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This week’s edition!

Enough is Enough: Local officials have ignored the problem with generational welfare

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Let’s bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich. When we finally pull them out and return to reality, it is with the hope that the crisis we have attempted to avoid has either gone away or been solved.

Does this remind you of anyone, perhaps Lewiston-Auburn elected officials?

In a recent article in the Sun Journal, it stated, “Jim Howaniec, chairman of the Coalition Opposed to Lewiston Auburn Consolidation, said the discussion over welfare in the two cities is an example of the negativity that has been caused by the merger initiative.”

No, Jim! The 3,000-ton welfare elephant has been in the room for a long time. It was there long before your election as Lewiston’s mayor. Early on, the problem could have been righted. But it was ignored by elected officials as a low-impact item. That changed with the Somali diaspora.

The federal government resettlement agency, Catholic Charities of Maine, targeted the very well-heeled city of Portland and one of the poorest cities in Maine—Lewiston—as the locations best suited for resettlement in Maine. Then-mayor Laurier Raymond wrote a letter to the government explaining the city was being overwhelmed and asked the resettlement be slowed down, not stopped, so we could catch our breath. This resulted in many progressive left-wing organizations and outsiders from Southern Maine cities and towns branding Raymond as a racist.

The Maine Peoples Alliance, Equal Maine Justice Partners and a myriad of left-leaning social justice groups sullied Lewiston’s reputation by labeling Lewistonians “racists.” They knew that this labeling would be an effective weapon that could be used to shut down criticism by future wannabe politicians over the resettlement issue.

Our welfare problems were not brought on by Lewiston’s Somali refugee community. The problem is the result of decades of unchecked generational welfare problems that for many decades were ignored and allowed to fester by local and state politicians. While serving during the five years and nine months as Lewiston’s mayor, the only local politician to join with me and passionately address this issue has been Senator Eric Brakey of Auburn.

But, to be truthful, I never expected much local political help. This was because I was aware of the powerful weapon in the arsenal of groups like the Maine Peoples Alliance and Maine Equal Justice Partners: the word racist. Once they have labelled you a racist, there goes your reputation. I salute my opposition for being able to deflect our real welfare problems: generational welfare. They have successfully made it seem like the real issues that were responsible for our welfare problems were the legal refugee problem.

If our politicians, business leaders and the general public on both sides had addressed the generational welfare issue with the passion they are currently addressing the Lewiston-Auburn consolidation issue, Dollar Stores would not be our number-one area retailer.

Next week, we will review all the exciting accomplishments the Maine Peoples Alliance and Equal Maine Justice Partners have done for our area.

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