Friday, June 23, 2006

Police Arrest Ex- Employee in Gas Station Burglary

Portland police arrested Anthony Gonzales, 51, of Portland at about 1:20 on Sunday afternoon, June 18, after witnesses say that Gonzales broke the glass door at Hamilton’s Service Station on Park Avenue and emptied the cash register.

Gonzales, a former employee of the station, was picked up on Park Avenue not far from Hamilton’s, with an injury to his hand and several hundred dollars in his pocket, allegedly the money from the cash register. He was charged with burglary and theft.
Munjoy Hill Elects New Leaders

The Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization elected new members at it annual meeting on June 12th with about 40 members in attendance.

Kevin Donoghue, who moved to the Hill in May to run against City Councilor Will Gorham, was elected to the board, while Gorham was not re-elected. Housing activist Ed Democracy also failed to gain reelection.

MHNO President Markos Miller was reelected. The Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization was incorporated as a non-profit organization in January 1979.
Friends of Casco Bay Program to Prevent Sewage Dumping

Friends of Casco Bay has announced the beginning of its annual pumpout program to discourage the dumping of sewage in Casco Bay. Recreational boaters who have used the pumpout service in the past will see changes in the program this season.

There will be limited pumpout service starting Wednesday, June 21st, but the emphasis will be on helping boaters locate and operate shoreside pumpout services at area marinas. The shift from seaside to shoreside pumpouts is partly due to the success of the program.

Calls for pumpouts have outstripped Friends of Casco Bay’s ability to meet the increasing demand, and costs far exceed the $5 fees set by federal law. When the mobile pumpout program started in 1995, there was only one shoreside pumpout facility in Casco Bay; now there are nineteen. Since 1995, Friends of Casco Bay’s pumpout boat has prevented over 93,000 gallons of sewage from entering Casco Bay.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Portland West Dropping Neighborhood Programs
Summer Camperships, Neighbors, Holiday Outreach, Time Dollar among programs cut.

Portland West has announced a major restructuring of its Community Outreach programs, including a jettisoning of some of its most visible programs.

Among the changes to be made at the local social services agency:
-It will no longer publish Neighbors, its multilingual newspaper. An online version of the publication may be developed.
-Will no longer be part of the Holiday Outreach program that distributes Christmas presents to needy families in the West End. Over 70 families participated in the program last year.
-After this summer, will no longer administer its Summer Campership program for local youth.

Community Outreach Director John Navarra said Portland West will also end its Time Dollar program, saying that it made no sense to have two time dollar programs on the Peninsula. Navarra said that his department needed to go in a new direction, focusing on more skill-based programs. He said that Portland West wanted to become more of a Community Center. He also said that the organization did not have sufficient grant funding to continue the programs.
TABOR Leader Brings Message to West End
Mary Adams, who is the statewide leader of a movement pushing for the adoption of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), was the guest of honor at the annual meeting of the Portland Taxpayers’ Association held at The Danforth on June 15th.

Adams told about 25 people in attendance that the tax legislation her group was promoting was a hybrid of similar tax reform legislation around the country, designed to control government spending and “put taxpayers back in charge.” She avoided using the term TABOR, saying that the opposition had programmed people to hate TABOR. She referred to the movement by its full name-the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Adams was particularly critical of the American Association of Retired People for their opposition, referring to it as “the American Association for Removing People.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

MPA Action Helps Sway Senate Votes

A protest by members of the Maine People’s Alliance on June 6th (See West End NEWS, June 9-21, 2006) contributed to the defeat of a bill that would have eliminated the estate tax, which, according to the MPA, would have benefited a privileged few multimillionaires, at the expense of the vast majority of Maine’s families.

