Friday, August 26, 2011


City buildings, schools get energy upgrades
Aug 19, 2011 12:00 am

A majority of Portland students returning to the classroom this fall will be in buildings recently renovated with millions of dollars worth of energy efficiency upgrades.

Work is under way to convert 10 schools to natural gas heating, and a number of other projects are in motion or scheduled across the city, all aimed at making Portland's schools and public buildings cheaper to maintain. These projects are part of an $11 million bond package approved by the City Council about a year ago after plans were set in motion in 2008.

"It's taken three years or so to get to this point, but we're going to start seeing the results," said Councilor David Marshall, chairman of the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee.

"We're doing a lot of different things," he said.

About $9.4 million of the bond is being spent with the energy services company Ameresco. It's overseeing the lighting system and boiler plant upgrades, as well as various other heating control upgrades and other efficiency improvements.

"A large part of the savings on this project is natural gas conversions," said Ian Houseal, the city's sustainability coordinator.

He estimated that once the conversion for the the 10 schools and eight city buildings is complete, it will mean nearly $900,000 in annual savings, based on current fuel prices.

"The bright side of higher fuel costs is higher savings," he joked.

The remaining bond funds are almost entirely going to pay for new roofs and windows for city schools, he said.

Peaks Island, Lyseth Elementary and Presumpscot Elementary schools are getting new windows. King Middle, Peaks Island and Lyseth are receiving roof upgrades.

"It's been a very comprehensive overhaul of the school systems," said James Morse, the district's superintendent.

"We're very excited," he said. "Obviously, there's a lot of reasons to want to divorce yourself from fossil fuels. … It just makes incredible sense."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Posted: August 16
Updated: Today at 7:51 AM
Seven turn in signatures to run for mayor
Candidates have until Aug. 29 to have at least 300 of them validated in order to get on November's ballot.

By JASON SINGER Staff Writer


THESE ARE the 20 residents who registered with the city as potential mayoral candidates:

• Erick Bennett
• Zouhair Bouzrara
• Charles Bragdon
• Michael Brennan
• Peter Bryant
• Ralph Carmona
• Richard Dodge
• Jill Duson
• John Eder
• Hamza Haadoow
• Nicholas Hall
• Jodie Lapchick
• David Marshall
• Nicholas Mavodones
• Markos Miller
• Jed Rathband
• Paul Schafer
• Ethan Strimling
• Christopher Vail
• Jay York

PORTLAND - Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, City Councilor Jill Duson submitted 481 signatures to the city clerk's office. And with that, the race to become Portland's first popularly elected mayor in 88 years had its first official candidate.

Six candidates, from a field that could grow to 20, handed in signatures Monday. Among them was Nicholas Mavodones, a city councilor who was chosen by the rest of the council in December to serve his fourth one-year term as Portland's part-time mayor.

Candidates for the new full-time position have until Aug. 29 to turn in at least 300 valid signatures to get on November's ballot.

Duson didn't return a message seeking comment, but said in a news release that getting her signatures in early "reflects my commitment to action."

Mavodones, who handed in 500 signatures -- the maximum allowed -- called it the first step in a long process.

"I'm going to continue what I've been doing," he said. "That's build a grass-roots organization -- I had volunteers help collect signatures -- and also knock on doors, meet with people and let the voters get to know me."

Mavodones said he will run on his long record of public service.

In addition to Mavodones and Duson, City Councilor David Marshall, former state Rep. John Eder, retired merchant seaman Peter Bryant and Somali immigrant, businessman Hamza Haadoow and Portland Democratic Party vice chairman Ralph Carmona turned in signatures Monday.

The city clerk must determine how many of the candidates' collected signatures belong to registered Portland voters. That process will likely take several days, although the clerk had verified Duson's signatures by Monday afternoon.

Any candidates who don't have 300 valid signatures after the clerk's inspection will have until Aug. 29 to collect more. Eder, who turned in 310 signatures, and Bryant, who turned in about 350, welcomed the early turn-in date.

"It's helpful they've got this, so you can figure out where you stand, how many signatures are valid," Eder said. "Some residents might think they're registered, but they may not be. So I'm going to continue to collect signatures until I hear back."

Since 1923, Portland's mayor, chosen from among the city councilors, has held a largely ceremonial position. Under a city charter change approved by voters last year, voters will now elect a slightly more powerful, full-time mayor to a four-year term and a $66,000-a-year salary.

The mayor will have the power to veto the city's annual budget, but a veto can be overridden by a vote of six councilors.

One of the potential candidates, Jay York, has protested the new position. He says he's running only to point out the fiscal irresponsibility of making a mayor with only a few powers a full-time employee. He has asked voters not to vote for him.

