December 10, 2006
What a tangled chain we weave…
The problem with telling lies is that for every lie one tells, two are needed to cover it up. Such is the predicament that the City Council finds itself in as it bans specific businesses under the guise of a
general, and complex, set of zoning laws. [See “Hooters halted, Dunkin’ danglin’” and “Fast Food (Discrimi)Nation“] Although the intention is to discourage crappy corporate franchises, it would also apply to The Gap and Lens Crafters, not to mention Lord & Taylor, Maxim’s, and Tiffany & Co.; but a store that sells craft jewelry made from Maine Bluestone is OK, assuming they could afford the rent.
Along the same lines, a landlord at Deering Center is out a tenant (Dunkin’ Donuts) on the grounds that it would attract too many customers. Thanks to the Council, residents all over the city now have a selection of zones where they can shop without the risk of interacting with other human beings.
Among the few redeeming characteristics of the doughnut chain is that they are among the few places that will actually add the milk and sugar to your coffee for you. In my discussion of this subject it seems that Portland’s picky patrons prefer pouring their own milk and sweeteners, but surely there are others (arthritics for example) who prefer the convenient service, and who dislike the sticky self-service counters.
If the Council wants to make itself useful, why not legislate that cafes be obligated to provide the option of full or self service coffee complements (once this is passed, maybe they can tackle the fact
that hardly anyone supplies lemons for my tea).
Portland, West End
November 18, 2006
Clown school dropouts
While I must admit that the current display of infighting – the school board members eating their young – does make for good theater, I am really at a loss to justify entrusting my children’s future to these clowns. [See “‘Utter partisan malarkey’.“] In fact, I have already pulled two of my children from public schools with the third to follow as soon as I can afford it. The handwriting is on the walls, as they say.
But I do have a word of advice to the democratic (and I use a small d, because we all know that the school committee is a nonpartisan [wink] body) majority on the board: declining enrollments means something is wrong with your product and no amount of branding or marketing is going to fix this. Instead, take advantage of the declining enrollments – smaller class sizes, yes? – to improve instruction, raise test scores, and enhance the curriculum. It is a wonderful opportunity to finesse public education – smaller is, indeed, better.
Once your product is improved you won’t need marketing, because public education already enjoys the greatest marketing advantage of all: IT’S FREE!
October 21, 2006
Jumping aboard the anti-tow bandwagon
Hey! Hey, wait a minute! Let me get my two cents in too! I don’t drive but find tow trucks very annoying. I will relate the following story to show the Voters of Portland just how pissed off I get at tow truck drivers. They hate me for my opinion but here I go.
As a School Committee candidate I need my sleep. That is why it irked me most irkfully when I got woken up this summer while resting for a whole other day of campaigning. They are really loud with their beeping-while-in-reverse noises. That is why I, as a School Committee candidate, have in the past taken secret action. One day when I saw a young poor visitor to this town’s car get towed I went down with this young man to the tow yard. I sat there for several minutes and when the tow company representative showed up I said some very sarcastic things to him. That is why I think you should vote for me in 2006. I mean that is why I am the greatest most altruistic candidate you ever could want to be running for School Committee.
Please keep stories of local incumbent heroics forthcoming – they are hillarious. [See “Gorham bans towing on Munjoy Hill.”] Mr. Gorham please keep doing works of good in secret so as not to overshadow the fact you are trying to best Neal Dow for conservatism in the face of reason. Thank you again for being my personal hero in the fight against illegal parking.
(a vocal opponent of empty campaign posturing and desperation but most importantly tow trucks)
October 16, 2006
PACs and hacks
Your article on the Chamber forming a PAC is slightly misleading. Although the PACs can contribute to the candidates’ campaigns, they can only contribute $250. The point of creating a PAC is to do independent expenditures (funding mailings, etc. ) on behalf of candidates and referendum issues. They can spend as much as they want to on this kind of promotion as long as it is done without the candidate’s campaign’s knowledge.
The next question is, are they going to support the pro-business candidates or the same tired hacks that sit on the Council?
October 15, 2006
Make new friends, but keep the Golden Arches
I am all about “buy local” – I appreciate the work that the Buy Local campaign is doing, and shop in locally owned stores whenever I can.
