Oh, and did we mention they'll be selling naming rights? photo illustration/The Fuge

Cumberland County Civic Center Bond: Yes

If you’re not going to support the bond measure needed to renovate the Civic Center, don’t even bother voting for a mayor — you clearly don’t give a damn what happens to Portland. If you do want our city to succeed, there’s no more important vote you can cast tomorrow.

The bond question is a no-brainer. There are no valid arguments against it. The county will have the funds needed to modernize the facility without raising taxes to pay for it. There is no venue of comparable size better situated to host sports, concerts and other events. The concert hall/events facility planned for Thompson’s Point, if it gets built, would be considerably smaller, and getting to and from events there promises to be a real pain in the ass.

A modernized civic center with a full schedule of events would be a huge economic boost for downtown Portland, and the benefits will spread and echo throughout the county. That’s because the businesses downtown employ people who live throughout Greater Portland, and those businesses do business with vendors and service providers in other towns. To cite just one example among thousands, Brian Boru sells beer distributed by Nappi Distributors, in Gorham, which employs people from all over Cumberland County.

The new center would be more attractive and functional inside and out. Most importantly, the facility — which was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act became law — would finally have seats accessible to people in wheelchairs. That aspect of the project alone makes it worthy of support.

So make sure you turn over your ballot tomorrow and vote “yes” on the Civic Center bond.

Portland Mayor: Mike Brennan

The Bollard strongly endorses Mike Brennan for mayor of Portland. Here’s why…

All campaign rhetoric aside, the new full-time mayor will have very limited influence in City Hall: no authority to hire or fire staff, or write the city budget; toothless veto power over the budget. The mayor will continue to be a glorified city councilor. They’ll get to bang the gavel, cut ribbons, and make appointments to commissions and task forces no one pays attention to.

The most effective role the mayor can play is to be our voice in Augusta, advocating for our fair share of school funding and other money the state provides. The mayor should lead the team of state legislators representing Portland to work in our best interest on financial matters and other legislative issues.

Mike Brennan has the skills and experience to be our champion in Augusta. No other candidate comes close to matching his background in this regard. Brennan served in the Maine House of Representatives for eight years, beginning in 1992, and subsequently served in the State Senate, where he was elected Senate Majority Leader in 2004.

Brennan knows how Augusta works. He has connections and respect in state government among fellow Democrats and Republicans. He’s honest, open-minded, intelligent and reasonable. We trust him to work on our behalf, not as the puppet of big-money interests.

Which brings us to the other candidate with significant experience in Augusta: Ethan Strimling.

Strimling has also been a state senator, but overall, he has significantly less experience in the Legislature than Brennan does.

More problematic is his attitude. While we — and, for that matter, Brennan — share most of his liberal values, the arrogant way he pushes his positions is a turnoff. If he rubs fellow lefties like us the wrong way, how is he going to win over moderate Democrats or any Republicans? Strimling is too polarizing to be effective.

We’re also uncomfortable with the mountain of cash Strimling has accepted from lobbyists and developers — in particular, Bob Baldacci and the Ocean Properties gang, who tried to use their political connections to take over the publicly owned Maine State Pier a few years ago. Baldacci’s public relations firm has been Strimling’s chief fundraiser. You better believe they’ll try to get their paws on our pier again, and we suspect Strimling would be all too eager to hand it over. That would be a bad idea.

If you want Nick Mavodones, Jill Duson or Dave Marshall to work for us in City Hall, you don’t even have to vote. All three will continue to keep their seats on the Council, win or lose.

Jed Rathband, Marcos Miller, John Eder, Ralph Carmona and Chris Vail would all be strong candidates for Council seats. For mayor — not so much. If they have a genuine interest in city government, not just in the paycheck and prestige, they should start at the Council level, learn the ropes, and work their way up.


State Question 1: Yes

This one’s another no-brainer. It would repeal the Republican-led attempt to suppress voter turnout by overturning the ban on same-day voter registration. There’s no compelling evidence that allowing voters to register and cast ballots on the same day overwhelms volunteers at the polls or enables voter fraud.


State Questions 2 and 3: Yes

As a society, we’re not yet willing to criminalize stupidity. So in the interim, people are allowed to waste their money on games of chance in which the odds are stacked sky-high against them. In fact, our state government actively tries to sucker us into doing exactly that with the lottery and scratch tickets.

Given this, we have a hard time telling private businesses they can’t build a casino or racetrack. And of all the forms of legal gambling, harness racing is the most fun. The sport is dying off along with the old-timers who hang out at Scarborough Downs. A new track in Biddeford, which Question 2 would allow, has the potential to get young people more interested in the sport. The popularity of Kentucky Derby Day parties suggests that if there was a clean, hip, modern track around here, many would get excited about racing on other days of the year too.


State Question 4: Yes

This is just one of those legislative housekeeping measures with no appreciable impact on anyone’s life. May as well vote yes.


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