Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Governor, PrepMe to Unveil Online SAT Prep Course
Will be available free to every junior in the state

Governor John Baldacci, Education Department officials, and the head of PrepMe will announce the offering of a free online SAT preparation course to every high school junior in Maine at a press event a 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 1, at Portland High School ’s library.

For the next three years, plans to let every junior in Maine use its program without cost to students, schools or the State. The cost of the Gold Programs is usually $300. Maine recently required that every high school junior in the state take the SAT as a way to boost expectations among students that they can attend college. Maine is the first in the nation to use the SAT as an assessment tool; the U.S. Department of Education has given “approval pending” status to Maine ’s decision.

Built by recent graduates of Stanford and The University of Chicago, PrepMe’s SAT program creates a personalized study plan based on a thorough diagnostic of each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

PrepMe is not associated with the College Board, which designs, prints, and scores the SAT. Also, the “Me” in PrepMe does not stand for “ Maine .” The event will include a demonstration of the software, with students from Portland High School .

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Portland West Escapes CMPAC Cuts

In the first round of preliminary voting on January 26, the City Manager’s Policy Advisory Committee voted 5-4 to fully fund Portland West’s Community Outreach program for $30,000.
According to Portland West, the program focuses on after-school educational programs, a major shift from previous years when the agency’s community outreach consisted of such things as the Time Dollar program, the Neighbors multi-lingual newspaper, and the holiday gift distribution program.

Portland West has been conducting an intensive lobbying campaign of CMPAC board members in order to insure their full funding. Portland West’s Director of Programs Tom Pearson sat in on several meetings as an observer, saying that he wanted to get a better understanding of what the board was looking for.

West End Neighborhood Association representative Catherine Whittemore, who made the motion to fully fund the Portland West request, was one of only two board members who voted to give Amistad, a local support program for people with mental illness, only $15,000 of its $18,000 request.

Other family support services did not fare as well. The committee voted to give no funding to the Center for Grieving Children, which had requested $10,000. They also cut the Visiting Nurses of Southern Maine’s $10,000 request in half, and voted to give the Franny Peabody Center about $1200 less than the $17,000 it asked for. Sexual Assault/Response Services got the full amount in its request -$10,800.

CMPAC is scheduled to meet again for its next round of voting on February 2nd.

Monday, January 29, 2007

METRO Extends "FREE Ticket to Ride"

METRO, Greater Portland Transit District, will continue to offer free bus transportation to middle and high school students in Portland and Westbrook until the end of the current school year - through June 2007. The program was introduced in September 2006 to encourage young people to use bus service in the Greater Portland area. Since September, METRO has provided more than 14,000 free rides to hundreds of students in the Greater Portland area.

Jim Violette, METRO board president, termed the program a “tremendous success." Early data indicates that many students (as well as classes of students with a designated teacher) are accessing the METRO through the program. Mary Jo O'Connor, superintendent of Portland Schools, said "We are thrilled that this program will continue."

Derek Pierce, principal of Casco Bay High School said that students and curriculum have really benefited from access to the free METRO. Portland's newest public high school frequently uses METRO for expeditionary learning opportunities in the community.

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 of South Portland.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The West End NEWS
PO Box 5234, Portland, ME 04101-0934
(207) 828-1403


January 10, 24 July 11, 25
February 7, 21 August 8, 22
March 7, 21 September 5, 19
April 4, 18 October 3, 17, 31
May 2, 16, 30 November 14, 28
June 13, 27 December 12, 26

Deadline: 5PM Friday before Publication

5,000 copies of each issue distributed to over 150 locations throughout Portland. Published every other Wednesday.

Adams Helps Constituents Get IRS Checks

Parkside/Bayside State Represent-ative Herb Adams has located the names of over two dozen taxpayers in the Parkside, Bayside and Kennedy Park neighborhoods whose IRS refund checks for 2006 were returned as undeliverable due to a faulty or expired home address.

The average “lost” refund has a value of $542. The checks can be claimed as soon as the owners update their addresses with the IRS or contact Adams for assistance.

