LePage Holds Presser to Address Racism Charges, Blames Media For Bad Drug Coverage

Posted on January 18, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Maine Governor Paul LePage found himself in hot water recently, as his racially-charged comments made regarding Maine’s heroin crisis at a Bridgton town hall event made international news.

    “These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty… these types of guys… they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

Some reactions are below.

1. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree: “Governor LePage’s comments were disgraceful and racist. Once again, just a week before Martin Luther King Day, the governor has made a comment that is offensive to the African American community and to all of us. It does not represent the values of Maine people and is embarrassing to our state. And although the governor seems to regret getting caught making those remarks, he also seems unwilling to apologize to the community that he has insulted.”

2. 2CD Democratic candidate Emily Cain (D-Orono): “We need to be talking about real solutions to the serious epidemic of heroin addiction afflicting our state. Governor LePage’s appalling remarks this week embody the very worst of fear-mongering in politics that hold us back as a state and a nation, and they do not reflect Maine values. There is absolutely no place for this in our public discourse – especially in Maine. Unfortunately, Congressman Bruce Poliquin – who in the past has referred to himself and LePage as ‘good friends’ – has still remained silent on LePage’s ugly remarks. Does Bruce Poliquin defend LePage’s comments?”

3. Senate Democratic Minority Leader Justin Alfond (D-Portland): “At best, the governor’s comments were careless or poorly stated. At worst, they were purposeful and deeply offensive. Either way, they were completely unproductive. Maine’s drug addiction crisis is complex, and impacts ever aspect of life for those affected by it. We need to work on solutions, not reduce the problem to racially charged soundbites.”

4. House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan): “Today, at a national summit of rural state leaders, I am being bombarded by questions about Governor LePage’s hateful statements rather than about what Maine is doing right. At a time when Maine needs leaders to move our state forward, the governor is making national headlines for the wrong reasons yet again. He is making it harder for us to work on policies important to Maine people, whether it’s energy, substance abuse or growing the rural economy.”

5. Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon (D-Freeport): “The governor keeps saying he wants to address the state’s drug epidemic. Comments like the one he made in Bridgton keep Maine from moving forward on this front. If the governor is serious about tackling this crisis, he should stop standing in the way of the Legislature’s comprehensive plan and help Mainers desperate for treatment get the care they need.”

A few days later, the governor held a press conference in his Cabinet Room in hopes of clarifying his remarks and discussing the state’s heroin epidemic. From a media advisory:

    AUGUSTA- Governor Paul R. LePage will hold a news conference at 10:00 AM in the Cabinet Room to discuss his recent remarks regarding Maine’s drug crisis. All verified media is welcome to attend.

    When: Friday, January 08, 2016, 10:00 AM
    Where: Cabinet Room, State House, Augusta

Here is full video from that press conference.

Here are a few parsed out moments from the press conference.

1. Maine Governor Paul LePage to Media: “You Don’t Like Me, and I Don’t Like You”

2. Governor Paul LePage Describes Drug Bust He Personally Witnessed While in Office

3. LePage Accuses Press of Being in Bloggers’ Backpockets

4. LePage To NECN: “Your comment is inappropriate”; “Never said anything about being black”

5. Maine Governor Paul LePage on Drug Omnibus Bill: “Ecstatic” Legislature Taking Up Issue

6. LePage on Media Role in Solving Maine’s Drug Crisis

7. Maine Governor Paul LePage Tells Stories of Addicts, Narcan Usage

8. LePage Tells Media What They Are Missing in Reporting on Maine’s Drug Crisis

9. LePage to WMTW: “Only time I see you in this building… is when you are criticizing me”

10. LePage Verbally Attacks Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond (D-Portland) At Press Conference

11. Maine Governor Paul LePage Hints at New County Jail Program

12. LePage Takes Followup Question, Re: Drug Busts He Has Witnessed

The governor will conduct another public town hall event tomorrow evening in Windham.

