Regular readers likely remember Patricia Aho, Maine's industrial lobbyist turned the commissioner of environmental protection, who was the focus of my five-part, three-day series last June in the Maine Sunday Telegram and Portland Press Herald, as well as follow-up stories on the department's subsequent failures in regards to dam relicensing here and here.
In tomorrow's Press Herald, I write on a new development: Aho being blasted in a court decision made public yesterday, both for arbitrary decision making on behalf of a client of her former lobbying form, and for transgressing on acceptable behavior in regards to conflict of interests of this nature. The judge had some choice words for Aho, of which this is a taste:
“While this case might not present the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which must exist for a Court to find ‘bias’ as that term has been defined by the Law Court, Commissioner Aho’s continuing participation in deciding upon operational and complaint protocols could be viewed as antithetical to the common notions of impartiality which Maine citizens understandably expect from decision makers in Maine agencies.”There's more in the article and additional material in the opinion itself, which is posted with the article. Also in the completed version to post soon, find the latest on the (Democratic-controlled) legislature's efforts to increase oversight of the department, first outlined here.