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  • LePage threatens to withhold voter approved funds for Good Will-Hinckley if Eves is hired by school

    Speaker of the Maine House Mark Eves looks out over Augusta from his office photo: Ramona du Houx

    by Ramona du Houx

    "Gov. LePage is blackmailing a school for at-risk children because I have opposed his policies. He has threatened the Good Will-Hinckley School to either fire me or lose over $500,000 in budgeted state funds and thereby lose another $2,000,000 in private funding. The Governor knows that these financial losses would put the school out of business, but he has refused to back down. This is an abuse of power that jeopardizes Maine children," wrote House Speaker Mark Eves in response to the recent actions by Gov. Paul LePage to block his job at Good Will-Hinckley.

    Today board of directors of Good Will-Hinckley announced that they rescinded its offer to Eves to be the next president of the organization, which includes the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences charter school in Fairfield.

    “The Board of Directors of Good Will-Hinckley, after a great deal of consideration, has voted to seek a new direction for the institution’s leadership,” wrote Good Will-Hinckley Board Chairman Jack Moore said in a statement. “The basis for this decision is grounded in the institution’s desire not to be involved in political controversy that will divert attention away from our core mission of serving children and has the potential to jeopardize the future of our school.”

    Good Will-Hinckley and Eves signed an employment contract in May, prompting an outrage from Republican Governor LePage. Since then, the Harold Alfond Foundation a major contributor to the school, told the board it would withhold $2.75 million in grant funding if state funding didn't happen.

    "The Governor is not above the law and his illegal use of our government money to retaliate against the Speaker of the House must not be allowed to stand," said Civil Rights Attorney for Mark Eves, David Webbert. "Governor LePage has violated our Nation’s highest law by using taxpayer money to retaliate against a top leader of Maine’s Legislature. The Governor threatened to withhold over $500,000 in already approved state funding for the Good Will-Hinckley School for at-risk children unless the School fired Mark Eves from his new job as President."

    Political games should never govern the well being of an insitutition that gives kids futures with solid educations.

    Eves, with his legal counsel, released these full statements in response to the apparent blackmail by LePage:

    "Gov. LePage is blackmailing a school for at-risk children because I have opposed his policies. He has threatened the Good Will-Hinckley School to either fire me or lose over $500,000 in budgeted state funds and thereby lose another $2,000,000 in private funding. The Governor knows that these financial losses would put the school out of business, but he has refused to back down. This is an abuse of power that jeopardizes Maine children. 

    "The Governor’s actions represent the worst kind of vendetta politics Maine has ever seen. If it goes unchecked, no legislator will feel safe in voting his conscience for fear that the Governor will go after the legislator’s family and livelihood. For 15 years, I worked on the frontlines with struggling Maine families across the state as a professional clinical therapist. I’ve helped children, adults, and seniors on the edge facing mental illness and deep poverty. My personal experience with these struggling children, families, and seniors has guided me every day in the Legislature.

    "My father served as a chaplain in the military. My mother was a teacher. They raised me and my six siblings to give back to our communities and to serve the public. These are the values that led me to a career in counseling and behavioral mental health and they guide me each day in the Legislature.

    "The Governor’s actions should deeply trouble every single taxpayer, Maine resident, and member of our citizen legislature. I have strongly disagreed with the Governor on many issues, but I have never gone after his family the way he has gone after me personally, my wife, and my three children."

     

    Statement of Civil Rights Attorney for Mark Eves, David Webbert:

    "Governor LePage has violated our Nation’s highest law by using taxpayer money to retaliate against a top leader of Maine’s Legislature. The Governor threatened to withhold over $500,000 in already approved state funding for the Good Will-Hinckley School for at-risk children unless the School fired Mark Eves from his new job as President.

    "As was his plan, the Governor left the School with no choice but to terminate Mark Eves without cause. In turn, Mark has been forced to hire legal counsel to protect his ability to provide for his three young children.

    "Under the First Amendment, the Governor is clearly prohibited from using the money of our state government to exact revenge on public officials because they do not vote the way the Governor wants. This is not how Maine’s system of government is supposed to work.

     "The Governor’s tyrannical behavior threatens our democratic institutions. Legislators must be able to freely cast their votes in accordance with their best judgment and good conscience, without fear of political interference and intimidation. If the Governor’s blatant retaliation goes unchecked, it threatens the independence of Maine’s legislature and its ability to serve their critical role as a check on abuse of power by this or any future Governor."