By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Lewiston Maine Mayor Robert Macdonald advocated enacting a state law that would require welfare recipients’ “names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected” be enumerated on a state website that is made accessible to the general public. Mayor Macdonald claims that because recipients of public pensions, they are government employees, that if this information is public record then the people have a right to know where the money is being spent on welfare recipients.
It is rather difficult in reading the mayor’s letter to the editor of the Twin City Times to accept his notion that his actions are in the public’s interest to see where tax dollars are paid, when he simultaneously makes many references disparaging recipients and those who advocate their plight. Yet, he claims to support privacy rights in other respects.
Here is an excerpt of the mayor’s letter as it appears in the Twin City Times.
Enough is Enough: Mainers have a right to know how their money is spent
September 24, 2015 | Author editor
By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
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 are run.
A person’s medical records, financial statements and other personal information should be blocked from busybodies who seek it out of curiosity. This type of information should remain protected.
Recently, a friend asked if it would be possible to locate a gentleman he had known for many years and was now terminally ill. He sought to contact the man with the hope of providing him help and comfort in his final days. I called an organization I felt could locate the man.
I was told, correctly, that they could not give out that information. I asked if I left my friend’s name and number, could it be passed along to the person if, in fact, they knew him. I was told, again correctly, this would not be possible.
I bring this to the reader’s attention in an attempt not only to show the foolishness of these laws, but the fear they strike into the average law-abiding citizen.
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.
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? (A rhetorical question).
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. 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.
From the beginning the mayor’s arguments break down. He claims that medical information should remain protected from “busybodies who seek it out of curiosity” but then goes on to preach that every welfare recipient’s information should be made available to these same busybodies he claim are interested otherwise in health records. He does not seem to recognize that income information in general is not a public record for individual citizens, and there are numerous federal and state laws that consider public assistance as a form of income on par with that received from wages or investments. In fact, it is a violation of fair credit laws to deny a loan or extension of credit because a person’s income is derived, or partially derived, from public assistance. Individual incomes of private citizens is not a public record, yet Mayor Macdonald proposes that a certain classification of income must be divorced from the privacy rights of other forms of income. And, when coupled with his political, partisan rants it seems clear that he believes recipients of welfare benefits have a lesser expectation of privacy due to their economic status.
In an attempt to justify the publication of this private data, he makes a false comparison with those in public employment. Public employees’ wages and benefits are subject to public disclosure laws on account of their employment with the state. In fact, on a state level all public spending is subject to disclosure. One of the original reasons for this is that there have been incidents of corruption where public employees were given compensation that amounted to unlawful enrichment. In the case for welfare recipients the amounts spent for the various benefits are made in aggregate, without reference in to individual recipients, with the intent on maintaining privacy.
When balancing the need for disclosure versus individual privacy it is hard to advocate a legitimate government need to expose the privacy rights of individuals.
In another disingenuous aspect of Mayor Macdonald’s position is that he believes, correctly, that medical information should remain private but the logic he involves is that many individual expenses for medical treatment are paid to those on public assistance. He demands a granular accounting for expenses paid by taxpayers but many of the benefits paid on behalf of public assistance are in the form of medical expenses. Should those also be made a public record?
Moreover the presence of this information prevents individuals in totality from having privacy with respect to their income and where they reside. This information can be used to harm individuals on Macdoald’s List.
Many recipients of assistance have been victims of domestic violence or other situations where their location may be used by those wishing harm to locate them and commit crimes. We have also seen where states, in a similar analogue, published the names and residences of those having Concealed Pistol Licenses in an effort to exert what can only be described as a measure to deter individuals from having these permits. The listing lead to several burglaries where felons now knew the residence of each CPL holder, who likely owned a firearm, and thus created an efficient means to steal their property.
A lesser effect would be a means for which potential creditors, and landlords could bypass restrictions on discovery of income sources by referencing these lists when considering extending credit or residency to the recipients.