Adams can be contacted at 1-800-423-2900 in Augusta, or at the “Where’s my Refund?” site on the IRS home page at To respect residents’ privacy, Adams is not releasing the list of names at this time.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The January 26th issue of The West End NEWS is on the street!
City Officials Await CMPAC Recommendations

The City Manager’s Policy Advisory Committee will start voting on January 26th on recommendations to the City Council on how the Council should spend federal money in the city in the next fiscal year. The committee has been hearing presentations from social service agencies, neighborhood associations and City departments for the past several weeks.

City officials have been paying closer attention to the board’s work this year, after the City Council disregarded CMPAC’s recommendations last year and was widely criticized. East End City Councilor Kevin Donoghue has been a regular attendee at the weekly CMPAC meetings, and Councilors David Marshall and Ed Suslovic have also dropped in to observe the proceedings.

Among the requests for funding that the board has received this year are:

-A request from the City’s Economic Development department for matching funds for a downtown façade improvement program.
-Requests from the St. Lawrence Arts & Community Center and the Maine Irish Heritage Center (St. Dominic’s) to help fund maintenance projects at the two historic churches.
-A request from the West End Neighborhood Association for funding preliminary work on the Reiche Community Center.
- Bayside Neighborhood Association request for funding new sidewalks.
-A request from Portland West to help fund window replacements at its residential properties the city.

The committee has also heard numerous presentations from agencies asking for funding for youth programs, soup kitchens, community policing, childcare programs, services for the elderly and for minorities, and infrastructure improvements in the city such as brick sidewalks.

City Manager Joe Gray will meet with the advisory board before making his final recommendations to the City Council, which has the final say on the expenditures.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Eder to Cover War Protest For WEN

Former West End State Representative John Eder will be providing news coverage of the Iraq war protest that will be held in the nation’s capital on January 27th.

Peace Action Maine is sponsoring two buses to Washington on Friday, January 26th leaving from Bangor and Portland. A rally is scheduled at 8:30PM at the Park & Ride on Marginal Way across from Bally's Fitness. The buses will return to Maine on January 28th.

Eder plans to interview local participants in the event and take photos of the protests. A rally is planned to take place on The Mall on Saturday, followed by a protest march.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Vacation Mishap
Two New Yorkers Seized in Gun/Drug Bungle

Carlos Peralta, 26, and Waldemor Torres, 29, both of whom are from New York, were arrested in an apartment at 1 Avon Place on January 14, after a gun accidentally went off, propelling the bullet through the wall of the apartment next door.

The two gentlemen involved in the gunplay neglected to inform police how this mishap occurred.

Aside from the gun discharging, the two were also selling crack cocaine on their visit to Portland, according to police. Torres was charged with reckless conduct with a firearm and both men were also charged with aggravated trafficking in Schedule W drugs.

They’re going to be here for a while longer—in the Cumberland County Jail—where bail was set at $50,000 surety or $25,000 cash.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Police Honor Local Citizens at Annual Awards Ceremony

West Enders Bevinn O’Brien and Christine McHale received citizen awards at the second annual Portland Police Department Recognition Ceremony, which was held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay on Saturday, January 20. The two women were honored for grabbing and holding onto a man who was assaulting another woman at Westgate’s CVS pharmacy. The man was pinned to the ground by the women until police reached the scene. Both women are in their fifties, and placed themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. When O’Brien was asked about her actions, she said “I didn’t think; I just did it.”

Other citizen awards went to:
-Elite Taxi, for aiding in the apprehension of someone the police were looking for;
-Stephen Claffie and John Totman were recognized for their assistance in finding locations for training sites needed by the department;
-William Charles, for his many hours of volunteer work at the police department;
-Jeffrey Russell, who realized a home was being burglarized and notified police;
-Carol Young of the Peer Support Team, for her work with the stress program the police are involved in;
-Zoo Cain, who contacted the police after realizing that he hadn’t seen a resident he usually came in contact with while making his newspaper deliveries. The man had fallen and received needed help.

Lt. Bill Preis and his Day Directed Patrol team were award recipients for their creativity in using bail information to make arrests with respect to the pervasive drug problem the police department faces.

