Lewiston mayor setting example with welfare funds

Maine people are remarkably generous. We are willing to raise money for a family with a sick child, contribute toward putting a steeple on an old church or build a playground in a local park.

But we are not fools, and we have no patience with people who lie to receive government benefits.

So we commend Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald for his crackdown on welfare fraud.

Tuesday Macdonald revealed that 84 people have been kicked off the city's General Assistance ledger, 50 of them for fraud.

Police Chief Michael Bussiere said his department is pursuing charges against 12  of those people. Macdonald promised that more charges will be filed in coming months.

About 225 people receive general assistance in Lewiston, a program designed to get people through a crisis by paying for basic necessities like housing, utilities, medicine and food.

Of the 50 people accused of fraud, Sue Charron, the city's social services director, said most had lied about applying for work as required under the program.

The biggest problem with benefit programs in this country is not that they are too generous, but that taxpayers have lost faith in government's ability to ensure they go only to the truly needy.

As government has grown over the years and programs proliferated, more taxpayers have begun to suspect the programs are out of control and often benefit the wrong people.

We are all sympathetic to people who are down on their luck, have health problems or are genuinely incapable of working.

But Mayor Macdonald is doing what government should do at all levels —demonstrating that the rules are meant to be followed.


The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Gary Vaughn's picture

its not the abilty to work..its the desire

Democracy will cease to exist when you take way from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not....T.Jefferson............KUDOS to the mayor of Lewiston. If I was a city resident , I'd keep on voting him into office.

Robert McQueeney's picture

When welfare in all it's

When welfare in all it's forms are more profitable than actually earning a paycheck, there will be many who flock to the welfare rolls for a life of ease.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

We're at that level now.

We're at that level now.

RONALD RIML's picture

Why is 'General Assistance' needed in Lewiston??

Surely there are plenty of well paying jobs available; even laborers' positions. Hasn't Mayor Macdonald been hard at work attracting such employers to the Lewiston area?

How many advertisements are there for such in today's LSJ??

AL PELLETIER's picture

Ron, I went to the big city yesterday.

I saw at least four help wanted signs in front of businesses. Honest work is out there and readily available. It's unfortunate when some simply can't work due to physical or mental disabilities. It's a crime when they can't get off their lazy asses, put on some decent clothes, remove the nose and ear rings, drop the word "LIKE" from their limited vocabulary, look their perspective employer in the eye and introduce themselves with a hand shake, show up not smelling of cigarettes, pot or stale booze. That's just for starters.
I think a requirement for any welfare recipient should be a drug test and also to provide the assistance givers a recent photo of yourself as you would look in your job search.
A clean drug test, an impressive photo and a brief resume might go a long way in matching a job searcher with an employer.

RONALD RIML's picture

What about the 'Real' Fraud......

That sent so many of our American jobs overseas....... Thus necessitating much of our welfare.

Didn't they used to make many more shoes in Lewiston?????

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Methinks you digress",

"Methinks you digress", chimed the parrot.

RONALD RIML's picture

Not nearly to the extent that Lewiston did.

Now where are the J-O-B's you expect these people to be employed at??

PAUL ST JEAN's picture


They're out there; plenty of ads in the papers. No, they're not all 'positions', but they're jobs and they exist, but people have to go to THEM, a concept which I'm certain is foreign to many.

RONALD RIML's picture

Here's your chance.......

Have the Parrot search out the 'Young Lady' who was tossed off assistance for having the "Roomie"

Once found, make her your special project: Acquaint here with all the ads out there, discover which ones she's suited for, and have the Pirate Ship ferry here around to interviews. Let's see how it works out for her, and you'll know you've had the satisfaction of showing me how it's done.

Robert McQueeney's picture

Why is it Paul's (or

Why is it Paul's (or anyone's) responsibility to find anyone a job? They can do it just like the rest of us. Clean up, dress up, put on your best manners, learn a bit about the company you are applying at, and go ask for a job, telling them how hard you'll work for them and learn their methods. Then back it up with some real effort.

RONALD RIML's picture

As it is no one else's responsibility....

Then no one else need bitch about it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

O.K., but it may take a

O.K., but it may take a while. The pirating season is getting busy; shipping lanes are exceptionally high in traffic for this time of year. Target rich environment is the word of the day.

