Thanks to Mary C. Mayhew, Maine’s health and human services commissioner, for her recent commentary in your paper on General Assistance in Portland, Lewiston-Auburn and Bangor: “Mary Mayhew: Portland’s General Assistance spending is out of whack” (Feb. 21).

As longtime Portland taxpayers, we feel that growing welfare rolls are out of control and that our mayor is clearly out of touch with reality in his quest to be a “progressive” leader. What possible good does it do to mislead recipients into a belief that government handouts are a way of life? This disrespect for their true value as individuals is hardly progressive.

Here’s a novel idea: First, let’s send out the message that we’re full here in Portland, then let’s simply requalify all current General Assistance recipients and applicants and wean out the obviously fraudulent.

Now for the hard part: providing better education and more jobs that are sustainable.

Yes, this will take time, but what better form of “progressive leadership” should we ask of our mayor? This “cart before the horse” form of government that we have in Portland has to stop.

Ron and Deb Smalley

Portland