Mainers Gather at Huge “Save Healthcare Rally” in Portland

Posted on January 15, 2017. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Approximately 800-1200 Mainers came together at a rally on the steps of Portland City Hall today, one of dozens of similar events across the country, urging Congress not to scrap the Affordable Care Act. Here is full video of the event:

 

Maine Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, who has been a strong advocate for healthcare over the years, gave an impassioned speech:

 

Photos here of the rally.

Prior to the rally, Congresswoman Pingree met with almost a dozen constituents at a round table discussion inside City Hall. She told those gathered that they were among over 1000 families that had written to her recently, urging that she vote to save the Affordable Care Act.

Video here of the round table.

From left to right:

1. Daniel Brouder of Cumberland Foreside
2. Emily Ingwersen of Arundel
3. Lynda Bond
4. Katie MacDonald of Portland
5. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
6. Alyra Donisvitch
7. Briana Volk of Portland
8. Andrew Volk of Portland
9. Ruth Dean of South Portland
10. Mary Henderson of Topsham

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(UPDATED) Veto Day Score Card

Posted on April 28, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Not nearly as epic as last year’s list and hopefully less dramatic! A reminder that a 2/3s vote of members present in both legislative chambers is necessary to override the governor’s veto. Here goes:

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(HOUSE CALENDAR)

1. LD 365, “An Act To Provide a Tax Reduction for Modifications To Make a Home More Accessible for a Person with a Disability.” (House OVERRIDE, 148-0     Senate OVERRIDE, 34-0)

2. LD 419, “An Act To Establish the Summer Success Program Fund.”  (House SUSTAIN, 93-56) DEAD

3. LD 654, “An Act to Expand the 1998 Special Retirement Plan to Include Detectives in the Office of the Attorney General.” (House SUSTAIN, 96-53) DEAD

4. LD 655 “Resolve, To Provide the Engineering Study and Planning Needed for a Statewide, Centrally Located Emergency Services Training Facility and Several Regional Training Facilities.” (House SUSTAIN, 93-55) DEAD

5. LD 1279 “An Act To Authorize Advance Deposit Wagering for Horse Racing.” (House OVERRIDE, 120-29     Senate OVERRIDE, 23-11)

6. LD 1696, “Resolve, To Establish a Moratorium on Rate Changes Related to Rule Chapter 101: MaineCare Benefits Manual, Sections 13, 17, 28, and 65.” (House OVERRIDE, 101-45     Senate OVERRIDE, 28-6) 

7. LD 1514, “An Act To Conform Maine Law to the Requirements of the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation.” (Senate SUSTAIN, 20-14) DEAD

8. LD 1498, “An Act To Clarify Medicaid Ombudsman Services.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 29-5     House OVERRIDE, 118-28)

9. LD 1465, “Resolve, To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Conduct a Study of Ambulance Services.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 33-1     House 139-10)

10. LD 1689, “An Act To Protect Children in the State from Possible Sexual, Physical and Emotional Abuse by Persons Who Have Been Convicted of Crimes.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 29-5    House 100-49)

DSC_0012

11. LD 1649, “An Act To Modernize Maine’s Solar Power Policy and Encourage Economic Development.” (House SUSTAIN, 96-52) DEAD 

12. LD 1253, “An Act To Improve the Evaluation of Elementary and Secondary Schools.” (House OVERRIDE, 112-31     Senate OVERRIDE, 33-1)

13. LD 1675, “Resolve, To Create the Task Force on Public-private Partnerships To Support Public Education.” (House OVERRIDE, 137-12     Senate OVERRIDE, 30-4)

14. LD 1394, “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Strengthen the Adequacy and Equity of Certain Cost Components of the School Funding Formula.” (House SUSTAIN, 95-52) DEAD

15. LD 1489, “An Act To Clarify Expenditures Regarding Androscoggin County.” (House SUSTAIN, 87-61) DEAD

16. LD 1547, “An Act To Facilitate Access to Naloxone Hydrochloride.” (House OVERRIDE, 132-14     Senate OVERRIDE, 29-5)

17. LD 1552, “An Act To Reduce Morbidity and Mortality Related to Injected Drugs.” (House OVERRIDE, 108-40     Senate OVERRIDE, 29-5)

18. LD 1521, “An Act To Create Equity among Essential Nonprofit Health Care Providers in Relation to the Sales Tax and the Service Provider Tax.” (House OVERRIDE, 139-10     Senate OVERRIDE, 34-0)

19. LD 1579, “An Act Regarding the Maine Clean Election Fund.” (House SUSTAIN, 84-63) DEAD

20. LD 1629, “An Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Commission to Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund.” (House SUSTAIN, 90-58) DEAD

21. LD 1224, “An Act To Amend the Child Protective Services Laws.” (House OVERRIDE, 147-1     Senate OVERRIDE, 34-0)

(SENATE CALENDAR)

22. LD 1398, “An Act to Reduce Electric Rates for Maine Businesses.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 33-2   House OVERRIDE, 110-38)

23. LD 1468, “Resolve, To Improve the Safety of Ferries in the State.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 35-0 House OVERRIDE 113-32)

24. LD 1540 “An Act To Protect All Students in Elementary or Secondary Schools from Sexual Assault by School Officials.” (Senate OVERRIDE 34-0,      House OVERRIDE, 140-6)

25. LD 1686, “An Act to Amend the Finance Authority of Maine Act.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 28-7   House OVERRIDE 122-24)