However, to me, part of buying local is the ability to buy in one’s own neighborhood. Limiting the number of chain stores could negatively affect the ability of folks without cars to purchase prescriptions at stores like Rite Aid or CVS. [see “Proposed formula-restaurant limits expanded to stores,” News Briefs, Oct. 13, 2006]
I am fortunate in that I can afford to patronize local businesses such as Granny’s Burritos, Silly’s, Micucci’s, Big Mama’s and Coffee By Design. But folks struggling with poverty or homelessness might welcome the opportunity to purchase a 99-cent meal at a Burger King or McDonald’s.
Perhaps the City Council would consider an exemption for stores which sell “necessities.” (Not easily defined, I know.
September 30, 2006
A lobsterman responds
I was appalled to read councilman Clueless’s statement that “no one has the guts to stand up to the lobster fishing industry” in regards to allowing dragged lobsters to be landed at the Portland Fish Exchange. [See “Maine’s fishing industry is fucked,” News, Sept. 27, 2006.] Does this short sighted dumb ass realize that the conservation efforts and laws, most self-imposed by lobstermen since the turn of century, are why we still have such a viable lobster harvest today! Where would Maine be economically if there was a down slide in the lobster fishery?
Portland Lobsterman lic.# 8736
September 27, 2006
Happy one year anniversary to The Bollard! I wish I was around to shake my can at the party, but I’m not sorry to have missed Busby jumping out of a cake in the nude.
Here’s to many more years of diligent kick-ass, watchdog reporting.
Rep. John Eder
July 25, 2006
Censored is brilliant! Bang Bangs is my new hero. Long may he make art. And thank you for bringing him to the world.
June 30, 2006
Portland hit parade
I am watching Portland from afar via your sweet pages. And how happy I was to see not only a review of one of my favorite bands, Cult Maze; I was also able to listen to the song “You Need to Know How to Rush” from their new album, The Ice Arena. I’ve been an Andrew Barron and Peet Chamberlain fan since the Extendo-Ride days, and it’s always been my opinion that anything either of them touches is bound to turn to gold. The cut offered onThe Bollard just goes to prove this.
Keep the hits coming, Portland.
June 29, 2006
Letter to Cleo
Sean Wilkinson may want to have a vet take a peek at Cleo.
When our fuzzy companion, Mr. Kitty, first moved in, I asked the vet how often cats tended to upchuck. He told me that 2-3 times a week (not a night!) was normal. Cats, like sharks, have complete control over their peristalsis. If they’ve eaten something they regret, up it comes.
Over the years, we’ve decided Mr. Kitty has what we jokingly call kitty-bulimia. If he goes too long without eating, he binges, purges, and then eats a sensible meal. Instead of having a set feeding time, we allow him to “graze”: We keep small amounts of food out all the time. When you come home and Cleo rushes you, is her dish empty?
A vet also told me you shouldn’t feed a cat anything you can buy in a grocery store’s pet aisle: Those foods are generally the equivalent of Twinkies for cats – lots of bulk, and next to no nutrition. I was instructed to start buying cat food at a pet store. Mr. Kitty has been much healthier, thinner, and spunkier since. (Although my debt-to-income ratio has gone up a bit.)
Not for the faint-hearted: I am a sympathetic hurler. Nothing sets my gag reflex into overdrive quite like trying to clean up cat puke. Oddly, though, if I gently drape a paper towel over the mess, and wait an hour or so, it is easier to deal with. I’m not sure if it’s the mental-preparation time, or the fact that it’s less goopy, more room temperature, and less body temperature!
My human companion has some weird radar wherein he can hear a cat start to puke, sprint over, and place some paper in front of the cat… The only use for which most of The Bollard’s competitors are suited!
Jan “no relation” Wilkinson
June 22, 2006
The Bollard blew it
We at the Preble Street Consumer Advocacy Project read your June 11, 2006, article “YMCA: Housing law change will create homelessness,” and would like your readers to have the facts, rather than the article’s numerous pieces of misinformation. While your headline suggests that the Licensed Lodging Ordinance will cause more homelessness, in fact it has decreased it. Our advocacy on this issue began long before we went to the Portland City Council Housing Committee with testimony from individuals who had experienced summary evictions from rooming houses, many of whom had become homeless. Your implication that the city had previously exempted the YMCA is simply incorrect. At one time the YMCA was licensed as a hotel/motel by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). But Portland’s YMCA and other single-room-occupancy (SRO) housing are not hotels, as DHHS ruled in August 2004; they are permanent housing for over 150 Portland residents. The proposed amendments to the city ordinance would simply bring its wording into line with this change and prevent places not licensed as hotels from arguing that they can continue to act like hotels.
