Sunday, April 30, 2006

College Republicans to Protest Anti-War Speaker

The USM College Republicans are planning a rally in support of President Bush on May 2nd to counter the USM College Democrats hosting a speaker who has written a book about impeaching the President.
John Bonifaz a Harvard Law School graduate, is scheduled to speak about the Iraq war at Luther Bonney Hall on the Portland Campus on Tuesday, May 2, from 7:30 to 9pm. Bonifaz is the author of "Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush"

Jonathan K. Read, Chair of the USM College Republicans, has called on all Republicans “to stand strong against the liberals on campus.” The Republicans will be meeting at 6:30 pm in the main area on the first floor of Luther Bonney Hall for the rally.

The tulips that former Portland Parks Department employee Mary Cameron planted last fall on the Western Prom are blooming, but she’s not here to see them. Instead, she’s setting off with fellow USM alum John Baldwin to hike 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
This trail stretches from the Mexican border up through California, Oregon, andWashington, where it crosses into British Columbia. Three years ago, Cameron (who is known on the trail as “Lawn Ornament”) thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail as a volunteer for the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. While her goal was modest—under a thousand dollars—she finished with a sponsorship base of over 250 donors, having raised approximately $9,000.
This summer, as Cameron and Baldwin will trek through 700 miles of desert, several hundred miles of the Sierra Nevada, vistas of volcanoes and Cascade Range glaciers, historic mining sites, and temperatures ranging from below freezing to the low hundreds, theywill be raising money for the American Heart Association. Both hikers have relatives who have suffered from heartdisease.
You can follow Cameron and Baldwin through their online journal at
If you are interested in supporting their fundraising efforts, you may send a pledge to P.O. Box 4758, Portland, ME,04112 or visit the Heart Walk link from their online journal. For more information about the American HeartAssociation’s work in Maine, please visit To learn more about the Pacific Crest Trail, visit

Saturday, April 29, 2006

WENA Looking for Rep for Review Committee

The West End Neighborhood Association is looking for a community representative to serve on the committee that would review proposals for the development of a lot in the West End.

The City of Portland is selling the parking lot at the corner of High Street and Danforth Street for private development and has received three proposals - from PROP, Habitat For Humanity, and Random Orbits Inc.

The review committee will meet once in May, and make a presentation to the Portland Housing Committee on June 6th. The committee will recommend a development plan to the City Council, and the Council will make the final decision on the sale of the property.The City requests that the public representative be impartial, open-minded, and unassociated with any of the three developers named in the proposals.

Anyone interested in serving on the committee should contact WENA President Robert O'Brien by Monday, May 1st at or at (207) 939-7703.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Heavy Item Pickup to Begin in Mid-May

The City’s Heavy Item Pickup program is scheduled to begin in District 1 (Munjoy Hill, Downtown) during the week of May 15. The program, also known as the Bulky Waste Curbside Collection Program, will come to District 2 (the West End) the week of May 22.

This will be the fifth year of the revised Curbside Bulky Waste Collection Program. Up to six items from the list below may be left on the sidewalk for pickup from each individual residence. Up to two items per unit for a maximum of twenty (20) items per apartment building may be discarded: Mattress, box spring, refrigerator/freezer,furniture/cabinets, TV/music equipment,air conditioner, stove/large metal items,washer/dryer, large toys, rolled carpets,bathroom fixtures, hot water heater.

Among the items that are not permitted to be left out for pickup are:
Propane tanks, construction/ demolition debris, cardboard window/ glass items, paper products,household trash, brush, yard/tree waste,liquid waste, hazardous waste, plastic bags, clothing/textiles, tires. The City will release further information and instructions in the coming weeks.
Cops Pick Up Forfeited Drug Money

The Portland City Council on April 19th approved the transfer of $13,804 in forfeited assets from the State of Maine to the City of Portland from the case of the State of Maine vs. Linda Dyer.

The money was seized during a drug investigation conducted by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in conjunction with the Portland Police Department. The money will be deposited into the Portland Police Department’s drug investigation account. Money in that account is used primarily for drug investigations, training, and equipment.
City OK’s Vote on Peaks Secession
Geraghty Wants Citywide Vote

The Portland City Council approved an Order on April 19th calling a Special Municipal Election for June 13, 2006 to vote on the secession of Peaks Island, House Island, Pumpkin Knob, Catnip Island and Surrounding Waters, fromthe Municipality of Portland.

The City has to conduct an advisory referendum on the island for the registered voters on the island, unless three out of the five secession representatives of the island withdraw support for secession by filing written notice of withdrawal with the City Council. The public hearing was conducted on March 25. The election is conducted like any other referendum election in the City, using a pre-printed ballot that the voters cast at the polls.

The only question that can be on the ballot is the following: “Do you favor secession of the territory described below from the Municipality of Portland?”

West End Councilor Karen Geraghty asked the Council to amend the order, providing for a citywide vote on the issue, but the Council rejected her amendment by a 5-4 vote. The law provides that the City Council can call a separate advisory referendum in the rest of the City at the same time with the same question, provided that the vote totals are kept and reported separately. Geraghty said there was a lot of interest in the issue in her district and wanted to know why the majority did not support a citywide vote. But the other Councilors balked at explaining their reasoning for their votes.

The vote will be held on Peaks Island on the same date upon which there will be a state-wide primary election.
City Council Raises Cop Pay
Geraghty Questions Clothing Allowance

The Portland City Council approved a raise for Portland police at their April 19th meeting. The City and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) negotiating teams had reached a tentative agreement on March 23. The tentative agreement had been ratified by the PBA membership. The PBA contract covers 127 police officers and detectives.

The agreement provides a 3% across the board raise, retroactive to January 1, 2006, and another 3% raise on January 7, 2007. The contract includes improvements in education incentive pay, court pay, and clothing allowances. There are also improvements in procedures for filling overtime jobs.

