Top Democratic leaders voiced strong concerns about the strong corporate influence in LePage’s Department of Environmental Protection calling for government transparency.
The concerns were reiterated one day after the Government Oversight Committee (GOC) considered a request for review of an investigative report from Colin Woodard in the series, “The Lobbyist in the Henhouse,“published in the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel. The GOC request was held to further review next steps.
The investigative series documented the influence of the toxic chemical industry on Maine DEP policy. LePage’s Commissioner had been a lobbyist for corporations that have interests in areas of the state where they don’t want environmental protection policies enacted. The investigative report made LePage loose his cool and declare he would not allow any more interviews with these papers. This made national news and shortly there after LePage lost his composure and insulted a State Senator.
“We are taking these allegations seriously as we consider the best way to get to the bottom of this controversy,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “Mainers deserve a fair, transparent, and effective government.”
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Tags: Government transparency
In a poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosnerf of 400 likely voters, Michaud earned 40 percent support, incumbent Governor Paul LePage had 31 percent rating and for and 26 percent went to independent candidate Eliot Cutler.
The poll was conducted July 11-16 and has a statistical margin of error of +/-4.9%, 95 times out of 100. The National Education Association commissioned the survey, which shows their concern about Maine’s education policies. LePage introduced charter schools to Maine
This is only the second poll in recent months as the election is 15 months down the road. The Democratic Party internal poll last month showed Michaud and LePage running neck and neck before the Congressman launched his exploratory committee.The poll suggests that LePage would get trounced in a two-way race, as he trails Michaud, 61 percent to 34 percent. Why is Cutler running?
Tags: Elections·Government transparency
Michael Heath, former director of the Christian Civic League, and Paul Madore, director of the Maine Grassroots Coalition, defended Governor LePage’s embarrassing and vulgar sexual remark about Senator Troy Jackson and “vaseline” at a press conference – that they called – at the Capitol on July 17th. The event lasted for 45 minutes and only drew six supporters, one was Heath’s wife.
LePage made the remarks three weeks ago after the Portland Press Herald published investigative reports that exposed a scandal in the administration. LePage’s commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection was formally a lobbyist for companies that have environmental concerns in the state. She apparently is using her position to favor their interests. After the PPH report LePage said he would not speak to the PPH and then made the outrageous personal comments about Sen. Jackson. The governor’s remarks made National news bringing disrespect to the state. Political analysts have stated that LePage’s outbursts only serve him as a way to distract from major issues but they have hurt the state economically, as businesses don’t trust LePage’s policies.
During the Heath-Madore press conference, they quoted biblical references in defense of their homophobic claims. They praised LePage for “speaking like a man” and equated homosexuality to pedophilia and saying “the vile tide of perversion which these forces unleashed is now at high-water mark, as sodomy and transgenderism have encroached on every institution in our state, in particular our public schools.”
“The Governor’s comments are not defensible. They were vile—not fit for a school yard and certainly not fitting of our state’s chief executive. People across our state, people across the political spectrum, and from all walks of life, including the Christian Civic League, have spoken out against the Governor’s vulgarity,” said Sen. Jackson in response. “Today, we are seeing who the governor’s supporters and friends are—they are the fringe, they are the bigots who spread fear and hatred. This is not Maine and not who we are as Mainers.”
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Tags: Elections·Government transparency
Not many Americans could point out Bangladesh on a world map. Fewer still know that it was once a part of Pakistan and was called East Bengal, or that it is separated from Pakistan by 1,500 miles of intervening India. Its main reputation in the U.S. is that it is a place where clothes are made cheaply and find numerous buyers here. Lately, though, the textile industry in Bangladesh has suffered several serious disasters, culminating in the deaths of workers who were turning out those products.
The most serious disaster was the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013 of an eight story commercial building. The fatalities reached a horrendous toll of 1,127, mostly of garment workers who were ordered to work on the premises after warnings had been issued because of cracks discovered in the structure. Thus, “the deadliest garment factory accident in history” took place . More than twice as many people – 2,500 – were injured.
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Tags: Civil Rights·Government transparency·History in Politics·Maine History·unions
The Maine Conservation Voters (MCV) delivered over 2500 signatures, representing every Maine House and Senate district across the state, to legislative leadership calling for an investigation into the possible unethical behavior at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection,(DEP).
MCV’s creation of this petition came in response to Colin Woodard’s series, “The Lobbyist in the Henhouse” published in the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel. The series exposes the fact that Governor Paul LePage hired a former lobbyist who, after she became the DEP commissioner, continued to have ties with her special interests that she represented. This scandal rocked the LePage administration and led the governor to cut off all communication with these newspapers. The investigative report led to national coverage on cable news networks of the incident.
The petition reads, “It is unacceptable for vital environmental and public health protections to be subverted in the service of corporate interests. We ask the leaders of the Maine legislature to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of the DEP to detail what unethical behavior has been committed, what laws, if any, have been broken, and what new regulations are needed to prevent this kind of improper influence in the future.”
Tags: Environment·Government transparency·Law·Maine's quality of life
Lawmakers reconvened today to take up more of the governor’s vetoes, including measures to raise the minimum wage, reporting BPA toxic chemicals in foods, supporting public schools and to address the need for warrants for drone surveillance and cell phone location tracking data.
