Democrats succumb to their worst nature
By Kirk Goodhue
Nonpartisan Portland City Council elections are now, officially, a thing of the past. Up to now, credible lip service could be given to the notion that political party affiliation had no bearing on elections or, subsequently, actions taken by councilors once elected. The Democrats, in the form of Anthony Buxton, Jill Duson and Jim Cloutier, have thrown that fairy tale out the window in shameless fashion.
Cloutier and Duson made a sham of the request-for-proposals process for the development of the Maine State Pier by reconfiguring it as they saw fit to benefit Ocean Properties. If what they did at the Community Development Committee meetings wasn’t illegal, it was most certainly unethical. It was inappropriate, and left many of those who have followed the process certain there were politics deeply involved in the decisions Cloutier and Duson were making. Valid concerns brought up by the third councilor on the committee, Kevin Donoghue, were time and again dismissed by a 2 (Democrat) to 1 (non-Democrat) vote.
Yet, trying very hard not be cynical, I kept trying to find ways to believe that Duson and Cloutier had not made their minds up (or had their minds made up for them) before the RFP responses were even opened. Then, this week, a new chapter: enter Anthony Buxton.
Anthony Buxton, by all reports, is a staunch Democrat heavily involved in the Democratic Party at the state and national levels. Currently, it’s reported that he’s a leader of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Maine. This week, he decided to lend his experience to local Democrats – show ‘em how to do it, as it were.
Either he noticed, or it was pointed out to him, that one of the two sitting Democratic councilors at-large is likely to lose their seat in the election to John Anton. Why would this cause such concern to a person trying to help the front-running Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States? Plain and simple: politics, favors and money.
Mr. Buxton is also friendly with other prominent Democrats, including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell. The Honorable Mr. Mitchell is a lead partner in the pier proposal put forward by Ocean Properties, the firm that Jill Duson and Jim Cloutier went to great lengths to ensure was the recommended developer coming out of the Community Development Committee. These same two candidates are correctly worried that one or the other of them won’t be back on the Council.
If that is the case, their unswayable vote on the Council to choose Ocean Properties will likely fall into the hands of John Anton. Anton has given indications that he prefers the Olympia Companies’ proposal, but I know Mr. Anton well enough to know that his only horse in the race for the pier is the citizenry of Portland. If elected, he would wade through all of the material available that he hasn’t seen yet (he has been studiously keeping abreast of the issue by studying all publicly available material), and then make a choice.
But Mr. Buxton couldn’t take the chance. He had to do something, and if it called for a smear campaign, so be it. He commissioned upwards of 200 signs claiming Anton “causes chaos.” To bring some spice and dirt to the message, he included Ben Meiklejohn’s name on the sign, Ben being the Green Party school board member who has been one of those held partly responsible (rightly so) for the budgetary fiasco in the school department.
Well, Mr. Buxton just lowered most everyone’s opinion of the Democratic Party. As a Democrat, I’m truly embarrassed that the local Democratic leaders would go along with this sleazy effort. Shame on you all. You are more afraid than you were last year and now are willing to throw ethics out the window.
Mr. Buxton and the local Democrats don’t really understand that, I believe, the only reason John Anton is a registered Green is because of the recent behavior of the Portland Democratic Party. He would never consider being a part of the cheap political games they play – inside and outside of Council Chambers.
Talk about “the signs of the times.” Folks, there are about 200 of them out there, and they are not good.
Kirk Goodhue is a resident of Portland.