Maine Coalition Submits Signatures to Put Minimum Wage Increase on 2016 Ballot

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

Last Thursday, Mainers for Fair Wages submitted 75,000 plus verified signatures to Secretary of State Dunlap’s office to place a minimum wage increase on the November ballot. Supporters and signature gatherers assembled for a rally in the State House’s Hall of Flags.

Mainers for Fair Wages, a coalition including the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Small Business Coalition, and Maine AFL-CIO, launched the petition process for a citizen initiative to raise Maine’s minimum wage in June. If passed, the initiative would increase the minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2017 and then by $1 a year until it reaches $12 by 2020. After that the wage would increase at the same rate as the cost of living. The initiative would also incrementally raise the sub-minimum tipped wage until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024.

Speakers included:

  • Adam Lee – Chairman, Lee Automalls, Auburn

  • Benjamin Waxman – Co-owner, American Roots, Portland
  • April Thibodeau – Volunteer and restaurant server, Westport Island
  • Adelaide Manirakiza – Homecare worker, Westbrook

Prepared remarks of other speakers:

  • Katie Logue, Auburn: “I work at a convenience store for just over the state minimum wage and I struggle to support myself and my family. When you’re this close to the edge, one emergency can ruin everything. It wasn’t too long ago that we were forced to live in a homeless shelter, while I was working full time but unable to keep up with the bills. It just isn’t right that there are people like me all over the state who are working hard every day but can’t get ahead. That’s why I helped to collect hundreds of signatures to get this measure on the ballot, boost our state economy and help tens of thousands of struggling Mainers.”

    fair

  • Melissa Stevens, Lewiston: “I’m a single mother and I know what it’s like to work low wage jobs and not be able to make ends meet. On $8 an hour it was impossible to afford basic necessities for my family like childcare, transportation and keeping a roof over our heads. While I was working full time I still needed to rely on food assistance to be able to feed my family. I joined the minimum wage campaign last fall to collect signatures to support this initiative and I am thrilled to be here today with so many community leaders from all walks of life as we submit far more than enough signatures to place this referendum on the ballot.”
  • Esther Pew, Portland: “I am working as a tipped worker at a restaurant and a boost in my base wage would mean that I would not have to rely solely on tips in order to support myself. It’s hard to stick to a budget and be financially responsible when your wages can fluctuate drastically from one shift to the next. Getting a steady paycheck from my employer, and not just tips from my customers, would be a boost for me and thousands of tipped workers, mostly women, working in restaurants all over Maine.”
  • Tyler Williams, Bangor: “From the time I was 15, I’ve had to work a number of minimum wage jobs to help my family make ends meet. As the breadwinner, I was responsible, as a child, for making sure the heat stayed on through the winter, and unfortunately, I often failed in this endeavor. Recently, I was forced to drop out of school because minimum wage, does not pay enough to get necessities, much less to pay tuition, too. This is the true tragedy of having such a low minimum wage. No one should have to choose between an education and a pittance. Hard work is supposed to give you the opportunity to pull yourself out of poverty, but $7.50 doesn’t help you out of poverty. It keeps you in it.”

    sfa

  • Brandy Staples, Phippsburg: “When I was 26, I was diagnosed with aggressive stage four breast cancer. I had to leave the workforce for in order to deal with it and regain my health and strength. Since then, I have had a hard time finding dependable and livable wage work that allows me to make ends meet while still paying off huge amounts of medical debt. I currently work two part time jobs at very close to minimum wage, plus I help my parents with their business. With these three jobs, I still don’t make enough to get by. I heard similar stories all the time while I was collecting signatures to get this initiative on the ballot. That’s what motivated me to collected more than 600 signatures last summer and fall. Raising Maine’s minimum wage to $12/hour will help me get on my feet and will help so many others like me.”

The Secretary of State’s office has 30 days to review the petitions and refer the matter to the Legislature to either enact without change or allow placement on the November ballot.

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Maine LCRED Committee Holds Public Hearings on Right to Work, Union Busting Bills

Posted on May 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

5/4/15 public hearings held in 127th Maine State Legislature’s standing Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee on the following bills:

LD 404, An Act To Prohibit Public Employers from Acting as Collection Agents for Labor Unions
Rep. Lockman of Amherst

LD 489, An Act To Ensure the Right To Work without Payment of Dues or Fees to a Labor Union as a Condition of Employment
Rep. Lockman of Amherst

LD 1010, An Act To Afford Public Employers Flexibility To Achieve Efficiency and Quality in Management
Sen. Cushing of Penobscot

LD 1319, An Act To Ensure That Wages and Benefits of Maine State Employees Serve a Public Purpose
Rep. Ward of Dedham

LD 1351, An Act To Ensure that Membership of Public Employees in Unions is Voluntary
Rep. Stetkis of Canaan

LD 1353, An Act To Prohibit Mandatory Membership in a Union or Payment of Agency Fees as a Condition of Employment
Sen. Cushing of Penobscot

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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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BREAKING: Feds Find LePage, MDOL Officials Intervened in Unemployment Hearings (UPDATED X 9, W/ Timeline)

Posted on February 27, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

(5pm UPDATE, x9): Reaction from Maine AFL-CIO President Don Berry:

    “The federal government has confirmed what we knew to be true, that the Governor was wrong to interfere in the unemployment insurance process by asking hearing officers to rule more often in favor of employers. This is another message from Governor LePage to struggling Maine workers that he is not on their side. When you lose your job, times are very tough. Workers need to know they have a fair process to seek the support that they deserve. Instead of kicking them when they are down, we need a Governor who will support laid-off workers getting back on their feet.”

———-

(3:30pm UPDATE, x8): More reactions from Maine lawmakers and first mention of calls for LePage’s impeachment.

Legislative Democrats and their allies were quick to condemn the LePage administration, with Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, a longtime LePage rival and Democratic candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, calling for his impeachment.

Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, who chairs the Legislature’s Labor Committee, said the Department of Labor’s findings came as little surprise.

    “This is a good thing because everyone in Maine knows the governor uses the bully pulpit to express his feelings about his political views and politics,” said Patrick. “After this, I wonder how you can trust the governor to move forward fairly and in an unbiased way. The citizens of Maine expect that whether it’s a Democrat, a Republican or a Green, that we are fair to our businesses and employees.”

Jackson was less guarded in his response.

    “I think he should be impeached,” said Jackson of LePage. “The governor thinks he should be the next [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker, but he should be thinking about being the next [impeached and jailed Illinois Gov.] Rod Blagojevich.”