An article in The New York Times on June 7th mentioned the MPA action at Senator Snowe's office, saying that "... aides to Senator Snowe of Maine said they had been under heavy pressure from both sides. On Tuesday, even as Mr. Patten's group was still running ads in favor of repeal, a group called the Maine People's Alliance brought a giant replica of a silver spoon and staged a news conference opposing repeal just outside her Senate office."
Service Set for Portland Man Who Died in Afghanistan

Funeral arrangements have been finalized for a Portland National Guardsman who died while on active duty in Afghanistan.
Patrick Daniel Damon, 41, of Falmouth died unexpectedly June 15 at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan while serving in the 240th Engineer Group of the Maine Army National Guard. Visiting hours are Wednesday, June 21 from 6 to 8 PM and Thursday, June 22 from 2 to 4 PM and from 6 to 8PM at the Jones, Rich and Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford Street in Portland.

The funeral will be held on Friday, June 23 at 2:00 PM at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 309 Congress St., Portland.

The son of Ellsworth Damon and Barbara Damon Day, Pat was born in Portland and grew up in Newcastle. He graduated from the Hyde School in Bath, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Economics from American University in Washington, D.C., and a Master’s Degree from the Muskie School of Public Policy at the University of Southern Maine. Pat had served in the Army National Guard for twenty years, earning the rank of captain.

Pat had a distinguished career in Maine State Government, including serving as Chief of Staff in both the House Speaker’s Office and House Majority Office. Prior to his deployment to Afghanistan, he was serving as Administrative Director of the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Pat was widely respected and admired by his colleagues for his extraordinary work ethic, positive attitude, and unparalleled command of public policy issues and strategies.

Pat brought an unusual compassion and enthusiasm to his work and found great satisfaction in finding creative solutions to problems faced by ordinary Maine people. He was a gifted problem solver, and considered public service a privilege and his true calling.

Pat valued his family above all. He was especially devoted to his loving wife of 19 years, Hildi Halley, and their beloved children Mikayla, 14, and Jan-Christian, 12. Together, the family enjoyed school events at the Merriconeag Waldorf School in Freeport, where the children are students, and camping vacations around Maine and the Maritimes. Pat also leaves behind his mother and father, beloved twin sister, Alecia, with whom he grew up and remained close throughout his life, brother-in-law Mark Tenney, mother-in-law Hilda Julia, father-in-law Ted Norbert, father-in-law Gustavo Halley Sr., mother-in-law Sarah Halley, brother-in-law Gustavo Halley and step-father Richard Day.

A college education savings account has been established for Mikayla and Jan-Christian Damon. Contributions should be sent to Damon Children College Fund, c/o Merrill Lynch, P.O. Box 9784, Portland, ME 04101.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Republicans Get Helium Tank

The Cumberland County Republican has procured a helium tank for use at events by town committees and campaigns. Users will need to provide their own balloons and cost of tank refill as necessary. Any members who would like to use the tanks for an event should call Lyle at 854-5115.

Cops Nab One Party Crasher; Looking for Another
Portland police say two men forced their way into a party at 102 Forest Avenue, near Portland Street, at about 4 AM on June 17th, and one of them slashed another man on the back with a knife before fleeing the scene. The victim was treated and released from Maine Medical Center.
Police arrested the second man, Wilbert Brown, 38, of Portland. He reportedly was having an argument with a woman at the party and he allegedly hit another man in the face with a stick. Brown was charged with burglary and assault.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Residents of Peaks Island have voted to secede from the City of Portland according to tentative results from the secession vote on June 13th.. The results show that 352 islanders voted in favor of secession, and 259 voted in opposition. City Clerk Linda Cohen said that there are not enough absentee ballots or challenged ballots to overturn the tentative results, but in keeping with state law, results will not be final until tomorrow.

In response to the results, Mayor James Cohen said that the City respects Peaks Island an important and unique island community within the city, and called the process of separation “difficult.”

Cohen also said that secession will make resident of both the island and the mainland worse off, leading to a duplication of services. He said that discussions will continue regarding the future of the island, and may lead to negotiating and lobbying in Augusta in opposition to the secession. Cohen said that the City has a duty to work in the best interests of the remaining residents and taxpayers of Portland. He also said that the City is committed to maintaining City services on the island as the process moves forward.

