Saturday, March 26, 2011


Mural protesters say they'll fight governor's removal order
By Steve Mistler, Staff Writer
Published Mar 26, 2011 12:00 am | Last updated Mar 25, 2011 11:45 pm

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage says he's found a new home for the disputed 36-foot mural hanging at the Maine Department of Labor.

But an artist who helped organize a large protest Friday at the department's headquarters says his group will fight to keep the artwork where it is.

LePage said his office was working on a deal to temporarily relocate the mural to Portland City Hall. The move would have to be OK'd by the Portland City Council, which will take up the issue at its April 4 meeting.

The deal was brokered by Rep. Ben Chipman, an independent lawmaker from Portland. However, it's unclear whether Portland's City Council will accept the mural.

Portland Mayor Nick Mavodones said he was wary of the council being seen as "enabling" the governor's decision to remove the display. He also acknowledged that the fight unfolding in Augusta could suddenly shift to Portland.

"There will be a crowd of people and some will tell us not to take it," he said.

There's also a political component. The nine-member council is supposed to be a nonpolitical body, but its members traditionally disclose their party affiliation and advance policy in keeping with party ideology.

The council includes five Democrats, three Green Independents and one Republican.

Councilor David Marshall, a Green, participated in Friday's protest at the Department of Labor.

The gathering drew about 250 people who filled both ends of the wide hallways that flank the mural. The rally was organized by artists and attended by organized labor representatives.

Several carried signs holding the names of 146 workers who died in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Friday marked the 100th anniversary of the blaze. (See story, Page B8).

The mural references that tragedy and depicts several other prominent national and local labor figures such as former federal Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, who has connections to Maine and is buried in Newcastle.

Robert Shetterly, an artist from Brooksville, said the protest was organized in about 24 hours. He promised another "nonviolent" event if the governor proceeded with the removal effort.

Shetterly said the mural represents Maine's labor history and should stay where it is.

"We've determined it's going to stay right here," Shetterly said.

LePage, however, appears intent on moving the 11-panel mural elsewhere because he believes it's hostile to business and doesn't balance the historical contributions of industry.

His decision has made national news and drawn the ire of unions, artists and Democrats who say he's provoking a fight with organized labor amid pending legislation that could weaken unions' political power.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said he was stunned that the LePage administration would try to scrub the Labor Department of Maine's worker history, particularly given the governor's French Canadian heritage.

Several of the images in the mural reference French Canadian millworkers.

"You don't want to lift your leg on the working people of Maine and the people who built this great state, and that's including the French community," Gerzofsky said.

He added, "We all know that the French community was held down to a lower class. This governor, above all others, should know what it's like. He worked his way up. He's got to remember what it was like. He can't just now think that he's going to make these edicts to get rid of these paintings."

Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for LePage, said the governor has never seen the mural in person, only in photos. She said the mural's removal was originally proposed by John Butera, a senior staff member.

Bennett said there was some debate among senior staff about whether removing it was appropriate.

"The timing (of the removal announcement) was unfortunate," said Bennett, referring to ongoing tension between the administration and organized labor.

Republicans are also questioning the governor's decision to make the mural an issue.

Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, said Friday that he supported the governor's agenda but said the mural issue "was a distraction we don't need. I'm worried about changing the state," Webster said. "I'm not worried about what pictures are hanging on the wall."

LePage on Friday announced he was seeking artwork submissions to replace the mural.

A spokesman for the governor said the mural would remain in the Labor Department until it finds a new home.

Mural might move to Portland
By Stacey May
Mar 26, 2011 12:00 am

Labor mural could move to City Hall

The now-controversial mural at the state Department of Labor that Gov. Paul LePage ordered removed this week might be “loaned” to Portland City Hall under a tentative deal announced yesterday.

Advocates of that plan say moving the 36-foot, 11-panel mural depicting images of Maine’s labor history to Portland ensures it won’t be sold, locked away in a closet, or donated to a private museum. But some city councilors say it’s too soon to start measuring the hallways at City Hall.

“It’s not (coming to Portland) unless the city council votes for it to come to town,” Councilor Dave Marshall said yesterday, adding that no public hearing on the artwork has been scheduled.

