Letters from 2005

December 15, 2005

Don’t let it go to your big head

Bollardhead is my new hero. Fantastic work by Mr. Shields!!! I trust this will be an epic, continuing saga?

Perhaps he can take issue with those schmoes who want to give the Civic Center a corporate moniker, totally obliterating any local identity it might have. Phhh.

Waving laurels in one hand and a stick in the other,

Michelle Souliere
Portland

December 1, 2005

Ocean fan from the other ocean

Not to take away from any of the artists mentioned in Galen Richmond’s article, “Velvety Underground: The best local albums of 2005,” but Ocean’s Here Where Nothing Grows (Important) is easily the best album to come out
of Portland this year. Though belonging to a genre of extreme music many locals have no inkling of nor the aural capacity to tolerate, it’s one of the most significant doom albums to surface anywhere in the states or overseas in the past few years. I’m not sure what kind of local following it has created, but for fans located elsewhere, it has quickly elevated itself alongside classic releases from artists ranging from Cathedral and Burzum to
Pelican and Mogwai. Cheers to Ocean — and their brethren in Conifer — for making Portland, Maine, a true force in the extreme metal scene.

Tom Mahoney
Los Angeles 

 

The neighborhood bar last known as Sisters. (photo/Chris Busby)
The neighborhood bar last known as Sisters. (photo/Chris Busby)

Cocktail Apartheid 

The shrieking about the possible reopening of the Tree on Danforth St. is indicative of the NIMBYism gone haywire approach to city managing that threatens to suck the life out of our communities. [See “He say kill it before it grows,” Gossip, Nov. 21. 2005.] Councilor Geraghty’s call for the planning board to look at zoning for bars (meaning make it more restrictive) is short-sighted and cynical. To assume that anyplace where people get together and socialize, where alcohol also happens to be served, will be a problem for the neighborhood is defeatist and eliteist [swanky restaurants ok…blue collar bars baad!]

If the Old Port is the only place people can go to socialize over drinks, we’ve come to a sad place in Portland’s history. We need more, not fewer neighborhood pubs. These are important social gathering places that help weave together the fabric of the community. Along with coffee shops, laundromats, and sandwich shops, neighborhood bars provide places where “unstructured” socializing can take place. Some of the best ideas have been hashed out over a few pints at “the local.”

The city should be promoting more businesses to open in neighborhoods. This is probably the most overlooked and critical way to promote the walkable communities that get so much lip service from city officials. Not to mention walking, rather than driving to go have a few drinks is an obvious benefit to public health and safety.

The segragation of uses codified into zoning regulations of the past was well-intended. The results of “old school” zoning have been dead downtowns, strip malls, and the auto-dominated lifestyle; unintended consequences we’ll be living with for a long time. I’m sure the city council is seeking to protect the community from the ravages of booze, but they should be more concerned with the ravages of boredom.

Jaime Parker
Portland

 

October 30, 2005

One for Suslovic

Please join me in voting for Ed Suslovic on November 8th.

Why Ed Suslovic? Ed has a stake in how Portland’s run. Ed owns a home in Portland: property taxes affect him. Ed has three kids in Portland Public Schools: school funding affects him. Ed used to specialize in real estate for first-time home buyers: Ed knows what affordable housing means. Ed used to serve as State Rep in Augusta: he knows how state funding affects us. Ed now works for the Shalom House: Ed Suslovic is somebody who understands what non-profits need to flourish in our city.

Why Ed Suslovic? Ed has heart. Ed has humility. Ed has an impervious desire to serve the public good. He is engaged in his community both in and out of office. Ed’s leadership philosophy is to bring people together to share ideas and find solutions, rather than hand down mandates.

With such experience and character, Portland would be lucky to have a councilor like Ed Suslovic.

Robert O’Brien
Portland

 

October 14, 2005

Testy Puffs for breakfast again? 

I just wanted to say nice editorial on the peccadilloes of the City Council [The Bollard’s View, “Attention deficit disorder,” Oct. 9, 2005]. Seeing as most people probably don’t attend Council meetings, this is valuable stuff to know about our representatives and their attitude towards their jobs and constituents. 

