A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Maine's Turnpork Authority bids adieu

Image and caption from Mainebiz.

Maine's Republican party announced over the weekend that Paul Violette, the buck-stops-here Authority in charge of Maine's Turnpork highway spending, has cleaned out his desk and resigned:
Word is coming out of the State House today that Paul Violette will step down next week. Violette was grilled recently by the OPEGA committee about his seemingly indiscriminate distribution of over $150,000 in gift certificates, including over $100,000 in gift cards to luxury hotel chains. Violette claimed he had no record of who the gift cards went to, and claimed that the use of turnpike funds for luxury gifts was an acceptable practice.

"Maine Republicans have been trying to get to the bottom of this kind of nonsense for years," said Maine GOP Chair Charlie Webster. "Now that we're in control of state government, we're finally seeing some results. We can't rebuild our economy without weeding out the cronyism and waste that has become pervasive throughout state government. Quite simply, we need to drain the swamp in Augusta.
This is good news. Regime change is just what we needed to turn the Maine Turnpork Authority into something more respectable - an agency that takes responsibility for moving Maine's people and goods efficiently and cost-effectively, instead of lining its own pockets.

There's still a lot of bureaucratic inertia and cronyism from the old regime. But there's also a clear mandate to do things better, and the remaining staff deserve a chance to live up to our higher expectations.

Kudos to the Republicans who kept the pressure on. Now that we've cleaned out the rot, it's time to work on productive solutions, including new transit services.

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