March 9, 2012

Bill Nemitz: Enemy is ... the DHHS database!

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TUNE IN to NewsRadiio 560 WGAN at 8:08 a.m. today to hear columnist Bill Nemitz talk about this column and other issues.

Why, pray tell, didn't Mayhew say something back then?

I spoke Thursday with Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

And I've got to tell you, Governor, she's some peeved that Mayhew spent all those hearings and work sessions insisting with a straight face that the DHHS' numbers were solid -- even when other state analysts were thinking out loud that "there must be something wrong with the computers."

"If in fact (Mayhew) didn't know (her computers were giving each other the silent treatment), why wasn't she asking those questions?" asked Rotundo. "And if she did know, shame on her for not bringing that information forward."

Still, this isn't just about what Mayhew knew and when she knew it.

It's also about you, Governor, and the zeal with which your administration cleaned house in the DHHS from the moment you took office 14 long months ago.

As Steve Mistler reported Thursday in the Lewiston Sun Journal, Mayhew now says there were three program managers in the DHHS who would have heard about the computer problems when the state auditors started raising questions in June.

And as I'm sure you know, Governor, all three of those people are new to their jobs. Their predecessors -- the people who actually knew what they were doing -- were among the many you told to take a hike.

"There has been enormous turnover and turmoil in that department," Rotundo noted. "People have been brought in who don't have the institutional memory, don't have the experience, and this is what happens when you have that kind of situation. This is the consequence."

Now Governor, I know this has been a rough week for you -- that poll I mentioned earlier shows that if the 2010 election were held over again, you'd be back in Waterville and Eliot Cutler would be in the Blaine House.

And I'm sure you'd much rather pour yourself a stiff drink right about now than answer any more questions from the media, the Legislature or anyone else who doesn't see the world quite the way you do.

But I'm stuck on one more comment this week by Commissioner Mayhew.

"As commissioner," she finally acknowledged, "I am responsible for where we are right now."

So tell us, Governor LePage, when will you step up and say the same thing?

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:


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