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Enough is Enough: College material, hospital debt and welfare expansion

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Enough is enough. The following is a list of our local lawmakers that are holding up meaningful welfare reform. Please call them and let them know your opinion on the below.

Senator John Cleveland, 782-3353 SenJohn.Cleveland@legislature.maine.gov

Senator Margaret Craven, 783-1897 SenMargaret.Craven@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Nathan Libby, 399-7993 RepNathan.Libby@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Michel Lajoie, 783-1927, RepMichel.Lajoie@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Michael Carey, 344-3017, RepMichael.Carey@legislature.maine.gov

Representative Brian Bolduc, 576-4907, bolduc74@yahoo.com

Representative Margaret Rotundo, 784-3259, mrotundo@bates.edu.

Representative Wayne Werts, 783-6931, rw556@aol.com.

Why is there so much pressure on our local students to attend and graduate from college? Why are they continually left with the assumption that without a piece of parchment from a “college” or “university” they will live life as a failure?
Many people living in Lewiston-Auburn own homes, cars, seasonal camps, retirement property to our south and have good jobs.  They live happily and comfortably.  But, unlike their peers, who have attended college, they have no degree—nor the enormous debt that goes with it.
Over the years the Lewiston School Committee has realized many students are not college material. Many who falter academically excel in the trades such as automotive, woodworking, sheet metal and, in case you’ve been away from the area for a few years, an extremely renowned culinary arts program that sends more of its students to the world renowned New York Institute of Culinary Arts than any school in the country.

Air Force and Army ROTC programs, along with the Law Enforcement Cadet Program, offer a career foundation to those who desire work away from the confines of an office.
With much fanfare iPads are now replacing computers currently used in our school system. What is hailed as an innovation and helpful to some students could prove to be a job killer to a majority of others. The reason? Students’ keyboarding skills will diminish, leaving them without the skills needed to qualify for nearly half of the jobs currently available in our community.
This lack of foresight would close the door to graduates seeking clerical or secretarial positions. Or it could force them to reach into their own pockets and pay to develop skills formerly offered as part of our public education system.

Lewiston-Auburn redevelopment staffs have worked hard to bring new jobs to our area. TD Bank and Argo have and will bring hundreds of new jobs needed to boost our local economy.  It’s time to return to the realization that not all our children are college material. Let’s continue teaching the basic skills needed to insure that every student possess the skills that will move our community forward.

The last thing we don’t want to see in the windows of future employers is a sign stating, “Lewiston and EL graduates need not apply.”
“We’ll have to pass it to find out what’s in it.”  Thus spoke former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when asked about Obamacare.  Well, they did, and now we’re finding out that this is not quite what was promised. Now the very liberal Congressional Democrats who voted for Obamacare are now becoming infuriated by many of its regulations.

But that’s what happens when you’re not held accountable by the voting public. I mean, why waste time reading the bill? They have campaign cash to raise.
Now let’s fast forward to last week in Augusta.
“I am willing to take a chance.”  Thus stated Senator John Patrick D-Rumford in casting an affirmative vote in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee to link paying the hospitals to the expansion of Medicaid. What chance? The chance that the current administration in Washington, D.C. is telling the truth.

If they’re not able to back up their claims, taxpayers—that’s Maine taxpayers—will be on the hook for providing expanded coverage to the thousands added to the current rolls.  Which side of error do you wish to side on?
A Sun Journal editorial on Saturday May 18, 2013 seems to be pandering to this plan. It linked Governor Paul LePage to other evil Tea Party governors who oppose the plan. Apparently the Sun Journal has not received the new talking points: Tea Party, patriotic and good guys; the Executive Branch in Washington D.C., bad guys.
Being the Mayor of Lewiston I am incensed that paying the State debt owed to our hospitals will not stand alone as a separate issue. My job is to shout when the livelihood of residents and the city’s economy is threatened. Well, I’m shouting!
In Lewiston we have experienced the good intentions of our Federal government. Promises made have turned certain areas of our city (and other cities throughout the country) into decaying shells of once-vibrant neighborhoods. We are forced to support people who no longer have (assuming that they once had) the ability or the will to support themselves. Taxes go up, and our dependents multiply.

Two things must happen. First, Governor LePage cannot waiver and must veto the bill. Second, it’s time for you to join the fight. Start calling your State Representatives and let them know how you feel.

We have spent two legislative sessions attempting to pass legislation that would prohibit those coming off five years of TANF being added to Lewiston’s welfare rolls. We have asked that 200-plus jobs and stabilization of our local hospitals that can only happen by paying off the debt owed to them for the last several years.

Finally, the Chief Executive of our State, Governor Paul LePage was denied on Sunday the opportunity to testify in front of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. The subject was the financial distress at the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Enough is Enough: Mayors asked for funds to tear down fire hazards

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

When you were a child, unless your parents were grifters, you were taught that honesty is the best policy. Your parents told you repeatedly that the best way to earn the respect of others was through truthfulness and honesty.

Apparently, this standard does not apply to Governor Paul LePage, at least as far as the press and his political enemies are concerned.

Unless you have been living in a cave or been hospitalized in a coma for the last few years, you know that Maine is broke. After surveying the fire destruction in Downtown Lewiston, Governor LePage announced the state was broke, but he would try and find some money and resources to help us out.

