by Sam Pelletier
Let me first clarify the situation as I write this. Firstly, the Portland City Council voted to extend general assistance to asylum seekers over the next year, out of Portland’s own coffers, regardless of whether the state reimburses the queen city. This year’s state budget doesn’t reimburse.
The good news is that an amendment extending the funding for twenty-four months has overwhelmingly passed the republican controlled Maine Senate, and cleared the statehouse with 81 votes. The bad news is that the Governor is going to veto it, and 81 isn’t enough to override. We need a few more moderate Republicans to see the light on this, because almost only counts in horseshoes, hand-grenades, and ranked choice voting.
I’m compelled to reach out to them through this medium because I grew up in central Maine, I think Dennis Miller is funny, and some of my best and oldest friends are Republicans.
If there’s one thing I know about conservatives it is this: they read the West End News. Every morning before cleaning their “travel gun” and writing separate-but-equal letters of disappointment to Justices Kennedy and Roberts, they check out our website to see what Maine’s urban hard-left has to say about bicycle lanes.
There’s a chance we can get more GOP legislators to follow the lead of Sen. Thibodeau, or as democrats call him: Maine’s next governor. I believe this because conservatives want Maine open for business, and pulling GA is bad for business. Even if you don’t care about the plight of the asylum-seekers, Portland’s concern for its own bottom line is enough of a reason to continue the funding, as our city government understood.
We sell tourism here, and we do it well by understanding our customers. Being crunchy, tolerant, and well versed in fair trade isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s fully necessary for us to pay our frustratingly high rents. The hippy-dippy angle is how New York throws down, and if New York doesn’t throw down next summer, that’s bad news for anyone who works in bars and restaurants.
The impact on atmosphere & reputation of throwing a thousand people on the street would cost Portland much more than a few million a year. You don’t save money by waiting to fix expensive problems. That’s also why the legislature should reimburse Portland for this out of self-interest.
The liberal part of Maine is also the rich part. This is the first thing I would tell anyone curious about our welfare dialog. The people demanding social services be cut are blue collar workers struggling in rural areas. Often times those advocating for assisting the poor are dammed comfortable, which is why their cries fall on deaf ears. Since this hypocrisy isn’t going away anytime soon, we might as well get something out of its upside, which is what season one Frank Underwood would do. What’s bad for this area is bad for Maine’s budget because a LOT of the money comes from right here.
Politically, this is Paul Lepage’s fight, and he’s not super popular right now. I’m not an expert on why they’re talking impeachment. Like most progressives, I have no idea what a charter school actually is, but people seem angry. Lepage finds himself in a position similar to season three Frank Underwood: he’s gotten exactly what he wanted job-wise, but he got there by letting everyone in town discover his true colors. Also his recent critic-murder jokes show he’s doing pretty much the same thing he did the last two years, only with less people appreciating it.
Even if Governor LePage wasn’t in hot water, his logic on GA is shaky. Yes, the limbo asylum seekers find themselves in is a creation of federal policy, but so is Medicaid. We have a social program here that actually costs a significant amount, the Feds are begging us to help with it, and the Governor’s response has been, and I believe I’m quoting here: buck Ofama and his commie money.
Lastly, y’all should fund GA because after drumming up the “illegal immigrants” rhetoric last fall, Republicans need as little attention on general assistance as possible. The recipients in question aren’t illegal immigrants. It was dumb to call them that then, and it’s dumb now. Shining a spotlight on that can only hurt you. The real leaders of your party have all figured this out by now. They got to be where they are by knowing how to get re-elected. It would be prudent to follow their lead.
Sam Pelletier performs comedy throughout New England, and hosts a weekly stand-up comedy night at b.good Portland on Mondays.