Other department personnel got awards for important arrests, outstanding accomplishments, valor, bravery, and heroism.

Officers Richard Ray and Frank Pellerin received recognition for their recent service in Iraq.
Sarah Colton, the West End’s Community Policing Coordinator, was also honored. Sarah followed a suicidal woman and kept her in sight, while notifying police, thereby saving the woman’s life.

An emotional part of the ceremony involved a black-and-white portrait of Sgt. Michael J. Wallace. The portrait was painted by Sgt. Bruce Coffin and was being presented to the police department to hang in the police headquarters. Sgt. Wallace died in 1994, and was a revered detective sergeant, known for taking people under his wing and mentoring them.

Chief Tim Burton spoke of Wallace’s wonderful qualities and his longstanding service to the department. In a very personal touch, he mentioned being the ring bearer at the sergeant’s wedding.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Strimling: No More Term Limits

State Senator Ethan Strimling has submitted legislation that would end the state’s term limits law, which was instituted by a citizens’ initiative in 1993. In an interview in the Bangor Daily News, Strimling called the term limits law ‘anti-democratic.’

Strimling is in his third term in the State Senate and would be term-limited in 2010. The term-limits ban would not apply to him, however, because it would not be retro-active. He recently began his campaign for the US Congress seat held by Congressman Tom Allen. He was elected after State Senator Anne Rand, now the state representative representing the East End, was term-limited in 2002. His legislation would send the question of term limits out to the voters in the form of a referendum.
Rand Submits Childcare Bill for Working Families

East End State Representative Anne Rand has submitted a bill that would allocate $7 million a year over the next two years to childcare and early education programs that support working families.

The bill, LD 187, would provide funding for subsidized child care, Head Start and early Head Start programs. Specifically, it would increase subsidy amounts, expand the number of children who receive services, and provide funding for childcare for at-risk families in order to avoid placement of the children in the custody of the state.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. A public hearing has not yet been scheduled, but is expected to take place early in the session.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Brennan To Consider Run for Congress
Cites Iraq war as major reason

Former State Senate Majority Leader Michael Brennan (D-Portland) today announced the formation of an exploratory committee to pursue the First District Congressional seat in 2008.
“If Tom Allen decides to challenge Susan Collins next year, Maine will need a principled, effective and progressive voice to continue representing the First District and help shape the future of Maine and the country. I believe my commitment to solving the problems of Maine citizens and my record of getting things done in the legislature put me in position to make a valuable contribution in Washington. Over the next few weeks I will be listening to Mainers in the First District to discuss the challenges they are facing and how their problems should be tackled,” Brennan said.
“The war in Iraq is also at the forefront of my decision to explore running for Congress. It has taken a terrible toll on our military personnel, their families and the reputation of this country throughout the world. I am committed to ending the war in Iraq and reasserting America’s moral authority around the world,” Brennan continued.
“With the change of power in Congress after the November elections, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make meaningful progress for working men and women in the state. We need to set a new direction in health care, the economy, education and the environment. Democrats in Washington have spent the last six years playing defense against an extreme agenda, but today we need to send someone to Congress who can advance a positive, bipartisan agenda that speaks to the hopes of Maine people,” Brennan concluded.
Brennan served in the Maine Senate from 2002 to 2006, rising to the position of Majority Leader in 2005. Brennan served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1992 to 2000, rising to become Chair of the Education Committee from 1998 to 2000. While in the legislature, Brennan chaired special legislative committees that forged bipartisan agreements to reform health care in Maine, implement the School Laptop Program and dramatically revamp the school funding formula.
Brennan is employed as a policy associate at the Muskie School of Public Service, as an adjunct faculty member at the University of New England, and is a licensed clinical social worker. He also co-chairs the Board of Advisors for Casey Family Services, a national organization dedicated to assisting foster children and their families. He and his wife Joan Martay have two sons, Travis, a student at the University of Maine School of Law and Ryan, a student at Bates College.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Portland’s History Docents ­ Class Starts in February

Five local historical organizations are recruiting for the Portland’s History Docents program, a ten-week training class for people who would liketo become volunteer guides, to get involved, meet interesting people, learn about the region, and volunteer with local museums.