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Enough is Enough: Hospital debt, school grades and the history of L-A

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

It’s time for the readers of this column to step up to the plate. Our hospitals have to be paid!

The continued failure to pay this debt is denying L-A and surrounding communities the opportunity to fill between 150 to 200 shovel-ready jobs with benefits. It’s time to stop playing political games that have a direct effect on people’s lives.

The immediate payback to the hospitals is overwhelmingly supported by Democratic and Republican legislators. The problem?  Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves refuse to bring the legislation to their respective chamber floors for a vote.

It’s time to mobilize and start flooding their offices with phone calls and emails telling them to pay the state’s debt to the hospitals.

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Enough is Enough: “Landfill Capacity” bill would cost Lewiston $215K

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

On Monday of last week I was pressed into service and sent to Augusta to testify in opposition to LD 1363 before the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resource.

LD 1363, “An Act to Ensure Landfill Capacity and Promote Recycling,” was submitted by Rep. Benjamin Chipman, I—Portland. It would amend existing law to prohibit state-owned, solid-waste-disposal facilities from accepting waste from the Processing and Recycling Facilities if the waste coming to these facilities originated outside of the state.

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Enough is Enough: Cooperation is needed to create a desirable city

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

It takes vision to create a desirable city—vision in the form of young entrepreneurs: young entrepreneurs who have a dream, drive and a can-do attitude; entrepreneurs who can successfully navigate all obstacles before them. To the women and men that subscribe to this world, “quitting is not an option.”

You also need well-versed, seasoned business people—business people who have knowledge and understand the workings of commerce, business, industry, banking, local, state and federal government operations; business people who know how to get things done; business people whose advice and counsel will almost surely guarantee success.

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Enough is Enough: Chaplains reflect the work of the Catholic Church

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

When I became mayor, I made a promise that I would address the welfare fraud being committed by the out-of-town transients that blow weekly into Lewiston. I have worked with Lewiston’s welfare director, Sue Charron, developing legislation and finding legislative sponsors to introduce bills aimed at eliminating fraud and abuse.

I am happy to report that we are on the verge of achieving our goal.

In the next few weeks, this column will present detailed plans designed to improve the livability and marketability of our town. In order to achieve these goals, you, the reader, will be asked to perform a simple task.

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Enough is Enough: Consolidation requires commitment from elected officials

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Early in February, the Sun Journal headline described a “Lewiston, Auburn Mayoral Spat.” That spat resulted from my reaction to comments by Mayor Jonathan LaBonté of Auburn during a meeting with Governor LePage. At that meeting and elsewhere, Mayor LaBonté stated that the Twin Cities have been sitting on a plan that would save $2.7 million a year through closer cooperation, a plan that hasn’t been implemented because of politics and lack of a “fiscal cliff” forcing us to do so.

My concern then and now is that such statements play right into the hands of those who would like to see local government pick up the tab for the state budget through the elimination of municipal revenue sharing and other state supported programs.

Guess what? I was right.

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Enough is Enough: Removing fraud from welfare rolls has ripple effect

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

It turned out better than I had hoped. The news conference held in Lewiston City Hall announcing that 84 people had been removed from our welfare rolls—50 of whom will be prosecuted criminally—caused a ripple effect from Bangor to Wells.

Legislators are now asking city and town administrators what’s being done to curb welfare abuse and fraud in their respective areas. These managers are now seeking the same answers from their welfare directors. The match has been lit.

Several weeks ago in this column, readers were informed of what our crack welfare staff had uncovered. The numbers were given, but nothing further was said. This was because timing is everything. Our news conference on Tuesday, March 26 was deliberately scheduled two days before the Legislative hearings on welfare were slated to begin.

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Enough is Enough: Veterans have a duty to help fellow veterans

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

A patriot was murdered last week. I grieve for him. He wasn’t a household name, like many people in the entertainment business.

No, he was part of a brotherhood of warriors, a brotherhood that protects this country from foreign enemies. A brotherhood that insures American citizens continue to enjoy the rights set down by ourfounding fathers in the Constitution and paid for, since the founding of our Republic, with the willing blood of American patriots.

In death, former Navy SEAL Christopher Kyle has beenreferred to as a hero. He was not a hero. “Heroes” win football, baseball and hockey games. Let us not cheapen his reputation by referring to him as a hero. He was a patriot—a patriot that sacrificed time with his family and friends in order to protect his brothers, country and family. This sacrifice also extended to those faceless and cowardly Americans that nastily celebrate this patriot’s demise.

Kyle earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars during his four tours of duty in Iraq. His effectiveness was such that the Iraqi insurgents placed an $80,000 bounty on him. Kyle believed that “taking out bad guys, terrorists and insurgents who meant to harm America and destabilize regions, is a compassionate thing to do. It was my duty to shoot, and I don’t regret it.”

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Enough is Enough: There are solutions that can curb gun violence

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Are guns good or evil? Were they created in Heaven or Hell?

Our military personnel carry guns to protect our nation from enemies outside our borders whose stated goals are to destroy our way of life. This makes firearms good.

Our law enforcement officers carry guns attempting to maintain peace and tranquility in our cities and neighborhoods. This also makes guns good.

Then we have the criminals that use guns to terrorize our cities through robbery, rape, drug trafficking and killing. They prefer the rewards obtained through the use of a firearm to the pittance earned by getting up in the morning and finding their way to a job in order to make an honest living.

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