Wednesday, November 28, 2007

1st Annual Report to District 2
Councilor Dave Marshall


The year of 2007 has been turbulent for the City of Portland. The year started with the chain business regulation and ended with the Maine State Pier deadlock. At the core of both of these key issues were failures in public process. It is now encouraging to see the correction of these failures with the changing of leadership and a focus on fair process and meaningful citizen participation. Contrary to chain business regulation and the Maine State Pier redevelopment, the Council made a lot of progress and I found success with policy concerning public safety, finance, and the creative economy.


Chain Business Regulation

The first few months of my term on the Portland City Council were dominated by debate about chain business regulation. Before my inauguration, the Council passed the contentious Formula Business Ordinance on a 5-4 vote. The FBO was riddled with legal challenges, including failure to follow mandatory process for review by the Planning Board. In the interest of fair process, I was the swing vote that allowed the Council to take a set back, repeal the FBO, and then create the Task Force for Business Diversity, for which I was named co-chair. The neighborhood activists and stakeholders that comprise the TFBD have recently expressed interest in small business incentives. In the winter of 2008 the TFBD members will recommend downtown business policies to the Council.

During my first meeting on the Council I supported an amendment that ended a property owners hopes of renting his store in Deering Center to Dunkin’ Donuts. The amended ordinance prohibits high traffic businesses in neighborhood business zones. The neighbors that fiercely opposed the Dunkin’ Donuts have now warmly received the new pizza restaurant that the property owner recently opened.


Public Safety

The repeal of the Bar Stool Fee was the first action of the Public Safety Committee under my chairmanship. Before the repeal, the Bar Stool Fee was used to make a few bars pay for Old Port overtime policing, from which everyone would benefit. Unfortunately the Council also passed strict regulations on entertainment licenses in our downtown during the same meeting.

Also through the Public Safety Committee, we recommended the strengthening of the Sidewalk Snow Clearance Ordinance and the Disorderly House Ordinance. The Council unanimously passed both of the amendments. As a result, the City will take a more proactive approach this winter to enforcing sidewalk safety after winter storms. The police will also be more proactive when dealing with drugs and prostitution as the property owner is contacted after the first offense. Upon the third incident, the City negotiates a recovery plan with the property owner, which is enforceable through the court system.

In the interest of public safety, I co-sponsored a Council Order that named Dogherty Field as the new location for the skate park. After the old skate park was removed from Marginal Way, the skate boarders moved their activities to the Old Port where traffic and safety concerns quickly arose. When passing the order, the Council created a skate park design committee and a Dogherty Field master planning committee. The Mayor appointed me as the chair of the skate park design committee.

Skateboarding issues in the Old Port revealed enforcement challenges due to conflicting ordinances. While one ordinance allows skateboarding in accordance with traffic laws, another ordinance banned skateboarding on all city streets. A compromise was struck with the Portland Downtown District due to concern about skateboarding on sidewalks and in parks downtown. The Public Safety Committee recommended and the Council approved a motion to strike the ordinance outlawing skateboarding on city streets. Furthermore, the Council made downtown sidewalks and parks off limits to skateboarding. Now skateboarding is allowed on all pubic ways except for sidewalks and parks in our downtown.


Finance

As a member of the Finance Committee, we initiated a task force to reform the way the City allocates Community Development Block Grant funds. The task force members found consensus on ten reform measures. The Council passed nine of the ten reforms that were recommended by the task force.

By playing hardball with the Sea Dogs during lease negotiations, a couple of Councilors and I were able to save Portlanders over $1 million in subsidies. The Sea Dogs, a for-profit corporation, also agreed to finance the new $1.7 million clubhouse at Hadlock Field without a city bond. The Sea Dogs signed a twenty-year lease with the City after its concessions.


Creative Economy

As the first professional artist on the City Council I found success with creative economy policy. First, through the Finance Committee we recommended and passed an increase in funding for the Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance. Then the Creative Economy Steering Committee, of which I co-chair, recommended and saw passage of a new loan program for artists.

Finally, I initiated a bill that was signed into State law that allows municipalities to use Tax Increment Financing revenue for arts and cultural purposes. The Arts District TIF was an idea that I described during my campaign last year in a letter to the editor of the West End News. Thanks to the help of the League of Young Voters and the sponsorship of Representative Herb Adams, the Arts District TIF idea is becoming a reality. The Creative Economy Steering Committee is now recommending that the Council form a TIF zone for our Downtown Art District.