City Councilor Will Gorham, who represents the district in which the island is located, said that he didn’t think the State Legislature would allow the secession. A citywide vote on the issue may be the next step in the process.

Monday, June 12, 2006

School Board May Move Meetings to City Hall

The Portland School Committee will vote on June 14th on whether to continue meeting at Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) on Allen Avenue, or move the meetings somewhere else- possibly to Portland’s City Hall.

The Casco Bay High School currently exists in PATHS - with it's epicenter at 250 PATHS - where the school committee meetings are held, and is expanding from 80-something students to at least double that number.

West End School Board member Stephen Spring says that meetings are inconvenient for the students, because much of their work is project-based and the students need more space to do their work.
Currently, the nine-member board has six representatives who live near or on the peninsula. Two board members- Ben Meiklijohn and Jason Toothaker – do not own cars.

Moving the meetings to City Hall would result in easier travel and less fossil fuels being used, says Spring.City Hall is accessible by most major bus routes, he says, and participation by citizens without cars would be easier.
Meiklejohn Starts Online Blog

Ben Meiklejohn, Green Independent Party candidate for State Representative from House District 120 (Munjoy Hill, Downtown), and at-large member of the Portland School Committee, has started an online blog at, where he will be documenting his campaign. The blog is open to the public and anybody may comment.
Spring to Lead Agile Mind Program

West End School Committee member Stephen Spring has been named the Maine Project Director for Agile Mind. Spring works for the Great Maine Schools Project, a leading high school reform organization in the state that seeks to create equitable, personalized, and rigorous high schools to meet the needs of the 21st century.

The organization Agile Mind is housed at the University of Texas in Austin and is the brainchild of top researchers in mathematics education and technology instruction. This spring semester, over 150 Maine high school math teachers were trained and are using the dynamic, web-based tool in their classrooms.

The Mitchell Institute and the Department of Education’s Advanced Placement Initiative Program are teaming up with other school reform partners in the state to deliver training in Agile Mind - and ongoing professional development - to mathematics teachers from Kittery to Madawaska.

One major goal of the program is to work with school districts, like Portland, to change strategies that are flawed, according to Spring— such as sorting students by perceived ability, motivation, and language barriers. The continued practice of sorting high school students results in some students getting access to coursework necessary to succeed in college, while shutting doors for others, says Spring.
Visitor Center To Open at Deering Oaks
The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland announced on June 9th that the Castle in Deering Oaks Park will be used as a Visitors Center - open year-round, seven days a week. The CVB currently operates visitor centers at the jetport, the train and bus station, cruise ship terminals and on Commercial Street in downtown Portland.

More than 13 million people visit the Greater Portland region annually.

Deering Oaks Park is home to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday throughout the summer, as well as being host of the Tuesday Night Concerts at the Bandstand during July and August.
The Castle in the Park was the first major structure erected in the park - in 1894. The whimsical Victorian building was designed by Frederick Tompson, and built at a cost of $900. Established as a visitors’ shelter and a winter warming hut for skaters, it will now go back to its original purpose.

In 2005, the rehabilitation cost was approximately $700,000 - with nearly $300,000 raised privately by the Friends of Deering Oaks, and the balance of the funding provided by the City of Portland.

New Public Market to Open in Monument Square

Four original vendors of the Portland Public Market have announced that they will form a new public market in the historic Clapp Building at 28 Monument Square, site of the former Surplus Store in the heart of downtown Portland.

Although the present Portland Public Market is closing, the four vendors are committed to carrying out the original vision of an in-town public market by providing a community gathering place that celebrates Maine people, food, crafts and agricultural traditions. The four vendors are Maine Beer & Beverage, K. Horton Specialty Foods, A Country Bouquet and Borealis Breads. Along with the four principal vendors selling beer, wine, beverages, cheese, deli, bread, pizza and flowers, the market may have several other permanent vendors selling a variety of other food or gift products. The new space will also provide day tables, carts and other space for farmers, arts and crafts people and other small businesses and food producers.

