The Bollard enters fifth grade!
Ethan: Phil, did you hear that The Bollard turned 10 last month?!
Phil: Wow. They have officially entered the fifth grade. How’d they do it?
Ethan: Through hard work and by filling an empty niche. The Bollard is a progressive alternative monthly that writes about politics and culture. It comes out of the Maine Times/Casco Bay Weekly school of journalism. Provocative, cynical and irreverent.
Phil: You omitted their decidedly liberal one-sided approach, which sometimes doesn’t allow facts to get in the way of a good story.
Ethan: Actually, they go after liberals as much as anyone. On a regular basis they have crucified Donald Sussman, Chellie Pingree, Angus King, Mike Brennan and even yours truly!
Phil: Now that you mention it, I think the editor Chris Busby has had a bit of a soft spot for Cheryl Leeman, the most prominent Republican in Portland. Hasn’t he written a number of very positive pieces about her?
Ethan: He has indeed. Definitely strange bedfellows. Kind of like you and me.
Phil: Maybe I should add The Bollard to my reading list. So, what’s his beef with you?
Ethan: Not really sure. We’ve known each other since the 1990s, but Chris always writes these profiles where he has this Hamlet-like indecisiveness about who I am — is he “a hero of the people or a phony with a microphone.” I will say, the one part of his last profile [“The Portland mayoral horse race,” Oct. 2011] that deeply disappointed me was that he didn’t even mention the work I have done since 1997. Nothing in my professional life has been more important than the work I do at LearningWorks and he completely ignored it.
Phil: I guess he didn’t think spending 18 years helping at-risk kids get job skills and teaching immigrants to read mattered to voters. As I said, don’t let facts get in the way of your own bias. So, why do you bring up their tenth anniversary?
Ethan: Well, I thought we could send a letter to the editor celebrating the accomplishment.
Phil: After the way he brands you, why would you want to congratulate him?
Ethan: Well, I personally like him and I think publications like his are vital to our democracy and culture. Plus, you know me, I won’t let a little political blind spot get in the way of celebrating someone’s hard work.
Phil: I have always liked that about you. Well then, let me be the first to say congratulations. Any small business that survived the Obama economy deserves praise.
Ethan: You mean any business that survived the Bush-induced Great Recession deserves praise. Here’s hoping they publish for ten more years.
Phil: You do realize that if he goes ten more years and you win for Mayor of Portland, he will be covering every minute of your time leading the city.
Ethan: I do. But maybe after all those years he will finally have made his mind up about who I am and my intentions to help people through public service.
Phil: Honestly, I think it’s better for you and me to write these letters to the editor….
Phil Harriman is a former Republican state senator from Yarmouth. Ethan Strimling is a former Democratic state senator from Portland. They can be contacted on twitter @phil6_2 and @ethan6_2, respectively.