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Maine House Rejects HO #34, 96-52

Posted on January 18, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Last Thursday the Maine House of Representatives took up House Order 34, “Establishing the House Special Investigative Committee”, sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman (D-Portland), calling for a special committee to investigate allegations of multiple incidences of wrongdoing by Governor Paul LePage. Ultimately the House voted 96-52 to indefinitely postpone the measure, effectively killing any further action towards impeachment. Full floor debate is below.

Roll call of the vote here.

From the House Journal:

    (4-3) On motion of Representative CHIPMAN of Portland, the following House Order: (H.O. 34) (Cosponsored by Representatives: BABBIDGE of Kennebunk, BEAVERS of South Berwick, BEEBE-CENTER of Rockland, BLUME of York, EVANGELOS of Friendship, RYKERSON of Kittery, SAUCIER of Presque Isle, WARREN of Hallowell) WHEREAS, the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, Section 5 provides that every person holding any civil office under this State may be removed by impeachment for misdemeanor in office; and WHEREAS, the Constitution of Maine, Article IV, Part First, Section 8 vests in the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment; and WHEREAS, grave and serious allegations have been raised regarding the conduct of Governor Paul R. LePage; now, therefore, be it ORDERED, that the House Special Investigative Committee is established to investigate allegations of misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance and other misconduct by Governor Paul R. LePage and to make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives as to whether cause exists for impeachment. The committee shall conduct a comprehensive review of allegations of misconduct by Governor LePage, including but not limited to the:

    1. Refusal, beginning in 2012, to facilitate the issuance of land conservation bonds that were ratified by the voters of the State in statewide elections held in November 2010 and November 2012 and repeated insistence on extracting compliance by the Legislature on unrelated issues prior to the Governor’s carrying out the will of the people of the State regarding issuance of the bonds;

    2. Alleged use of state assets as leverage to bring about the resignation in 2013 of the President of the World Acadian Congress, Jason Parent;

    3. Exertion of pressure, in March 2013, on hearing officers in the Department of Labor, Bureau of Unemployment Compensation to favor employers in their decision making;

    4. Refusal, beginning in May 2013, to allow cabinet members and members of the administration to appear and testify before legislative committees;

    5. Alleged use of state assets as leverage to bring about the resignation in January 2015 of the President of the Maine Community College System, John Fitzsimmons;

    6. Request, in February 2015, that the Maine Human Rights Commission postpone a proceeding against a particular business pending before the commission and threatening to withhold state assets when the commission declined to postpone the proceeding;

    7. Creation, in April 2015, without public notice in violation of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, of a panel to conduct a review of the Maine Human Rights Commission; and

    8. Alleged use of state assets as leverage to intimidate the Board of Directors of Good Will-Hinckley in June 2015 into terminating its employment of Mark W. Eves, the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and be it further ORDERED, that the House Special Investigative Committee consists of 13 members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Speaker’s designee, 6 of whom are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives upon the recommendation of the House Minority Leader, and that the first-named member is the chair of the committee; and be it further ORDERED, that the House Special Investigative Committee:

    1. Shall adopt rules to govern the proceedings before it in order to ensure due process, fundamental fairness and a thorough investigation;

    2. May administer oaths and compel the attendance and testimony of persons and the production of papers, documents and other evidence under oath, by subpoena, when the testimony, documents or evidence is necessary for or incident to any inquiry relevant to the business or purposes of the committee and punish any person for the neglect, refusal to appear or failure to produce papers or documents or provide evidence commanded by subpoena or who, upon appearance, either with or without subpoena, refuses to be sworn or testify or produce papers, documents or evidence demanded;

    3. May hire special counsel and such other personnel as may be necessary to carry out the committee’s responsibilities; and

    4. Following its review and investigation of the facts and circumstances relating to the alleged misconduct of Governor Paul R. LePage, shall submit to the House of Representatives no later than April 1, 2016 its findings and recommendations in the form of a final report, including, if the committee concludes such action is warranted, articles of impeachment describing the misdemeanors in office with which Governor Paul R. LePage is charged. The committee may request from the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Speaker’s designee extensions of time to complete its work.

