June 23, 2013

Letters to the editor: Aho industry's advocate, not ours

With increasing outrage, we have been reading Colin Woodard's hard-hitting series "The Lobbyist in the Henhouse" (June 16-18).

click image to enlarge

With Patricia Aho, above, at the helm, the DEP has promoted the agenda of corporations rather than the need to maintain a healthy environment, readers say.

2013 Telegram File Photo/Carl D. Walsh

We are appalled (but not surprised) that Gov. Paul LePage and his henchmen are emasculating the Department of Environmental Protection and other state agencies that were established to protect the people and the environment of Maine.

It is disgraceful and an affront to the people of Maine that LePage has appointed former lobbyist Patricia Aho to lead the DEP, where she shamelessly promotes the agendas of her former clients, who are being given a "blind eye" to degrade the environment the DEP is supposed to protect. The financial interests of her former clients are being favored over the health, safety and well-being of today's Mainers and future generations.

Thirty-one states and the federal government have "revolving door" laws that prohibit former legislators from becoming lobbyists for a period of time. Maine does not.

We should have a "revolving door" law that goes both ways. It should prohibit state legislators and executives of state agencies from becoming lobbyists for two years, and it should prohibit lobbyists from becoming executives of state agencies for two years.

If we had such a law, Patricia Aho could not have been appointed to head the DEP; and she would not have been able to promote the agendas of the corporations for whom she lobbied for so many years.

Hugh Maynard and Faith Woodman


Regarding "The Lobbyist in the Henhouse" special report published June 16: It was wonderfully done and shocking all at the same time.

I was very impressed at the full and detailed coverage of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection under the leadership (and I use that term lightly) of Gov. Paul LePage and DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho.

And I was appalled at the deceptive ways that the Maine DEP is getting taken completely off course from its mission.

The seven-month investigation provided the public with a chance to find out the unconscionable activities that have been going on since Aho became commissioner.

Doesn't the acronym DEP stand for "Department of Environmental Protection"? Where's the protection of the environment under Aho?

For anyone who was not informed by this report, the top four things that really upset me were:

Not allowing the additional chemicals to be added to the Kid-Safe Products Act.

Not citing industry for violations, cutting that number almost in half cited during prior administrations.

Delaying the paperwork (intentionally, it appears) to change the water levels of the Long Fall Dam drainage.

Purging key information from the DEP website so the public and others will not see what horrors are going on.

If you did not read the expose, you may ask why these things were done. The answer is simple: Prior to being commissioner of the DEP, Patricia Aho was a lobbyist and her clients were the very companies that will profit from her current actions.

And this is in the name of Gov. LePage making Maine a business-friendly state. If Maine needs to roll back our environmental protections to be business-friendly, then I for one don't want it.

Go to the paper's website and read this professionally done special report if you missed it. It will be worth your time.

Marjorie DeSanctis


Thank you for the investigative report on Patricia Aho and the Department of Environmental Protection.

This is the kind of local reporting you cannot and will not get from any source other than a committed local newspaper. We are very lucky to have that kind of commitment here in Portland.

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