26. LD 1614 “Resolve, To Provide Funding for the County Jail Operations Fund.” (House OVERRIDE, 148-0     Senate OVERRIDE, 33-2)

27. LD 1617, “An Act Regarding the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 34-1     House OVERRIDE, 129-18)

28. LD 1692, “An Act to Amend and Clarify the Laws Governing the Brunswick Naval Air Station Job Increment Financing Fund.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 26-9     House SUSTAIN, 85-62) DEAD

29. LD 867, “An Act To Provide Tax Fairness and To Lower Medical Expenses for Patients under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.” (Senate SUSTAIN, 23-12) DEAD

30. LD 690, “An Act To Ensure the Safety of Home Birth.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 28-7)

31. LD 1645, “An Act To Address Employee Recruitment and Retention Issues at State Mental Health Institutions.” (Senate OVERRIDE, 34-0)

32. LD 1472, “Resolve, To Enhance the Administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program by Creating Clear Guidelines for Organizations and Streamlining the Application Process.” (Senate SUSTAIN, 23-12) DEAD

33. LD 1481, “An Act to Protect Maine’s Natural Resources Jobs by Exempting from Sales Tax Fuel Used in Commercial Farming, Fishing and Forestry.”

 

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NOTE: This post will be updated as results become known.

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Maine House Rejects HO #34, 96-52

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

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

Roll call of the vote here.

From the House Journal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor LePage issued a written statement to the press:

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

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

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Maine House Release Resolution Condemning Governor Paul LePage

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

Statement put out by Maine House Democrats this evening:

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

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

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

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

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

The resolution is below.

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

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Maine House Republican Members Outline 2016 Legislative Objectives

Posted on January 4, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

From a press release:

“The Maine Legislature must deal with a number of challenges as legislators return to Augusta this week.

Maine is in the midst of the worst drug crisis in state history. Governor LePage requested funding for 10 new MDEA agents immediately to help fight the supply side of this epidemic. That funding has been found within existing resources and the process of recruiting those agents has already begun.

Now it’s time for legislators to turn their attention toward drug treatment and education. This is an issue that requires a thoughtful and thorough process and whatever plan is ultimately brought forward for a vote must be completely vetted by the committees of jurisdiction. We cannot afford to race through this process.

In addition to the drug epidemic, there are several fiscal issues that demand the immediate attention of legislators.

• Tax Conformity: On the heels of the omnibus spending package passed in Washington last month, whether or not Maine complies with these new tax changes could cost roughly $40 million.

• Voter approved changes made to the Maine Clean Elections Program will cost the state an additional $7-$10 million.

• Indigent Legal Services: This program was not funded for the second year of the biennium. This is a constitutionally mandated program and will require $4 million in funding.

• County Jails Issue: A bill to address the situation with the county jails was carried over to the upcoming session. This also has the potential to cost the state additional money.

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

    “Every day, more Maine families struggle to save the lives of their loved ones suffering from crippling addiction. While some members would rather posture in front of a microphone, we are focused on using available resources to mount a serious effort to tackle the drug crisis and give families, law enforcement, and treatment providers the tools they need.”
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Andi’s Weekly Review/ Sneak Peek, Jan 1 (NEW WEEKLY FEATURE) #mepolitics

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

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

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“Alliance for the Common Good Rally of Unity

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

Hall of Flags, State Capitol, Augusta

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

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

What do our legislators need to hear from the public?

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

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

Some issues we will likely address there:

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

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

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

So with that in mind, here goes nothing!

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

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

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

    pigg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK’S SNEAK PEEK:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Andi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Done that.

Thank Beth and her staff for a fine job.

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

Few comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I think we have learned:

Goodwill Hinckley needed a new president.

Their Board undertook a recruitment and application process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston):

The role of this committee is to shine a light.

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

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

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston) reads his

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

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

Are any of us as lawmakers?

What about everyday Mainers or independent organizations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUDIO: We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

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

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

    We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

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

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From an earlier media advisory:

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

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

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

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

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

Here is video of the entire discussion.

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

Some of the news stories with reactions are linked below.

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

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Speaker Eves’ Legal Team File ‘Notice of Claim’ Against Governor LePage with Attorney General’s Office

Posted on August 12, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Attorneys for Maine Speaker of the House Mark Eves filed a state law claim against Governor Paul LePage today with the state’s Attorney General. From an accompanying press release by David Webbert:

 

David Webbert of Johnson, Webbert & Young, LLP speaks to press while Speaker Mark Eves looks on (July 2015).

David Webbert of Johnson, Webbert & Young, LLP speaks to press while Speaker Mark Eves looks on (July 2015).

Today, I filed a new notice of claim under Maine law against Gov. Paul LePage on behalf of Speaker Mark Eves.

The attached written notice explains why Speaker Eves has a very strong state law claim against the Governor for intentional interference with employment.  Not only did the governor violate federal law, but he also violated Maine law when he blackmailed Good Will-Hinckley to coerce it into firing Speaker Eves. This state law claim adds to the Speaker’s case against the Governor and will be considered as part of the lawsuit in federal court.

Maine law requires that this notice be filed with the Office of the Governor and the Attorney General. It also requires that Speaker Eves wait 120 days after filing this notice before he can add this state law claim to his lawsuit filed in federal court on July 30, 2015.

Here is the notice of claim.

*RELATED: “Mark W. Eves Vs Paul R. LePage” Federal Civil Lawsuit Filed In U.S. District Court

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