Mayor Macdonald needs to educate himself on the importance of maintaining equal protection of all citizens and not as a means to attack a demographic of individuals whom he believes are deserving of shaming. His actions are also another example of politicians taking away rights at any opportunity they see fit, especially in a failed attempt to benefit them politically.
By Darren Smith
Source: Twin City Times
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.
81 thoughts on “Mayor Proposes Law Requiring Identities Of Welfare Recipients Be Made Public On State Website”
I love football. The NFL takes in 10 billion dollars a year. Let the league and the owners pay for the stadiums. I’ve always felt this way. There are people on the other end of the economic spectrum who refuse to get off. If there are laws that will not allow the names of welfare recipients to be made public, then maybe these laws should be addressed. There are too many running to the tax payers for assistance. The culture we are cultivating is not a good one. Your neighbor does not owe you a living, nor does he owe you a football stadium.
What a meanspirited and uncaring mayor this man is and he should be recalled
jomo – gay rights groups have asked for and gotten the names of the signators on petitions against gay marriage. What is the difference? Now every person who is on the public teat will be exposed to the public. Sunlight brings a new world.
Government should be transparent in how it spends its money. The best way to prevent fraud is to show the details of where the money goes. Government transparency trumps all privacy concerns. Nothing the government does in terms of welfare for its citizens should be private. My comments apply to medical as well. If someone poor wants privacy, there are plenty of private charities that help the poor. Let them go there for help, or let them provide for themselves.
“Mayor Macdonald needs to educate himself on the importance of maintaining equal protection of all citizens and not as a means to attack a demographic of individuals whom he believes are deserving of shaming.”
You and JT should take this advice before giving it out…. The “principles” on here amount to little more than a train wreck.
The “Ruling Class” is comprised of Dumbocrats and Rinopublicans.
They are the samediffernce and there is no samedifference.
I always have been enamored of the Supreme Court. I copied the SCOTUS when it cavalierly comingled the defintions of “state” and “federal.”
So I just comingled same and difference. I must admit my plagiarism and use of literary license. Too bad the SCOTUS doesn’t.
Anyway, the Dumbocrats and Rinopublicans, floated the dollar, printed the dollar, “stimulated” the “economy” and bailed out Wall Street and General Motors.
Both acts were antithetical and unconstitutional.
Some of those disingenuous types on this thread act as if conservatives are to blame for violations of the Constitution when it’s the collectivist, bleeding-heart liberals of both parties, the Dumbocrats and the Rinopublicans. The culprits are the Bushes, Clintons and Obamas.
If there were a conservative party in America, the Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights, literally, would prevail and the Supreme Court would be impeached and convicted for nullification, subversion and treason.
The right to Private Property, for example, would preclude redistribution of wealth and completely eliminate the welfare state.
The Dem playbook of whining about why they are going to be gutted in the 2016 election has already started. DEMS are the vote fraud experts and CHICAGO is their Mecca. I hope 700 people don’t get trampled to death as they haj to vote 3 times each.
You are still too far off to one side. That was not remotely my point. I intended and remain stuck to the concept of taking the best of both sides. There is a need for coordinated government, management, and labor. It is not about one or the other. That mentality has proven constantly to be that of a loser.
“Think evolution and compare the systems of the past and what we have today and imagine how much better it could be.”
I believe there is hope for you yet. You are absolutely right; we should remember the days before progressives began destroying our sacred institutions and evolve out of this regressive quagmire to better, limited government days.
I probably shouldn’t make you aware of this but every once in awhile isaac, you manage to free your mind and allow your limited-government conservative side to flourish. Not often mind you but it is certainly refreshing to see. Great point you made there and I could not of asked for a better person to make it for us.
