Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Maine: the Olsen affair explored

This summer, Maine Governor Paul LePage's marine resources commissioner, Norman Olsen, tendered a fiery resignation, accusing his boss of bullying and having declared the state’s largest city to be his enemy, and his colleagues of having been involved in gross mismanagement and, perhaps, smothering his investigations. The governor's staff wasn't agile enough to fire back effectively, but Republican pundit Matt Gagnon helped them out by requesting scheduling documents that appeared to undermine Olsen's case. There were allegations and counter-allegations, and then the press lost interest.

So what really happened?

My piece in the current issue of Down East asks that question, and taps on additional public records to try to piece together a more complete picture of what occurred.

A side note: While researching this piece, I requested a range of public documents pertinent to determining whose version of events was correct. In a matter of days, the governor's office released perhaps half of the documents, promising to issue the remainder as soon as natural resources advisor Carlisle McLean returned from vacation (and after my piece was off to the publisher.) Alas, nearly two months later they have failed to do as promised, despite regular prodding from your correspondent. One hopes this is not because the remaining documents will contradict their version of events -- presumably they do not -- but sadly it may take legal intervention to compel the governor's staff to turn them over. Stay tuned for further developments.

More encouraging in regards to the governor's intentions, the report Mr. Olsen ordered has in fact been released, apparently without interference.

For a little additional context, here's my prior interview with Mr. Olsen in Working Waterfront.

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