“We certainly would have the room for it, but we would have to figure out if there is support on the council for it or not,” Marshall continued. “It’s more of an idea at this point than a decision."

Mayor Nick Mavodones says doesn’t want Porltand to be seen as “enabling” the removal of the mural from state offices, and like Marshall, he thinks it should stay right where it is.

But, Mavodones says he's open to installing it in Portland. “There is a lot of history in that mural, and I think it’s best if it stays there,” he said. “But if it’s going to be moved, I think we have the space.”

Tremont resident Judy Taylor created the mural several years ago after winning a $60,000 federal grant. The piece features memorable events in Maine’s labor history, including “Rosie the Riveter” at Bath Iron Works, child laborers, and a 1986 labor strike at a paper mill.

“I don’t agree that it’s one-sided,” Ms. Taylor told the New York Times this week. “It’s based on historical fact. I’m not sure how you can say history is one-sided.”

LePage apparently disagreed. The governor made international headlines this week when he ordered the mural removed, saying some business owners complained it was overtly pro-labor. But according to published reports, the only complaint about the mural came from a single, anonymous fax.

Democrats and labor groups largely opposed the decision, which some described as “mean spirited,” and an attack on unions. The spat was covered by the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and dozens of other media outlets. While much of the coverage seemed to question LePage’s motives, the Lewiston Sun Journal sided with LePage in an editorial.

“All the administration is saying is that we want a Department of Labor that is welcoming to both sides of the equation, and right now it’s just representative of one,” LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said yesterday in a phone interview.

State Rep. Ben Chipman, I-Portland, helped broker the compromise that could send the mural to Portland. He too would rather the piece stay where it is, but says installing it at Portland City Hall is better than some of the alternatives.

“I got really worried about what was going to happen to it, and I wanted to make sure it was available and accessible to the public,” he said yesterday, adding that he feared the governor might sell the art to “raise money for the budget.”

Chipman, whose district includes City Hall, says he favors that site because it sits on the original site of the Maine State House, which was erected when Portland was the capital. That building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1866, according to a news release, though the capital was moved to Augusta in 1832.

The state’s labor department is located several miles from the Capitol, in a nondescript office building not far from Interstate 95. Like many in Augusta, Chipman had never seen Taylor’s work before this week.

“I had never been there to see it. I think that a lot of people weren't really aware that it was there until this came up,” said Chipman, who is serving his first term.

Bennett agreed the mural was not a major “tourist attraction” at the labor department’s offices.

“It’s a place where obviously a lot of people go in and out of that lobby all day long … but I don’t think it’s a destination, per se, for anyone,” she said.

Bennett added that nobody in the administration expected the issue would reach an “international level.”

“The whole point is, we did not make this as big as an issue as people on the other side,” she said. “We are welcoming to all kinds of art for the Department of Labor, but the fact of matter is, there is only one side represented here, and its not an appropriate place for that 36-foot mural that cost taxpayers $60,000.”

Mavodones says a city council public hearing on the mural will be scheduled soon, potentially as soon as the April 4. He didn’t rule out hosting a special session on the topic, in anticipation of a large crowd.

If councilors vote to accept the art on loan, many details must still be worked out, such as where to put it (officials seem to think a second floor hallway is best), and who will pay to have it moved (the city says it’s coming at no cost, but Bennett says Portland offered to pay).

Mavodones expected fellow councilors would welcome the mural, but it’s not clear what would happen to the mural if Portland doesn’t accept it.

Meantime, LePage officials are seeking a replacement for Taylor’s piece. They want art that “depicts the cooperative relationship that exists between Maine’s job creators and the workers who power Maine’s economy,” according to a statement.

For now, the mural is still hanging in the labor department, where it will stay until a decision is made on where it’s headed.

Marshall to announce mayoral run
By David Carkhuff
Mar 25, 2011 12:00 am

In a press event scheduled for Monday, City Councilor David Marshall is expecting to formally announce his candidacy for mayor of Portland.

