Politics

November 24, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Maine governor’s welfare-cutters are experts at helping conservatives

The Alexander Group will get almost $1 million from taxpayers to make LePage look tough on aid programs.

(Continued from page 1)

Gary D. Alexander, the former secretary of public welfare for Pennsylvania, has has been hired by Maine to conduct a $925,000 review of Maine’s Medicaid program and the potential effects of expanding it through the federal health care law.

Photo courtesy PhillyLive.com

But we digress.

Click on The Alexander Group’s website (www.alexandergroupco.com) and you’ll see, scrolling across the screen, the cities “Providence, Rhode Island; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.” Yet nowhere will you find a physical address, a phone number, not even a post office box to support the hammer-to-the-forehead implication that the firm actually operates out of any of those places.

On we go to the “Our Team” link, which lists Alexander and 13 associates – almost of all of whom have ties to either Rhode Island or Pennsylvania and whose bios appear in a number of cases to fall somewhat short of what Commissioner Mayhew calls “a knowledgeable group of experts.”

There’s Tania A. Alexander, “an occupational therapist and also a certified physical therapy assistant with over 17 years of experience in the therapy field.” She’s now co-director of the Alexander Group’s therapy and special education practice.

There’s Sharon D’Antuono, “a licensed speech language pathologist (who) brings over ten years experience working as a speech pathologist in the public schools and fourteen years of grant writing experience.” She’s co-chair of the Alexander Group’s therapy and special education practice and as lead grant writer.

But my absolute favorite is Robert W. “Bob” Patterson, who doesn’t appear to have an actual title with The Alexander Group but worked as a $104,000-a-year senior adviser to Alexander in Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.

That is until Patterson resigned in early 2012 amid media reports about the faith-based journal The Family in America, which he wrote and edited on the side. It seems Patterson penned, among other gems, a piece advising women that having sex with a man who uses a condom “robs” the woman of the mood-and-mind-enhancing benefits of direct exposure to semen.

Feeling suddenly squeamish about this bunch getting paid just under a million bucks to “overhaul” Maine’s welfare system?

Relax. As wowed as Commissioner Mayhew may be by this stunning array of expertise (hey, it’s all relative), The Alexander Group is not here to talk Maine’s Democrat-controlled Legislature into enabling the Republican Party’s war on the poor.

Rather, they’re here to lay the groundwork for what in a few short months will be an endless, mind-bending series of LePage re-election TV ads.

They’ll go something like this:

Indignant-sounding female narrator over a montage of Maine EBT cards, ready-to-eat lobsters and displays of Allen’s Coffee Brandy: “According to a team of nationally recognized experts, Maine’s welfare system is bloated, inefficient and vulnerable to widespread cheating and fraud.”

Cue the inflammatory pull-out quotes, each flashing across the screen over the citation “The Alexander Group, May 2014.”

Flash to full-screen shot of The Big Guy: “Paul LePage has fought tirelessly to rein in the out-of-control spending, but he’s not done yet. Put Maine people before politics. Vote to re-elect Gov. Page LePage!”

Fade to the red, white and blue – flying from a $20,000 flagpole.

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

bnemitz@pressherald.com

Twitter: @billnemitz

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