West End City Councilor Karen Geraghty supported the raise, but questioned the clothing allowance, which provides about $200 per officer for what she said were ‘optional’ clothing, such as turtlenecks and optional headwear that was permitted but not required.
Peabody House to Split the Plate With First Parish Church

The Frannie Peabody Center will be the recipient of The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church’s “Split the Plate” charitable program throughout the month of May. During services on Sunday, May 21st, Patti Capouch, Executive Director of the Peabody Center, will speak about the epidemic in Maine in light of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial.

Half of all worship offerings in May will be donated to the Peabody Center’s programs and services for people living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Maine. The First Parish U/U Church is located at 425 Congress Street, Portland. Services are held each Sunday at 10am.

Frannie Peabody Center is the product of a 2002 merger between The AIDS Project and Peabody House. It is the largest community-based HIV organization in Maine In addition, the Peabody Center provides the state’s only housing assistance, subsidies, transitional housing, and assisted living care specifically for people with HIV and AIDS.
Suslovic Votes to Break the Law

Portland At-Large City Councilor Ed Suslovic was just trying to keep his fellow City Councilors moving along on what turned out to be a very long night, but appears to have cast the lone vote on April 19th in favor of the Council ignoring the law.

Suslovic’s vote for illegality came in the middle of an hour-long dispute between West End City Councilor Karen Geraghty and Councilor Cheryl Leeman, who represents the Deering neighborhood.

Geraghty had submitted a resolution to the Council regarding City spending and state or federal approvals. Leeman proposed an amendment to the resolution which appeared to gut the resolution and replace it with Leeman’s amendment.

A furious Geraghty said she had never seen such an action in her nine years on the Council, and the fight was on.

Leeman called Geraghty’s accusations inaccurate and accused her of resorting to ‘a bag of tricks.’

After an hour of dispute, Geraghty apologized for a ‘misunderstanding’, Mayor Jim Cohen declared all forgiven, and Suslovic practically begged them to move on. Then Suslovic voted against the amendment, more out of frustration than principle, effectively voting to spend City funds even if the state or federal government does not approve the expenditure.

The overall resolution passed by a 5-4 vote. Not everyone was exactly sure what they had voted on.
Eder to be Re-Districted to Different Polling Place

At the Portland City Council’s April 19th meeting, East End Councilor Will Gorham questioned whether a candidate could serve as an election worker if his name is on the ballot.

“No,” City Clerk Linda Cohen informed Gorham, but the candidate could work at a poll where his name is not on the ballot, she explained.

The candidate, and election worker they were talking about was West End State Representative John Eder, who is running for re-election in November.

“I didn’t mention any names,” said Gorham, who is also running for re-election.
“No, but others have,” replied Cohen.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Public Schools' 2006 Student Art Show

The Portland Public Schools' 2006 Student Art Show will take place April 27 through May 12 at Portland City Hall. The show includes work by students in kindergarten through 12th grade at all of the Portland Public Schools. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular City Hall hours.

The show will open on Thursday, April 27, from 2 to 6 p.m., with live music by student musicians in the State of Maine Room and refreshments provided by the Culinary Concepts program at Portland Arts and Technology High School.

The 2006 show features work in a wide range of media, including paintings, metalsmith, pottery, masks and sculpture.
"Spring Blitz" Begins in City’s Downtown

About 20 crew members of the city’s Public Works Department have been dispatched to the downtown area to perform a wide variety of services - including sidewalk repair, bench and crosswalk painting, litter removal, graffiti removal, tree mulching and much more.
Over 12 miles of sidewalks in the Old Port and Arts District area will be swept and repaired, according to the City’s website. Over 1000 parking meter and street light poles will be painted – along with 160 trash cans. And over 20 damaged street/traffic signs will be replaced. Street patch work, flower planter preparation and bus shelter window cleaning will also be taking place during the cleaning blitz.

“Pretty much anything that does not move will be cleaned, mulched, painted and/or repaired,” said Janis Beitzer, Executive Director of Portland’s Downtown District.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

YMCA to Hold Grand Reopening

After more than a year of construction, the Greater Portland YMCA will complete phase one of its renovation and expansion efforts this week. The Y will host a grand reopening celebration on Thursday, April 27th, from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. YMCA middle schoolers will provide the tours of the new facility on High Street.

The event will celebrate the completion of ‘Phase One’ renovations; including the new High Street entrance, community meeting space, family program space, and the warm water instructional pool (brought back after 3 years of being closed).

This expansion and renovation at the Greater Portland YMCA is part of a larger organization revitalization project. In Portland, the campaign began with the construction of the new affordable housing development on High Street, and then moved into the building itself. Phase two in Portland includes a new roof over the pool wing, and renovations to the squash, racquetball and handball courts – all of which will take place this summer and fall.

Dems to Conduct Neighborhood Canvas

Democrats in Portland and across Maine will take part in a National Canvass on Saturday, April 29, in preparation for the November elections.

Democrats going out to speak with their neighbors (houses of Democrats, Greens, and Unenrolled) will be seeking to accomplish two structural goals for the organization: to measure the current volunteer capacity of their activist network, and to check accuracy of voter files and update them. Canvass leaders will report on how many volunteers participated, the total number of doors hit, and what the overall experience was.

Local Democrats are expected to go out and speak to 25 of their neighbors and confirm or update data such as resident names and addresses, phone numbers, E-mail addresses, and other information.

For more information, contact Portland Canvas organizer Ed Democracy at
or 207.615.3744, or Ben Collings DNC organizer at
or 207.622.6233

Friday, April 21, 2006

300 Attend Anti-War Town Hall Meeting

More than 300 people crowded into the Hannaford Lecture Hall on the USM campus on Friday night, April 21st, for what was billed as a Town Hall meeting, to express opposition to the Iraq war and to criticize public officials who were accused of supporting the war effort. About 50 speakers spoke over a three-hour period, calling for an end to the war, impeachment of President Bush, and defeat at the polls in the November election of a number of Maine elected officials.