We began looking into this issue when, on one day in 2003, 13 people were ejected with no notice and no due process from the Portland YMCA (where some of them had lived for years), basically putting them on the streets. In 2004, the City Council’s Housing Committee saw that basic tenant rights for low-income people in Portland were being dismissed with no due process under the law. State eviction laws are designed to protect basic tenant rights for all renters. How would any middle-class tenant feel if they were told they had two minutes to gather their belongings and hit the bricks or go to jail? This was a common practice of local rooming houses for many years only because no one challenged the legality of this practice.
We are interested to see a new term in your article: “short-term housing” and would like someone to show us a corresponding category in state law. Many SRO renters stay for years, contrary to the YMCA Chairman’s idea that low-income people cannot think beyond week-to-week. We know of many people who came out of the shelter and have been there for upwards of four years. Many of us have lived in an apartment for well under a year and still had legal rights as tenants. There is no “so-called ‘tenant at will’ status”; if you are a renter, you are either a tenant at will or you are not because you have a lease. Only about a third of the YMCA’s residents come from Portland’s shelters or general assistance; the rest are retired or disabled people on tight budgets or low-income working people. These people can’t afford the high rents typical of our community and yes, the YMCA gives them the housing they need. We see no reason why that would change. Nowhere in state law or in the ordinance does it say that landlords must require security deposits or long-term leases, as is implied in your article.
This ordinance is not about the YMCA – and certainly not about the YWCA, whose shelter program was never meant to be covered under any version of the ordinance, and whose residence has already been complying with the law! It is about basic civil rights that we so gallantly defend as a country. Low-income people do not waive all their rights just because they can’t afford a one-bedroom apartment or because they pay rent on a weekly rather than monthly basis; they in fact are protected under the same laws that protect your rights. Portland’s Licensed Lodging Ordinance is just an important tool to make sure that SROs do the right thing under state law, because for years they found ways to fly under the law’s radar. We have a moral obligation to protect everyone’s civil rights, poor or rich, formerly homeless or never-homeless, challenged or unchallenged.
We were very disappointed to see that The Bollard’s article on this issue was so poorly researched and read so much like a press release for one prominent organization’s view of this issue. We at the Preble Street Consumer Advocacy Project did not just wake up one day and decide to harass SRO landlords, but we did wake up one day to the fact that people’s rights were being ignored and thrown by the wayside, and the Portland City Council also saw that. We applaud our elected officials for standing up for equal rights for all Portland residents and urge support for closing the still-remaining loophole in the Licensed Lodging ordinance.
Steve Huston, Dee Clarke, Heather Blanchard, Tim Devine, Chuck Veit, Chip Land, Carrie Buntrock, Larry Rancourt
The Preble Street Consumer Advocacy Project
June 19, 2006
No clear vote on Peaks
Chris Busby writes that, “A clear majority of year-round Peaks Island residents – over 57 percent – voted today to secede from the city of Portland and establish a town of Peaks Island in Casco Bay.” [“Peaks votes to secede,” News Briefs, June 13, 2006.]
That is just what those in favor of secession would have you believe.
According to the final vote, as reported in the Press Herald, there was a spread of 103 votes. A mere 52 votes in the other direction would have changed the result.
When the original secession petition was circulated on the island last year, residents were told by the Island Independence Committee (the IIC) that their signature only indicated they wished to have the secession issue explored. The IIC then sold it in the media as more than 600 people indicating their support for secession. Then, despite, and even after, a meeting with state legislators who repeatedly told everyone that there was no guarantee of a second vote, residents were urged to trust the IIC and vote “yes” on the 13th just to insure that the process could go forward. The June 13th vote, the IIC stated, would simply give them greater leverage in their negotiations with the city. The IIC assured residents that a second vote would be written into the legislation and a second vote was guaranteed by the Constitution. And since Tuesday I am hearing some residents say that is the only reason they voted “yes,” and they might vote “no” when it comes down to the final vote.
As Boyd Marley and Ethan Strimling told the islanders, legislators can’t call each individual voter and ask what they meant when they voted the way they did. But, with the IIC’s bait-and-switch campaign, we can’t be sure to know what the will of the people really is.
