Friday, October 14, 2011

David Marshall: A list of successes, ability to 'get things done'

PRESS HERALD Posted: October 14 Updated: Today at 7:15 AM David Marshall: A list of successes, ability to ‘get things done’ The Green Independent wants to invest in school facilities and a streetcar line, and to promote use of alternative fuels. By Jason Singer Staff Writer This story was updated at 7:15 a.m. to correct Marshall's party affiliation and to clarify the circumstances of the arts district tax increment financing district.
David Marshall DAVID MARSHALL PARTY AFFILIATION: Green Independent AGE: 33 ADDRESS: 41 Pine St. PERSONAL: Committed relationship with Whitney Newman EDUCATION: Some college; fine-art apprenticeship, 2001, Plein Air Painting, France OCCUPATION: Gallery owner, fine artist, property manager POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Portland City Council since 2006 WEBSITE: TOP PRIORITIES • Invest in the city’s school buildings to make them state-of-the-art facilities • Grow the population and density downtown • Convert homes and businesses from oil to cleaner, cheaper alternatives • Invest in a modern streetcar line that will encourage development • Institute a 24-hour pothole guarantee JOIN THE CONVERSATION DAVID MARSHALL will answer questions from Press Herald readers during an hour-long live chat with the candidate starting at noon today. Go to to participate. Editor's note: This is the third of 15 daily profiles of Portland's mayoral candidates, paired with online chats. You can find out more about other candidates in our Portland Mayor Race 2011 special section. PORTLAND — City Councilor David Marshall is a technocrat. For his five years in office, he has a list of accomplishments that rival those of his competitors. He came up with the idea for Portland’s first tax increment financing district involving the arts. He helped find money for improvements to the Reiche Community School. And as chairman of the council’s Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee, he led the push for an energy-service contract to make city-owned buildings more energy-efficient. When he talks about what he will do if he is elected mayor Nov. 8, he notes how he plans to pay for each item, whether it’s through TIFs, federal and state grants, revolving-loan funds, adjustments in the city budget or other financial mechanisms. “The difference between me and the other candidates,” Marshall said at one debate, “is that I know how to get done the things that I talk about.” Marshall’s five-point platform includes investing in the city’s school facilities, converting homes and businesses from oil to alternative fuels, and creating a streetcar line. Those programs would cost a significant amount up front, as some opponents have pointed out. Marshall calls them “investments.” He points to a record of saving the city money. In 2010, he led the approval of the energy-service contract, which cost $11 million up front. It involved energy upgrades for 45 city-owned buildings, including new windows, high-efficiency lighting, roofs and other improvements. The upgrades will save the city about $1.7 million per year, officials said. So over the long run, Marshall said, the investment will pay off. “There’s a difference between investing and spending,” Marshall said during a recent interview at Hot Suppa!. “With investments, you get a return on your money.” The same holds true for his streetcar plan, he said. It would cost millions up front. But Marshall said it could be funded with a mix of federal funds and a TIF district, much like the Arts District. In the end, he said, it would bring in significantly more money than it would cost. He cited two other cities that created successful streetcar systems. In Tampa, Fla., a 2.5-mile streetcar system has spurred more than $1 billion in private investments nearby, according to the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. One in Portland, Ore., has attracted $2.5 billion in private investments since it opened in 2001. “A modern streetcar system is an economic tool to create growth,” Marshall said. “People invest more around a streetcar line than a bus line because a streetcar system is more permanent. It shows a long-term commitment.” Marshall’s plans have critics, and hurdles to overcome. Mayoral candidate Chris Vail called the streetcar idea “too grand” and said there wouldn’t be money for such a project. Candidate Richard Dodge said all of the city councilors – three are running for mayor – must take blame for the city’s current economic shortcomings. “David should accept the blame like the rest of the council for the lack of progress,” he said. “The council as a whole has been dysfunctional the last several years. ... You have to own what you’ve done.” In addition to being a city councilor, Marshall is a painter, a businessman and a landlord. He owns Constellation Gallery on Congress Street and property in the West End. He is popular with progressives and young voters. He has more than 100 volunteers – mostly young – working on his campaign. The League of Young Voters named him its top candidate early this month, and his campaign team has knocked on more than 12,000 doors. Marshall’s challenge will be to appeal to the broader electorate. He has never run for a citywide seat; he represents District 2 on the council. State Rep. Ben Chipman, whose district overlaps with Marshall’s City Council district, said he likes Marshall’s chances. “He’s run a heck of a campaign, a very active campaign,” Chipman said this week. “I’ve heard a lot of good things. (His team) has knocked on more than 10,000 doors, and they’ve still got almost a month to go before voting day. That’s a lot of doors. “I’d say he’s one of the three or four people who have a really good chance to win this thing,” Chipman said. Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Plastic Bag Ban Considered

