Conservative city councilor Justin ( a fog) Costa tried repeatedly in a whiny voice to kill an amendment to the city’s contracting process proposed by Mayor Ethan Strimling at the Finance Committee meeting this evening. The effort of Costa came at the end of a public hearing when only a handful of people remained to witness his effort to kill the amendment and blame the Mayor for it.
The Mayor has tried since this summer to get a city attorney to draft ordinance language for the Committee to consider around the Mayor’s proposal. There has always been a roadblock as to why that can’t happen. Costa made absurd excuses for why Michael Goldman, city attorney, could not produce ordinance language in time for the Committee’s next meeting on October 25, 2018. (Goldman works for city manager Jon Jennings).
The Mayor asked Costa: “Why is it taking so long to get draft language?”
Costa, an unsophisticated corporate attorney trying to be erudite, accused the Mayor of “starting a fight with the staff” over the preparation of ordinance language to be considered for the Thursday, October 25th meeting. The Mayor denied this as well as other accusations made by Costa at the meeting.
Goldman said he’d have to ask his boss, corporate counsel Danielle West-Chuta, for permission to prepare the ordinance language the Mayor has been seeking for four (4) months. Chuta’s boss, is city manager Jon Jennings. Goldman did not know whether there were other matters taking priority over the Mayor’s request. The thin-skinned Jennings has notoriously lashed out at the Mayor because of his progressive agenda for Portland that Jennings can’t control. Jennings was conveniently attending an inconsequential meeting of the Legislative Committee, chaired by councilor Pious Ali, during the Finance Committee meeting.
That meant that Jennings did not hear the testimony in council chambers by numerous leaders from the labor movement and a representative of the Regional Chamber of Commerce. Not surprisingly, the Chamber representative, Simon Thompson, was opposed to the proposed ordinance change. He said we are skeptical of a “solution looking for a problem and that compliance cost for the city would force tax payers to pay more.” (Just build another high-end condo to off-set any costs). None of the other speakers agreed there is no problem as Chamber representative Thompson charged.
“I myself have been a resident of Portland several times throughout my life and am currently a property owner contributing over $10,000 to the city in taxes and fees each year. While living in the city I commuted 2 – 2.5 hours one way each day to another state to find a wage that would allow to allow my family to live in Portland. I am now a proud husband and father and have every intention of being in my families lives. Spending 4-5 hours on the road and working anywhere between 8 – 12 hours a day is not congruent in this dream of mine. Neither is working in Portland where contractors are not required to pay a Prevailing Wage or hire residents…Trades men and women are forced to find work in other states decreasing the amount of skill trades in Portland. They spend weeks if not months away from their families or like myself on the road when I should be home,” Grant Provost the business agent for the Ironworkers in the state of Maine told the Finance Committee.
Mike McGuigan, Business Representative/Organizer for the Interior Systems Local 352 Maine, New England Regional Council of Carpenters asked the city to hire local people so they don’t need to leave the state, assist homeless to learn a trade and get a career and that contractors are misclassifying employees so they don’t have to pay proper taxes that gives contractors an “unfair advantage to win projects but also is cheating the system for: school budgets, teachers, firefighters, unemployment insurance, Workers Compensation, social security, health insurance and much more.
Mike also told the Finance Committee that Paul White Tile has a “billboard on the same street as PATHS “now hiring independent contractors or employees – we reported it to the WC/DOL to investigate. “This is not a very positive option or future for high school kids,” he said. “We’ve been bannering Timberland Drywall and Metro Walls for over two years in the city of Portland to expose the tax fraud to the legitimate contractors and the citizens of Portland.” Kate Sykes said: “Contractors are getting rich, so are developers. Workers are just getting by.”
It was decided there will be another meeting on Thursday, October 25 and November 7th on this matter.
Please see previous post herein dated September 12, 2018, – “Jennings Tells Mayor Strimling to Stop Personal Attacks on Me,”