Paul, If a communication device were issued during the Reagan years it would have been a beeper. I worked for a law firm in Chicago during the Reagan years. I had a beeper. My very wise secretary told me to not give the number to anyone. If someone needed me they were to call her and she would beep me. She screened and did not beep me unless really needed. This secretary was a key to my being able to focus on cases and not be answering calls w/ needless questions all the time.
Perhaps a combination of the ‘everyman’ vote and the educated and cognizant man vote is the answer. The root of the problem lies in the money ‘engine’ behind elections. If all political donations were restricted to a maximum of $100 per person and were prohibited coming from any sort of groups: unions, corporations, etc., then the candidates would either become even more Trump like or perhaps intelligent, focusing on the issues. The first round could be elected by the masses and the second round chosen by selection via various groups representing the business interests, union interests, and education interests. Then the final choice could be elected by the masses, but with absolutely no money other than equal amounts paid for by the taxpayers. If you paid taxes you might be more inclined to participate but in no instance could money sway the outcome.
The bottom line is that there are a multitude of better ways to run this country but the grand impediment is the religious adherence to the American myth of its origin. Think Islam/origin, think Judaism/origin, think Christianity/origin. Think evolution and compare the systems of the past and what we have today and imagine how much better it could be.
If you want to find out where the real voter fraud is going on, follow the statistician in Kansas who is suing to get the paper trail to sort out all the, ahem, “anomalies” in the Kansas elections.
This is gonna be good. And watch Wisconsin after that. Hoo boy! It’s going to be worse than the sh*tshow we had in Ohio that made Rove have that guy killed. Stay tuned patriots.
phillyT – btw. the laugh is on you. 🙂
I love it when people call the Reagan phones Obamaphones.
Thanks for the laugh.
phillyT – Obama calls them Obama phones, why shouldn’t everyone else?
On both a micro and macro level, when unemployment occurs, suddenly and mysteriously disability goes up. I have dealt w/ the micro level for decades. A person gets fired from a job. A few weeks later, the company gets a claim on their worker’s comp policy that the fired employee has an occupational back injury making them permanently disabled. Occupational back injury means that over years, the wear and tear on the back has caused permanent damage. The disability attorney send the “disabled” person to his doctor, physical therapist, shrink, etc. The claim stinks, the insurance company hires me, I videotape them engaged in activities they say they can’t do. Thousands of cases like this over decades.
On the macro level, we have seen, as honesty erodes and laziness increases, that when there is a recession, disability claims go up. However, every decade, the % of “disability” claims gets higher and higher. This past recession something happened that most folks don’t know. The Obama Administration loosened the strings on SS disability. And, now while we’re seeing unemployment percentages go down, many have not returned to work. They’re on the dole. The Obama Administration is raiding the retirement trust fund to pay the incredibly high “disability” claims. When you got someone on the dole, how do you think they vote??
Ben Franklin, we gave you “…a republic, if you can keep it.”
Ben Franklin established a restricted-vote republic, wherein a voter must have been a European, male, 21 with 50lbs Sterling/50 acres. The Founders expected that criteria would be applied to the vote. The Founders feared a vote of the working masses and rejected a one man, one vote “democracy.” Tytler revealed the flaw.
Alexander Fraser Tytler –
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy–to be followed by a dictatorship.”
Collectivist, socialist, progressive, liberal democrats have diluted and diminished the vote of Americans. They have manipulated the vote by various means, including illegal and swift, unrestricted mass immigration.
Freedom and free enterprise made America great.
Incentive and innovation generate abundance and affluence.
No one was ever hired by a poor person.
Communists redistribute poverty in the end.
Diversity never created any wealth.
“Diworseification” was the term coined by Peter Lynch.
Which FORM of welfare is he referring to?
Affirmative Action (Matriculation)
Affirmative Action (Employment)
Unemployment Benefit Extensions
“Civil Rights” (Various/Superior Rights)
“Fair Housing” (Unfair to Property Owners)
Laws Against Strike Replacement Hiring
Unionization of Governmental Workers
Student Loan “Forgiveness”
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