I must say, it certainly squared with the one Council meeting I ever attended, when they ordered the Icehouse Tavern [Popeye’s] to stay inside until it could behave. Councilor Geraghty made little attempt to conceal her loathing for the Tavern’s lawyer, who admittedly was hard to like: every inch the sleazy, aggressive, pushy lawyer that makes most people put that profession just below cannibalistic sea-slugs in the overall scheme of living things. The council denied him the right to respond to complaints of the neighbors, which I guess is just protocol.

But Geraghty, who had clearly eaten her Testy Puffs that morning, went out of her way to be unpleasant to him, telling him to sit down at one point because he was blocking her view of the audience. He didn’t, but moved off to the side, pacing in circles and hopping from foot to foot as various people got up before the podium and complained about the noise and such.

The people who lost out were, I suppose, the bar owners, who got caught in the middle of their unfortunate choice of an attorney that a councilor took a dislike to. I felt I should have had a program with all those concerned under the heading “dramatis personae.” As entertainment, it was better than some one-act plays.

Anyway, good article.

Robbie B. Neal
Portland

 

October 12, 2005
 
Sucking up to the Delaware Pirates?

Thanks for producing such an excellent news vehicle about city news, etc.  You apparently have the daily paper shaking in their tracks, as they recently announced layoffs and have appointed a new Metro Editor.
 
I do want to take issue with your characterization of the council’s response to my comments on the issue [The Bollard’s View, “Attention deficit disorder,” Oct. 9). You stated that my “comments were largely ignored.”  That is incorrect.  My comments were completely ignored.  You also failed to point out that I offered to pay twice what the Pirates have offered and, more importantly, that the below-market lease includes 15 parking spaces.  Yes, the Pirates are getting 15 prime, in-town spots included in their rent for less than it would cost to actually rent those parking spaces.

This is in addition to the $85,000 in parking revenue we have been providing them every year without any formal agreement.

Why do these politicians suck up to these out-of-state sports enterprises (a really good reporter would have learned that the Pirates are a Delaware corporation)?  Think they may be getting some free tickets?
 
Steven Scharf
Portland 

 

October 10, 2005

“Adios Cristobol Colon”

I feel compelled to write The Bollard on Indigenous People’s/Columbus Day, 2006.

Last spring, when Jason Toothaker and I researched the movement to enhance the dialog around who really discovered America and what went on in 1492 and in the years thereafter, we read the first chapter of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and learned about dozens of other school districts around the county that used holiday name language to further the dialog around this issue.  We learned that Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, in a very public manner, toppled the statute of Columbus in Caracus and banned recognition of a Christopher Columbus holiday. Can you imagine dressing Longfellow up like Columbus and knocking him off his pedestal in a Saddam-you’re-done sort of way?  A bit extreme for me, even given the more accurate portrayals of the atrocities committed by him and his buddies, like murdering all the natives on an island that they weren’t able to enslave and raping the women at will. 

In a spirit of compromise, the Green Independents sought to replace the Columbus Day on the school calendar with Indigenous People’s Day/Columbus Day.  Basically, all it was was adding three words and a slash to the District Calendar as some school systems have done as a “middle path” approach.  It did not pass, the vote was 4-4 with the three Greens and the only person of color on the board voting for the measure.  Donna Loring, a lead spokesperson for Native rights and a prior non-voting member of the Maine State Legislature sent a letter through me to members of the School Committee noting that this name change was a good idea, to bring the dialog around this issue to the forefront. Even after reading her letter and hearing Tae Chong’s call for this change, the Portland School Board said “no”.  In fact, one serving Democrat actually said that a combination holiday name would harm Native American students.  I still have no clue where she was coming from on this right-wing extremist thinking.  Weird, if you ask me.  

Stephen Spring 
Portland School Board

 

October 6, 2005 

Look out, Busby is loose on his own dime!

The Bollard‘s coverage of local news is in itself a precious gift to Portland (or any American city for that matter), but as a bonus my town and all its characters are once again given an agreeably bizarre patina as seen through the eyes of Busby and the contributing misfits. 
 
I know I can look forward to that notorious watchdog, working-class style of investigative reporting that makes Busby one of an endangered species, and that over the years has shone a bright light on everything from embarrassingly petty small-town-high-school-type bickering to significant corruption and evidence of the fleecing of the citizen’s of Po-Town.
 
I also see I can count on The Bollard to jab a finger in my ribs and dare me with its absurdist perspective not to always take this shit or myself too seriously, and for that I’m especially grateful.
 
Here’s to a long run.

John Eder
State Representative
Portland

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