So far, LePage has vetoed a record-breaking 83 bills this session and it’s possible that even more are in the works. On Monday, the governor issued 21 vetoes in fewer than 24 hours. Another veto was issued Tuesday morning before the House went into session. Lawmakers have been able to put party loyalty aside for the good of Maine people.
“The governor’s veto rampage is not just record-breaking, it’s mind-boggling. Good bills with unanimous approval, bipartisan support, life-saving potential and commonsense approaches have been victims of this irresponsible binge,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry. “We need our Republican colleagues to stand up for the good work of this Legislature.”
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Tags: Economy·Government transparency·Jobs·Maine's quality of life
Today, Chairman Jeff Miller and Ranking Member Mike Michaud launched Trials in Transparency, a new web page designed to highlight one of the committee’s top oversight challenges: getting timely information from Department of Veterans Affairs officials.
“Congress is committed to working with VA in an open and transparent manner. Our partnership, however, is contingent upon the department’s timely response to our requests for information – something that rarely occurs. I hope VA leadership will work to reverse this trend of unresponsiveness. Ultimately, all parties involved are working toward the same goal: providing the highest standard of care possible for our veterans. A completely open, honest and transparent conversation between VA and Congress is vital to that mission,” said Rep. Mike Michaud, Ranking Member, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Trials in Transparency is designed to keep a running record of outstanding information requests made to VA by both Democrat and Republican members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The VA is currently sitting on nearly 100 requests for information made by the Committee, some dating back more than a year. The leisurely pace with which VA is returning requests – and in some cases not returning them – is a major impediment to the basic oversight responsibilities of the Committee.
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Tags: Government transparency·Veterans
Edward Snowden turns out to be a pro President Bush man who hated people that leaked information back then, according to a new reveling article on Addicting Info., whose reporter researched Snowden’s blog posts. The ex CIA operative, Snowden, is also a pro. Ron Paul guy who said, on his blogs, that he believes in the Obama conspiracy theories. Makes you think of the timing of all this…
This article appeared on Addicting Info, The Knowledge You Crave on July, 6, 2013.
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Tags: Government transparency
In the past week, Maine has been front and center in the editorial pages of the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and national TV news. Unfortunately, not touting the good things about Maine, our resources, our businesses, or our people. Instead, we are making headlines because of our governor’s outbursts and vulgar sexual remarks. It’s been said before, his behavior is not fitting in a school yard and certainly isn’t fitting of our state’s highest leader.
Maine has a long history of political firsts…a history of having leaders who are world-renowned and respected, from Margaret Chase Smith to George Mitchell, Bill Cohen, Ed Muskie, and Olympia Snowe just to name a few. These are leaders who not only got things done for Maine, for us, they thrust Maine in to the national and sometimes international spot light for being home to some of the best and brightest, most diplomatic and practical lawmakers in history.
Sadly, we are making a different kind of history these days. We have a governor who not only makes headlines for his temper tantrums but also for turning away opportunity for this state. Economic opportunity. Business opportunity.
Governor LePage is known for saying, “capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s appreciated.”
And so, why then, is there another round of headlines talking about a $200 million dollar business slipping away?
More than a year ago, StatOil, a Norwegian energy innovator, chose Maine as its foothold for a first of its kind off-shore energy project. A project that would employ thousands of people over time and have an economic spin off to other local industries and businesses like BIW, Reed & Reed, and Cianbro, just to name a few. But better yet, it is a unique opportunity to be the home to a significant new cutting-edge industry. The University of Maine said attracting StatOil to Maine is like attracting the next Apple, GM or Google to Maine. The opportunity to play host for world-wide innovator is rare.
But, unfortunately, this week, StatOil has put its plans on hold and is re-evaluating its interest in doing business in Maine. Why? Because the governor, in a last-minute political maneuver, pulled the welcome mat out from underneath StatOil. He changed the rules of the game and withdrew the predictability that comes with inking a deal. In a single act, the governor has signaled to a world innovator that is interested in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Maine, that they are not wanted here in Maine.
“Capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s appreciated.”
Everyone talks about attracting businesses to Maine. A billion dollar industry has come to us and we cannot let them get away. We cannot miss this opportunity.
The governor of the state is not only the state’s chief executive but he—or she—is our state’s marketer in chief. Our chief, our governor ranks third from the bottom in job creation. That’s another headline we don’t need.
As President of the Senate, I along with my colleagues in the Legislature have worked hard to change the tone in Augusta. We understand that the people of Maine care less about political rhetoric and more about results. There are a lot of positive things going on in our state. I want us to share and celebrate in those successes, not be shamed by the negative.
Tags: Cutting-edge technology·Government transparency
US Capitol, Washington, D.C. photo by Ramona du Houx
The Vietnam Veterans of American (VVA) and Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) have joined the call for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make it easier for survivors of military sexual assault to get benefits. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has introduced legislation (the Ruth Moore Act) to make those changes, and meanwhile the two groups have filed a petition requiring the VA to change their policy without waiting for the legislation to pass.
“This is all about leveling the playing field so survivors of sexual assault have the same access to benefits that veterans who suffer from combat-related PTSD have,” Pingree said. “The petition that VVA and SWAN filed with the VA helps make the case that they should make this policy change without waiting for Congress to act.”
Recently the VA agreed to Pingree’s request to review claims related to sexual assault that may have been improperly denied, but she hasbeen critical of the way the VA handled the appeals process and said they have done a poor job communicating with veterans about their rights.
Tags: Civil Rights·Government transparency·Veterans