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Archive for June 2011

15th Annual Liberty Festival offers fun, fireworks

The Independence Day Committee invites the communities of Lewiston-Auburn and its neighbors to the 15th Annual Liberty Festival on July 4th to celebrate our nation’s independence with food, fun, freedom and fireworks.

On the banks of the Androscoggin River, the Liberty Festival will feature a concert stage, vendors and the party at the Hilton Garden Auburn Riverwatch, which is hosting a live band and perfect views of the fireworks. The fireworks are scheduled to blast off at 9:30 p.m.

This year, the Liberty Festival has revived the Auburn Main Street stage. The lineup opens at 5 p.m. with Cold Blue Steel playing a mix of classic and modern country music. At 6:30 p.m., Skyler takes the stage with a mix of country, pop and rock. L-A Harley Band will roar at 8 p.m. with a wide variety of music, ranging from Zac Brown to Jethro Tull to Maroon 5. Then Drive takes off at 10 p.m. with Top 40s, hard rock and even some heavy metal.

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LePage: Budget is a good start, more needs to be done

By Governor Paul LePage

Weekly Address

6.1 billion dollars. It’s a figure that has been thrown around for the past six months as Legislators battled the budget in Augusta. When billions of your tax dollars are at stake I take my job very seriously.

You see, I am a businessman: I understand the bottom line. I also understand where the revenue comes from. Tax money is your hard-earned money, not the politicians’ in Augusta.

This budget is a good down payment, but it’s only part of the bill that needs to be paid in full.

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LETTER: iPads are symptom of bigger problem

To the Editor:

Anyone who has been monitoring the debate regarding the Auburn school budget and iPad initiative over the past several months easily can conclude that there has been frustration on many levels. This frustration not only lies with the budget, but also with the school committee and the city council members.

The iPad initiative, which I believe to be misguided at best, is a symptom of a much larger problem. The program was put in place with no meaningful discussion that included parents or city council members. More egregiously, the program had no sound funding foundation—I find that quite peculiar since it is supposedly the keystone to improving our children’s literacy and mathematical performance by 30 percentage points over the next several years.

The vast majority of available medical literature also clearly shows that increasing screen time beginning at a young age has been directly linked to eye strain, childhood obesity, children’s lack of attentiveness, poor school performance and aggressive behavior. The list could continue much further.

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LETTER: Eliminate the Maine Turnpike, increase gas tax

To the Editor:

Government is not efficient and doesn’t have to be—not as long as cost can be ignored.

Maine citizens are so highly taxed in comparison to other states that we are a frequent contender for the title of most highly taxed. Our state government, our municipal and our county governments, like jackals feeding on a carcass, extract, on average, somewhere around 13 or 14 percent of our income. These taxes could be reduced and government could be made efficient, but it would require a citizen’s initiative to throttle funding.

When I consider taxes, three thoughts come immediately to mind: the first is that some of that tax money is spent foolishly and, of course, this is also the second and the third thought. If our lawmakers were limited in their tax collection to 10 percent of our income, including any cost for collection, then foolish spending would, if not eliminated, be at least reduced.

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Mayor’s Corner: It is high time for a dust storm to hit Lewiston-Auburn

By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

Mayor of Lewiston

That’s right! It is high time for a storm to blow off all the accumulated dust on the many reports dealing with consolidation of Lewiston-Auburn municipal services.

Back in 1996 we had the report of a joint commission of the cities of Lewiston-Auburn, more commonly known as the L-A Together Report. Back in the early 2000s, we had the LA Excels Report. Then in 2004, Mayor Lionel Guay of Lewiston and his brother Mayor Normand Guay of Auburn created the Lewiston-Auburn Commission on Joint Services. This was followed by the Citizens’ Commission on Lewiston and Auburn Cooperation.

These reports involved an abundant number of hours that can be measured accumulatively in the thousands by dedicated citizens of both cities, all with the goal of seeing the fruits of their labor. All were basically “dead on arrival” when presented to the city councils.

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2nd Art Walk Lewiston Auburn promises more art, more fun

Grassroots group of community members, artists and businesses to transform downtowns monthly through September

On Friday, June 24, “Art Walk Lewiston Auburn” will once again transform the downtown areas of Lewiston and Auburn into art districts for the evening.

