By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,027)
As expected, at its General Assembly meeting Sunday night in Lincoln Park, OccupyMaine decided to apply for a permit to remain at Lincoln Park. The group had a workshop to discuss the matter which lasted most of the afternoon. In the meantime, the city set up a schedule for the next several steps in the process of deciding whether or not to issue a permit for their occupancy at the Park. That decison will be made by the City Council on Wednesday, December 7th.
The petition for a permit must be filed with the City Council for the use of Lincoln Park by close of business, Tuesday, November 29th. On Thursday, December 1st, the public safety committee will meet at 5:00 pm to hear public and staff input and to generate a recommendation regarding the petition to the full council. Then, on Wednesday, December 7th, the city council will hear the recommendation of the Commitee and vote on the continued use (and if the vote is affirmative, the conditions of that use) of Lincoln Park by Occupy Maine, according to a communication from Gary Wood, corporation counsel to John H. Branson, pro bono attorney for OccupyMaine.
A six page letter, dated November 23, from Wood to Branson spelled out in detail the code violations that need to be addressed for the permit, if the City Council approves it. According to Wood, Bransons’ clients need “to seek specific unique permission to use or place certain structures….from the Mayor and City Council as current city ordinances do not allow it.” Mayor Elect Michael Brennan will be the new Mayor by Wednesday, December 7th. The Wood letter was written prior to the arrests beginning on Thanksgiving Day at Lincoln Park. (The letter was copied to Mayor Nick Mavodones and the city council, Mayor Elect Michael Brennan and eight other city employees, but not the city manager.)
Some members of the movement believe they do not need to apply for a permit which they continue to exercise their First Amendment Rights at Lincoln Park through the numerous signs on display on fences and on the tents. “After all, the city pushed us from Monument Square down here. We are simply exercising out constitutional rights but in a different place,” said advocate Tim Sullivan of OccupyMaine. The group also has about $2,000 in a local credit union which could go toward expenses required by the code changes, if approved by the City Council next week. $1,000 of that came from a grant for which OM applied.
For more background information, please see Post # 1,025, dated November 21, herein.