A dais was set up at the front of the auditorium with places and name tags set up for Governor John Baldacci, Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud, and Senators Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, none of whom attended the gathering. Some speakers criticized the elected officials for not attending the event. Baldacci was faulted for allowing Maine National Guard troops to be deployed. Allen was criticized for voting for funding the war, and Michaud praised for voting against funding. Snow and Collins were criticized for their overall support of Bush Administration policies.

A number of candidates who will be running against the incumbents did attend the meeting and spoke against the war and the elected officials. Pat LaMarche, who is the Green Party candidate for Governor, urged the other candidates to go up to the dais and fill the empty seats, but no one took that action. The only elected official at the event was State Senator Michael Brennan, who was in the audience but did not speak.

Some of the topics covered in the numerous speeches included the effect of the war on the domestic economy, the potential for the use of nuclear weapons in Iran, the role of the media, domestic surveillance, and the use of the National Guard in Iraq. Those in attendance were largely people in their 40’s and 50’s and older, with only a handful of college-age students attending. No one at the meeting spoke in favor of the war or the Bush administration’s policies.
METRO Looking at Possible New Routes

The Greater Portland Transit District is examining its current route structure and developing a long-range plan for future route structure needs. Currently, staff members from METRO and the Greater Portland Council of Governments are gathering information for the subcommittee working on the project.

They have completed the first phase of the work and wish to solicit input at two meetings which are going to be held on Friday, April 28, 2006, 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, in Room 316 of the Portland Public Library Main Branch on Congress St., and on Tuesday May 2, 2006, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the Gathering room at the Walker Memorial Library in Westbrook. All are invited to attend and share thoughts and ideas. Please RSVP to Peter Cavanaugh at METRO (774-0351 or

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Take Back the Night March
Portland’s 25th Annual Take Back the Night March Rally and Speak Out against sexual violence. will take place on April 28 at 6:00 p.m. in Monument Square.The event will feature the march, speeches, music by local performers and refreshments. The march, which will be accompanied by a police escort, will begin in Monument Square, proceed through the Old Port and reunite in Monument Square for the Speak Out.

State Committee to Discuss Sex Offender Registry

Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, announced on April 20th that the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will be meeting on Tuesday, April 25th, at 1 p.m. to get an update on the ongoing investigation of the Maine sex offender registry murders. As with all legislative committee meetings, it will be open to the public.

Stephen Marshall of Nova Scotia is suspected of killing two Maine residents who were listed on the registry. According to police reports, Marshall looked up 34 sex offenders on Maine’s on-line registry before he shot and killed two men who were on the list. Marshall later killed himself when confronted by law enforcement on a Boston bus.

The committee will start discussions regarding the various categories and groupings of sex offenders as they appear on the registry. It will review current practices and identify anything that needs to be address immediately. If need be, it is prepared to meet over the summer to continue the review and discussion regarding the registry, according to Diamond, who called vigilantism ‘a very serious problem’ but cautioned against overreacting to the situation, which, he said, could only make matters worse.

The Portland Police Department’s sex offender registry was removed from the department’s website several months ago at the behest of state officials.

Police Ask Community to Get Involved in Fighting Local Crime Wave

Portland Chief of Police Tim Burton ventured into the West End on April 20th to implore local citizens to help police deal with what seems to be a growing wave of drug dealing and related crime that is afflicting the city. Burton conceded that there has been an increase in drug activity, based on an increase in the quantity and purity of drugs seized by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA), the amount of cash seized, and the growing number of burglaries and robberies in the city. He said that Portland has become the lucrative drug market that it has had the potential for becoming for some time.

At a meeting called by the police department at the Reiche School, West End Community Policing Coordinator Sarah Colton told about 30 residents that she was going to start up the Neighborhood Watch program, which had lapsed because of a lack of community participation.
West End Community Policing Officer Will Crawford said that there have been a lot of complaints recently about drug sales at several specific locations in the West End. He said that the more information the police get from citizens, the more they have to work with.

Lieutenant Tony Ward, who heads the city’s Community Policing program, said that the police were only part of the solution, and that local residents had to take ownership of the problem. He asked residents to call the police if they saw anything suspicious at 874-8574.

Parkside Community Policing Officer Dan Knight said that the Parkside neighborhood has been relatively quiet, though it still had its share of drug dealing and car break-ins. He suggested that people might keep a notebook to take down license plate numbers and other information about suspicious activities they witness. He explained the City’s Disorderly House ordinance, which has been effective in pressuring some landlords to deal with locations that have a high incidence of police activity.

Chief Burton said that some of the car break-ins were committed by teenagers, but others were the work of criminals who target specific locations, such as the Back Cove, to finance their drug habits.

The police also fielded numerous questions - about problems with people entering private property to go through trash to collect deposit bottles, about buildings overrun with drug dealers, people selling merchandise out of the backs of vehicles, graffiti, speeding - particularly on Brackett Street – as well as teens hanging out at local parks late at night.

One resident said that the public payphones outside Cumberland Farms at Pine and Brackett Street should be removed because they are a gathering spot and the source of illegal activity. She cited someone whose car was stolen while she went into the store to pay for gas.

Several residents praised the police department for its quick response to recent calls. The Chief assured them that police coverage of their neighborhood would not be affected by the need to assign extra officers to the Old Port during the summer months. He did not know how he would make best use of the manpower he had available, but he would find a way to do it without shortchanging residential neighborhoods.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Democratic Group Forms to Combat High Heating Prices

A group of Democratic activists announced on April 19th the formation of Donkey Card, LLC an organization created to help Democratic households control sky rocketing heating bills through collective buying power. Last year 130 households participated in a pilot program in York and Cumberland Counties, and the group was able to save an average of 33 cents a gallon which resulted in a yearly savings as high as $500 for some families.

