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  • LePage must be held accountable for causing Speaker Eves to loose Good Will Hinckley job

    Mainers can speak on the kind of government they want at Oct. 15 public hearing 

    By Representative Ben Chipman of Portland

    The people of Maine deserve to have confidence in the integrity of our political system. But the actions of Governor Paul LePage raise serious questions about the misuse of public office and public funds.

    I’m one of four lawmakers – Republican, Democratic and independent – who requested an investigation into the governor’s threats to withhold state funds from an organization that helps at-risk youths.

    He threatened the non-profit because it had hired one of his political rivals. The governor made it clear that he had to go.

    The bipartisan Government Oversight Committee – six Republicans and six Democratic lawmakers – unanimously approved the request, launching the first such investigation of a sitting governor in Maine.

    The independent Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability – OPEGA – confirmed the shocking allegations: the governor threatened Good Will-Hinckley because it hired Speaker Mark Eves as its president, a state payment which was in process was withheld and restored only after the organization fired Speaker Eves to avert financial crisis.

    If the governor is able to abuse his power to take revenge on a political rival, can any elected official – or any independent organization or any everyday Mainer – be safe?

    Every elected official in Maine must be free to vote his or her conscience. Every independent organization should be free to make decisions in its own best interests. All Maine citizens should be free from the fear that their livelihoods depend on the whims of the governor – or any elected official.

    These are the issues that will be front and center next week – on Thursday, October 15th – as the Government Oversight Committee holds a public hearing on the OPEGA report. It’s a chance for Mainers to weigh in on the kind of government they want.

    While the report was very thorough, some matters need further attention.

    For one, there’s a key meeting of top LePage staffers and Department of Education officials.

    It led to the Department of Education’s extraordinary actions of pulling back more than half a million dollars that was already being processed for Good Will-Hinckley.

    There were differing accounts of what happened at this highly unusual meeting. And other areas also need clarification.

    That’s why the Government Oversight Committee asked some individuals to come talk to them at the public hearing. Two top LePage staffers are refusing to appear.

    It’s just the most recent example of the governor obstructing this investigation. He wrongly claimed that OPEGA had no right to investigate him and even had his lawyer make that argument too. He refused to talk with investigators, and now his taxpayer-funded employees will be no-shows at the public hearing. 

    This from a governor who promised Mainers the most transparent administration in the state’s history!

    People all across the state are calling for impeachment. Editorial pages are speaking about the need for a special prosecutor. We should all be able to agree that it’s an abuse of power to use taxpayer dollars for political retribution.

    OPEGA’s task is a fact-finding one. The OPEGA report is the beginning of a process that should not be considered finished.

    What we need to do now is determine, based on the information in the report, what specific laws, if any, were broken by the governor. All options – such as referral to a special prosecutor and impeachment – remain on the table.

    One thing is clear: Governor LePage is not above the law and must be held accountable like anybody else.

    The people of Maine deserve and should expect nothing less.

    I hope to see you at the Government Oversight Committee’s public hearing this Thursday, October 15th, speaking up for the kind of government you want.

  • House Speaker urges LePage to take a comprehensive approach to fight drug crisis

    Eves urges Governor's drug summit participants to focus on bringing treatment, law enforcement tools together to fight drug epidemic

    By Ramona du Houx

    On August 18, Gov. LePage announced the list of summit participants comprised largely of law enforcement officials. His closed-door summit has some worried that it maybe too exclusive.

    "Nationally and here in Maine, we've seen leaders across the political spectrum recognize the importance of access to health care and substance abuse treatment in addressing the drug epidemic. The drug crisis is a health care crisis, not simply a matter for law enforcement,” said House Speaker Mark Eves, a trained family therapist who has worked on the frontlines with individuals struggling with addiction and mental illness.

    "The Governor has put together a respected list of law enforcement and public safety officials.   I urge this group to focus on the ways substance abuse treatment tools can work together with law enforcement efforts to fix the problem.  There are models in other places like Gloucester, Massachusetts and Seattle that have proven to work.  In treating at risk families across the state, I’ve seen first hand that the battle with addiction won’t be won in a jail cell. The state must take a comprehensive approach.  The Legislature took several steps to bolster law enforcement efforts to counter the drug crisis, but more needs to be done to address treatment and addiction. I plan to send the Governor and the participants a list of ideas to consider since no lawmakers appear to invited to participate in the closed-door meeting." 

    This year lawmakers passed a $6.7 billion bipartisan budget that funds up to six of the seven new drug enforcement agents requested by Gov. Paul LePage. The bipartisan budget also added two new drug prosecutors to handle major drug crimes, two new judges and two new clerks for the court system to handle the increased caseload. It also provides funding to reestablish a new drug court in Penobscot County.

    Over the past four years, the LePage administration has cut health care for thousands of Maine people, including access to drug treatment. The administration also announced plans to terminate contracts with substance abuse treatment facilities. Cuts in MaineCare coverage and low reimbursement rates have already lead to the closure of one of the largest treatment facilities in the state, while other struggle to remain open.