Dis-Associated at the State House
Francis X. Quinn, a veteran State House reporter for the Associated Press, has accepted the company’s buyout offer and resigned. Quinn’s last day on the job was July 27.
Quinn was one of about a hundred AP employees who took the buyout deal, which includes a pension increase and a payment of $500 for each year of service, according to Editor & Publisher.
In the early 1990s, the AP, which then competed with United Press International for broadcast and print business, had four full-time staffers at the State House, with an additional reporter brought in during legislative sessions. Quinn’s departure leaves the Augusta bureau with just one reporter, Glenn Adams. There are also two reporters for the wire service based in Portland.
Quinn had more than three decades of journalism experience, most of it with the AP in Maine. He was considered the press corps’ resident expert on the state Public Utilities Commission – at one point after two of then-Gov. John McKernan’s nominees for the PUC were rejected by the Legislature, he jokingly threatened to make Quinn his next choice – and he was also one of the few reporters in the state who was well-versed in the more complicated aspects of the state budget and tax code.
Quinn appeared to know just about everybody in state government, from janitors and cafeteria workers to directors and commissioners. During slow news periods, he often shambled around the capitol complex, wandering into offices where he’d ask secretaries and other office workers his signature question: “Got any news?”
He broke a surprising number of stories that way.
Quinn’s lackadaisical style convinced some observers that he cared little for his job. In the book An Insider’s Guide to Maine Politics, Bowdoin College professor and pollster Christian Potholm referred to him as “jaded,” but also noted he was “Nobody’s fool.” As usual, Potholm was half-right.
Reporters who worked alongside Quinn at the State House (I was one for a time) noticed his dedication to his craft and the long hours he devoted to it. He was a major resource for the entire press corps.
AP Portland bureau chief David Sharp confirmed Quinn’s departure, but said he couldn’t comment on whether he’d be replaced. “Whenever an AP staffer leaves,” said Sharp, “the AP evaluates the situation.”
Quinn could not be reached for comment.