City Council Reviews Citizens Initiatives for November 8th Ballot Placement


City Councilors April Fournier, Robert Rodriguez and Mark Dion Listen to Testimony Tonight.

The City Council has failed to address issues of significance to Portland residents. That is the view  of a band of activists and their allies. This failure to perform its duties for its constituents has caught up with Councilors.

Time’s up, Councilors!  You’ve had your chance and you squandered it says this band of activists that is striving  to make Portland a more livable city for all since the Council refuses to act on that. The next stop in this effort is the ballot box on November 8, 2022.

These activists have waged a successful campaign to  get six citizens initiatives  placed on the November 8th ballot. Fifteen hundred signatures per initiative were needed to achieve that.  Tonight the city council reviewed those initiatives to determine if they  would go onto the ballot unchallenged and with the same summary presented to them – an unpleasant review for them no doubt.  The actual content of each initiative was not under scrutiny explained Mayor Kate Snyder at the 6:15 pm city council meeting. Public testimony was taken as each initiative was read by the new city clerk.As the Mayor stated at the outset, the Council had three options to deal with the initiatives.  They were:  let voters get the final say, come up with competing proposals or adopt the initiatives.

Prior to the city council meeting this evening, Wes Pellitier, chair of the band of activists seeking a more livable Portland,  was asked about Mayor Kate Snyder’s recent remark:  The referendum system is broken.  Pellitier responded:  “What’s broken is the city’s ability to make hard decisions.”

Two of the more significant orders discussed were an act to eliminate sub-minimum wage and an act to protect tenants in Portland. The former will increae the mnimum wage to $18. an hour over three years and will eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers as well.  Tipped workers will then earn $ hour plus tips. In addidtion, it creates a Department of Fair Labor Practices to ensure wage and worker safety laws are enforced.  Mayor Snyder recommended that the words “tipped-wage” be included in the summary title as well in the text of the summary.  It passed unanimously.

An act to protect tenants ensures that tenants receive 90-day notice for lease termination and or rent increases.  It reduces costs to tenants by restricting deposits to one-month rent, prohibiting application fees and further limiting the amount of standard annual rent increases that landlords are allowed to impose to 70% of the Consumer Price Index.These are just basic, common sense protections for tenants that are standard elsewhere in the United States.  Why is Maine so far behind “best practices” that exist elsewhere?

The City Council voted to send five of the six initiatives to the November ballot.  The exception was the bone-headed initiative of City Councilor Andrew Zarro who proposed limiting the number of passengers from cruise ships permitted to disembark from them on the Portland waterfront.  Not enough City Councilors supported his counter productive idea.

“I do not” was the answer given by the city spokeswoman when asked by this blogger if she knows how many city councilors are renters and how many are home owners.  She indicated that she has no interest in finding the answer to that question either.

Please visit posts herein dated April 10, 2022 and on July 12, 2022 for more information on the “worst practices” for tenants in Portland.