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Governor Paul R. LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage
When Maine Gov. Paul LePage held a meeting with unemployment hearing officers last year and told them they were deciding too many cases in favor of workers, he endangered the fair-hearings process, according to a review by the U.S. Department of Labor. Not only that:
The federal review showed that the administration’s labor commissioners have intervened in the work of hearing officers by questioning them about decisions they have made in individual cases, which “could be perceived as an attempt to influence the appeals decision-making process in favor of employers.”

The review also says that Maine’s system for handling unemployment appeals doesn’t always meet federal guidelines and should be revised in certain technical areas, related to the handling of evidence and the legal weight given to rulings by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Commission.

These conclusions have spurred a back-and-forth between LePage and Democratic legislators, with state Sen. Troy Jackson, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House, calling for LePage's impeachment and LePage responding "if he has a cause, then bring it on." More to the point, it's an election year. LePage has given Democrats plenty of ammunition to run with, and the federal government concluding that yes, he did try to improperly pressure unemployment officers to decide against workers is certainly something to campaign on.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:12 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is that LePage's (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, hopi13, Dirtandiron, NancyWH

    Ruh-ro! Face?

    Give blood. Play hockey.

    by flycaster on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:31:41 AM PST

  •  What a scumbag (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hopi13, Onomastic

    And needed to be defeated in 2014.  Next to Walker, Haley, Scott, Snyder, Corbett, et al (there are several  others) this guy must be defeated.  I know he was only elected with a little less than 40% of the vote in 2010 but what are the chances of defeating him this year?

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011) Voting is a louder voice than a bullhorn but sometimes you need that bullhorn to retain your vote.

    by Rosalie907 on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:46:38 AM PST

  •  Some are more equal under the law (3+ / 0-)

    than others, apparently.

    Throw the your workers out on the street and no worries about them collecting that pitiful little amount of unemployment.

    The employers can trust the Gov for that.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:55:10 AM PST

    •  Demons got the better of him, again (0+ / 0-)

      I have fired quite a few employees, and ended up in front of a Maine Hearing Examiner a few times.  Consider that most of these cases were pretty serious matters: failure to adhere to lock out/tag out procedures that placed other employees' lives in jeopardy was probably the most frequent cause for termination fired employees appealed a denial of unemployment, followed closely by sexual harassment.  Most terminations don't result in an appeal, one way or another mostly it is a cut and dried matter.  In order to get in front of a Hearing Examiner a former employee has to think that the cause of his/her transgression was no big deal, and there are relatively few causes of termination that fall into that category.

      Every such appeal was resolved in my company's favor.  In my experience if solid documentation of the employee's transgression is presented, together with a record of training and progressive discipline to show that the employee knew or should have known that what he or she did was grounds for termination, the hearing will be short and the outcome will be positive.  There may have been employers who came to those hearings who couldn't meet that standard.  There probably were employers who had behaved badly.  In those cases, frankly, they probably deserved to lose.  Employers have broad discretion, but those in my position have to be prepared to make their case and defend their actions.

      So, I have no idea what record LePage was looking at, but my experience suggests that it was unlikely to demonstrate an anti-employer bias.  I see much of his record, and this "lunch" in particular, as an example of LePage being unable to suppress his rage at labor, and a knee jerk (emphasis on the jerk) response to some event that set him off.  So much of our Governor's poor management simply comes down to his inner demons and poor impulse control.  

      •  sometimes they loose... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

          Employers sometimes loose because rules get enforced against some and not rest of workforce. My former employer fired one girl for obtaining 8 points per absenteeism  over 6 months (6 is the basis for firing) but two other girls in the same department had like 14 and 20 points,none were on FMLA furthermore on her 6 month evaluation of two weeks before was cited for meeting expectations per job performance,i.e. getting things done,the other  2 girls were given sub-par performance reviews on their  6 month reviews. They all hired withing 2 months of one another so it wasn't a case of a real new employee versus an old timer. I  mean I understand her manager's problem nothing could get done in that department but to excuse one where the manager knows (and excuses)  one missing just about every Saturday because of a Friday nite hangover but then turns around and fires someone who has a kid all of a sudden develop a serious illness(and isn't eligible for FMLA) is ridiculous.That was just how that place was though. One other very laughable reason for termination was a guy who got fired for supposedly not doing his job on a regular basis but had a document(his yearly evaluation) from just two days before stating he had met all expectations and congratulated him for his achievements over the past 12 years!!!!!!!