———-

(2:30pm UPDATE, x7): Here comes the national focus. Via The Nation: “Maine’s Paul LePage Might Just Be the Worst Governor of All”

———-

(2pm UPDATE, x6): U.S. Congressman and Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud took to Facebook and Twitter to issue a statement:

    “Both employers and employees should have confidence that the state is treating them fairly and following the rules. It’s clear from the U.S. Department of Labor’s letter that Gov. LePage allowed his personal bias against Maine workers to create a situation in which impartial hearing officers felt threatened. His actions and the actions of his appointees were inappropriate and reinforce a disturbing pattern of mismanagement and intimidation.” – Mike

———-

(1:45pm UPDATE, x5): Maine Senate and House Democratic leaders and members of the legislature have now issued a press release.

    “For three years we have heard story after story about the Governor’s intimidation and bullying tactics. Today, the cat’s out of the bag. Governor LePage and his political appointees will stoop to any level of intimidation to get what they want,” said Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash, the Senate Majority Leader.

    “This is further confirmation of the governor’s ongoing mismanagement. He is governing by intimidation,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. “He is trying to hurt working Mainers.”

The Legislature’s bipartisan Government Oversight Committee has been reviewing the matter since April 2013 and will discuss the Federal Government’s findings during their meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m.

    “The federal investigation shows that our concern about political interference from the administration was legitimate, and validates the need for a closer look at the hearings process generally,” said Senator Emily Cain the Senate Chair of the Government Oversight Committee. “I am not relieved by these findings. There continue to be questions about the lengths to which this administration will go to get its way.”

Rep. Chuck Kruger, the House Chair of the Government Oversight Committee, requested an investigation into the claims of worker intimidation following initial media reports on the March meeting at the Blaine House.

    “At the time we requested the investigation we sought to sort rumor from fact,” said Rep. Kruger. “The federal findings confirm our fears of an attempt to unduly influence hearing officers. We will be reviewing the letter for recommendations and next steps.”

———-

(1:30pm UPDATE, x4): Maine State Employees Union President Ginette Rivard has released a statement:

    Statement by Ginette Rivard, President of the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, Concerning the Report of the United States Solicitor of Labor on Improper Interference by the LePage Administration in the Unemployment Appeals Process:

    “After conducting an exhaustive and careful investigation, the United States Department of Labor issued a report confirming that the LePage Administration sought to unduly influence the decisions of impartial hearing officers employed by the Department of Labor. This report confirmed that the Administration pressured hearing officers to favor employers. The pressure was exerted both directly by the Governor, at a lunch on March 21, and prior to that date by other political appointees.

    “While the conclusions vindicate the earlier claims brought forward by the news media and other sources, the report includes few detailed facts. It recommends that Maine government examine the situation to determine whether additional steps are needed to protect hearing officers from undue political influence.

    “This report confirms that a problem of undue influence existed, both in the March 21 lunch and before. That problem remains, and needs to be addressed. The Governor’s defiant and belligerent response to this report shows that he will not reform his administration on his own. It is time for the Government Oversight Committee to step up to the plate and perform its own investigation into the critical questions that remain:

      1. Did the Administration seek to exert undue influence on the unemployment appeals process, either at the March 21 lunch or at other times?
      2. Are there steps that need to be taken to insulate state workers from political influence?

    “On behalf of MSEA-SEIU and the thousands of state workers we represent, I want to thank the Hearing Officers for their courage in resisting this pressure, and for their dedication to providing a just and prompt hearing process.”

———-

(1pm UPDATE, x3): Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette has now issued her own statement:

    “Although this process has generated much controversy, the outcome is positive for both workers and businesses. No one benefits when either employees or employers abuse the system,” stated Commissioner Paquette.

    Maine’s unemployment system by statute gives the authority and responsibility for its adminsistration to the appointed commissioner and the appointed members of the UIC. As commissioner, my job is to ensure not only due process for both employers and employees, but also that the unemployment system is fair, efficient and responsive and follows the law. I appreciate the concerns that both the USDOL and the Blue Ribbon Commission have raised, and I will do my utmost to continue to safeguard both the integrity of the system and the confidence of Maine’s people.”

———-

(12:30 pm UPDATE, x2): Maine Governor Paul LePage issued the following statement moments ago via press release regarding today’s report:

lepage sots angry self

    “The results of the review are no surprise,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The USDOL confirmed that there are legitimate concerns about the appeals hearings, which echoes the findings in the Blue Ribbon Commission I appointed. The review found that Maine’s appeals system has not been consistent in applying the law.

    “It is also no surprise that the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor is speculating my administration somehow tried to influence the hearings process,” said the Governor. “This issue has been politically motivated from the start, starting with Democratic activists in Maine and reaching all the way to the White House. The USDOL review found no evidence of wrong-doing, but uses conjecture and supposition to come to a conclusion that has no basis in fact. The focus of my administration is to ensure the appeals process is fair and consistent for both Maine employees and employers.”

———

(12 pm UPDATE WITH TIMELINE)

  • 21 Mar 2013- Maine Governor Paul LePage holds a meeting with MDOL officials and employee compensation hearing officers at the Blaine House.
  • 22 Mar- Hearing officer Wayne Reed sends email to chief hearing officer (4/17/13 PPH):

      “In the decades I’ve been doing this work, I’ve never seen anything like it, from either end of the political spectrum,”
      wrote Wayne Reed. “For purposes (of) keeping political pressure/bias out of (a) quasi-judicial process within the Maine Department of Labor, these are dark times.”

    Reed’s supervisor Linda Rogers-Tomer replied:

      “Despite the pressures that are being placed upon us, we still just have to do our jobs, self-insulating from the politics, doing what we think is right and doing that as expeditiously as possible,” Rogers-Tomer wrote. “I know that in this climate it is hard not to second guess ourselves.”

    She then had a phone conversation with Jennifer Duddy, LePage’s lone appointee to the state’s Unemployment Compensation Commission and later emailed Laura Boyett, director of the state Bureau of Unemployment Compensation:

      “I expressed my angst about (Duddy’s) remarks at the (meeting), mostly about it not being the proper forum for that kind of discussion and (that it) blindsided us,” Rogers-Tomer wrote. “(Duddy) was sorry if anyone felt badly about what she said, but that she had no regrets about saying it or saying it in that forum. I am extremely upset right now, so can’t really talk.”

