Conclusion of Good Will-Hinckley probe could be delayed by writing of 2nd report

Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage, House Speaker Mark Eves and Good Will-Hinckley are in the spotlight again.

The Government Oversight Committee convenes again this morning for what could be its final meeting about its fact-finding probe of LePage’s role in forcing the ouster of Eves as Hinckley’s president. Expected today is a vote by the committee to accept the contents of a written report that was compiled by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.

Also expected is a conversation about several hours of testimony under oath to the committee that has happened since the release of the OPEGA report. OPEGA director Beth Ashcroft has been working on summarizing that testimony in a separate report that technically would be a product of the GOC, not OPEGA. Ashcroft said in an email to committee members Wednesday the she was in the process of finalizing the report but that it was “still a work in progress and not a final document.”

It was unclear whether that means the committee will be able to take final votes today or push that off to another meeting.

The committee has a busy agenda full of items other than the Good Will-Hinckley probe, including a visit by Court Master Justice Wathen — who oversees Maine’s mental health treatment system under the provisions of the AMHI Consent Decree — who is slated to dicuss staffing concerns at the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. Watch for coverage, or listen in live by clicking here. — Christopher Cousins 

Collins, King collaborate on bipartisan anti-terrorism bill

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King have teamed up with a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation designed to crack down on terrorists entering the United States through the Visa Waiver program.

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens from participating countries, including most of Europe, to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days of fewer, after having met certain security requirements. The program was used nearly 20 million times last year to gain access to the United States, according to a news release from Collins and King.

The Visa Waiver Program Security Enhancement Act would require people who have traveled to Syria or Iraq in the past five years to acquire a traditional tourist visa, which requires an in-person interview with a U.S. consular official and the submission of the traveler’s fingerprints and photograph; institutes the use of a more secure electronic passport; and requires ramped up intelligence sharing between Visa Waiver Program countries and the United States. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Rough anniversaries for Ray Charles

I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website this morning, as I often do, to see what prominence Dec. 3 has in rock history.

In 1960, Ray Charles had a banner day when his “The Genius Hits the Road” album hit the top 10 on the Billboard charts. It was Ray’s first top 10 album.

Dec. 3, 1966, wasn’t such a great day for Charles. He was handed a five-year suspended sentence for possession of heroin and marijuana, but it leads to him kicking his long-held heroin addiction at a California sanitarium.

Here’s a great old Ray Charles tune to warm up your morning. — Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.