This is in response to a letter (July 17) from Daniel DiPietro who was critical of my comments in a Sun Journal article (July 6) in which I criticized Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald for his claims made at a news conference about Lewiston’s efforts to end welfare fraud.

The press conference was a big show by Macdonald. He pointed to 84 people being kicked off the city’s general assistance, 50 of them accused of fraud. Police Chief Michael Bussiere said his department was pursuing 12 people, although the next day only six were actually charged.

Macdonald promised there would be more charges filed. He said: “Before the summer, it is going to be a much larger number.” That never happened.

Out of all that showmanship, one individual was convicted and ordered to do 40 hours of community service. That’s what he would have had to do to get general assistance in the first place.

It was a big bluff, political rhetoric, which resonated with DiPietro, who claimed that during my time as mayor, I didn’t remove anyone from general assistance. When I was mayor, we checked with the Republican Attorney General’s Office to see if it would prosecute a general assistance fraud case. They refused. Since it is a state-mandated program and since the A.G. refused, why should we expend municipal resources to prosecute? We chose to let the 120-day suspensions take effect, as we were doing all along.

Nothing has changed with general assistance from when I was mayor, other than weekly babble from Macdonald.

Laurent Gilbert Sr., Lewiston


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