By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.
Mayor of Lewiston
As an amateur columnist—I do this for no pay because I am by no means a professional in the field—I have an opportunity to express myself and advocate for positions that I feel strongly about. These positions can at times be controversial.
I am thankful to Laurie A Steele, publisher of Twin City TIMES, and her husband Editor-in-Chief Peter A. Steele for providing me the opportunity to express my views through this column on a weekly basis. I take positions that quite often are opposite those expressed by the editor. He at times gets criticized for allowing me to do this. Well, that is what democracy is all about.
With differing opinions that are allowed to be expressed such through this column, the reader is able to broaden his or her perspective on various issues. A newspaper that allows that to happen is one that is secure while providing a service to its clientele.
Now on to some updates. Last week the headline for my column read “Maine doesn’t need an Arizona-style immigration law,” which in effect is basically a racial-profiling law and is no doubt unconstitutional. Thankfully, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells) withdrew her Arizona-style immigration bill by asking for a unanimous “ought not to pass” vote from the members of the Judiciary Committee.
This past week, the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, Utah reported that United States District Court Judge Clark Waddoups issued a temporary restraining order after Jerrod Jensen of the Utah Attorney General’s office couldn’t argue that there wouldn’t be “irreparable harm” to people if the law remained in effect. Arguing against this Arizona-style immigration law was the American Civil Liberties League and the National Immigration Law Center.
When Judge Waddoups asked Jensen if the ACLU had made sufficient arguments to show that by having the law in effect it would cause irreparable harm to people in Utah, Assistant Attorney General Jensen responded: “I guess.” Judge Waddoups replied, “I’ll take that,” and issued the TRO. That’s a good one for our U.S. Constitution!
On May 10 Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed an immigration tuition bill into law. According to the Washington Post, Governor O’Malley signed a bill that extends in-state tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants at the state’s colleges and universities.
Undocumented immigrants in Maryland must first attend a community college, and those who attain an associate’s degree will be eligible to transfer to a four-year college and pay in-state tuition. I applaud Governor O’Malley for supporting this bold move by the Maryland General Assembly. I am of the opinion that Maryland and no doubt its neighbor, our United States capital, Washington, D.C., will benefit by having this young, well-educated workforce that will result from this assistance.
These young folks, who might have come into this country as children as a result of their parent’s actions, will be given an opportunity to live the American Dream. A “Dream Act” should be the law of the land. It is only proper for those who had no choice in their undocumented status.
Remember when on August 26 of last year I wrote that Maricopa, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in my opinion was a detriment to good law enforcement? Several weeks later his Deputy Chief, John J. Macintyre responded in defense of the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Well, here is an update: The Los Angeles Times reported that “auditors found that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office took $99 million in tax money that was supposed to fund jails and improperly spent it on roundups of suspected illegal immigrants and investigations of the sheriff’s political foes.”
The LA Times also reported that “a federal judge ruled that Arpaio’s deputies violated the constitutional rights of a legal immigrant and his U.S. citizenson by detaining them for several hours during one of the sheriff’s controversial immigration raids.”
The third issue reported by the LA Times was “Arpaio’s longtime second-in-command, Chief Deputy David Hendershott, resigned last week after an internal corruption inquiry found he violated department policies in supervising investigations of Arpaio’s critics. Federal prosecutors are also investigating the allegations and whether the sheriff has abused his power.”
Arpaio’s bullish response was to merely shrug off the allegations. In my continued opinion, he is a man not worthy of wearing a law enforcement badge!
Lastly, Governor John Lynch (D-New Hampshire) vetoed “right to work” legislation. Such legislation bars unions from collecting a share of bargaining and administrative cost from non-members. In my opinion, it is only fair that non-members be assessed a fee for representation when federal law requires unions to represent non-members.
Governor Lynch is quoted by the Concord Monitor as saying: “States should not interfere with the rights of businesses and their employees to freely negotiate contracts. That is unless there is a compelling public interest, and there is no compelling public interest in passing this legislation.” Lynch wrote in his message to lawmakers: “There is no evidence that this legislation will offer any benefits to New Hampshire’s economy or workers.”
Governor Lynch was further quoted as saying, “New Hampshire has a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy than most states with so-called right-to-work laws. In states with a right-to-work law, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bringing home less in their paychecks and going without health insurance more frequently.”
In his seven years in office, Governor Lynch noted that no business leaders have ever asked him if the state has the right-to-work law or the lack of the law prevented them from expanding. He also said that no New Hampshire workers have claimed that they couldn’t get a job because the state lacks the right to work law. Governor LePage and Tea Partiers of the Maine Legislature, take notice!
As states and as a country we spend so much time on these needless issues instead of working together for the benefit of all of us as residents of this great country. By not focusing on these senseless issues and focusing on how we can move this country forward for the benefit of all, we will be able to sustain our superiority as a democracy into the future.
See Mayor Gilbert’s personal blog at www.MayorLarryGilbert.com.