In rebuttal, J. Shapiro and E. Uhl: Two sides to every story

This is in response to the Sun Journal editorial (Feb. 12) that was critical of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the request that the department has made, through us as the department's legal counsel, for the Government Oversight Committee to suspend its hearings around the Healthy Maine Partnerships, specifically as they pertain to allegations by a former employee of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that are being litigated in court.

As we emphasized in our letter to the GOC, the DHHS has repeatedly stated its commitment to process improvement and is working with the state Archives Office to strengthen policies and practices around document retention. Going forward, the department will follow the standard request for proposals process to award funds across the Healthy Maine Partnerships.

It is a different matter, however, to publicly discuss allegations regarding past practices through individuals who will be material witnesses in a lawsuit against the department. The department vigorously disputes the factual allegations and legal claims being asserted in the pending lawsuit against the department by the former Maine CDC employee.

The department maintains strict policies against unlawful retaliation and harassment, and it thoroughly investigates complaints of any such conduct. Indeed, internal, impartial and confidential investigations already have been conducted with respect to certain of the claims being made in the pending lawsuit, and none of the claims has been corroborated.

Although the Sun Journal believes that the CDC employees should appear in front of the GOC and answer a variety of questions, it is important to recognize that many of the issues that the GOC is reviewing relate to statutorily confidential internal personnel matters that are currently part of the lawsuit.

It also is important to emphasize that the claims and allegations in the lawsuit are disputed by the department and its employees and have merely been asserted but not proven. The department's right to defend itself against these disputed claims should not be compromised.

In sum, we firmly disagree with the editorial's stance and do not believe that it is in the best interest of the department or the general public to try this case in the court of public opinion instead of in a court of law.

There are two sides to every story — including this one — and the department looks forward to its opportunity to present the actual facts in this case in the appropriate forum, an impartial court of law.

Jonathan Shapiro and Eric J. Uhl for Fisher & Phillips LLP, Portland

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Comments

AL PELLETIER's picture

She's still in denial or just plain stupid.

In today's PPH Mary-Mary quite contrary is still defending the Alexander report.
The good news, she claims we have only paid these shysters $54,000 and not the full $925,000 that Lepage and her had contracted with them. AIN'T WE LUCKY?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Limited expense to whom and others get zilch?

Attorney General Janet Mills authorized the Department of Health and Human Services to spend up to $50,000 ...

CDC Director Sheila Pinette has retained a lawyer, who’s being paid $333 an hour, subject to the same $50,000 cap.

So $50 K for her, and then how about those others that are not talking to the GOC, do they get the shaft and on their own?

The state will spend up to $100,000 for private lawyers after two attorneys in the attorney general’s office asked to be recused.

$100 K won't cut it since these two hack lawyers spent hundreds on sent rebuttal editorials to many media outlets.

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Maine_authorizes_hiring_lawyers_to_defen...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

That is so funny

She fails to see that the handout to a right wing non RFP selection was OK, beside them not vetting this guys business history....She fails the smell test...but is leaving one hell of a scent and not the scent of a women but the smell of incompetence.

But now wants to be recognized as a responsible person for only paying a $54K portion....You just can't make this stuff up....

The wheels are coming off the bus......

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What a crock and these two guys are morons....

" it is important to recognize that many of the issues that the GOC is reviewing relate to statutorily confidential internal personnel matters"

Like as if, Darrell Issa would follow that advise worrying about "statutorily confidential internal personnel matters"

GOC == Government Oversight Committee

So these two morons feel that this is not the Legislative branch of the Government's business or right to investigate the other branch of the Executive government...WOW!!!!!!!!!