  • Apr 11- Bangor Daily News reports that state employees accuse the Governor of putting pressure on them.
  • Apr 17- Governor LePage announces “Blue Ribbon Commission” to investigate unemployment compensation system.
  • Apr 18- The LePage administration refused to admit that there is a federal investigation into the claims.
  • May 1- U.S. DOL investigating attorney Letitia Sierra arrives in Maine to speak with 13 attendees of the meeting.
  • Jul 11- “Blue Ribbon” panel members named: Augusta resident Daniel Wathen, a Maine Turnpike Authority board member and former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and George Jabar II, a Kennebec County commissioner and lawyer from Waterville, as co-chairmen of the panel; others are David Walck, owner and franchisee of several Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants, including one in Lincolnville; Shawn Anderson, chief operating officer of Cary Medical Center in Caribou; Christine Hastedt, public policy director for Maine Equal Justice Partners; and Kristin Aiello, managing attorney for the Disability Rights Center of Maine.
  • Dec 10- LePage’s “Blue Ribbon Commission” reports no bias issues within MDOL’s systems.
  • Dec 13- The feds said to be “finishing up” their investigation.
  • Feb 27, 2014- Feds release findings; confirm LePage pushed jobless benefits appeals officers to show ‘bias toward employers’.

———-

After almost a year of multiple interviews as part of an investigation by federal authorities into allegations that Governor Paul LePage and Maine Department of Labor officials pressured MDOL administrative hearing officers to be more pro-employer in its findings on appeals of unemployment claims, the results of the findings was released this morning and find that the Governor and others did indeed interfere.

The letter can be seen below.

Here may the crux of the matter, as outlined by the Justice Department:

    DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW

      Summary:

      Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
      For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.

      The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

      TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242

      Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

(This is a breaking news and will be updated as needed.)

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UPDATED: Eliot Cutler Confuses “Independent” With “Passive Aggressive” In Attacks Against Non-Supporters

Posted on February 7, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

mike endorsementsUpdating and reposting, as with the news of Mike Michaud now receiving his 22nd large endorsement, the ever shrinking camp of “Empty Handed Eliot” Cutler is once again complaining about being left out:

    “No candidate in this race has a stronger record on the environment than Eliot Cutler, and this endorsement doesn’t change that,” wrote spokeswoman Crystal Canney. “Eliot worked with Ed Muskie to create two of the most important environmental laws in the history of this country — the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Maine’s waters and air are cleaner today because of his work.”

Seems the folks over at the Maine League of Conservation Voters disagree with Cutler-Canney.

From today’s MCV press release:

“Mike’s story is one of political courage and environmental leadership,” stated Caroline Pryor, board chairwoman of Maine Conservation Voters. “Mike said ‘enough is enough’ to the sludge being dumped into this great river by his own employer. He helped clean up the Penobscot, and in the Maine Legislature and in Congress he’s been a leader on dozens of environmental and economic policies. He’s a champion for clean air, land and water resources, for clean energy and keeping toxics out of the environment.”

“Mike Michaud has the vision, the leadership, and the skills we need to bring people together to build a clean energy future. That’s a future filled with good jobs and a healthier environment – a future we can feel good about handing over to our children and grandchildren,” said Bill Behrens, a Managing Partner at ReVision Energy in Liberty.

Ray Reitze, a Master Maine Guide from Caanan expressed strong support for Michaud’s efforts to clean up Maine’s waterways. Reitze stated, “Without clean water, nothing can survive in a healthy form. What we do to our rivers, lakes, and oceans we do to ourselves and our children. I’m confident Mike Michaud is an honest leader who will help us protect and restore our natural resources and the good health and good jobs they bring to our communities.”

Dan Amory, Board President of Maine Conservation Voters, introduced Michaud and said, “Not that long ago, Mike Michaud was a guy working at the mill in East Millinocket. He saw the pollution in the river caused by the mill and decided to do something about it. This was Mike’s first act of political courage but it was far from his last. Mike is a real leader, and his record demonstrates that he will be the most effective governor to protect Maine’s environment, the health of Maine people, and the jobs that depend on our natural resources.”

=====

(Originally posted 26 Nov 2013)

cutler sucksWeigh the evidence for yourself and decide if the image at right going around online is accurate or not.

First there is this “Questionnaires” page on his campaign website, in which Cutler attempts to make his case with Maine voters after failing to garner endorsements from three groups by sharing the actual submitted documents as Scribd documents: The Sierra Club (doc), MSEA/SEIU (doc) and Maine AFL/CIO (doc).

Side note: This comment by Cutler to MSEA-SEIU is especially priceless!

    “I am under no illusions that I will receive your endorsement, though I would welcome the opportunity to participate in any Maine MSEA-SEIU- sponsored debates or forums over the course of the next coming year.”

Side-side note: What does Eliot Cutler think the “M” in MSEA stands for, anyways- Minions? Mutton? Millionaires?

Nah- THAT endorsement he would expect to get!

Anyhoo…

Cutler prefaced the sharing of the document images with passively worded attacks against each. Apparently he never was taught “one collects more flies with honey than vinegar”:

angry eliot

“As a candidate for governor, I get questionnaires from all kinds of interest groups – from environmentalists to sportsmen to labor unions.

Often these questionnaires are tied to endorsements that carry with them money, mailings and manpower. But most of these groups are tied to one of the two political parties, and so the endorsement process — the candidate interviews and the decision-making — usually takes place behind closed doors. As a result, you never know who has promised what to whom.

I think that’s wrong. That’s why I am posting each of the questionnaires I complete here on my website. I won’t tell these groups anything different than what I’m telling you, the voters. After all, yourendorsement is the only one that really matters. I hope you will ask the other other candidates to share their questionnaire responses, too, and that you will encourage the groups that endorse candidates to host debates and forums with all the candidates, so that we can have an open and honest dialogue about the issues facing our state.”

Oh please. “Open and honest”- sounds eerily like a certain Governor’s “most transparent administration” issues (2011, 2012, 2013) … and it also appears that many, MANY of the questionnaires were either not completed by Cutler or simply not EACH being shared as promised.

Anyways, back to the list of endorsements for Mike Michaud- if nothing else, the laundry list can help Team Cutler go back through and find the all the rest of those pesky missing questionnaire document images!

A reminder: All three of the above groups that Cutler shared his questionnaire responses have now publicly come out in support of Mike Michaud for Governor:

mike worker endorse

  • Maine Sierra Club endorsement of Mike (Nov 25)

  • MSEA/SEIU and Maine AFL/CIO endorsements of Mike (Oct 28).
  • That same press release shares that United Steelworkers Union (USW) and United Auto Workers Union (UAW) also both endorsed Mike: a total of 35,000 Mainers represented in those 4 important Maine workers’ groups.

    Waiting for similar Cutler passive complaints in regards to USW, UAW and these additional organizations as well, in 3… 2… 1…

  • Maine Education Association (MEA) endorsement of Mike (Nov 25)
  • Members of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local S-7 at Bath Iron Works endorsement of Mike (Nov 21)
  • Teamsters Local 340 in South Portland endorsement of Mike (Nov 15)
  • Maine Association of Police and the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine endorsement of Mike (Nov 8)

    And then we have this one- an Independent (a REAL one, not the old “just like Maine!” tired old chestnut from 2010 or member of the Tea Party, but a real honest-to-gosh, old-fashioned Maine Independent like we USED to know) who-

    Wait for it-

    Issued an endorsement of Mike (Nov 6).

