“I really feel like I’m getting my life back.” —First Lady Ann LePage
By Peter A. Steele
Governor Paul R. LePage made news last week when he announced he had undergone bariatric surgery to lose weight and improve his health, but he was not alone. His wife, First Lady Ann LePage, also had the weight-loss surgery.
The Maine media and people at public events had been speculating for months about the Governor’s noticeable weight loss. Was he on some kind of crash diet? Had he turned into a triathlete? Did he put a treadmill in his office to use while poring over legislation, budgets and vetoes? More importantly, was he sick?
By Jonathan P. LaBonté
Mayor of Auburn
On Tuesday, November 8, voters in Maine—and here in Auburn—have the potential to significantly influence the ability of our community to support job retention and job growth in local businesses, as well as sustain services based on growing property tax revenue tied to private sector growth.
That’s because, in addition to the state legislative races on the ballot, there are a handful of referendum questions allowing you to play legislator.
While the sound bites in radio and TV ads might not give you all the facts, I wanted to offer some information for what could happen locally.
Question 1 asks voters to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The pitch is that we should regulate it just like alcohol, take the windfall from tax revenue and divert law enforcement attention elsewhere. While the country may be moving in the direction of legalizing marijuana, it is still an illegal drug under federal law.
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?
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.
If it were not for newspapers, the history of America might have been quite different than what children currently study in school.
Back before radio, television and computers, the printed word was sought and relished by those who wanted to keep abreast of what was happening in the world, the country and their own backyards.
Newspapers printed the current happenings. They also printed uncensored, dueling letters in which both sides of an issue were presented. This back-and-forth free flow of ideas and opinions allowed readers to make educated decisions on the issues of the day.
In the 1770s it was an educated newspaper reading public that steeled the spines of our Founding Fathers when they had second thoughts about declaring independence from Great Britain.
But as time went by, newspapers evolved. They saturated news with sensationalism and untruths designed to keep the readers’ interest, raise their emotions and, most importantly, sell papers.
Times change. Today people get their news from television, radio, the Internet and the old standbys, beauty salons, barber shops and coffee shops. Exercising your brain via the written word seems to be going the way of the dinosaur.
Many of you may remember the cartoon “School House Rock” and the song “How a Bill Becomes a Law.” Without commentary on the dysfunction of Washington and whether that is still the process today, the topic of public idea to implementation is worth revisiting.
As the song goes, some local residents had an idea and they brought it to their elected representative. Their representative turned that idea into a bill, which was sent to a committee to be reviewed, researched, debated and voted up or down back to the full elected body, in that case, Congress.
For the public, there’s a clear link between how an idea gets shared and ultimately gets to a yes or no from all of the elected officials. An idea becomes a bill. A bill goes to a committee made up of a small number of elected officials. The committee votes it back to the full body. And all the while the process is clear and the public knows how to provide its input to their officials.
In my four years so far as mayor, one of the most concerning aspects of trying to work with an elected city council of seven is that there is no process for an elected official, or a citizen, to propose an idea and have it worked through a defined process.
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
In mid-July of 1977, the State of Massachusetts had been taken over by young, still wet-behind-the-ears Democrats. Their progressive mindset had been shaped and molded by hardcore socialist professors. They were going to teach the world to sing a socialist tune.
Their extensive indoctrination led them to discard reality and to pursue and create a brave new world. They were definitely not the Democratic party of my parents or grandparents. They set about to create the New Republic of Massachusetts.
Soon a once thriving, orderly and civil society changed. Men set aside their traditional attributes of protectors and breadwinners, transforming themselves into the role of male mothers. These new, progressive Democrats marched down a new road—a road where the unproductive were rewarded for their behavior at the expense of the hard-working taxpayers. Their progressive policies destroyed the strong foundation of many families. Neighborhoods became crime-ridden war zones.
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
This week I ask the reader’s indulgence. I had hoped to go on to another topic, but suddenly fortune shined on me which, in the words of a current asylum seeker living in Lewiston, certified the position of Governor Paul LePage and myself.
Back on June 18, I wrote a column about illegal aliens (“asylum seekers”) that continue to arrive in Lewiston. The first few paragraphs were filled with sarcasm in an attempt to add a bit of humor to an issue that puts a fiscal strain on Lewiston’s property taxpayers. This brought a response, in the form of a Letter to the Editor, from Djima Aiman of Lewiston.
Before proceeding, I want to make it clear that I do not believe that Lewiston’s refugees, be they legal or illegal, came here to join the welfare rolls. Like those before them, they come to this land to seek a better life, which they hope to gain through hard work.