By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
I was pleasingly surprised by the public response I received on my June 7 column in Twin City TIMES, “LHS graduation marred by teens’ rude behavior”. The buzz it created made me feel like a rock star.
It also brought criticism from Will Fessenden of Sabattus, a former contributor to Lewiston’s local Sunday paper, and Dan Billings, Governor Paul LePage’s legal counsel. I seldom respond to criticism of my column, but in this case I’m going to adhere to the old adage: never look a gift horse in the mouth.
It appears that when it comes to words beginning with “A”, Billings and the administration become confused. You see, I like and believe in Governor LePage, thus making me an “ally”, not an “adversary”.
Lewiston and Auburn are members of the Maine Mayors Coalition, which is made up of 10 cities. In addition to Lewiston-Auburn, there is Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Portland, Saco, South Portland, Waterville and Westbrook. Our purpose is to band together and attempt to insure that legislation, which helpful to our needs as service-center cities, is passed.
Billings apparently read my TCT column after someone posted it on “As Maine Goes”. He then decided to put a spin on it.
Billings accused me of being in bed with two very liberal mayors, Karen Heck of Waterville and Mike Brennan of Portland, pointing out that we are all members of the Mayor’s Coalition. Although we have a good working relationship, I believe that all three of us would find that statement well off the mark.
I would suggest that using his logic, the administration, liberal Democratic leadership, along with their rank-and-file members, and Republican legislators were all in bed together when they would not bring up LD1862, which would have actually guaranteed real welfare reform, forcing many welfare clients to either get a job or go to greener pastures in another state.
Further, by placing Mayor Brennan’s welfare director on a small group charged with tightening up welfare rules, does that mean the administration is in bed with Brennan and possibly Heck?
Failure to pass LD1862 killed welfare reform, not the Mayor’s Coalition.
Then we have Mr. Fessenden, who was offended by my article. Boo hoo. I’m going to share with Mr. Fessenden some knowledge I have gained over 65 years: no matter what your gender, nationality or color, a bum is a bum is a bum.
Mr. Fessenden takes offense by my use of the word “ingrates”. Well, anyone (especially guests that are seeking our protection) who shows disrespect during the singing of our National Anthem, whether native or immigrant, deserves this label and worse. While the great majority of those who seek refuge in our country are respectful, dreaming and working hard to become American citizens, there are those who come to sponge off us.
I remember people with beliefs similar to Mr. Fessenden’s who destroyed the Boston school system, then apologized 30 years later for their mistake.
I remember going to work on crowded subway cars loaded with hard-working black people, and at night we would all go back to our homes and families. Once home, my neighborhood was safe.
They, on the other hand, became prisoners in their own homes, with occasional bullets crashing through their windows and slamming into their walls from the gunfire of the gangs that controlled their streets. This condition was a result of academic-type social engineers whose expertise came exclusively from books.
Mr. Fessenden mentioned that the unrest in cities like Chicago and Atlanta is caused by the “in your face, call it as you see it” style expressed by people like me. No, it’s caused by the arrogance of people living safely in their suburban homes who look the other way while crime festers in our city.
Then, when it comes to a head and spirals out of control, their solution is to elevate the status of hoodlums and criminals to that of ambassadors and invite them to City Hall for a “summit meeting” with the mayor, city council and police chief, hoping to curb the problem.
People like me would suggest continuing proven policy: invite them to our jails and prisons to be locked up.
Besides showing his haughty indignation in articles and letters to the paper, I wonder what Mr. Fessenden has done to help our New Mainers.
And here’s a news flash: apparently “immigrant” is not a Right Wing Code Word for “black”. I discovered this on Friday when I watched 52 immigrants of various ethnic groups and nationalities sworn in as American citizens. It was a beautiful thing. The pride on their faces said it all.
Upon leaving the parking lot, many were joyfully shouting and waving American flags out the windows of their vehicles.
To them, I say: “Welcome To America.”