Peaks Island, Portland
June 14, 2006
Smokin’ M.D. Harmon
Goddamn, sirs. I have never been spotted jumping physically out of my chair in glee upon reading a daily rag. But damned if I wasn’t buzzing off my perch this afternoon when I pictured M.D. Harmon’s vapid, bloated smile turning to a horrified frown upon discovering the remains of my hash pipe tapped out in the middle drawer of his desk. [See “It became public,” The Bollard’s View, June 5, 2006] (The euphoria was kicking in hard even then, before I discovered Galen Richmond’s dead-to-rights review of As Fast As.)
This editorial was enough to make me wistfully dream of a Portland where everyone actually gave a shit about what they were doing. Many give lip service, but it’s damn hard to find the real deal, especially in our local (or Boston, or Seattle… wherever the hell it comes from) press.
Messrs. Richmond and Busby (and co.), thank you from the bottom of our glasses. It is unbelievable how refreshing doing a job right is these days. Good luck with your lease.
June 9, 2006
Sayin’ It and Doin’ It
On May 31, just as the Creative Economy Summit was underway at the Merrill Auditorium, the Center for Cultural Exchange announced it would sell off its landmark building at Longfellow Square. The building, the western anchor of the nominal Arts District, is expected to sell for well over half a million dollars, more than enough for any of many new luxury condo conversions on Congress Street.
North Deering district councilor Jim Cohen delivered the opening remarks at the summit and, without a hint of irony, proudly waved a real estate listing for the latest harbinger of gentrification: 527 Lofts. What was the occasion? The listing heralded its prime location “right in the heart of the Arts District.”
I applaud Councilor Cohen for using the power of his ceremonial office as mayor to call the summit in the first place when few elected officials have taken a genuine interest in the so-called creativity sector. I must reserve, however, any standing ovation until he works to give meaning to his stated imperative:
“The goal is not to talk, although talk is important. The goal is to do,” Cohen pledged to local creatives.
My reservation stems from the fact that the community already held this conversation a decade ago, yet has had precious little to show for it. The Arts District Plan and the Cultural Plan promise full funding for the Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance and the city position of Cultural Liaison. Without reference whatever to these two plans from the 1990s, summit participants expressed the clear need for funds to support an arts and cultural organization and an economic development official for creative enterprises. No need was more apparent, however, than the preservation and creation of affordable creative spaces.
Last year, Rep. John Eder (G-Portland) secured a promise from Gov. Baldacci to meet that last need by allocating $500,000 for a creative economy business incubator “right in the heart of the Arts District.” The governor has failed to deliver on this promise and yet the rest of our local elected leadership – several of whom are professional lobbyists – have also failed to advocate for our city on this matter.
Half of a million dollars could accomplish very much, not least purchase of One Longfellow Square. However, without political will to leverage public and private funds to meaningfully support creative enterprise, we will stand by our standard fare: tax breaks for individual businesses and parking garages.
Now is the time for real leadership and setting of priorities: “The goal is not to talk … the goal is to do.”
The Creative Economy Summit hosted by the City of Portland May 31 highlighted the challenges facing the creative community. Every work group (creative organizations, creative businesses, and creative individuals) listed challenges that can be summarized in three categories: lack of affordable housing, public/private funds, and communication/collaboration. Indeed, everyone living in Portland could benefit from more housing, support, and collaboration; not least the creative community.
Housing: Portland has been prolific in producing condominiums and we can harness the market trend through inclusionary zoning. By requiring a percentage of all housing units to be permanently affordable, inclusionary zoning could create affordable housing at no direct cost to the taxpayer.
Funding: Public support can help produce private support for the creative sector. Perhaps the most effective public support the City could provide would be small business support. Maine is one of the most difficult states in which to start a small business and this trend also goes for Maine’s largest city. By gearing Portland’s economic development department more towards small businesses, the City can enable creative entrepreneurs. As these creative business grow, so will the number of creative jobs. As these creative businesses strengthen, so will the private support for the creative sector.
Communication: Through stronger communication and collaboration with creatives, the City can create a distinct Arts District and improve the local economy. The Arts District could benefit from unique street signs and the City could collaborate with creatives by hiring locals to make artful street signs. Everyone, including tourists, will know when they are in the Arts District by the unique street signage. Signage is particularly needed to connect the corridors between the Old Port and Arts District and to help make Portland a destination that requires longer stays.
