Someone once said, “Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.”

Well, I made some plans last December and if I’d listened more closely I probably would have heard at least a chuckle.

Almost a year ago to the day, I submitted my first biweekly column to Current Publishing for this and five other newspapers. My eight consecutive years as the senator from Windham and the Sebago Lake area had just come to an end because of term limits. John Balentine, editor of the Lakes Region Weekly invited me to become a regular guest columnist and I enthusiastically accepted his offer.

It had been nine months since my book, “The Evil and the Innocent,” was published and I truly missed the fun and challenge of writing. During the past 12 months of being a newspaper columnist, I fell in love with writing all over again. I discovered it was like creating something personal every two weeks and then offering it as a gift to thousands of people.

My plan was to continue writing these columns well into the future, and based on the several positive responses I’d received from the readers, I was convinced that my columns were being enjoyed. Now, out of the blue, those plans have changed.

Several people had been asking me during the past year if I would consider serving in the Maine Senate again. And, quite frankly, I knew there were many important issues that I still wanted to work on, such as the urgent and serious problem of sexual assaults on children. Frankly, more needs to be done to help children who are victims of these terrible crimes. Also, having chaired the legislative budget-writing committee a couple years ago, I’m confident I could help solve the current state budget problems. Basically speaking, as a senator I think I can help which means I have a responsibility to at least try.

Returning to the Senate would be the good news. The bad news is I can no longer be a regular columnist for these newspapers. Current Publishing’s policy does not allow candidates for public office to also be columnists for their newspapers. That’s a good policy and it makes sense. Therefore, since my candidacy will become official later this month, this will be my last column.

Writing the columns has been an adventure and an amazing personal experience. The most difficult part of the challenge was finding a topic every two weeks that was relevant and would be of interest to my readers. Once that was accomplished, the words would usually just come flowing out. Sometimes it seemed like my fingers were dancing on the keyboard, somehow capturing words that I didn’t even know were in my head.

Through the past year, I’ve written about many issues and hopefully I’ve provided an inside view of our government while delving into other topics along the way. Kind of like seeing how sausage is made – not pretty, but it’s the way it is. Some of this “sausage” still needs to be examined, such as why the local gasoline prices along Route 302 are always so much higher than prices just a few miles down the road.

And more needs to be exposed about the misleading nature of Maine’s “Clean Elections” practices – those legislative campaigns that are paid for with state taxpayer dollars with the admirable intent of keeping special interest influences out of politics. The reality is that some “clean” candidates also create Political Action Committees, thus allowing them to still accept the same special interest money, except it goes to their PACs instead of their campaigns. It’s the dirty little secret of taxpayer-funded campaign financing in Maine.

There’s more behind-the-scenes goings on that need continual exposure to public scrutiny. For example, the Department of Corrections’ proposal to build a renovated $100 million prison in Windham. Borrowing money for public projects is usually done through bonds that must ultimately be sent to the voters for their approval. However, that’s not the strategy with this project. Be diligent on this one because the “plan” is to get legislative approval and then have an in-house bonding authority borrow the money, thus avoiding public approval. Why? Because the bureaucrats speculate that voters would not approve borrowing $100 million for prison renovations. Stay tuned.

As I leave these pages I want to say it’s been a pleasure working with the Current Publishing staff, especially Jane Lord, who, without knowing it, taught me a lot with her expert editing, and John Balentine, whose sense of right and wrong has always been his core.

And mostly, thank you, the readers of my columns. You were the reason I wrote the 800-plus words every two weeks on our journey of exposing and questioning.

Now on to my next “plan” of campaigning and, hopefully. working for you in the Maine Senate. Oh, I did listen carefully this time.

Bill Diamond of Windham served as District 12’s senator from 2004-2012, and is also a former Maine secretary of state.


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