The inaugural Art Walk Lewiston Auburn event last month drew over 400 people to the downtown area and featured work by over two dozen local artists. For the second event, the Art Walk will showcase all new artwork and will feature other art elements, including a performance from local jazz band, Three Point Trio.

“Art Walk Lewiston Auburn events are put together by just a handful of volunteers, so we were ecstatic when we saw the outpouring of community support for our inaugural event,” says Michael Dostie, one of the event’s organizers. “The people who came out commented repeatedly on how wonderful it was to see downtown filled with life and art. We’ve worked hard to make sure our second event will be an even greater success, adding new art and recruiting new artists, as well as adding live music and performance art pieces.”

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Gov. LePage signs budget with largest tax cut in Maine history

Budget includes Pension Reform, Spending Realignments, Down Payment on Welfare Reform

After a careful, businesslike approach and examining all the details, Governor Paul LePage signed on Monday the $6.1 billion biennial budget that reduces taxes for Mainers and businesses, reforms the state pension system and makes changes to welfare programs.

“In February legislators were given a plan which was very different from previous budgets with a focus on creating jobs, lowering taxes, reforming welfare and realigning spending to better reflect today’s realities,” said Governor LePage. “The budget I signed today reflects a step toward fiscal responsibility and a change in the way we must operate as a state.”

“I am encouraged by some of the work done and the thoughtful debates that were involved during this budgetary process,” LePage said. “The state will now move toward a more sustainable pension system that Maine can afford and current and future retirees will benefit from.”

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LETTER: Public education isn’t working in L-A

To the Editor:

Perception can easily be more influential than reality. This is why the front-page stories praising the success of Somali and Bantu high school students in the Lewiston Sun Journal on June 12 were disturbing.

First, I find nothing untrue in the stories. I believe that the Bantu student, Shobow Saban, overcame great difficulties in achieving his high school diploma, and I believe that Somali student Asha Mohamud graduated 11th in her class. I believe that Asha is exceptional, that she is multi-lingual and, more importantly, I believe she started school without the non-English-language-speaking handicap of most Somali students.

I agree with Principal LeBlanc that any progress in educating non-English speaking students is a success story. I am convinced that Lewiston High School teachers work hard in teaching their Somali and Bantu students—they have to.

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LETTER: School committee didn’t include community, teachers in iPad debate

To the Editor:

Over the last couple of months we have seen many new ideas proposed by the Auburn School Department. These ideas are aimed at improving student achievement and alleviating the dropout crisis.

However, a common theme has emerged during the school committee meetings and subsequent discussions: a complete lack of collaboration and openness with the community and teachers of Auburn.

According to the school committee’s policies (located on their website), their mission is to “facilitate the development of policies in collaboration with faculty and community.” This includes educators, parents, citizens and children of Auburn.

The committee hastily decided to buy and implement iPads for kindergarten classrooms without seeking collaboration from faculty or community members. Requests from local medical experts, parents and educators to be part of this process have been overlooked by the committee.

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LETTER: Privileged class consists of “layabouts and refugees”

To the Editor:

It appears that when it comes to American History, Lewiston has its own Sarah Palin: Mayor Larry Gilbert.

In his TCT column on June 9, 2011, “Gov. Lepage puts (Rich) ‘People before Politics’,” Gilbert attempts to make his case through testimony given before Maine’s Joint Standing Committee on Taxation by Dan Coyne from the Maine Center for Economic Policy. The problem is that this organization adheres to policies of restrictive European Socialism.

Was it not the economic climate in 1600-1700 Europe that was responsible for the mass migration to North America? Here in America, hard work offered financial gain and upward mobility. I believe these are the same philosophies set forth by the Maine Heritage Policy Center.

Gilbert’s dislike for Governor Lepage parallels the hatred of Jamestown’s John Smith by the privileged and dandies of that colony for making them work along with the laborers and indentured servants. Today working people of this state are forced to support the new privileged class consisting of the under-educated welfare layabouts and refugees. Like the dandies of Jamestown, Gilbert objects to our John Smith, Governor Lepage, who expects these people to step up and show responsibility by supporting themselves.

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