LePage taps Waterville lawyer, former judge to lead panel investigating unemployment system

Posted April 23, 2013, at 6:07 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has tapped a Waterville lawyer and a former Maine Supreme Judicial Court justice to lead a commission that will be charged with investigating the state’s unemployment compensation system.

LePage on Tuesday said he has appointed Dan Wathen, a former Maine Supreme Judicial Court chief justice and current Maine Turnpike Authority board member, and George Jabar, a Waterville lawyer and Kennebec County commissioner, to jointly head the commission.

LePage announced last week he was forming the blue ribbon commission after media reports that the governor scolded unemployment hearing officers at a March 21 Blaine House luncheon for finding too many unemployment benefit appeals cases in favor of workers rather than employers.

LePage has denied those allegations, and his labor commissioner, Jeanne Paquette, has said the unemployment benefit appeals system is broken and ought to be fixed. She said she and LePage have fielded complaints from business owners and workers who felt the hearing process was flawed.

The commission will include representatives of both employers and employees, the governor’s office has said.

In a statement released Tuesday by his office, LePage said Wathen and Jabar “bring integrity and impeccable credentials to a commission that will be tasked with taking an in-depth look at the state’s entire unemployment compensation system to make sure that it is fair and consistent for all Mainers.”

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