I am responding to Elliott Epstein’s column, “Merger decision deserves weighing of facts (June 26).”

In the column, Epstein arrogantly bemoans the fact that the Auburn mayor and city council have voted to cut off cooperation with the Lewiston-Auburn Joint Charter Commission’s crusade to merge the cities of Lewiston and Auburn.

There has been absolutely no public pressure, from either community, in favor of merging the two cities. To the contrary, this is an idea that has been discussed for many decades and has been repeatedly rejected — resoundingly — by the residents of both cities. Nevertheless, the JCC has spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on this ill-conceived idea. It is the brainchild of a small group of members of the Lewiston-Auburn Chamber of Commerce, led by Chip Morrison, Lucien Gosselin and Eugene Geiger.

Their attacks have become personal, to the point where Morrison has even called for a “recall” of the Auburn officials who dared not to go along with his pet project, as though Auburn’s already bare-bones budget, in which we have had to lay off city employees, can afford to waste further valuable resources on this hare-brained idea.

Auburn and Lewiston have worked very well together on many projects through the years, but they are two very separate and distinct communities. They have unique histories that have emerged over the course of more than two centuries. Many people in Auburn have concerns that the identity of the city will be lost to the larger population of Lewiston. The cities have developed different approaches through the years to issues such as education and welfare. I see no significant cost savings resulting from a merger.

The JCC has gone way beyond its mandate as defined by Maine law. It has improperly become an advocate for merger, in violation of statute.

As a member of the Auburn City Council, I am calling on the Joint Charter Commission to put this issue up for a vote this November during the presidential election, when there will be a high voter turnout on both sides of the river. Until recently the JCC was in favor of holding the vote this fall, but seems to be recently backing off that idea.

It is time to put an end to this crazy idea once and for all and focus our energies on more serious issues.

I am 100 percent Auburn.

Leroy Walker, Auburn city councilor


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