John DiCentes: The Chinese Initiative

November 30, 2011 -- The last week of November of 2010, retired mill worker and ex-candidate for town council John DiCentes stopped by my house for coffee. We had the chance to talk about some of the things that were going on with the school department, some of which have people in Millinocket not too happy.

First and foremost, he wanted to talk about the new school superintendent's trip to China to "scout" around with the idea of bringing students from China to Millinocket, Maine. The problem is that none of the taxpayers of Millinocket had heard anything about this plan until the superintendent skee-daddled over there.

John also talked about the fact that half the town's tax monies go to the school as it is, and his feeling that taxpayers and voters should have a say in what that money goes to. Using the recent past purchases of a tractor and backhoe and a $72,000 telephone system, both bought without prior approval from the Town Council in violation of the town charter, as well as maintenance on the Togue Pond camp the school owns, and the fact that we still have two school buildings housing fewer students than either building holds, John makes the point that the town is buying champagne while the rest of the country -- and certainly the state -- is drinking water.

Though this is a local issue, it is playing out across Maine in several different communities now that the economy is crashing, as municipalities thrash about desperately, trying to find a way to stay afloat and looking to China to help them out.

Listen to the interview here:

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