            I am tickled I got out of there 9 years ago!!!!!!!

        •  "My former employer fired one girl" How very (0+ / 0-)

          feminist and politically correct of you to refer to that employee as a "girl"

          And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

          by MrJersey on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 11:10:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ????? (0+ / 0-)

             Ok that young woman ,is that better? Good Lord.....I'm 55 and that was over a dozen years ago,the 3 young women were in all in their early 20's,I have kids their ages. I've been called "boy" by people who were over 20 years older then me who had kids that I went to school with never let it bother me.


        •  I argue Examiners were fair, employers maybe not (0+ / 0-)

          I guess my point was that my experience with the Maine Hearing Examiners was that they were fair, not that employers generally are.  I think I was fair, of course (and the record of in various appeals to people like the Hearing Examiners and various union arbitration hearings bears that out), but I have worked for people and in companies/units of government where employees were unfairly treated, sometimes outrageously so.  I cannot dispute your description of unequal treatment former co-workers received, nor do I want to try.

          When I look at LePage's various outbursts over the past three years or so, what I see is a man unsuccessfully struggling with anger and old grievances, against labor mostly.  However, he doesn't limit his eruptions, evidently thinking that this is an effective way to treat those he sees as partisan opponents generally.  Outbursts may also simply be stress relief for a man clearly in over his head.  I think his comments at this "lunch" with the Hearing Examiners flow from that same source, inspired by some random irritant arising in a labor context.  The Governor simply lost it.  I wrote my comment because I doubt LePage was responding to a comprehensive, professional analysis of Hearing Examiner bias, or anything like that.  

          Frankly, that sort of thing is inexcusable.  It's lousy leadership, it needlessly demeans the professionalism of his staff, and perhaps most importantly, he attempted to violate the rights of the parties before those Examiners.  Regardless of whether or not he achieved his purpose, that's a serious matter.

          •  No No No!!! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

             I wasn't saying you were unfair please don't take it that away!!!! I'm sure most examiners are fair in just about any state and it's wrong for a governor to pressure them to take a employers word as gospel.

          •  One of the mysteries (0+ / 0-)

            about this guy is his hatred for teachers and unions.  He totally loses it when he talks about them.  He attended Catholic school, so I don't know where that comes from - he should hate nuns, if anyone.  And I don't know of anything in his history where he was treated poorly by a union - his wife used to be a shop steward or something when they met.
            There doesn't have to be a reason, of course, and it can all be politically calculated - like the demonization fo the poor - but it seems very personal and out of control.
            Doesn't matter, the result is the same for the people of Maine no matter what the cause.

  •  then brong articles of impeachment against (0+ / 0-)

    Lepage. who is his lt governor?does maine even have a LT governor? This Badger wants to know.

  •  So its a question over the votes of employees... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    over the money of employers.

    Sadly, too many employees will vote GOP.

    Maine will get the Governor it deserves.

  •  Another "Poster Boy" for the Republican Agenda. (0+ / 0-)

    Hang this around his neck as example of Party Policy.

  •  He can still win. (0+ / 0-)

    Three-way race and 40% means victory.

    •  Mike Michaud takes this easily (0+ / 0-)

      Mike's presently substantially ahead.  The numbers have remained steady with Michaud 38-39%, LePage 35-36% and Cutler 15% in his dreams. The fund raising tells the real story, LePage is already written off by Republicans as a liability if they hope to hold on to Susan Collins seat where Sheena Bellows is making an impressive surge with her grass roots door to door small group canvassing.

      LePage has no chance in Maine, and the only person likely to vote for Cutler is Cutler.

      LePage has spent his entire term making one bad move or gaff after another until he has become a joke.

      As of the December 31 filing deadline two weeks ago, Michaud had raised $1,003,239 compared to $945,386 for Cutler and $718,978 for LePage. The reports show that Michaud raised money quickly in the first half-year of his campaign, Cutler has contributed more than $250,000 of his own money and LePage raised his third-place tally even though his donations for the 2014 race are spread over the longest time period by far.

      There are details and lots of numbers below, but first let’s take a look at how the campaigns interpreted the finance reports and what they think the totals say about their opponents.

      Cutler, whose total was buffered by considerable loans and donations he made to his campaign as well as in-kind contributions, took aim at LePage and Michaud.

