"The days of being quiet are gone," Robert Macdonald writes in a column in the Twin City Times. And what does the Republican mayor of Lewiston, Maine, want to break the silence on? People on welfare are "gaming the system," he tells the Portland Press Herald, spurring him to call for a bill that would see the launch of a website with the "names, addresses, length of time on assistance, and benefits" for "every individual on the dole. … The public has a right to know how its money is being spent." Macdonald—an ex-cop who had no prior political experience before he took office in 2011, the paper notes—also wants to limit welfare benefits in Maine to 60 months over a person's lifetime and to prohibit extra benefits for kids born after a person is accepted into the welfare program.
At fault for this "victimized, protected class" are "liberal, progressive legislators and their social-service allies," Macdonald writes in his column. It appears Macdonald's experience has influenced his perspective. "Go into a grocery store. They flaunt it," he tells the Press Herald. "I'm not sorry. I hope this makes people think twice about applying for welfare." Macdonald also hopes the website might spur neighbors to "make a call" and rat out those taking advantage of the program. An attorney for Maine's ACLU tells the Press Herald, "It's not clear to me what purpose this would serve other than to shame people." But Macdonald doesn't seem fazed by the possibility of hurt feelings. "I don't care," he tells the paper. "Some people are going to get harmed, but if it's for the good of everybody, that's the way it is." The Press Herald notes that Macdonald can't introduce such a bill on his own; he says he's talked to two lawmakers so far about sponsoring it. (A Michigan family lost its benefits because of a daughter's illness.)