Macdonald apologizes for election-night comments

LEWISTON — Mayor-elect Bob Macdonald apologized to the city Thursday for his election-night comments — but his apology wasn't enough for some members of the city's immigrant community.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Abdifatah Ahmed asks Lewiston Mayor-elect Bob Macdonald, not pictured, to apologize to the Somali community at City Hall in Lewiston on Thursday. Ahmed, a pharmacist who lives in Auburn, was upset about comments about immigrants that Macdonald made during his campaign for mayor.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Lewiston Mayor-elect Bob Macdonald answers questions at City Hall in Lewiston on Thursday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Lewiston Mayor-elect Bob Macdonald answers questions at City Hall in Lewiston on Thursday. Portraits of past mayors hang on the wall outside City Council chambers.

Abdifatah Ahmed, a local landlord and pharmacist, said Macdonald ought to apologize for his tone throughout the mayoral campaign, not just his election-night comments.

During his campaign, Macdonald said he wanted to make the city less attractive to layabouts and deadbeats, many of whom didn't speak English

"Enough is enough," Ahmed said. "Very few people in our community get assistance, but when we get selected and called names, enough is enough."

Macdonald must stop such talk and explain himself, to go forward with healing, Ahmed said.

"There was a lot said, and a lot of it was on camera," Ahmed said. "You said people like me are great. But there are old people and children, and you've said to them that you have a problem with their fathers. As the mayor, how can you be a role model to those young children?"

Macdonald said his target was not immigrants but welfare recipients.

"If you are working here, I was not talking about you," Macdonald said. "I was talking about the people that take money, money, money — and they come in all colors."

Afterward, Ahmed said he and other members of Lewiston's immigrant community believe they still deserve a more thorough apology from Macdonald.

"There are many, many people in this community who work, but that gets ignored," he said. "It seems people would rather believe the stories than the truth. But we can't let that happen. We can't go back to the way things were in 2000 and 2001."

Somali immigrants, refugees from the civil war in Somalia, began arriving in Lewiston 10 years ago.

Macdonald called Thursday's news conference to announce a surprise for his opponents after he was elected mayor on Tuesday. He beat opponent Mark Paradis, who died unexpectedly last Friday, by 70 votes in a special runoff election.

Macdonald spoke to reporters and television cameras immediately afterward, promising payback for Paradis' campaign staff. Macdonald accused them of starting rumors and of running a sleazy campaign.

Macdonald backed off of those comments Wednesday, saying he planned to go ahead with his Thursday surprise.

That surprise turned out to be a full apology for his election-night comments. Macdonald said he had spent the entire day Tuesday at the polls and was tired and overly emotional.

"This is Bob Macdonald, happy face," he said Thursday. "And from now on, until I end my time in office, it will Bob Macdonald, happy face, the face of Lewiston."

Macdonald said Lewiston residents must come together to make the city a better place.

"Let's work together, instead of sniping," he said. "That doesn't do any good. We can go back and forth, but that doesn't help the people of Lewiston."

He said he considered himself a transitional leader between Lewiston's senior citizens and up-and-coming young adults.

"What I hope to do is set a foundation and then, when we have that foundation, we let the younger people come in," Macdonald said. "Let them do what they know has to be done. Their needs are different than ours. "

He said he wanted to see the city's riverfront developed and hoped to steal some business from Portland — and possibly Bangor.

"I want to be a destination, but we're not now — people bypass us," Macdonald said.

He said he hoped Lewiston professionals would volunteer to help make the city better and he made a pitch for better treatment of veterans.

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I wasn't going to comment but

I wasn't going to comment but after thinking about this issue I have decided I need to comment. Whether we choose to accept Mr. Macdonald's apology is for each of us to decide. However, one thing is clear. Mr. Macdonald is our mayor-elect and we need to work together to get Lewiston through the next 2 years. If we do not agree with Mr. Macdonald there are ways to express that without causing a bigger rift within the city. Anyone that has followed the posts over the last week or so would know that I find Mr. Macdonald's way of articulating things less then tactful. People would also know that I, in no way, agree with Mr. Macdonald on many of his issues. We can choose to do one of three things....1) keep on bickering over every little thing....2) try to work as one team to create positive change for all citizens of Lewiston.....or 3) sit back and do absolutely nothing and leave it for another mayor in 2 years.

Whether we like Mr. Macdonald, his ideas, or his views isn't it best that we work as one for what is best for Lewiston????

Mike Lachance's picture

Very nice Tina. ;-)

Very nice Tina. ;-)

Mike Lachance's picture

Bob did what he needed to do.

