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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Maine House Release Resolution Condemning Governor Paul LePage

Posted on January 13, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Statement put out by Maine House Democrats this evening:

    House resolution affirms lawmakers’ commitment to Maine values
    Resolution includes pledge to honor commitment of public office

    AUGUSTA – The Maine House on Thursday will take up a resolution that affirms lawmakers’ commitment to the standards the public has the right to expect of its public officials.

    DSC_0120“We have the opportunity to show Maine people – and indeed the rest of the nation – that we stand for the Maine values of civility, progress and respect for diverse ideas and backgrounds,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, who is offering the House resolution. “No matter what our political affiliation, we reject the politics of retribution, intolerance and divisiveness. We take seriously the commitment we made to serve Maine people.”

    Gideon and House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe on Wednesday invited all members of the House, regardless of party affiliation, to support the nonpartisan resolution. Under the resolution, members pledge to “honor the responsibilities entrusted to us by the people of the state.”

    “At a time when Maine is grappling with serious challenges, we should come together and remind ourselves and our constituents that we need to rise above partisanship for the people of Maine,” said McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “We have a drug epidemic that is taking the lives of five Mainers each week, a need for good-paying jobs and an economy that continues to lag. To move forward, we need healthy debate without fear of retribution. This nonpartisan resolution is an important first step.”

The resolution is below.

The House will take up the resolution, along with what could be the first steps towards impeachment of the governor, tomorrow morning.

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Weekly Message of Governor Paul LePage: We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

Posted on December 1, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

AUDIO: We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

Governor LePage addressing attendees at UMF town hall, 9/22/15

Governor LePage addressing attendees at UMF town hall, 9/22/15

    We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

Heroin is raging in our state, and it is killing Mainers every week. We need less talk on this deadly pandemic and more action.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Everyone agrees Maine’s heroin problem has escalated into a public health crisis. But politicians differ on how to handle it.

My administration is focused right now on attacking the supply side of the problem. We need more law enforcement officials on the streets, hunting down drug dealers and stopping them from selling poison in our state. However, as we have said repeatedly, we are not looking to arrest drug addicts. We are going after the organized drug dealers who run these illegal operations like a very profitable business. We need to shut them down wherever we can.

We absolutely agree that more treatment, education and recovery efforts are needed. If the Legislature wants to create a comprehensive plan to increase both law enforcement and treatment, we welcome it. The Legislature has the ability to prioritize funding for this comprehensive plan when they go through the budget. Unfortunately, like everything else the Legislature does, it will take a long time to come up with the plan—and even longer to implement it.

We can’t stand by and watch Mainer after Mainer die from heroin or other lethal opiates while the Legislature is mulling over their plan.

As Maine is plagued with the worst drug epidemic in history, MDEA is shortest staff than ever. We first proposed 14 new agents in March 2014, but the Legislature only approved 4 new drug enforcement agents in July. That’s not enough.

We need to build a pipeline for hiring and training new agents so as some are hitting the streets, more are coming in for training. But the Legislature has delayed these law enforcement efforts for a year-and-a-half. As the drug crisis is rapidly accelerating, we are falling behind in resources to stop the supply. The Legislature can determine the timeline for funding the new agents. I just need to know they are serious about creating these positions no later than Jan. 2016. But if they continue to stall and wait around for an unspecified plan to increase treatment, I will move ahead without them. As they contemplate how to create a plan, Mainers are literally dropping dead.

If they have not informed me by December 10 that they are planning to fund these new agents, I will take action.

That’s why I will use every resource available to me to fight these drug traffickers, including temporary support from the National Guard.

Every life is worth saving, and we will do whatever is necessary to prevent the death of one more Mainer.

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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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Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee Unanimously Votes to Investigate Governor Paul LePage

Posted on July 1, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On the heels of yesterday’s citizen rally at the State House (LePage Admits To Threatening Good Will-Hinckley Re: Eves Hiring, Denies Actions Were “Blackmail”) came news late in the afternoon that the Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee (GOC) would be meeting today to take up the investigation requests by Republican State Senator Tom Saviello of Wilton and a trio of Representatives, Independents Jeff Evangelos of Friendship, Ben Chipman of Portland and Democrat Charlotte Warren of Hallowell.

DSC_0019Committee Members

Senate: Roger J. Katz, Chair (R-Kennebec)
David C. Burns (R-Washington)
Paul T. Davis, Sr. (R-Piscataquis)
Christopher K. Johnson (D-Lincoln)
Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland)
G. William Diamond (D-Cumberland)

House: Chuck Kruger, Chair (D-Thomaston)
Robert S. Duchesne (D-Hudson)
Anne-Marie Mastraccio (D-Sanford)
Michael D. McClellan (R-Raymond)
Richard H. Campbell (R-Orrington)
Deborah J. Sanderson (R-Chelsea)

Governor LePage through his legal counsel Cynthia Montgomery sent a letter to the committee, questioning their authority to conduct any sort of investigation into the chief executive officer.

