Tweets from ME Workers’ Comp Board ED Sighnolfi LCRED Legislative Committee Hearing (PT 1)

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

The LCRED committee today questioned Workers’ Comp Board ED Paul Sighnolfi on his removal of an impartial hearing officer from cases involving the New Page mill after management at the New Page mill complained to Sighnolfi. This was an unprecedented move, unilaterally decided and made without the notice or input from the WC Board, nor was the hearing officer allowed to speak with Sighnolfi before the decision was made.
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Maine’s workers comp board chief before the Labor Committee now for questioning regarding this story:  

 

Workers comp board chief: Testimony today will be identical to March 11 board meeting except one thing. ‘I made a mistake.’

 

Comp chief, Sighinolfi, says he was ‘blindsided’ at March 11 board meeting. 

 

Sighinolfi: No glaring problem with removed hearing officer’s decisions. 

 

Sighinolfi apologizes to dismissed hearing officers. ‘He’s taken a beating recently.’ 

 

Workers comp chief Paul Sighinolfi says there are no rules or statutes that dictate cases hearings officers are assigned. 

 

Sighinolfi said only comms with LePage admin was to notify senior staff that NewPage comp claims issue had been ‘resolved’ 

 

Sighinolfi trying to cast aspersions on Patrick, saying he’s withheld names of anonymous complaints re: NewPage cases. 

 

GOP lawmakers criticizing Sen. Patrick for not giving info ahead of time and for already having said Sighinolfi should resign. 

 

Rep. Lockman says Patrick already called for director’s resignation. 

 

Background on the workers comp flap being discussed now in Maine Legislature labor committee:  

 

Sighinolfi: Inordinate number of dismissals involving NewPage, says the claims don’t have merit. 

 

Sighinolfi blames not  for making same determination that many complaints from NewPage employees don’t have merit 

Sighiolfi says number of cases against NewPage are because of attornies filing claims that have “no legs,” not problems at mill 

 

Sighiolfi says number of cases against NewPage are because of attornies filing claims that have “no legs,” not problems at mill 

 

Sighinolfi blames not  for making same determination that many complaints from NewPage employees don’t have merit 

 Gotta love the shoutout. 

 

Correx: Sighinolfi blames  for not determining inordinate # NewPage employee injury complaints don’t have merit 

 

Sighinolfi shows lawyer chops: “I don’t understand the question” … “What do you mean by ‘significantly?'” Patrick frustrated. 

 

Herbig: I don’t understand why you made these changes if there were no problems with the decisions on NewPage cases. 

 

RT : Workers comp chief Paul Sighinolfi says there are no rules or statutes that dictate cases hearings officers are assigned

 

Sighinolfi says he’d be “reticent now,” but he’d probably make the same decision if another company made a similar complaint. 

 

Patrick is getting frustrated. Not allowing Rep. Volk to ask follow-up questions. “The meeting is run through the chair.” 

 

Shorter Sighinolfi: No problem w/hearing officer decisions, who actually dismissed a lot of meritless complaints 

 

 is livetweeting from the labor committee’s hearing about the comp board’s chief.  

 

  Successful FOAA yet of Sighinolfi, Butera, Winglass, Gervais, Pelletier mentioned email? Link? 

 

Sighinolfi: I’m responsible for day-to-day decisions. This was a day-to-day decision. Board need not be involved. 

 

Patrick is pressing the point, saying the statute does not allow executive director to make unilateral assignment decisions. 

 

Sighinolfi takes a jab at Sen. Patrick: “The lawyer who prepared your questions did a good job.” 

 

 LePage admin acknowledged those participants. It’s in the first story.

 

Cushing to Patrick: “if you want to go fishing, should make sure there are fish in the pond” 

 

Larry Lockman just left the meeting. “This is a politically motivated witchhunt, and I’ll have nothing more to do with it.” 

Lockman to Patrick: This is a politically motivated witch hunt. Not going to have a part of it. He walks out. 

