By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
What a state we live in!
Take the Department of Health and Human Services—please! A glitch in the department’s computer resulted in paying several million dollars to individuals who had no claim to the money.
Now, because it was a State of Maine error, those individuals who were mistakenly given the money are being allowed to keep it. They’ll probably have a very Merry Christmas.
Now let’s look at the policies of our financial institutions. If they made a similar error, the recipient would be asked (actually, told) to rectify the mistake and return the money. Failing to do so would guarantee an expensive trip to either criminal or civil court. Contrary to the State of Maine’s policies, you would be required to return the money.
But what is the reason for the disparity? Could it be because financial institutions secure their funding from hard-working people? Contrary to belief, these institutions are not being run by Snidely Whiplash or Mr. Potter, but by responsible stewards who adhere to the implied trust that exists between the institution and its depositors.
Contrast their stewardship of your money to that of the government, where hundreds, thousands and millions of dollars of our money in the control of bureaucrats is looked upon with the same regard as small change, similar to the coins found in the average person’s pocket. In the government, every day resembles “The Publishers’ Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.”
The most disturbing part of this computer glitch is that it does not appear that anyone is going to be held accountable. Kudos to the state worker who identified the problem and reported it to a supervisor. After the initial reporting, it took months for one of those “we have to pay them big bucks to attract competency” bureaucrats to bring it to the attention of Commissioner of DHHS Mary Mayhew.
From the time the state worker reported it to a state supervisor and eventually to the commissioner, the bleeding continued. Yet no one was ever fired. Had this been a private company, heads would have rolled.
Being a poor state—but very progressive—Maine’s past legislators have taken pity on the idle and passed legislation to make their lives less stressful. These pied piper laws resulted in the down trodden from all over this country descending on Maine like the Wise Men following the Christmas Star, like the beacons of our lighthouses guiding them to our state.
This benevolence during the good times now comes back to bite us in the form of a one-hundred-million-dollar shortfall. A shortfall that now has to be dealt with by the incoming legislature and solved through the toil and sweat of Maine’s working people.
Since Governor Paul LePage took office, the former director of the Maine Turnpike Authority has been convicted of theft from the Turnpike and is now incarcerated in Windham. This ongoing crime went undetected for a very long period of time. Then we have the Maine State Housing Authority, aka “The Happy Zone.” How much taxpayer money was wasted on perks enjoyed by those employed there?
Now because of the spineless Republican legislators, who put their desire for reelection above their constituents, we will see a changing of the constitutional officers.
To the victor belong the spoils. By the time you read this, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin will have probably been replaced by some former Democratic legislator. I hope against hope that the new treasurer’s policies will continue to roll back Maine’s debt clock.
Unlike Republicans, should the debt clock start to mount, little will be said about it among Democrats. Why? Because the Democrats are the party of the people.
Lastly, I thank all who braved the cold and showed up for the Twin City Hanukkah and Christmas Parade. Thanks to all the groups that participated, especially the New England Champion Lewiston High Cheerleaders, whose carol singing brought joy to the bystanders, as well as the participants.
As Mayor of the City of Lewiston, I proclaim that during the month of December the phrases “Happy Hanukkah” and “Merry Christmas” will be the greetings of the day. If that offends you, well, “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” offend many of us. So get over it.
Therefore, Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas to the citizens of the Twin Cities.