Maine State Pier Redevelopment

The Maine State Pier deadlock has been broken and fair process will be restored due to the election of John Anton to the City Council. Before the election, the Council was deadlocked 4-4 over which developer to select to redevelop the Maine State Pier. Anton, a fellow West Ender, included fair process in his platform to upset incumbent Jim Cloutier, the former chair of the Community Development Committee. Anton supports The Olympia Companies, a Portland based development team, for the redevelopment of the Maine State Pier while Cloutier supports Ocean Properties. Although I was not a member of the CDC, I attended almost every committee meeting for the MSP review. Additionally, I hosted the Maine State Pier Public Forum to encourage citizen participation during the developer-driven review by the CDC. During the committee meetings, I was a vocal advocate for fair process as the CDC chose to violate the process written in Maine State Pier Request for Proposal document. By selecting Olympia for the Maine State Pier redevelopment, the Council rejects the recommendation of the CDC and the unfair process it employed.


Conclusion

It has been an honor to represent the West End, Parkside, and University Neighborhoods on the Portland City Council. The first year of my term was marked with struggles concerning chain business regulation and the Maine State Pier deadlock, however, the successful policy initiatives of the Council far outweighed the challenges. Of my efforts on the Council, I am most pleased with saving Portlanders $1 million in subsidies for the Sea Dogs and for initiating the State Law change to allow the Arts District TIF, In 2008, I look forward to working with the new Council to bring meaningful citizen participation to the Maine State Pier debate and to initiate sustainable economic development in our downtown.

Please share your ideas and concerns with my by emailing damarshall@portlandmaine.gov or by calling 207.409.6617.

Best Wishes,
Dave Marshall

Thursday, November 01, 2007

PRESS HERALD

Pier issue may hurt two council members
Election 2007: Challengers accuse Portland incumbents James Cloutier and Jill Duson of bungling the process.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD Staff Writer November 1, 2007

The role that Portland City Councilors James Cloutier and Jill Duson played in the effort to find a developer for the Maine State Pier could be a deciding factor in their re-election bids.

A controversial position that two Portland city councilors took in reviewing Maine State Pier proposals could be a deciding factor in whether they get re-elected on Nov. 6.

The election also could change the political makeup of the nine- member council, adding Green Independent Party members or an unenrolled candidate to a board that usually is dominated by Democrats.

James Cloutier and Jill Duson, at-large councilors who are up for re-election Tuesday, sit on the three-member committee that oversaw a four-month review of competing proposals to redevelop the city-owned pier.

Ocean Properties Ltd. of Portsmouth, N.H., and The Olympia Cos. of Portland are vying for the opportunity to negotiate with the city to build a hotel, office building and other waterfront amenities worth more than $100 million.

The 85-year-old pier and its large industrial shed were formerly used by Bath Iron Works and Cianbro Corp. Portland officials rezoned the property last year and sought mixed-use redevelopment proposals, largely because the pier needs at least $13 million in repairs and because the city has been unable to find new tenants for the shed.

The challengers in the at-large race, John Anton and Mark Reilly, say Cloutier and Duson bungled the effort to find a worthy developer for a major public asset.

"The Maine State Pier process has been flawed from the start," Reilly said.

Cloutier and Duson say the process was open and comprehensive, but it was overshadowed by major public- relations campaigns mounted by the competing firms.

"One thing we didn't anticipate was the level of political action from the applicants," Cloutier said, who has been committee chairman for four years. "The first meeting and every meeting after was like a political rally, with PR firms and scripted supporters speaking in favor of each proposal."

The community development committee voted 2-1 to recommend Ocean Properties to the full council. The third committee member, Councilor Kevin Donoghue, supports Olympia. He openly opposed the review process that was developed by Cloutier and backed by Duson.

The council is now deadlocked on the issue, having voted 4-4 on the competing firms last month. Councilor James Cohen recused himself from even considering the proposals because he has a professional conflict of interest.

Many people, including Donoghue, have criticized the way the community development committee reviewed the proposals.

Some said the process was unfair because the committee allowed the firms to change their proposals after they were submitted in February. Others said the search for a developer lacked community backing because city officials didn't ask Portland residents how the pier should be redeveloped before seeking proposals.

Anton, president of an affordable housing investment company, and Reilly, a letter carrier, say the review process was unfair, inept and led the committee to recommend the wrong firm. Anton and Reilly support Olympia.

"This election is about the way the city does business," Anton said. "There are these time-consuming processes that lead to decisions that appear to have been done deals from the start."

Cloutier, a real estate lawyer, and Duson, a state administrator, say the committee's recommendation of Ocean Properties was sound. Cloutier is seeking a fourth three-year term. Duson is seeking a third term.

"The process was thorough and transparent, and both applicants were well aware of how it would be conducted," Duson said. "The process wasn't a surprise to either of them."

