Governor adds pricey consultant to political staff

Taxpayers get suspicious when they hear the words no-bid contract because, well, that’s not the way government normally works.

Detailed specifications are usually followed by multiple bids, which usually result in the highest quality work at the lowest price.

Failing to seek bids invariably means paying top dollar for the work to be done.

And that’s the first in a series of problems with Gov. Paul LePage’s surprise announcement this week that he has hired a controversial Rhode Island Republican consultant to study our MaineCare system.

Garry Alexander of Alexander Associates landed that $925,000 no-bid contract, about half of which must be completed within the next month.

And that’s another red flag — how can such a small firm, with only one similar study under its belt, complete such an analysis in four weeks?

In July, Alexander completed a $220,000 “Review of Arkansas’s Medicaid and Public-Welfare System” commissioned by the state’s General Assembly, but that was a less-extensive project than the one commissioned by our governor, and still took four months to accomplish.

Before that, Alexander served as Pennsylvania’s secretary of public welfare under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, a job he resigned in February 2013.

There, Alexander was alternately praised as an innovative reformer and criticized as an insensitive budget slasher who worked four-day weeks and lived in another state.

He is now under attack by Pennsylvania’s Democratic auditor for “long-term mismanagement” of a program and wasting $7 million.

Finally, Democrats, including state Sen. Margaret Craven and state Rep. Peggy Rotundo, both of Lewiston, have wondered where LePage is finding nearly $1 million to pay Alexander.

They also question whether the money would have been better spent helping the LePage administration sort out two administrative quagmires, the operation of Riverview Psychiatric Center and the state’s new non-emergency Medicaid ride system.

A Sun Journal review of the new contract shows about half the money will come from the state’s General Fund, meaning it will be unavailable for other state priorities.

All of which might leave taxpayers wondering why the governor is paying an outside firm so much money in an effort that will only confirm what he already believes.

Here’s one guess:

First, to help make sure Republicans don’t join Democrats in approving an extension of MaineCare in the next legislative session.

Second, to provide new charts, graphs and reference points for his re-election campaign showing that lazy poor people are to blame for the state’s financial problems.

Finally, to provide a legislative agenda to further dismantle MaineCare in the 2015 legislative session if he should win re-election in November 2014.

In effect, Gary Alexander is a $925,000 addition to the governor’s political team.

Here’s the evidence of that: If legislative Democrats had come up with the same idea — hiring a million-dollar consultant to “analyze” the expansion of Medicaid — LePage would be making the same charges, that it’s political and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

In the end, Maine taxpayers should pay attention to numbers we already know well:

Two out of three MaineCare dollars come from federal taxpayers, and between 90 and 100 percent of Medicaid expansion money would come from the federal level.

When we refuse what the federal government is offering, the money will simply go to another state with more common sense.

Three out of four MaineCare recipients are children, disabled or elderly, and they account for 90 percent of the program’s cost.

The other 10 percent of the money is spent on health care for adults in poverty, many of whom work but still cannot afford insurance.

There are proven ways of making MaineCare more efficient and effective, and Gary Alexander’s $925,000 would have been far better spent on any one of those.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

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

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

Jerome Young's picture

Content, emphasis, tone and

Content, emphasis, tone and more importantly.... intent. Now begins the gradual assassination of our chief executive. But...by our print media. LePage was completely dismissed by January 2012, until the budget struggle. Now it will begin again....ramping it up. Funny....none of this occurred with Dirigo Health....remember that?

Mark Wrenn's picture

silly question

"how can such a small firm, with only one similar study under its belt, complete such an analysis in four weeks?" Such a silly question. There won't be any "analysis", and the conclusions are what the gubna is paying for.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Why isn't LePage being???????????

Why isn't LePage being forced to pay for this fake analysis. This should be considered an election stunt, therefore should be paid for out of his his campaign fund. He claims to want to cut spending, save money, then he turns around and just wastes a million bucks.
This is just another example of his one man show, attitude. "He don't need no stinkin rules", I will say this though, the Republicans. If nothing else their consistent.Consistently bizarre that is..............

Bob Woodbury's picture

He IS paying for it.

With OUR money.

Mark Wrenn's picture

cheap

I could write the report for a lot less. Here, for free: "Cut taxes for people who don't need it, kick some more poors, olds, and kids, profit!"

MARK GRAVE's picture

You got one thing right - cut

You got one thing right - cut taxes for everyone.

Looks like Michauds

Looks like Michauds Nashville hatchet lady has begun her job. The newspapers in Maine are awaiting her negative research on Lepage and are eager to get it printed.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Research?

Negative things about Lepage require no research.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Thank you Mr. Rhoades

You took the words out of my mouth, in fact, I submitted a letter to the editor yesterday basically saying the same thing.
I would encourage readers to go to www.Arkansastimes/Alexandergroup.com to see just what Arkansas got from Gary Alexander's $220,000 report. A totally bias piece of crap, that's what!
THINK ABOUT THIS MAINE TAXPAYERS--- $925,000.00 of our hard earned tax dollars squandered on a worthless study. Just one more reason to get rid of this useless fool we call a governor.

The opinions expressed in

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

AL PELLETIER's picture

Good Morning Dennis

Please pause and read what the Portland Press wrote about the "Alexander Group" this morning. How many Dish Satellite Contracts will you have to sell to pay this firm a million bucks? And do you think you'll be getting your monies worth?

Who owns the Portland Press

Who owns the Portland Press Herald? How many satellites contracts would it take to pay for a $600 Million + Dollar website, that doesn't work?

AL PELLETIER's picture

Oh my,

That's the best response you've got? Pathetic.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Dennis,

In this case they're facts, not just views. Your so blinded by your total devotion to the republican party and Lepage you couldn't see the truth if it was biting you in the ass.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Stay tuned folks, here comes

Stay tuned folks, here comes the name calling next.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Al we all

Al we all need to start becoming Americans not democrats or republicans.

Bob Woodbury's picture

Amen.

Amen.

AL PELLETIER's picture

True Ernest,

And I have swung both political ways all my life. I simply find closed minded people, Dem or Rep, annoying.

MARK GRAVE's picture

How do you stand yourself

How do you stand yourself then?

I could say the same about

I could say the same about with your devotion to Obama. I consider myself a conservative, not a republican.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mainers , Thursday evening in

Mainers , Thursday evening in Hawai'i •
Sole sourced huh ?
Is she cute ?
Ya' gotta' admit the guy needs help now • 
/s, Dr. Dosh , former http://www.brookings.org consultant

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...