This year, the group is expanding the program into Kennebec, Sagadahoc, and Androscoggin Counties. With members extending from Kittery to Waterville, Donkey Card, LLC hopes to cover more families at a better price by increasing their buying power.

Donkey Card expects to expand their services later this summer with various product discounts, but for now they are concentrating on getting their members the best price on oil.

The service is administered by a $35 annual enrollment fee, part of which will go to fund Dem Corps, a nonprofit organization. Dem Corps will support local Democrats in various ways in their efforts to gather food for food pantries, volunteer in their towns, and winterize homes for those in need. It will also provide scholarships for community service-minded young people and offer education on civic participation.

Donkey Card, LLC is currently in negotiations with several oil distributors and will soon decide on a contract. The group says they are searching for the best rates and service. They expect to have the rate locked by mid-June, the time when large oil dealers prefer to lock rates.

For more information you can go to, or call Donkey Card at 207-650-9873
¡Apoyemos leyes migratorias que
respeten la dignidad de toda la gente!
Hora de reunirse: sábado 22 de Abril a las 10:00 A.M.
Detrás de la Catedral Católica de la Inmaculada Concepción
en la calle Congress
La marcha termina en el Monument Square para demostrar hasta las 12:00 P.M.
Para más información, llamar a:
Rafael Galvez: 828-4678
Olga Alicea: 615-6897
Patrocinado por: Centro Latino Maine, Tengo Voz, Maine Civil Liberties Union, Portland NAACP, Maine Immigrant Rights
Coalition, Maine People’s Alliance, Catholic Diocese of Portland, ILAP Maine, Peace Action Maine, LULAC Council 3100

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

West End Police to Hold Neighborhood Concern Meeting

The West End Policing Center has announced that it will hold a special meeting at the Reiche School on Thursday, April 20th at 6:00pm, for residents to voice their concerns about the West End and Parkside neighborhoods. The meeting is expected to address issues of drug dealing and burglaries in the West End and Parkside neighborhoods.

College Republicans Hold Convention in West End

About 150 College Republicans representing 18 colleges and universities in Maine held the organization’s annual State Convention at the Portland Club on State Street on Saturday, April 8th. The theme of the convention was “Securing Our Future: Fulfilling History’s Challenge.”

Senator Olympia Snowe, a member of the Maine College Republican Board of Governors, delivered the main keynote address, referring to the Maine College Republicans as a “force to be reckoned with.”

Colorado Governor Bill Owens delivered the afternoon’s keynote address on the topic of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) initiative in Colorado.

EqualityMaine to Hold Baldacci Fundraiser

EqualityMaine PAC is hosting a fundraiser to help re-elect Governor John Baldacci, who introduced Maine’s new non-discrimination law as a bill in the legislature in February 2005 which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination. The bill was upheld in a referendum vote in November 2005 by a vote of 55% to 45%.

The fundraising event is a reception being held on Sunday, May 14, 4:00 - 6:00 pm, at the Breakwater School on Brighton Avenue. Headlining the event will be Jim Hightower, a progressive political commentator from Texas.

King Middle School Wins Regional Honor

The New England League of Middle Schools has renamed King Middle School in Portland as one of 26 "Spotlight Schools" throughout New England for its use of best practices in teaching middle school students. King first earned the recognition in 2002. A team from the New England League of Middle Schools revisited King earlier this month.
METRO to Roll Out Natural Gas Buses
Free Rides on May 1
METRO and Maine Clean Communities have announced that they will introduce new, compressed natural gas buses to the METRO fleet and officially open the first natural gas fueling station in Maine on Monday, May 1st To celebrate the event, METRO will offer free rides to all passengers on all routes throughout the day.

The Maine Congressional Delegation, city leaders from Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth and the general public are expected to attend the event, which will be held at the new fueling station outside the METRO bus garage, 114 Valley Street.

The buses feature air conditioning and have a capacity for forty passengers. The natural gas fueling station -- built to fuel the new buses using North American natural gas -- will also be used by the Portland School Department, and made available to fuel other vehicles that use natural gas.

The METRO, with bus ridership averaging 1.3 million annually, is Maine’s largest public transportation carrier, providing bus service to Portland, Westbrook, Falmouth and the Maine Mall area.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

LaMarche Qualifies for Clean Election Funding

Green Independent Party candidate for governor Patricia LaMarche handed in more than 2500 qualifying checks on April 14th to the Maine State Ethics Commission. The checks, accompanied by thousands of corresponding signatures, qualify the LaMarche campaign for Clean Election funds.

Each candidate running under Maine's landmark Clean Elections Law is required to submit a prerequisite number of $5.00 checks . For the governor's race, the number of checks is 2500. The LaMarche campaign notified the Maine State Ethics Commission that they would be submitting additional checks through Tuesday, April 18th, the deadline for submissions.

"Green means 'Go! Maine, go!'" said LaMarche campaign supporter Doug Emerson.

Other local candidates who are racing to the Clean Election deadline include Green Party State Representative John Eder, Legislative candidate Ben Meiklejohn, and Republican State Senate candidate David Babin.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ebune Parade to Celebrate Spring
Ebune parade mask and puppet building workshops will be held at MECA - April 17 to April 22. Call 767. 0702 to register. And on Sunday, April 23, the Ebune Parade, a parade to celebrate Spring, led by Oscar Mokeme of the Museum of African Culture, in collaboration with students and faculty at MECA, will start in front of the Porteous Building, MECA, 522 Congress Street. 11:30 a.m. For more information about events, call 207.775.3052 or visit www.meca.edught March
No Trash Pickup on Monday, April 17
Trash and recycling will not be collected in the City of Portland on Monday, April 17. If you live on the mainland, your trash and recycling will be collected on Saturday, April 15. Please have your trash and recycling out at curbside by 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 15 - if you live on the mainland. If you live on the islands and have your trash/recycling collected by the City, it will be picked up on Tuesday, April 18.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Longfellow Website Launched by Historical Society

A comprehensive website dedicated to the life, work, homes, and family of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has been launched by Maine. Historical Society.

