By Jonathan P. LaBonte
Mayor of Auburn
What is Auburn? Is it the “Hub of Maine” as one former mayor coined it?
Is it Maine’s City of Opportunity? Or perhaps folks know us as the place that proudly states, “We want development,” as you can see prominently as you enter our planning and permitting office?
Each of those monikers has a particular stakeholder that fairs most prominently; is it a hub for businesses and goods or people as well? If so, is it a place where investors are courted and treated with the highest levels of customer service, what about citizens?
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Imitation is the best form of flattery. Well, at least most of the time.
When I read the local broad sheet last week I was shocked. Shocked, that is, until I took a step backward and processed what I had read. Then suddenly I broke into my happy dance.
Lewiston’s policies, over the past four years of removing blighted buildings, had worked and were now showing success. There is no longer anymore room in the Hotel Lewiston for those with low or no income. Unfortunately this means our out-of-town homeless will be heading to Auburn.
It appears that Auburn is on the brink of building 48 Section 8, er, I mean “affordable housing” units in an upscale part of the city. Where I come from, we call this a housing project.
When I arrived in Lewiston, members of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Brigade had gotten a firm foothold in Lewiston and were now branching out to other parts of the city. They slowly gobbled up Lewiston’s “Little Canada.”
By Jonathan P. LaBonte
Mayor of Auburn
This Sunday, September 11, marks the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Each year on this date, it has been commonplace for many of us to share our stories of where we were and what we felt and were thinking on that fateful day.
As we reflect back now 15 years later, we can ask ourselves what has changed since that day and did we keep the promise we made to never forget. One example I’m proud to offer for never forgetting 9/11 comes from the men and women of the Auburn Fire Department. Each year, a small ceremony is held in honor of those that lost their lives in those terrorist attacks. At the exact time the first World Trade Center tower was struck, they toll a bell.
The memorial in front of Auburn Central now includes pieces of mangled steel that were extracted from the wreckage of the World Trade Center that day. They serve as a reminder of the devastation felt by so many, from those working in the Towers or Pentagon that day to the first responders that risked their lives to save others.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office has noticed a recent increase in the number of Mainers calling to report they are the target of phone scams in which someone pretends to be calling to collect a debt owed to the Internal Revenue Service. Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills is reminding people to be aware that these are scams and they should not give people credit card information or wire money.
“The IRS scam and others like it are the most common complaint we receive,” said Attorney General Mills. “However, we have noticed a recent spike in the number of people calling our office to alert us and to complain specifically about IRS scams. On Thursday alone we received 61 contacts from Maine people. These are often randomly dialed calls, but for some reason the 207 area code seems to be their target in recent weeks. People should not engage the callers and hang up the phone. Do not give them personal information and do not wire them money.”
Join Patrick Dempsey for a day of Winter Fun at Black Mountain Ski Resort on Saturday, February 27.
An endorsed independent fundraiser for the Rumford Hospital Dempsey Challenge Team, the event will feature Alpine and Nordic skiing, tubing, raffles, food, entertainment, and a few surprises!
An all-day pass is $35. For more information click here.
Shaun “Yaz” Yazbek will compete on the Food Network reality show “Chopped” next month. Yazbek will compete with three other chefs in an episode titled “Truck Stop Stars,” pitting the four competitors against each other for a $10,000 prize.
The show, now in its 27th season on Food Network, gives four chefs a mystery basket of ingredients, which then must be turned into a dish. The show is broken into three courses: an appetizer, an entrée, and a desert. Chefs are given different mystery ingredients for each course. After each course, one of the chefs is eliminated by the panel of judges who base their results on creativity, presentation, and taste.
The hilarious comedy “Shakespeare in Hollywood” opens this weekend at the L-A Community Little Theater. Written by Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me a Tenor,” Moon Over Buffalo”) and directed by Mitchell Clyde Thomas, the play is a fanciful and farcical romp set in 1930s Hollywood.
Winner of The Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play of the Year in 2004, this fast-paced comedy is right out of the screwball films of the 1930s. A “play within a play” that melds fact with fiction, it follows the real-life quest to bring Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the silver screen in 1934. In the midst of all of the business of making this talking picture, Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his sidekick Puck magically arrive, having taken a wrong turn on their way home from the wood near Athens. And then the fun begins!
Performances will be held on February 12, 13, 18, 19, 20 at 7:30 p.m. and February 14 and 21 at 2:00 p.m. All performances will be held at the Great Falls Performing Arts Center on 30 Academy Street in Auburn. Tickets may be ordered online at www.laclt.com or by calling 783-0958.
Unauthorized use of EBT cards, falsifying documents, lying about income, hidden trust funds and the act of “water dumping,” are just a few examples of the welfare fraud that DHHS has caught people committing in recent months.
In 2015, 130,413 EBT cards were issued and $311,664,909.00 was spent through EBT transactions this includes cash withdrawals. Prior to this administration, the state was not actively utilizing available EBT transaction data to find potential inappropriate usage or potential eligibility issues of clients. Now, DHHS is using state-of-the-art business analytics software to quickly find inappropriate usage including clients that may have moved out of state, potential drug trafficking activity and collusion with vendors to commit fraud.
Seventeen investigators spread out over 11 offices work tirelessly taking tips, investigating leads and tracking down millions of dollars in misused benefits.
On January 8th, the most recent case of welfare fraud ended with a conviction. Details can be viewed at http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/fraud-press-release.htm
I intend to let Mainers know what is going on in Augusta. They deserve to know how their elected officials are voting on important issues. Unfortunately, once these politicians get to Augusta, they are all too eager to hide their business from the Maine people.
They soon forget why they were elected and what they promised to do for their constituents. I was elected by hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of Maine. As your Governor, I don’t make decisions based on one person, one lobbyist, one community or one county, but rather what’s in the best interest of all 1.3 million Mainers.
I am all for accountability and transparency in government, and I have made that clear throughout my tenure as Governor. But the Legislature is not transparent.
As the second session of the 127th Legislature opens, you can be sure it will be more political than last session. That’s because 2016 is an election year.
Politicians know how to provide lip service, and that’s exactly what they will be doing for the next few months as they use the session for their campaign soapbox.
I did not come to Augusta to provide lip service. I came to work for the Maine people. I also came to Augusta to root out crooked politicians and government corruption. I’ve upset their apple cart, and they don’t like it. They could not defeat me at the ballot box, so they are trying to destroy me any way they can. But, as the saying goes, when you point a finger at me, three fingers are pointing back at you. These politicians are the same people who are guilty of deceiving the Maine people.
They wasted six months of the taxpayers’ time and money on a political witch hunt, only to find no wrongdoing. They convened a kangaroo court, but shut it down as soon as the truth started to come out. They blundered on the budget. In June 2015, they orchestrated a secretive, back-room deal on the budget, which included wasteful spending of millions of taxpayer dollars. They rejected real tax reform. We put up a bill to amend the Maine Constitution to eliminate the income tax. These politicians rejected the bill, denying Mainers a chance to vote on how much tax the government should take out of their paychecks.