    And then had the sheer audacity, as a currently serving member of the 126th Maine Legislature, to have the same published as an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News!

    Some excerpts of Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos‘ share:

      evangelos“As the only independent in the Maine House of Representatives who does not caucus with either party, I am pleased to announce that I am supporting U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for governor. I plan on campaigning for Michaud during the 2014 election season.

      Mike Michaud will make a terrific governor of our state. He has the two characteristics that are sorely lacking in the current administration in Augusta: humility and common sense. He’s a good listener, thoughtful and respectful. It will be such a breath of fresh air when Michaud is elected as our next governor.

      Why am I throwing my support to Michaud rather than fellow independent Eliot Cutler? Cutler’s successes have come on the wrong side of the economy at the expense of common people. His relationship as a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud, and his employment and association with the Dallas-based international consultancy Akin Gump, where outsourcing jobs to China is part of the mission, disqualifies Cutler as a person who can lead Maine out of this serious recession Maine people are experiencing.

      Contrast this with Michaud, a paper mill worker who understands what it means to keep and develop good paying jobs in Maine.”

    Cutler 2010 campaign garbage, image courtesy of perrenial dumpster divers "As Maine Goes".

    Cutler 2010 campaign garbage, image courtesy of perennial dumpster divers “As Maine Goes”, who snagged it from Jeff Inglis.

    Well! As one can imagine, that last must have caused Cutler to practically fly to his desk, shove everything to the ground and fire off his own crushing rebuttal (“Eliot Cutler: Focus on real issues, not recycled 2010 garbage”), also published in the BDN.

    Some snips, as he unloads not so much on Michaud but on Evangelos, with a not-even-slightly-veiled “Knock it off, bub, or expect to hear from my lawyers!!” threat:

      “In his Nov. 19 OpEd, Michaud supporter Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship, digs up some of the same garbage that was thrown at me by Democrats in the 2010 race.

      Evangelos refers to me as “a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud” and claims that the mission of my former law firm, Akin Gump, includes “outsourcing jobs to China.” The first statement is misleading. The second is false. (A member of the Maine Legislature’s Ethics Committee, Evangelos ought to be more careful.)”

      While class-action lawsuits challenging the conduct and decisions of Thornburg Mortgage officers and directors were filed, the claims made against me and the other independent directors were all found to be without merit and were dismissed by federal courts. No other actions or appeals are pending against the outside directors, nor were they or the company itself ever found to have engaged in fraudulent practices.

      Evangelos also recycles the old lie that I exported jobs to China, another oft-repeated claim from 2010 that has no basis in fact and is something this newspaper called “one of the ugly leftovers of the 2010 election.” In an attempt to support this, he refers to an Akin Gump webpage that never mentions China but talks about helping clients with “outsourcing” in the broadest terms.

      I did open and manage for several years Akins Gump’s first office in China. That experience has since helped me open new markets for Maine products in China. But not once have I ever worked for or represented a company that moved operations or exported jobs to China.



      Finally, Evangelos rips one more out of the 2010 playbook — class warfare
      — claiming that my successes have come “at the expense of common people.” Any success I have achieved has come through a lot of hard work, the values that I learned from my parents and grandparents, and from growing up in Bangor.

    So There! HMPH! And with such, Eliot Cutler has GOTTEN THE FINAL WORD.

    Well, not so much.

    Because while BDN does have a strict 60 day policy in which contributors can only submit articles, the good representative from Friendship provided, both on the Cutler rebuttal and on his own Facebook page, a full list of cited sources for his claims against Eliot Cutler.

    The BDN comment by Evangelos (posted Nov 25; links recoded to correct linkage errors) in full reads:

      Eliot Cutler’s response to my endorsement of Congressman Michaud for Governor proves that Harry Truman was right, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Clearly Cutler is too thin skinned for politics, resorting to a temper tantrum and personal attacks against my integrity, while deploying half truths and misleading information to defend himself.

      First, the issues I raised are not “recycled garbage” from 2010. Cutler’s statements regarding the class action lawsuits left out the most important details of all:

    • “A proposed $2 million settlement has been announced in a class action lawsuit involving shareholders who sued Thornburg Mortgage Inc. for fraud regarding its financial performance.”
    • Directors and executives agreed to a 2 million dollar settlement that paid defrauded investors for their losses due to the Company’s omissions and misrepresentations. Here’s a link.
    • “Investors in Thornburg Mortgage, once the second largest mortgage lender behind Countrywide, agreed on a settlement with former executives and directors of the company.

      A court hearing will be held in Albuquerque, N.M. on Aug. 27, 2012 to consider, among other things, whether the proposed settlement with the Santa Fe, N.M.-based jumbo lender be approved as fair and adequate.

      Thornburg Mortgage, which filed for bankruptcy in May 2009 and subsequently renamed TMST, could not be reached for comment.

      The settlement fund consists of $2 million in cash. If the settlement is approved, former common and preferred stock shareholders will receive about one penny per damaged share — shares bought when a stock price was artificially high
      due to material omissions or misrepresentations, according to the court filing.”

      “On December 3, 2012, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Settlement. On December 10, the Court issued an Order preliminarily approving the settlement. On February 25, 2013, the Court issued a Final Order and Judgment. On the same day, the Court also issued an Order awarding attorneys’ fees and expenses. Finally, the Court issued a Final Judgment closing this case.” (Source: “Thornburg Mortgage Inc. : Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates”)

    • Not only does Cutler fail to mention the existence of this settlement, he plays pretend with the facts like they are ancient history. The fact is Mr. Cutler, this is not news from 2010, the settlement was approved on February 25, 2013. And you raise the issue of ethics with me?
    • Second, Eliot Cutler was a member of the Board of Directors of Thornburg Mortgage when the company went bankrupt. Subsequent to the bankruptcy, The Securites and Exchange Commission filed accounting fraud charges on March 13, 2012.

      The following information can be found on the SEC’s website:

        “The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the senior-most executives at formerly one of the nation’s largest mortgage companies with hiding the company’s deteriorating financial condition at the onset of the financial crisis. The plan backfired and the company lost 90 percent of its value in two weeks.

        The SEC alleges that Thornburg Mortgage Inc. chief executive officer Larry Goldstone, chief financial officer Clarence Simmons, and chief accounting officer Jane Starrett schemed to fraudulently overstate the company’s income by more than $400 million and falsely record a profit rather than an actual loss for the fourth quarter in its 2007 annual report.”

