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.
Thank Beth and her staff for a fine job.
Committee’s job is done. Now up to others if anything happens from here.
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?
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.
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.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Testimony given under oath to the GOC over the course over almost eight hours relating to the ongoing investigations into allegations of the governor’s actions against Good Will-Hinckley school in their hiring of Speaker of the House Mark Eves. Recorded 11/12/15. In order:
Committee next meets on December 3.
Via a second camera, the testimonies of the three LePage staffers and administration officials subpoenaed to testify are available separately.
Link here to the published OPEGA report on LePage/ Eves/ Good Will-Hinckley: Information Brief on State Funding for Good Will-HinckleyRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Jack Moore, Chair of Good Will-Hinckley Executive Board
GOC Chairs Senator Roger Katz, Representative Chuck Kruger meet with press
Senator Katz speaks with WMTW at end of hearing
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee Unanimously Votes to Investigate Governor Paul LePage
On the heels of yesterday’s citizen rally at the State House (LePage Admits To Threatening Good Will-Hinckley Re: Eves Hiring, Denies Actions Were “Blackmail”) came news late in the afternoon that the Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee (GOC) would be meeting today to take up the investigation requests by Republican State Senator Tom Saviello of Wilton and a trio of Representatives, Independents Jeff Evangelos of Friendship, Ben Chipman of Portland and Democrat Charlotte Warren of Hallowell.
Senate: Roger J. Katz, Chair (R-Kennebec)
David C. Burns (R-Washington)
Paul T. Davis, Sr. (R-Piscataquis)
Christopher K. Johnson (D-Lincoln)
Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland)
G. William Diamond (D-Cumberland)
House: Chuck Kruger, Chair (D-Thomaston)
Robert S. Duchesne (D-Hudson)
Anne-Marie Mastraccio (D-Sanford)
Michael D. McClellan (R-Raymond)
Richard H. Campbell (R-Orrington)
Deborah J. Sanderson (R-Chelsea)
Governor LePage through his legal counsel Cynthia Montgomery sent a letter to the committee, questioning their authority to conduct any sort of investigation into the chief executive officer.
The 12 GOC members met with Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) Director Bath Ashcroft for almost an hour, decided that they did indeed have sufficient authority to look into the serious allegations, and proceeded to discuss the scope of the investigations to be conducted by OPEGA.
Here is video of the meeting, with the sole agenda item for GOC being “NEW BUSINESS- Requests for an OPEGA Review of Matters Relating to Funding for the Goodwill- Hinckley School”.
After almost an hour of discussion, the committee agreed by an unanimous 12-0 vote to have OPEGA look into the concerns. Specific goals and parameters were set by the committee as to the scope.
Afterwards, some of those involved were willing to issue quick statements.
The committee will meet again at 9 am on Friday, July 17.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
(NOTE: All of these will be separated and written up over the rest of the week. In the meanwhile, for the sake of sharing quickly, here are all 44 video clips taken during the Monday afternoon/ evening second session in order of debate.)
1. LD 1829, “An Act To Require the Department of Health and Human Services To Report Annually on Investigations and Prosecutions of False Claims Made under the MaineCare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Food Supplement Programs”.
ROLL CALL: 21 Yeas – 14 Nays
HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1829 to Senate
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1829
Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting LD 1829
Asst Minority Leader Sen. Roger Katz Opposing LD 1829
Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) Supporting LD 1829
HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1822 (OTP as amended by H-787) to Senate
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by H-787
Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting H-787 amended LD 1822
Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by H-787
Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Offers SAS 505 to amend LD 1822
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) opposing LD 1822 SAS-505
HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505
Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 1)
Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing LD 1822 CAH 787, SAS 505
Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) Opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505
Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505
Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505
Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505
Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) opposing LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505
Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 1)
Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) concludes supporting remarks on LD 1822, SAS-505
Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting LD 1822 as amended by SAS-505 (PT 2)
HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1820 as amended to Senate
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) opposing LD 1820
Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) supporting LD 1820
HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1842 to Senate w/ ONTP committee recommendation
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing ONTP on LD 1842
Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842
Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Opposing “ONTP” on LD 1842
Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842
Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland) supporting ONTP on LD 1842
Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842
Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Supporting “ONTP” on LD 1842
HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1815 (“ONTP”) to Senate
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing ONTP on LD 1815
Sen. Ron Collins (R-York) Opposing ONTP on LD 1815
Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) opposing ONTP on LD 1815
Asst Majority Leader Anne Haskell (D-Cumberland) supporting ONTP on LD 1815
Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) supporting ONTP on LD 1815
HHS Chair Sen. Margaret Craven Introduces LD 1844 (ONTP) to Senate
Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation
Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation
Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) opposing LD 1844 ONTP recommendation
Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) supporting LD 1844 ONTP recommendation
Complete Video Record of Maine House Debates LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”
In chronological order, here are clips from this week’s House floor debate on LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”. The bill passed the chamber, but as in the Senate last week, narrowly failed to garner a veto proof majority.