Multiple interviews followed the conclusion of the day’s work.

1. Representatives Chipman and Gay Grant (D-Gardiner)

2. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport)

3. Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N. Berwick)

4. House Majority and Asst Majority Leaders Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) and Sara Gideon (Freeport)

Governor LePage issued a written statement to the press:

    “As I have said all along, this impeachment nonsense was nothing more than a political witch hunt that had absolutely no merit. While some members of the Legislature were obsessing for months over this foolishness, I have been working on the real issues that matter to the Maine people.”

    “Just today, I was the keynote speaker at the Mid Maine Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, where I spoke about the drug crisis facing our state, lowering taxes and reducing student debt to keep our young people here. I met with the State Employee Health Commission to discuss how to reduce the cost of health care, and I had a lunch meeting with a group of manufacturers to discuss how reducing energy costs can help them create more jobs.”

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Andi’s Weekly Review/ Sneak Peek, Jan 1 (NEW WEEKLY FEATURE) #mepolitics

Posted on January 1, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UPDATE: More information regarding the second Wednesday rally has been provided by one of the organizers, via Facebook.

————

“Alliance for the Common Good Rally of Unity

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 (first day of the new legislative session), 1-4 PM

Hall of Flags, State Capitol, Augusta

Bring: signs (but not on sticks so you can get thru security), information to distribute or put on tables, and ideas to add to a speak out that is part of the afternoon events.

What are your concerns about what the state of Maine should be doing and the directions it should be going in?

What do our legislators need to hear from the public?

These were last year’s primary points of unity (which are ones again this year):

Respect for community sovereignty.
An economy that protects our environment.
Reserving Maine money for Maine people.
Keeping money out of politics.

Some issues we will likely address there:

*Paul LePage’s actions against Mark Eves that may be grounds for impeachment
*Renewed attempts to have more people covered by MaineCare
*November referenda on raising the minimum wage, rank choice voting, marijuana use, and more
*State of Maine’s campaign to take away more of the Penobscot Nation’s sovereignty

Please come and be part of the Alliance for the Common Good’s Fourth annual Rally of Unity.”

——————-

1512843_10207415324009372_7853276067766535371_nHappy 2016! As promised, I will be attempting to sit down at the keyboard every Friday to summarize what has transpired in the past week and give a preview of what to expect next week. (The classic AP Stylebook be darned, btw- going to use my own, um, unorthodox “AP” rules of engagement!)

So with that in mind, here goes nothing!

WEEK IN REVIEW: Just a few quick items for this between holidays, look-back edition.

    1. The first one is SUCH a goody and relevant to the Christmas season. Ah, sometimes the Governor is simply the gift that keeps on giving!

    WMTW reported that Governor LePage gave a few dozen legislators, including House leadership, a childrens’ book entitled, “If You’re Riding A Horse And It Dies, Get Off”:

    pigg

      It’s not clear which members of the House of Representatives got stiffed, but we do know that House leaders did receive copies of the book.

      “We only had 80 (copies) — very simple,” LePage said.

      Many of the people contacted by WMTW News 8 about this story did not want their names attached to this story out of fear of retribution from the Governor’s Office.

    Interesting, in light of the ongoing Eves/ Good Will-Hinckley situation, that simply reporting “a fear of retribution from LePage” is taken as a given.

    Later, the chief executive took to Twitter to scold Maine media:

    Maybe the governor should have dragged the “Piggy Christmas Tree” out of the mothballs? That one was such a crowd pleaser!

    2. 128th Legislative candidate filings are coming in and being posted online. Link here.

NEXT WEEK’S SNEAK PEEK:

    1. Monday, 1/4/16: Maine youngsters go back to school after winter break as parents across the state rejoice (“… and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again”).