Finally, the City could also collaborate with the creative community by granting a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) to the Arts District. By declaring an Arts District TIF, tax funds would be directed to make physical improvements in the district. TIF funds could be used to hire local creatives to design and create improvements like parks, benches, bike lanes, and aspects of new developments. All locals and tourists would enjoy a more artful Arts District. Instead of approving a TIF that would benefit only one business and cost the City in tax revenue, let’s get a TIF that will benefit all and create more revenue.
May 15, 2006
Don’t cut creativity
Portland Superintendent Mary Jo O’Connor says she “is trying to be as creative as possible” in response to a proposed cut to the school budget. Why is there even mention of arts cuts when there is a $500,000 cut proposed by the city? The very program that stresses the creative process most is the arts program. If she really was being creative, she would see this and value the creative process enough to not dampen its teaching in our schools.
Portland schools need to reflect Portland’s value for the arts. By always targeting programs where creativity is fostered, we are threatening our young citizens’ ability to be creative citizens in the future.
Every time a school committee member or superintendent says they may have to cut programs, they are sending a clear message to their constituents and children. That message is, “We value everything else more than your art, music, fitness, and reproductive health.” Even threats like this are dangerous to a creative economy.
Portland is an example to communities everywhere. We should take our role as leaders seriously. If we threaten to cut the budget of non-mandated classes like the ones mentioned, how will our leadership be perceived? It is time for our city council to reflect our beliefs as a community. They can do this by not making our children sacrifice their creativity to save $500,000.
May 5, 2006
I’ve got to say that your article on the Portland Ocean Terminal was one of the best works of local journalism I have read in a long, long time. It’s so refreshing to read an article that shines a light on what is currently happening in the city’s backrooms, as opposed to the sanitized version that Portland news readers often get long after a decision has been made behind those closed doors.
Your research and details were rich and your ballsy decision to fully quote [Peter] O’Donnell spoke volumes about the man and his work. It reminds me of the glory days of Casco Bay Weekly when they tackled slum lords and the like, topics the Press Herald has always been too timid to investigate. Long live The Bollard!
May 3, 2006
Potty-mouth Peter, unmasked
This article goes to show that persistence, piecemealing multi-sourced facts, and having a penchant to pursue stories that are not spoon-fed vis-a-vis city council meetings are imperative qualities to reporting news that affects local culture. Mr. O’Donnell’s hot-headed temperament has betrayed him, and I commend The Bollard for quoting his reaction.
It seems as though Mr. O’Donnell is willing to traverse the inconspicuous shadows of moral and ethical codes, through both his close friendship to the Governor’s brother and his own governmental affiliations. His emotional response to the “outing” of his proposal by an esteemed journalist illustrates his understanding that there is a conflict of interest – one which he would have liked to keep under wraps until gaining closed-door support from individual council
Mr. O’Donnell’s defensiveness cost him a chance to lay to rest legitimate concerns (as Ms. Duson said, the public is opposed to upscale waterfront hotels); as a result, he has amplified them. In the future, the public good would be better served by honest, open, constructive conversations rather than secret sessions and personal attacks.
Glinda the Stink Bomb, unmasked?
After reading Elizabeth Peavey’s recent column, titled “The Carpetbaggers,” I feel the need to warn her – or at least warn people she associates with to warn her – that the smell in her new house she describes as “a lump of brie in an old sock at the bottom of an old woman’s purse” is very likely a plumbing problem.
After several distressing, but careful, rereadings of the paragraph where the smell is referred to, I noticed she mentions the smell was in her coffee as well as around the threshold of the front door! Right away I was reminded of an experience of my own, possibly in one of Mrs. Peavey’s former apartments here in San Francisco I might have been squatting in last fall, where I encountered a similar smell. Not like sulfur in the pipes or that rotten egg stench I find so much in old buildings, but rather like the preserved feces of a frozen, dead rat steeped in yeast slurry for a week. I also noticed it in my coffee, so it must have been in the tap water. I hope the solution to this problem for the Peaveys isn’t too expensive, as solutions to plumbing problems usually are.
I look forward to future anecdotes from Mrs. Peavey. Her articles take me away from reading Architectural Digest or my stack of Better Homes and Gardensback issues.