Bob did what he needed to do. He apologized for his comments on election night, which were quite heavy. He also retracted his planned expose' announcement which was also a good move. Bob has taken the high road, but he has also let it be known he wont sit idle when confronted with BS.

As far as the Somali gentlemen demanding apologies, I say BS. Total. Complete. If the man owns a business and works for a living he is part of the solution and not a part of the problem. Bob is on his side.

Dan Beggs's picture

keep speaking the truth

He said what we are all thinking. There are too many living off the working people.If that is offensive,too bad,its the truth. These people (of many different races) are draining my retirement money out of the system now, so that i will get nothing after being robbed from my pay stub every week. Where in the constitution does it give the government the right to remove money from my paycheck, and give it to someone else,it doesn't...

JUDY MEYER's picture

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution

Hi Dan,
As frustrating as it is for many people, the Constitution actually does give government the right to remove money from your paycheck and give it to someone else.
Article I, Section 8 reads, in part: "The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States." The phrase "general welfare" means the health and well-being of the American people, so Congress can impose taxes and use those funds to pay for social services. That doesn't diminish your opinion that perhaps government is taking too much, but it's lawful for Congress to do so.

Mike Lachance's picture

RE: Robert Reed's Point - in context

Since the United States is specifically made up of the States themselves, this clause applies to the States as a whole and not the People.

“With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
– James Madison, Letter to James Robertson April 20, 1831

“If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress…. Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.”
– James Madison, Letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792

“[We] disavow and declare to be most false and unfounded, the doctrine that the compact, in authorizing its federal branch to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, has given them thereby a power to do whatever they may think or pretend would promote the general welfare, which construction would make that, of itself, a complete government, without limitation of powers; but that the plain sense and obvious meaning were, that they might levy the taxes necessary to provide for the general welfare by the various acts of power therein specified and delegated to them, and by no others.”
–Thomas Jefferson: Declaration and Protest of Virginia, 1825

Mike Lachance's picture

Well, seeing as how Madison

Well, seeing as how Madison was a signer to the Constitution, we DO know what HE meant, and his contemporary Thos. Jefferson. Congress as a body was composed of many, but it is noted in the Constitution that powers not EXPRESSLY given to the Fed are reserved for the states. With Madison's and Jefferson's warnings we get a real, historical context with regards to what the framers ACTUALLY meant and what they didnt. These arnt interpretations by third parties, they are actual definitions by those who wrote the Constitution.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Mike Lachance' History Lesson

Thanks Mike! Very educational.

Dan Beggs's picture

general welfare

the phrase appears in the preamble or introduction to the actual constitutional powers. the liberals have morphed it into becoming a "power" instead of what it actually is, a inaccurate interpretation

Mike Lachance's picture

That may be true for the

That may be true for the Federal Govt, but Maine State Constition says nothing of the sort.
We, the citizens of Maine have the ability to abolish all STATE welfare, assistance and/or other social services programs if we choose to through our elected officials or direct vote.

Article 1. Section 22. Taxes. No tax or duty shall be imposed without the consent of the people or of their representatives in the Legislature.

JUDY MEYER's picture

Feds and state

I agreed that we certainly do have a choice in what we fund locally, which is what makes our votes in selecting state reps so important because they hold our purse strings. But, I was responding to a post that suggested the Constitution didn't empower government to take money from our paychecks and give it to someone else, and it does. The Feds take plenty from our paychecks, between income tax and FICA, and use that money to fund federal social service programs, like refugee resettlement programs, disability and the like. Then, of course, the state takes its share from our paychecks too, to fund additional programs and to pay the state's share of federally-mandated programs, such as MaineCare.

Mike Lachance's picture

Refugee's are not citizens,

Refugee's are not citizens, nor are they immigrants. The legal obligation of assuming fiscal indebtedness toward the general welfare of refugee's from other nations is nowhere to be found in the Constituion.

Refugee's do not even fall under the category of "immigrants".

 's picture

Enough with political correctness!

Finally someone comes out and says it like it is. If you are living in Maine because the free ride is easy, go away. That goes for everyone that came here during the 70's recession when the Feds handed Lewiston construction dollars to build housing. Everyone moved here for a "better way of life." Well, they brought their baggage with them and slowly chipped away at our "better way of life." The same thing happened in the early 80's when the economy struggled. The feds handed out money for anyone willing to build more housing to take in the needy "looking for a better way of life. Has anyone tracked all of the dollars spent for social services across this time span? I am not just talking about the money budgeted for this line item. I am also talking about the money, normally budgeted for something else that gets transferred after the fact, to pay for these social services costs.
I get tired of hearing all of the democratic whining about those doing well not paying their fair share. To me fair share is paying for what you use. Just like going into a store, if you buy something you pay for it. Fair share isn't a penalty for making good decisions, working hard and wanting to EARN a better way of life.

