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.
This is a letter to Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald:
I read your column several times, and was most struck by the wonderful acknowledgements you made to the New Mainers living within your community. (“Enough is Enough: Extremist liberals widen the divide with Somalis,” TCT, Sept. 6, 2012)
I, too, have had this positive experience when meeting people from within the largest immigrant/refugee population (since the French-Canadians, of course).
Your words ring so true: “Since becoming mayor, I have met with groups of Somalis on several occasions. I have found the overwhelming majority to be kind and very hospitable. The majority express their appreciation for having been afforded the chance to live in a place that is safe and offers unlimited opportunities in which to better themselves.”
Like many of our own forefathers, who were immigrants themselves, all the way back to Columbus, people from the New Mainer population are so very relieved to be in a safe, beautiful place and eager to learn how to contribute to our wonderful country.
To the Editor:
I agree with Robert A. Reed’s Letter to the Editor, titled “Why Maine needs welfare reform,”(TCT, page 3, September 6, 2012).
However, there are reasons as to why we are in this welfare crisis, as is most of the nation today. As a retired Mainer, I have seen the decline of the middle class over the years. As an example, a few years ago, there were many factories in Maine that produced a variety of goods that went out of business due to the global economy.
The greedy, who control the working class in order to acquire more wealth—not that they needed more, but some people are driven by it—sent the jobs overseas for cheap labor, leaving high unemployment, not only here in Maine, but throughout the country. Why not allow people who do not want higher education or perhaps are not able to succeed in these areas of learning to work with their hands to be able to support a family and earn a decent living and not need public assistance?
To the Editor:
Mainers are tired of out-of-control welfare spending. The most recent data (2010-National Association of State Legislators) shows Maine’s welfare budget to be 30% of the total expenditures made each year. That ranks us second in the nation among the 50 states and District of Columbia.
We rank third in TANF-enrolled households, second in households receiving food stamps and third in Medicaid eligibility. It became clear that changes must occur and the eligibility must be curbed back closer to federal standards—not where it currently fell.
With that in mind, the Republican majority in Augusta spent considerable time reviewing all aspects of welfare spending and made changes that the majority will appreciate, despite the loud complaints from a few in the minority. Perhaps it’s time to understand why these changes were made and how Maine compares to the rest of the country with regard to usage and eligibility.
TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) is a federally mandated program that requires participants to participate in jobs or training and allows them five years of benefits to do so. Participants are assigned a case worker (in addition to their DHHS primary caseworker) and must sign a commitment letter to meet certain goals during the program.
To the Editor:
Maine Democratic Party advertisements have been popping up all over the Internet, even on conservative sites, with menacing pictures of our governor under such slogans as “Help Us Fight the LePage Agenda.” Three things seem clear from this from this phenomenon.
First, these wholesale Internet ads are cheap. Second, the Democrats are committed to negative campaigning. Third, Maine’s Democrats are running against Paul LePage in 2012, even though he is not running again until 2014.
I predicted as much to the governor in August 2011 and found he already expected it. I foresaw this because the Democrats’ candidate for the District 121 special election at that time was distributing a hand-out that attacked the governor by name in three places while making no mention at all of Nancy Thompson, her Republican opponent.
The state’s declining population, coupled with a rapidly growing segment of people over 65, has serious economic ramifications for both Maine’s business community and the state government. As younger residents leave Maine and the older generation dies off, businesses will continue to lose employees and customers.
At the same time, Maine’s remaining population will age rapidly and demand more of state government’s dwindling resources.
These startling statistics are included in a new report by The Maine Heritage Policy Center, titled “The Fiscal Costs of Maine’s Demographic Winter.” See the report at www.mainepolicy.org.
To the Editor:
For years, I have written about the failure of public education. I did so, always fearful that I was the only reader. Now, someone, in last week’s Twin City TIMES, has responded. I am, of course, truly delighted. (Letter to the Editor:“Teachers have to tolerate belligerent, rude students,” TCT, August 9, 2012)
I have been, I believe, in a precarious position. Convinced that our public schools were failing—and failing terribly—I still harbored a fragile hope that I was mistaken and that someone would rush forward to point to the irrefutable truth of their success.
For me, that would have caused mixed emotions; I would have been overjoyed, but also embarrassed because it would have revealed me as an ignorant fool who should have kept his mouth shut. Actually, I hear that a lot, although not always as clearly expressed. Sometimes, it’s just eye rolling.
To the Editor:
Susan Collins recently gave hope of independence and leadership when she parted company with her Republican colleagues in the United States Senate to support a much fairer approach to balancing the federal budget.
Senator Collins voted against a bill that would have extended huge tax cuts for those making over a quarter million dollars a year—cuts that were originally passed before the Great Recession hit and when the federal government was running budget surpluses. Like most Americans, Senator Collins recognizes we can no longer afford these expensive giveaways to those who need them least.
Unfortunately, such hope lead to disappointment when Senator Collins failed to support a reasonable, Democratic-sponsored “Middle Class Tax Cut” bill.
To The Editor:
When people are ignorant about a topic or subject matter, the very last thing they should do is embarrass themselves by writing about it in any sort of public newspaper editorial.
I am speaking specifically about the Letter to the Editor in the August 2 issue of Twin City TIMES, written by Dick Sabine of Lewiston, titled “Teachers should emulate the work ethic of craftsmen”.
First, I would highly suggest that Mr. Sabine read Lewiston’s Republican Mayor Robert Macdonald’s “Enough is Enough” column in the same issue of Twin City TIMES, which is far more intelligently written with the knowledge and wisdom best needed to understand the reasons for this state’s and this country’s educational woes. (And I’m a proud Democrat!)
The only part of Macdonald’s column that I disagree with is his last sentence about “Don’t Forget: Remember in November”. You see, this is not—nor should it ever be—a political problem to solve. Why? Because politicians cannot legislate parents and how they raise their children.
To the Editor:
While Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald was making a very valid point regarding Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s bias towards a franchise based on the beliefs of the company’s president, he tipped his hand and as usual showed that he is equally unbalanced in the opposite direction. (“Enough is Enough: Freedom Trail belongs to everyone, not just liberals,” TCT, July 26, 2012)
In answer to his question: yes, I can say “busing”. I grew up in Belmont, Mass, in the 1970s, and I’m a better person for going to a school which participated in the METCO program.
I’m still friends (via Facebook) with a man who has had tremendous success as an entrepreneur and who will tell you that this program afforded him a far better quality of education than the low-income urban environment in which he lived.
Why is Mayor Macdonald so concerned about Boston anyway?