Pingree, Michaud recommend workers comp “enforcer” for New England SBA chief

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In a letter to President Obama, representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud have recommended Steven Minkowsky to be the New England regional administrator for the Small Business Administration, along with state senator Seth Goodall. Behind the scenes, members of Maine’s business community are outraged that Minkowsky – known for his contentious relationship with businesses and his lack of private-sector experience – is being considered for the post.

The Maine Wire spoke with multiple sources who have worked with Minkowsky but wish to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. These sources say Minkowsky’s anti-business attitude is so explicit that he even referred to the business community as the “al-Qaeda of Maine,” a claim that Minkowsky unequivocally denies.

Minkowsky resigned as the Deputy Director of the Maine Workers Compensation Board (MWCB) in February 2011. He spent a large part of his career as manager of the Office of Monitoring, Audit and Enforcement, in a role that some have described as an “enforcer”.

His department was established by Angus King in 1997 to, “provided an enforcement mechanism when violations of the Workers’ Compensation Act are identified,” according to their website.

Minkowsky has worked for the State of Maine since 1980, when he graduated from Southern Maine with a degree in political science. He worked for the Department of Human Services until 1988 as an “Income Specialist,” according to his resume (view full resume at end of post).

Eventually Minkowsky worked his way up to Deputy Director of the MWCB, where he took a hard line stance and was aggressive in his enforcement of workers compensation laws according to members of the business community.

Minkowsky has developed a reputation for supporting pro-government, anti-business initiatives. In 2010, he supported the controversial “predetermination application” that must be filled out for every job a contractor works on to prove they are an independent contractor and not an employee. At the time, a contractor noted that he would have to fill out 400 applications per year to meet the demands of the new worker compensation law. Minkowsky said of the new law in a 2010 MaineBiz article, “I think this is a reasonable step to take.”

Other members of the business community said Minkowsky could be “overly aggressive” in his pursuit of enforcing laws and punishing businesses.

Another source that has worked with Minkowsky for a number of years referred to him as “extremely intelligent” but “spiteful”, a “mean-spirited partisan” who is “pathologically committed to revenge.”

The sources were uncomfortable being named, citing the possibility that Minkowsky may return to the Workers Compensation Board at some point in the future as the Director. The sources fear retribution if he returns to that post.

Minkowsky’s resume, which includes no actual business experience, along with the accounts of his adversarial role in dealing with Maine businesses, doesn’t seem to fit well with the profile of someone to lead an organization like the Small Business Administration, who says their mission is in part, to, “assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise.”

Peter Gore, the Vice President of Government Relations for the State Chamber of Commerce, said he was, “very surprised to see Steve Minkowsky’s name in play,” for the position.

The SBA position is viewed by some as a patronage appointment. A Mainer has held the head post for New England since 1992.

There is speculation that Democrats Pingree and Michaud recommended Minkowsky in return for his years of active service to the Democrat party. Minkowski lists on his resume his extensive experience with the party, including stints as a Democrat State Committee Member in 2011 and 2012, and several years spent serving as the Treasurer for State Democrat Party.

In a joint letter to President Obama, Pingree and Michaud advocated for both Minkowsky and another nominee, State Senator Seth Goodall. “Both of these candidates would make the Administration and the people of New England proud. After lengthy discussions with both of them, we believe they each would bring a wealth of knowledge, talent and breadth of experience to the position.”

When asked for comment on Minkwoski’s alleged al-Qaeda comments, and his reputation as an anti-business bureaucrat, Pingree and Michaud issued a joint statement saying they had not heard anything about the comments. The rest of the statement is considerably less supportive than the initial letter to the President:

“The Regional Administrator of the Small Business Administration has traditionally come from Maine and the current Administration typically looks to the Maine Congressional delegation for suggestions. Ultimately it’s up to the Administration to decide who to nominate for that post.”

Minkowsky declined a telephone interview, preferring questions be emailed to him. In his response, Minkowski denied making the Al-Qaeda statements.

“I never made any comment comparing Maine’s business community to al Qaeda. I have worked with Maine’s business community for two decades and would look forward to continue to work to improve our business climate through the SBA. Access to capital is one of the greatest needs for small businesses in Maine and the SBA can be an important partner in helping existing businesses expand and new businesses get off the ground.”

Minkowski would not address questions about his lack of private sector experience, or the philosophy he would bring to the position if he became New England SBA administrator.

“Until this process is completed, it would be inappropriate for me to respond to any further questions.”

Minkowsky was also a subject of an investigation by Pine Tree Watchdog in January of 2012 regarding disclosure of financial information by public officials.  Minkowsky’s wife was CEO of four facilities owned by Continuum Healthcare, who received $21.6 million from Maine government while Minkowsky was working for the State.

It is unclear when President Obama will make the final SBA appointment.

