The following is a letter that was sent to Senator Justin Alfond asking for the reasons for tabling a bill that parents and the Judicial Branch do not want:
Subject: LD 47: Please, “kill” it!
AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OF THE MAINE SENATE, JUSTIN ALFOND
President of the Maine Senate
Dear Senator Alfond,
Re LD 47 a bill to extend the Parent Coordinator program.
I am writing to add my name to the growing list of Maine people, who are distressed by the current turn of events surrounding LD 47. The bill seeks to extend the parent coordinator law until 2016, pending further “study”. It adds budget for a “supervisor”, and it seeks to determine if the program “has benefit”. We ask, “benefit for whom and judged by whom?” Are we talking about obvious “benefits” for Parent coordinators and lawyers, or “benefits” for the opposing public? To loosely paraphrase an expression from recent years, is it about protecting the famous 1% or the 99%?.
What is perplexing to growing numbers of the public is why this bill was tabled in the Senate- as we understand it from several sources, on orders from you through the caucus (on a motion from Senator Valentino). From whence comes the groundswell to save this bill? it is widely said that the groundswell for saving LD 47 comes from Rep Terry Hayes, a Guardian ad litem/Parental Coordinator herself, and Reps DeChant and Moonen, who were the minority opposing the majority vote to kill LD 47 in the Judiciary Committee. It is also said that there is a group of Portland lawyers, who have a financial and professional interest in saving the bill. It is last ditch lobbying by special interests for their personal “income preservation”.
Our question as observers is whether lobbying will prevail over the classical legislative process, which has voiced an opinion quite contrary to the “special interests”. We also can’t avoid the impression that by tabling a vote on LD 47, you are backing those with a “special interest” in it. We are also concerned that the proposed amendment to LD 47 is so shamefully bogus as to insult the intelligence of both the legislature and the public.
As we understand the amendment to LD 47, it proposes a supervisor (or coordinator) to have n unspecified role doing unspecified things with Parent Coordinators for a period until 2016. As you may be aware there are no job descriptions for the proposed supervisors or for their putative supervisees, nor are there any existing rules or standard for supervisor or Parent Coordinator supervisee, so supervision become a very mystical thing. What would the supervisor do in actual supervision without the guidelines of a job description or rules and standards? Furthermore, for whom would the supervisor of Parent Coordinators work (organizational chain of command)? How would “due process” issues be protected in district court cases? And … finally, is the Judicial Branch asking for “Coordinators of Parent Coordinators? Have Rep Terry Hayes and the Portland lawyers usurped Mary Ann Lynches role? We have heard further rumors that LD 47 might be embedded in LD 872, Senator Dutremble’s bill. It would be shameful to do this. It would be like grafting an invasive cancer into a healthy body!
Even a superficial analysis of the amendment to LD 47 raises the suspicion that it is so badly conceived, from any functional point of view, that is seems to be a ruse on the part of Guardian ad litem/Parental Coordinator, Rep Hayes to extend the life of a bill that appeared to be going down to a well-deserved legislative death. Rep Hayes has a long experience in the Maine legislature, which makes us wonder whether this bill is offered by her friends in gratitude for her public service and to protect her financially in her old age?
The problems of Parent Coordinators are – if possible – even worse that the Guardian ad litem scandal. Like Guardians ad litem, they have no supervision, no oversight, operate virtually ‘ad lib’ for a year with no fee cap, generating huge fees that impoverish the parties. There are no rules and regulations, no standards. It is a gold mine for the Parent Coordinator – no wonder they are fighting vigorously to preserve this lush source of income. In our opinion it is a license to plunder.
LD 47 and its amendment ought to be “killed” asap! Please, use your leadership to do so. We join other members of the public with the hope that people can count on you to protect them from “special interest” abuse.
Jerome A Collins, MD