 

Lochman walks out. not curious about secret decision making by Workers Comp Director 

 

Other GOP lawmakers criticizing Patrick for not letting them ask questions, deferring to Democrats. This thing is getting messy 

 

Some good  theater going on in legislative committee re: worker’s comp director. Follow  for the play by play.

WALK OUT: Lockman: “this is a political witch hunt and I’m not going to take part. Have a nice day” 

 

Patrick and Dems are clearly running a kangaroo court in LCRED. 

 

Sighinolfi only put the questioned hearings officer back on NewPage cases after the change went public. Says “he forgot.” 

 

  And listen here  

 

Duprey to Patrick: “You want [sighinolfi] to be truthful but you’re not reciprocating” 

Sighinolfi says he won’t end rotation of NewPage cases because “it’s working.” But only NewPage gets the rotation.  

 

 Indeed. Apparently  should be workers comp claims adjudicators, which is to say, lawyers.

 

 We shall all endeavor to do better, I’m sure.

 

Sighinolfi: I removed the hearing officer for no reason and then forgot to put him back in rotation. 

 

Sighinolfi says NewPage has gotten special rotation because it’s the only one that complained. If others complained, he’d do the same.

 

Sighnolfi made unilateral decision to tamper with impartial system of justice. Pick your own judge 

 

Sighinolfi Blames press for shining light on secret decisions he made. 

 

Sighinolfi says press attention is more damaging to system than his decision to remove hearings officer at company’s behest. 

 

Sighinolfi says  cov of h.o. removal damaged rep of hearing officer. Doesn’t mention his suggestion to contact him 

 

Follow   . Great coverage of Workers Comp Director trying to justify actions in favor of one corporation

 

if an injured worker felt unfairly treated would Sighinolfi care as much about perception? Pick your own judge 

 

 mics are picking up phone buzzes Are members receiving text messages during hearing? 

 

“Perception” only matters when others know about it. Secret decisions ok accdg to Sighinolfi. 

 

Sighinolfi says he knows what he did wasn’t wrong because no one complained. But no one knew about the change so how could they? 

 

Sighinolfi: “Hid in plain sight” is a self-proclaimed “private mtg” with mill admin and LePage officials. 

 

Sighinolfi’s seat has gotten a lot hotter since people other than Patrick started asking Qs. Maybe he’s just too close to this. 

 

Patrick to Sighinolfi: If this issue came to comp board, you had ability to get what you wanted (Sig is swing vote) & in public 

 

Patrick: Injured worker not a consideration in this decision. If they’re getting better for NP, who are they getting worse for? 

 

Patrick: injured workers didn’t have a seat @ the table. Only management. (And LePage officials)

Patrick notes NewPage says situation with workers comp is better now. “If they’re better for NewPage, who are they worse for?”

Mastraccio: you say there’s no prob yet you (Sighinolfi) made a (unilateral, secret) change.

 

Dems Ensuring a fair, impartial justice system is “political theater” accdg to some GOPers. Wonder what injured workers think.

Transparency is easy but remembering secret events from 2 years ago is hard.

 

 

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(UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Announcing Plans to Veto Bipartisan Appropriation Committee’s Approved Budget

Posted on June 7, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

(UPDATED: Earlier today, the following letter was sent to Maine State employees from the Governor’s Chief of Staff. ~AP)


    June 07, 2013

    Dear State Employees,

    During the past few weeks, there has been misinformation provided to State employees from the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA) regarding a shutdown of State government. I am writing to bring to your attention that Governor Paul R. LePage has not ordered, nor does he have the authority to order a government shutdown. The rumors are simply erroneous and it is disheartening that the union leadership would be so disingenuous to threaten hard working State employees by saying their jobs are on the line because of Governor LePage.

    Governor LePage and I sincerely appreciate all the hard and good work you do on a daily basis, and we recognize the enormous amount of stress that accompanies uncertainty. Having job security is important to knowing you will have a paycheck to put food on the table. It is unfair for anyone to tell you a shutdown is imminent when it is not based on fact.