        “The truest test of corporate executives’ commitment to full and accurate shareholder disclosure comes not during times of soaring profits and double-digit growth, but when companies are under financial stress and shareholders have the greatest need for accurate information,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “These Thornburg executives flunked that test by issuing a series of misleading statements andhalf-truths to conceal Thornburg’s rapidly deteriorating situation.”

      Again, Cutler’s claim that this is “garbage” from 2010 is simply untrue. The SEC filed the charges in 2012 and the investigation is ongoing. Furthermore, the most important duty of any Director, from a school board to a corporation is oversight of the organization and its executives.

      Given that the SEC has brought fraud charges against Thornburg’s three top executives, including the chief executive officer who reported directly to the Directors, it is clear that Thornburg’s Board of Directors failed in their mission. Or as Harry Truman said Mr. Cutler, “The buck stops here.”

    • Third, information regarding the mission of Akin Gump regarding outsourcing comes directly from their website.

      Make no mistake, outsourcing American jobs to low cost alternatives in Asia has served to depress wages in the United States, raise the unemployment rate, with the knock on effect of depressing income tax revenues at the State and Federal levels. I stand by my statement that this activity puts Mr. Cutler on the wrong side of economy at the expense of working people.

      And as for Cutler’s assertion that I raised the class warfare flag, he ought to examine his own words in rejecting even a modest increase in the minimum wage. The minimum wage in Maine has been $7.50 for 5 years while the cost of food, energy, health care, insurance and life’s necessities have at the same time risen dramatically. In truth, Mr. Cutler is the person engaging in class warfare, supporting a non-liveable wage for Maine people while he sits at his residence in Cape Elizabeth.

    • Fourth, I will stack my ethics up against Mr. Cutler’s any day of the week. I split my votes in Augusta based on my conscience and always do what I believe is right. I caucus with neither party. I have the respect of both parties in Augusta because of this. A good example of this is when I rose to defend Governor LePage and his right to receive his pension when a Democratic Legislator attempted to introduce legislation that would strip the Governor of his pension. I may not agree with Paul LePage, but I defended his right to be treated like all other Governor’s in our history. That’s what real ethics are all about, Mr. Cutler.

      Finally, while I endorsed Mike Michaud, I have absolutely no connection to the Michaud for Governor campaign. Your attack against Congressman Michaud is unjustified and a clear sign of desperation. Your attack against my ethics is equally desperate, but I guess when you can’t dispute the facts, attacking the messenger will have to suffice. As the boxer Joe Louis once said, you can run but you can’t hide.

      Representative Jeffrey Evangelos
      Friendship, Maine

    So, does the image fit?

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  • Maine Senate Floor Debate on Override of LePage LD 1509 FY 14-15 Budget Veto (June 26 VIDEOS)

    Posted on December 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    3amigosNOTE: Now that Senate Minority leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) has indicated he is considering entering the #2CD #MEGOP primary fray against former Senate President Kevin (“Third time’s the charm, I tell ya!”) Raye and former Treasurer Bruce (“Which district do I live in, again?”) Poliquin, it’s time to go back through and dust off some posts.

    Oh, yeah… Blaine (“I’m running, too!”) Richardson is in the mix there, too- somewhere.

    Here’s a goodie- the day Mike Thibodeau vote to sustain LePage’s veto and shut down the entire state government. Ah, good times!


    (Originally posted 30 Jun 2013)

    Before the Maine Senate voted decisively by a 26-9 tally last Wednesday to override Governor Paul LePage’s Tuesday veto on LD 1509, “An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015”, twenty members of that body rose to deliver speeches.

    gop vs gopNOTE: Although Maine Republican Senators Assistant Minority Leader Roger Katz (Kennebec), Pat Flood (Kennebec; member of Appropriations committee), Brian Langley (Hancock), Tom Saviello (Franklin), Roger Sherman (Aroostook) and Edward Youngblood (Penobscot) joined Independent Senator Dick Woodbury (Cumberland) and all 19 Democratic Senators in overriding the Governor’s veto hence preventing a disastrous statewide government shutdown, there were no public statements released by their press office.

    The closest one can find would be this scathing letter from Assistant Minority Leader and former Augusta Mayor Roger Katz (Kennebec), which was picked up by the Washington Post.

    Katz has taken some heat from his own party for the letter:

      Commenters on a well-known conservative website blasted Katz for attempting to compromise on Medicaid expansion. The senator was dubbed a RINO, a “Republican In Name Only.” One commenter suggested that Katz is predisposed to support liberal policies because he is Jewish and an attorney.

    Ugly- and indicative of a party very deeply divided indeed.

    Here in order of speakers are clips of the full debate. The statements added are from a Senate Democratic press release sent out after the vote. Additionally was this statement from Senate President Justin Alfond (Cumberland).

      “We did what the people of Maine expect us to do— we passed a responsible budget that will keep the state working,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “This is what we came here to do: work together to find common ground and help our state thrive.”

    *Related: Maine Senate Debate On LD 1509, FY 14-15 Biannual Budget (June 13 VIDEOS)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Dawn Hill (York)

      “Today’s vote is no longer a vote on whether you like the budget; today’s vote is a vote to either shut down or not to shut down our state’s government,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York, the Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “I’m proud that our Republican colleagues joined us and stuck together to keep our state going, and pass a responsible, balanced budget for the people of Maine.”

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Pat Flood (Kennebec)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Emily Cain (Penobscot)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Brian Kangley (Hancock)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator David Burns (Washington)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator John Cleveland (Androscoggin)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Doug Thomas (Somerset)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Tom Saviello (Franklin)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Anne Haskell (Cumberland)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Colleen Lachowicz (Kennebec)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Margaret Craven (Androscoggin)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Chris Johnson (Lincoln)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Stan Gerzofsky (Cumberland)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Andre Cushing (Penobscot)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator John Tuttle (York)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Geoff Gratwick (Penobscot)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Roger Katz (Kennebec)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Troy Jackson (Aroostook)

    “I have voted on six biennial budgets in my time in the Legislature, and this is the budget vote I am most proud of,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “It’s certainly not a perfect budget, but it is a responsible budget. This is what legislating should look like.

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Mike Thibodeau (Waldo)

    LD 1509 Veto Override Floor Speech of Maine Senator Seth Goodall (Sagadahoc)

      “While no one got everything they wanted in this budget, everyone got something they needed. That is compromise, and that is what is needed in divided government in order to move Maine forward,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “Today’s vote is a vote for a higher responsibility to put our state on solid footing. It’s also a vote for an opportunity to avoid property tax increases on every Maine homeowner. It’s a vote for an investment in our schools and our children–and it’s a vote to keep the lights on.”

