Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Maine Turnpike Authority defends board...poorly

In the October 2011 Down East, I reported on the effort to reform the Maine Turnpike Authority in the wake of a disgraceful expenses scandal and the exposure of other questionable practices at the quasi-public agency.

Although the article concludes that interim director Peter Mills is putting the agency back on track, the MTA's two long-serving board members -- Lucien Gosselin and longtime board chair Gerard Conley -- didn't take to the suggestion that they might have some degree of responsibility for the state of affairs. The result: their letter to the editor you'll find in the current issue of the magazine, one that's remarkable in its slipperiness. You'll find my withering response there too.

The letter suggests Mr. Mills has his work cut out for him. Even in the midst of a debacle of this scale, some of his bosses on the board remain defensive when one might expect contrition.

A side note for Turnpike watchers: among the board's newer members is none other than former Portland mayor Jim Cloutier, a partner at Mr. Conley's law firm, and a man best known to readers of Down East for his questionable role in the Maine State Pier scandal. Also, since the article and letter were produced, Mr. Gosselin has been replaced by Lewiston pol Robert D. Stone.

For more background on the Turnpike, see this earlier article.

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