Whenever possible, the full text of the prepared remarks has been linked to each clip; for others, either direct quotes or summaries as provided by House Democratic legislative aides online has been shared.
HHS Chair Rep. Dick Farnsworth (D-Portland) Presents LD 1487
Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)
Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) supporting LD 1487
Asst. Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)
Rep. McCabe thanks lawmakers for this bipartisan effort. “This bipartisan health care bill can make a different to 70,000 Mainers — Our friends, our family, our neighbors.”
Rep. Jeff McCabe on economic benefits of health care expansion: “Why not these jobs? Why not now? ”
Rep. Paul McGowan (D-York) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Paul McGowan on health problems he had: “I had that health experience with the security of health insurance. Everybody in this chamber has the security of health insurance.”
Rep. Paul McGowan: “Can you imagine living in a society where if your house caught on fire and you called the fire department, and they said I’m sorry, you don’t qualify?”
Rep. Helen Rankin (D-Hiram) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Helen Rankin: “Our veterans who have sacrificed everything. Do we really turn away from them? I think not.”
Rep. Rankin: “Who made us God to decide about the lives of these people who are so desperate? … I think it’s time for us to pay it forward.”
Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)
Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Matt Pouliot: “This bill is a valiant attempt to find a middle ground, incorporating many principles that are important to me. … I will be supporting this motion.”
Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 1
Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 2
Rep. Craig Hickman reading from a constituent letter: “Are we really going to let these people down and say tough luck you’re on your own?… We are a better nation than that. We are a more compassionate people than that.”
House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)
Rep. Seth Berry: “Health care expansion makes good business sense. There’s also the human cost of denying health care to 70,000 Mainers.”
Rep. Berry on his younger brother: “He is one of the most hardworking Mainers you’ll ever meet. He is one of the Mainers who fall into the coverage gap caused by our failure to expand health care.”
Rep. Bobbi Beavers (D-S Berwick) in support of LD 1487
Rep. Roberta Beavers : “In York County alone, about 82 hundred more people will gain access to health care. An additional $43 million will be spent each year on health care services by 2016, stimulating about $59 million in additional economic activity and 513 new jobs in my county.”
Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487
Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487 (full remarks here)
- “The argument that that everyone should go on the exchange is false. Yes, one can purchase an insurance plan for $50 per month with a $2,5000 deductable. When one makes less than $12,000 a year, this is an impossibility. Once again, lose your life or lose your livelihood. I ask, what choice would you make?
It saddens me deeply that this debate has become more about politics than about people.”
Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) opposing LD 1487
Rep. Dr. Jane Pringle (D-Windham) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Jane Pringle, a retired doctor on why she’s in the Legislature: “I have watched the number of patients without health care grow. I have seen too many patients who could not get the health care they need until they were in crisis.”
Rep. Pringle: “Imagine coming to me as your doctor with chest pain. And I say, ‘Have you worked hard enough today for me to give you health care?'”
Rep. Pringle on the lack of belief in a system that will increase access, lower costs for all and save lives: “We have the power to do this. We just have to make this choice.”
Rep. Paulette Beaudoin (D-Biddeford) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) opposing LD 1487
Rep. Josh Plante (D-Berwick) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Dr. Ann Dorney (D-Norridgewock) supporting LD 1487
Another patient of Rep. Dorney lost health coverage, ran out of insulin and ended up in the ICU with dangerously high blood sugars. The hospital gave her some insulin when she was well enough to leave.
Rep. Bernard Ayotte (R-Caswell) opposing LD 1487
Rep. Sheryl Briggs (D-Mexico) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Lisa Villa (D-Harrison) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)
- Rep. Brian Jones on health care needs in the community: “The collection plate in church and the donation jar in the store have demonstrated they cannot completely fulfill this purpose. Nor can directives to get a better job.”
Rep. Dr. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Steve Moriarty (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Tom Longstaff (D-Waterville) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Katherine Cassidy (D-Lubec) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)
Rep. Katherine Cassidy about constituent with cancer: “They already put a portion of cancer treatment on their daughter’s credit card.”
Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487
Rep. James Campbell (U-Newfield) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 2)
Questions posed through the Speaker during LD 1487 floor debate
Rep. Dick Campbell (R-Orrington) opposing LD 1487
Rep. Karen Kusiak (D-Fairfield) supporting LD 1487
Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) supporting LD 1487
Here is the entire Maine State Senate LD 1487 floor debate from 3/12/14, unedited and in order of speakers.
Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Bill Sponsor Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Dick Woodbury (I-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Bill Sponsor Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) Speaks in Support of LD 1487 (PT 1)
Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Speaks in Opposition to LD 1487 (PT 1)
Sen. Linda Valentino (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. John Tuttle (D-York) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) Speaks in Opposition to LD 1487
Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. David Dutremble (D-York) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Jim Boyle (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin) Opposing LD 1487
Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Brian Langley (R-Hancock) Opposing LD 1487
Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) Opposing LD 1487
Sen. Roger Sherman (R-Aroostook) Opposing LD 1487
Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) Opposing LD 1487
Sen. Rebecca Millet (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487
ME Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 1)
ME Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 2)
Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland) Speaking in Support of LD 1487
Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) Opposing LD 1487
Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 2)
Sen. Tom Saviello Speaking in Support of LD 1487 (PT 2)
Live tweets from within the Maine Government Oversight Committee’s probe into alleged document shredding by ME Center for Disease Control officials. (part 1)
Want to know about CDC questioning? @cwilliams55 will be tweeting from the GOC meeting.
Government Oversight Committee starting. Subpoenaed CDC employees are here flanked by lawyers. #mepolitics
Bill Nemitz: #Maine CDC officials’ request for secrecy mocks good #government http://www.pressherald.com/news/newscolumnists/billnemitz/Bill_Nemiz__Will_CDC_scandal_end_up_behind_closed_doors_.html … via @pressherald #mepolitics
Committee deciding whether to take testimony in executive session. If so all testimony would be confidential. #mepolitics
Gov. Oversight meeting debating whether to go into executive session to hear testimony from CDC officials. #mepolitics
Sen Craven: This problem arose out of a lack of transparency which is why she opposes going into executive session. #mepolitics
Beth Ashcroft outlines process and statutes around exec. session at GOC. #mepolitics
Sen. Burns says committee should be trusted to take testimony behind closed doors; don’t want to be used as forum for civil litigation…
Katz says open session goes core of why the committee exists. Ironic if committee responsible for sunshine goes into the dark. #mepolitics
Craven and Katz prefer open session; Burns opposed. #mepolitics
Katz says he has confidence they will get truthful answers. #mepolitics
I wonder if the media present will get to weigh in on the executive session debate? #mepolitics
Johnson speaks for open session. Davis sees as deposition, should be private. #mepolitics
Davis says testimony is like a deposition and it should be handled in private #mepolitics
Cotta brings up the issue of timing with ongoing litigation. #mepolitics
Cotta: either exec. session or wait until after lawsuit complete. #mepolitics
Cain says this is a “new space” for Government Oversight. and at a “precedent-setting moment.” #mepolitics
Accountability is at the heart of Cain’s personal opinion that the work be done in open session. #mepolitics
Sen. Cain in Gov. Oversight Cmt: Making the case for transparency, oversight and accountability in CDC hearing now #mepolitics
Cain: keep discussion in public. Kruger agrees with Cain. Makes motion to keep open session. #mepolitics
It is possible to go in on a case-by-case basis — but they will need a clear motion on why and must take that vote in public. #mepolitics
@thisdog Aren’t depositions turned over to attorneys on the other side?