Randall Pond's picture

Macdonald apologizes for election-night comments

I'm sorry It's Time to Ask the Somialian Community to Stop Their Whining about everything Said against them Or, They Need to move out of Maine.


We Didn't ask you come here, You Chose to! You don't like it, you're Free To Move anytime, and I'm sure there are Plenty of Lewiston Residents that will help you MOVE Gladly! Get OVER YOURSELVES PEOPLE AND STOP PLAYING THE IMMIGRANT CARD! AND GOD DAMN RACE CARD!

You Didn't hear the Canadians doing that. Why Should you?

There are Rules and Laws in The United States you People need to follow and if you can't follow Maine's Rules and Lewiston's Rules, THEN GET THE HELL OUT OF OUR CITY AND OUR STATE!

It's Hell High Time these people and All People were told if you cannot obey the rules of the area and the laws you can leave gladly.

Mike Lachance's picture

Randall, while I might agree

Randall, while I might agree with you, the language of your post would compell me to ban you from these forums altogether. (I have no authority to do that) Watch your FOUL mouth please. It has no place here.

 's picture

Angry much?

I'm sure these kinds of comments are great for your business.

Randall Pond's picture

Guess What I Don't live in

Guess What I Don't live in Maine anymore Nor is my Business there.

I tried for over 2 years to get help from the State and the Local Government to move my business out of my home into a Retail location.

If I was a foreigner or a parent with children I could have gotten help but, I couldn't do the BS Rules this State has in place.

 's picture

sounds like there is a lot of

sounds like there is a lot of animosity however misguided views and misunderstandings-fault not new mainers.

 's picture

The comments made by Randall

The comments made by Randall and Wilma are exactly why this conversation needs to be brought out on a larger scale. Until that is done, the Somali community won't feel comfortable in Lewiston.

Actually Randall.. the Canadians that came to town did indeed have plenty of issues about how they were treated by the prior citizens of Lewiston. The community here was in fact pretty prejudiced towards them and much like the Somali community, they kept to themselves for decades before being a part of the greater community. One reason for that was because they pretty much became the greater community and the majority of the city.

The way you talk emits a prejudiced tone. Talk respectfully and then maybe you'll deserve to be taken seriously. If there's anyone I see whining, it's you.

 's picture

About time

Kudos to you. Its about time someone came out in plain English and said it like it is. We have been turning the other cheek for the last 10 yrs and we are slowly being taken over and it will come back to bite us in the backsides if it continues. We ain't suppose to say anything about other races or we are racist but they can run down our way of life, our religions and we are expected to change so its more "like home to them" Isn't that why you left to have the freedom of speech, that I must say is taken to the extreme? You came to our country, our rules, our laws. Accept it or leave. You are free to practice your religion but don't expect us to give up ours. Which I might add the powers to be in this country are bending over backwards to take away to make you more comfortable. That would not be happening if we went to another country believe me nor would I expect it to. These people migrant to certain areas and there has to be a pretty good reason. Other religions are offended by our manger in the town square. I don't have a clue as to why thats offensive. We aren't asking you to change yours. As far as I am concerned the Jewish people can put a Mennorahh in the square for their holiday and I am not offended at all by that and whatever holy holiday other religions celebrate. I will never stop saying MERRY CHRISTMAS and if your offended by that TO BAD. These stores that tried not saying it and making their employees say Happy Holidays instead I would like to ask just what holiday do you think it is and if not for that HOLIDAY you would find your sales very low. You go to work here you don't get 5 mins. every hour to go pray or a special room to do it in. Feel free to say a prayer to yourself while you work like we do. I think we have gone overboard to make you feel welcome here to the expense of some of our own and its time for that to stop. Stop playing the race card or maybe we should stop the "FREE CARD" I don't have one and have lived here all my life, worked and obeyed the laws. There is one flag here. Respect it or get the hell out. We have let this go on to long and its time to stop. Instead of throwing and calling names when Santa comes to town why don't you just stay home and not watch?

Jason Theriault's picture

A few things

One - You ask that they respect your religious beliefs, yet you then mock their religion with the comment "You go to work here you don't get 5 mins. every hour to go pray or a special room to do it in.".

Two - You say that you will always say "Merry Christmas" because that is what you believe. Yet, you get ticked that people say "Happy Holidays". You know there are more than 10 holidays in December, both religious and secular. Again, it's about respect. You can't expect people to respect your beliefs when you won't respect theirs.