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    2011 Blasts From the Past: Maine State Workers’ Rally in Augusta; LePage, NYC Lawyer Walks Out Of MSEA-SEIU Contract Negotiations

    Posted on July 2, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

    Maine state employees protest in 2011

    Maine state employees protest in 2011

    Today Governor LePage’s office sent the following missive to Maine state employees within the executive branch.

    It smacks of blaming the Legislature, MSEA-SEIU or both as being to fault for those employees not yet receiving their merit raises. The reality in speaking with the union’s leadership recently, is that the Governor himself has been the one who has been reluctant to meet with the union and as such, appears to be passively aggressively using the employees to force the union to agree to his demands.

    He clearly states his position: “While I am just as eager to reach an agreement with MSEA as I was with our other three unions, I will do so only in a way that is beneficial to the State.

    Which is to say that it’s his way or no way at all.

    See for yourself.

    =================================

      From: McGough, John
      Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 2:27 PM
      Subject: Message from the Governor on Merit Pay

      The following message has been sent to you on behalf of Governor Paul R. LePage.

      ——————————–

      Dear Executive Branch Employee:

      As you probably know, the Legislature recently passed a bill that will allow the State to pay merit increases to eligible employees on their anniversary dates. However, there is something you may not realize.

      Despite the Legislature “unfreezing” merit pay, these increases may not be awarded to some employees. After union contracts expire, state labor law legally prohibits me from authorizing merit increases for employees represented by a union without a new agreement with that union.

      Three of the state’s employee unions have reached more than one agreement with the State during my administration: AFSCME, the Maine State Troopers Association and the Maine State Law Enforcement Association. I am pleased that current negotiations have led to AFSCME’s ratification of a 2013-2015 contract. AFSCME employees who are eligible for merit increases this year will receive them. Our negotiations have also led to tentative two-year agreements with MSTA and MSLEA. If those contracts are ratified, the union members who are eligible for merit increases will receive them.

      However, we have been negotiating with MSEA for a successor to the 2009-2011 agreement for over two years. While I am just as eager to reach an agreement with MSEA as I was with our other three unions, I will do so only in a way that is beneficial to the State. Many of you have received communications from MSEA suggesting that its members may not receive merit increases and if that happens, then it is my fault. These communications also claim that all governors before me have paid merit increases whether there are contracts in effect or not. Both of these claims are misleading at best.

      If you are eligible for a merit increase and are in a bargaining unit that does not have a current contract, I urge you to contact your union representatives and explore with them how they might reach an agreement so you can receive your merit increase during this coming year.

      Lastly, there is another important issue you should be aware of. Although the Legislature “unfroze” merit increases for the State’s Executive Branch employees for one year, it restored them for employees of the Legislative and Judicial Branches for the next twoyears. As you may know, the Legislature and I did not agree on the best approach to the budget. But I am dismayed by the Legislature’s unabashed willingness to treat its own employees and those of the Judicial Branch better than they treat you.

      I know that you work just as hard at your jobs, and you do not deserve to be treated worse than employees in the other two branches of government. When the Legislature is not in session, employees in the legislative branch have far less work to do, but Executive Branch employees carry a full workload all year long. I intend to do whatever I can to remedy this shameless inequity.

      Sincerely,

      Paul R. LePage
      Governor

    =================================

    So let’s look back, shall we?

    First we have this, originally posted 27 Jun 2011.

    From the MSEA-SEIU press release:

        Maine Workers Rally At State House; Call on Governor to Stop Attacks on Workers and Send Home New York City Lawyer

      Firefighters, teachers, millworkers, child care providers, snow plow drivers and other workers from across Maine converged on the State House on Saturday to show their support for state workers currently in contract negotiations with the LePage administration. Despite predictions of bad weather, hundreds turned out for a rally at the capitol.

    Jonathan French of MDOT started off the rally:

      “What I see when I look out at all of you is the very fabric of our communities. Because of you, Maine is a place where our kids can learn and grow, where our roads are safe, where our communities and natural resources are protected, and where we are working together to build our economy. You make Maine a better place for all of us. Once again, workers have stepped up and offered to do our share. But instead of sitting down with us directly and talking about how we can work together, Governor LePage has chosen to create more conflict and pick yet another fight with Maine workers by bringing in a hatchet man from New York City.

      So while Maine workers have proposed no cost increases, the Governor is paying a New York City lawyer at least $295 an hour to dismantle workers’ rights and core protections. This is not only irresponsible; it’s not how we treat each other in Maine.”

    Emery Deabay, Vice President of Eastern Maine Labor Council, member of United Steelworkers Local #1188 and employed at the Versco paper Mill in Bucksport, spoke next.

      “Whether you’re from Caribou or Kittery, or somewhere in between, no matter where you live, Maine DOT workers work for everyone. We keep Maine moving. 

      If a tree goes down, or if there’s a washout, 2 feet of snow, freezing rain, anything that gets in the way of safe passage of a Maine highway or bridge, Maine DOP workers are there in a moment’s notice to fix things and make them right. When a DOT plow truck goes by during a nor’easter, everyone knows they’ll be back to their normal routine in no time at all. Everyone knows that the hardworking men and women at the Maine DOT and our brothers and sisters at the Maine Turnpike Authority are the best at what they do. And it’s a good thing we are the best- living in a state like Maine, right?

      With the Maine DOT, every inch of Maine highway is maintained to the same specifications. In my DOT region, which covers a quarter of the state, over the years we’ve gone from 400 people taking care of the roads to 168 workers. That’s a pretty tight crew to cover such a huge part of our state. We’re efficient. We’re accountable..

      And we’re working at hourly wages much lower than what the private sector pays for the same work. That’s just a plain fact. It was documented in a labor market survey that the State of Maine recently paid over $50,000 to conduct. You know, they could have saved that money just by talking to a DOT worker.”

    MDOT Milo Crew Leader Tony Gonzales:

      “My coworkers at Maine DHHS and I work hand in hand with Maine families, community leaders, and community organizations to help keep all Maine families safe, all Maine families together, and all of our communities strong. This is critically important work, because with a strong family foundation and community support, all Maine children will have the opportunity to make the most of their abilities as they pursue their dreams and help make this world a better place for all of us. Our ability to have a voice in determining issues like our working conditions is central to our ability to work as public servants with the highest levels of accountability.

      So I am here today to thank you for the support for the work that we do. I am also here to show my support for the work that all of you do. I’m showing my support because all Maine workers make our communities strong. All Maine workers make our economy strong. And all Maine workers deserve to be treated with respect for the work that they do.”