Rep. Kruger calls for sunlight in oversight cmt despite LePage admin request to block public review of CDC doc shredding case #mepolitics
“We have a lot of attorneys in the room today.” No kidding. #mepolitics
Attorney for DHHS trying to address committee before vote on executive session; Cain, co-chair, wants the vote first #mepolitics
Cain says she doesn’t want a “free-for-all” from the audience. #mepolitics
Government Oversight Committee votes to conduct CDC document shredding probe in public. #mepolitics
Government Oversight Committee votes 7-3 not to go behind closed doors for testimony in document shredding case@WCSH6
GOC votes 7-3 to keep testimony in public #mepolitics
Vote: 7-3 to remain in public session. #mepolitics
Bipartisan oversight cmt votes 7-3 in favor of public session to discuss LePage’s CDC document shredding scandal #mepolitics
Question now: How many of CDC witnesses take 5th, to avoid self-incrimination. That’s what Paul Violette did in 2011 #mepolitics
If you’re allergic to lawyers the GOC meeting this morning is a hazardous environment to be in. #mepolitics
@thisdog There’s room behind us if you get tired of standing
BREAKING: The Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee just denied a request by Gov. LePage’s managers… http://fb.me/6unxKDcM5
Cain: order of testimony – Wigand, Finch, Leahy-Lind, Sockabasin, Pinette, Zukas. #mepolitics
Nemitz on how LePage’s CDC officials’ request for secrecy mocks good govt http://www.pressherald.com/news/newscolumnists/billnemitz/Bill_Nemiz__Will_CDC_scandal_end_up_behind_closed_doors_.html … #mepolitics
Cain: no questioning of witnesses by other witnesses or their attorneys will be allowed.#mepolitics
Legislative panel mulls allowing secret testimony in shredding scandal http://on.wmtw.com/1dZgnES
All those testifying today can have their lawyer with them. Most will likely take the 5th. #mepolitics
Lawyer objecting to broadcasting or televising these proceedings. #mepolitics
Attorney asks that public hearing not be broadcast. #mepolitics
Deb Wigand, first up. Her Attorney requests to turn off live cameras, MPBN. Dep. AG says that won’t comply with FOAA #mepolitics
Attorney for the state says they will allow the broadcast to continue. #mepolitics
Weigand attorney trying to prevent us from recording testimony. AG’s office slams the door on that. Win #2 for the media. #mepolitics
LePage’s CDC lawyers continue to try to block public testimony with legal maneuvers; Oversight cmt says no #mepolitics
They are swearing in witnesses now. #mepolitics
I apologize for the rogue “e” it’s Wigand
Sen. Cain upholds transparency in CDC hearing #mepolitics
Katz starts questions. First on decision to use RFP. #mepolitics
Wigand with attorney. Direction division of population health. Katz asks her about use of RFPs for lead agency. #mepolitics
Wigand is answering first question, so this won’t be a complete stonewalling. #mepolitics
Wigand, dir. of public health, not a defendant in civil suit, BTW. Three of the 5 CDC people here are. #mepolitics
Wigand: Finch told her he was asked to destroy grant docs. He wasn’t comfortable w/it. She defends reason not 2 make it an issue #mepolitics
Wigand said she told Finch to do what he felt comfortable doing.#mepolitics
Maine legislators vote to keep testimony public today in CDC probe. http://tinyurl.com/qfw38v9
Wigand: funding cut for healthy Maine partnerships.#mepolitics
Katz line of questions why not even cut instead of reduction in HMPs. #mepolitics
Katz asks about scoring criteria for Healthy Maine partnership. Which ones will be designated leads. #mepolitics
Question now on the scoring criteria that was created to judge HMPs. Notes first round were not weighted? #mepolitics
Katz ?s aimed @ reason for funding change amid cuts to health program. Key issue b/c report found evidence of grant manipulation #mepolitics
Wigand: recalls no discussion about criteria, including weighting. #mepolitics
Wigand denies destroying or asking anyone to destroy documents #mepolitics
Wigand testifies that CDC workers were asked to destroy documents. #mepolitics
Wigand says she was not asked to shred documents but did hear that somebody was asked to destroy documents. #mepolitics
Wigand: “I have not been asked to destroy any documents.” Also denies asking anyone else to destroy documents. #mepolitics
Wigand says she talked to Finch, who said he was asked to destroy documents and wasn’t comfortable about that. #mepolitics
CDC worker testifies she was aware people in the agency were asked to destroy documents@WCSH6
Maine CDC worker didn’t think destroying document request was for concealment but to cut down on multiple versions of documents@WCSH6
Wigand said she told Finch to do what he felt comfortable doing.#mepolitics
Katz: did you become aware thT Bangor had been second place, then became in first place.#mepolitics
Wigand didn’t recall #mepolitics