"I'm going to explain my vision for the city and just talk about some of the accomplishments I've had on City Council," Marshall said Thursday in an interview. The announcement is scheduled at a press conference 9 a.m. Monday at City Hall.

A registered Green Independent, Marshall is the first sitting councilor to announce a run for the mayor's office.

The mayor's position, newly created by public vote, is a nonpartisan office and has attracted a diverse range of candidates. Marshall is part of a field of candidates that include Republican Erick Bennett, who announced last Monday he's running for mayor.

Other potential candidates who have picked up candidate registration forms for the mayor's race include Zouhair Bouzrara, Charles Bragdon, Jed Rathband and Christopher Vail. Rathband announced his run in recent months.

Marshall said he has shown he can get things done as an elected official.

In 2006, Marshall first won election to the City Council and won re-election in 2009, "with a platform based on the growing the creative economy, sustainability and neighborhood empowerment for the next generation of economic growth," Marshall reported in a press release.

"I'm dedicated to the city, I've been a homeowner here for over 10 years, I have a business on Congress Street downtown and I'm fully committed to seeing Portland recover from the economy and see it become competitive nationally and internationally," he said.

Asked how he would interact with new Republican Gov. Paul LePage, Marshall said he doesn't support the governor's policies, but that "as an independent person who does not have ties to the major parties," he would be able to work with either party.

In his release, Marshall ticked off a list of accomplishments, including: initiating the successful change to reinstate elections for the mayor; originating the Creative Economy Tax Increment Financing District, which received the Innovations in American Government Bright Idea Award from Harvard University; chairing the Skatepark Committee to raise funds, design and construct the Portland Skatepark; stewarding the Energy Service Contract to create green jobs and save $1.5 million in energy each year by investing $9.4 million into 45 municipal buildings; leading the defeat of a proposed moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and authoring the zoning to permit dispensaries; advocating against locating the JFK Aircraft Carrier as a floating musuem next to the Eastern Waterfront; negotiating the relocation of West End Community Policing to the Reiche Community Center; creating Green Building Codes for municipal buildings and tax assisted developments; coordinating opposition to block an earmark that would have funded the widening of I-295 through the Portland peninsula; organizing a statewide effort to fund the Amtrak Downeaster Train and extend it to Brunswick; empowering the St. John Valley Neighborhood to plan improvements, form an association and secure funds for streetscape investments; securing investments in the Reiche Community Center; and co-chairing the Creative Economy Steering Committee, which resulted in the formation of Creative Portland, a quasi-governmental nonprofit dedicated to the creative economy.

Candidate registration forms allow hopefuls for office to record their campaign donations, in compliance with the Campaign Reports and Finances Law, according to Kathy Jones, acting city clerk.

Nomination papers are not available until July 1. When the nomination documents become available, at least 300 signatures will be needed for a candidate to successfully file for office, Jones explained. The filing period is from Aug. 15 to Aug. 29, she said.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Ameresco Awarded Contract by City of Portland, Maine to Increase Energy Efficiency

Based on audit with MACTEC, Ameresco to perform numerous energy conservation measures on 30 municipal and 15 school buildings city-wide

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. & PORTLAND, Maine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ameresco, Inc. (NYSE:AMRC), a leading energy efficiency and renewable energy company, announced today that the Company has signed an agreement with Maine’s largest city to provide energy conservation measures (ECM) to 45 City of Portland facilities including 30 municipal buildings and 15 public schools. Based on the findings of an audit conducted with MACTEC, a leading engineering firm, Ameresco will implement the $9.4 million project. It is estimated that the project will save the City nearly $17 million over the 15-year project term while reducing Portland’s carbon footprint.

“Because of our long established roots in the city, started as EC Jordan Company 135 years ago, we are especially proud of the leadership the City Council has exhibited and the great support we got from city staff and facility managers.”

The City of Portland is dedicated to sustainability and these investments will help us achieve our goals by reducing our carbon pollution,” said Councilor Dave Marshall, Chair of the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee, City of Portland. “These energy conservation measures are in line with our Climate Action Plan. We have committed ourselves to reducing our carbon pollution and our investments meet these resolutions while we reduce energy consumption, achieve savings and create jobs."

