RENEE ORDWAY

Republicans will breathe sigh of relief upon Webster’s exit

Posted Nov. 16, 2012, at 7:15 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 17, 2012, at 3:42 p.m.

There are probably not many Republicans who won’t be delighted in a couple of weeks to flip their wall calendars and bury the gloomy page of November deep beneath the rest of 2012.

Let’s face it, there are not a lot of things going right for the Republican Party at this particular moment.

But here in Maine some may see even a greater ray of relief looming on the horizon with the emergence of December, for it signifies the end of Charlie Webster’s term as state chairman of the GOP.

It must be worthy of at least a moment of gratitude by even the most battle-worn Republicans.

Much like Gov. Paul LePage, Webster refers to himself as a sort of truth-telling, plain-speaking, politically incorrect, true blue Mainer when he says something foolish.

Like he did this week when he revealed to longtime TV journalist Don Carrigan that “in some parts of Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day.”

And of course, with the camera rolling, he continued.

“Everybody has a right to vote but nobody in [these] towns knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know, but we’re going to find out,” he warned ominously.

Well, perhaps ominously is the wrong word. It’s pretty hard to look at or listen to Charlie Webster and be too fearful of anything, but it’s not for lack of trying on his part.

Just two years ago he marched into the Secretary of State’s Office with a list of 200 names of out-of-state Maine college students who he alleged committed voter fraud during the 2010 election.

Of course, he immediately gathered the press before him in the State House to deliver his oh-so keen observances and allegations.

“I am convinced that my research proves that [voter] fraud is a problem, and I’ve only found the tip of the iceberg,” he proclaimed at the time.

Secretary of State Charlie Summers, a gentleman of Webster’s own political party, found the 2010 allegations were unsubstantiated and earlier this week announced that his office had no complaints of alleged voter fraud from any precincts in the Nov. 6 election and seemingly brushed off Webster’s latest tirade.

Anyway, Webster has since apologized, kind of, and said any accusation that his allegation that black people were brought into Maine to vote was racist is offensive to him.

“I play basketball every Sunday with a black guy,” he said in his defense.

Enough, said Mr. Webster. Enjoy your retirement.

•••

Now, moving on to what I really wanted to write about for the past two weeks.

I’ve wanted to ask Bangor Schools Superintendent Betsy Webb the status of the investigation into her assistant Robert Lucy.

Lucy, you may recall, was placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 19 after the Bangor Daily News published a story stating that the Maine Department of Education had investigated claims of “testing irregularities” at Orono Middle School while Lucy was the principal there in 2011.

At least two teachers claimed to have felt pushed and intimidated by Lucy into readministering the test to some students, a clear violation of standardized testing regulations.

The department found “incontrovertible evidence” that some students did revisit the New England Common Assessment Program after the permitted time.

Webb said she had no knowledge of the investigation into Lucy’s actions when she hired him in May 2012 as her assistant, and the superintendent of the Orono school system agreed that he never mentioned the investigation to Webb during Lucy’s hiring process.

The Bangor School Department is using attorney Daniel Stockford of Lewiston to conduct its investigation into the matter.

We’re nearly at the two-month mark and apparently Lucy remains on paid administrative leave, perhaps for good reason. A few people I know had asked how the investigation was coming along. It’s not an unreasonable or tough question. I thought I’d call and ask.

I called Dr. Webb’s office last Thursday but she was on the phone and would have to call me back. The next day I received an email indicating they had misplaced my phone number. I called the office again and left my number again.

The day went by and this week went by and no return call.

Perhaps some of you will have better luck.

Renee Ordway can be reached at reneeordway@gmail.com.

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