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Enough is Enough: A good rapport with our local refugee population

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

I was humbled by Jane Pelletier’s letter which appeared in last week’s TCT (“Refreshing to have Mayor Macdonald”).  However, I must address one sentence, “out of the country guests wanted him to resign.”

The incident she is referring to was performed by a group of illusionists who succeeded in masking their identity in order to make it appear that this protest was being carried out by “out of the country guests.”

To better understand what went on here, I must refer to two events, one referenced by Ms. Pelletier and another which took place over a three-day period. Both were an attempt to label me (feel free at this point to enter a derogatory name).

At the beginning of this year, I was visited by two agents from the Department of Justice. One of the agents was Frank Amoroso, a former Portland Police Chief, and his partner of Somali descent. For three days, they had been roaming the streets of Lewiston inquiring of every Lewistonian of Somali descent as to how they felt about me.

They went on to state that their investigation failed to yield anything derogatory toward me. In fact, those interviewed expressed a very positive attitude toward me. I retorted that I could have saved them three days of time if they had come to me first. I then wiped my brow, thankful they had not spoken with any of our local white liberals.

While these agents were wandering the community, telephones were ringing in the Administration Office at City Hall (where the Mayor’s Office is located).  These calls were from members of our local Somali population wanting to speak with me. Because of scheduling conflicts, I was not immediately able to take their calls.

Finally, one of the Somali elders came to my office, very upset. He told me he felt that the people from Portland were trying to make trouble for me. He related that a white guy and a Somali from Portland were asking the Somali population questions about me. He informed me that the Somali community told them that I was their mayor “and we like him.”

I told him that the men that the community was concerned about were from the Department of Justice. I advised him that they had relayed the positive comments the Lewiston Somali community had made about me. Then, in a very apologetic tone, he stated it was not the Lewiston Somali community that several days before had picketed City Hall, demanding an apology and my resignation.

Again, I assured him that I knew that the picketing was not carried out by the local Somali community, but by the local chapter of The Maine’s People Alliance.

Let me be clear: I have a very good rapport with our local refugee population. When I go to their functions, I am treated like family.  Unlike some, I speak directly and bluntly to them and vice versa. When I meet with them, the discussions are about work and jobs, not handouts.

After being burned out of their homes and losing their possessions, along with trying to find new residences, our Somali population found time to thank our local firefighters, showing up at Central Station and serving them supper.

In order to make Lewiston a more livable city, we must address the real problem—our domestic layabout population. They flock here with no marketable skills, more tattoos than a professional basketball player, their arms extended and hands out. These, along with those who champion them, are the real problems.

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