Sharon Leahy-Lind with attorney Cynthia Dill pic.twitter.com/O03lBie9fG
Wigand stays on the record and candidly answers. #mepolitics
Wigand: Finch told her he was asked to destroy grant docs. He wasn’t comfortable w/it. She defends reason not 2 make it an issue #mepolitics
Wigand: I was involved in reviewing ideas around criteria, but not ratings.#mepolitics
Wigand: “I saw that as a version control issue.” Attempt at concealment “never occurred to me.” #mepolitics
Wigand on hearing her subordinate saying he was asked to destroy documents: didn’t think this was an effort at concealment. #mepolitics
Wigand says “shred” was a media term but doc destruction was more an issue of “version control” #mepolitics
Why was Finch uncomfortable destroying documents? If it was simply “version control”? #mepolitics
Wigand: defunding was a new thing. #mepolitics
Wigand: I was not involved in scoring HMPs. #mepolitics
Wigand: I don’t remember a discussion about destroying things or keeping things.#mepolitics
Wigand indicating there’s confusion about when to keep working documents. #mepolitics
Wigand says it’s still not clear to her who’s in charge of records retention at the CDC. Wow. #mepolitics
Cain goes back to why Finch was uncomfortable with destruction order. #mepolitics
Wigand: Christine Zukas, defendant in whistleblower suit, asked my subordinate to destroy grant docs #mepolitics
Wigand says it was Zukas who gave the order to destroy documents. #mepolitics
Wigand: “I know it was Christine Zukas” who asked Finch to destroy the documents.#mepolitics
Wigand steps down#mepolitics
Wigand done for now. She answered every question. She is not part of the civil suit. #mepolitics
Finch takes seat before GOC
Finch, senior program manager for community based programs#mepolitics
Finch now up before GOC on CDC doc shred case. #mepolitics
Up next: CDC Senior Program Manager for Community-based Programming Andrew Finch. #mepolitics
Finch: told Wigand he’d been told to purge files of all development criteria for HMPs.#mepolitics
Maine CDC worker says Christine Zukas told another employee to destroy documents @WCSH6
Maine CDC worker Andy Finch says Christine Zukas asked him to purge his files @wcsh6
Finch: was member of working group that created criteria for HMPs. #mepolitics
Maine CDC worker Andy Finch says Chistine Zukas told him to purge his files @WCSH6
Finch: development of criteria was a process, criteria were considered and discarded along the way.#mepolitics
Cain: consider how HMPs would fare under new criteria? Finch: Absolutely not. #mepolitics
Finch, not a defendant in civil suit, up now. Was part of scoring criteria drafting, also says he was asked to destroy docs #mepolitics
Finch: Sharon, Deb and myself came up with initial criteria for scoring 27 HMPs. #mepolitics
CDC worker Andy Finch says instruction to destroy documents was so that previous versions wouldn’t be confused with final documents
Finch: “I have no such sheet in my possession” that had Bangor in second place. #mepolitics
Finch: discussion that it would be ironic if Bangor was not a lead HMPS.#mepolitics
Finch: weighting was changed to scoring. #mepolitics
Finch: CDC group changed weighting of criteria for outcome of funding decisions to show clearer leaders. #mepolitics
Finch: group made decision to change weightings in criteria to achieve greater difference in scores, but not outcome.#mepolitics
Maine lawmakers vote to keep testimony public in CDC probe: The Government Oversight Committee is taking… http://dlvr.it/587TDY
Just how the scoring for HMPs was manipulated to reach results becomes more clear. #mepolitics
Finch: don’t know why scoring info. not released at time winners announced. #mepolitics
Finch: Zukas told him to destroy documents after she had met with CDC Director Pinnette. #mepolitics
Finch says he had never been asked to destroy, purge, shred etc documents in his 18 years as a state employee #mepolitics
Finch says in 18 years in state gov’t he had never before ordered to destroy documents. #mepolitics
Finch: Never in 18 years asked to destroy docs until 2012. Says Zukas requested it after meeting CDC dir. Pinette #mepolitics
Finch: “I have never been instructed to do that (destroy documents) in my 18 years as an employee”#mepolitics
Finch: “I burned (documents asked to be destroyed)to a disc and removed from my computer.” Gave to OPEGA.#mepolitics
Finch didn’t destroy docs. He burned them to a disc and later turned them over to watchdog agency #mepolitics
Bigger picture here is that it sounds like CDC folks don’t know what public information to keep, who is in charge of it, etc. #mepolitics
Finch says he’s had no training on public document retention. Did not know whon#foaa point was at CDC.#mepolitics
Rep Harvell said he wanted to embrace his “inner-Jack McCoy” here. Looking forward 2 it. He’s legendarily feared in House floor debates.
