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The Portland Townsman Posts

How the Council Votes, and Where They Disagree

The Portland Townsman has reviewed the past six months of City Council meetings to extract each and every vote in which at least one member disagreed with the majority. All of these non-unanimous votes we’ve used to analyze the relative positions of City Councilors and provide context for their disagreements. Read on to see how your Councilors have voted – where it counts.


Encampment Tensions, Quorum Woes, and a Slew of Slurs – City Council Review 09/06/23

At this rare non-Monday meeting, the City Council faces a parade of vulgar racists on Zoom while being short three members. With so many absences, the Council debates the propriety of making important votes without them, and hears a tense update from the Encampment Crisis Response Team following the 9/6 clearing at Fore River. A permanent corporation counsel is also appointed, another charter reform implemented, and the new rent rate announced. All this and more in Erica Snyder-Drummond’s City Council Review.


Stops and Starts: The History of Franklin Street Redesign

Franklin Street, conceived as a futuristic arterial in the mid-20th century, was widely understood to have been a destructive mistake by the dawn of the 21st. But even if everyone can agree that it’s a problem, that doesn’t mean everyone agrees on the solution. Since 2006, politicians and the public have struggled over the change. Markos Miller, one of the citizens at the center of the effort to rethink Franklin Street, recounts the convoluted history of trying to make a redesign a reality over the past two decades in this Part 2 on Franklin Street. Despite regular roadblocks, wrong turns, and roundabouts, read to find where the project has progressed up to the current day.


Asylum Seeker Hospitality, LGBT Senior Housing, & a New Rent Control Referendum – City Council Review 08/14/23 Double Edition

In another double-header meeting, the City Council hears reports on encampments and the imminent closure of the Expo shelter – currently housing nearly 200 asylum seekers. The Equality Community Center receives support for its LGBT senior housing, and a surprising request from the Irish Heritage Center divides the council. Another referendum on rent control is approved for the ballot, conflicts of interest are alleged, and right-wing trolls disrupt the comment section, all in this month’s City Council Review, with Ashley Keenan filling in for Erica Snyder-Drummond.


The Loophole Behind Double-Header Council Meetings (and its Consequences)

If the City Council is supposed to meet at least twice each month, why does it sometimes only meet on one night? In this column, learn more about the interesting loophole behind double-meetings, and the potentially deleterious effects it can have on an overstretched council.

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A Biography of Franklin Street

In part one of a series on Portland’s most divisive street, community organizer Markos Miller recounts the life story of Franklin Street. From bustling ethnic neighborhoods to slum-clearing mass demolition, the shadow of this quasi-highway casts long over Portland. To understand the debates over the road today, one most have some grasp on Franklin’s history.


Budget Passed, Police Raises Disputed, Referendum Reform Scrapped – City Council Review 07/17/23 Double Edition

In a packed City Council meeting – the only one in July – the municipal budget passes with the assistance of state funds, in the process instigating a heated debate over police wages. Appointment of a new Director of Public Works led into communications about homeless encampment response, the Neo-Nazi rally this past April, and property assessments. After vigorous public comment, a late-night debate over council-drafted reforms to Chapter 9 ended with the proposals being unceremoniously killed – likely for good. All this and more in this special, double edition of City Council Review.


Town Voices ~ Amtrak May Return to Union Station, We Can’t Miss the Opportunities

Union Station was demolished 62 years ago, but the site where it once stood is now a top candidate for the new Downeaster stop. Jessamine Walker illustrates what opportunities the return of Amtrak to the city’s core presents, why Portland ought to support this relocation, and how we can make the most of the move.


Town Voices ~ What Do We Sacrifice for Free Parking?

When the City Council on Monday permanently designated twenty-two parking spaces in the Old Port for island residents to use free of charge, the costs weren’t deeply considered. What could these costs be? Amy Oberlin guides an exploration of the tradeoffs, consequences, and policy of free parking in Portland – and why it perhaps ought to be weighed more carefully.