You never know when you might meet someone new and interesting.

My phone rang, “Hello, is this the Roberts who writes the political column?”

“It is,” I said.

“Well, I’ve been following your column for a long time, and I want you to know that I especially liked the one on Marco Rubio. I would like to see him elected our next president — can you put me in contact with him?,” Palmer Hinds asked.

“Your name sounds familiar,” I said. “Weren’t you involved in state government?”

“Right,” came the response.

Palmer went on to describe his work as an auditor and accountant while serving Maine for many years.

“I’ve got some ideas for Rubio, and I would like to convey them to him for his campaign,” he said later. “Could you help me organize my ideas? Come visit my home in Manchester to discuss this, so I can meet my favorite political columnist.”

I was of course flattered by his approval of my work and agreed to a meeting.

Palmer came to the door of his condo. Maneuvering with his walker, he ushered me into his spacious living room, where we sat and talked most of the afternoon.

I was fascinated by the story of his life and exploits. This man obviously possesses a remarkable intellect and has enjoyed an interesting life.

For example, Red Sox Hall of Famer Dick Williams was a close friend. It was Palmer who informed Williams of his trade to Boston while they worked together at the jai alai games in Miami. (That’s another story.)

Hinds began to outline his ideas on budgets and taxes, gleaned from many years of successfully offering them to state government and seeing them implemented.

Suddenly, I realized this would make for a great column.

“I don’t want any credit,” he said shyly. “You present the ideas.”

Palmer was not crazy about being featured in a column, but I told him, “I can’t take credit for what are not my ideas. However, I will certainly aid you in the transmission of yours.”

Hind’s personal experience with state fiscal matters, I learned, spanned most of his adult life. Although he disliked politics, he became a leading advisor to governors and to the

Legislature on fiscal affairs.

In our chat he peeled off descriptions of his associations with past governors: Muskie, Curtis, Longley, Brennan, and McKernan.

Hinds is a lifelong Republican, but always found great interest in his ideas among leading Democrats, including Sen. George Mitchell, whom he said once “bought me lunch to pick my brain.”

Hinds, during his public service, introduced numerous ideas, most authored by him, and with constant lobbying saw many of them implemented for the benefit of Maine.

hose ideas included: the Maine balanced budget amendment, the zero-base budget act, the rainy day (reserve) fund, the homestead exemption, a per pupil school subsidy, and zero-base laws. A treasure trove legacy that lives on.

Hinds wants to share all this information with a candidate for president who might use some of his old and new fiscal ideas for the good of the country.

He likes the idea of a flat tax, and is deeply concerned about the present and future debt facing this nation.

Here is one of his ideas, for funding education: The federal commissioner of education would research the total number of pupils, K-12, in all 50 states. The commissioner would then tally the total amount of money earmarked for all federal education programs.

The total amount of money divided by the total number of students in all 50 states would result in determining each pupil’s share. Each state’s money would be sent in a block grant to either the state commissioner of education or local school boards and municipalities. Utilizing transfers and attrition, the federal department of education would be eliminated.

Hinds pointed out that his proposal included three key ingredients: a. It’s constitutional; b. It uses local control; c. It’s common sense.

He sees the nation’s top priorities as the size of government, the cost of government, the war on terror, the war on drugs, and immigration and securing our borders.

He would also like to see a military man, a top general, as our next vice president.

Hind’s political theme is “what if,” and he would like to hear your ideas at 213-4131.

Palmer Hinds is sharp as a tack, as they say, and he’s full of new ideas. He’s still fully engaged in current events, as we all should be. And he’s only 90.

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

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