    Maine DHHS case worker, MSEA-SEIU Local #1989 member Dean Staffieri:

      “I understand the very tough financial challenges so many Maine people are facing. We are all making sacrifices and I know our local leaders are struggling to maintain staffing levels that will keep our schools and public safety systems strong. And I think I can speak for every parent here when I say how important it is to be part of a community where we work together and support each other- where our kids can get a good education and where our families are supported and safe. That is what this country, and especially Maine, are all about.

      So what I don’t understand is why the Governor has made it his personal mission to undercut hard-working Maine families like mine. This isn’t the Maine I grew up in. This isn’t the Maine where we use common sense and fairness to solve problems. This isn’t the Maine where everyone gets a shot at living the American dream.

      The Governor’s attacks on working people are taking this state in the wrong direction. It’s time to re-knit the tears in our community fabric and start working together again.”

    Maine Department of Corrections’ Kelly Carr:

    Conclusion by Jonathan French:

    And then there is this 1 Jul 2011 story:

      LePage, NYC Lawyer Walks Out of MSEA-SEIU Contract Negotiations

      Dirigo Blue broke the story this morning

      After 6 straight days of negotiations over a new contract, representatives for Gov. LePage walked out of contract talks last night at 11:40 p.m.
      The contract between the State and its 10,000 employees expired at midnight.From a press release, one union negotiating team member, Andrea LaPointe, an employee at the DEP, had this:

      “The Governor has proposed cutting wages for workers who protect our communities from dangerous criminals in our prison system and for workers who care for patients with severe mental health disorders in our state mental health institutions. We are ready to settle this contract and we truly hope that our Governor is ready as well.
      There is an “evergreen” provision in which the current contract remains in effect for 90 days, along time for further negotiations.”

      From Bangor Daily News:

       

      Negotiations ended just before midnight with MSEA offering a two-year extension on the current terms and the state countering with a one-year extension under different terms. One of the outstanding issues is compensation for workers engaged in union activities.

      The Maine Democratic Party issued the following press release:

       

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:LePage Walks Out of Contract Negotiations

      “Governor LePage and his New York City lawyer need to stop dragging their feet and get the job done.”

      AUGUSTA- On June 30th, Governor Paul LePage and his New York lawyer walked out of contract negotiations with the state employees union, just as workers were ready to make an agreement.

      Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant released this statement:

      “This is a classic example of Governor LePage’s ‘my way or the highway attitude.’ He didn’t think he was going to get what he wanted, so like a frustrated child he took his ball and went home – all the while he’s costing taxpayers more money. In one month we’ve paid his lawyers $50,000 – that’s more than most Maine workers make in a year.”

      “He has shown a complete lack of respect and disregard for Maine workers since he took office. Last night’s walk out was the latest in a continual stream of attacks. First it was the budget, then it was fair share, now it’s contract negotiations, he just won’t give up.

      “Governor LePage and his New York City lawyer need to stop dragging their feet and get the job done. The state employees are ready to bargain – why isn’t he?”

    And now we wait to see what happens next.

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    Maine Senate Debate on LD 1509, FY 14-15 Biannual Budget (June 13 VIDEOS)

    Posted on June 24, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    As expected, today Governor Paul LePage vetoed the budget, aka LD 1509, “An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015”. On Wednesday, the 126th Legislature will reconvene to take it up in both chambers, along with a slew of other matters including ten bills vetoed late Friday and others today.

    Here is the full list of Governor LePage’s vetoes of bills passed by the 126th Legislature.

    IMG_4584When the Senate met the evening of June 13th to take up the budget, those who worked on the budget praised their fellow Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee members from across the aisle, their staff and clerks, for working so hard together to create a budget that, per Senator Pat Flood (R-Kennebec), won unanimous approval by the entire AFA Committee on every single line item of the 680 page document, individually and as a whole.

    And as the votes were tallied, it showed that same as in the House (102-43, 6 absent) earlier, the Senate had passed the measure (25-10) with a super majority strong enough to sustain a veto from the Governor.

      “Lawmakers did the right thing by passing a budget that allows the state of Maine to keep working,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “In divided government, Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature worked together to pass a responsible budget that protects our schools, our property owners, and small businesses.”

    Here are videos taken of the Senate LD 1509 floor debate, in order of speakers.

    Appropriations Chair Sen. Dawn Hill (D-York) urges support for LD 1509, FY 14-15 Budget

      “As a committee and as a Legislature, we left politics at the door. We rolled up our sleeves and worked together to craft a responsible, bipartisan budget for the people of Maine,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York, the Senate Chair of the committee. “This is what we are expected to do. And I’m proud of our ability to work together despite our differences.”

    Sen. Pat Flood (R-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 Budget

    Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 Budget


      “This is a tough budget, but it is fair, and passing this budget is the right thing to do,”
      said Senator Emily Cain of Orono.

    Asst Majority Leader Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Speaks in Support of FY 14-15 Budget, LD 1509

      “This is not a perfect budget. But it is a budget that reflects the spirit of compromise and getting things done for the people of our state,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “This is the best compromise that I have ever been a part of and reflects how this Legislature is supposed to work.”

    Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) speaks in opposition to LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

    Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau Speaks in Opposition to LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

    Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) speaks in opposition to LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

    Asst Minority Leader Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) speaks in support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

    Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall (D-Sagadahoc) Speaks in support of LD 1509, FY 14-15 budget

      “Every two years we take a vote that is perhaps one of the most challenging. It requires us to set aside our philosophical differences and do what is right by looking ahead to our future,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond. “This budget makes public education stronger and finally acknowledges the public service and dedication of our state employees.”

    And now we wait.

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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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    2011 “Blast From The Past”: Why Did Governor LePage Ignore “Labor Day” in Labor Day Weekend Radio Address?

    Posted on September 2, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

    (As Governor LePage inexplicably decided to take a 4 day weekend (Thanks, Unions!!) off for Labor Day and tasked his MDOL Commissioner Robert Winglass with the Maine.gov Labor Day Weekend radio address, it seemed appropriate to dig up this “blast from the past” post of our own. ~AP)

    (Originally posted on 4 Sep 2011)

      “Why Did Governor LePage Ignore “Labor Day” in Labor Day Weekend Radio Address?”
    That’s okay, Gov; we got your back on this one! 

    I know how you feel about “people spending too much time on the blogs” and all, but hey, no worries! And I’m quite sure that you failing to give even a lil smidge of a mention to “Labor Day” itself in your Labor Day Weekend weekly radio address was just a silly mistake, a mere oversight.

    Not a deliberate act and certainly with no malice on your part.

    The pro-union folks who gathered last February were all wrong about you!

    It’s not like over 1000 people from all over Maine have ever stood out in the freezing cold to get your attention.