Three - Man, have you missed the boat on what Christmas is about. "War on Christmas"? Why must everything be a war? Maybe if you chilled out, and instead of focusing on how everyone is out to get you, focus on spreading cheer and love, you wouldn't notice people saying Happy Holidays. Instead, you would see the happiness your efforts brought.

 's picture


Apparently you live under a rock or an illusion and don't get out in public very often. I am not saying there aren't good ones but they should be rising up and talking to their own bad apples. For your information sir some of them came to look for work where I worked and they wanted 5 mins. an hour to go and pray. They can do what they want in their country but thats not the way it is here and when they wanted a room at the high school set aside to go do their praying while we got kids going to class in trailers that is a bit extreme. I never got ticked at anyone saying Happy Holidays as I would say it myself to someone meaning to include New Years Day as well but when they starting telling us that we shouldn't say Merry Christmas anymore then that is going to far. If you went to their country do you think they would change things for you and give you an account to draw from at no expense to you? I think not and when they don't have enough money on the card to pay for everything they pitch a royal fit and are told to just never mind and leave. You try it and don't tell me I don't know what I am talking about. Get out from under your rock and into the real L/A. They all drive better cars then I ever had, all got cellphones and some not all are rude and ignorant to the shopping public.

Jason Theriault's picture

A few more things:

Well, I can't comment on what the people who applied where you work were asking for, but the standard times for prayer in Islam are at 5 times during the day.

And I give the Somalis a break for one big reason, something you pointed out. " If you went to their country do you think they would change things for you and give you an account to draw from at no expense to you?"
Nope. They would summarily execute me infront of my children. They would then rape my wife, mutilate her, and leave her and my kids to die slowly. The world they grew up in did not prepare them for life in America. It will take at least a generation before they start to assimilate. Just think of early America and the large cities, with Chinatowns, Little Italy, or even Little Canada(a bit more local). It takes time for them to become Somali-Americans and eventually Americans.

And did you ever stop to think the ones driving better cars than you might have bought them without state help?

(Patty, sorry if this crossed a line.)

Randall Pond's picture

removing thread

Remove it all you, Patty. I really don't Care. I have my Right to say what I want, and if you and the Sun-Journal don't like what I say and you want to protect The REAL Truth about the Somalians GO FOR IT!

They are Rude, and want everything THEIR WAY! Like the Sign says when you Enter Maine. "Welcome to Maine. The Way Life Should Be" It should say under it not the way you want it to be.

No one's forcing them to say in Maine or in Lewiston for that fact.

But, if they are going to live here in Maine then Follow OUR RULES, AND OUR LAWS, And STOP Saying it's Against them or their Religion, which is bunch of BS!

You don't see the Catholics or any other Religious Group doing this. Why should they?

Mike Lachance's picture

Randall, while some here may

Randall, while some here may agree with you, in the most basic terms, you really SHOULD mellow JUST a bit. The Somali issue is complex, and while you may have alot of completely valid points, they are lost in the vitriole. We dont need that kind of fury here. The last thing *I* want is this tread closed, because there is alot of healthy back and forth here. Closing it down doesnt help solve the problems you are so angry about. Keep it cvil and the dialog can continue.

And if you really dont live in Maine, then you should at least respect those of us who DO and who are trying to open the lines of communication in OUR community. We cant talk if loudmouths from out of state drop bombs on the dialog.

Thanks for understanding.

 's picture

You wrote higher up in this thread that

you don't live in Maine anymore. Move on. We don't need any more anger here. There's plenty. You don't need it either. It will only do you harm.

 's picture

I don't know how you expect

I don't know how you expect to be taken seriously, Mr. Pond.

 's picture

look whose laughing at us

look whose laughing at us now? shame-i am so shamed.

Mike Lachance's picture

Who's laughing, (who?) and at

Who's laughing, (who?) and at whom?

 's picture

The first 23 minutes or so,

The first 23 minutes or so, Bob Macdonald showed us that he is a very capable face for the city of Lewiston. I'm glad he changed his tone, and my guess is the meeting he had last night changed whatever announcement he had for today. The reporter was right to grill him on what he said the other day, and while not many will believe this entire time the way the Paradis campaign was going to pay was because they'd have to respond to how they mischaracterized him after he changed his tone today, he did what he had to do. He apologized and he wants to move on. That's good to hear.

