“Maine businesses and citizens cannot afford any more fee increases. Therefore, I request that you resign due to your antibusiness view towards Maine commerce,” wrote Governor Paul R. LePage in separate letters to each member of the Commission last month. LePage’s letter was addressed to the four members of the Board of Commissioners for the Port of Portland, including Chair Tom Dobbins. The other three Commissioners are: William VanVoorhis, Bert Jongerden, and Dan Haley of Munjoy Hill. Patrick Arnold, who has sort of recused himself from the matter, did not receive such a letter from the Governor.
“This sends the wrong message to vessels entering the port…………….Increasing fees on pilot services is just another tax increase on businesses, similar to what the Legislature has gotten away with for decades,” the letter continued. The Governor also said in the one page letter dated December 15, 2017 that he was “supporting legislation to provide exemptions to certain vessels” a change in his position from February of 2017.
In his letter, the Governor also objected to the lack of “appropriate financial records from the pilots to justify a fee increase,” a position that Harold Pachios, attorney for The Cat, has repeatedly taken throughout the public hearings. Pachios’ position was reinforced when Dr. Richard Silkman, a consultant, testified that the Board’s lack of process did not permit a “fair and reasonable” outcome to be determined. Board member Dan Haley conducted an independent google search of Dr. Silkman and decided to disregard his expert testimony because of a legal issue in which he is involved. Board member Bert Jongenden told this blogger initially that the dispute between the parties was not a “big deal” because it was “only about process.”
This letter from the Governor comes amidst an on-going dispute between The Cat, (d/b/a Bay Ferries ltd.), and the Board of Commissioners for the Port of Portland and the Portland Pirates, a Harbor monopoly, concerning a rate hike that The Cat attorney Pachios has repeatedly stated was illegally voted on in May of 2017.
Before the Transportation Committee for Thursday, January 18, 2018, is legislation that would amend the current laws governing pilotage requirements for ferry service, “The Cat,” between Maine and Nova Scotia – essentially reverting them back prior to 2012 when every trip did not require pilot services from the Portland Pilots. While The Cat was not servicing Portland Harbor and therefore could contest the legislation, the Portland Pilots went before the state legislature and requested a change in procedure – that every trip of the ferry service require pilot services. The legislation is L.D. 1752 and the hearing at the State House begins at 1:00 pm., Room 126.
For more background information on the dispute between the two parties, please see post herein dated January 5, 2018. There are other posts on the dispute herein as well. Copies of the letters from the Governor to the Commissioners were obtained today by this blogger under the Freedom of Access law.