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Enough is Enough: Lead paint, local legislators and skeptical attitudes toward business

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Early on in my capacity as Lewiston’s Mayor, I came to the realization how out of touch with the public our state legislators had become.

Once they win a legislative seat many, not all, form and project a state of mind that tells them they alone are the only ones who understand and are capable of solving the problems facing our state. (This goes a long way to understanding the distress we find our state economy.)

It would prove beneficial if our state and federal (both elected and non-elected) officials were to be required to spend time living among those voters whose lives will be affected by their decisions. This OJT (on-the-job training) will hopefully allow them the ability to write legislation based on realistic experiences, not the words of lobbyists and social service groups.

A major problem currently facing our nation, our state and the City of Lewiston is the alarming rate of lead poisoning of children found in ours and other communities.

In many of our older buildings located downtown, there is a high concentration of lead due to the lead paint formerly used to adorn the walls of these apartments. This has exposed too many small children to the danger of a lifetime of retardation.

Lewiston’s Senator Nate Libby introduced legislation to reinforce federal requirements related to training and certification of the renovation of lead laden buildings. This bill also provides $100,000 annually in Maine taxpayers’ money be given to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection in order to offset the cost of training and certification.

Enter those rascally Republicans. They defeated the bill. Why would the State of Maine compensate the U.S. DEP to offset costs clearly the responsibility of the federal government? Further, by doing so we would have assumed the costs and responsibility of this federal DEP program.

I have a novel idea. Instead of using Maine taxpayers’ money, why don’t our legislators force the federal government to fund what is clearly their responsibility? They are elected to represent Maine taxpayers, not roll over and play dead.

Over the last six years Governor Paul R. LePage has laid out a clear plan to bring prosperity to Maine. Governor LePage is a successful businessman. He knows in order to attract businesses to Maine, taxes must be lowered, energy costs must come down and Maine must free itself from job-killing regulations and other anti-business rules and policies.

But the Governor has a major problem: a well-meaning legislature filled with social workers, teachers, activists and unemployed/retired individuals who have very little knowledge or experience in making a payroll or putting together a business plan.

Some look at businesses with a jaundiced eye—many think business owners are the enemy. The lack of real-world understanding from these legislators, coupled with their skeptical attitude toward business and our job creators, have created a workforce crisis. Businesses are unable to fill jobs currently vacant, and forget about being able to expand.

But now these great leaders will work toward improving a plan formulated centuries ago by ancient Rome—a plan that eventually led to its downfall: open the gates to the barbarians.

Now before the Legislature is a bipartisan bill that would create an Office of New Mainers, which will help them learn English and the job skills needed to fill Maine’s many vacant jobs. Its start-up cost will be $2 million of your money. Whoever heads it will hold a cabinet position.

Conveniently left out of the fanfare is the cost necessary to meet their housing, food, clothing, medical, and increased school costs, all of which will fall on you, the taxpayer, either through your local, state or federal taxes.

Until unemployment reaches 0%, these jobs should be filled by Americans. If our current legislators cannot solve this problem, they should move aside and we will elect legislators who can. It’s time we clean Augusta of politically correct activists and replace them with officials who have the courage to do what has to be done.

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