    2. Tuesday, 1/5/16 (10a-5p): While the Legislature doesn’t officially come back until Wednesday the 6th, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee (AFA) will be conducting a public hearing the day before regarding LR 2599, “An Act To Combat Drug Addiction Throught Enforcement, Treatment and Recovery” (AUDIO LINK HERE).

    3. Wednesday, 1/6/16: The House and Senate come back into the second half of the 127th Legislative Session at 10 am (which anyone with experience in Augusta will know that while many ringing bells will echo in the hallways, they won’t actually start for at least a half hour later than that).

    But one event that WILL happen as scheduled will be an 11am “State House Rally To Impeach Paul LePage” outside the State House, just under the governor’s second floor windows. The same group rallied in June 2015.

    Since June, the group has garnered over 20k signatures on a petition calling for the governor to resign.

    Later the same day, a group called “Alliance For The Common Good Unity” plan to rally as well. On Facebook, the organizers state they are gathering at 1pm, but they are listed as meeting at 2pm in the Hall of Flags.

    4. Thursday, 1/7/16: The legislature is in session and the Environmental Priorities Coalition will meet from 11:30-12:30 in State House (SH) Room 334 to issue a briefing on land conservation.

    5. Friday, 1/8/16 (9a- ?): Government Oversight Committee (GOC) meets. Among the “Unfinished Business” agenda items is this one of note:

      OPEGA Information Brief on State Funding for Good Will-Hinckley
      – Review and Approval of GOC Addendum to OPEGA Report

So, there you have it- the first of what will hopefully be a weekly column of useful info or what have you. Have a great weekend, folks!

~Andi

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Governor Paul LePage Holds Waterville Town Hall

Posted on December 28, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Recorded 12/17/15 at Waterville Junior High School.

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ME Legislators Roll Out Comprehensive Bipartisan Drug Crisis Plan (VIDEO)

Posted on December 27, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Recorded 12/9/15 at Maine State House’s Welcome Center. The accompanying press release via Maine Senate and House Democrats reads:

Legislative Leaders Announce Bipartisan $4.8m Plan to Fight Drug Crisis in Maine

The plan provides equal funding for treatment as well as law enforcement

AUGUSTA | December 9, 2015 | Today, Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate President Mike Thibodeau joined other legislative leaders, including Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland, to present a $4.8 million dollar legislative package to fight the drug crisis in Maine.

The plan, a result of a bipartisan collaboration between legislative leaders, includes prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts.

“This plan is a first step toward a healthier Maine,” said Speaker Eves. “For too long, families and communities have continued to fight addiction alone. After working hard to come together we’ve crafted a targeted, comprehensive plan that addresses the reality of drug addiction in Maine “

The plan invests $2.4 million in treatment efforts over 18 months, including $1 million in funding for a new 10-bed detox unit. The plan increases access to inpatient and outpatient treatment for the uninsured and doubles the number of peer to peer support recovery centers across the state.

In addition to treatment, the plan provides $2.4 million to strengthen law enforcement efforts, including funding 10 new MDEA agents and a statewide coordinator to connect law enforcement to treatment providers. The plan also includes funding to launch programs at five police departments around the state modeled after the successful Operation Hope in Scarborough or the Law Enforcement Addiction Advocacy Program in Portland.

Officer John Gill of the Scarborough Police Department, site of Operation Hope, also spoke at the press conference in support of the plan. Operation Hope (the Heroin- Opiate Prevention Effort) consists of specialized law enforcement training, public education and outreach, and treatment and assistance among other services. The program served over 50 people in its first 50 days.

“This plan will provide critical support to law enforcement on the front lines and enable us to better serve members of our communities who need help,“ said Officer Gill.

Portland parent Julie Lawson, who is currently in recovery, recounted her experience with addiction and treatment services. Julie attended Mercy Hospital’s treatment program prior to its closure.

“Because of treatment I’m going to be there to watch my son grow up. I’m living proof that treatment works and that it can save families like mine,” Lawson said.

