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Current Lewiston mayor Robert MacDonald makes a point during a mayoral candidate debate in 2011.
Russ Dillingham—AP

The mayor of a Maine city has proposed a statewide public database of people receiving state-funded public assistance, arguing that a list of people on welfare would inform taxpayers about what they’re paying for.

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald, a Republican, wrote Thursday in his regular newspaper column that he would be submitting a bill to the state legislature that would create such an online database. He argued that residents receiving public assistance have been turned into a “victimized, protected class” and are more shielded than other recipients of state benefits, such as pensioners.

“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,” Macdonald wrote. “After all, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent.”

Opponents criticized the mayor for trying to “name and shame” Maine welfare recipients. But Macdonald said people on welfare “flaunt it” when they use food stamps in supermarkets. “I’m not sorry,” he said. “I hope this makes people think twice about applying for welfare.”

[Portland Press Herald]

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