By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,298)
Maybe its cabin fever and a much-needed southern vacation to slap around some innocent golf balls that prompted a grouchy letter from Augusta’s ‘”LuvGuv: to Portland’s Mayor Michael Brennan and the City Council. The letter from the Blaine House last month predicts the success of a court challenge should a proposal to raise the city’s minimum wage be passed by Portland’s City Council this year. Whatever the cause, Governor Paul R. LePage was self-assured in a two-page caustic letter last month in which he laid out all the reasons that a Portland minimum wage increase would work against his efforts to “attract businesses and create jobs” in Maine. The Governor does not say where that court challenge would come from, however.
Last year, Mayor Brennan stated in his State of the City address his intention to convene a task force on increasing the minimum wage – the audacity of which caught some members of the Portland business community flat-footed – so well regarded is the Mayor in the Portland business community. The LuvGuv’s letter, dated January 21, 2015 said: “Your disdain for the business community is clearly not helpful to the future prosperity of your city.” A diverse task force has been meeting since last year to work through many of the issues involved in increasing the minimum wage to a more livable wage for residents of Portland. The LuvGuv letter said: “The economics of the minimum wage conducted in a vacuum could not be clearer.” Leading the attack on the wage hike proposal has been the restaurant industry – in which women are the majority employees. Leading that battle against his own wait-staff is Steve DiMillo, an owner of DiMillo’s Restaurant on the waterfront of Portland.
In a cordial reply to the LuvGuv, Mayor Brennan wrote on February 3, 2015, that following extensive research, the city has determined that it does have the authority to pass an ordinance to increase the city’s minimum wage should it vote to do so. And that such an increase will benefit all parties in Portland as well as the economy generally. In fact, how does the LuvGuv explain that Portland’s economy is moving forward far better than the rest of his State?
The Task Force on the minimum wage increase is expected to have a public hearing – perhaps next month with a vote by the City Council in April 2015.