The website,, offers an extensive collection of Longfellow-related information. Intended for general audiences as well as a resource for researchers, educators, and anyone with an interest in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the site includes a searchable database of his poems, lesson plans for teachers, a bibliography, a filmography, and more.

Longfellow was a commanding figure in the cultural life of nineteenth-century America and is an integral part of our culture today. Born in Portland in 1807, he became a world-famous personality by the time of his death in 1882. In his best known poems, Longfellow createdmyths and classic epics from American historical events and materials, suchas the diaspora of Acadians ("Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie"), and the first battle of the Revolutionary War ("Paul Revere's Ride"). The 200thanniversary of the birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow will be observed in 2007.
Union at WGME 13 Ratifies Contract Agreement

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1837 and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., have reached a final agreement on a three-year contract. Union members at WGME-TV, Channel 13, have approved the deal by a comfortable margin. The union’s bargaining team had recommended passage of the agreement.

The contract is effective from April 1, 2006, through March 31, 2009. It includes pay increases each year for all represented employees as well as retroactive pay back to December 1, 2004, when the previous contract expired. It also contains strong union security language that the workers had sought.

The agreement follows a series of demonstrations in Portland and Lewiston amid charges that Sinclair was engaging in union-busting. IBEW workers at WGME were joined by a broad coalition of union supporters and community activists.
Lama to Speak at MECA
Visiting Lama Khen Rinpoche Tsetan will be at the Porteous Building, MECA, 522 Congress Street. Room 303, Friday, April 14 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This is a Dharma Talk, a chance for people interested in Buddhism and the political situation in Tibet to ask questions.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

City Sets New Parking Restrictions at Hadlock Field
The City of Portland has enacted new time-limit parking rules for a portion of the Parkside neighborhood. A postcard has been mailed to all property owners in the neighborhood that includes a map of the newly-restricted parking area.

This new time-limit parking will be in effect April through September, from 5 to 9 p.m. Vehicles parked in the restricted areas will have a one-hour time limit. Residents who live within the impacted areas can obtain a residential parking sticker from the Parking Control Office, 874-8443. (The office is located in Room 20 of City Hall and is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.).

The new time-limit parking was established to address neighborhood concerns about the lack of on-street parking within the neighborhood during Sea Dogs home games.
School Board to Ask City to Put Students on METRO

The Portland School Committee on April 5th voted 8-1 in support of beginning the process of consolidating some public school transportation services with METRO by giving free bus passes to high school students in the city during the school year. The students would ride the buses voluntarily and report back to city officials on how the system might be improved.

The vote directs the School Board Chair to compose a letter and send it to the City Council, asking them to go ahead with a plan that was crafted by the joint finance committees of the School Board and City Council last fall. That plan was deemed to be unworkable for a number of reasons at a meeting of city and school staffers and Metro officials in February.

However, School Board member Stephen Spring, who is pushing the plan, says that that group misunderstood the intent of the plan, and that it should be elected officials who decide whether the new policy should be pursued.
School Board to Ask City to Put Students on METRO

The Portland School Committee on April 5th voted 8-1 in support of beginning the process of consolidating some public school transportation services with METRO by giving free bus passes to high school students in the city during the school year. The students would ride the buses voluntarily and report back to city officials on how the system might be improved.

The vote directs the School Board Chair to compose a letter and send it to the City Council, asking them to go ahead with a plan that was crafted by the joint finance committees of the School Board and City Council last fall. That plan was deemed to be unworkable for a number of reasons at a meeting of city and school staffers and Metro officials in February.

However, School Board member Stephen Spring, who is pushing the plan, says that that group misunderstood the intent of the plan, and that it should be elected officials who decide whether the new policy should be pursued.
Saturday, April 22, 2006, MENSK presents, Earthday 2006 Festival Day

Live music, interactive art, arts and crafts for children, local artists displaying their wares, Maine agricultural processor and retailer booths, informational and educational exhibits promoting alternative energies and transportation, with biodiesel- fueled and solar vehicles on display; Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., in Congress Square and the surrounding area .
Clean Election Deadline Looms
Local candidates are working frantically to beat an April 18th deadline to collect enough $5 checks and signatures of registered voters to qualify for funds from the state’s Clean Election fund.

Green Party candidate Pat LaMarche’s gubernatorial campaign reported that they had about two-thirds of the required signatures (about 1600 of a required 2500), with only a week left.
“Failure is not an option,” said Martin Stephens, who moved to Maine from Tennessee to work on the campaign.

Among other local candidates who are racing against the deadline are State Rep John Eder, and legislative hopefuls Ben Meiklejohn and David Babin.
The Earth Day Edition of the West End NEWS (April 14-21) is on the street!
Features include:
-An Earth Day Reflection by Tony Taylor
-It’s About Time- an essay about injustice in the legal system by Bernie Huebner.
-Liz McMahon Looks at the Stars and recommends new professions for everybody!
-James Swan’s Frenchy and the Pirates are in the middle of a kidnap and murder!
-Well-known local politician kicks back with the WEN in Hawaii!
-Harlan Baker hangs out with some more Liberal Democrats!
-Somebody you know is in The Dumpster! And DeliveryMan almost buys the farm!
-and LOTS of wonderful ads!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

House Enacts Minimum Wage Increase for Maine
Bill will increase the minimum wage to $7 by 2007

AUGUSTA – In a closely divided vote, the Maine House of Representatives approved an increase in the state’s minimum wage on Tuesday, April 11th.
The bill won final House approval by a vote of 73-70. If approved once more by the Senate and signed by Governor Baldacci, the measure would provide Maine’s minimum wage earners with a 25 cent increase this year, and a 25 cent increase in 2007, to bring the state’s minimum wage to $7. Current law sets the state’s minimum wage at $6.50 an hour, the second lowest minimum wage in New England.

