State Senator Dawn Hill (D-Cape Neddick), a prime mover of the Government Oversight Committee's bipartisan probe — which, to be launched, had to overcome another set of enablers, the MTA's many legislative defenders — observes of the agency: "Violette created this fiefdom. He had great control of these people. I'm surprised that there hasn't been more turnover now that Violette has left."
As for Libby, she says: "If you weren't watching the books, you should be fired. If you were, you should be fired, too." Libby wasn't fired. He retired on June 30 after 44 years at the agency. (The MTA, however, didn't pay for the well-attended meal honoring him.) Davidson, Welzel, Merfeld, and other staff who went along with Violette's ways are still there. (Paradee died last year.)
Conley told legislators that the board is "probably just as responsible as Mr. Violette" for the agency living "off the fat of the land." Yet he and other Violette-era board members continue to occupy their seats — although Governor Paul LePage recently installed former Supreme Judicial Court chief Daniel Wathen as chairman. Gosselin's term expires this month. The same outside accountants are still serving the agency, though that job will soon go out to bid.
Senator Roger Katz (R-Augusta) says the focus of the spring hearing "was on potential illegal spending as opposed to inappropriate spending." He expects that with the appointment of Wathen and former longtime legislator Peter Mills as executive director, "the improper spending is over."
But many of the people who enabled or went along with Violette are still in place. Mills says he has a "fine team of people" working at the MTA, and "it's not appropriate for me" to judge the board. It seems nobody else will, either, or make judgments on others involved with the Maine Turnpike Authority's disgraceful past.
: This Just In
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