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Enough is Enough: Hospital debt, school grades and the history of L-A

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

It’s time for the readers of this column to step up to the plate. Our hospitals have to be paid!

The continued failure to pay this debt is denying L-A and surrounding communities the opportunity to fill between 150 to 200 shovel-ready jobs with benefits. It’s time to stop playing political games that have a direct effect on people’s lives.

The immediate payback to the hospitals is overwhelmingly supported by Democratic and Republican legislators. The problem?  Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves refuse to bring the legislation to their respective chamber floors for a vote.

It’s time to mobilize and start flooding their offices with phone calls and emails telling them to pay the state’s debt to the hospitals.

This week the LePage Administration released a report rating the schools throughout the state with a letter grade ranging from A to F. This set off a chain reaction of weeping and gnashing of teeth from many in the anti-LePage camps.

I spoke with both State Representative/City Councilor Nate Libby and School Superintendent Bill Webster. I told them, based on my 10 years of experience working in the school system, that I felt it was an accurate rating.

The question now before us is do we have the intestinal fortitude to address the real problems in our school system or are we going to forego real solutions so as not to be bullied by those on the Left?

Let me be clear.  It is not the teachers or the refugees that are responsible for this problem. I base my conclusion on information I requested from Lewiston High School. I have broken this information into two groups. The first list contains top-rated colleges that our domestic LHS graduates are currently attending. The second list consists of first-rate colleges that both our domestic and refugee LHS graduates are currently attending.

Group 1: Boston University, George Mason, St. John’s, Rensselaer, Wesley, Maine Maritime, Bowdoin, Skidmore, Clark and Brandeis.

Group 2: Boston College, Bates, Swarthmore, Yale, Northeastern, Syracuse, Georgetown, Clemson, Wentworth and Rochester Institute of Technology.

So what’s the problem?  Let’s discuss it next week.

This week in an effort to strengthen the school committee I appointed Zam Zam Mohamed to the at-large seat vacated by former school superintendent Robert Connors. Her appointment allows me to fill the position with a person whose views on education mirror mine. She will represent our entire community and speak up if she feels the wrong path is being taken. She knows the difference between feel-good ideology and education.

We have been friends for many years. I know her children. She has also stood by me like a rock when I was being smeared by the press and various liberal factions.  Zam Zam is a proud Lewistonian and American, and she will do a great job.

Last week, Channel 13 ran an outrageous interview designed to do nothing more than raise viewership. In a nutshell, Code Director Gil Arsenault was grilled about why people had been allowed to continue to live in the condemned buildings that were destroyed in the first of our two major fires this week. This interview made city staff appear inept.

I will not tolerate nor stand by quietly while any of Lewiston’s hardworking employees are mocked for doing their job. Maybe it’s time for Channel 13 to ask questions of those who shaped these laws and policies: the Legislature and the various advocacy groups. Reporting the results of these interviews takes intestinal fortitude. Let’s see if Channel 13 possesses it.

Coming from Boston and being a Marine, I understand the importance of knowing the history of your country, state, town and (in my case) the military branch in which I served. This not only instills pride, but also gives one a standard in which to measure up.

Although we occasionally have our differences, Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonté has always impressed me with his acute historical knowledge of Lewiston and Auburn.  This knowledge has instilled in him pride in L-A, driving him to make it a better place to live.

The desire to instill pride in L-A is a passion found in Rachel Desgrosseillers. She is the founder of Museum L-A.  Museum L-A recounts this area’s past history. It highlights the workers who built the factories, it tells the story of those who worked in the shoe shops and mills. Its message spans the ages—hard work breeds success.

This is a story that has to be told. Museum LA is a project that has to succeed.  I believe that when once built, Museum L-A will be a beacon for Lewiston-Auburn, attracting the lost foot traffic that once made our area vibrant back to our downtown.

Last week was a stressful and tragic week in Lewiston. Major fires destroyed several buildings, leaving many people homeless and without basic living essentials.  Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the exceptional work done by Lewiston’s fire, police, public works and social service departments. They stepped up to the plate, demonstrating extraordinary professionalism under extraordinary conditions.

My gratitude is also extended to the Salvation Army, Red Cross and all the surrounding fire departments that aided us. Your assistance was greatly appreciated.

 

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