Minkowsky’s Resume (PDF)

Pingree/Michaud Letter to Obama (PDF)

1 COMMENT

  1.   “al-Qaeda of Maine,” a claim that Minkowsky unequivocally denies.

    Interesting. Lets wait for a little more, as this looks like it may be rough times ahead for the business industry.

  2. Great , the mad dog moonbat that helped destroy all the small one and 2 man sub-contractor companies here in Maine gets to spread his poison around New England…Atleast he won’t be there long as Obuma will be gone soon..

  3. “The Maine Wire spoke with multiple sources who have worked with Minkowsky but wish to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. These sources say Minkowsky’s anti-business attitude is so explicit that he even referred to the business community as the “al-Qaeda of Maine,” a claim that Minkowsky unequivocally denies.”

    ——————————

    What kind of political payback is pushing the endorsement from Pingree and Michaud?

  4. How on earth could Mr. Minkowsky know how to commander this position when he has never experienced the bliss of truely owning, managing, recruiting, accounting for etc. his OWN small business! Come walk with me for a day and watch me sweat it out! With his resume, I see no reason why he ever had to wonder HOW to pay for Work Comp Insurance, pay for weekly payroll, compete in the business world for contracts, and feed and support his family and the families of his employees! HIS resumes doesn’t work! NEXT…and Pingree & Michaud…Thanks but no thanks!

  5. Reporting statements made by sources who wish to remain anonymous – sounds like McCarthyism is rearing its ugly head again.  That’s dishonest reporting.

  6. Wait a minute Mc. The Bangor Daily News runs their web page threads, daily with some very vicious things said about people, and they are able to hide behind, some of their cowardly comments. The NEWS allows this to go on 24/7. If the NEWS forced each person to post their actual identity, they would probably lose money on their wages. Otherwise, why allow the nasty and vicious comments to go unchallenged by the real authors. My point being, pay back is a vicious act in itself, and one can easily imagine how it would go, when you’re dealing with those that subscribe to the quote being attributable to Minkowsky. “al-Qaeda of Maine”, meaning the business community. You be the judge of this one Mc.

  7. If I was reviewing his resume, it would be thrown in the trash after reading about half of the first page.

    Lots of position description stuff.  Nothing at all about what he accomplished.

  8. When are we going to get these commies OUT of our government???  We should round them all up and send them to Russia and China.  Let them live under communist/socialist rule for a couple of years and I bet they’ll change their attitude.  They wouldn’t be in positions of power in either of those countries.  Better yet, send them to North Korea or Iran!

  9. Doesn’t this say something about Pingree’s and Michaud’s views? I don’t care for either one of them, especially Pingree. She’s almost as corrupt as Obama.

  10. He is not liked by Maine business and he returns the favor. His time at the public trough did not teach him where his pay really came from.

  11. There needs not be experiance in operating a buisness for the position of Director of Workers Compensation. This is NOT a one sided program it is a comprimise between employers and employees.
     
    An ability to be fair and objective is the only criteria for a position such as this!

  12. Comedy only a moron could follow!..  So the Dems want to put a labor thug in charge of outreach to small business…  And you wonder why the economy is in the tank?…   Being a small business is hard enough (I am one) with the normal level of government red tape..  now Chelie and Mike whant to throw us this boat anchor!?!?!  Who will pay the taxes once the golden goose is killed?  I bet they never ask themselves that question..  that is why I am a small businessman and prepper too!  Check out “the American Redoubt” in google..  that may be our last best hope with these clowns in charge here… 

  13. I think we are ALL missing the point.  The SBA is a dinosaur that needs to die a quiet, painless death.  In this day and age of the internet and the home computer and home office, there is no reason for the taxpayer to fund anything related to the services offered through the SBA.  It needs to go, just like the Department of Education.

  14. Anonymous sources does not seem like good reporting and in my minds eye is not worth reading. Give me something substantial regarding this issue so that I can make better decisions regarding my views of this situation, please. There is way too much “he said, she said” and nothing to back any of it up.

  15. The almost half-century slow-death of the business environment in Maine now smouldering in the brick and mortar remains of  Maine’s once vibrant companies is not enough proof of policy failure? 

    Jeepers! Who could possibly have wrought such collapse? Augusta’s anti-capitalists hereby insist on perpetuating the manufactured pain that Minkowsky was such a huge part of for so long. The Dems who have blindly supported D’s all this time with their sacred votes have every reason to now feel the burn of bureaucratic betrayal at their lost jobs and the pride they once earned for themselves as a result of their employment.

    Had enough yet?  

       
       

  16. I note that the opening paragraph said that:

     “Behind the scenes, members of Maine’s business community are outraged
    that Minkowsky – known for his contentious relationship with businesses
    and his lack of private-sector experience – is being considered for the
    post.”

    Why in the world is this “…behind the scenes…”?   Speak up you Maine businesses or live with the consequences.

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