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Archive for June 2011

Mayor’s Corner: Municipalities take it on the chin again from the Legislature

By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

Mayor of Lewiston

Once again Maine Municipalities take it on the chin from the Maine Legislature as it praises itself in balancing its budget. Yup! It matters not if it has been a Democratic Legislature or a Republican Legislature, the story is similar.

The governors and legislators do not want to raise taxes in their budgets, so as “excrements” roll downhill, it befalls on local municipalities to balance their budgets by eliminating positions and raising local property taxes in order to provide essential services, such as education and other public services.

We saw it in the Baldacci Administration and even more so in the LePage Administration by now adding the cutting of income taxes when the state needs revenue to balance its budget, taking it out on municipalities and public employees with furlough days and retirement pensions, especially from former teachers. When we need good teachers here in Maine, what incentive do we give them to want to work here when they can earn far more in other states?

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LePage keeps promise to reduce red tape, help create jobs

Bipartisan, business-friendly bill will help boost job growth

Governor Paul LePage signed into law Legislative Document No. 1 on Monday during a ceremony at the Blaine House, creating reforms help to streamline government, cut through red tape and build the Maine economy.

The Governor was joined at the signing by Senate President Kevin Raye, House Speaker Robert Nutting and other members of the Legislature.

Several reforms found in this legislation were introduced through “red tape” workshops held throughout the state by Governor LePage, where nearly 1,000 job creators proposed their ideas and concerns about burdensome regulations that stifle job growth.

“When we work to pass common-sense legislation that effectively assists more jobs to be created, it’s a no-brainer,” said the Governor. “This is a good down payment on the necessary reforms we must make to transform Maine’s business climate.”

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LaBonte: County government needs management, not rhetoric

By Jonathan P. LaBonte

TCT columnist

While it has received little coverage by the mainstream media, a group of elected commissioners continue work on drafting a proposed charter to set the rules for governing Androscoggin County.

The process will involve an additional public hearing once a draft is finalized, and ultimately must pass a countywide vote in all of Androscoggin County. But there is value in attempting to understand where county government has come from before we set forth where it is going.

For those who have spoken with me in my role as County Commissioner for District 2 (Poland, Minot, Mechanic Falls and Auburn), I have made no bones about why I believe Maine moving toward county service delivery and planning is our best opportunity to become competitive on a regional basis.

There are 14 towns and cities in Androscoggin County that create 14 different transportation plans, generate 14 different economic development plans, charge 14 different tax rates and operate 14 different departments in almost every area of government service. To believe that they can be efficient in doing all that is unthinkable.

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Mayor’s Corner: What did 10 years of Bush tax cuts for the rich get us?

By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

Mayor of Lewiston

June 7 is a very special day for me. This year on that day I turned 66-years-old and my good friend Dr. Bernard Lown turned 90-years-old on the same day.

Lown is the 1938 Lewiston High School graduate, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and developer of the direct current defibrillator, which has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. In his honor, the South Bridge between Lewiston and Auburn was re-named the “Bernard Lown Peace Bridge.”

On another June 7 in 2001, President George W. Bush signed a bill cutting taxes by $1.35 trillion over 10 years.This was the first of several tax cuts that President Bush would sign, which would end up costing a total of two-and-a-half trillion dollars over a decade. He, and his allies in Congress, promised economic prosperity as a result.

Ten years later, it’s hard to find any evidence that the Bush tax cuts created the prosperity that was promised. Maine’s official unemployment rate in June 2001 was 3.3 percent. Today the seasonally adjusted rate is more than double that, 7.6 percent. Nationwide, the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. Today it is 9.1 percent.

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Republicans list legislative accomplishments

Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney (R-York County) unveiled a replica of the famous “Welcome to Maine: The Way Life Should Be/Open for Business” sign on June 9 in the Senate Majority Office.

Joined by Senate President Kevin Raye (R-Washington County), Sen. Debra Plowman (R-Penobscot County) and members of the Republican caucus, Courtney used the blue graphic to draw attention to GOP accomplishments in this legislative session.