San Francisco, CA
Editor’s note: Martin Shields is a freelance contributor to The Bollard. The views expressed in his letter are not necessarily those of Bollard Publishing, though in this case we agree: it’s gotta be the pipes.
April 26, 2006
“Peace Guy,” my ass!
I was interested to learn that homeless politicians (like Shawn Loura) can be just as duplicitous and self-serving as regular ones. [See our April 23 News Brief.]
It turns out that Shawn, formerly known as the Monument Square “Peace Guy” is actually a gun-toting militia member who, by the way, thinks democracy (which he calls “the tyranny of the majority”) isn’t a very good way to run a society.
“Major” Loura also says that the Preble Street Resource Center should be shut down. What an interesting campaign plank that is – especially coming from Shawn. It just so happens that I cook breakfast at Preble Street every Saturday morning. So, I know that there would be a lot more hungry people in Portland if that wish ever came true. One of those people would be Shawn, because he is a regular there (it’s hard to miss his revolutionary-looking red beret coming through the soup line).
But, at least Peace Guy Shawn isn’t a bigot, right? I mean, he’s OK with people of any race, gender or orientation joining the militia, and he said so in his interview. In actuality, he doesn’t really think that all of God’s children have a right to be in this country in the first place (let alone in his paramilitary tree fort). Shawn was one of the counter protesters who tried to shout down the pro-immigrant speakers during last Saturday’s immigration rally. Shawn’s own sign read: “Immigrants must go.”
Shawn desperately wants to matter in his own little world. He wants to be the ultimate outsider: “I’m so not mainstream, I’m homeless!” But the more I get to know him, the more he seems just like the worst elements of the society from which he wants to separate himself: violent, anti-democratic and racist.
April 12, 2006
A novel idea: Enforce the law in the Old Port
My name is Michael Harris, and I own The Oasis, located at 42 Wharf Street. I am also a voting member of the Nightlife Oversight Committee (NLOC) of Portland’s Downtown District that has been working for several years to improve the safety in the Old Port. I have been listening to everyone talk about who should be paying the bills in the Old Port to improve nighttime public safety in the Old Port and I have the following comments….
I have watched people point their fingers at who they feel is to blame for the issues and concerns in the Old Port. I have yet to hear from a single person about a way to solve the issues and concerns in the Old Port – that is, with the exception of closing down all the bars. I have also not heard anyone suggest that we actually make the offenders pay.
There is something that people need to realize: We, as bar owners, are by far the most concerned with the violence and the over-serving going on in the city. To all the reporters and others who come out with comments stating we are simply out to break laws, here are a few things to think about. Let’s say my club intentionally over-serves ten people on a Saturday night to try to make some extra money. Those ten people each drink three beers after they should have been shut off. We charge $2 per beer. Multiply that by ten people at three drinks each and I made a whopping $60.
Now, let’s consider what I have just put on the line by over-serving these people: Thousands of dollars in liquor violations, thousands in increases to my insurance, the personal liability if that person were to get in a car accident and, oh yeah, the loss of my liquor license. I spent over $300,000 to purchase and renovate my club; I generate almost $500,000 in annual revenue from my club; and I employ 22 people. Can you start to understand now how ridiculous comments are that I am risking all this for $60 a night?
So now let’s discuss the only thing we should be concerning ourselves with: How do we fix the problem? Start charging the violators! With the work of the City Council, police and NLOC, the bad operators have been weeded out. The owners that are there now are businessmen. We’re not here to party and we’re not here for the quick buck. This is how we pay our bills, we feed our families, put a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs – through our businesses.
I am at the front door of my club every weekend. I have yet to see anyone actually get a summons from the police. I don’t think the police aren’t doing their job, but they aren’t being told to enforce the laws as aggressively as they should. I see police officers catching people urinating in public, then warning them and letting them go. I see police officers stop fights and warn them and let them go. I see police officers catch people with drugs and warn them and let them go. I see police officers argue with intoxicated individuals and make them leave, but rarely do I see them arrested or summonsed.
When I hear that “Billy” and “David” got in a fight, when asked what happened, the answer is, “the police came.” That means police came and stopped the fight and sent them on their way with a harsh warning. What it should mean is that “Billy” and “David” went to jail! All we are doing is telling the individuals who are fighting – and the hundreds more who either watched it or hear about it – that if you want to fight and get away with it, then you better do it in the streets of the Old Port after midnight. If I were to get in a fight on Congress Street in the middle of the afternoon, I would go to jail. Why does the same not apply to the Old Port?
