State Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough, recently contributed a Forecaster Forum encouraging moving the Maine Department of Health and Human Services office from Portland to South Portland. She framed the move as an act of “respect for taxpayers.” This proposal does not promote an inclusive community and overlooks the importance of social justice in policy development.
Sirocki claims moving the DHHS building will increase business opportunities in Portland. However, this economic growth would place the burden of change on the shoulders of people in need of stability and support. Ending poverty in any community on any level requires an approach that accounts for how the change will impact the most vulnerable citizens. Development that does not benefit marginalized citizens will lead to further income inequality and growing poverty. What Sirocki is saying, in effect, is poor people should move out of the way so taxpayers can benefit from business growth. This is unjust and unfair.
Sirocki’s article implies we should respect those not experiencing poverty more than people living on the economic edge. Ending poverty in Maine will require balancing what’s fair for taxpayers with what’s fair for people living under desperate circumstances. If a state representative needs to write an article justifying giving the short end of the stick to those in need, the proposed change is not socially just or morally right.
Robert G. Hasson III