Now, as for the last 6 or 7 minutes... whether he likes it or not, he needs to go on damage control. He may not believe he said anything to legitimately offend the Somali community.. that his words were twisted by the media or his opponents to look like something he didn't say. I saw the debates, I saw things he said.. and while he wasn't blatant, he said things that could easily be taken as a negative statement about the Somali community. The first example that pops into my head was one of the debates where he stated (and I am not quoting verbatim but based on memory) that he liked a lot of the women in the community. Well, it's pretty obvious that this could be taken as implying that he doesn't have very high thoughts about the males in the Somali community. Shortly after saying that, he threw out Zamzam Mohammad's name, which he did again today. It feels like he's using Zamzam as his token Somali. The bottom line, though, is he has offended many in the Somali community. And the Somali community is too important for the future of our city to dismiss their thoughts whether he thinks they are legit or not. I hope he does more to engage himself with the Somali community, listen very carefully to their concerns, and start a very respectful conversation in this city about its divisions.

Overall, I liked what I saw. If what we saw today is the Bob Macdonald we will have as our mayor, the city has nothing to fear. We've seen a Bob Macdonald that would give us reason to fear, and we've seen one that we should be encouraged by. Which one will we get? Time will tell, but I try my best to be optimistic.

 's picture

Shane... Well reasoned comment

Shane, Bob is a long friend of Sue and I. I think you know us well enough to know that if Bob was the racist ogre that the media and certain facebook people claim he is, we would have never befriended him and remained close friends for nearly 20 years now.

Bob will be attacked for the next two years, those of us that are friends understand this. Whatever he does will be attacked. We talked for quite a while about that press conference yesterday, and we felt that it was best for Bob to face the media and apologize for his outburst. Bob was not at all reluctant to agree and I thought he made a strong effort to set a different tone.

Apparently, that was not good enough for some. At some point, we just have to move on and discharge the duties of mayor. And everyone, everyone, needs to be honest with all of us and become contributing members of the Lewiston community. The time for baiting and petty insults is past.

 's picture

This is a legitimate critique

If he's going to do a presser, he needs to write a speech and work on delivery. Get someone to help him out with this. The mayor is the mouthpiece of Lewiston. You have to admit, he's not good off the cuff. Like you've said about others, he doesn't have executive experience. Or public speaking. He needs to get good fast, if he's going to be effective. Soon he'll be on TV running meetings using Robert's rules. Is he ready? He doesn't want Lewiston to be laughed at anymore. Well neither do I. Lots of people were laughing this week. I didn't think it was funny. I thought it was weak and amateurish. Make sure he's ready for what lies ahead.

 's picture

Good Points

This was a tough week. A lot of emotion. Definitely some homework to do.

 's picture

There are too many people

There are too many people that make up their minds about someone and will always refuse to alter that no matter what happens. If people are attacking him for what he may NOT have said at yesterday's press conference, they need to look at the big picture. I didn't see anything inflammatory, and I saw what I thought was a genuine desire to start anew. I don't think people are wrong to ask for him to change the way he has talked about the immigrant population up to this point. The things he says are not inflammatory, it's usually how he says them that it could be very easily taken in a way he doesn't intend. That isn't asking him to change his opinion, but how he goes about talking about it. The "welfare population" or "these people" aren't the problem.. the problem is government and its welfare programs. Attack the source, not the result.

Mark Elliott's picture

Bob, our liberal opponents

Bob, our liberal opponents will continue to demand apologies and explanations for every little thing we do in an effort to distract the public. However, they will never, ever accept our explanations or apologies as we would theirs.......but you know this already.

 's picture

Why does everything have to

Why does everything have to be Liberal vs. Conservatives or Democrats vs. Republicans. What ever happened to just referring to eachother as Americans?

Mark Elliott's picture

Liberalism and conservatism

Liberalism and conservatism are ideologies and those that embrace them generally live their lives around them even if they don't realize it. Your question, although a good one, is much like asking: Why does everything have to be Christian or Jewish? Why can we all just be "believers"?

Being a republican or democrat is simply a designation anyone can choose, even if they don't follow the same ideologies. They can fake it. True conservatism or liberalism comes from the heart and mind and can not be faked.

Mike Lachance's picture

Because the result is that

Because the result is that the liberals are then allowed to push a liberal agenda and the conservatives are called rascist, bigots, etc etc. This is the way its been for decades. The classic double standard. Liberals flying under the radar moving their agenda along under the cloak of "labels dont matter"... Look at Larry Gilbert. If not for his run-off-at-the-mouth (pen) long winded diatribes in TCT I'd have no idea where he stood on the issues. Thats pretty bad when we dont know what our own mayor believes politically. Thanks to TCT Larry exposed himself and alot of folks saw who he was and what he stood for.

So, Left, right, Liberal, Conservative, Democrat, Republican.... it ALL is VERY important when it comes to politics. You cant take the Politics out of Politics.


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