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Columns

Only Steps Forward: Auburn’s neighborhoods combine to form one city

By Jonathan P. LaBonte

Mayor of Auburn

What is Auburn? Is it the “Hub of Maine” as one former mayor coined it?

Is it Maine’s City of Opportunity? Or perhaps folks know us as the place that proudly states, “We want development,” as you can see prominently as you enter our planning and permitting office?

Each of those monikers has a particular stakeholder that fairs most prominently; is it a hub for businesses and goods or people as well? If so, is it a place where investors are courted and treated with the highest levels of customer service, what about citizens?

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Only Steps Forward: We must keep the promises we made 15 years ago on 9/11

By Jonathan P. LaBonte

Mayor of Auburn

This Sunday, September 11, marks the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.  Each year on this date, it has been commonplace for many of us to share our stories of where we were and what we felt and were thinking on that fateful day.

As we reflect back now 15 years later, we can ask ourselves what has changed since that day and did we keep the promise we made to never forget.  One example I’m proud to offer for never forgetting 9/11 comes from the men and women of the Auburn Fire Department.  Each year, a small ceremony is held in honor of those that lost their lives in those terrorist attacks.  At the exact time the first World Trade Center tower was struck, they toll a bell.

The memorial in front of Auburn Central now includes pieces of mangled steel that were extracted from the wreckage of the World Trade Center that day.  They serve as a reminder of the devastation felt by so many, from those working in the Towers or Pentagon that day to the first responders that risked their lives to save others.

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Efficient and effective government requires accountability and transparency

Governor Paul R. LePage

Governor Paul R. LePage

I intend to let Mainers know what is going on in Augusta. They deserve to know how their elected officials are voting on important issues. Unfortunately, once these politicians get to Augusta, they are all too eager to hide their business from the Maine people.

They soon forget why they were elected and what they promised to do for their constituents. I was elected by hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of Maine. As your Governor, I don’t make decisions based on one person, one lobbyist, one community or one county, but rather what’s in the best interest of all 1.3 million Mainers.

I am all for accountability and transparency in government, and I have made that clear throughout my tenure as Governor. But the Legislature is not transparent.

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We will continue to root out corruption in Augusta

Governor Paul R. LePage

Governor Paul R. LePage

As the second session of the 127th Legislature opens, you can be sure it will be more political than last session. That’s because 2016 is an election year.

Politicians know how to provide lip service, and that’s exactly what they will be doing for the next few months as they use the session for their campaign soapbox.

I did not come to Augusta to provide lip service. I came to work for the Maine people. I also came to Augusta to root out crooked politicians and government corruption. I’ve upset their apple cart, and they don’t like it. They could not defeat me at the ballot box, so they are trying to destroy me any way they can. But, as the saying goes, when you point a finger at me, three fingers are pointing back at you. These politicians are the same people who are guilty of deceiving the Maine people.

They wasted six months of the taxpayers’ time and money on a political witch hunt, only to find no wrongdoing. They convened a kangaroo court, but shut it down as soon as the truth started to come out. They blundered on the budget. In June 2015, they orchestrated a secretive, back-room deal on the budget, which included wasteful spending of millions of taxpayer dollars.  They rejected real tax reform. We put up a bill to amend the Maine Constitution to eliminate the income tax. These politicians rejected the bill, denying Mainers a chance to vote on how much tax the government should take out of their paychecks.

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Media, Legislature vilify anyone who threatens status quo

By Robert E. Macdonald, Mayor of Lewiston

Robert E. Macdonald, Mayor of Lewiston

If it were not for newspapers, the history of America might have been quite different than what children currently study in school.

Back before radio, television and computers, the printed word was sought and relished by those who wanted to keep abreast of what was happening in the world, the country and their own backyards.

Newspapers printed the current happenings. They also printed uncensored, dueling letters in which both sides of an issue were presented. This back-and-forth free flow of ideas and opinions allowed readers to make educated decisions on the issues of the day.

In the 1770s it was an educated newspaper reading public that steeled the spines of our Founding Fathers when they had second thoughts about declaring independence from Great Britain.

But as time went by, newspapers evolved. They saturated news with sensationalism and untruths designed to keep the readers’ interest, raise their emotions and, most importantly, sell papers.

Times change. Today people get their news from television, radio, the Internet and the old standbys, beauty salons, barber shops and coffee shops. Exercising your brain via the written word seems to be going the way of the dinosaur.

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Good government requires active input from citizens

By Jonathan P. LaBonté, Mayor of Auburn

Jonathan P. LaBonté, Mayor of Auburn

Many of you may remember the cartoon “School House Rock” and the song “How a Bill Becomes a Law.” Without commentary on the dysfunction of Washington and whether that is still the process today, the topic of public idea to implementation is worth revisiting.

As the song goes, some local residents had an idea and they brought it to their elected representative. Their representative turned that idea into a bill, which was sent to a committee to be reviewed, researched, debated and voted up or down back to the full elected body, in that case, Congress.

For the public, there’s a clear link between how an idea gets shared and ultimately gets to a yes or no from all of the elected officials. An idea becomes a bill. A bill goes to a committee made up of a small number of elected officials. The committee votes it back to the full body. And all the while the process is clear and the public knows how to provide its input to their officials.

In my four years so far as mayor, one of the most concerning aspects of trying to work with an elected city council of seven is that there is no process for an elected official, or a citizen, to propose an idea and have it worked through a defined process.

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Governor’s Address: Maine Will Test Assets for Those Seeking Food Stamps

Our administration will start testing applicants for food stamps to determine if they have more than $5,000 in assets. It has just come to my attention that this is the federal law.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

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Enough is Enough: Mainers have a right to know how their money is spent

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

It’s time for a major overhaul of the many laws and policies dealing with confidentiality, laws that dictate how federal, state and local government are run.

A person’s medical records, financial statements and other personal information should be blocked from busybodies who seek it out of curiosity. This type of information should remain protected.

Recently, a friend asked if it would be possible to locate a gentleman he had known for many years and was now terminally ill. He sought to contact the man with the hope of providing him help and comfort in his final days. I called an organization I felt could locate the man.

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Enough is Enough: There’s more than one side to local landlords

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

What is a corporate slumlord? To hear the Maine People’s Alliance describe them, they are easily spotted.

They are the ones with horns, a pitchfork and red cape. They should only be approached in cold weather in order to prevent getting burned from the heat radiating from their bodies.

Public criticism is a price you must bear if you’re a public official. It is part of the job. Those who come before the Lewiston City Council are allowed to vent without fear of being attacked by either the mayor or members of the council. Your opinions, good or bad, are welcome.

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Enough is Enough: Maine experiences very little gun violence

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

In mid-July of 1977, the State of Massachusetts had been taken over by young, still wet-behind-the-ears Democrats. Their progressive mindset had been shaped and molded by hardcore socialist professors. They were going to teach the world to sing a socialist tune.

Their extensive indoctrination led them to discard reality and to pursue and create a brave new world. They were definitely not the Democratic party of my parents or grandparents. They set about to create the New Republic of Massachusetts.

Soon a once thriving, orderly and civil society changed. Men set aside their traditional attributes of protectors and breadwinners, transforming themselves into the role of male mothers. These new, progressive Democrats marched down a new road—a road where the unproductive were rewarded for their behavior at the expense of the hard-working taxpayers. Their progressive policies destroyed the strong foundation of many families. Neighborhoods became crime-ridden war zones.

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