AUGUSTA, Maine — Officials at the Department of Health Human Services confirmed Thursday that four program directors have been relieved of their duties by the LePage administration.
DHHS employees were notified of the staff changes late Wednesday in an e-mail from Commissioner Mary Mayhew.
The four directors are considered political appointments. This brings to eight the number of such positions LePage has jettisoned at DHHS since taking office in January. The governor also fired former MaineCare medical Director Dr. Dora Anne Mills. Mills, who held a contracted position, was let go in February.
Wednesday’s firings involved Don Chamberlain and Ron Welch, who headed the Adult Mental Health Services program; Diana Scully of Elder Services; and Jane Gallivan of Adults with Cognitive and Physical Disabilities.
Anthony Marple, the head of MaineCare Services, was let go in February. James Beogher, who headed the Child and Family Services program was relieved last month.
In her message to DHHS employees, Mayhew wrote that Welch, Chamberlain, Gallivan and Scully had “been relieved of their political appointments and are no longer with DHHS.”
“These changes continue the assembly of a new leadership team at DHHS as part of the new administration,” Mayhew wrote. “The primary goal remains meeting the needs of Maine people within existing resources through a system that is more integrated, efficient and cost-effective.”
DHHS spokesman John Martins said the department was working on a statement to be released later today. However, Martins said it was unlikely that the administration would comment on why the latest round of appointees were let go because the issue was a personnel matter.
Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, the ranking Democrat on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, blasted the firings, saying the decision was a political move that comes at the expense of expertise and experience at an overwhelmed department.
Craven also blamed Mayhew for caving to the governor.
“Not only am I disappointed in this decision, I’m also disappointed in Commissioner Mayhew’s management curve,” Craven said. “She was hired to manage this important agency and now she’s gutting it for purely political reasons.”
The latest move comes in the wake DHHS criticism from the leaders of conservative groups who say the department is in need of a cultural overhaul.
Gov. LePage declined to comment on the shakeup.
“What I can tell you is when there is a new [administration] political appointment changes are to be expected,” said Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s spokeswoman. “As far as the cultural change — we must ensure that all state workers are focusing on their departments’ mission.”
Mayhew said Guy Cousins will serve as acting director of the Office of Adult Mental Health Services while remaining the director of the Office of Substance Abuse. Ricker Hamilton, an employee within the Office of Elder Services, will assume the director’s role at OES and serve as acting director for the Office of Adults with Physical and Cognitive Disabilities Services.
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