By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,583)
“While there is much I could say in response to Mayor Strimling’s comments on my budget proposal and the Finance Committee’s unanimously approved recommended budget, I believe it is much more important to focus on doing my job for the people of Portland and working with the city council to move the city forward in a positive direction. My position requires me to make tough decisions on a daily basis that some may disagree with. That is called leadership” wrote Jon P. Jennings, city manager, in a press release issued earlier today.
Jennings was referring to Figurehead Strimling’s harsh criticism at last night’s City Council meeting over his proposed budget. The budget recommends cuts to the public health staff including the Public Health Center on India Street on the East End of Portland. That is a city managed clinic with over 1,000 patients. These patients will over time be reassigned to the Portland Community Health Center. That proposed closure has sparked controversy in the community. Even Councilor Jill Duson, who supported the Figurehead over the incumbent Mayor, Michael Brennan in last falls’ election, broke ranks with the Figurehead on this issue. Among other comments, Duson accused him of painting the city manager as a “vilian.” This is the most public conflict yet to be seen between the Figurehead and the city manager, although mhn.com has observed tensions between the two at other city meetings.
Jennings’ proposed budget calls for more investment in the city’s infrastructure. “The biggest crunch is infrastructure: roads, bridges, water supplies, communications networks, public buildings, and the like. These are the most productive investments governments make, with average rates of return that are probably several times higher than those of typical private investments. And American infrastructure was once the envy of the world: ……….. American infrastructure is no longer the envy of the world.” according to a brand new book,”American Amnesia – How The War on Government Led us to Forget What Made America Prosper,” by Hacker and Paul Pierson. (Page 41) The authors of this book point out that while government research on health care has been cut back, investment in infrastructure has fared far worse – the lowest level since after World War 11.
The building in which the clinic is currently situated on India Street is owned by Preservation Management.
Meanwhile, a Save India Street Clinic Rally has been scheduled for Sunday, May 1st, at Lincoln Park. A March will proceed down Congress Street, past city hall, right onto Elm Street, left onto Oxford, left onto Preble Street ending at Monument Square. There will be a lineup of local leaders and performers trying to Save the India Street Clinic from the budget ax. The Rally is expected to end at 2:30 pm.
Strimling has maintained a very low profile schedule unlike that of his predecessor, Mayor Michael Brennan, who was out in the public often. The Figurehead Mayor has alienated voters in Portland for hiring a special assistant at a salary of $64,000, renovating an office at city hall for himself, and a split-up between him and his wife of about 10 years over his infidelity to her last fall during his campaign for Mayor. (The duties in the job description for the Special Assistant duplicated the responsibilities voters thought the Figurehead has been elected to perform!) If anyone figures out what he and the Special Assistant are doing,these days, will you please let me know?!
Meanwhile, city manager Jon Jennings has introduced numerous initiatives intended to improve the lives of city residents.
(note: Carol McCracken continues to recover from a fractured right leg at home suffered on Sunday, February 28th – at home. It is not known yet when she will be able to discard her walker and cast – the sooner the better!)