The Portland City Council recently approved an agreement that will implement these measures in 45 municipal and school buildings, including a nursing home, the Portland Exposition Building, City Hall, Merrill Auditorium and Portland High School. Ameresco and MACTEC also audited all of Portland’s K-12 schools, police and fire stations and recreational facilities, along with city buildings and schools on Casco Bay Islands.

“Working with the City of Portland to bring them smart energy choices and conservation expertise has been a rewarding experience, and we applaud the City for being a leader in sustainability,” said David J. Anderson, Executive Vice President, Ameresco. “The budget-neutral improvements we are making not only reduce costs for the City, but will help to create a more efficient work environment and meet their sustainability goals.”

In addition to the comfort and economic benefits of implementing the ECMs, there are significant environmental benefits resulting from the reduced demand for electricity, such as sustained energy reductions and lowering the harmful emissions of carbon dioxide. As part of the ECMs, the City will switch from fuel oil to natural gas and Ameresco will install a 2,000 watt solar array at the Portland Arts and Technology High School.

“Ameresco has been a great partner and we applaud the City of Portland for making efficient energy choices,” said William Weber, Senior Principal Engineer at MACTEC. “Because of our long established roots in the city, started as EC Jordan Company 135 years ago, we are especially proud of the leadership the City Council has exhibited and the great support we got from city staff and facility managers.”

MACTEC’s engineers supported Ameresco to conduct the comprehensive energy audit on the City’s buildings. The team identified a portfolio of ECMs, which include:

* Premium Efficiency Lighting
* Lighting Controls
* Energy Management Control Systems
* Boiler Plant Upgrades
* Pipe & Equipment Insulation
* Solar Water Heaters
* Solar PV Systems
* Laundry Plant Improvements

The City of Portland has no upfront capital expense for the project. Ameresco will guarantee a minimum level of energy savings over the 15-year term of the contract and an assurance to the City that the cash inflows from the project will exceed the cash requirements for the project, offsetting the costs of these improvements. In addition, Ameresco will provide grant funding services that will enhance the value to the City by assisting it in applying and securing additional funds from outside public and private sources. To date, Ameresco has already helped the City to secure two $50,000 commercial funds, or a total of $100,000, to support initiatives at the Central Maintenance Building and the Howard C. Reiche Community School.

About Ameresco, Inc.

Ameresco, Inc. was incorporated in Delaware in April 2000 and is a leading independent provider of comprehensive energy efficiency solutions for facilities throughout North America. Ameresco’s solutions include upgrades to a facility’s energy infrastructure, and the development, construction, and operation of renewable energy plants. With corporate headquarters located in Framingham, MA, Ameresco has 55 offices in 29 states and four Canadian provinces. For more information, visit


MACTEC (, based in Alpharetta, GA, is a leading engineering and design, environmental, and construction firm focused on four strategic business lines: Industrial/Commercial, Infrastructure (Transportation and Municipal), Energy, and Federal. MACTEC offers an ever-broadening portfolio of sustainable solutions, from renewable energy to facility asset management. With annual revenues of more than $440 million, MACTEC’s 2,700-plus employees work from over 70 offices nationwide. MACTEC consistently ranks in the top 10% of Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms. The company has served the Portland community for over 135 years, originally as E.C. Jordan Company.


Ameresco, Inc.
CarolAnn Hibbard, 508-661-2264
NewNet News

US city signs deal with Ameresco for $9.4m greening project

16 March 2011

Renewable energy company Ameresco has signed an agreement with Maine’s largest city to provide energy conservation measures to a number of Portland facilities.

The $9.4m project will include 30 municipal buildings and 15 public schools, and it has been estimated it will save the city $17m over the 15-year project term.

Councillor Dave Marshall, chair of the energy and environmental sustainability committee, said, ‘These energy conservation measures are inline with our Climate Action Plan.

‘We have committed ourselves to reducing our carbon pollution and our investments meet these resolutions while we reduce energy consumption, achieve savings and create jobs.’

Schools, the City Hall and care homes all come under the action plan as the city aims to drive through a comprehensive, umbrella sweep of measures.

