Roger Katz

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Pah-tay with the pols

Today, we introduce our readers to “Political Party Time” — or, as our colleague Kathy Kiely from the Sunlight Foundation calls it, political “money porn.” It’s a window into how politics really work in Maine, where readers can get the inside view of the soliciting that goes on behind the virtuous image promoted by many Maine politicians. Continue Reading →

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Legislators say leak of contract probe designed to “spin” findings

AUGUSTA — Lawmakers Wednesday strongly condemned the potentially illegal leak of parts of a confidential state investigation of a now-defunct energy group, the Maine Green Energy Alliance, and its state sponsor, the Efficiency Maine Trust. They also said the leak was designed to cast both organizations in the best light possible before the formal release of the full investigation next Tuesday. The legislators were referring to a story in Wednesday’s Portland Press Herald headlined “Probe finds no wrongdoing by Maine Green Energy Alliance.”

That premature conclusion drew the ire of Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, co-chair of the legislature’s

bipartisan Government Oversight Committee, who said neither he nor any of the other committee members have seen the report. “The committee, the members of the public and everybody should be receiving a report at the same time to draw their own conclusions,” Katz said. “For the subject of the report to be pre-empting news coverage by putting their own spin on it before the report is even released doesn’t help that orderly process. Continue Reading →

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State’s confidential employees’ pension plan costs state ‘extra’ $3 million

PENSIONS: THE NEXT BUDGET CRISIS

Editor’s note: This is the fifth part in a multi-part series about the state’s debt to teachers and state employees for their pensions. AUGUSTA — As state employees and teachers head into a second day of fighting the governor’s proposal to take almost 10 percent out of their paychecks to cover their pensions and pension debt, about 1,200 state employees known as “confidentials” have no such worry. Those employees — mostly in higher pay grades — will put only 3.65 percent of their pay into the retirement system if Gov. Paul LePage’s pension legislation is approved. This would continue the longstanding gap that goes back to 1981 between regular state employees and the confidentials. Confidential employees are defined as state employees not eligible for collective bargaining because they are either in high-level, policymaking jobs or they are involved in union contract negotiations. Continue Reading →

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