The new public market is adjacent to the farmers’ market which is held on Wednesdays in Monument Square, and will collaborate with the farmers, possibly providing support facilities to them including dry and cold storage. The market will feature Maine-grown produce, and has entered into agreements with local farmers to stock produce in the store. The market also intends to build a community kitchen that can be used by day renters, including international food vendors and food demonstration and cooking classes.

The new market will be run in a cooperative fashion, with a governing board made up of the principal vendors, and involving community input and participation. The vendors involved have been working together for eight years.

The new public market has received offers from architects, structural engineers, advertising and marketing specialists and other professionals in the effort to relocate to the new space. Plans are also in the works for selling market shares, a gift certificate program, business sponsorships and other fundraising methods. Work is under way to obtain the necessary permits and to build out the new space, with the grand opening anticipated by the end of the year.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Long-time environmental advocate and candidate Jon Hinck has offered his ideas to Mayor Cohen’s Sustainable Portland Task Force. In a brief paper to other Task Force members, Hinck offered a definition and benchmarks of sustainablity and a list of possible priorities. Hinck is a member of the Task Force and is also running for the office of State Representative in District #118.

Hinck’s priorities for action on sustainability include the following:

-New efforts to protect Sebago Lake watershed, the source of drinking water for Portland and other Southern Maine communities. The high quality of Sebago Lake water is threatened by sprawl, by every new acre of asphalt and by the array of toxics that follow population, business and industry.

-Major new initiatives to increase energy efficiency and showcase renewable energy. The greatest, most cost-effective strides can still be made in the area of increased efficiency, including weatherizing private and public buildings, and encouraging green building design. Portland should also consider initiatives to reduce vehicle idling and to showcase solar arrays on rooftops in the city.

-Plant trees. One of the oldest pro-environmental initiatives is still among the best ways to make a city more livable. New trees should be well chosen for shade, attractiveness, heartiness and other positive attributes.

-Develop an effort to reduce the amount of persistent, bio-accumulative toxics in the products bought and used here and the garbage that is currently sent for incineration.

For the last three years Hinck was staff attorney for the Natural Resources Council of Maine and has long worked on environmental matter. While at NRCM, Hinck spearheaded the efforts that led to passage and implementation of Maine’s landmark electronic waste recycling law passed in 2004. That law, based on the principle of product stewardship, is now a national model for protecting the environment from toxics in computers and other high tech gear.
Working Waterfront Bills Signed Into Law
Two bills designed to protect and preserve Maine’s working waterfront have been signed into law.
The Working Waterfront bill, LD 1972, allows waterfront property that supports the commercial fishing industry to be taxed based on its current use. Prior to this bill, all waterfront property had to be taxed at its ‘just value’ a/k/a highest and best use, meaning that land supporting a fishing dock and bait shed had to be valued and taxed as if it were supporting a mansion or resort. This bill was submitted following last November’s overwhelming support (72%) of Question 7 – a measure designed allow the Legislature to adjust the tax rate of working waterfront property.

LD 1930 allows a working waterfront business to sell some of its development rights, as a covenant, to a third party. The covenant would ensure that the property remain as working waterfront and allow the property to be taxed at a reduced rate.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

LaMarche Says State Plans to Privatize Mental Health Care
In a speech scheduled to be delivered in Bangor on June 7th, Green Independent Party gubernatorial candidate Pat LaMarche says that the Baldacci administration will issue a Request for Proposals on July 1st to recruit a managed care organization to take over delivery of mental health services to Medicare and Medicaid recipients in Maine.

According to the LaMarche campaign, only out-of-state companies will be allowed to submit proposals because, under the terms of the RFP, no current provider is allowed to bid on the contract. The privatization will divert approximately $31.2 million out of behavioral health services for the poor, according to LaMarche, including $20.8 million in federal matching funds, because the funds for these services are Medicare/Medicaid “seed money dollars.”

