April 15, 2013Page 3
“LePage was asked by someone at the luncheon meeting about the 30-day federal deadline for holding an appeals hearing and what to do if anemployer were to argue that more time was needed to prepare a case.LePage, who is not a lawyer, said that if allowing additional time foremployers meant missing the federal deadline, ‘so be it.’”
Governor LePage has released to the press emails and a memo confirmingthat 10 permanent hearing officers “were expected to attend” the March 21meeting with the Governor. The materials released to the public by theGovernor are attached.
The memo released by the Governor makes strong criticisms of the work of the hearing officers, including two cases of allegedly “erroneous rulings onevidence,” both of which were against employers. The release of this memoviolated Maine’s Civil Service Law at 5 M.R.S.A. 7070 (mandating that“Performance evaluations” and “complaints, charges or accusations “shallbe confidential and not open to public inspection”).
The memo released by the Governor list four other types of errors by thehearing officers. All but one of these alleged errors were in favor of employees.
The memo released by the Governor proposed four changes in the law, all of which are designed to help employers. This part of the memo contains aproposed change in the law to expand the grounds for denying benefits toemployees who are absent from work due to illness caused by recklessbehavior and the following handwriting by the Governor: “This is critical.Employees have to be made accountable for their actions.”
The [Lewiston] Sun Journal reported that it learned about the March 21“luncheon meeting through a number of sources whose names are beingwithheld because they fear retribution by the administration. Nearly a dozenpeople who attended the meeting were contacted by the Sun Journal by phone, email or both.” “As for the state employees who spoke up with theirconcerns, all of whom asked the Sun Journal for confidentiality to protecttheir jobs.” According to those sources:
“Governor LePage, who campaigned for governor on a pro-business platform,said at the luncheon that the actions of the hearing officers were destroyingthe business climate in Maine, according to sources.”
During the meeting Governor LePage stated that he had called a Maine judgeinto a meeting to discuss the merits of a specific case. The clear message he