A large lunch time crowd came together at city hall plaza today to deliver their messages to city officials: The Fair Rent Portland, (FRP) referendum needs to get onto the November ballot to restore their faith in city government.
Jack O’Brien, a spokesperson for the non-profit explained to the crowd of 50 plus people the circumstances that brought FRP to this place. Due to a counting error by the city clerk, the city spokeswoman announced on Monday that there was not enough time to comply with the city’s ordinance to get the proposed referendum on the November 7th ballot. Meanwhile, the city has pledged to work creatively through corporate counsel to get the referendum on the ballot.
But members of FRP said today there has been little communication between the city and the group; maybe because city manager Poor Jon is away this week as is Mayor Ethan Strimling. Zack Anchors said he has spoken to city councilors who have been supportive in attempts to get the referendum back on the ballot,. “I think some of them feel bad about the mistake and want to see it corrected,” Anchors said. “That doesn’t mean they support it though.”
Ralliers expressed hope that the city would find a way to get the referendum on the ballot in order to restore their faith in city government; it’s not the first time that the city has made a serious mistake and not the last; several said this was an intentional mistake to be sure that this referendum does get on the November ballot; one hoped that renters get more power; one requested more transparency from city government – the messages to city hall were powerful.
“I do support this referendum. As a larger issue we need more action on affordable housing. This is not the silver bullet, but it’s a start. We need to keep fighting. We need to stay involved,” Joey Brunelle implored the crowd. Brunelle is a city council candidate for the at-large-seat now occupied by Jill Duson. Duson, chair of the Housing Committee, has been derelict in her duties to protect renters from the abuses of rent increases experienced by many – including residents of Back Bay Tower, 401 Cumberland Avenue. (See previous post herein dated August 7, 2017 for more background on the situation at Back Bay Tower.)
O’Brien was leaving to meet with the non-profit’s attorneys for advise on the next step. O’Brien is a statistics professor at Bowdoin College, Brunswick.
Bree Lacasse, who works for a development company, did not attend the rally in support of Fair Rent Portland, is also a challenger for the Duson seat. She has not responded to numerous emails from mhn.com on her views on Fair Rent Portland. MHN.com has suggested that she drop out of the race in order to give Brunelle a larger victory in this three way contest.
Another similar rally is planned for 5:00 pm this afternoon also at city hall plaza, Portland.
Please see previous and numerous posts herein for more background information on this city mistake.