“Republicans promised to take Maine in a different direction—one that is more prosperous, affordable and responsive to all Maine citizens,” said Courtney.

Courtney cited the following legislative accomplishments:

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LETTER: Auburn Exchange Club thanks community for support of Field of Honor

To the Editor:

As the last notes of “Taps” faded over the 400 flags flapping in the breeze on a beautiful sunny Memorial Day in Simard-Payne Memorial Park, we, the members of the Auburn Exchange Club, finally realized that the Field of Honor event that the club had worked so hard to present was finally over.

It was a bittersweet moment; on one hand, we were glad that the long weekend was over, as several members had spent almost their entire holiday weekend at the field, from sunup to sundown. On the other hand, we wished that the field could have lasted much, much longer.

The Auburn Exchange Club would like to express our deepest appreciation and thanks to the community for supporting our inaugural Field of Honor. All through the weekend, ordinary people would stop and ask what the flags were for, and we would explain to them what the project stood for and what it planned to accomplish. They would reflect for a minute and then tell us, “You’re doing a good thing.”

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Out & About with Rachel Morin—Senior College: art, beer and Margaret Chase Smith

By Rachel Morin

TCT columnist

The spring semester at USM Lewiston-Auburn Senior College is winding down, and one of the courses offered was “Special Destinations,” led by Dorothy Rupert of Turner. This is her fourth season of offering this course, and it has proven to be very popular.

Dot and her large following gathered each Tuesday morning at the college and would car-pool to the destination of the day. A highlight would be the luncheon, when we would review what we learned from the excursion, as there was always something to be learned.

Our first trip was at the Olin Arts Center to view the Ogunquit Museum of Art Collection, led by Anthony Shostak, Curator of Education for the Bates College Museum of Art. Included in the pieces viewed were works done by Dahlov Ipcar, Marguerite Zorach, Marsden Hartley and Will Barnet.

We also visited “Bound to Art,” a large display of illustrated books from the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library at Bates. The library holds a collection of more than 10,000 rare books ranging from incunabula (books printed before 1501) from the early days of printing to bound works of today’s flourishing book arts movement.

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Art Walk Lewiston Auburn: Join the movement!

By Michael Dostie

Art Walk Lewiston Auburn

Perhaps you have heard of Art Walk Lewiston Auburn—or perhaps you have not. I would like to let you know a little bit about what it is, how it was started and where it is going.

My name is Michael Dostie, and I live and work in Downtown Lewiston. Just over two months ago a good friend asked me if I would be interested in starting an art walk here in the downtowns of Lewiston and Auburn. Without hesitation we called a couple of friends and got right to work. We decided to host five art walks through the summer, once every month from May through September on the last Friday.

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Liberty Festival fundraiser is Saturday at Gritty’s

The 15th Annual Liberty Festival planning is been well underway, and a fundraiser is planned for Saturday to support the festival.

The fundraiser event is Saturday, June 11 from 8 p.m. to midnight at Gritty McDuff’s in Auburn. “Bring out your patriotic colors!” says Michael Koch, event coordinator and committee member.

The Independence Day Committee has teamed up with Gritty’s in Auburn, so come enjoy some great music by Jay Staples and John Boucher from the band Drive, who will be performing their acoustic act “Drive Unleaded.” A portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to this year’s July 4th Celebration.

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Recycling will now be easier in Lewiston

Recycling will soon be easier for Lewiston residents: it will no longer be necessary to pre-sort trash before putting it at curbside.

Starting July 1, single-stream recycling comes to Lewiston! Indeed, there will no longer be any need to separate or sort any recyclable materials, as it will all go into the same recycling container at Lewiston’s Solid Waste Facility. Garbage collection days will remain the same.

“No more trying to remember which bin to place mixed paper, cardboard, tin cans, etc.,” said Deputy Public Works Director Megan Bates. “No sorting at all, not at curbside, not at the Solid Waste Facility.”

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