Skip to content

State of the Schools, LD 2003, and a Surprise Resolution on Encampments – City Council Review 12/18/2023

In the inaugural meeting of the new city council, chaired by Mayor Dion and with Councilors Bullett and Sykes around the dais, a surprisingly lively City Council meeting took place on December 18th, 2023. The State of the Schools address was read, a cadre of unlikely bedfellows passed a surprisingly broad zoning law, and most controversially, the looming sweep scheduled to take place the following day led the council to adopt (wildcat fashion) a resolution against sweeps.

General Public Comment

From the get-go there was confusion about the rules of procedure.


During this period of general public comment, in which members of the public are free to offer remarks on any issue not otherwise on the council’s agenda that night, commenters aren’t allowed to talk about issues which are on the agenda. Usually this is intuitive, as the public is – usually – given the chance to comment on the night’s issues as they come up on the agenda.

However, certain types of agenda items do not feature a public comment period; notably, when someone (usually a staff member) delivers a “Communication” to the council, there is no opportunity for the public to speak about it. Since Communications are on the agenda, and thus preclude comments during the general period, but since also they do not warrant their own comment period, an issue which is covered by a Communication cannot be commented upon by members of the public at all. This quirk in the rules has been noted by municipal anoraks for some time, and opens an opportunity for a strategically-devised agenda to bar unwelcome comments from the public.

The very first person to speak during this night’s general public comment period did not give her name, but rather quickly asked whether the scheduled Communications regarding homeless encampments prevented the residents from talking about that issue during this period. Mayor Dion immediately responded “You cannot,” sending the woman back to her seat.

Updates from Mr. Rheault

“Is there any other comment?” the Mayor then asked the open room. George Rheault, one of said anoraks, asked the council whether there was any update on the city’s “Section 108 Urban Housing Development Loan with the Federated Company” regarding the Midtown parking development. He expressed a desire to know exactly what this cost the taxpayer. Rheault also informed the council that MaineHousing’s “Rapid Re-Housing” grant, utilized by nonprofits like Preble Street, is being cancelled, and warns them of the effects this could have. He concluded by mentioning the possible closure of Bangor’s largest homeless shelter in the near future, putting greater pressure on Portland.

Mayor Dion responded to these concerns, describing the meetings which he’s had in the very recent past with the state’s housing leaders to adapt to the circumstances Rheault mentioned. He also took note of Rheault’s inquiry into the Federated loan, and requested Corporation Counsel to prepare a report for the next meeting.

Disagreement on the Rules

Councilor Rodriguez, piping up before the period could continue, asked for clarification as to why the public could not offer comments. The two briefly debated the merits before turning to Corporation Counsel, who explained that the policy of barring public comments on “agenda-ed” items was quite broad. He did then, however, explain that the council could simply vote to suspend this rule and allow for such comments anyway.

Councilor Pelletier agreed with Rodriguez’ concerns, and moved to suspend the rule and allow comments. Without any discussion, all eight non-mayoral members of the council voted in favor of suspension. Belatedly, seeing that he was the only skeptic, Mayor Dion joined the majority to make it a unanimity, “in the spirit of public discussion,” as he put it, thanking the council for following due process.

Comments on Encampments

Cheryl Harkins, previously of Portland but now of South Portland, lamented the failure of Order 68 and hoped that the city would extend relief to those in the encampments. She also talked about the “misconceptions” that many have about those who live in the “cloth shelters” in the encampments, detailing the various obstacles which stand in the way of unsheltered homeless individuals from moving to the Homeless Services Center.

The same woman who had initially asked about the ability to comment then stepped forward, identifying herself as Taylor Cray, Advocacy Supervisor from Preble Street, a homelessness nonprofit. She stressed that the hard work of her organization, those like it, and the city has finally begun to pay off and that adequate shelter space is beginning to manifest. “Twenty people in two weeks,” she proudly reported of shelter placements. Cray urged the council, however, to postpone all sweeps, as it was still too early.