LaMarche called the plan “discriminatory and dangerous” and said that the only way an out-of-state company would be able to reduce the budget would be to “short-change providers and eliminate services.”
Restoration Underway on St. Dom’s Bell Tower

The demolition team working on the collapsed bell tower inside St. Dominic’s Cathedral is completing the second of a three-phase repair and restoration process, according to John O’Dea, Executive Director of the Maine Irish Heritage Center, owners of the building since June 3, 2002.
Phase one included stabilization of the structure for safety, removal of exterior rubble, and hazard protection. The second phase, now almost complete, entails demolition and removal of debris inside the tower in preparation for phase three, which is the actual repair. The bell, which collapsed halfway down the tower, remains undamaged.

O’Dea, who was about to step down as Executive Director when the bell collapsed in May, voluntarily stayed in the position to assist and focus on repairs. He says that monetary donations, and support from several City departments – from Planning, to City Manager, to the Fire Department – have been “outstanding” during repairs. Historic preservation, he says, is “very much a goal.”

Currently, the only space used in the Cathedral is the office. The Irish-American Club has a lifelong lease on the building in exchange for a $50,000 loan it forgave the Center in 2005. IAC Vice-President Robert O’Brien said that, thankfully, the months of the collapse and repair are slower for the group, resulting in no injuries or major re-scheduling of events for its approximate 500 members. The Center, he says, is lucky to have Linda Hogan, its first-ever Director, acting as pro bono fundraiser.

However, the building is covered by insurance, and there is also an ongoing grant for construction activity from the City’s Housing and Development Department. Aaron Shapiro, Housing and Neighborhood Services Division Director, says that no additional funds have been granted by that department, nor has there been a meeting between the IHC and the Housing and Development Department.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Longtime West End Activist Dies

West End activist Irene ‘Sis’ Fontaine, 85, died in Portland on May 25. Born at Gorham’s Corner of Irish-born parents, Mrs. Fontaine was the mother of thirteen children – seven boys and six girls. A graduate of St. Dominic’s School and Portland High School, she also earned a degree in social work from the University of Southern Maine in 1973 at the age of 52.

Mrs. Fontaine’s record of community activism in the West End ranged from her part in the formation of Portland West, her work at the Fraternity House, and her part in the development of the current Gorham’s Corner. She also taught at the Rosa True School and Head Start, and was also a Vista volunteer. She lived all her life in the West End, much of it on Gray Street.

‘Sis’ Fontaine was also known for her exceptional singing voice and dancing skill, specializing in Irish music and dance, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, the most important holiday of the year in the predominantly Irish West End.

She is survived by 12 of her 13 children and nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. Patrick's Church on May 30. Interment was at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.
Local Snow Plow Drivers Win Rodeo Competition

Portland snow plow operators Ron Kelton and Marvin Hamilton have been named winners in a state ‘snow plow rodeo’ competition.

The rodeo was held in conjunction with the 15th Annual Highway Congress event, with competitors from most of the counties in the state participating. The ‘snow plow rodeo’ tests operator skills in an obstacle course layout to assess safety, braking, speed, turning, and other operational requirements, according to Michael Bobinsky, Portland’s Director of Public Works.
"It is very challenging and the operator must work effectively with his wing person in a team-like fashion. Their skills as a snow plow team underscores the important role our operators have in addressing our varied Winter Emergency Operations needs, as well as the skills required of our operators."
Kelton and Hamilton are both District Supervisors and have been with the city’s Department of Public Works for several years.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Maine Dems Pass Impeachment Resolution

Delegates to the Maine Democratic Convention in Augusta voted on June 3rd to pass a resolution that calls for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. The delegates stopped short however of including the resolution in the party platform.

The resolution calls on both the Maine legislature and US Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud to demand that the U.S. House of Representatives investigate ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ and commence impeachment proceedings if warranted. The Waldo County Democratic Committee in Maine voted on May 7th to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment. The South Portland Democratic City Committee has also passed a similar resolution.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Police Praise Neighborhood Bar
Portland police officials have praised the operators of Popeye’s Ice House on York Street for proactive measures the bar has taken to address public safety concerns related to the operation of the neighborhood pub.