The Portland’s History Docents sessions will be held at the Maine Historical Society every Thursday morning, 9 AM to Noon, beginning February 15 and concluding April 19. Volunteers for this free training receive lectures on area history, art, and architecture and training on good guiding techniques. Graduates are asked to serve at least six hours per month at a site of their choosing.

Participating institutions are the Portland Observatory, Greater PortlandLandmarks walking tours, Portland Harbor Museum, Tate House Museum, Victoria Mansion, and Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Graduation will take place at the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum on Peaks Island on May 3.

For more information, you can contact the program manager, Bill Hall, at 253-6290 or leave a message for him at Greater Portland Landmarks, 774-5561, extension 120.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

CMPAC Chair Calls for Brick Sidewalk Study

Tae Chong, chair of the City Manager’s Policy Advisory Committee has called on the City to conduct a pedestrian traffic study to determine how the City can best spend its federal infrastructure money. CMPAC advises the City Manager on the expenditure of those funds, and the City Council makes the final decision on how they are spent.

Which sidewalks receive the heaviest pedestrian traffic, and the practicality of installing brick sidewalks in the city are two areas that Chong would like to see studied more carefully.
Brick sidewalks are mandated in the historically-designated parts of the city, including the West End, but have been criticized as being too expensive, slippery when wet, and difficult to maintain.

“They’re nice to look at,” says East End City Councilor Kevin Donoghue, “but I wouldn’t want to walk there.”

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Local Artist Wins Landscape Award at Fifth Avenue's Salmagundi Club

West End artist Robert Solotaire has been awarded the top landscape award for his entry in the January 2007 juried exhibit at New York's Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue.
Solotaire's entry, titled "Sutton PlaceNeighborhood," is a view of the uptown East Side Manhattan neighborhood, as seen from Roosevelt Island. It is one of a series he has done of the Upper East Side, embracing views from 40th Street to 59th Street.

Solotaire, a native New Yorker and a graduate of Bard College, has made his hometown the major subject of his paintings for nearly 60 years. He likes to say that he ‘grew up on Broadway,’ where his father ran a theater ticket agency. He likes to walk around the five boroughs of the city, camera in hand, looking for interesting things to paint when he gets back to his studio on Houlton Street in the West End. He has specialized in what he calls ‘industrial landscapes’, not just in New York, but in Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and other locations. They comprise about half his work.

Salmagundi was founded as an artist's club in 1871. It serves as a center for artists from New York and around the country - providing exhibitions ofpaintings, sculpture and photography. The club also features art classes, painting demonstrations and art auctions throughout the year. Solotaire has been a member since late 2006.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Latest Edition of the West End NEWS is on the Street!

Housing Committee Rejects YWCA Proposal

The Portland City Council’s Housing Committee voted unanimously on January 9th to reject a request by the YWCA to exempt it from the City’s housing replacement ordinance, so that the Y can sell its property on Spring Street under more favorable terms and avoid bankruptcy. The ordinance would require the YWCA to replace 33 units of housing that were lost when the Y closed its doors.

The issue now goes back to the full City Council for a final vote. A number of speakers at the Council’s January 3rd meeting praised the Y’s long history of service to the community, but many said that that should not exempt it from complying with the replacement ordinance, which many see as crucial in maintaining and growing affordable housing in the city.

The Portland Museum of Art has expressed an interest in purchasing the YWCA property, which abuts its own property, but has said that the housing replacement requirement would essentially be a $1 million penalty which would cause them to reduce their offer and would take museum out of running for the property.
WENA Proposal Runs into Brick Wall

A proposal by the West End Neighborhood Association to get federal funding for the renovation of the Reiche Community Center ran into a snag at the City Manager’s Policy Advisory Committee meeting on December 15th.

Because the WENA proposal would fund consulting and planning fees and engineering studies for the project, it is not considered an infrastructure project, and would be competing for the same funds used to pay the City planning staff that administers the funding.

