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This week’s edition!

Politics

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the biggest financial drains on Maine businesses that have had to endure the high costs and bureaucratic red tape of an outdated system that no longer served the best interests of employers and workers.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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Enough is Enough: Americans prosper from hard work, not progressive theories

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

I become incensed when I hear the continual chant of our progressive state legislators, blaming every evil that befalls the country and the world on rich people.

Unless you were lucky enough to be born into a rich family, like Maine’s Senate President Justin Alfond or the Kennedys of “Camelot,” chances are your wealth was obtained through long hours, personal drive, creativity and the knowledge of how to obtain financial stability through labor, not government handouts.

This self-reliance makes you an enemy of those charged with creating a “Nanny State.”

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Enough is Enough: Revenue sharing: cut state programs or punish businesses?

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

I write this week’s column pleading to the governor and the Democratic and Republican Legislative leaderships to find common ground and restore revenue sharing to Maine cities and towns.

For the benefit of our readers, the revenues distributed to the cities and towns are derived from a formula in which a portion of the state’s sales tax receipts are distributed to the cities and towns. Cities and towns then use this money to keep property taxes down.

This is not some form of municipal welfare. Sales tax revenues are the result of cities and towns investing local taxes in infrastructure, municipal services and providing an attractive place to live and do business. The more businesses and people we attract to our area, the greater the sales tax receipts.

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Enough is Enough: Changing DHHS rule would provide fiscal relief

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Last Friday, a hearing was held at the Department of Health and Human Services, a meeting whose outcome will have a fiscal and economic impact on City of Lewiston taxpayers.

At issue is making several changes in the rules governing DHHS in order to bring them into compliance with federal and state programs.

Simply put, Maine cities and towns will no longer be forced by DHHS rules to help those who do not qualify for federal or state assistance. This change would allow Lewiston to save a considerable amount of money.

These savings could allow us to temporarily aid long-time Lewiston residents that might need temporary help to get over the bump in the road and back on their feet.

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Enough is Enough: Lewiston must provide benefits for asylum seekers

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

New Year. New City Council. Many old problems left over from the prior council. On the horizon await new problems that pose a serious financial threat to our city.

We face the loss of $1 million-plus in revenue sharing because a committee of self-serving politicians who owe their elections to a variety of special interest groups failed in their task to find $40 million in cuts in the state’s budget. So much for the trait of intestinal fortitude.

Soon the political leaders of Lewiston will be asked to make a decision that has the potential of igniting a firestorm.

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Enough is Enough: Spreading goodwill and tending to the truly needy

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Last week, I was unexpectedly out of commission for a few days. Politics and this column was the last thing on my mind.

However, I did learn the value of expanded cable, a DVD player and a VCR. Passing the time with basic cable makes for a long day.

I felt that I had been placed in a re-education camp. News and editorial opinions were being constantly thrown at me. As tedious as this became, in the end, I was able to take time and reflect about what had been reported.

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Enough is Enough: City councilors, your lives are about to change

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

In a few weeks a new city council will take the helm of Lewiston government. Councilors John Butler (Ward 1), Craig Saddlemire (Ward 5) and Richard Desjardins (Ward 7) will be replaced by Councilors-elect Leslie Dubois, Kristen Cloutier and Michael Lachance.

Our new councilors will find that their best day as a member of the Lewiston City Council will be Monday, January 6, 2014, Inauguration Day at the Franco-American Heritage Center. The inauguration gives them one day to bask in the sun, enjoying what they were able to achieve with family and friends.

The following day, reality will hit. City councilors, you are no longer part of the complaining public. Your days of complaining and criticizing policy makers have now gone the way of the dinosaurs. You are now part of the policy-making team. Your decisions will be applauded by some and loathed by others.

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