The vote came as a hard fought victory for proponents. Efforts to increase the minimum wage in the Maine Legislature suffered a setback last week, when the House of Representatives approved an amendment that would have delayed the increase in the minimum wage until 2007 and cut the proposed increase in half. That amendment was defeated in the Senate, and the original bill was restored and sent back to the House. The House then voted to approve the original bill, by a one-vote margin after a long floor debate.

During the debate on the issue, opponents continued to voice concerns about whether the wages should be increased for some un-skilled laborers, and the potential financial impact on minimum wage employers.

Currently, nearly 70 percent of minimum wage earners are adults who are 20 years or older, according to recent US census data, while the majority of minimum wage earners - nearly 62 percent - are women.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Dudley Elected State Dem Chair
State Representative Ben Dudley of Portland was elected by the Democratic State Committee on Sunday, April 9th to serve as new Maine Democratic Party Chairman.
Dudley is currently serving his fourth and final term in the State Legislature, representing Munjoy Hill, Downtown Portland, and part of the West End. Democrat Anne Rand and Green Party school board member Ben Meiklejohn have announced their candidacies for that seat.
Dudley replaces Pat Colwell, who resigned last month amid questions about campaign contributions made to a candidate in a Rhode Island political campaign.
Walk to Benefit Habitat for Humanity
The Portland Spring Time Walk on Saturday, April 15th begins at Finley Gym at the University of New England campus at 716 Stevens Avenue. Registration is from 7:30 to 8:30 AM. The total distance is 7.5 miles. For more information, contact Justin Leblanc at 772-2800. A pledge sheet downloads at Walk proceeds will benefit a two-lot building project in Portland.
Come Discuss the City’s Budget
A Community Meeting to Discuss the FY07 City Budget will take place on Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 p.m., Deering High School Cafeteria - a chance for the public to speak directly to City staff and Finance Committee - and ask any questions. City Manager's recommended budget is on the City’s web site as well:
Minimum Wage Rally to be Held in Portland
The Portland League of Young Voter’s will be hosting a Universal Minimum Wage Rally on Monday, April 17th from 4:30-5:30 PM at 400 Congress Street, in front of the post office. Events will include speakers from various area organizations, crowd participation, and action items. The League’s Rally falls on the last day to file your taxes and highlights the national effort calling for a Universal Living Wage.
for the adaptation of Roger Corman's beatnik horror comedy A BUCKET OF BLOOD, held at the Presumpscot Grange Hall, 1844 Forest Avenue. APRIL 18, 19, 20 6:30 - 9:30
Show dates will be the last 3 weekends in July. FMI Call 653-8898 or 409-3949 email:
Be there or be square!!
Falmouth Company Getting National Exposure
A local company that preserves personal and family histories in custom-made books has caught the attention of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

The lifestyle program “Real Simple,” will feature Ten Moons Books of Falmouth in an upcoming episode. The show interviews Catherine Fisher about her work with business partner Patti Urban to capture people’s life stories. The segment emphasizes the importance of preserving stories for the future and the benefits of the process itself, and profiles one family’s experience in having such a project done.
Fisher conducts interviews and writes the books, while Urban designs them and oversees production.

Ten Moons Books creates full-length life stories and shorter, specially-focused memoirs. The company also offers unique “little story” books, volumes that detail the unfolding of one particular story or event. Fisher said these lend themselves to special treatments that “stretch the boundaries of what we might think of as a traditional book.” All projects begin with personal interviews and result in custom books.
For more information about Ten Moons Books, contact Catherine Fisher, Ten Moons Books, 207-774-0727 or visit the company on the web at:

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Coalition Seeks to Restore Immigrant Voting Rights in Local Elections
Voting Rights Activist from New York to Speak in Portland

The Portland Coalition to Expand Voting Rights has formed, with the goal of enfranchising permanent legal residents in Portland to vote in municipal elections. Initial supporters include officeholders at the city and state level and organizations including The League (a.k.a. LPOV), POWER, and the Portland Green Independent Committee.

On April 12th, State Representative John Eder and School Board member Stephen Spring will be hosting a forum on immigrant voting rights at Portland High School featuring Ron Hayduk, author of Democracy or All: Restoring Immigrant Voting in the United States.

Immigrants awaiting citizenship had the right to vote in the United States prior to the era of harsh anti-immigrant sentiments in the early decades of the 20th century, according to Eder, who said he will submit a bill to restore immigrant voting rights in Portland if that requires any changes in state statutes.

Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights Forum 7:00 p.m. - Wednesday, April 12th
Portland High School – Room 304.
FMI: Ron Hayduk, author and immigrant voting rights activist 917-691-4153
Rep. John Eder, Maine State Legislature 871-0317
Stephen Spring, Portland School Board 879-4040
Local Artist to Run Against Geraghty

West End artist David Marshall has announced that he will run against West End City Councilor Karen Geraghty for the District 2 seat on the Portland City Council.

Marshall, 28, is the owner of Pine Street Studios at 41 Pine Street and is a working artist and community activist, and works as Time Dollar Coordinator and Service Works Supervisor at Portland West. This is his first run for public office.
Marshall said that he will make a fundraising pledge not to accept any contributions from outside the City of Portland, or in excess of $100. He will also challenge Councilor Geraghy to make a similar pledge, and endorse a change in the city's campaign contribution rules to cap all campaign contributions for municipal races at $100.
Eder to Host Renters’ Workshop
West End State Representative John Eder, along with P.O.W.E.R. and the Portland Tenant’s Union, will host a Renters’ Rights Forum at the Reiche School, 166 Brackett Street, on Thursday April 13th @ 7pm.

A lawyer from Pine Tree Legal will answer questions and address renters’ rights issues - such as illegal evictions, security deposits, unsafe conditions - and discuss how to pursue remedies under the law if a renter believes his rights as a renter have been violated.

