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.”
This caused this section of the city to go from a clean, orderly and safe neighborhood, where those living there had pride in their surroundings, to one of crime and drug infestation. Those living there exhibited not one ounce of pride. Buildings and apartments went into disrepair. Trash, garbage and dog waste littered the streets—all thanks to our federal government and those serving in state and local offices.
The 23 years I spent on the Lewiston Police Department, especially my several years as Arson Investigator, taught me one thing—stay away from federal money! It does more harm than good.
Upon being elected Mayor of Lewiston, I did not have long to wait for representatives of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to come a knocking. They came dressed in nice suits, all carrying briefcases that resembled those you see in movies filled with bribery cash.
This meeting took place at Auburn City Hall. Mayor Jonathan LaBonte of Auburn, myself and the code and economic development personnel from both cities were present. The intent of the meeting was to advise all present of the federal help they could give to both cities.
I immediately told them if they had come up from Boston to give us money for more low-income housing, they had wasted a trip. I informed them that we needed money to clean up the mess they had created over the past years.
Well, no money came. But our crack Lewiston staff understood the directive; today over 100 buildings have been torn down, lightening the financial albatross around our necks.
I hope the residents of Auburn are not going to roll over and sit passively by while more poverty is introduced into our area. We are not the State of Maine’s poor farm. It’s long overdue for towns like Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth, Westbrook and other Southern Maine cities and towns to take on some of the financial burden that has been inflicted on our area for decades.
According to the latest update over the fallout from the Governor’s voicemail, The Prophet Mark Eves has predicted tourism in Maine is declining because of the incident. He may have well as predicted frogs, locusts, boils, hail, water turning into blood, darkness and working people who will no longer have money to pay their taxes—thus leading to the demise of the Democratic arm of the Progressive party.