WCHS 6 PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Portland City Council's Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee is looking into whether to ban plastic grocery bags and charge consumers for paper bags. Thursday night, the committee is scheduled to hear from the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit out of California that encourages cities and towns to ban plastic bags and charge customers 10 cents for every paper bag they use from the grocery store. Committee Chair David Marshall says the plan intrigues him because the city is looking for ways to reduce waste and keep the environment clean. Washington D.C. saw bag use drop 80 percent in 2010 after its plastic bag ban and 5 cent charge on paper bags went into effect. "It's a fee not to produce revenue, but to change people's behavior, and that's an interesting policy idea to me," Marshall said. Others argue that now is not the time to put additional fees on consumers. The committee meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Portland City Council chambers. Public comment is welcome. NEWS CENTER

City bus system needs fixing, say mayor hopefuls

PRESS HERALD Posted: October 5 City bus system needs fixing, say mayor hopefuls Some of the candidates offer solutions from no fares to making kids ride city buses to school. By Jason Singer Staff Writer PORTLAND - Nearly every candidate at Monday night's mayoral debate at the State Theatre agreed that the city's public transportation system is broken or inadequate. But of those who spoke on the issue, each had a very different proposal for improving the Metro bus system. Ideas ranged from high-tech upgrades to doing away with fares. The audience appeared to appreciate the various approaches to solving the problem. "I'm not sure which one I liked best," said Martha McNally, 62, who attended the event. "But I like that some of them are showing they're outside-the-box thinkers, and I hope whoever wins, they're not afraid to steal some of these ideas." There are 15 candidates for mayor on the Nov. 8 ballot. The winner will be Portland's first popularly elected mayor in nearly 90 years. Not all candidates had to answer each question at Monday's forum, so only some weighed in on the transportation issue. City Councilor David Marshall suggested syncing buses with smartphone applications, which would tell riders exactly how many minutes until the next bus arrives. The city also could place screens with the same technology at bus stops, he said, so riders could see how far away each bus is and the routes each bus offers. Former state Sen. Michael Brennan said public transportation "is really a regional problem and the solution is a regional solution." He said that having multiple bus operators crowds the downtown and reduces efficiency. The neighboring communities need to combine their resources and design one comprehensive bus system. Light rail is also part of the future solution, Brennan said. City officials are already considering big changes to Congress Street because of the bus traffic in the downtown section, which is used by Metro, South Portland's City Bus, the ShuttleBus and Zoom Express. The changes proposed between High Street and Franklin Street include reversing the flow of some one-way streets, removing stop lights and eliminating almost all left turns. Former state Rep. John Eder proposed possibly the most radical idea. He said high school students should use public transportation, rather than school buses, to get to school. By combining the school's resources with the Metro system, the two could invest in more Metro buses and better efficiency. It would also quickly increase ridership, Eder said, and "create good habits for the future." Marshall repeated his commitment to bringing a streetcar system to Portland, which "we could also use as an economic tool." Business tend to build more around streetcar systems than buses, he said, because streetcar systems show a permanent commitment to riders in an area. The city could pay for it, he said, by using federal funds and establishing a transportation tax increment financing district, much as it did with the Arts District. Candidate Markos Miller said the way to improve the city's Metro system is to make ridership free. He pointed to Boulder, Colo., -- a city with many similarities to Portland -- as an example. Free ridership would reduce revenue in the short-term, Miller said, but increasing ridership would attract more federal dollars in the long run, which is how Boulder pays for its system. Despite the varied approaches, all five candidates drew applause from the crowd, but not necessarily from their opponents. Firefighter Chris Vail said he loved Marshall's streetcar idea, but with the struggling economy, the city wouldn't be able to find funds. Charles Bragdon scoffed at Eder's idea of putting high school students on Metro buses. Metro can't run efficiently with the few riders who use it now, Bragdon said, so increasing the numbers and expecting the buses to get kids to school on time is impractical. Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Mayor hopefuls debate role of arts