The program is the latest in an ongoing series of informational forums put on by Eder.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

West End Resident Re-districts Himself for Munjoy Hill Council Race

Local activist Kevin Donoghue has moved from Pine Street in Portland’s West End to North Street on Munjoy Hill to challenge Portland City Councilor Will Gorham for the District 1 seat on the Portland City Council.

Donohue, 27, is co-chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee, and a student at USM's Muskie School of Public Service. He said that he is running to fight a "lack of vision and respect for citizen review" on the Council. He referred to ‘re-districting’ himself as a reminder of the 2004 statewide redistricting which resulted in West End State Representative John Eder being redistricted out of the district to which he had be elected. Eder, the highest-ranking Green Party official in the country, moved back into his district and won re-election in 2004.

Donoghue has been active in promoting an overhaul of the city’s public transit system, and other municipal policy issues. He says that he will only accept pledges under $100 donated from Portland residents and businesses. He called on Gorham to do the same.

Gorham, a Munjoy Hill native who owns a home just three doors down from Donoghue’s new residence, was elected to the City Council in 2003, and has most recently been involved with policing issues in the Old Port, which is in his district. He welcomed Donohue’s entry into the race, saying that his grandmother was a Donoghue, and that his mother’s maiden name was Green.
Parent Wants Video Surveillance at PHS
Portland resident Carol Schiller, a parent of two children enrolled in the Portland Public Schools, has asked the Portland School Committee to consider installing a digitally-based video surveillance system at Portland High School.

Schiller sent an email to Committee members citing problems that she says exist at Portland High School, including fights, vandalism and loitering on school property. According to Schiller, installing a video surveillance system is a proven method for reducing these types of problems.

Falmouth Public Schools will be installing a digital video surveillance system this summer.
Schiller also distributed information to the Committee from Advance Technology, a Scarborough company that specializes in security systems. The Committee will discuss the proposal at its April 26th meeting.

Man Shot on Neal Street
A 19-year-old man was shot in the leg at an apartment at 165 Neal Street on March 31, according to Portland Police.
Two men reportedly broke into the house at about 3:30 AM, demanded money, and assaulted the man and another man.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

House Cuts Proposal to Increase Minimum Wage
Amendment would delay increase and cut wage hikes in half

AUGUSTA - Efforts to increase the minimum wage in the Maine Legislature suffered a setback on April 5th when the House of Representatives approved an amendment that would delay the increase in the minimum wage until 2007 and cut the proposed increase in half.

Both the House and Senate already initially passed the bill earlier this month that would have increased the minimum wage by 25 cents in 2006 and 25 cents in 2007, to bring the base wage in Maine to $7.00. The current amended version would eliminate the first step of the proposed increase of 25 cents in 2006, and delay any increase in the minimum wage until 2007. The increase in 2007 would be just 25 cents, setting the new hourly minimum wage at $6.75.

Current law sets the state’s minimum wage at $6.50 an hour, which is the second lowest wage in New England. A full time minimum wage worker in Maine now earns $13,500 a year. However, the Maine Center for Economic Policy estimates a person in Maine needs to make close to $9.25 an hour in order to meet basic expenses – with two children, the wages needed to constitute a livable income rise to over $18 an hour.

The bill now goes to the Maine Senate, where state senators can choose to accept the bill as amended, strip the amendment and return it to the House in its original form, add a Senate amendment, or reject it outright.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Habitat for Humanity Will Ship Two Houses to Mississippi
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland announced on April 4th its plan to build and ship two homes to Mississippi. Construction will take place on Friday May 5 and Saturday May 6. Hancock Lumber teamed up with their suppliers to contribute the exterior shell for the two homes. This local building project is part of a national effort to rebuild after the devastating hurricanes last fall.

The city-owned parking lot on the corner of Marginal Way and Preble Street will be the site of the building project. Organizer Eileen Whynot said that food and music will unite the participants in a celebration of hope for the people of the Gulf Coast region. In total, two house packages and $76,000 for building materials and site preparation will be sent to Mississippi. To sign up to volunteer on May 5 or May 6, call 772-2151.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland says officials at the state and local level estimate the need for more than 3,000 affordable housing units in the City of Portland alone.
Strimling Challenger Outlines Priorities

Republican David Babin, who announced in February his candidacy for the Portland seat in the Maine State Senate, has outlined his three top priorities:
-reduce Maine’s tax burden,
-create affordable health insurance through competition, and
-adopt a school funding formula that treats Portland fairly.

Babin also listed his positions on a number of other issues in a recent news release:
-He is pro-life, supporting a ban on partial birth abortion.
-He supports the Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights (TABOR).
-He supports a constitutional amendment to establish marriage as a union between one woman and one man.
-He supports working to identify and deport illegal aliens and encourage regular, random INS / ICE sweeps of Portland. He advocates fines and revocation of licenses for Portland businesses that hire “criminal aliens.”
-He supports Second Amendment freedom rights with no restrictions.

Babin, who challenged Strimling in 2004 for the State Senate seat, grew up in the East Deering and Munjoy Hill neighborhoods and attended Portland schools and graduated from Portland High School in 1973. He is employed by Goodwill Industries as a Program Manager for three residential rehabilitation programs for people with traumatic brain injuries. He lives in East Bayside with Edward, his life-partner of twenty four years.
Soybeans to Fuel City Vehicles
The City of Portland has begun a biodiesel pilot program with several pieces of its fleet equipment.The vehicles chosen for this test include a solid waste rubbish packer, a dump truck, a one ton pick-up, and a large holder (used in various construction activities).

The biodiesel being used is a B-20 blend (meaning 20% of the fuel is comprised of biodiesel) with the primary ingredient of this type of biodiesel being soybeans. The City's vehicle maintenance facility will be studying the impact of biodiesel use on these vehicles, including mileage and engine performance. The pilot program will take place over the next several months and, depending upon the results, additional biodiesel purchases may take place with other vehicles utilizing this renewable fuel source.