Duson said residents had opportunities to comment on what kind of development should be allowed on the pier when the council rezoned the property last year.

The seats held by Cloutier and Duson are two of three council positions up for election Tuesday. The other is the District 3 seat held by Donna Carr, who also supports Ocean Properties. She isn't seek re-election to a second term for health reasons.

Although Portland's municipal races are nonpartisan, some voters pay attention to party affiliation. The council currently has six Democrats (Cloutier, Duson, Carr, James Cohen, Nicholas Mavodones Jr. and Edward Suslovic), two Greens (Donoghue and David Marshall), and a Republican (Cheryl Leeman), said City Clerk Linda Cohen.

Maine's largest city is dominated by Democrats. Among Portland's 40,345 active voters, 18,173 are registered Democrats, 13,401 are unenrolled in a party, 6,743 are Republicans and 2,028 are Greens, Cohen said.

Democrats' hold on the council weakened last year with the election of Donoghue and Marshall, and it could grow weaker.

Cloutier and Duson could be unseated by Anton, who is a Green, or Reilly, who is currently unenrolled but has been registered within the last four years as a Republican, a Green and a Democrat, Cohen said.

The candidates for District 3 include three Democrats (Anthony Donovan, Richard Farnsworth and Daniel Skolnik) and a Green (William Linnell).

While Linnell said he supports Olympia, Donovan, Farnsworth and Skolnik said they support Ocean Properties.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com
Portland Greens: Competitive Elections are not Chaos



As chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee I am proud of the Green candidates who are running for office. I reject the negative direction the campaign has taken due to the large independent expenditures of some big-name Democrats. Further I disagree with the premise of his argument: Greens do not cause chaos we help foster democracy and competition.

Portland Greens are a diverse group, and as such often do not agree among themselves. This can be seen in any given board where there is more than one Green. Councilors Kevin Donoghue and Dave Marshall do no simply vote in lockstep, they often disagree and are sometimes quite vocal about it. A perfect example of such was the resolution for impeachment of President George W. Bush- Dave Co-Sponsored the resolution (with Democrat Jill Duson) in what he thought was a proper venue to call for impeachment, Kevin voted nay due to his belief that the people of Portland should make this known through referendum rather than a resolution. This is natural and normal, disagreement is good, debate is better, and collaboration to consensus is best. Disagreement within a party only helps that party to address issues that are important, allows for more open and honest debate and will ultimately lead to better policy decisions than fear and party line voting will. Greens are not browbeaten when they take principled stands that other Greens disagree with.

This year's crop of municipal Greens are focused on winning due to their ideas, their enthusiasm and their vision of Portland for the future. There is nothing wrong with pointing out your differences candidly; there is everything wrong with baseless smear ads. It is a sad day when the Democratic machine can find no positive way to support their candidates. I believe, and I'd wager that most Portlanders believe that negative campaigns hinder the democratic process and fail to further a positive discourse that is healthy for our city and in the best interest of Portland's citizens.

Perhaps the least important argument I will make here is that These Greens do not cause chaos. Greens contribute to a relatively new phenomenon in Portland- competitive elections. If that is chaos to some, perhaps it is the best kind- democracy. Democrats have nothing to fear from an open and honest dialogue. If people like what they say they will win, if people don't they will lose, but there will always be another election, this is a city with far more registered Democrats than Greens. People in Portland are voting for Greens because they want a school committee and a city council that is not just a political rubber stamp. Further, any policies that have been advocated by Greens here in Portland have had at least some support from Democrats. Why is this? Because Democrats have held a majority (a super-majority in most cases) on every elected board in the city! With military recruitment- Greens earned the support of Democrats, using metro buses for high school students- Democrats also supported it. Creation of a business diversity task force- Tri-partisan support! In that case the two Council Greens formed a voting bloc with two Democrats and the lone Republican. Instead of calling this chaos this should be called a blueprint for making good public policy- inclusion of all political opinions to create the best ordinance that suits the most people.



Portland Greens: Bringing Portland Competitive Elections since 2001



Dan Jenkins

Chair

Portland Green Independent Committee

207 233 9476
PRESS HERALD

Democrat targets Greens running in city election

Election 2007: Anthony Buxton is placing signs around Portland blaming Greens for city government's problems.

By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer November 1, 2007

As many as 200 of these signs opposing John Anton and Benjamin Meiklejohn could be posted by Tuesday.

A well-known Portland Democrat has begun a campaign to oppose the election of Green Independent Party candidates in Tuesday's city election.

Anthony Buxton, a founder of Democracy Maine and a leader of the state's Hillary Clinton campaign, has started putting up signs blaming Greens for problems on Portland's City Council and School Committee.

