Strimling Supporter Strikes Back
I am writing in response to your article about the letter-writing campaign I and others have undertaken on behalf of Senator Ethan Strimling. (See story below.)
You are absolutely right: I take every opportunity to talk with friends and neighbors about our Senator, Ethan Strimling. And here’s why. Ethan Strimling is one of the hardest-working people I know. He is a tireless advocate, a progressive voice, a person with dignity.
Ethan Strimling sponsored a resolution against the war in Iraq 3 years ago -- long before it was “popular.” Under Ethan's leadership, the Maine State Senate became the first legislative body in the country to come out against the war.
Ethan has worked to protect survivors of domestic violence, Maine’s firefighters, young people at risk, and our environment. I could go on, and trust me... I will.
Many of us have encouraged Ethan to run for Congress should Tom Allen decide to run against Susan Collins. We hope he will. Ethan in Congress and Tom in the US Senate would be a powerful voice for all Maine people. I would ask progressive thinkers to join me in support of Ethan. And I won’t mind writing a letter or two to say just that.
Daniel Skolnik, Esq.Portland, ME
In regard the the Iraq War Resolution, the following article appeared in this newspaper shortly after the events described:
West End NEWS
February 19, 2003
Strimling Accused of Snatching Anti-War Resolution From Fellow West End Legislator
By ED KING
What was originally intended to be a modest statement promoting non-violence has turned into a three-way partisan political battle in the State Legislature.
West End State Representative John Eder was gathering support for a statement of non-violence in late January when he asked Portland State Senator Ethan Strimling to be a co-sponsor and to gather support for it in the State Senate.
Strimling held a press conference on January 30, announcing that he was sponsoring an anti-war resolution in the State Senate.
The resolution passed the Senate on February 4 by a vote of 18-15, the votes falling along party lines. It was tabled by the Senate on February 18, when it returned to that body in an amended version from the State House of Representatives.
Jonathan Carter, the Green Independent Party candidate for Governor in 2002, was at the January 30 press conference to show support for the ideas contained in the resolution. But he later confirmed that the resolution had been Eder's idea and that the Democrats had "hoodwinked" it. He called their actions "unethical" and said that they should stop playing politics. He said that Strimling was "politically ambitious".
But Carter praised Biddeford Representative Joanne Twomey, who had discussed the resolution with Eder and had agreed to let Eder be the sponsor of the resolution. Twomey relinquished her speaking time at the January 30 press conference to Eder, who had not been offered an opportunity to speak. Twomey was upset with what one legislator said was a “breach of legislative politeness.”
Maine Green Party founder John Rensenbrink was also at the press conference, as were many Green Party members who expected Eder to have a more prominent role in the announcement of the resolution.
"They wanted one of theirs to get the credit for it," said Rensenbrink, calling the Democrats' maneuvering "unfortunate", "unprofessional", and "indicative of a poor spirit."
Strimling does not deny that Eder had talked to him and gave him the idea for the resolution. The language for Strimling's resolution was taken from one passed by the Portland City Council on February 3 by an 8-1 vote. That resolution was sponsored by West End City Councilor Karen Geraghty. Councilor Cheryl Leeman was the only councilor to vote against it.
The text for the boilerplate resolutions originated from a website called Cities forPeace.org. More than 80 anti-war resolutions that originated at that website have been passed in cities and towns across the country and 90 others are in the process of being presented to local government bodies. The site contains a step-by-step guide to getting a resolution passed and instructions on how to publicize a resolution campaign.
Eder was elected to the Maine legislature in November, 2002 by a nearly 2-1 margin over his Democratic opponent, making him the highest-ranking elected Green Party official in the country He bases his opposition to the Iraqi war on one of the Green Party's 'Ten Key Values'. The 'Non-Violence' value, stated in the party's platform, condemns hatred, fear and violence in any form. It also condemns terrorism, whether carried out by individuals or governments.
Eder said that he would still support Strimling's resolution and he voted for it when it passed in the State House of Representatives on February 11.
Twomey also expressed continued support for the measure and voted in favor of it. The final tally in the House was 73-67, the vote also falling mostly along party lines.
Parkside representative Herb Adams, who also supported the resolution, authored a similar resolution before the Middle East War in 1991. He had been approached to refine the wording of the proposed Eder/Twomey document.
In Augusta, a Republican caucus on the morning of February 11 brought a barrage of criticism for the resolution and its sponsor. It was called everything from a "waste of time" to "aid and comfort to the enemy". One legislator suggested that the Republicans might walk out of the session in protest.
The resolution passed after being amended by House Democrats to include language in support of American troops, a move which still failed to garner much Republican support for it.