from his June press conference, rolling out the idea to Maine media in Augusta.

      LePage Continues to Play Politics With Welfare to Distract From Lagging Jobs Record

      Governor announces he’ll finally enforce a law that’s been on the books for years to score election year political points

       

      AUGUSTA — Top legislative leaders on Wednesday said Governor LePage’s latest announcement that he’ll finally enforce a 2011 law* to drug test convicted drug felons whose families rely on temporary assistance from the state is just the latest in his campaign effort to distract from his lagging economic record. The leaders also said the Governor’s failure to enforce the law was another reason to support an independent Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.

      Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, who helped negotiate the 2011 law to ensure substance abuse treatment was included, called the Governor’s announcement “pure politics.”

       
      eves alfond

      “This law has been on the books for years, yet LePage hasn’t enforced it,” said Eves. “We need leaders who are serious about solving problems and enforcing the law, not simply scoring political points in an election year at a time when Maine’s economy is lagging. It’s also one more reason to support an independent Inspector General at the Department.”

       

      Earlier this week, Business Insider ranked Maine 47th for economic growth in the country, so now the Governor is stepping up his welfare rhetoric.

       

      This is more election year politics. The governor is trumpeting a law that already exists and he hasn’t enforced,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “The timing is peculiar given that he made this stale announcement the day after another report ranks Maine’s economy at the bottom of the pack. The evidence is mounting that Paul LePage’s policies are failing Maine people.”

       

      According to national labor statistics, the country has recovered 106 percent of the non-farm payroll jobs lost during the recession. Regionally, New England has recovered 116 percent of jobs. Maine lags behind, recovering only 63 percent of the jobs lost in the recession.

       

      Under Paul LePage’s economic leadership, Maine has experienced, a job creation record among the worst in the U.S. since the bottom of the recession, ranking 42nd out of 50 states in the latest report (June 2014). Additionally, Maine has the 5th highest rate in the country of people who work only part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs.

       

      ###

       

      *According to Title 22, Section 20, Denial of assistance based on positive drug test:  A recipient of TANF assistance may be denied TANF assistance as described in this subsection. A. The department may administer a drug test to a recipient of TANF assistance who has been convicted of a drug-related felony, as described in Section 115 of PRWORA, within 20 years of that person’s date of conviction…If the 2nd drug test confirms that the person is using an illegal drug, the person may avoid termination of TANF assistance by enrolling in a substance abuse treatment program appropriate to the type of illegal drug being used by that person. [RR 2011, c. 1, §33 (RAL).]

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