Buxton said he plans to post as many as 200 signs throughout Maine's largest city that read, "These Greens Cause Chaos." The signs show the last names of John Anton and Benjamin Meiklejohn crossed out in red. He filed a campaign expense report of $3,000 Tuesday at City Hall.

Anton is an at-large candidate for City Council. Meiklejohn is an at-large candidate seeking a third term on the School Committee.

Although the city's elections are nonpartisan, Greens recently have gained ground in Portland, where Democrats traditionally dominate.

GREENS BLAMED FOR PROBLEMS

Greens hold three of nine seats on the School Committee and two of nine seats on the City Council. Four Greens are among 14 candidates for a total of six open seats on the two panels.

Buxton said he blames Greens for the council's 4-4 deadlock over choosing a developer for the Maine State Pier and the School Committee's embarrassment over members' recent arrests for petty crimes and a $2 million budget deficit.

Meiklejohn is the committee's finance chairman. He was arrested in April on a charge of driving after license suspension. The charge was dropped last month.

Another Green, Jason Toothaker, resigned from the committee in January after he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor theft of services for running from a $4.65 cab fare. Police found him hiding beneath a porch on Park Avenue. Toothaker did not contest the charge and was fined $610 in April.

"I've lived in Portland for 27 years and I've been extremely disappointed by what's going on on the School Committee and the City Council," Buxton said.

Buxton said he believes the Greens are acting as a group to "make things difficult without any purpose." He said their efforts run counter to the spirit of cooperation and compromise that has marked Democrat-dominated boards.

Buxton said he believes that Greens are directly responsible for distracting the boards and he worries that Greens will drag the city backward just as Portland is gaining a national reputation as a great city.

"We all see it," Buxton said. "Let's not elect more of them ... I want people on my council and School Committee who are adults and civically responsible."

Buxton is a prominent utilities lawyer with Preti Flaherty, a Portland firm that represents the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He was finance chairman of John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign in Maine and is now backing Hillary Clinton. He is a former state Democratic Party chairman and founder of Democracy Maine, according to the law firm's Web site.

Buxton said he is friendly with many prominent Democrats, including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who has been in Portland news lately as a partner in Ocean Properties Ltd., one of two firms that want to redevelop the city-owned Maine State Pier. The other is The Olympia Cos.

Buxton said he has no opinion on which firm should get the project but he believes the council should be able to pick one and move forward.

Anton is a former Planning Board member who is president of an affordable-housing investment company. He said he doesn't promote himself as a Green, nor does he deny it. He said he doesn't vote along party lines, noting that he has already cast his ballot and voted for Jaimey Caron and Kathleen Snyder, both Democrats, in the at-large School Committee race. He said he wouldn't encourage partisanship on the council.

"I am not a lock-step person," Anton said. "I plan to make decisions based on what I think is best for the city. I think the tenor of that sign is (Page 2 of 2)

exactly what people want to get away from in local politics."

Anton has been a vocal opponent of the process that the City Council used to review the two proposals for the Maine State Pier. He supports the proposal from The Olympia Cos.

ACCUSATIONS REJECTED

David Marshall, one of two Greens who were elected to the council last November, took issue with Buxton's characterization of his work on the council.

"The deadlock on the pier represents a tripartisan effort to stand up to the establishment Democrats on the council -- who usually vote as a block -- and do what's right for the city," Marshall said. "You can't blame a minority party for what's going wrong on either board."

In addition to Marshall and Kevin Donoghue, the other Green on the council, the council has six Democrats and a Republican.

In voting on the Maine State Pier proposals, Marshall and Donoghue voted for Olympia, as did Edward Suslovic, a Democrat, and Cheryl Leeman, a Republican. The four Democrats who voted for Ocean Properties were Donna Carr, James Cloutier, Jill Duson and Nicholas Mavodones Jr.

"You can't place the blame for this deadlock on two people," Marshall said, adding that he and Donoghue have split on several issues.

Marshall said he attends council meetings, votes for what he thinks is best for Portland, owns a home, pays taxes and runs a small business.

"That's a pretty significant level of responsibility for a 29-year- old," he said. "When it comes down to it, I think people get turned off by this type of negative campaigning."

Cloutier and Duson, at-large councilors who face Anton in Tuesday's election, said they had nothing to do with the signs but agree with Buxton's concerns.

"I do think that we have suffered from some problems as a result of the activities of the Green Party, particularly on the School Committee, (and) it's bleeding over onto the council," Cloutier said.

Duson said this year's city campaigns have been unusually partisan on both sides, "but most of it has come from the Greens."

Meiklejohn and Donoghue did not respond to requests for interviews.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

View District Two: A Work in Progress in a larger map