LEWISTON — Twin Cities politics and the differences between Mayors Jonathan LaBonte and Robert Macdonald spilled onto the Internet and into public view Friday night.
In a post to Facebook, Auburn Mayor LaBonte said that Macdonald, the mayor of Lewiston, had called LaBonte an "embarrassment" to the area.
LaBonte said he wrote the post after a heated telephone conversation between the two Friday night.
"I got word (Friday) that Bob was actively telling people that I had embarrassed Lewiston-Auburn, so I called him about 5 p.m. and he laid into me," LaBonte said. "He ended up by saying I should leave Lewiston alone."
Macdonald on Saturday declined to comment on LaBonte's Facebook post but acknowledged that the two had words Friday night.
"It was a spat," Macdonald said. "We had a spat, the two of us did, but I don't need to comment on it. If he wants to air his laundry out in public, that's his business."
LaBonte said the ill will between the two stems from a meeting they had with Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday. LaBonte said he presented the governor with his ideas for economic development and for replacing Auburn's Edward Little High School.
"(Macdonald) and the governor exchanged some jokes about welfare and some other things, before we got into talking business," LaBonte said. "I thought it was a great meeting. From where I'm sitting, trying to position Lewiston-Auburn and look for ways we can secure state support for the things we want to do, I took it as a positive meeting."
LaBonte said he'd heard rumors afterward that Macdonald disagreed with LaBonte's points, so he decided to confront the Lewiston mayor.
"I don't think Bob represents the interests of his council," LaBonte said. "I don't think he's speaking for his council when he says what he says."
Macdonald said LaBonte told the governor that the cities could live with proposed cuts to revenue-sharing if they combined services.
"Basically, he snapped his fingers and said, 'We could save $3.5 million, bang, just like that,'" Macdonald said. "I went back after that meeting and met with my staff and we're just befuddled with that. Here we are looking for funds, and (LaBonte) is saying we're wasting money somehow, that we can do things by just snapping our fingers. It does not work that way."
Macdonald said any disagreement between the two mayors should stay between them.
"My intention is to not be distracted by this," Macdonald said. "I have other things to do. We have economic development deals going on. I have some refugee plans I'm floating. Those are my concerns, not what he is spewing out there."
LaBonte defended his decision to make the feud public.
"There is a lot happening now behind the scenes, a lot of very interesting politics," LaBonte said. "My preference is to have this in the light of day, not behind the scenes. If we are going to have a debate about where Lewiston-Auburn is going, and what kind of joint services we should be doing and how we should do economic development, this should not be backroom deals."