Mavodones and Marshall, who began pushing for an elected mayor four years ago, disagree with York.

Marshall said a full-time mayor can lobby for Portland in Augusta, something the city has sorely lacked.

He pointed to reduced school funding, as well as Gov. Paul LePage's reported remarks about not wanting to work with Portland on a new fishing port, as proof that Portland needs a full-time advocate.

"We haven't had the leadership connections in Augusta," said Marshall, who handed in about 420 signatures. "If we started with diplomacy on Day One with LePage and the Legislature ... I think we'd be in a better situation today. We need them to understand that Portland is the central economic engine that drives Maine."

Haadoow did not return a message seeking comment Monday.

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

Showing 14 comments

Anthony M. Zeli 10 hours ago
Nick Mavadones did not support creating the elected mayor position, and I continue to wonder why he is running for a job he didn't think was worth creating. It sounds like he has changed his mind, which is okay, but this story doesn't address this. Councilor Marshall has indeed pushed for this change for many years now, and his position has remained steady.
Jason Shedlock and 2 more liked this

boobyjojohn 2 hours ago in reply to Anthony M. Zeli
mavadones didn't support the elected mayor, until he found out how much money they were going to be paid.
1 person liked this.

JuraA 3 hours ago
Based on this article it's pretty clear that the only one in the bunch with an actual agenda is David Marshall. He proposed the elected position of mayor with a clear understanding of the issues and a genuine concern for what is good for our city.
1 person liked this.

MrAWalker 54 minutes ago in reply to JuraA
He's also capable of working with the City staff (who are actually the power-players in this town). None of the other candidates have that experience - which will be essential for the Mayor.

Tommi 9 hours ago
Councilor Marshall is 100% right that we need a full time prominent person lobbying for us. Whether we are losing school money to rural districts or being insulted by our governor, a full time mayor will be a boon for us across the state. Marshall's mixture of experience and willingness to take on the failing status quo make him my 1st choice for mayor.
Jason Shedlock and 1 more liked this

Jason Shedlock 13 hours ago
Councilor Marshall has got it right. We need to make sure we not only look within the city's borders to affect change, but also work to forge partnerships where possible on the regional and state level.
2 people liked this.

William Ethridge 11 hours ago in reply to Jason Shedlock
I agree. David Marshall has already shown foresight in working to create the position, and I think he is the right candidate to achieve its full potential.
Jason Shedlock and 3 more liked this

Stephanie Vesey 10 hours ago in reply to William Ethridge
I agree with Councilor Marshall as well. We need a full time, people elected mayor to promote Portland. I look forward to hearing more from the candidates.
Jason Shedlock and 2 more liked this

Jake_007 12 hours ago
Where's Herb Adams when you need him.
Electing Jill Duson would be like watching the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog day".
1 person liked this.

Black 6 hours ago in reply to Jake_007
Diss'ng groundhogs? Good thing you didn't pick a hippo movie.

Ralph Carmona 17 hours ago
I wish you folks would have waited for closing day on this. I completed by 500 signatures three weeks ago, but was told to wait until this date. I got focused on a number of issues and turned in my signatures yesterday before 4:30PM. I was more focused on being the first candidate to publicly support the $33 million civic center bond measure. I was also focused on later today or tomorrow, announcing a key endorsement of my candidacy.
1 person liked this.

Peter Bryant 13 hours ago in reply to Ralph Carmona
Giood start - - Trying to whine your way in. ?

Now your sounding like the "Finger Pointer in Chief"
2 people liked this.

Ralph Carmona 17 hours ago
For the record, I had my 500 signatures over three weeks ago and was told about to wait for that date. I was more busy focused on issues, like a press release as the first candidate to support the $33 million civic center bond initiative. When I realized the date I turned in my signatures at 4:20PM yesterday. Ralph

Black 6 hours ago in reply to Ralph Carmona
No body outspends Ralph Carmona! is that $33m a firm pledge or will it go up as the campaign heats up?
boobyjojohn and 1 more liked this


7 turn in papers to become Portland's first elected mayor
By Randy Billings

Aug 16, 2011 11:40 am

PORTLAND — Seven of the 20 residents to express interest in becoming Portland's first popularly elected mayor in more than 80 years have turned in their nomination papers, as of Tuesday morning.

Now, the candidates must wait as the City Clerk's office works to validate each petition.

This November, voters will choose a full-time mayor who will serve a four-year term, draw a $65,000 annual salary and have veto power over the city budget.

Currently, the mayor is selected by the City Council and plays a largely ceremonial role.

Monday was the first day residents could turn in nomination papers.