Maine lawmakers vote to keep testimony public in CDC probe: The Government Oversight Committee is taking… http://dlvr.it/587ntS
The way the CDC scored this “competition” seems eerily similar to the figure skating judges in Sochi
Maine lawmakers vote to keep testimony public in CDC probe . http://bit.ly/1npEaUL
Let’s remember that we’re talking about steering $4.7 million in taxpayer dollars. #mepolitics
Finch: “it appears that way.” In answer to Katz ? about Bangor moving into 1st after scores were weighted.#mepolitics
Katz compares grant scoring change to making football field goals 4 points after game is settled. Finch doesn’t disagree #mepolitics
Katz: How is what you did different from changing the rules in football after the game? Finch: It isn’t. #mepolitics
Finch: re: destruction request”I had been given this directive and I had not followed through with it.” #mepolitics
Finch: re: destruction request”I had been given this directive and I had not followed through with it.” #mepolitics
Finch: “the director was not involved in the (criteria)development group.” #mepolitics
GREAT football analogy by Katz compares CDC scoring 2 changing rules after a game is over awarding 4 points for FG changing the outcome
Finch: “I presented the different weighting scenarios to Christine Zukas.” #mepolitics
GOC breaks #mepolitics
The last of the 3, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson’s sponsored LD 1640, “An Act To Enhance the Stability and Predictability of Health Care Costs for Returning Veterans and Others by Addressing the Issues Associated with Hospital Charity Care and Bad Debt”, has yet to be voted out by committee.
Earlier today, Democrats sent out a press release to remind about the positive effects of expansion for tens of thousands of Mainers and urging support of Senator Katz’s bill:
- The federal government has offered to pay 100 percent of the cost of health care for tens of thousands of Mainers under the Affordable Care Act. Key moderate Republicans and Democrats have worked on a bipartisan plan, LD 1487, to accept these funds.
This is a common sense bipartisan proposal saves lives, saves money and creates jobs. The bipartisan plan includes a managed care program to lower the cost of health care and hold government and providers accountable for making sure people have access to appropriate care at an appropriate time, while also ensuring fair prices. It also puts in place a plan to reduce the wait list for home care services for Mainers with intellectual disabilities and adds two new Medicaid fraud investigators to step up fraud prosecutions.
“We have a good-faith compromise that would accept federal dollars to provide life-saving health care to 70,000 Mainers,” said House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “We have an opportunity to change lives for the better and improve the health of thousands of our neighbors. It’s the right thing to do.”
Here are some of the impacts, listed by county:
- 5,829 people would gain access to health care.
- An additional $30 million will be spent annually on health care services by 2016, stimulating about $45 million in additional economic activity.
- Expansion would create approximately 378 new jobs in the county.
- 4,615 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $24 million spent annually on health care services, $31 million total in additional economic activity
- 280 new jobs
- 12,018 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $63 million spent annually, $104 million in additional economic activity
- 846 new jobs
- 1,878 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $10 million spent annually on health care services, $13 million in additional economic activity
- 123 new jobs
- 3,235 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $17 million spent annually on health care services, $23 million in additional economic activity
- 204 new jobs
- 5,997 people would gain access to health car;
- Additional $32 million spent annually on health care services, $43 million in additional economic activity
- 367 new jobs
- 2,317 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $12 million spent annually on health care services, $17 million in additional economic activity
- 154 new jobs
- 1,817 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $10 million spent annually on health care services, $13 million in additional economic activity
- 124 new jobs
- 3,806 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $20 million spent annually on health care services, $25 million in additional economic activity
- 231 new jobs
- 8,447 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $45 million spent annually on health care services, $66 million in additional economic activity
- 545 new jobs
- 1,067 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $6 million spent annually on health care services, $6 million in additional economic activity
- 63 new jobs
- 1,456 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $8 million spent annually on health care services, $3 million in additional economic activity
- 34 new jobs
- 3,590 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $19 million spent annually on health care services, $23 million in additional economic activity
- 207 new jobs
- 2,629 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $14 million spent annually on health care services, $18 million in additional economic activity
- 161 new jobs
- 2,601 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $14 million spent annually on health care services, $17 million in additional economic activity
- 155 new jobs
- 8,196 people would gain access to health care
- Additional $43 million spent annually on health care services, $59 million in additional economic activity
- 513 new jobs
Here again is a clip of Senator Katz introducing his bill to the committee on February 26:
The HHS committee votes on both LD 1487 and 1578 were straight party line votes, even though 1487 is sponsored by two Republican senators, and is indicative of the strong pressure being put onto GOP lawmakers formerly open to expansion by the LePage administration may be having some effect.
February 4: Boomerang Bills: Medicaid Expansion, Revenue Sharing- Now Right To Work?
January 16: Speaker Of The House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) Presents LD 1578 Expanding Federally Funded Health Care In HHS Public Hearing (Video; Text)
Last week on February 24, Maine Governor Paul LePage put forth a press release with an unusual claim- that Maine state agencies were being “cannibalized by welfare spending”, due to Maine’s expansions years ago.