Worst about these dimwit lawyers, in their demented thinking, it is not the Public's right to know of the illegal shredding, cover-ups and denial of PUBLIC documents or activity.....because of public opinions or judging its State Governments actions may not be in the best interest of LePage and his group of hand picked cronies.
_________________
"Welcome to the TPGOP's Communist Red Party"

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

So Sharpiro and Uhl the hired guns

requested weeks ago wanting the GOC to halt the CDC investigation.
Now they say:

"The department vigorously disputes the factual allegations and legal claims being asserted in the pending lawsuit against the department by the former Maine CDC employee."
"We firmly disagree with the editorial's stance and do not believe that it is in the best interest of the department or the general public to try this case in the court of public opinion instead of in a court of law."
______________
Ain't that nice of (Right WING) lawyers to denounce the public's interest or business of the SJ and BDN informing voters, and want to violate freedom of the press and the peoples freedom of speech.....sorry boys, that dog don't hunt.....typical right wing Constitutional preaching values about peoples freedoms...

So that means THEY have a right in doing their investigation, while the GOC or the fired CDC Director have no business in the internal investigation, foremost the PUBLIC should have no knowledge of LePages Administration screwing the taxpayers with his and Mayhew and Pinettes shenanigans....

Note to; Jonathan Shapiro and Eric J. Uhl for Fisher & Phillips LLP, Portland
________
Keep dreaming boys....and with all these formulated letters going to others editorials by order of the DHHS...YOU hack lawyers just got your arses handed to you of your attempt to bamboozle the public's interest.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Claims and allegations are disputed...

Of COURSE the claims and allegations are being disputed. To admit these claims would be to admit to a crime. Hence the need for lawyers to defend the criminals.

Well guess what misters Shapiro and Uhl? We ain't buyin' your wordy defense. The people of Maine are not stupid. And neither is the FBI. You might as well hang it up now and go home. No amount of parsing a crime is going to make the crime go away. Shredding documents is a crime. Those involved will be paying the price.

Nice try.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Let me see if I got this strait????

"Commitment to process improvement", and "strengthen policies and practices around document retention".
Where exactly is the part that protects documents from shredders? I'll assume that is covered under document retention. I won't even start up about rewriting the shredded documents to fit the outcome they felt good about.
With all due respect, this is a crime, no different than if someone was embezzling money from the State. We are talking about intentional destruction of official documents to mask the reasoning behind the allocation of millions of dollars. Money that went where it was not supposed to go, and the residents of Maine affected by this. It wasn't a simple policy error.
The SJ has every bit as much right to cover this just as it covers any other crimes such as bank robberies, extortion and any crimes affecting the general public. Even people in high places commit crime, they just don't get caught as often......................................

AL PELLETIER's picture

As I stated, Frank

Polite lawyer BS. The only way I interpret what you quoted in your comment is, "just leave it alone and it will cure itself and go away". If a bank robber tells you," I'm working real hard not to rob again", does that negate the crime?

Question: Are Maine Taxpayers paying these high priced mouthpieces? If so, aren't they are working for the people of Maine and not the defendants named in this suit? Can the Sun Journal find the answer for us?

If we are paying for this then the Lepage administration should be brought up on charges and sued for restitution for squandering our tax dollars on this, plus the Alexander BS Report.
Everyday is a new adventure in Augusta. Can't wait til tomorrow!

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I know what you mean........

If I rob a bank, should I just tell everyone I'm going to investigate as to what made me rob the bank. In the future I will try and use a different method of attaining funds. I'm sorry, that will be all I have to say on it.
It's like there is nothing serious just some procedural practices that need adjusting. Maybe more training will help.
Don't you wish it worked like that for all of us????????????

RONALD RIML's picture

Why do these guys

Hate the 1st Amendment so much?????

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Hey guys--very clever way to

Hey guys--very clever way to enhance your defense tactics and unfortunately, the Sun Journal fell for it.

AL PELLETIER's picture

SJ, mind your own business!

What a crock of polite lawyer BS.
All I take away from this letter is that the DHHS wants to keep this, alleged, document shredding internal and out of the public eye to protect their own.
MARK MY WORDS. These attorneys are going to make a case against the Freedom of Information Act and a defendants right to a fair trial and use it as a defense in court.
Stay on it Scott. Eventually it will all lead to Lepage.

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