City Councilor Jill Duson, one of only two women interested in the position, was the first person to take out nomination papers and the first to turn them.

Other candidates to turn in their papers include Hamza Haadoow, Councilor David Marshall, Mayor Nicholas Mavodones, John Eder, Peter Bryant and Ralph Carmona.

Elections administrator Bud Philbrick said petition signatures will be verified in the order they are received. He estimated it would take a couple days for two and three staffers to verify the petition signatures for each candidate.

Unlike citizen-initiatives, the City Charter allows candidates to continue collecting signatures if they fall short, which Philbrick said will motivate staff to verify the signatures as quickly as possible.

"I expect to roll through this pretty quickly," he said.

Residents must collect between 300 and 500 valid signatures from registered Portland voters to be placed on the ballot.

Voters will be asked to rank their choices in order of preference, so if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, an instant run-off can take place until a winner emerges.

Duson, a 57-year-old Democrat, has served on the City Council since 2001. Her campaign theme is "Leading by Listening." She believes Portland has been a "successful city in a challenging time."

She believes her experience as an elected official — both on the council and School Board, and as the former state Director of Rehabilitation Services — makes her the best candidate for the the job.

Haadoow is 37-years-old and unenrolled in a political party. Haadoow emigrated to the U.S. from Somalia 10 years ago. Since then, he has opened two businesses: a transportation company and a small grocery store.

Haadoow, who is currently the assistant manager of Goodwill's recycling and sustainability program, said he is running to unify city. He believes there are too many divisions between immigrants and natives, the homeless and the middle class, and Muslims and Christians.

Marshall, a 33-year-old Green-Independent who owns an art gallery on Congress Street, has served on the City Council since 2006.

But Marshall said he is anything but a status-quo candidate. Over the years, he said he has been working to change the way the city does business, especially in the areas of supporting the arts, environmental sustainability and transportation.

He is running a platform of bolstering green jobs, the creative economy and sustainable development.

Mavodones, a 51-year-old Democrat and longtime city councilor, is the operations manager of the Casco Bay Island Transit District. The former School Board member said he has a track record of bring people together and focusing on economic development.

Mavodones, who opposed the creation of the popularly elected mayor position, said he is seeking the post because he believes the city is on the right track and can continue to prosper with only a few minor tweaks.

This is the second year in a row Mavodones has served as the council-selected mayor for the city.

Carmona, a 60-year-old Democrat, is new to the city, having moved here from California last August. The current vice chairman of the Portland Democratic Committee, his campaign theme is "Portland on the rise."

Carmona, who is retired from the utilities industry, said he is passionate about civil rights. He said he could advocate for the city in Augusta, noting his past experience as a lobbyist for Bank of America.

Eder, a Green-Independent, and Bryant, a Democrat, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Other residents who have not turned in their nomination papers are: Republican Erick Bennett, Zouhair Bouzrara (unenrolled), Charles Bragdon (unenrolled), Democrat Michael Brennan, Republican Richard Dodge, Green Independent Nicholas Hall, Democrat Jodie Lapchick, Markos Miller (unenrolled), Democrat Jed Rathband, Democrat Paul Schafer, Democrat Ethan Strimling, Jay York (unenrolled) and Christopher Vail (unenrolled).

Residents have until Aug. 29 to turn in their petitions.
Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings

Portland council denies marijuana petitioners extra time to collect signatures
By Randy Billings

Aug 16, 2011 8:50 am

PORTLAND — A petition effort aimed to make enforcement of marijuana laws the Portland Police Department's lowest priority has been snuffed out — at least for now.

But proponents of an ordinance that would have codified marijuana laws as the city's lowest enforcement priority said they are ready to try again.

The City Council on Monday rejected a proposal that would have allowed the marijuana advocacy group, Sensible Portland, additional time to collect signatures that would have placed the ordinance on the November ballot.

Sensible Portland collected 2,100 signatures and turned them in to the City Clerk's office on July 15, a month ahead of schedule. But the group fell 93 signatures short of the 1,500 needed after the clerk culled the list for registered Portland voters.

Councilor David Marshall called the 35 percent rejection rate "unprecedented," and asked the council to considered giving the group an additional 10 days to collect the signatures.

"This group thought they had 10 (extra) days and plenty of signatures," Marshall said.

Marshall, along with Sensible Portland members, noted that the city's petition gathering process is not only at odds with the state, but also an exception within its own local laws.

The state allows petitioners extra time to gather signatures if they fall short. So does the city where a group is trying to change the City Charter, but not the code of ordinances.

"It's actually easier to change the City Charter than it is the City Ordinance," Marshall said. "That just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me."