Another complication in the proposal is the fact that the West End Neighborhood Association does not own the property. It is owned by the City, but different aspects of its maintenance, user policies, and financial responsibilities are divided among different City agencies such as the school department and the parks department. The State of Maine could also be a stakeholder in the development of the property, further complicating the process.

Among the improvements that some WENA members would like to see made are an upgrade of the swimming pool and removal of the ramps which lead to the public library branch.

Some federal money has already been earmarked to put in a new soccer field in Phase 3 of a plan that included the new school playground and redesign of the parking area.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Donoghue Wants Rider on Transit Board
East End City Councilor Kevin Donoghue says he wants someone who actually uses the City’s mass transit system to serve on the METRO Executive Board. The board has one seat reserved for a transit user, but that seat is currently held by the City’s Transportation Director Jeff Monroe.

Donoghue tried unsuccessfully to get the Portland City Council to delay the appointment at its January 3rd meeting. Councilor Jim Cloutier said that Monroe “has great zest for the board,” and Councilor Ed Suslovic also praised Monroe’s performance on the board.

East Deering Woman Stabbed
On January 8, 2007 at 1:22 A.M. Portland police officers responded to 26 Upland Avenue, in the Est Deering section of the city, where they discovered that Kelly Fusco, 39, had been stabbed multiple times. Ms. Fusco was transported to Maine Medical Center and admitted.

The suspect in the stabbing was identified as Luis Pabon, 48. He was subsequently arrested and charged with elevated aggravated assault. Pabon resided at 26 Upland Avenue with Ms. Fusco. Pabon is currently being held at Cumberland County Jail.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bill Would Remove Toxins From Schools

Senator Philip Bartlett II (D-Cumberland County) has introduced legislation to promote the use of non-toxic chemicals in public schools. The bill, entitled “Resolve, To Encourage the Use of Safe Chemicals in Public Schools” will ensure that school administrators are properly informed about the available safe alternatives to harmful chemicals found in pesticides and cleaning products, and give them an opportunity to be recognized for being toxin-free.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

No Traveling Post Office This Season
The local branch of the US Postal Service did not make its usual Christmas visits to local elderly housing this season because of a lack of staffers.

Among the local housing that once received the service were Franklin Towers, 100 State Street, 75 Street, and Harbor Terrace on Danforth Street.

The traveling post offices sold stamps and mail supplies and took packages to the post office for elderly residents. The program had been in existence for over 50 years and served more than 100 customers a day for the two-week holiday season.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Adams School Re-Use Committee to Meet Twice in January.

The citizen committee charged with examining the future possibilities for the Adams School site will meet on January 11th and January 25th to continue their work. Both meetings will be held at 7 pm at the East End Community School.
These are working meetings of the committee; public comment will be taken at the end of each meeting.
Eric Stark, who resides across from the Adams School site has been added to the citizen committee to replace Tuck Noble, who stepped down. Dan Haley and Matt Thayer are co-chairs of the committee.
City Councilor Kevin Donoghue is working with the committee and City staff to guide the work. Plans for the committee’s work are likely to include an initial report in January or February, formal public input, and a final report in the spring.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Trauma Intervention Program Looking for Volunteers
Emotional First Aid Providers Needed

Community Counseling Center is recruiting compassionate citizen volunteers for its fourth training academy for Trauma Intervention Program of Portland, Maine (TIP). Training begins on Thursday, January 25th. Volunteers will be trained to help fellow citizens who are in distress as a result of having been the victim of a traumatic event in the immediate Portland, South Portland, Gorham and Westbrook areas. No prior experience is necessary. For more information, call Lynn Shattuck at 207-874-1030 extension 244, 207-874-1043 (TTY) or email

TIP volunteers are called to emergency scenes by police officers, firefighters or hospital personnel to provide immediate onsite emotional and practical support like making necessary phone calls and connecting people with needed resources, distributing teddy bears, and holding hands with distraught victims. Volunteers provide their services to the Portland, South Portland, Gorham and Westbrook communities 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. In 2006, TIP volunteers responded to 97 crisis calls, helping 315 clients and 160 first responders.