The 12 GOC members met with Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) Director Bath Ashcroft for almost an hour, decided that they did indeed have sufficient authority to look into the serious allegations, and proceeded to discuss the scope of the investigations to be conducted by OPEGA.

Here is video of the meeting, with the sole agenda item for GOC being “NEW BUSINESS- Requests for an OPEGA Review of Matters Relating to Funding for the Goodwill- Hinckley School”.

After almost an hour of discussion, the committee agreed by an unanimous 12-0 vote to have OPEGA look into the concerns. Specific goals and parameters were set by the committee as to the scope.

Afterwards, some of those involved were willing to issue quick statements.

The committee will meet again at 9 am on Friday, July 17.

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LCRED Committee Takes Up 8 Minimum Wage Bills in Public Hearing

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

DSC_0010On Monday the 127th Maine Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee heard testimony on eight bills relating to modifying the state’s minimum wage, which currently sits at $7.50 an hour and has not been increased since 2006. A bill to raise it was passed by the 126th Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Governor LePage and later sustained.

Link here to the bills:

  • LD 36 (sponsored by Rep. Jeff Evangelos)
  • LD 52 (sponsored by Rep. Danny Martin)
  • LD 72 (sponsored by Rep. Scott Hamann)
  • LD 77 (sponsored by Sen. Dave Miramant)
  • LD 92 (sponsored by Rep. Dillon Bates)
  • LD 487 (sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman)
  • LD 843 (sponsored by Rep. Gina Melaragno)
  • LD 739 (sponsored by Sen. Tom Saviello)

Some of the statements released yesterday are below.

    Rep. Gina Melaragno (D-Auburn): “Maine workers find themselves working at least full time but still living in or near poverty, while having to care for their families at the same time. They have seen the prices of everything go up except the price of their undervalued labor, and they are tired of being thrown a small token raise every five or six years. They want meaningful, lasting change.”

    DSC_0014Sen. Dave Miramant (D-Camden): “When I looked back at the value of the minimum wage, it hit an all-time high just as I was starting to work in 1969. The minimum wage was $1.60 per hour but that gave me the equivalent of a $10.19 wage in 2015 dollars. This is why we were able to start a large middle class through this period. We have been falling behind ever since! Because we have failed to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or some reliable method of indexing it to inflation, workers are being left behind in this state and in many others. The jobs that were supposed to be entry level and only short term have become an ongoing reality for far too many workers in our hobbled economy.”

    Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director: “People who work full time should not live in poverty. People who work hard should be able to earn enough to make ends meet. It’s long overdue that Maine workers get a raise. A meaningful increase in the minimum wage would improve the wages of hundreds of thousands of Mainers. It would spur economic activity and pump millions of dollars into the Maine economy. Its good economics, its the right thing to do, and it’s long overdue. We need to raise wages across the board. All throughout Maine, working families are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. Workers wages are simply not keeping pace with rising costs. Raising the minimum wage is a first step in a larger effort to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”

    100_5797Ben Chin, political director for Maine Peoples Alliance: “I’m here today to testify primarily in support of LD 843, “An Act to Raise the Minimum Wage and Index it to the National Average Wage,” sponsored by Rep Melaragno. We (MPA) believe that LDs 36, 52, 72, 77, 92, 487, and 739 offer encouraging steps in the right direction. But LD 843 offers the most significant movement towards a living wage for all Maine workers. The reality is that need an even larger increase than what LD 843 offers. A living wage in Maine for a single adult, on average, is $15.82. Fifty-five percent of job openings in Maine pay less than that. For every job that pays $15.82, there are twelve job-seekers on average. The most basic premise of the American economic social contract is that you can work forty hours a week and make ends meet. Our minimum wage of $7.50 an hour for non-tipped workers doesn’t get an individual even halfway there—let alone their families.”

    Ginette Rivard, President of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989: “Five and a half years ago years ago, on Oct. 1, 2009, Maine added 25 cents to its minimum wage, bringing it to $7.50 an hour. It’s been stuck there ever since – even as the cost of living has gone up for all of us.

    Take a look at what is happening in the rest of New England and you’ll see the State of Maine – and thousands of Maine’s working families – have fallen far behind when it comes to the minimum wage.

    100_5793Vermont’s minimum wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.50 in 2018.
    In Massachusetts, the wage is $9 – and rising to $11 in 2017.
    In Rhode Island, the wage is $9.
    And in Connecticut, the wage is $9.15 – and rising to $10.10 in 2017.

    Yet Maine has been stuck at $7.50. Maine would be dead last in New England but for New Hampshire joining in a dangerous race to the bottom by falling back to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A Maine worker putting in 40 hours at minimum wage grosses $300 a week. That’s $15,600 a year, before taxes. That’s not nearly enough for one person to live on, let alone a family.”

Here in order are videos (ten in all) of the entire day in LCRED.

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