“Drug addiction has created a public health and safety catastrophe that is complex and multifaceted,” said Sen. Alfond. “So our response must be equally robust. We have to use every tool at our disposal to fight this battle on multiple fronts. This package, along with our existing efforts, will help Mainers trying to kick addiction as well as law enforcement trying to clean up our streets.”

Speaker Eves closed out the press conference by saying:

“Maine can and must do better by our families and communities, “ said Speaker Eves. “We stand with law enforcement, treatment providers, and parents in saying enough is enough. Over the next legislative session, we will work to implement these and other efforts to help keep our families and communities healthy and safe.”

The plan announced today joins five bills approved by Legislative Council last month that are also focused on addressing the drug crisis.

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Governor Paul LePage Holds Town Hall at USM in Portland (VIDEOS)

Posted on December 27, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Full video of the event, recorded 12/8/15, here.

Maine Governor Paul LePage took a question from an audience member relating to the Lands for Maine’s Future bonds. Here is that moment from the overall event parsed out for consideration:

Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond (D-Portland) spoke with the media after the conclusion of the town hall.

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GOC Co-Chairs Katz, Kruger Detail Support for OPEGA’s Report on LePage/ Good Will-Hinckley

Posted on December 4, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

After months of examinations, interviews, subpoenas and more, the Maine Government Oversight Committee (GOC) yesterday got closer to ending their part of the ongoing LePage/ Good Will-Hinckley/ Speaker Eves saga by finally accepting the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability (OPEGA) report (more to be written on this later).

More videos will be released later on, but it is well worth focusing on the statements of the committee co-chairs, GOP Senator Roger Katz of Augusta and Democratic Representative Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, as they detailed for fellow committee members why they were accepting the exhaustively and thoroughly prepared investigative analysis by OPEGA director Beth Ashcroft and her team.

Statements (as prepared and read to the Government Oversight Committee, 12/3/15)

Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec):(Outline)

Our job – to get facts out on table for all to see – for everyone to draw own conclusions.

Done that.

Thank Beth and her staff for a fine job.

Committee’s job is done. Now up to others if anything happens from here.

Few comments:

Speak for myself on few points– I think my colleagues agree:

1. As we look at what happened it should make no difference at all whether each of us is a Republican or a Democrat. Unique nature of committee– Bipartisan – six and six.

2. Should make no difference in how review the facts whether this governor is a Republican or Democrat. Whether his name is Bakdacci or LePage or any other name.

3. We are talking about the facts of these events only involving Goodwill Hinckley. Others have suggested that we view these events in a larger context of an alleged PATTERN of conduct by the chief executive– – but this is clearly not our mandate….and we have not done so.

4. We should view these events in the context of “politics” a sometimes rough and tumble sport. We cannot be naïve about this.

5. Many people will ask “were any laws broken?” But that analysis is beyond the scope of our work. We haven’t looked at that question nor have we sought any legal opinions on that question. This is not the forum to answer the question.

So, what have we learned after a rather exhaustive process involving numerous interviews, review of many documents, and a full day of testimony taking under oath?

GOC Co-Chair Roger Katz (R-Augusta) gives his reasons for full acceptance of the OPEGA report investigating allegations of wrongdoing by Governor Paul LePage

GOC Co-Chair Roger Katz (R-Augusta) gives his reasons for full acceptance of the OPEGA report investigating allegations of wrongdoing by Governor Paul LePage

Here is what I think we have learned:

Goodwill Hinckley needed a new president.

Their Board undertook a recruitment and application process.

As a result of that process, the Board decided it was in the best interest of the school to hire a Mark Eves….and they voted unanimously to do so.

The Board offered the job to Mark Eves and he accepted.

The governor learned of the hiring and was upset by the hiring. The governor believed that goodwill Hinckley was making a mistake – the Governor believed that Mark Eves lacked the credentials to be an effective leader of school.

At that point, a number of the ministration officials, including, the acting Education Commissioner, a senior aide, and the Governor himself–all communicated to Goodwill Hinckley that if Mark Eves were hired, discretionary state funding of approximately $500,000 per year would be withdrawn….that money that the school was depending on would be pulled.

