A burden on Lewiston taxpayers

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This is a response to Rep. Jared Golden’s guest column, “Mayor misleading Lewiston residents” (Sun July 31).

Golden, along with Reps. Peggy Rotundo and Heidi Brooks, felt that continued monetary support for asylum seekers trumped the fiscal burden placed on Lewiston property taxpayers and voted “yes” on LD 369.

LD 369, as originally written, would have denied general assistance to asylum seekers. During the past few years, the city of Lewiston has been in violation of federal law by providing asylum seekers with aid.

LD 369 was gutted and rewritten by the Maine Legislature to allow Maine to meet an exception in the statute that would allow support of asylum seekers — to the financial dismay of Lewiston taxpayers.

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He looks to asylum seekers as the solution to Maine’s problem of an aging population. Once they have their working papers, what is going to stop them, like many of our sons and daughters, from leaving for greener pastures?

Also, there is LD 323, a bill to require the Department of Transportation to study and develop a plan to bring passenger rail to Lewiston. To read Golden’s column, one would think it was a done deal because the local delegation voted to override the governor’s veto.

Conveniently left out of Golden’s column was any mention of my many calls to him for updates on the bill, a strategy session the Saturday prior to the bill being heard with Sen. Nate Libby and Golden, my many meetings with the developer and the recruiting of councilors Michael Lachance and Shane Bouchard to accompany me to Augusta in order to show Lewiston’s enthusiasm for the bill.

Upon meeting with Gov. Paul LePage, LePage stated that before millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money was spent on the project, he wanted to see figures on the return on investment. LePage left the door open to take another look at the project in the future.

Two days before Golden’s column appeared, I met with the developer to continue talking about advancing the project.

Lastly, the deal only moves forward if the city councils of both Lewiston and Auburn vote to put up $50,000 each. That covers the cities’ portions of the study.

In his column, Golden threw a lot of mud at me, hoping some of it would stick. His vote to saddle Lewiston property taxpayers with an unnecessary financial burden will follow him like the scarlet letter borne by Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic story.

Robert Macdonald, Lewiston

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