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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Maine Governor LePage - Why Did You Fire Physician Dr. Dora Mills? It's the Company You Keep

Disclosure - I have been honored to know Dr. Dora Ann Mills as a public health policy leader and as a neighbor in Brunswick, Maine.  She is respected for her advocacy on behalf of responsible public health policy and as an advocate for nursing, especially regarding the public health policies protecting Maine's women, infant and children.  Obviously, I blanched and nearly dropped my newspaper when, after returning home from a relaxing vacation in Rome, Italy, I read the headlines tucked into my mail slot.

Why did Maine's Governor Paul LePage fire Dr. Dora Ann Mills, the former state public health officer, as Maine's Medicaid director?  No rational reason was given. (Perhaps it was a political decision? Ouch!)

To Dora, I know numerous others in Maine join me in congratulating you on your professional response to the irresponsible action taken by the Governor LePage administration in your employment.

Especially concerning is the lack of recognition for your 15 years of service to Maine people and for your reputation throughout the nation, by those who know you, as a wonderful public health official.

Another question in my mind is how a new gubernatorial administration will fill empty high level Maine positions, several left vacant because of precipitous firings, in a way that will prepare the state and this Republican Party state house majority against an inevitable emergency? 

Examples:  Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer was understandably unprepared for the murder of innocent people during the shootings where Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford was shot in Tuscon.  Louisiana's Bobby Jindal was equally challenged when the British Petroleum (BP) oil rig exploded off the coast of his state causing an environmental catastrophe.  All state governors live with the risk of unwanted disasters happening during their administrations. We cringe in anticipation of a Governor LePage response if, God Forbid (!) something unforseen and horrible happens in Maine.

When the LePage administration fires key public policy people who have proven leadership during times of crisis, in my opinion, he puts at risk the health and welfare of Maine people by allowing political appointments to trump responsible leadership.  Firing Dr. Mills without having a replacement in place is poor management at best and, otherwise, an error in judgment. 

Governor LePage's advocates say he has a right to hire his own team.  Well, these rhetorical advocates better watch the words they continue to parrot to support the mis-steps by this inexperienced administration, because you are graded by the company you keep.

My thanks to Dora for keeping your cool during this uncertain time.  I apoligize for the LePage administration for not publicly recognizing the value of your leadership as a public health policy leader, as an outstanding citizen of Maine and as the mother of a wonderful family. Neighbors, friends and colleagues of Dora are proud of the company we keep.

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