Learning of this, the Harold Alfond Foundation became concerned about its own investment. The President of the Foundation worried that if state funding was withdrawn, the school might not be able to expand its student population and meet other performance goals. Based on this, the Foundation decided to reevaluate its own multi-million dollar financial commitment to the school and communicated that to school officials.

Good Will-Hinckley now found itself in a terrible position. The school now faced the loss of state funding and possible loss of Alfond Foundation funding – both of which could cause the school to default on a bank loan and lead to potential foreclosure on some of its school real estate.

In the face of these facts, the board decided to fire Mark Eves.

Did members of the Administration actually threatened to draw the funds? On this question, we have the key testimony of four people:

    Jack Moore – Chair of the Board
    Rich Abramson, acting President of Good Will-Hinckley
    Sara Vanderwood – lobbyist for Good Will-Hinckley, and
    Greg Powell – President of the Alfond Foundation

All four are skilled in the use of the English language. All four of them of them could not have been more clear in their testimony to our committee. All four of them reached exactly the same conclusion – that members of the Administration conveyed to them that if Mark Eves were hired that state funding would likely be pulled at the direction of the Governor.. I reach this conclusion myself beyond a reasonable doubt. It quacks like a duck, it walks like a duck – I think it’s a duck.

On top of that, the most compelling evidence from comes from the Governor himself who stated in no uncertain terms on camera that he threatened the funding withdrawal.

There are those who will say “you are right – that is exactly what happened but that the governor was completely justified in what he did. That it is perfectly appropriate to step in because of his belief that Mark Eves was unqualified for the job.

I don’t agree myself, for a couple of reasons:

First of all, Good Will-Hinckley is a private non-profit institution. It may receive some government funding, but it is still a private organization. As such, I believe they have a right to make their own hiring decisions without fear of interference by anyone on the outside – especially something from the government. There are literally hundreds of similar private entities that receive state funding of one kind or another. I worry about the precedent this case sets if this kind of executive action becomes the new normal. Are we entering an era when private institutions will feel a need to give politicians a veto power over their internal hiring decisions? I certainly hope that is not the road we are going down. This is hardly speculative thinking. I have already heard in the last few months about one private organization that had exactly this concern as it went through a hiring process of its own.

The second concern I have is with respect to my colleagues in the legislature – present and a future….and the First Amendment. We are a Citizen Legislature—most of us have other jobs. I hope we will not get to the point where legislators start weighing their votes–worrying that if they push the wrong button their own present or future employment might be in jeopardy. We can’t do our job if every vote, every floor speech, is viewed through the lens of “what if”.

Again, this is one person’s view—one of twelve. As I said earlier, I am proud of the work of OPEGA and I am proud of the work of this committee and respect the views of each and every one of my colleagues, all of who are also struggling to do the right thing.

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston):

The role of this committee is to shine a light.

The actions of Governor LePage as they relate to Good Will-Hinckley and Speaker Eves raised serious questions about our government and political system. We had before us questions about the abuse of public office and taxpayer dollars and allegations that threats were made – and carried out – against an organization for at-risk youth to exact retribution against a political rival.

These are questions that could shake the faith of Maine people in their government. We owe it to them to get to the bottom of this matter.

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston) reads his

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston) reads his statement, urging support for the OPEGA report.

If an elected official is able to use the power of his office to punish a lawmaker for his voting record, who among us is safe?

Are any of us as lawmakers?

What about everyday Mainers or independent organizations?

They need to be able to go about their business without worrying about crossing the wrong person in power. As elected officials, our consciences and constituents– not the fear of intimidation and retribution – must guide our actions.

These serious concerns moved some of our legislative colleagues – Republican, Democratic and independent – to request an investigation.

We, as a committee, unanimously determined that OPEGA should investigate. That strong bipartisan vote showed how seriously we take our duties. We remained just as committed to them when others tried to undermine this effort and even attacked our work and our mission.