      “The people who are contributing are concerned about the economic future of Maine and understand that neither a career politician with heavy ties to special interests nor a failed and embarrassing tea party governor is the answer,” said Cutler in a prepared statement.

      Michaud campaign manager Matt McTighe said Michaud’s totals show support from all sorts of people from all over Maine. McTighe didn’t reference LePage or Cutler, but statements in a press release from the Maine Democratic Party did.

      “Mike Michaud raised more money in the first 18 days of his campaign than Eliot Cutler raised this entire quarter. If not for [Cutler's] vast personal fortune, his campaign would be broke,” said party Chairman Ben Grant. “This just confirms what we’ve seen in the polls, that Maine people are rejecting Cutler’s message and embracing Michaud’s experience and vision for the future.”

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 08:20:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Maine Senate seat is safe R. (0+ / 0-)

        Collins won by 18 points against a strong Democratic challenger in the wave year of 2008. Maine is rarely ever mentioned as part of even the top 15 most competitive races, so no one is worrying about that. As to the governor's race, the margin for Michaud in some polls is as little as one or two points, so it's definitely competitive, and as we know three-way races often have unpredictable polling (sigh... Virginia... sigh...). Michaud has more money, but in a small state like ME money isn't everything.

        •  Nothing is safe R in Maine after LePage (0+ / 0-)

          The man has been a walking disaster for Republicans, made the very word an insult, "How very Republican of you".

          Also our 2008 candidate while strongly supported by the State democratic committee and the convention on the grounds of having paid her dues for forty years, was not a strong campaigner.

          There have been dramatic shifts to the left since then. Warren Maine, home of the Tea Party, voted for marriage equality and marijuana in the last election.

          As for Cutler by election time he will realize he doesn't have enough votes to help LePage as the Republican party already does and stop wasting more of his own money which is all that is funding his cmapaign.

          Sheena Bellows who is running against Collins is a very hard working grass roots progressive of the ACLU persuasion.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 05:27:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I like your optimism (0+ / 0-)

            For the record, it's Shenna Bellows.

            And the poster above was talking about Tom Allen, the Congressman who ran against Collins in the Dem wave year of 2008.  Allen had won his own first district by more than 20 points in the previous race, yet about 28% of Dems abandoned him and voted for Collins.
            I really like Shenna and know she will run a strong race, but it woud take a miracle to unseat Collins.
            And don't get complacent about the Governor's race.  I don't think Cutler will quit and LePage has a rock sold base of 35 - 38%, no matter what he does.

      •  Michaud 38-39%, LePage 35-36% and Cutler 15% (0+ / 0-)

        This hardly constitutes being "substantially ahead" for Michaux.

        I hope that the Democratic Party in Maine is making the case that a vote for Cutler is a vote for LePage.

        •  Heads up Michaud has 61% (0+ / 0-)

          By the time midterms get serious Cutler will stop wasting his own money on a lost cause because he can't help LePage enough to make a difference and republican funding already sees that.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 05:19:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  well said rktect. maine needs to put in runoffs (0+ / 0-)

    in races like this whee there is a significant third party candidate, basically, anytime a third party candidate gets 5% and no one gets above 45% you have a runoff a month later. georgia requires 50% to avoid a runoff.

  •  Who are you fuckers working for? (0+ / 0-)

    Uphold the Constitution and protect the Citizens.

    Anybody else can get to the back of the line.

    I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

    by roninkai on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 08:36:50 PM PST

  •  Interference with hearing examiners is a violation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RockyMtnLib, bridav58, Tom Anderson

    of Federal compliance standards under the Social Security Act which if the US Department of Labor had any guts would result in the State of Maine's Unemployment program being placed under sanctions, notably, the withholding of Federal funds until the problems are resolved.  

    If this is allowed to stand without any Federal action, what will stop a host of other Red State governors from putting their thumbs on the scales of Unemployment Insurance equity by issuing instructions to examiners to favor the employers.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 11:15:27 PM PST

  •  Obama beat Rmoney by 15 in Maine. (0+ / 0-)

    So how does a POS get elected Governor?

    •  simple, there was 5 candidates for governor (0+ / 0-)

      none of them got 50%, lepage got the most votes thanks to cutler splitting the dem vote, and it has been a 4 year reign of error. unfortunately maine doesnt have runoffs, so 40% might be enough to win election if cutler doesnt drop out. hopefully he will once his support drops below 10%

  •  So, what are the Feds going to (0+ / 0-)

    do about this?  Slap his hand??

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