By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,115)
“YES” – a vote that does not change the sale of Congress Square to RockBridge,but makes the sale of parks more difficult, won in a city-wide vote this evening. The vote was close with YES receiving 279 votes more than the NO campaign. Early on no one from either campaign was predicting a victory because it was always considered too close to call. Leaders from both sides watched the results come in at city hall from the time the polls closed at 8:00 pm until around 9:30 pm.
At around 9:30 pm., Jim Cohen, head of the NO campaign gave his concession remarks in a hallway at city hall. He said he was disappointed that the NO campaign lost and heartened by such a close vote. He thanked all the volunteers who had participated in the campaign.
Meanwhile, in a related matter, the “Portland Sun” reported today that the irate councilor David Marshall, has filed a Freedom of Access Act with city manager Mark Rees. Marshall seeks documents relating to his so-called bias toward the NO campaign on the city’s website. Rees said that the website information was a compilation of material from “city staff and others in response to questions or requests from the Mayor and city councilors,…” Marshall wants material that proves this and accuses Rees of using his administrative position for political gains – going beyond the responsibilities afforded the Manager’s office by the city charter.
Marshall’s FOAA Letter says in part: “Nowhere in the list of responsibilities for the position of City Manager does it authorize the use of your office as political tool to affect the results of an election.” The blistering attack continues: “While Councilors may have asked for you to create a fact sheet or a question and answer page, we did not hear any requests in public asking you to create propaganda to defeat the citizens initiative….The development of biased information to sway public opinion meets the definition of propaganda.” So the political attack goes in what is probably an abusive use of the FOAA.
The fallout is just beginning from this passionate struggle over control of Congress Square because of the closeness of the vote.