The City consumes approximately 225,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. For more information on the City's biodiesel pilot program, please contact Kevin Austin at the City’s vehicle maintenance facility at (207) 874-8801.
Dem Senate Candidates to Speak at Citizen Salon
There will be a discussion with the two U.S. Democratic Senate candidates, Eric Mehnert, a civil rights attorney from Orono, and Jean Hay Bright, an author and organic farmer from Dixmont, on Thursday, April 6th, at the Citizen Salon at Zero Station, 222 Anderson Street, Portland. Doors open at 6 p.m., event starts at 6:30 p.m. and is FREE.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bus Trip Planned to New York Peace Rally
On Saturday, April 29, Mainers will board buses to travel to New York City to take part in the United for Peace and Justice mobilization to end the war in Iraq. The march will step off at noon and proceed through the streets of New York City and culminate with a massive action-oriented festival, featuring hundreds of grassroots groups and campaigns.
According to United for Peace and Justice, this will not be a traditional rally. Although the primary focus of the mobilization will be the war, there will be tents dedicated to different issues and themes; exhibits, displays, and information; street performers; and much more. The action has garnered the support of over 900 organizations.
There will be departure locations in Bangor, Augusta, Rockland, Nobleboro, Brunswick and Portland. The cost for the round trip is $48. Seats may be reserved by calling 273-3247 or 763-4158 or emailing Bus organization in Maine is a project of the Midcoast Peace and Justice Group. For more information, the United for Peace and Justice website is,
Car Burglaries Spike in City

The City of Portland is experiencing a rash of motor vehicle burglaries, according to the Portland Police Department, which has received 21 reports of motor vehicle burglaries in the Deering Center area since March 29. The majority of these reports involved unlocked vehicles parked in driveways or on residential streets. Coins, cell phones, and small electronics were reported taken.

In nine additional cases last weekend, thieves broke car windows to take purses or wallets left in vehicles. These vehicles were parked in parking lots, and in at least several cases, it appeared that thieves were watching people park and leave valuables under the seat or in the trunk. The thieves then targeted those vehicles.

Parking lots for recreational areas such as the Boulevard lot on Preble Street Extension, the Ocean Ave Dog Park, and Evergreen Cemetery are frequently targeted by thieves. Additionally, thieves have focused on vehicles parked near day care centers, churches, and schools. Police are urging drivers to lock their cars at all times and never leave valuables inside. Even a trunk may not be a safe alternative because many cars have trunk releases in the passenger compartment. Drivers should also not "hide" a key on or beneath a tire when going for a run or walk. Thieves are aware of this practice and have used such keys to steal from vehicles. If you observe suspicious people or vehicles in parking lots, please call 911 or call the police non-emergency number 874-8922.
"Day of Hockey" Raises $25,000 for Maine Med
Members of the Portland Pirates hockey team and staff, along with players and coaches from Cape Elizabeth and Cheverus High School hockey teams, visited The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland to present a check for $25,000 on behalf of the "Day of Hockey." The check reflects the funds raised through the Pirates "Day of Hockey" that was held on February 19th.

Along with the check, the Pirates also presented a "Get Well" card that was signed by the participants in the "Day of Hockey", along with the toys that were donated to the kids at the hospital on the day of the event. While at the hospital, the Pirates players also visited the kids in the in-patient unit to hand out "Day of Hockey" t-shirts, Pirates player cards and sign autographs.
City Clock Tower Restoration Project to Begin
Restoration of the City Hall clock tower is expected to begin this week. City Hall Plaza will not be available for use through the duration of the project. Expected completion date is late October/early November of 2006. There will be no access to the front doors of City Hall. The public can access City Hall form either of its side door entrances on Myrtle and Chestnut Streets.

Consigli Construction, with offices in Portland, Maine and Milford, Massachusetts was awarded the construction bid for the project with a cost of $1.57 million. Several private donations were received to help offset the cost of this important historical project, including a $100,000 donation form the TD Banknorth Charitable Foundation, a $75,000 donation from the Davis Family Foundation and $5,000 from Maine Initiatives.

During the construction project, the weathervane at the top of the clock tower will be removed for safety reasons, but will return once the project is completed. For more information on the City's clock tower project, please call the City Manager's office at 874-8689 or e-mail Bob Leeman, Director of Public Buildings for the City of Portland.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cops Nab Alleged Taxi Robber

Portland police arrested Manuel Loureiro, 30, on March 30th on Congress Street, in connection with a string of robberies of taxi drivers in the city. Police say they believe Loureiro is responsible for at least four of six robberies in which cab drivers were threatened with a knife and robbed of cash.

Loureiro has been out on bail for burglarizing four Amato's sandwich shops.

The Portland League State Director Wins Public

Citizen of the Year Award

The Portland League of Young Voter’s State Director Justin Alfond has been awarded the Public Citizen of Year Award by the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Alfond was recognized for his group’s efforts to “enfranchise and engage Maine youth, as well as building multi-racial, multi-issue alliances and actively lobby at the local and state level.”

The League was engaged as the college outreach program for Maine Won’t Discriminate, the statewide effort that successfully defeated a referendum that would have reversed legislation that specifically protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in housing and employment.

Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men
The Democratic Women’s League will present an evening with Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman & Evelyn Murphy, Ph.D., Former Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, and author of “Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men and What to Do About It.”

The disparity between men’s and women’s wages actually increased during the economic boom of the 1990’s. The Democratic Women’s League has invited Ms. Murphy to Maine to share her unique insights.

Ticket Price of $25.00 includes heavy reception hors d'oeuvers featuring the fabulous cuisine of Pat's Cafe!! FMI Contact: Lori Gramlich 878 – 1317 232 -1067 Tuesday April 4th, 2006, 5:30 – 8:00PM Pat’s Café, 480 Stevens Avenue, Portland.