David Anderson, executive vice president of Ameresco, said, ‘Working with the city of Portland to bring them smart energy choices and conservation expertise has been a rewarding experience, and we applaud the city for being a leader in sustainability.’

Copyright © 2011 NewNet

City of Portland hires firm to implement energy saving measures

Dennis Hoey

PORTLAND — Ameresco, Inc., a renewable energy company based in Massachusetts, announced today that it has signed an agreement with the city of Portland to provide energy conservation measures to 45 city facilities, including 30 municipal buildings and 15 public schools.

The $9.4 million project will be funded with a bond, said city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg.

It’s estimated that the project will save the city nearly $17 million over the 15 years it will take to complete.

In October, the Portland City Council agreed to borrow the funds needed to make energy improvements with the Barron Center, a city nursing home, receiving the largest share – $2.4 million.

At the time of the vote, city officials said the Portland Exposition Building would receive $450,000; City Hall and Merrill Auditorium, $392,000; $423,000 for the public safety building; and $1.2 million for Lyseth Elementary School.

The project also calls for switching the city from fuel oil to natural gas and installing a 2,000-watt solar array at the Portland Arts and Technology High School.

“The City of Portland is dedicated to sustainability and these investments will help us achieve our goals by reducing carbon pollution,” said City Councilor Dave Marshall, Chairman of the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Groups seeks to make "inert" state pier "interactive"
By Matt Dodge
Mar 09, 2011 12:00 am

A city arts group is moving forward with plans to explore a mixed-arts use for the Maine State Pier while admitting that such uses do not mesh with the city's vision of a "working waterfront" for the deep-water berth.

Why? Largely because no one has told them not to.

“We kept waiting for ‘no’ to be the answer, and we never got ‘no’ so we were encouraged,” said Patrick Costin, a member of Creative Portland and principal of architecture and planning firm Canal 5 Studio.

Costin said that while the city might not support such a venture, exploring the idea couldn’t hurt and doesn't run counter to any other plans currently in place for the Casco Bay landmark.

“The city council perspective is not consistent with this type of use for the pier," he conceeded. "But based on what we know there are no alternative options available that will lead anywhere for pier redevelopment at the current time.”

’We want to open it [the pier] up to the world. Right now it’s nothing but a gigantic wall separating you from views of Casco Bay — it’s an inert object, we want it to be an interactive object,” he said.

Two years after a failed development deal which would have transformed the 88-year-old pier, Creative Portland is proposing a mixed arts use model based on an idea from the Land Down Under.

Adelaide, Australia’s "Jam Factory" converted a former factory into a contemporary craft and design facility for the design, production, exhibition and sale of work by leading and emerging Australian designers and craftspeople. Operating for the last 37 years, the facility has studios space for ceramics, furniture, metal and glass work, as well as a retail space where artists can market their wares.

“They had a similar concept that was very successful,” said Costin.

Costin said the Creative Portland committee tasked with the pier project has done a lot of research into the space, meeting with the city planning department and familiarizing themselves with past and current zoning frameworks and city policy with regards to Portland’s vision for the pier.

“We looked into — if there were an opportunity to introduce an arts component — how that would materialize in terms of zoning or changes to current zoning and [there’s] nothing in the way from a zoning standpoint,” said Costin. “Now the next step is to do a walk-through of the pier, that would help us become more informed on the condition and configuration of the space,” he said.

But city councilor Dave Marshall, the council member appointed to the Creative Portland board, said that the group might discover a real dearth of public support as the idea evolves.

“We've had a lot of extensive process around future uses for the pier and there wasn't a strong public movement at the time calling for this to be predominately used for arts-related purposes,” said Marshall.

Issue of public desire aside, Marshall said, the pier features some working waterfront-specific amenities like its deep-water berth which would be underutilized in a mixed arts use.

“There’s a limit to the the amount of deep-water berthing available in the city," said Marshall. "Arts uses can really exists anywhere in the city, and there has been discussion in the past of having uses on the pier that were not directly related to berthing, but those were uses related to very high income tenants,” he said.