OPEGA produced an excellent, impartial report that spelled out what happened.

We now know with complete certainty that the governor used state dollars to threaten Good Will-Hinckley because it hired Speaker Eves and that funds were withheld and restored only after Speaker Eves was fired from his new post.

Now, with our fact-finding mission drawing to a close, it’s up to others outside this committee room to decide what comes next.

I believe that this investigation and this report can be valuable tools, and I urge the Legislature to take action so nothing of this sort ever happens again. This is what’s needed to ensure the people of Maine can have confidence in our system of government.

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Governor LePage Staff Testify Before Maine Gov’t Oversight Committee (VIDEOS)

Posted on November 23, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Testimony given under oath to the GOC over the course over almost eight hours relating to the ongoing investigations into allegations of the governor’s actions against Good Will-Hinckley school in their hiring of Speaker of the House Mark Eves. Recorded 11/12/15. In order:

Aaron Chadbourne
Cynthia Montgomery
Tom Desjardins
Suzan Beaudoin
Rich Abramson
Sara Vanderwood
Jay Nutting
Bill Brown
Gregory Powell

 

Committee next meets on December 3.

Via a second camera, the testimonies of the three LePage staffers and administration officials subpoenaed to testify are available separately.

Link here to the published OPEGA report on LePage/ Eves/ Good Will-Hinckley: Information Brief on State Funding for Good Will-Hinckley

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LePage Claims “Unconstitutional” For State To Fund Schools

Posted on October 26, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

A moment from another recent town hall, this one held by Maine Governor Paul LePage at Lewiston High School, is getting some attention:

    “Do you know that it’s unconstitutional in the state of Maine for the state to pay one dollar towards education?” the governor asked the Lewiston audience. “But we’ve never changed the constitution. We’ve been doing it for decades, but it’s [clear] the constitution says the state will only ensure that local communities pay for educating their students at their costs.”

    “And I’m meeting with the Chief Justice on Friday to ask why does this continue to happen? And they say, ‘Well, we take the precedent and you’ve been doing it, so we would say you’ve got to continue doing it.’ So if that’s the case, then why are we asking a governor to take an oath to the United States Constitution and an oath to the Maine Constitution when the Constitution doesn’t mean what the Constitution says. It only means what the court says it says when they decide to discuss it in the courts. But that’s a fact.”

Maine Education Association President Lois Chesley-Kilby has responded to the above and other allegations from LePage:

    MEA Responds to LePage’s Comments on School Funding, Unions, Guns in School

    At a town hall forum in Lewiston last week, the governor talked about teachers unions not supporting his online education initiatives. He also said the state would never fund education at 55 percent, and said that according to the state constitution, state funding to local schools is “unconstitutional.” He also said he supports allowing teachers and staff to carry guns in school as long as they have the “proper training” and added that it is “stupid to put a sign on the wall that says ‘gun-free zone’” because the sign serves as an invitation for mass shooters to come in. Below is a response to some of those comments from the president of the Maine Education Association, Lois Kilby-Chesley:

    Re Online Education:

      In spite of the Governor’s belief in education-by-screen as he mentioned in this Lewiston town hall, the efforts of the teachers who see students every day cannot be matched by any computer program. The Governor is so wrong if he thinks the solution to educating our students is through a screen. There are innumerable ways that educators interact with students that are missed by technology. The nuances of students’ facial expressions, the look of engagement in an activity, knowing when a student really needs someone to listen, are all things no computer program can replicate. Teaching and learning are all about being a human, being a citizen, being a lifelong learner. Teaching and learning are not all exclusively about technology. Technology is only one piece of the education puzzle.

      Governor LePage takes questions from an audience member at Lewiston town hall, 10/13/15.

      Governor LePage takes questions from an audience member at Lewiston town hall, 10/13/15.

