- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Republican mayor of Lewiston, Maine, wants to publish the names of the state’s welfare recipients, arguing that it’s the public’s “right to know” how its money is being spent.

In a Thursday column for the Twin City Times, Mayor Robert Macdonald, who is up for reelection in November, wrote, “It’s time for a major overhaul of the many laws and policies dealing with confidentiality, laws that dictate how federal, state and local government[s] are run.

“In Maine there is a website that lists the pension amounts received by everyone who is issued a monthly check by the State of Maine. No privacy here because this is being paid out by the State; accordingly, taxpayers have a right to know,” he continued.

“Yet other recipients of state revenues are shielded. Yes, I am referring to those known as welfare recipients. Why are they treated differently than pensioners?” Mr. Macdonald asked. “The answer: our liberal, progressive legislators and their social-service allies have made them a victimized, protected class. It’s none of your business how much of your money they get and spend. Who are you to question it? Just shut up and pay!

“Well, the days of being quiet are gone,” he declared. “We will be submitting a bill to the next legislative session asking that a website be created containing the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected by every individual on the dole. After all, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent.”

Mr. Macdonald can’t submit a state bill himself, so he would need a state lawmaker to back the plan in the legislature, The Washington Post notes.

Asked about Thursday’s column, the mayor told the Portland Press Herald, “I’m not sorry. I hope this makes people think twice about applying for welfare.”

Mr. Macdonald said his plan might encourage neighbors to “make a call.”

“Then we can go after all these people who are gaming the system,” he said.

Asked if that might hurt people who he thinks are justified in receiving benefits, Mr. Macdonald told the Herald, “I don’t care. Some people are going to get harmed, but if it’s for the good of everybody, that’s the way it is.”

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