Two events show government here isn't doing its job

Behind the posturing of elected politicians, there is an actual state government to be run, a government we expect to act efficiently, effectively and professionally.

But judging by two recent revelations, some parts of state government are not being run that way at all.

It has been reported that federal inspectors found troubling instances of abuse, civil rights violations and safety problems during an inspection of the 92-bed Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in May.

After issuing a 93-page report on the problems to Riverview President and CEO Mary Louise McEwen, and threatening to cut off $20 million in federal funding, neither McEwen nor the administration of Gov. Paul LePage told anyone — not the Legislature, the Attorney General's Office or the public — for more than seven weeks.

McEwen received the official report on June 4 while the Legislature was still in session.

The administration would have had another 22 days before adjournment to inform the Legislature and seek help solving a very complex set of problems.

McEwen also should have sought advice from the Maine Attorney General's Office, which deals with the state's legal problems or anything that might turn into a legal problem.

Instead, Riverview's CEO and the governor's administration waited until the Legislature was well out of session, and until three weeks before a federal deadline, to involve the Legislature or attorney general.

What resulted was confusing, hurry-up legislation that practically everyone involved admits will do little or nothing to solve Riverview's short- or long-term problems.

Discussion should now focus on whether McEwen has been given enough personnel to run Riverview, and whether she is the right person to be running it at all.

Similar questions must be raised about Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho after her agency, by its own admission, missed critical deadlines for relicensing dams controlling several water systems.

These are routine, predictable events, and the deadlines have apparently never been missed even once before, let alone three times in succession.

Missing the deadlines means state government no longer directly controls water levels, flow rates and fish passage on three key waterways: Flagstaff Lake in Somerset County just north of Kingfield, and the fabled trout and salmon fisheries on Grand and Sysladobsis Lakes.

DEP Land Use Division Director Mark Bergeron blamed the mistakes on personnel changes and, according to the Portland Press Herald, "miscommunication between me and department staff regarding the deadline."

Here's the really troubling part: Maine loses a say in how these dams are operated until they are relicensed in 25 years.

Bergeron told the Press Herald that the failure was regrettable, but predicted it will have no effect because the state has no problems with the current operators.

Good grief, man! We're talking about two-and-a-half decades.

Woodland Pulp LLC could be sold, it could get new management, change priorities or go bankrupt.

And, if any of those things happen and it affects property owners, recreation, flow rates or fish spawning, the state will have far less input.

In this story and others, the Press Herald has suggested Aho is a "fox in the henhouse," a former lobbyist who often does the bidding of her former industrial clients.

This time around, the PH reports she met with lawyers representing dam owners before these deadlines were missed, suggesting these deadlines may have been missed intentionally rather than accidentally.

One missed deadline? OK. But three in rapid succession.

Aho is just feeding speculation that she doesn't have the public interest at heart.

If these truly were mistakes, were they the result of understaffing? If so, are state staffing cuts getting us incompetence rather than efficiency?

Did they result from the purge of experienced state workers when Gov. Paul LePage came to power?

In any event, these mistakes are serious. Maine's citizens should expect better of Gov. LePage and the people who report to him.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The beef

I'm not a football enthusiast but I noticed a player Tebow , who has an amazing talent for getting his face on the media and generating fan enthusiasm got canned because apparently he can't play football very well. We have a similar situation with our governor. He can sure get his face on the media and get his base worked up but when it comes to governing, he hasn't a clue. He said corporations would come to Maine when we lowered taxes and yet there he is, opening another call center. True those are jobs but I saw nothing in the articles about wages and benefits so I drew my own conclusions. He said he would reorganize and make the government cheaper and more efficient. NOT. There isn't one department functioning correctly. He said he would take the welfare cheats off the rolls but in fact really needy people are suffering as a result. He said he would lower debt and taxes and did neither. We need somebody who can run the government so that the trains run on time. Otherwise looking at the Maine state government is like looking over a car parts junk yard. Nothing is working. That is not what we want to pay for when we pay our taxes.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Be careful what you ask for.

We need somebody who can run the government so that the trains run on time.

In the 1930s in Italy, that somebody's name was Benito. In Germany it was Adolf.

People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.
- B. Franklin

RONALD RIML's picture

When the 'Allies' retake Augusta from the Nazis

We'll probably find hidden artwork and murals plundered from Public Buildings......

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Sooooo

Wanting somebody to show up when I dial 911 and wanting licenses and permits processed on time and wanting the department of corrections to not brutalize their guests and schools to educate their students and wanting the roads plowed and stuff like that makes me a Nazi?? Or maybe I just want to get what I am paying for. You don't have to be a dictator to be efficient. In fact those people who proclaim their love of liberty the most are the ones who seem to love the little dictator in Augusta the most. They are all too ready to crush everyone else's rights just to feed their thirst for power.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The Government is running smooth........

That is if you consider this from Paul LePages point of view. The Governor has learned to use the various departments and required deadlines to his favor.
Intentionally withholding the Riverview violations played perfectly into his plan to locate a psychiatric ward at the Maine State Prison. By holding on to or, "sitting on", the report, he not only allowed the deadline to pass, but then required a rush job to make changes which benefited his idea.
Riverview is not a block of stone, that can wait for our Governor to make decisions on his timeline. These are real people who are suffering here. They have families that care for them, they have feelings even though they're ill.
LePage has chosen to use these people as hostages, For seven weeks he did nothing to alleviate their situation. Where was his empathy for these people. They may be ill, but they still have rights.
Just one more example of LePages true consideration for those less fortunate. Why should he fix something, he can use to his benefit????????????

MARK GRAVE's picture

Frank, Where is your evidence

Frank,

Where is your evidence this is the Governors fault? Show us the beef!

Mark Wrenn's picture

dams

Of course the deadlines on the dams were missed intentionally. It's consistent with the gop guiding principle to divert public resources (water) for corporate profit.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Where is this GOP rule

Where is this GOP rule written, or are you just spouting anti-GOP crap with no proof?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Yes.

Yes.

Greg Rose's picture

More than one fox in the henhouse.....

Mary Mayhew, DHHS Commissioner... 11 years as VP of the Maine Hospital Association... a lobbyist. Whose best interest do you think SHE is looking out for? It certainly isn't the people that DHHS serves.

Apparently not the interests

Apparently not the interests of the Maine Hospital Association either, since the MHA supported Medicare expansion...

Mark Wrenn's picture

more

I think Mayhew/Riverview is consistent with right wing obsession of kicking the helpless when they're down.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Again, where is GOP rule

Again, where is GOP rule written?

Perhaps the GOP looks at the balance sheet, which is not balanced. Perhaps the GOP realizes government cannot be everything to everybody. Your repose has more to do with emotion than fact; not there is anything wrong with that.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

There is plenty wrong with

There is plenty wrong with emotion without fact if it is passed off and accepted by others as truth. Isn't that what libs tend to do?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Marky Mark ? 15:40 hst ?

Marky Mark ? 15:40 hst ? Sunday
Wrong again • " Discussion should now focus on whether McEwen has been given enough personnel to run Riverview, and whether she is the right person to be running it at all. Similar questions must be raised about Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho after her agency, by its own admission, missed critical deadlines for relicensing dams controlling several water systems. "
Happy Labor Day weekend y'all . Listen in . Live ? ƒree • http://listen.rockradio.com/itunes/alternative80s.pls
WRBC, 91.5 FM on your radio dial in the greater L/A metropolitan area . /s , Dr. Dosh , Bates '78 and former us federal ombudsman , HI , us of a

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

And, he forgot to mention,

And, he forgot to mention, fluent in 5 languages.

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