Robinson: Decision to fire Eves deserves further investigation

Maine House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, will be president of the Good Will-Hinckley school in Fairfield. He plans to start July 1 — after the legislative session ends — but finish his term as speaker and state representative.

The headline in my Facebook newsfeed belonged to Ethan Strimling.

“Decision to fire Eves deserves further investigation”

Surprisingly, I agreed!

We should demand further investigation into how a mediocre politician with no school administrative experience whatsoever almost attained employment at a charter school whose very existence he opposed as a lawmaker.

We should look into the influence that Bill Brown, an employee of Mr. Eve’s official office and a board member of Good-Will Hinckley, may have exerted over the Speaker’s political actions and eventual hiring.

We should get to the bottom of how Rep. Erik Jorgensen (D-Portland) landed a coveted spot on the Appropriations Committee — rare for a freshman representative — and whether he influenced the board of Good-Will Hinckley, on which he sits, in its hiring decisions.

We should ask why Mr. Eves ignored the advice of the Maine Ethics Commission. After learning about the job opportunity, according to the Bangor Daily News, Mr. Eves went to the ethics commission to solicit advice he would later ignore. Ethics told him to think twice about recusing himself from budget talks due to conflict of interest concerns; but he forged ahead, leaving his indelible fingerprints all over the most important bill of the biennium.

All of these questions are worth investigating. Some in the Maine media have had the courage to dig into the left as well as the right on this subject. WMTW’s Paul Merrill deserves special credit for risking the opprobrium of liberal State House lackeys in his quest for answers.

But the Speaker has proven himself ready, willing and able to subvert even the most dogged FOAA requests. And Good-Will Hinckley is already showing a recalcitrance to produce records related to the attempted hack hiring.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for more information on that side. I’ll just tell you what happened.

The irony of Eves running a charter school after a stint pressing the agenda of the Maine Education Association was lost on the search committee (and probably – preciously – on Eves himself). They were entirely caught off-guard by the reaction against the crony hire.

The entire opportunity was made possible by Eves’ political connections, especially to Good Will-Hinckley board members. Those connections included Jorgensen and Brown, the Speaker’s special assistant for budget and policy, whom Good-Will Hinckley paid $90,669 in 2013, according to the non-profits 2013 Form 990.

Both of these gentleman “recused” themselves from what Eves described as a nationwide search (insert laugh track here).

Nonetheless the job that had historically been given to politically connected individuals with backgrounds in education went to a politically connected individual with no background in education.

We know Eves’ resume doesn’t stack up against those of the previous presidents of Good-Will Hinckley.

Nathan Strout has acquired the document describing the position at Good Will-Hinckley. (For some odd reason, that document recently disappeared from their website.)

The requirements, to name a few, include management of financial systems, implementation of technical systems, experience developing partnerships with K-12, four-year institutions and business and industry.

That’s only a list of the “required” resume items Eves does not possess. The “preferred” list is yet longer.

Recent and relevant experience as a school administrator is preferred, according to the document. As is “significant experience in creating and sustaining strong academic programs”.

This may strike you as requirements and employment preferences that the therapist-turned-politician is unable to fill, but that’s not the most interesting part.

What’s interesting is the one requirement Eves certainly fulfills: “Experience working with legislators, state policy makers, and governmental agencies.”

And let’s be real: That’s the only requirement that mattered. Eves’ only advantage for GWH is was his ability to milk Augusta, which raises the interesting question of whether Eves’ violated laws against revolving-door influence peddling.

Alas, this is all wishful thinking. Mr. Eves will continue to enjoy his plush $30,000 golden parachute while the supine dead-tree reporters cover how many signatures’s #ImpeachLePage petition has.


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