By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.
Mayor of Lewiston
This is my 200th Mayor’s Corner column, and I am continuing to write until the end of my term the first week of January, 2012. After writing 100 columns, I re-capped the columns, so I have decided to re-cap the second hundred. So here goes:
Going back to August 2009, I wrote about Lewiston resident Nancy Dubord introducing me to the Maine Military and Community Network (MMCN), whose mission is to develop and maintain a multi group network between community, military, government and private sectors that creates awareness of challenges and resources and provides services to all service members and their families throughout the military units deployment cycle.
At the end of his life, I wrote about my memories and contacts with Senator Ted Kennedy in providing security for him.
I wrote about congratulating Michael Bussiere, Lewiston’s new Chief of Police.
In September, 2009, I reported on my attendance at the Mayors Institute on City Design at the Northeastern University School of Architecture with a focus of the Riverfront Island; we are following up now with the Riverfront Island Master Plan process.
The opening of the new Geiger School was the subject of another column, as was the celebration of Central Distributors 75th Anniversary.
There were a few articles about my membership in the organization Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns and supporting good gun legislation, as well as addressing false claims put out by the NRA to try to defeat our members mayoral our re-elections.
I’ve written about some members of the last city council who, in my opinion, circumvented the City Charter. I’ve also written about the current city council being the best city council that I have served with. There is now a citizens committee reviewing the City Charter for the first time in over 30 years.
My attendance at the International Association of Francophone Mayors in Paris, France was an experience that I reported upon and having the opportunity to meet and converse with former President Jacques Chirac of France and mayors from throughout the world.
I wrote about National Health Care Reform and about the weakness in President Obama in his negotiations with the Republicans, which ultimately resulted in a weakened law.
Regarding our refugee/immigrant population, I pointed out that they receive only about 15% of all of the city’s general assistance. I have also written about corporate welfare as being the welfare we don’t see and how our welfare for people pales in comparison to corporate welfare.
My childhood Christmas was another subject of a column. My son, Larry Jr., and I met with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a very colorful figure whose trademark is a martini drink. What else would you expect from Sin City?
Various jobs bills in Congress and my advocacy for them, as well as my suggestions for the types of jobs that should be created, were addressed several times.
My three trips to Haiti were reported in various columns. One cannot go there and not feel love and compassion for those wonderful people. The children in whose schools we worked to repair were just so lovable. It causes us to count our blessings as a nation. If you think you have it bad, just go to Haiti and you’ll see your problems are miniscule in comparison. I look forward to a return.
I’ve written about my love of the Lewiston MAINEiacs and my support of them for eight years, and I have also written about my criticism of its owner and the organization’s management style. We now look forward to next year where we will again get a team of that caliber.
Internment of Japanese families in Arcadia, California, where I went to elementary school, and the sons of those families fighting in the U.S. Army was the subject of another column and how next month the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor will be dedicated in their honor.
Lewiston’s Volunteer Program and my recognition of several monthly mayoral Volunteers Inspire By Example (VIBE) Awards was the subject of several columns honoring recipients.
Several business grand openings were written about. The fate of Mill No. 5 and the 66% support of Lewiston voters for a casino to be built at this site were addressed in my columns.
National Holocaust Days of Remembrance with the testimony of survivors were reported in the columns.
Various walks and runs for the Maine Heart Association, Dempsey Challenge for Cancer, Hospice House, March of Dimes, etc. were the subjects of some of the columns.
“Green” Global Days of Conversation with local and state panelists were the subjects of a couple of the columns.
I often wrote about Lewiston High School graduate of the Class of 1938, Dr. Bernard Lown, in whose honor the South Bridge between Lewiston-Auburn was renamed the “Bernard Lown Peace Bridge.” This world-renowned cardiologist invented the defibrillator that has saved many lives and is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for having created the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War with his Russian counterpart, which grew to some 150,000 physicians world-wide.
I reported back on my testimony before two congressional committees and one senate committee on the subjects of jobs, gun legislation and immigration reform.
The infamous self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio was the subject of my criticism for his demeaning treatment of prisoners and profiling undocumented persons were written about in a couple of columns.
I noted that seven members of the Baha’i faith, more commonly known as the “Baha’i Seven,” were being held in an Iranian prison on trumped-up charges of espionage and propaganda activities against the Islamic state. This is clear religious persecution.
CityLink busses for Lewiston and Auburn were written about when reports of increased ridership and the purchase of new buses that were placed on line.
A personal story about my 40 years of marriage bliss with my wife Patricia involved how we met and fell in love and how just this past week we added another year to our marriage was the story of my happiness that I wanted to share.
Lots to Gardens have been the subject of a few columns over the years.
A return to Bishop Amat High School for the dedication of a memorial garden honoring former classmates who were killed in the line of duty was reported on. This same trip with my son, Larry Jr., allowed us to attend the Jay Leno Show and Dancing with the Stars. The infamous Sarah Palin was in attendance as her daughter was one of the dancers.
Bates College and its contributions to Lewiston was the subject of another column and the fact that it is a world-class institution in our midst.
Lobbying for the “DREAM Act” and working with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), as well as testifying in Augusta against a bill that would have created racial profiling, were the subjects of a couple of columns. The non-existence of voter fraud and working against “Right to Work” union-busting legislation were the subjects of other articles.
An interview of City Administrator Ed Barrett after one year on the job covered two columns. We are most fortunate to have him leading Lewiston’s ship.
I wrote in opposition to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) as another NAFTA–style deal that benefits multinational corporations at the expense of workers everywhere.
The dusting off of several reports to consolidate municipal services was recommended by me in one column in order to realize some $2.7 million annually between Lewiston-Auburn.
I’ve been outspoken in support of gay marriage and opposed to abortion and the death penalty.
Community engagement was encouraged in order to combat litter and trash for the purpose of community beautification was strongly urged in at least one of the columns.
I will close by encouraging everyone, as I did in one of the recent columns, to donate to a local organization called Atlantic Global Aid, which is raising funds to provide medical equipment and nutritional drinks for the children of Somalia, who are suffering from the famine there and dying as a result of the drought and lack of nutrition and medical aid. You can view the web site at www.atlanticglobal.org and make a donation.
As Mayor of Lewiston, this column has given me an opportunity to communicate with you and it has provided you with a transparency that might not otherwise have been available to you as to where I stand on issues. The end of my service is fast approaching and so will my communication through this medium.
I am thankful to TCT owners Laurie and Peter Steele who have made it possible for me to communicate with you in this manner.
See Mayor Gilbert’s personal blog at www.MayorLarryGilbert.com.