When councilors or the city manager get in front of news cameras and talk to newspaper reporters, they tell them the Old Port is some kind of hell zone. Two people listen to this: The good customers who want to come out, spend money, enjoy themselves, obey the laws and go home; and the problem people who want nothing more than to start trouble. Who do you think you are helping by making your statements? You scare away the good customers and, even worse, you make the Old Port sound more inviting to the problem people. You are endangering me, my staff, the police and, worst of all, the other customers.
This is the only city I’ve ever heard of that makes its entertainment district sound even worse than it actually is. You hear other city officials in other communities saying that the entertainment district is thriving and safe, and that anyone thinking of going there to start trouble should think twice, because the police are serious about keeping their areas safe (e.g. Burlington, Vermont).
Start fining and arresting the few number of people who are actually causing problems. This is the word we want to get out. We want people to start hearing that if you start trouble in the street, you’re going to get fined! If you urinate on the side of a building, you are going to get fined! If you are drunk in public, you are going to get fined! The only people that are going to get scared off by this are the very people we don’t want. Isn’t this what you want?
Something strange will happen once you actually start fining the violators. First, you will start receiving all the money you will need to pay for the officers. Then, all of a sudden, the amount of summonses you write will start to slow, because the people will start to realize they can’t do whatever they want, and the problem people will find somewhere else to go.
Let’s stop pointing fingers at who we think is to blame and fix the problem by eliminating it. For too long, “eliminating the problem” has meant to certain people in office that we should eliminate the bars. How about we eliminate the actual people who are violating our laws, won’t that fix everyone’s problem?
April 9, 2006
10 Ideas for a Greater Public Market
Hello. We came up with (what we think are) the top 10 solutions for the Public Market [see “A modest proposal,” Letters,, April 2, below].
Top 10 Things We Think the Public Market Should Become:
10) An actual Public Market
9) An expanded Portland Public Library
8) One large, ultra-expensive condo project!
7) An indoor public greenhouse
6) A downtown Marden’s
5) “The Black Heart” (a competitor for the White Heart!)
4) An indoor water park – with a 30-ft. water slide!
3) Roller-Derby Car Wash
2) A giant indoor doggy-park and local matchmaking society
1) A downtown strip club called “The Pubic Market”
What do you think?
Raina Rippel, Carrie Losneck and Chris Wright
League of Pissed-Off Reviewers
Is it just me, or is the Portland City Manager trying to piss off everyone in the city he represents? He’s pissed off the folks on Peaks Island, then there is the issue of closing schools that shouldn’t be closed, and now the bars in the Old Port. Who is next? Munjoy Hill? Downtown? Any neighborhood bars on the border of Portland and Falmouth or Westbrook?
Portland should really consider letting the people vote on the Mayor and City Manager positions, because in an election, Joe Gray would have gotten his ass kicked. Hard-working people and Portland enthusiasts shouldn’t have to put up with this crap. Rosie’s is a Portland institution. To have to sell or close is something that should not have to happen at all. If this fee does go into effect, the next time he goes into the Old Port, he might as well get down on the ground and drag his knuckles, because he is the epitome of a money-hungry whore and should be considered as such.
Ron Raymond Jr.
Editor’s note: Freelance music writer Ron Raymond Jr. is a contributor to The Bollard. The views expressed in his Letter to the Editor do not represent the views of The Bollard or Bollard Publishing.
April 2, 2006
A modest proposal
Perhaps the time has come to re-think the purpose of the Public Market. As our arts community loses more and more affordable spaces in downtown Portland, could we dedicate the Public Market to arts? Gallery spaces, performance spaces – the cold storage areas, already dark and soundproof, could be renovated into band practice spaces or darkrooms. (Musicians: Imagine an all-ages show where you only have to lug your gear a few feet?)
I’d love to hear YOUR ideas!
March 23, 2006
Editor’s note: The letter below was updated on March 26 at the writer’s request.
I agree, it’s the Governor’s fault
As a concerned citizen, I was disappointed to read in The Bollard that the City Council’s Finance Committee plans to resurrect the municipal tax shift known as the property tax rebate plan. While I can be counted on to claim my rebate check, I will do so only for the same reason that I will scrape lost dollars off the street.
