Friday, May 24, 2013
A prominent real-estate developer told Gov. Paul LePage that his handling of a nomination to the state finance authority reminded him of "the Baldacci days."
Richard J. McGoldrick
Richard McGoldrick of Cape Elizabeth used that characterization in an email to LePage and administration officials on Aug. 23. He also requested that the administration withdraw his nomination to the agency that is redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.
McGoldrick's email was triggered by LePage's failure to reappoint Susan Snowden to the Finance Authority of Maine, which provides access to low-interest financing to development projects.
In an email to his staff on Aug. 29, LePage acknowledged the error, writing that he had committed to re-seat Snowden.
"My error, I new (sic) that big eraser would come in handy," LePage wrote, referring to the oversized eraser he keeps on his desk for "big mistakes."
"Yes, we need to reappoint (Snowden)."
The correspondence, obtained through a Freedom of Access Act request by the Portland Press Herald, explains why two of the governor's more than 70 nominees withdrew before last week's confirmation hearings at the State House. It also sheds light on recent protests from a Brunswick official that appointments to the base redevelopment agency, and perhaps others, are based more on politics and favors than expertise, a criticism that also was made during the administration of Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.
Last week's complaint, by Brunswick Town Council Chairwoman Joanne King, isn't confined to the LePage administration. But McGoldrick, in his email to LePage and administration officials, wrote that the governor mishandled Snowden's appointment by not recognizing her expertise or allegiance to conservative ideals.
"Susan has impeccable R (Republican) credentials," wrote McGoldrick, "has served diligently on the board (as evidenced by her election to the chairmanship). While I believe you have every right to appoint who you want to these positions, you do have a responsibility to use discretion, to appoint the best possible people able and willing to serve ... and to treat these people with the respect they deserve."
McGoldrick added that he no longer wanted to serve on the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, saying, "I do not want to be part of an administration that treats dedicated people in the manner in which you handled Ms. Snowden."
McGoldrick said Monday that he is no longer upset with LePage. After all, he said, the governor fixed the mistake when he pulled back Snowden's replacement, Chris Logan, from the FAME board. Snowden will remain on the board. Administration officials said she will be reappointed next year, during the next round of nominations.
"I want to make it absolutely clear that I'm very happy with Gov. LePage, the work that he's doing and that he stood up and acknowledged that there was a mistake," McGoldrick said in an interview. "It was never his fault."
Still, McGoldrick said, he's not interested in serving on the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. He said he doesn't have the time.
McGoldrick was nominated to the agency despite a recommendation by Brunswick officials that the town's redevelopment liaison, Denise Clavette, get the seat.
King told the Press Herald last week that the LePage administration's decision to appoint McGoldrick over Clavette factored into the council's decision not to ratify a 30-year agreement that would have returned $12 million in property taxes to the redevelopment authority to be used for infrastructure projects and lure businesses.
Administration officials acknowledge that senior staffers erred with the Snowden appointment. However, it's not clear why her spot on the FAME board was important to McGoldrick, the chief operating officer of Commercial Properties Inc., a Portland-based firm.
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