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Former Chief Justice Wathen Sworn to Maine Turnpike Authority

June 10, 2011

Governor LePage and Daniel Wathen.

Governor LePage signs Turnpike bill that aims to restore public trust

For Immediate Release: Friday, June 10, 2011 Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

Augusta, Maine – Governor Paul LePage administered the oath Friday to the Honorable Daniel Wathen to serve as a member of the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA). The Governor has also appointed Judge Wathen as Chair of the Board.

The Authority is managed by a board of 7 members. Except for the member from the department who serves ex officio, all members are appointed by the Governor. Judge Wathen received unanimous approval this week from both the Maine Senate and Joint Standing Committee on Transportation.

On Friday, the Governor also signed into law LD 1538, “An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Maine Turnpike Authority and To Implement Certain Recommendations of the Government Oversight Committee in the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability Report Concerning the Maine Turnpike Authority." The bill is sponsored by Representative Richard Cebra, of Naples, and 49 other legislators. The legislation implements recommendations of the Government Oversight Committee in response to the January 2011 report of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability regarding the MTA. Most of the changes address fiscal management and reformed governance of the Authority. The bill can be found in its entirety at: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_125th/billtexts/HP113001.asp

In March, Governor Paul LePage pushed for the appointed of Peter Mills as Executive Director to the Authority to help restore trust and confidence to the agency. The Governor is assured Judge Wathen will complement the efforts by Director Mills to achieve the level of integrity that is needed to sustain the Authority moving forward. “The Maine Turnpike Authority has the potential to be a great resource to the people of Maine – supporting the economy and the creation of jobs – these reforms and this nomination will assist it in achieving that potential,” Governor LePage said.

Judge Wathen, of Augusta, served for 20 years on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, ten of which as the Chief Justice. He has served as a Justice of the Maine Superior Court. In private practice, Judge Wathen practiced both trial and transactional law and, more recently, as arbitrator, mediator, and court assigned special master. He is a graduate of Ricker College and the University of Maine School of Law where he served as editor-in-chief of the Maine Law Review.

“I hope I can live up to the confidence that you've expressed in me,” Judge Wathen told the Governor. "I'm really comfortable that this is a great organization it just needs some correction. I am confident it will be on the road to correction and Maine will be pleased with the outcome.”

Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Cebra praised the Governor for his recent appointments to the MTA. “The Governor has made two great selections which are indications of the Administration’s commitment to fix major problems that were identified with the Maine Turnpike Authority. The financial debacle discovered within the Authority needed to be addressed immediately and Governor LePage has done that,” said Rep. Cebra. “The signing of LD 1538 represents a new start that will help restore trust to the Authority that was lost from Maine people.”

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