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Enough is Enough: Working to protect the over-taxes middle class

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

He refuses to compromise. It’s his way or the highway. Well, boo-hoo.

For years the Democratic Party, along with Maine’s editorial writers, have shoved their vision of a socially just society, where people live in harmony and the government provides for everyone’s needs, down the throats of our over-taxed middle class. This wonderful idea, however, fails to recognize two major factors: money and human nature.

But this is what self-imposed guilt does to you. You were born white into a nuclear family, a family that provided you with food, clothing, shelter and love. Your home was warm in the winter and comfortably air conditioned in the summer. Your world consisted of manicured lawns, swimming pools, spacious neighborhoods and extended summer vacations at the lake or seashore. You enjoyed all this while the least of our society suffered extreme hardships. It’s just not fair.

Balderdash!

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Enough is Enough: Lewiston must take a long, hard look at its budget

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Today in Lewiston we stand at a crossroad. Over the past several years prior city councils, our city administrator, our finance director, our development director and the many entrepreneurs located in the area of upper Lisbon and Main Streets have worked hard to create a vibrant downtown—a downtown that has become a destination.

We have listened to our young professionals; these young professionals represent Lewiston’s future. We have added bike lanes to our streets, nature trails and parks in neighborhoods throughout the city. We are slowly, but steadily, putting into place our Riverfront Plan. The Balloon Festival and the Dempsey Challenge bring thousands of people to Lewiston each year. These visitors spend large amounts of money at local businesses.

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Enough is Enough: Concerns voiced in coffee shops can create city policies

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

I ran for Mayor of Lewiston not for fame or notoriety, but because I was an irate taxpayer, sick of special interests and the liberal progressive policies put forth by academic and trust-fund elitists. Policies that ran counter to what the average person experienced every day. Policies embraced by spineless politicians that were opposite of the will of the middle class taxpayers that elected them.

I am a “coffee shop mayor.” I am not going to plant myself in my desk chair, which looks more like a throne, compared to the average executive’s chair, and hold court in an office to create an illusion that citizens who visit the mayor are in the presence of greatness, not their equal.

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Enough is Enough: Taxpayers, children will suffer without welfare reform

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Well, it’s official! The silver-spoon trust-funder, Senate President Justin Alfond, and his co-conspirator, Speaker of the House Mark Eves, have again won a battle in their war against Maine’s middle class. They successfully killed legislation that would have tightened up the rules of several state welfare programs in order to reduce fraud.

A collective sigh of relief by the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Equal Justice and a host of other advocacy groups was heard reverberating throughout the halls of the State House. Their interests once again had trumped those of the state’s middle-class taxpayers. Yes, happiness reigned, thanks to the leadership of the progressive Democrats and their Lewiston-Auburn allies, our local Democratic legislative delegation (a.k.a. The Portland Puppets).

The aforementioned groups will now be allowed, for at least another year, unfettered access to picking the pockets of Maine’s middle class.

I must note at this time that three of L-A’s Democratic legislators may have broken rank and voted with Republicans to institute Governor LePage’s tightening of the General Assistance laws. Next week, if true, I will let you know their identities.

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Enough is Enough: Lewiston faces budget pressure; politicians deny welfare problems

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

It is time for a no-holds-barred venting on welfare reform. It is time for an accounting from our Lewiston state legislative delegation as to what they have done to help alleviate our current welfare crisis.

Over the next eight weeks, seven Lewiston residents elected to our city council will debate, ponder and come up with a city budget that places minimum fiscal distress on local property taxpayers while providing services needed to make sure we function and grow as a community. This is Lewiston, not Lourdes—there will be no forthcoming miracles. Property taxes will increase. The only question is: How much?

Lewiston has one of the lowest property value rates in the state. This is why a house is Southern Maine is valued three times or more than a similar one in Lewiston. This undervalue is reflected in our mil rate. At the end of the day, that similar house in Southern Maine is paying about the same or slightly more in taxes than you do in your undervalued home.

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Enough is Enough: Mother Nature wreaks havoc on education system

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

School daze: A condition that will soon be coming to a school near you. No school will be immune. It will spread throughout the entire Maine school system faster than students being dismissed for the day.

There is no known cure for it. In some cases it can be limited, although this year it is on track to reach epic proportions. This year’s students will be infected by the most powerful strain of this scourge: Mother Nature.

Over the past school year, Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on the steady, consistently measured flow of educational knowledge imparted on our students by their teachers. This educational flow is only successful if it is allowed to continue with few interruptions. However, this academic year Mother Nature has been exceptionally cruel to our educational system. There is still a chance Mother Nature may rain down another catastrophe upon us. As I write, a major Nor’easter is forming with the potential of hitting Maine hard.

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Enough is Enough: MaineCare ride service bashed by media bashing, politics

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

How many of you reading this column have ever heard of CTS? If I told you the initials stood for Coordinated Transportation Solutions, would that ring a bell? Probably not.

Yet at the beginning of January of this year, this company dominated the news in a very negative fashion. This was the company contracted by Maine’s Office of MaineCare Services to provide rides to those on MaineCare (Medicaid) needing transportation to appointments.

CTS was contracted by the State of Maine after the federal government forced the state into a brokering system after it concluded that contracting only one company, in this case Community Concepts, presented a conflict of interest. Enter CTS, who brokered contracts with several companies, including Community Concepts, to provide the transportation needs of individuals on MaineCare.

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Op-ed: Culture Change in Augusta Leads to Big Drop in Workers’ Comp Rates

By Senator Garrett Mason

Workers’ compensation has long been considered one of the biggest financial drains on Maine businesses that have had to endure the high costs and bureaucratic red tape of an outdated system that no longer served the best interests of employers and workers.

But there is finally encouraging news for workers’ comp, and it would not have happened without a series of changes that began when Maine voters opted for Republican leadership in the Governor’s Office and Legislature in 2010.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance this month received a recommendation to decrease workers’ compensation rates by an average of 7.7 percent. This is expected to save Maine businesses more than $15 million. It’s the largest rate decrease since 1998. Maine is one of the few states in the nation that will see a rate reduction.

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Enough is Enough: Partnerships can create a new and vibrant Lewiston

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

“We must continue to clean up blighted buildings and neighborhoods, but we must also work with our landlords and partners to create decent housing for those who work hard but have limited incomes.”

That quote is from this year’s mayoral inauguration address. These were not words designed for a sound bite. They are words from the heart. We must transform our downtown neighborhoods into neighborhoods of choice.

When I arrived in Lewiston 37 years ago, the mills were still Lewiston’s major employers. Many of our downtown residents worked on one of the mills’ three shifts. At shift’s end, they returned to their homes located in multi-dwelling apartment buildings. These neighborhoods were well kept, and apartments were neat and clean. These were neighborhoods filled with proud people of character.

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Enough is Enough: City councilors cannot punt away budget problems

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Our city budget season is upon us. Seven women and men, elected from throughout Lewiston, will spend long days and sleepless nights scrutinizing the budgets of our various city departments. They will labor over what capital expenditures can be put off and what, if any, services can be cut or curtailed.

They have become the stewards of Lewiston’s fiscal health. All at some point will question what possessed them to run for the council and take on this thankless task.

Each year balancing the city’s needs against what property taxpayers can afford becomes harder. The Washington goose that at one time was very fertile has now gone sterile. Reality in Augusta is defined by vocal special interest groups who at the start of the legislative season take up residence inside the walls of the State House. Here they repeatedly present legislators with dubious facts which go unchallenged by the majority of the clueless we have representing us. This results in the passage of legislation which in the long run will shaft the majority of our taxpaying population.

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