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Governors’ nominees win confirmation

AUGUSTA – The Maine Senate on Wednesday confirmed all of Gov. John Baldacci’s nominations to various state boards, commissions and courts.

The session lasted just 2 1/2 hours with the only order of business confirming more than 70 nominations to fill a variety of openings.

And while nearly all were unanimously approved, one nomination sparked a short debate.

Some Republicans questioned whether Kurt W. Adams of Yarmouth should serve as a member of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.

Nine Republicans and one Democrat – Sen. John Nutting of Leeds – voted to overturn Adams’ nomination, with 21 senators voting in favor of it.

It takes two-thirds – in this instance, 21 votes – to override the nomination.

Adams is executive vice president at First Wind and former chief legal counsel for Baldacci.

He also served on the state Public Utilities Commission, but stepped down in May 2008. He said he resigned because Central Maine Power Co. proposed building new transmission lines behind his house, which he felt presented the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Education Committee member Sen. Carol Weston, R-Montville, said “many Maine citizens” had questions about the “integrity of the nominee.”

Wind energy opponents raised questions about Adams, and Weston – who voted against Adams’ nomination – said she did not feel he answered all her questions.

“I believe his answers were not adequate,” she said.

Many of Adams’ opponents are those who oppose the expansion of land-based wind power, said Sen. Peter Mills, R-Cornville. Mills supported Adams’ nomination, saying he did not see a conflict.

Mills said the university system is focused on offshore wind, not land-based wind.

“I don’t see any connection at all between someone’s opposition to land-based wind power and putting Mr. Adams on the board of trustees,” he said.

In other voting, the Senate unanimously approved two key positions in the Baldacci cabinet:

* Ellen J. Schneiter, of Readfield, was confirmed as commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services; and

* Angela R. Faherty, of Cape Elizabeth, was confirmed as commissioner of the Department of Education.

Others confirmed Wednesday included:

* David P. Littell of Portland to the Public Utilities Commission;

* Patrick F. Ende of Hallowell as a District Court judge;

* Robert J. Thompson of Litchfield to the Quality of Place Council;

* George R. Ezzy and Patrick E. Paradis, both of Augusta, to the Loring Development Authority; and

* Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Libert, of Benton to the State Board of Corrections.