In a May 4th letter to Ice House owner Jeffrey Orne, Police Lieutenant Janine L. Roberts, who heads the Department’s Tactical Enforcement Unit, commended the staff for filing Criminal Trespass papers against patrons causing a disturbance at the bar. She also praised Ice House employees for providing a video surveillance tape to police investigators, helping them in charging the offending patron.

Roberts said that bar owners often only hear from the police when there is a problem, and she wanted to note the positive changes the bar had made and encourage the owners to continue in that direction.

Roberts noted that there are still neighborhood issues surrounding the bar, but documented police calls showed that the owners were working cooperatively with police and following their suggestions in attempting to resolve any problems.
MPA to Picket Snowe’s Office

The Maine People's Alliance plans to hold a demonstration outside the Portland office of US Senator Olympia Snowe at Spring and Temple Street on Tuesday, June 6th, at 12 noon. The MPA says that the purpose of the action is to call on Maine Senators Snowe and Collins to vote “No” on the drastic reduction or repeal of the estate tax, which they say would only benefit multimillionaires.

Following the press conference, MPA members will deliver large silver spoons to each of the Senator’s offices to illustrate the negative the impact estate tax repeal would have on Maine families who were not born with silver spoons in their mouths.

According to the MPA, eighteen families worth almost $200 billion, including the Walton family, founders of Wal-Mart, have mounted a relentless, years-long campaign to repeal the estate tax. They say a repeal of the estate tax would give multimillion-dollar tax handouts to the wealthy, while forcing cuts to vital public services for middle- and low-income families. They urged people to call on Snowe and Collins to vote “No” on the drastic reduction or repeal of the estate tax. Congress is expected to vote on the estate tax issue in early June.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Center for Cultural Exchange Building for Sale

The Center for Cultural Exchange announced on May 31st that it will be selling its building at One Longfellow Square in Portland, in order to create a sustainable future for the organization. The Exchange has a full slate of programs which will continue through July.

“This was a very difficult but necessary decision for us to make,” said Board chairman Jay Young. “The sale of the building will enable us to meet outstanding obligations so we can build a new future for the Exchange on solid financial ground.”

The Exchange’s programming through July will usher in Portland’s busy tourist season. Executive Director Lisa DiFranza will continue in a part-time capacity while the organization undergoes a strategic review.
TABOR Leader to Headline Taxpayers Association Annual Meeting

Reception honoring Mary Adams at The Danforth to precede the meeting

The Portland Taxpayers Association will hear from Taxpayer Bill of Rights Chair Mary Adams of Garland, Maine at their annual meeting on June 15, 2006. The meeting will be held at The Danforth at 163 Danforth Street in Portland, beginning at 7:00 pm, and will be preceded by a private reception honoring Mrs. Adams. The members of the association will also elect a president and members to their board. The meeting is open to the public, although attendees will be encouraged to join the organization.

Adams is anticipated to outline the details of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and make the case for its passage. She has been working on tax issues since 1977, when she spearheaded the repeal of the state property tax.
City Announces Mini-Grants to Support Healthy Living

Healthy Portland is seeking applications from community organizations, businesses and non-profit organizations to fund initiatives that support healthy living among people who live, work and play in Portland. HP expects to fund a minimum of four grants up to $250 each. The community initiatives funded under these mini-grants will use education, programming and environmental change to accomplish at least one of the following objectives:

Youth tobacco use prevention
Reduce/eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke
Motivate and assist quitting (tobacco cessation)
Physical inactivity prevention (increase physical activity)
Inadequate nutrition prevention (increase healthy eating)
Overweight/obesity prevention and control
Blood pressure/blood cholesterol control
Alcohol abuse prevention
Sun exposure prevention
Colon cancer prevention
Cardiovascular health promotion
Asthma prevention and control

Applications for the healthy living initiatives are due June 14, 2006. Please visit to download a complete request for applications form and guidelines. Contact: Bethany Sanborn, Healthy Portland Director, 874-8634 or
Public Health Division, Health and Human Services Department, City of Portland