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Enough is Enough: There’s more than one side to local landlords

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

What is a corporate slumlord? To hear the Maine People’s Alliance describe them, they are easily spotted.

They are the ones with horns, a pitchfork and red cape. They should only be approached in cold weather in order to prevent getting burned from the heat radiating from their bodies.

Public criticism is a price you must bear if you’re a public official. It is part of the job. Those who come before the Lewiston City Council are allowed to vent without fear of being attacked by either the mayor or members of the council. Your opinions, good or bad, are welcome.

But a public attack directed at a non-government person not present to respond to any and all allegations is nothing short of cowardice. At a council meeting two weeks ago, a local landlord, Joe Dunn, was attacked by Melissa Dunn (no relation) of the Maine People’s Alliance and called a corporate slumlord. Fortunately, mayoral candidate Charles Soule was present to respond to Melissa Dunn’s charges.

Soule is a longtime tenant of Mr. Dunn. He spoke of Mr. Dunn as a local landlord that takes interest in his tenants. If a tenant is in a fiscal crisis, Mr. Dunn has been known to waive their rent or allow them to pay the rent whenever they have it. He has bought food for tenants and given them money so they might fill their prescriptions.

He is also well thought of by city officials. When we have to relocate families due to a disaster, Mr. Dunn always finds an apartment to house them. He will take tenants that other landlords won’t take. Lastly, he will accept payments from the city that are less than the current rate he is asking for one of his apartments.

This helps city taxpayers. He maintains a work crew that daily checks his apartments, cleaning up and trying to stay ahead of problems.

Rather than a corporate slumlord, he would be better characterized as a big-hearted landlord with poor business practices. The reason most of these landlords are incorporated is to prevent many of their predatory tenants from suing them personally.

I would like to thank Scott Thistle for his great article in Lewiston’s daily paper enlightening the public to the plight of the many veterans who seek help at Lewiston’s Veterans Center. Over the last two months, local veterans have been working with our federal delegation (Senators Collins and King and Representative Poliquin) to ensure that staffing is available for those in crisis.

Five out of the eight positions, one being the center’s administrator, remain unfilled. This is not just unacceptable, it’s criminal.

Thistle’s column also brought to light the major problem found in all departments of the federal government: poor administration. The arrogance shown by the center’s regional administrator, whose office is in California, caused a lot of anger among those who are currently clients at the Lewiston Veterans Center.

Last Thursday, the staffs of our local Congressional representatives participated in a conference call with the regional director. He will be coming to Maine in October and will be speeding up the staffing at the Lewiston Center.

Last Friday, September 11, a rededication ceremony was held at the Thomas J. McMahon School. Governor Paul R. LePage, one of McMahon’s classmates, and his wife Ann showed up. McMahon’s commander in Vietnam came up from Virginia. The McMahon family and local Vietnam veterans were there. City and school officials were also there. But no one from the Maine media showed up.

Specialist Fourth Class Thomas J. McMahon was a son of Lewiston. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for giving his life to save the lives of his comrades during the Vietnam War. It appears that Sp4c. McMahon, along with all those who served in Vietnam, have been relegated by the press to history’s dustbin.

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