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.
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.
By Prof. John Frary
“It’s time to talk about gun control.” This was the title of a Washington Post editorial published on December 14. The editors acknowledge objections to exploiting tragedies for political purposes, but argue that there has been too little said or done on the issue and the time has come.
The time has come because “… the country would be safer with fewer guns … that it is not the Second Amendment but political cowardice that precludes sensible regulation.”
Talk, of course, has been flowing fast and furious (lots of furious) across the nation. In Maine Ethan Strimling, a senator from 2002 to 2008 whose gun regulation bills were routinely thwarted, proposes a petition drive to “force the legislature’s hand.” The presidents of Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, St. Joseph’s, UNE and College of the Atlantic have signed a letter along with more than 160 other college presidents announcing that “it’s time for Americans to live free from the threat of gun violence.”
By Prof. John Frary
Most people know about the vanguard of the union-busting gang. They’ve seen the videos of corporate thugs in tasseled loafers beating up peaceful picketers and photos of Exxon vice presidents hurling bricks at white-haired school-marms. Members of Maine’s Mural Majority still grieve over the sacred icons removed from the office of the state’s labor department by the Blaine House Brute.
(If anyone’s still interested, those fateful murals now live somewhere in California under an SEIU mural protection program disguised as table-runners.)
What most people don’t know is how deep and pervasive this union-busting fury has grown among Democrats, even liberal Democrats. Gloria Romero, who served as California’s Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2008, stands out among them. Ms. Romero now heads the California chapter of Democrats for Education Reform, a coalition of liberals determined to improve accountability in public schools in the face of fierce opposition from the teachers’ unions.
By Harold A. Clough
Before this Legislature leaves the stage, let’s remember one of its most enduring legacies. It restored honesty and accountability to state government by uncovering and cleaning up a quagmire of corruption and malfeasance.
Under the control of the Democratic Party for decades, the corruption was allowed to fester unchecked. The old adage about absolute power was never more true, and the people of Maine were paying the price.
In 2010, Maine voters elected Republican majorities to the House and Senate for the first time since 1966. As they began surveying state government, it soon became clear that serious problems had long been swept under the rug. It seemed that whenever they lifted the lid on another department, they discovered waste and fraud, oftentimes by renegade bureaucrats who ran their agencies like personal fiefdoms.
Exhibit A in this cavalcade of corruption was the Maine Turnpike Authority. Rumors had swirled around the State House for years that the MTA had become a “rogue” agency. Nothing was ever done, however, because the MTA was run by Paul Violette, a former Democratic Senate majority leader.
Twin City TIMES has been thrust into the media frenzy about Mayor Bob Macdonald’s weekly column. We’d like to clarify a few points.
First, the Sun Journal and the Bangor Daily News quoted Gen Lysen, lead organizer of Maine People’s Alliance, saying that “Maine People’s Alliance members have complained to the [TCT] publisher about Macdonald’s column but have had no response.”
This is simply not true. We would never ignore such a complaint. We have not received any letters, calls or emails from anyone identified as a member of Maine People’s Alliance. We are always more than willing to print any Letters to the Editor, columns or op/eds from anyone in the community, especially if they are opposed to anything they have seen in TCT.
As loyal readers of TCT know, we welcome everyone’s point of view, and we would be more than happy to print a response written by anyone. We have asked Maine People’s Alliance for submissions written by their members or someone in the local Somali community.
By Timothy J. Lajoie
This past May I attended the Republican Convention as the chairman of the Lewiston Republican delegation. I heard Governor Paul LePage give a speech where he reiterated his commitment to Maine’s elderly, disabled, and children—the most vulnerable among us. It was heartening to hear that, since my grandmother is 92 and my mother is 67.
Surely, after working their entire lives to raise families, they have earned the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they will be cared for in their sunset years. I cannot think of anything more cruel than to abandon them—after a lifetime of contributing to society—when they need us most.
The next day, however, imagine my shock when the local media outlets accused the governor of telling those who receive state assistance that they need to “get off the couch and get a job.” To be fair to the media, he did say that. He just never directed the statement at folks like my mother or my grandmother or the disabled or children. He directed it at those able to make a contribution, as my mother and grandmother have, but who have chosen not to.
To the Editor:
In response to Orion Breen’s letter in the July 19 issue of TCT, “Taxes are a necessary good,” I disagree with the author’s characterization of those who oppose excessive taxation as irrational and irresponsible promoters of fear and hatred of government.
This is the hyperbolic rhetoric often employed by big-government advocates who wish to pick the pockets of tax payers indiscriminately without accountability—and accountability is the key word here. It is not an accurate characterization.
All taxation should be accompanied by accountability, and it for a long time it was not. Some legislators—and Mr. Breen—have been much too quick to believe that more taxes were always the answer and that tax cuts always hurt people. That is changing.
When it comes to raising taxes—or maintaining taxes—the following four questions are now being asked: Are they necessary? Are they cost effective? Are they with the consent of the public? Is the government efficiently using what it already has? When the answer is found to be no, our more responsible elected officials are opposing them.
This is the weekly radio address delivered on Saturday by Governor Paul LePage.
This last week I had the honor of congratulating Alana Margeson, a teacher at Caribou High School, on being named the 2012 Maine Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Margeson brings enthusiasm, energy and a natural positive outlook to her classroom.
She engages her students in debate, inquiry, research and discussion. She encourages taking risks and thinking “outside the comfort zone.” In short, she is helping her students succeed academically and in preparing for their futures.
The research is clear: more than class size or choice of textbooks or curriculum, having an effective teacher has the most profound effect on student success. If we are to do only one thing to improve our schools, it must be to ensure that every student in Maine has an Alana Margeson at the front of the classroom.
By State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin
Some 230 years ago, the founding documents that created our representative Republic acknowledged that free enterprise is the optimal engine of prosperity and liberty.
Our Founding Fathers and their fellow colonists included merchants, trades people and farmers. They understood the importance of hard work and enjoyed the fruits of their labor. They were thrifty and resourceful. They embraced risk and its potential for reward. They invented and competed, and sold their products far from their New World. They were private sector business people.
For more than two centuries, our dynamic free enterprise machine has generated new income and wealth for 300 million fellow Americans. Part of that income is taxed to provide services for our citizens, including national defense. Without a healthy and growing economic engine, we cannot live better lives—we cannot be free.