By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,646)
Three city councilors-elect were sworn in at noon today in an uneventful ceremony at city hall. The three were councilors Ed Suslovic, Jill Duson and Jon Hinck. Suslovic and Duson are incumbents while this is the first term for John Hinck who formerly served in the State Legislature in Augusta. Hinck (D) replaces councilor John Anton (G) who retired to spend more time with his young daughters. The make-up of the city council has now changed so that there are only two Greens on it; they are Kevin Donoghue and David Marshall. A reception in the State of Maine room followed with refreshments provided by the Barron Center.
A long simmering disagreement between Mayor Michael Brennan and other city councilors was resolved immediately following the swearing-in ceremony. It had been rumored and was confirmed in an article in “The Portland Press Herald” in October that some city councilors believe that the Mayor has over-stepped his authority by selecting what issues will be set on agendas for each council meeting, thereby limiting the authority of councilors to place items on the agenda. The city charter grants the Mayor this authority, although it is in contradition with city council rules permitting councilors the authority to do this a week in advance of the upcoming meeting. Leading the charge on this effort to limit the Mayor’s power was Cheryl Leeman (R), who introduced a resolution returning this authority to council members. Leeman won her cause by a 6 – 2 vote. Leeman and the Mayor have squared off previously on issues such as TIFs.
By her own count, Janet Naigle, has addressed the city council 23 times pressing for a satisfactory resolution of her demands that change often and with a promise to continue to do that for however long it takes. The issue revolves around a fence on her property that was damaged several years ago when a city plow hit it during a particularly heavy snow fall. Dressed in an attention grabbing hat with a cross like sign post beside her displaying a photo of her damaged fence, Naigle did not mention that she and the city had already resolved the matter months ago. Naigle has already received $3,901. from the city’s insurance for the replacement of her fence. That replacement occurred several months ago. Furthermore, the claim remains open pending any additional landscape claims. “I can imagine the amount might reach $5,000.,” said the city’s interim spokesperson Sheila Hill Christian.
Director of Public Services, Michael J. Bobinsky said: “We continue to focus on safety during winter emergencies when we are plowing ice and snow from city streets. The city feels terrible about the damage done to her fence and we want to be sure it doesn’t happen to anyone again.” Mayor Brennan said: ” I’m disappointed she continues to make an issue of the situation that we have resolved.”