It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to announce that I will be withdrawing from the mayoral race. This has been a very difficult – I would even say grueling – decision to make, but I am convinced it is the right one for me and for my family.
At this point I'm sure many of you are aware that unprecedented numbers of people seeking asylum in the United States are arriving in Portland, Maine. I know there are disagreements about the role Portland should play in issues that ultimately require state and federal assistance and that people have different perspectives with regard to how the City should handle its Community Support Fund. We will be discussing those issues at our City Council meeting on Monday, June 17th, and public comment will be taken at that time.
Right now, however, we - as a city, a region, and a state - need to find a way to deal with the crisis at hand.
To that end the City of Portland is working with community partners, the American Red Cross, and the State Center for Disease Control & Prevention to operate a temporary emergency shelter at the Portland Expo. That facility opened on Wednesday, June 12th at 5pm.
Numerous people and groups have reached out to learn how they can help. If you are interested in volunteering or making donations to assist in this effort, here are some things you can do.
Thanks to all who have already reached out to learn how they can help!
One of the things I've always loved about Portland is how willing people are to get engaged with issues that are important to them. We are a tremendous community, folks. I'm very proud to call this City home.
Just a quick update for those of you who may have read What's Up with Rising Tide?
The bill giving municipalities the ability to place conditions on state liquor licenses cleared both chambers of the Legislature and was enacted as an emergency on May 30, 2019. That means it is now the law of the land, and we are right back to where we were with Rising Tide before the Council meeting that spawned the attention getting headline.
Speaking of that attention getting headline...
Imagine if instead, the headline following that April 22nd headline had read:
Council Finds Way to Allow Local Business to Keep Operating
It certainly would have been more fitting. Because, as it turns out, that's the real story here.
On Monday, May 20th, the Council approved a budget that included the Fire Chief's plan to decommission Engine 1. In the days leading up to that meeting, I received a slew of emails and phone calls about the Chief's proposal, so first I want to thank everyone for reaching out. It was clear from the communications just how valued the Munjoy Hill Fire Station and the people that operate it are. I am gratified to see the community's passion around ensuring not only that our firefighters are treated fairly, but that the residents of the Hill and beyond are appropriately protected by our local Fire Department.
It does appear, however, that there was some confusion about the Fire Chief's proposal and about the role the council would play in making this decision. This was evidenced by the number of people who called, wrote, or testified publicly to protest the closing of the Munjoy Hill station, something that was never being considered. To be very clear on that point:
The Munjoy Hill Fire Station is not closing.
I also heard from many people who were concerned that 12 firefighters would be losing their jobs. That is also not accurate.
There will be no reduction in force at the Fire Department, and no one is losing a job. There are 226 full-time employees in the Fire Department now, and there will be 226 on July 1st, when the new fiscal year and the new budget kick in.
And after the vote, I heard from people who wanted to know which councilors had voted against keeping the engine. It seems that a lot of people were under the impression that the council would be taking a direct vote on Engine 1, which was not the case.
So what exactly was proposed, how did the vote go down, and what does it all mean for Munjoy Hill and the rest of the city? Good questions. Here's the deal.
When I saw this headline in the paper, I knew I’d have some explaining to do:
If you're wondering why on earth five councilors would vote to violate our own ordinance, you're not alone. Here's the explanation.
Over the last two-and-a-half years we've been discussing homelessness in Portland front and center and in great detail at the HHS & PS Committee. We've had many difficult conversations to date, and I expect we have many more ahead.
That's why as we near a decision on the site selection for the new Homeless Services Center, I want to take a moment to celebrate some of the wonderful partnerships that have grown out of this process. Shining a light on the challenges of our current system has inspired multiple new community collaborations. These partnerships will help us, as a community, reach the goals set by the Council back in 2011 when it created a task force to develop a strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness in Portland, Maine. I'm pleased and proud that this process has helped move us closer to that aim.
On two separate occasions (July 2018 and April 2019), I created two separate timelines to illustrate the shelter process that has taken place since I joined the HHS & PS Committee in 2016. It's important to note that discussions about the current shelter system in the city and the need for improvements pre-date my election to the council, so these timelines don't represent the full shelter planning process in Portland. They do, however, give a good overview of what's happened at the committee and council level over the last three-and-a-half years.
After our most recent HHS & PS committee meeting on March 26th, I spoke with a resident who wanted to know how we’d gotten from a list of nearly 700 parcels to the 3 sites we are currently considering as potential locations for the city’s new Homeless Services Center. In response to her question, I decided to create a “Part Two” to my Micro-Timeline of the Oxford Street Shelter replacement process.
For Micro-Timeline: Part Deux, see below. Micro-Timeline: Part One exists here, and you can see both of them together, in one place, here. Happy reading.
Translation: Beware false labels
Let's Start with the Good
A local politico who I have great respect for (Joey Brunelle) has been publishing blog posts titled "Who Funded Your Candidate?" which I think are a fantastic idea.
I agree that it's important for people to know who's funding local campaigns. That's why in 2018 I introduced a charter amendment to add an additional campaign finance reporting period for municipal candidates in Portland.
But back to those "Who Funded Your Candidate?" posts. Like I said, I think they're a great idea, and for the most part, they're very well done. But I do have a small problem with them...which is actually kind of a big problem.
In August of 2018 I introduced a charter amendment to add an additional campaign finance reporting requirement for municipal candidates in Portland. Here's why I did it and what it does.
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