While Marshall said the council has not taken a definitive position of the issue, he senses little support. “Nothing that the council said would necessarily outright prohibit an arts-related use, and I wouldn't say that this discussion is off the table, but it is a bit of a stretch,” he said.

With 30,000 square feet of class C office space across two levels, Costin said the pier facility is uniquely suited for the mixed-arts use concept. “It would appear to align well with type of space we’re looking for, which is affordable, small studio space for artists to work in,” he said.

The pier’s location in a tourism-heavy district and proximity to the city’s cruise ship terminal could be another important asset for a mixed use arts space, according to Costin. “There would be the opportunity for an art event to occur on the lower level during the height of the summer season so you would have cruise ship and island visitor traffic at its peak,” he said.

The idea for a mixed use arts space at the pier was first explored when an ad-hoc committee was formed to propose a project for an National Endowment for the Arts grant, but the committee eventually decided to put their support for the $250,000 NEA grant behind a proposal for a outdoor video screen for the Portland Public Library.

Graffiti plan calls for cleanup by property owners
Officials say it might be a challenge to pass the ordinance, which calls for $250 to $500 fines.

By Dennis Hoey
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — City officials are considering an anti-graffiti ordinance that's aimed at making Portland a more inviting place to live and do business.

The ordinance would require property owners who are "tagged" by graffiti vandals to remove the graffiti within 10 days after being notified by the city. Any property owner who does not could be fined $250, and $500 for subsequent violations.

Proponents say studies have shown that the faster graffiti is removed, the less likely vandals are to return.

Members of the City Council's Public Safety Committee responded favorably to the proposal Tuesday night, but acknowledged that passing it could be a challenge.

"I do feel we need to do something," said Councilor David Marshall. "But I recognize this is going to be a contentious issue."

The ordinance was proposed by the city's Community Police Advisory Board, a group made up of residents, business owners, the religious community and educators.

It was developed in conjunction with Trish McAllister, the city's neighborhood prosecutor.

"Graffiti is a visual symbol of disorder and lawlessness," McAllister wrote in a memo that was presented to the committee. "It contributes to a downward spiral of blight and decay, decreasing property values, lessening business viability, and adversely affecting tax revenues."

McAllister said the proposed ordinance is not intended to "re-victimize" property owners, but to hold negligent property owners responsible when they ignore the problem.

The proposal says the anti-graffiti law would not be enforced from Jan. 1 to April 30 because of weather considerations.

The sale of graffiti tools to anyone younger than 18 would be illegal, and parents of minors caught committing graffiti vandalism could be held responsible for removal costs.

Committee members said the ordinance needs further tuning before it can be presented to the council for consideration. They tabled the proposal until their meeting April 12.

Also Tuesday night, the Public Safety Committee considered a request from the Police Department to have the social service agency Preble Street enforce a code of conduct for its clients, saying it would make that neighborhood safer.

Police Cmdr. Vern Malloch told committee members that Preble Street "has inadvertently and unintentionally created a dangerous environment" by promoting a low-barrier policy -- which allows Preble Street to serve the destitute and homeless without requiring clients to abide by a code of conduct.

Police are seeking the City Council's support to have the low-barrier policy changed.

"Social workers do not share information with officers and frequently will not identify wanted persons, creating a sanctuary atmosphere," Malloch said in a memo to the committee. "The establishment of a code of conduct coupled with a commitment to share information with police is what is needed."

Preble Street's associate director, John Bradley, said social workers are bound by confidentiality laws. He said Preble Street welcomes a police presence and would be willing to meet with police to find common ground.

"If this were a bar, we'd have to close it down," Marshall said, referring to the 438 calls for service at Preble Street in 2010. "But it's not. It's a homeless shelter. Obviously, we have some work to do here."

Committee members told the Police Department to meet with Preble Street and work out a more effective system for rooting out behavior that could lead to drug trafficking, intimidation or violence. Malloch agreed to return April 12 with a progress report.

In another matter, the Public Safety Committee recommended that the City Council approve an ordinance that would make it easier to prosecute the owners of "disorderly houses."

City officials say the current law is ineffective.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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