    Oh, wait…

    From March: ME State Senator Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Addresses Pro-Union Crowd at Statehouse Rally

    That reminds me, sir: When are you going to meet with Senator Jackson and the Maine loggers and will it be soon?

    Put your face on a milk Carton!!Because I hate to mention it or anything (boy, is THIS awkward for a high profile public official!!), but it’s very hard to know where you’re gonna be and with whom, as your daily and weekly schedules never, ever, ever have  been released to media.

    Not once.

    The first time this has been the case for a sitting Maine governor in thirty years, by the way.

    Do we need to start looking for you in the dairy case??

    And it’s not like hundreds of Maine workers with bullhorns have ever come to the Statehouse for a rally, then marched in front of your home or anything.

    Shoot, I forgot- that DID happen!

    From June: Maine Workers Rally Marching By Blaine House

    Rally held 25 June 2011 at the Statehouse in Augusta by Maine state workers and supporters. Afterwards, those assembled marched from the Capitol, past the Governor’s Mansion (the Blaine House), through Augusta with a final destination of the Governor Hill Mansion on State Street.

    Well, jeez, THAT is awkward, huh? But, isolated incidences- I am SURE. It’s not like you are “anti-labor” or anything like that!!

    What? No, it wasn’t? Oh dear…

    Ah yes, I completely forgot about “Mural-gate”… now at Day 157! 


    Day 78 (March 23): Maine AFL-CIO ACTION ALERT: Tell LePage, “Honor Maine’s Working Class History”Day 79 (March 24): Press Release: Maine Artists and Labor Historians Protest Mural Removal

    Day 80 (March 25): Maine Women’s Lobby Asks: What Would Frances Perkins Say?

    Day 80 (March 25): Playing Musical Chairs With the Maine Dept of Labor Mural?

    Day 81 (March 26): Gov. LePage’s Weekly Radio Address: ‘Today, There is a New Mentality in Augusta’

    Day 83 (March 28): BREAKING: Governor LePage Releases Statement About Mural Removal

    It was reported on Day 84 (March 29) that despite being on the job for less than 3 months, Governor Paul LePage was taking a full week off for a vacation in Jamaica with wife Ann.

    But even the Governor’s absence did not stop “Mural-Gate”, which evolved into a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order being filed against LePage.

    And “Mural-Gate” rolled on:

     

    Day 87 (April 1): Rep. Cynthia Dill Asks: Citizen’s Recall- What Now?Day 87 (April 1): BREAKING: Lawsuit Filed Against Gov LePage, Others Regarding Missing MDOL Mural

    Day 88 (April 2): Governor LePage’s Weekly Address (2 Apr 2011)

    Day 89 (April 3): Did Dirigo Blue Scoop Maine Media with GOP Senate Letter Post?

    Day 90 (April 4): The 8 Senators’ Letter is Published- All Tone Issues, No Problems With LePage Agenda

    Day 91 (April 5): Maine GOP/ Tea Party Antics: Attacking Art and Ripping Each Other Apart

    Day 91 (April 5): Statement of ME Union of Visual Artists President Robert Shetterly

    Day 91 (April 5): The Maine Labor Mural Projection Bombing On The Capital

    Day 93 (April 7):Statement of MDOL Mural Artist Judy Taylor

    Day 93 (April 7): Video: Portland Attorney Jonathan Beal Discusses MDOL Mural Lawsuit

    Day 93 (April 7): Press Release: Congresswoman Pingree statement on Department of Labor mural

    Day 93 (April 7): New MDOL Mural Video: “Paul LePage’s Dream”

    Day 94 (April 8): REQUEST for Temporary Restraining Order Filed Against Maine Governor Paul LePage

    Day 94 (April 8): “Maine Labor Mural Projection Bombing: PORTLAND

    Day 97 (April 11): Video: “Welcome Back, Governor LePage!

    Day 98 (April 12): HuffPo Scores Exclusive Interview with ME Labor Mural Projection Bombers

    Oh my. Maybe your father-in-law was right:

     

    Back in November, long before he decided to hide from the media behind his own weekly television show, Gov. Paul LePage sat down along with his wife, Ann, to chat with WCSH-TV’s Bill Green.
    They talked about, among other things, how they met while they worked at what was then Scott Paper Co. in Winslow — Ann had a union job, Paul was a member of management.“Scott was battling its unions,” recalled Green in his set-up. “She was a union rep from a union family when she took the manager home to meet her father.”

    Cut to Ann LePage:

    “And my dad looked at me and said, ‘Ann, you’ve got to be kidding me! What are you doing with him? Those white collars don’t know how to work!‘ “

    Hmm. Then there’s this- hey, maybe you are anti-labor after all, Governor!

     

    In an interview at the National Governors Association, the Republican praised Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and couched his own proposal in the language of liberty loved by tea partiers.“He’s got a big challenge, and quite frankly, once they start reading our budget they’re going to leave Wisconsin and come to Maine becausewe’re going after right to work,” LePage told POLITICO.

    LePage was unsure about the feasibility of passing right-to-work legislation.

    “You know, it’s going to be a battle,” he said. “The people that elected me want jobs. They don’t care if they’re union jobs or non-union jobs. They just want a paycheck.”

    “I think [Walker is] going to have a lot less hair next month than he has this month, but I admire him for recognizing the problem and at least attempting to get it under control,” LePage said. “We’re all looking at each other and discussing the options, and he’s taken an option that he believes is necessary for his state. And I certainly support him.”

    “I believe if an individual wants to join organized labor and work under a union contract, they should have the legal right to do so,” he said. “At the same token, a person who does not want to work under organized labor and wants to work should have the ability to do so without the threat of having to join and having to pay dues to organized labor. It’s that simple. It’s all about freedom and liberty.”

    Oh that does it; I give up.

    Have a nice day off tomorrow, Paul. And whatever you do, don’t ever thank a union member for the days off you get.

     

    36 Reasons to Thank a Union

    1. Weekends

    2. All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks

    3. Paid Vacation

    4. FMLA

    5. Sick Leave

    6. Social Security

    7. Minimum Wage

    8. Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)

    9. 8-Hour Work Day

    10. Overtime Pay

    11. Child Labor Laws

    12. Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)

    13. 40 Hour Work Week

    14. Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp)

    15. Unemployment Insurance

    16. Pensions

    17. Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations

    18. Employer Health Care Insurance

    19. Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees

    20. Wrongful Termination Laws

    21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

    22. Whistleblower Protection Laws

    23. Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)

    24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)

    25. Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)

    26. Sexual Harassment Laws

    27. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

    28. Holiday Pay

    29. Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance

    30. Privacy Rights

    31. Pregnancy and Parental Leave

    32. Military Leave

    33. The Right to Strike

    34. Public Education for Children

    35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)

    36. Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

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