    The Governor submitted a balanced budget on January 11, 2013. At the time, he said, “There is no doubt about it – while there are a few bright spots in this budget, these were not easy decisions to make. But in the long-run, these choices are necessary to protect the future of our children and grandchildren, and create a plan for spending your tax dollars that is fiscally responsible and will set us on the path to recovery.”

    Legislators had a balanced budget proposal in front of them for 146 days before they finally made changes and voted it out of the Appropriations Committee early this morning. Governor LePage repeatedly emphasized the importance of prioritizing this budget to ensure it would not result in last-minute decision-making and rushed decisions. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

    While the budget has yet to be submitted to the Governor, when it is, he will have ten days to review the document. Just as each of you pay attention to the details in your job, the Governor pays attention to the details of the bills before him. It is our understanding there are many changes to the $6.4 billion budget, and the Governor will need this time to evaluate each piece. It is the Governor’s hope that Democrats and Republicans alike appreciate the situation we currently face, and that we can work together to find a way to balance a budget with the best interest of all Mainers in mind.

    Sincerely,

    John McGough
    Chief of Staff

    John McGough, Chief of Staff
    Office of Governor Paul R. LePage
    1 State House Station
    Augusta, Maine 04333-0001

(Note: This week’s address by the Governor, sent out this afternoon without embargo, was entitled “A budget for more taxing, more spending”. All stresses and links are my own additions. ~AP)

Audio link here.

lepage afa dawn hillHere we go again. The Appropriations Committee has finally announced their plan for the budget: raise taxes. Where have you heard that before?

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Folks, I am a fiscal conservative. I believe that smaller government, lower taxes, limited regulation and free enterprise will put our state on the path to prosperity and success. These are not just words to me.

These are the principles that I live by. In my personal life and in my business career, I made tough choices and difficult decisions based on these principles and my integrity. I followed these principles as mayor of Waterville and now, as Governor, these same principles guide my decisions.

It is very hard to make the right decision. It is much easier to go with the flow or make decisions that don’t disturb the status quo.

But I don’t operate that way. Past governors avoided tough decisions because they were more concerned with the next election, rather than the next generation of Mainers. That’s how we ended up with a state government that spends more money than it takes in.

Maine does not have a revenue problem; Maine has a spending problem. We spend more on government than we have money to pay for it. We are victimizing the taxpayer to pay for government greed, and we are ignoring our most needy, our disabled and our elderly.

Five months ago I submitted a balanced budget. Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves have blasted my proposal, but they have offered no solutions. Now time is running out. So they are going to do what they always do. They are going to raise taxes to avoid making tough decisions.

They don’t want to eliminate fraud and abuse in welfare, and they don’t want to right-size government. So we must find other areas to cut spending or reduce the size of government. That’s why I proposed eliminating revenue sharing.

(SEE “Video: Did 2009 Waterville Mayor Paul LePage Rip 2013 Governor LePage For Revenue Sharing Cuts To Towns, Education Funding Failures?”)

Revenue sharing accounts for only 2 to 4 percent of the budgets in Maine’s largest municipalities. Many Mainers have trimmed their household budgets far more than that over the past few years.

But property taxes have doubled in the last couple of decades. Cities and towns are part of the problem. If they want to hold the line on property taxes, then they must make the tough decisions, too.

The growth of government must stop. Maine taxpayers are maxed out. We must look at the bigger picture. If we do not stop raising taxes and growing government now, we may never get the chance again. We cannot increase the burden we are leaving our children and grandchildren.

That’s why I will veto any budget that raises your tax rates. I don’t see it as politics. I see it as good public policy, and good public policy is good politics. I am not worried about the next election. I’m worried about the next generation.

I made the tough choices when I submitted a budget that is balanced. It was not a pleasant process, but it had to be done. We cannot keep taxing and spending, year after year. Mainers just can’t afford it.

Folks, let me be clear. I do not want to shut down government. A shut-down is an act of failure. It is a failure to do the right thing for hard-working Maine families. But it is not up to me. It is up to Senate President Alfond and Speaker of the House Eves.

I proposed a budget based on the principles that I believe in. It is a budget that allows the state to live within its means. It is a budget that puts Maine people before politics.

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