Natural Resource Agency Transition Team Takes Shape
Thirty-five Mainers have been tapped to serve as a “Transition Advisory Team” for Governor-elect Paul LePage who presented the team at a November 23 press conference at the State House.
The advisory team will be divided into three groups, each led by one of the three members of LePage’s Transition Team. Attorney Ann Robinson will chair the advisory team assigned to natural resource agencies including the Departments of Conservation, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Marine Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Protection. Robinson is a partner in the Preti Flaherty law firm.
LePage surprised his audience when, in answer to a reporter’s question, he said he’d already chosen two members of his cabinet, the Commissioners of Conservation and Public Safety. He gave no hint about who those commissioners would be.
Speculation inside and outside the State House indicates that Bill Beardsley will be LePage’s Commissioner of Conservation. Beardsley attended the press conference and was announced as a member of the Transition Advisory Team.
Beardsley impressed many people, including his opponent Paul LePage, during his 2010 primary campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. While he is widely known for his 23 years at Husson College and his extensive work in the field of education, he also offers lots of experience in the fields of forestry and conservation.
It was my pleasure a few years ago to participate in a study by Beardsley of trends in forest land ownership and access. He’s extremely bright and capable.
My guess is that John Morris will serve as Public Safety Commissioner. Morris served as Chief of Staff for the LePage campaign and is in charge of the transition. He served for ten years as Waterville’s Chief of Police. He’s a retired Navy Captain who commanded a naval warship and a navy base in South Korean. Morris served on active duty for thirty years including several tours in Vietnam. As an aside, he’s an avid fisherman who lives on Cobbossee Lake in Winthrop.
LePage’s entire Transition Advisory Team is listed on the Governor-elect’s Web site.
The team includes State House veterans such as former Senators Rick Bennett, Vin Cassidy, and Lisa Marrache. It also includes several key individuals from the forest products industry, including Don White, president of Prentiss & Carlisle, and Chip Bessey, president of E.D. Bessey & Son. Leo Kieffer serves on the team as a representative of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (see my Down East Blog of November 21 for more on Kieffer and some of the applicants for IF&W Commissioner).
In addition to IF&W applicants named in my November 21 blog, two more have surfaced. One is retired game warden John Whalen, who now raises smelts in his home hatchery. The other is Paul Wade, an Augusta veterinarian and sportsman activist. Wade is a pilot and Maine guide who once owned Northern Pride Lodge in Kokadjo.
LePage told me he doesn’t know all the people on his Transition Advisory Team. He clearly reached out beyond his known universe to find people with experience in state government and politics as well as the business community.
I expect the following advisory team members to serve on the group focusing on natural resource agencies: Walter Anderson (former State Geologist), Leo Kieffer, Don White, Bill Beardsley, Chip Bessey, and Jean Paul Carrier (manager of E.J Carrier, a logging and transportation company).
Each of the three teams will look for efficiencies in state agencies, recommend policy and program changes, and present LePage with three to five recommended people for agency commissioner positions. LePage said his commissioners would need to have, “thick skin, loyalty to his agenda, and chemistry with him.”
He also said he would personally interview all recommended candidates before making his choices.
He hopes to have all his commissioners and an agenda for change at each agency ready to go on January 5, 2011, when he will be sworn in as Maine’s next governor.
It’s a very ambitious timeline, but his team left the press conference for a meeting at the nearby offices of the Preti Flaherty law firm to get to work.