Sensible Portland, which believes the city wastes time and money on marijuana enforcement, said they acted in good faith to comply with the existing rules.

Anthony Zeli, of Sensible Portland, said the grassroots effort relied completely on volunteers, most of whom had never before petitioned. That group worked closely with city staff on both the petition and the proposed ordinance, he said.

"This is definitely a complex process," Zeli said. "It's not easy for a group of citizens to go through."

To deny the group additional time, some said, would be to disenfranchise the 1,000 Portland residents who supported putting the question on the ballot.

"Those signatures are not just ink on paper," resident Jason Shedlock said. "They represent voters across the city who have engaged, to one extent or another, in the civic process. Whether or not one agrees with the underlying goal, we as a city should be fostering that engagement any chance we can."

But resident Robert Haines said the issue had nothing to do with civic engagement.

"This is about sour grapes," Haines said. "You don't change a process once it has started to bail out a group that didn't do their homework."

The majority of councilors agreed that it was unfair to change the rules midstream to help a specific petition drive.

Councilor Cheryl Leeman said she served on the council when the ordinance was changed to prohibit additional time for ordinance petitioners. That action occurred because the city lowered the signature threshold, she said.

"The state ... threshold is much higher with regard to how many signatures you have to have, which is why they allow you that extra 10 days," Leeman said.

But councilors were open to a comprehensive review of the petition process as it compares to state law, directing staff to collect information for an early October workshop.

While it takes 1,500 signatures to place a citizen-initiated ordinance on the ballot, the state standard for changing Portland's charter is upwards of 4,500 signatures.

But Leeman cautioned that the group's effort to align state and local laws might backfire.

"I think you will find it will make it more difficult," she said.
After the meeting, Sensible Portland immediately began collecting more signatures for a new petition effort.

Zeli said the group was not giving up on the effort and is eying the June 2012 or November 2012 ballot.

"It's a setback for for this petition drive," he said, "but it's certainly not the end of the issue."
Randy Billings can br reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings

August 9

Panel recommends Portland prohibit sale, use of fireworks
The city considers the action because a new state law legalizes fireworks except where locally prohibited.

By Dennis Hoey
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — A City Council committee is recommending that Portland prohibit sales and use of fireworks in the city once a new state law legalizing fireworks takes effect.

Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne said the city is too densely populated and built up to allow people to use fireworks.

“We really have grave concerns around a fire starting, as well as personal injuries,” he told members of the council’s Public Safety Committee.

City Councilor Ed Suslovic, who chairs the committee, and Councilor David Marshall voted to support the prohibition. The committee’s other member, Councilor John Coyne, was unable to attend Tuesday night’s meeting.

The committee’s recommendation is scheduled to go to the City Council for adoption in September.

L.D. 83, which was enacted by the Legislature on June 29, will allow sales and use of consumer fireworks except in cities and towns that decide to prohibit them.

Consumers fireworks are considered to be less potent and smaller than those used for public displays. Federal regulations define them as any device that’s designed to produce a sound and contains as much as 130 milligrams of explosive material.

Sponsors of the bill said people in Maine already use fireworks but there are no safety programs because they are illegal. By legalizing their sale, supporters said, fireworks will create jobs and generate revenue for the state through the sales tax.

But, in Portland there appears to be little, if any, support for allowing fireworks to be sold or used.

Marshall noted that a major Portland fire was started in 1866 by children setting off fireworks near a molasses factory. He said he will lobby for a comprehensive prohibition of their sale and use.

“I’ve already had a lot of complaints from people in Parkside about fireworks going off at all hours of the night,” Marshall said.

Helen Andrews, who lives on Chester Street, said she heard fireworks going off in her neighborhood two nights ago, around 9:30 p.m.

“I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to call, but I hear (fireworks) going off all the time,” said Andrews, who told the councilors that she supports prohibiting fireworks in the city.

“The only fireworks we’re going to allow will be in this chamber on Monday nights,” Suslovic said.
Also Tuesday, committee members discussed a potential revision to the city’s ordinance governing the raising of domestic chickens.

Marshall said he wants to reduce the setback provision in the two-year-old ordinance, which is now 25 feet, to let people who live in densely populated neighborhoods such as the West End have the opportunity to raise chickens.

The ordinance permits a resident – for a $25 annual fee – to raise as many as six hens as pets in their backyard.

Under the ordinance, a henhouse must be at least 25 feet from any residential structure, including any building on an adjacent lot. Marshall feels that provision is too restrictive.

“Being able to domesticate chickens adds to the food options of people,” he said.

The issue will be discussed at the Public Safety Committee’s meeting on Sept. 13.

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

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