RONALD RIML's picture

Just promise me you'll stay off the

Danube. I don't want my upcoming river cruise marred by piratical adventurers.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

We have a deal. Besides, the

We have a deal. Besides, the parrot sez he doesn't like the food in those parts. Prefers Caribbean cuisine.

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Kudos to Mayor MacDonald...

glad to see that some people, but apparently not all, are finally realizing that this guy talks the talk and walks the walk.

Fraud is fraud pure and simple and it is a financial drain on every taxpayer in Maine and America and should not be tolerated. ABSOULTELY NO EXCUSE!

As many here have stated, this is just the tip of the iceberg; and it my opinion it's happening all over America; glad one man is standing fast and taking ACTION instead of just talking about it.

This type of behavior by fellow citizens should not be tolerated and most definately should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Great Job Bob! Keep up the good work!

RONALD RIML's picture

A Fraud is a Fraud......

But He and His Buddies can get you elected.......

RONALD RIML's picture

How many jobs have his actions provided for

'General Assistance' recipients???

That's the real mark of success; not merely cutting off the spigot.


PAUL ST JEAN's picture

How many jobs have you had

How many jobs have you had handed to you in order to get you of general assistance? Undoubtedly none; same as me. Let them go out and find their own jobs. They're out there, but employers, contrary to the beliefs of many welfare recipients, do not go door to door searching for people to work for them.They do need to reform how they wean people off the dole, though. The current system as far too many incentives NOT to work.


An example

Lewiston has a 15% rate of welfare fraud while Portland has a 3% rate? Seems like the example we are setting is one of governmental incompetence. Let's start by having people to check the paperwork so we don't have to go to the expense of all this investigating and prosecuting and jailing. We should be kicking the ones that don't qualify off at the start and not be waiting years to throw 84 people off all at once.

 's picture


Mayor is doing exactly what should be done.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Maybe the job search

Maybe the job search requirement should also include a workfare requirement until employment is found for the able bodied recipients. My work takes me to the City Building on a regular basis, and I often see 20 and 30 year olds coming and going from the social services office, and many appear quite healthy. In order to find employment though, the majority would have to give some thought to appearance. Baggies, body piercings and related ornaments, and such tend to be a handicap to finding employment in most places of business, and I find it hard to believe that these folks aren't well aware of that.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Gary they

Gary they know that apperance is important, why do you suppose they look like that.

Take a walk into the DHHS office on Main St and look at everyone of those young people using cell phone that we pay for. They have phones I can only dream about having.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I agree

I was at DHHS to get some paperwork, and still had to wait in the waiting area. It was disgusting, but one young gentleman caught my attention. He was bragging that he had just been released from jail less than twenty four hours ago, and look at me I'm getting assistance already. I felt like going over and showing him what really needing assistance felt like. As for the cell phone count, I think I was the only one who DIDN'T have one......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The crap that's going on is

The crap that's going on is enough to make you want to lose your lunch.

 's picture

Giving Credit

Agree 100% with this editorial. It would seem that a full time welfare investigator might yield significant savings. As employees paying for these cretins, we are all closely evaluated for our work. Time for the recipients of our good earnings to be supervised on their job searches.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Heck, recipients of

Heck, recipients of unemployment benefits are constantly being pressured to find employment. Why should it be any different for healthy, able-bodied welfare recipients? I guess the major difference is that a person collecting unemployment is required to have had a job in the first place in order to receive benefits, whereas that requirement does not seem to apply to welfare recipients.

Robert McQueeney's picture

Just felt like this needed repeating

"The biggest problem with benefit programs in this country is not that they are too generous, but that taxpayers have lost faith in government's ability to ensure they go only to the truly needy.

As government has grown over the years and programs proliferated, more taxpayers have begun to suspect the programs are out of control and often benefit the wrong people.

We are all sympathetic to people who are down on their luck, have health problems or are genuinely incapable of working.

But Mayor Macdonald is doing what government should do at all levels —demonstrating that the rules are meant to be followed."

AL PELLETIER's picture

Just imagine

If Mayor Macdonald can get this done on a small city scale, how much us taxpayers would save if it was done at the state level. Perhaps this is the kind of "action character" we need in Augusta.


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