“Because Maine already expanded welfare a decade ago, Medicaid is now cannibalizing funding from all other state agencies,” said Governor LePage. “That means the state cannot fully pay its 55 percent share of local education costs. It cannot hire more Maine State Troopers or repair National Guard facilities. The state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct research on our fisheries. It cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.”
“We simply cannot keep throwing money at an inadequate welfare program. The state is not meeting the health care needs of vulnerable Mainers, and adding more people to the welfare rolls will only exacerbate the problem,”Governor LePage said. “Expanding welfare a decade did not increase access or improve the quality of care, nor did it help uninsured Mainers. Now it is threatening all of the other programs and services Mainers expect from their state government.”
“Our state is facing a fiscal crisis, and we need to examine our spending practices, evaluate the delivery of services and gain control of our welfare system,”said Governor LePage. “Maine’s economic security and future is at stake, and we must make hard choices. My challenge as Governor and our challenge as a state is to find ways to help Maine families prosper, improve the business climate, foster better educational opportunities while still protecting those most in need with limited resources. We cannot do that while Medicaid is consuming an inordinate amount of our finite financial resources.”
The messages were repeat statements of LePage’s February 19 weekly radio address and an earlier address from January 15 with much of the governor’s proof of his claims coming from the faulty Alexander Report, now repackaged as “The Feasibility of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act” (PDF warning).What had started the Governor’s discussion on refusing to expand Medicaid (despite numerous reports of how beneficial such expansion would be for Maine and support from the Maine Hospital Association) were plans by Democratic leaders to introduce of a pair of Medicaid expansion bills:
- LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People” sponsored by Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick)
- LD 1640, “An Act To Enhance the Stability and Predictability of Health Care Costs for Returning Veterans and Others by Addressing the Issues Associated with Hospital Charity Care and Bad Debt” Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook)’s bill
To date, neither bill has yet been voted out of HHS committee.
But the final straw? Learning that despite all of his best efforts, TWO MEMBERS OF HIS OWN REPUBLICAN CAUCUS (Senators Roger Katz and Tom Saviello) WERE GOING TO OFFER UP A THIRD MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL!!
So, not satisfied that his words were getting through to the public or legislators, the LePage administration decided to go further- and employ a desperate sort of “throw everything against the wall until something sticks” technique, by emailing various state agencies and demanding the communications directors supply public statements in regard to how expansion would adversely affect their budgets.
The results see below were sent out as part of a February 24 press release.
But apparently that STILL did not have the desired effect and impact- so on February 26, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew hosted a large media event in Governor LePage’s cabinet room with a variety of department heads dutifully taking their turns and standing to speak to the gathered Maine press about how their budgets were being “cannibalized” by the monies going into DHHS, as well as a new LePage assertion that “Medicaid Expansion is Bad for the Environment”.
Media Advisory: Medicaid Expansion is Bad for the Environment
Medicaid expansion threatens programs, positions and services in all state departments. During the past three years, state government has eliminated and reduced funding in every state agency to pay for welfare costs.
As Medicaid spending continues to consume the General Fund, there is less and less revenue for education, law enforcement, economic development and programs to protect our natural resources.
On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the LePage Administration will hold a news conference with commissioners of natural resources agencies to focus on programs and services that will be impacted further should Medicaid expansion pass.
“Because Maine already expanded welfare a decade ago, Medicaid is now cannibalizing funding from all other state agencies,” said Governor LePage. “That means the state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct research on our fisheries. It cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.”
In the 13 years since Maine expanded welfare, Medicaid enrollment has more than doubled, and its cost has grown by $1.3 billion. Medicaid now takes 25 percent of all General Fund revenue.
More than $2 billion will be spent on Maine’s Medicaid program over the next two years. Even without expansion, Medicaid is projected to total more than 35 percent of the General Fund.
While the room was packed with currently serving GOP legislators, Republican legislative candidates, volunteers with signs held up opposing Medicaid expansion, bunches of Maine media and those speaking, Governor Paul LePage was nowhere to be seen and did not attend the press conference. Nor was his absence explained by staff.
Here are clips from that event.
1. DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew
2. ME Dept of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher
3. Maine Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb
4. Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock
5. Maine DEP Spokesperson Jessamine Logan
6. Conclusion; media Q&A
A reminder: Mary Mayhew has time and time again, over the course of the three years since she took over the reins after the March 2011 abrupt firing of for Maine CDC Director then MaineCare head Dr. Dora Mills, never been able to get solid numbers on her department’s fiscal needs, outbound spending costs, over/ under payments, let alone satisfactory explanations of countless “IT issues”/ documented complaints to media or the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee in the Legislature.
So that the crux of the LePage administration’s argument being that “Medicaid expansion will cause DHHS’ budgetary needs to grow to the point that other state agencies to suffer” seems to be either utterly oblivious of Mayhew’s horrendous mismanagement at best or completely disingenuous in ignoring the demonstrated and documented missteps (arguably the true cause of the “cannibalism”) at worst.
Skipping past the third option that the “unfunded $400 million tax cuts to the wealthy” chickens have come home to roost…
The media circus didn’t stop Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec), who went before the HHS Committee a few hours later and presented the bill that he and fellow Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) sponsored, LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”.
Videos here of the public hearing on LD 1487:
1. Part 1
2. Part 2
3. Q&A with Dr David Howes of Martins Point HealthCare
4. Speaker of the House Mark Eves in support
5. DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew in opposition
The two Republican senators, in preparation of the bill’s introduction, had spoken previously with Portland Press Herald at length and in detail about LD 1487:
Katz and Saviello stopped by the newsroom this week and laid out a clear, compelling and perfectly rational argument behind their proposal:
- It would “sunset” automatically in three years, when the 100 percent federal funding begins dropping incrementally to 90 percent. And if the feds reneged on their 100-percent promise before then, the plug would get pulled immediately.
- It would require a nonpartisan analysis to help future lawmakers determine whether the expansion achieved its goals (including a 5 percent reduction in health delivery costs) over those three years and, more importantly, whether the program is worth preserving beyond the three-year cutoff.
- It would eliminate those abhorrent waiting lists for developmentally disabled adults who need non-health services (they already receive MaineCare) to live fulfilling lives.
Now, here’s where things get a little odd.
Look at that earlier Governor’s Cabinet press conference Q&A clip again, paying particular attention to the 1:42 mark.
Mayhew is interrupted mid-explanation to WCSH’s Don Carrigan by an unseen woman speaking (to Mary’s right) and prompting the commissioner with a talking point. And Mayhew took it in stride, as if it was not a rather egregious breech to interrupt an administration official while on camera during a press conference.Who was that woman? Well, let’s back up here, by about 2 hours- because between 9-11am that same morning down in the State House Welcome Center, a rather large group of supposed volunteers were assembled for a “legislative lobbying training session”.
In reality, the group were a bunch of well organized members of the Cumberland County Republicans, including chair/ state committee member Eric Lusk, vice chair Bill Gardner, former state senate candidates Michael Coleman, Eric Brakey (who also heads Maine’s Defender of Liberty PAC), Kristen Martin (who was the woman who later jumped in while Commissioner Mayhew was speaking at the press conference), former House GOP press officer Vic Bernadelli and others.
A few interesting moments on the clip:
1. At 8:50 after summing up what had already been discussed including lobbying instructions, Lusk asked those who can stay to be up at the Governor’s office at 12:15, “there may be something of a gathering”, “please grab some signs”.
2. At the 9:40 mark, Gardner discusses the placards as needing (paraphrase) “to get back the signs, they belong to Susan Dench of Informed Women’s Network; she takes them all over the place” (to events).
3. Martin from 9:56 discusses reimbursements, as well as opines that the poor can get free care at the hospitals, with no bills to be paid.
4. At the 10:45 mark Lusk is asked by an audience member why the younger citizens are targeted by the expansion and admits that the most cynical answer is that Democrats are trying to buy votes.
In late January, another anti-expansion group met in a similar gathering in the Welcome Center. Former Maine Legislator now head of Americans For Prosperity Maine Carol Weston held a press conference, speaking in opposition to Medicaid expansion and giving examples of how expansion would create financial challenges for local municipalities:
Opponents of Maine’s controversial Medicaid expansion proposal say expanding the low income health insurance program will take away critical funds from schools and other state programs. The group called Americans a For Prosperity Maine said passage of the law will lead to what it called a “Medicaid Pac-Man” that will gobble up money needed for other essential services.
It should be noted that the Legislature overwhelmingly passed LD 1762, restoring $40M in revenue sharing to Maine’s towns and the bill silently went into law unsigned last week.
Yet the same imagery of “cannibalism”, albeit via a Medicaid-fueled scribbled 1980’s PAC-Man hand drawing by Weston herself, was employed.
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