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Media, Legislature vilify anyone who threatens status quo

By Robert E. Macdonald, Mayor of Lewiston

Robert E. Macdonald, Mayor of Lewiston

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.

Stories in today’s newspapers that were once exclusive to the editorial and opinion pages are found throughout the paper—lots of opinions and very little fact. These stories seem to be crafted to fit the ideology of certain leaders. These stories are designed to either destroy or enhance the person being written about.

Today we reap the results of this folly. Many good, qualified people who have the ability to restore our country and society shy away from what once was looked upon as a required civil duty.

An example of media bias is the Good Will-Hinckley affair, which seeks to and has to some extent portrayed Governor Paul R. LePage as Snidely Whiplash persecuting poor little Nel (Speaker of the House Mark Eves). The affair as reported by the media would bring even the most ardent supporter of the Governor to the conclusion that he had overstepped his bounds.

Left out of the equation have been the actions of Bill Brown. Brown chairs the board of the Charter School run by Good Will-Hinckley. Not surprisingly, he is also a member of Speaker Eves’ paid staff at the State House.

Brown was quite involved in the selection process that concluded Eves was the most qualified for the position. (Brown had also been a paid staffer for former House Speaker Glenn Cummings, who took over as president of the Good Will-Hinckley upon leaving the Legislature.)

During a hearing on November 12, 2015 before the Government Oversight Committee, Brown admitted he was more involved in the search to find a school president and the board’s consideration of Eves than previously disclosed. He admitted he encouraged Eves to apply for the job. Even though Eves is his boss, creating a clear conflict of interest, Brown failed to recuse himself from the search process and took an active role in it.

Brown admitted he reviewed the resumes of all the candidates, sat in on their interviews, then assisted Eves through the process by suggesting how to improve his application.

When questions by Republican members of the Government Oversight Committee attempted to turn a Brown’s smoking gun into a red hot pistol, Republican Sen. Roger Katz, the committee chair, ruled the questioning not relevant and was joined by Democratic members in ceasing any further questioning of Brown’s role.

This is your news media and Legislature banding together to vilify anyone who puts the public interest above their entrenched, status quo system.

 

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