As a renter, I resented the original incarnation of this program as yet another official subsidy of home ownership at the expense of local businesses I value, like grocers, clothiers, cafes, pubs and bookstores. Even more troubling was the accompanying false promise that somehow renters stood to gain from it.
While it may well be politically expedient to shift the local tax burden from a minority of residents onto our many local purveyors of necessities, including those like Levinsky’s and the Surplus Store, which have since disappeared from the street, it is unfair and ultimately works against our local self-reliance.
Occupying ourselves with unjust tax shifts not only distracts us from more essential tasks like fixing our antiquated and ineffective land use codes, but also from addressing the very crises that eventually called this misguided rebate plan into existence: inadequate housing supply and inept state government.
At the local level, we could work to reduce housing costs by facilitating more housing construction, but maximum restrictions on residential density and minimum requirements on parking spaces keep developers out and housing prices up. The council has failed over the years to fix our land use codes.
At the state level, our city should stop shifting around its own municipal tax burden and pressure its own legislative delegation, including Majority Leader Glen Cummings, to deliver on comprehensive tax reform. Any reform must, at the very least, reduce municipal reliance on real estate taxes alone.
But state leadership seems to believe that tax reform means restricting how municipalities are allowed to levy property taxes while too many city leaders seem to believe that tax relief means cutting small rebate checks to a vocal minority of homeowners and calling it a progressive victory for all the people.
True relief will come only through true reform and expanding our tax base through new development. Neither strokes of statute, nor roping in of renters, can render this already failed program legal or fair.
More Corrigan, please!
I just love Patrick Corrigan’s cartoons. More, please. They have brightened my spirit – dampened by my sick cat, Musa’s, uncertain condition – and raised my hopes that art is, yes, alive and well and accessible. This is art we don’t have to vote on, thank you.
Cartoon wishes and comic dreams,
March 8, 2006
Can’t we just agree it’s the Governor’s fault?
Congratulations on your success with The Bollard. I enjoy your coverage of Portland issues and I look forward to your becoming a long-term addition to the area’s political reporting.
Thanks for your recent article on the ongoing property tax rebate debate in Portland (and now Maine). I find the fight, both present and future, to be enormously frustrating because in many respects both sides are right.
Councilor Cloutier is correct in his assertion that property taxes are regressive and unfair, while Professor Delogu is correct to state that the Maine Constitution mandates uniformity in property taxation. Both men, however, reach poor conclusions despite starting from informed positions.
Regardless of the legality of his proposal, Councilor Cloutier is misguided in his belief that any municipality can reorganize property taxation in a way that will render it meaningfully progressive. Conversely, it would behoove Professor Delogu to devote less rhetorical energy to attacking Councilor Cloutier and to spend more time acknowledging the inequities of Maine’s tax structure. (Note to my esteemed former colleague: “arrogance” and “hubris” are synonymous – I would suggest substituting “obstinacy” for either “arrogance” or “hubris.”)
I assign ultimate responsibility for this unseemly squabble to Governor Baldacci. To my mind, his decisive margin of victory in 2002 was a clear mandate to effect meaningful structural changes to Maine’s needlessly complex and dysfunctional tax system. Rather than calling a constitutional convention and locking himself in a room with the Legislature until they could agree upon a new tax structure, he has offered only incremental changes and financing gimmicks.
I know no one on either the left or the right who thinks Maine’s current tax structure is worth preserving. I ask Councilor Cloutier and Professor Delogu, who are leaders in our community, to come together and fight for reform of Maine’s tax code.
February 26, 2006
Dale and his other brother, Dale
I enjoyed Corey Pandolph’s debut story immensely [“The Observer,” Feb. 19]. Could you please have the protagonist in every story from now on be named Dale? (Not necessarily the same character, just the same name.) That’d be great. Thanks ever so much for the hearty laughs I had over “The Observer.”
Bollardhead vs. The Weatherman
Now look — I’m as much a fan as anyone of Martin Shields’s* wonderful comic… but where O where, in this terrible, temperate winter, is our dear Bollardhead walking that he finds so much snow? And how the hell do I get there?
(a bitter, intoxicated) Rev. Dr. Jack Zall
(*and if I’m not just a little tossed — and in my defense, I am — there should be an “s” after the apostrophe)