      The Governor flaunts that 55% funding of education never will become a reality. He clearly doesn’t believe that our students deserve equal opportunities no matter where the student lives and regardless of zip code. MEA believes that 55% is one part of the answer to giving EVERY student in Maine a chance to compete — based on achievement, motivation, and the chance to improve him/herself — not based on family income or community demographics. The Essential Programs and Services (EPS) model for funding education is meant to level the funding to schools, providing a more fair way get resources to schools than exclusively through property taxes collected by towns.

    Re School Funding from the State:

      Once again the Governor threatens that the Constitution isn’t being followed. He apparently believes that municipalities are responsible for all education costs. But, he either forgets, or doesn’t know, that laws require costs of education be paid by the state (including 55%). School funding by the state would only be unConstitutional if the document prohibited school funding, which it doesn’t. In fact, without state payments to schools how would the Governor propose to fund the charter schools he so loves to promote?

    Re Arming Teachers:

      The idea of arming educators was discussed in the past and it was quite obvious the Legislature was not willing to risk school safety by having teachers and others carry firearms in our schools. If the Governor proposes educators should be trained to carry guns in classrooms, the MEA will work vehemently against him.

      The Maine Education Association represents, and only exists, because our educator members in Maine believe that our organization works to improve schools for our students. We are much more than educator advocates, and continually work for social justice in our classrooms and for our communities.

    Re the MEA:

      There are many examples that discredit the Governor’s pessimistic view of “the teachers’ union.” We do many things including, in just the last year or so, collecting items — including more than 1,000 pairs of socks — for Togus Veterans’ Hospital, partnering with WMTW on an anti-bullying campaign, partnering with WGME and Good Shepherd Food Bank in School Spirit Challenges in southern Maine, partnering with WABI to collect food for hungry families in north/central Maine, and for the last two years (and again upcoming this year) providing books for Maine students. This year, in partnership with a local Foundation, we will once again be providing every Maine first grader in every public school, a book to begin an at-home library.

      In addition, educators in schools across the state take collections of items for those in need, dip into their own pockets to pay for shoes, coats, mittens and food for students, and have an ever-expanding list of ways they help our students and their families.

      In addition the MEA Board of Directors and other members have collected materials for schools in need whenever necessary to help them get by very difficult times. (Hall School in Portland had a fire for instance a while back, and members contributed to help them and MEA bought gift cards.)

      The Governor, as he is prone to doing, continues to attack public educators by attacking the MEA, as he did again in Lewiston. As I said earlier, the MEA only exists because of our members, so when the Governor attacks MEA he is attacking every one of our hard-working, conscientious teachers, educational support professionals, bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, school secretaries and other MEA members. He needs to learn that education matters, and educators matter, because we are the people who are with our students every day doing our best in spite of his actions that repeatedly demean and devalue our public schools, school employees and students.

Here is the full video of Governor LePage’s town hall.

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Maine Governor Paul LePage Holds Town Hall in Auburn (VIDEOS)

Posted on October 24, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

From an earlier media advisory:

Governor LePage speaks to a sparse crowd at Auburn's CMCC, 10/21/15.

Governor LePage speaks to a sparse crowd at Auburn’s CMCC, 10/21/15.

Governor Paul R. LePage has announced he will hold his next town hall meeting on Wednesday, October 21 in Auburn where he will deliver remarks about moving Maine forward and answer questions from residents.

Central Maine Community College in Auburn will host the town hall from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and will be held in Kirk Hall.

The town hall meeting will focus on the Governor’s vision for Maine, including further reducing the income tax; reforming welfare by strengthening the State’s safety net for the most vulnerable; cutting energy costs; and addressing Maine’s high student debt burden.

Here is video of the entire discussion.

One moment, however, has garnered the most attention both locally and nationally- a quick joke made by LePage… part of a throwaway line as he was laying out in depth his opposition to Maine’s upcoming Question 1 regarding public monies and election finance reforms:

Some of the news stories with reactions are linked below.

No word as to when the governor next intends to hold another town hall meeting; per his staff, LePage is travelling overseas next week.

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