Cancelled: Mayors, Lawmakers Dine in Luxury While Plotting Sales Tax Hikes

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Scallop Cancelled
UPDATE: Saco Mayor Mark D. Johnston on Monday confirmed for The Maine Wire that the bacon-wrapped scallop banquet originally scheduled for Feb. 28 at the University of New England has been cancelled. Johnston said the decision was made for a number of reasons — none of which included the publication of this story. He said Maine’s mayors and lawmakers will likely gather at some point in the future to discuss Gov. LePage’s budget. Johnston declined to comment on that meeting’s menu. 

State legislators will join the Maine Mayors Coalition Feb. 28 at the University of New England (UNE) in Biddeford to dine on bacon-wrapped scallops and beef tenderloin—courtesy of Biddeford and Saco taxpayers—as they discuss ways to expand Maine’s sales tax.

According to documents obtained by The Maine Wire, the mayors of Saco and Biddeford have agreed to pay nearly $2,000 to UNE for catering services including a bar tender, peppered beef tenderloin, chicken satay and scallops wrapped in bacon.

The event will feature guest speakers Dr. Charles Colgan, a professor at the Muskie Institute, and John F. Piotti, executive director of Maine Farmland Trust and former Democratic representative of Unity.

Saco Mayor Mark D. Johnston said members of the Maine Mayors Coalition and several state legislators have been invited to the event which will focus on ways to raise revenue without cutting revenue-sharing including expanding the State’s sales tax and eliminating exemptions.

Given that it was Piotti who sponsored a 2009 bill to expand the sales tax, his presence at the meeting as a guest speaker signals that the group will be retreading an idea voters already rejected by a 60-40 margin via a 2010 people’s veto.

Johnston said the cost of the banquet will be covered by the mayors’ discretionary spending accounts.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant could not be reached for comment.

Lori Souliere, property taxpayer and co-owner of Alberts Garage in Biddeford, was shocked at her mayor’s decision to use taxpayer money to pay for the event.

“I had no idea this was going on,” said Souliere. “I’m speechless.”

“It’s absurd,” said Andrew Clark, owner of Saco-based RestEZ Contractors.

“It’s completely absurd to be spending taxpayer money on something like this while complaining about budget cuts,” said Clark.

By S.E. Robinson

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1 COMMENT

  1. My husband is a Senator who is often invited to different events where meals are served….he does not go for the meal…he would go if it was Diet Pepsi and a bag of chips…he goes to hear the speakers and talk to people to get different ideas and learn more about what he needs to so please don’t blame the house reps or Senators who may attend…they do not decide the menu….

  2. What have Augusta Democrats been saying all along? They want to raise taxes on an already overtaxed state. It’s their failed policies that have the state in the fiscal mess it’s in, and they just want to keep bleeding us.
    if my Town Manager tried to pull a stunt like this, he’d have some explaining to do!

  3. Wow — it would be difficult to write such as low quality news story. The big story is the menu. Quotes from uninformed random people. No quotes from people who are organizing the event. Basically, I want people working together — maybe this meeting will help.

  4. They could juxtapose this story with one in which GOP legislators feast at the table of ALEC and drink the Koolaid to boot. Then those same “representatives” bring rotten ideas home to Maine and inflict corporate America’s lousy legislation on this state. Who do all this dinks really represent ?

  5. David Flood – have you read the PPH lately? In comparison, this “Maine Wire” article deserves a Pulitzer.

    The PPH doesn’t even bother to disclose their owners’ involvement with stories about the recent state deal on Crescent Beach in Scarborough. There’s some “detail” we could have used.

  6. Here’s an idea – invite the Maine Mayor’s Coalition to Saco or Biddeford city hall, where they can bring their own lunch and discuss more ways to tax over-burdened Maine property owners. Saco and Biddeford can supply the “free” coffee and some paper cups.

    Taxpayers just saved at least $2,000. Easy-peasy.

  7. Clearly, it’s time to either yank the Mayors’ Discretionary Funds, or ensure a detailed, line-by-line disclosure of the expenditures, at least twice a year.

    If they want fancy vittles, they can pay the tab, themselves.

  8. The MHPC’s own event invitations – I’m pretty sure $20 doesn’t cover dinner and gratuities (does MHPC give tips?) at DeMillo’s – look very similar and Maine citizens don’t know where *they* get their money because they refuse to say.

  9. Nancy – as usual, your analogy is bogus.

    Maine Mayor’s Coaltion Shindig = Financed with Public Money.

    MHPC Luncheons and Events = Financed with PRIVATE Money.

    See the difference? I know you can.

  10. I really think the taxpayers are sick and tired of all the talk about how to creatively increase taxes on those that are already overtaxed. Let’s have a real discussion about reducing spending. Legislators like to say that their hands are tied when any suggestion of reducing spending is brought up, but their hands certainly are not tied when they are reaching in our pockets!

  11. @[771292349:2048:Dirigo Blue]
    How’s that blog you are doing with 20 hits a month? Oh, that’s right, it’s GONE. The only way you could drive traffic to it was to post YOUR link on The Maine Wire. LOL

  12. I have never regretted selling our property and moving to a state where there is no income tax and schools are under the county’s jurisdiction. Go Florida!

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