PRESS HERALD Posted: October 4 Updated: Today at 12:13 AM Mayoral hopefuls debate role of arts By Jason Singer Staff Writer PORTLAND - There's apparently nothing like an arts-themed debate to splash some color on a race for mayor.
David Marshall holds up his answer to a question as the Portland Music Foundation and the Portland Arts & Cultural Center Alliance hosted the fourth mayoral forum at the State Theatre in Portland on Monday. John Patriquin/Staff Photographer Select images available for purchase in the Maine Today Photo Store During a debate Monday night at the State Theatre, candidates who want to be Portland's mayor read poetry, drew smiley faces and talked about their air-guitar and singing skills. Former state Rep. John Eder said the city has largely priced artists -- who built the creative economy -- out of the community. If he's elected Nov. 8, Eder said, he will offer a tax break for affordable housing in Bayside so developers will build at least 1,000 no-frills units where artists could live and work. The Portland Arts & Cultural Center Alliance co-hosted the two-hour event with another nonprofit, the Portland Music Foundation. The event centered on the city's creative economy and included 14 of the 15 mayoral candidates. Richard Dodge couldn't attend because of work-related obligations, and Mayor Nicholas Mavodones and City Councilor Jill Duson left early to attend Monday's council meeting. The debate featured two types of questions: long-form and short-form. The moderator, Sam Pfeifle of the Portland Music Foundation, started the night with 10 long-form questions. Each candidate could answer only three. Pfeifle later asked 10 short-form questions. Candidates wrote (or occasionally drew) answers on large pieces of paper to questions like: "Name an event that has taken place at the State Theatre in the last six months?" or "How much money does the average person spend in Portland on First Friday?" The questions, it appeared, were meant to show how engaged each candidate is in the city's creative economy. In response to a question about housing, former state Sen. Michael Brennan echoed Eder's early comments, saying "gentrification" first pushed artists out of the Old Port, then out of the Arts District and to Munjoy Hill. "The city hasn't made enough of a commitment to the arts community," he said. Jed Rathband and Ethan Strimling said the city needs to switch from a "can't-do" attitude to a "can-do" attitude when housing projects come along. Rathband pointed to a housing development at Danforth and High streets led by Peter Bass. He said it fell through because the city didn't help with funding through its various loan programs. Strimling said philanthropist Roxanne Quimby tried to redevelop an abandoned building on Congress Street into housing, but gave up because the city made her jump through too many hoops. Two lower-profile candidates elicited the biggest cheers of the night. In response to a question that essentially asked, "How can you prove you're a supporter of the arts?" Hamza Haadoow said he writes poetry in both Arabic and English, and read a quick poem for the crowd. "I am an immigrant / but also a U.S. citizen," Haadoow said. "I was born in Somalia / but I'm not a pirate. I am poor / but I am rich in my heart. ... I am not a politician / but I like to check in on politics." At another point, Pfeifle asked, "Should public money be spent to build live/work space for artists in Portland?" All of the candidates wrote "yes" on their answer cards, except for Chris Vail, a firefighter. But Vail, to loud cheers, said taxpayers can't handle any more burdens and the private sector must find a way to fund such projects. "That well isn't running dry," Vail said, "it's already dry." Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

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