Eric Brewer, a formerly homeless person who had struggled with addiction, stepped forward to offer his own perspective, (but without making a clear recommendation either way.) Braylin Doyle, a case manager, added that she had “never seen a sweep solve anything,” also lamenting the housing shortage in Portland. Mike Stuckmeyer, of Preble Street’s “Homeless Voices for Justice” group, expressed his grief for the “extreme hardship for these people.” He asked the council to let people freely camp on public land, noting that the homeless too are “American citizens and taxpayers.”

Pat Bailey, chair of the Land Bank Commission, took a different tack. She explained the complexity of arranging deals with nonprofit groups and other entities for housing people, and asked the council to hold a workshop where they can review these processes.

With no one else speaking, Mayor Dion then brought the comment period to a close.


A recognition which had been scheduled for a number of first responders was postponed due to their being needed for storm-related operations that night.

Mayor Dion recognized Apex Racket and Fitness, “the hub of Tennis in Maine,” for their 50 years in business. Reciting a brief history of the business, and listing its accomplishments, the mayor thanked and congratulated the men and women who continue to operate Apex.

Councilors Pious Ali and Regina Phillips recognized Lado Lodoka, a refugee from Sudan who came to Maine and pursued higher education, serving a wide variety of nonprofits helping other refugees and immigrants. Lodoka died in a home accident earlier that month, and his cherished place in the community was honored by the City Council.

State of the Schools

Sarah Lentz, chair of the Portland Board of Public Education, stepped forward to present her “State of the Schools” address. Through this lengthy speech she shared a number of anecdotes, and conducted also a handful of physical activities with the crowd in chambers. She especially boasted of the expansive “layers of diversity” that Portland’s schools possess in “the whitest state in the country.”

At the conclusion of her address, she also extended her openness to questions and comments from the City Council. Mayor Dion offered such a comment, attempting to dispel the myth that the City Council and School Board are “adversaries,” emphasizing instead the shared responsibility which was inaugurated by Chair Lentz and his own predecessor, Mayor Snyder, and which he hopes to continue. He also emphasized the importance of finances and fiscal responsibility, noting the obligations the city has both to taxpayers and to its students.

Councilor Rodriguez, formerly a chair of the board himself, thanked Lentz and suggested that in the future, these addresses be directed towards the public rather than towards the council. Dion agreed this would be a good idea.


During the routine approval of the last meeting’s minutes, (which City Council Review generally excludes,) Mayor Dion announced (with an ambiguous degree of sincerity) that he’d be purchasing button-activated lights for the council to use during votes to relieve confusion.

The next item on the agenda was the appointment of a number of staff members as constables, law enforcement officials who can issue citations and perform other low-level acts to enforce city law. Constables cannot carry  firearms or make arrests. These appointments passed unanimously without comment or discussion.

Next, the council considered the amended order to appoint the following persons, mostly elected officials and city staff, to the following boards and commissions:

              Bill Needelman              Casco Bay Island Transit District Board of Directors
              Councilor Ali                  Greater Portland Transit District / METRO
              Councilor Rodriguez     Greater Portland Transit District / METRO
              Edward Suslovic             Greater Portland Transit District / METRO
              Jeff Levine                        Greater Portland Transit District / METRO
              Paul Bradbury                 Greater Portland Transit District / METRO
              Councilor Bullett           Creative Portland
              Greg Watson                  Creative Portland
              Mayor Dion                    Greater Portland Council of Governments General Assembly
              Councilor Ali                  Greater Portland Council of Governments General Assembly
              Councilor Sykes             Greater Portland Council of Governments General Assembly
              Jessica Grondin               Greater Portland Council of Governments General Assembly
              Danielle West                 Greater Portland Council of Governments General Assembly
              Elisa Marr                        Greater Portland Council of Governments General Assembly
              Dena Libner                    Greater Portland Council of Governments General Assembly
              Greg Watson                  ConnectED
              Mayor Dion                    Cumberland County Finance Committee
              Councilor Trevorrow    Cumberland County Finance Committee
              Anne Bilodeau                ECOMaine
              Mike Murray                  ECOMaine
              Troy Moon                     ECOMaine
              Councilor Bullett           Fish Exchange
              Councilor Phillips          Fish Pier Authority
              Brendan O’Connell       Fish Pier Authority
              Bill Patnaude                  Island Advisory
              Councilor Phillips          Jetport Noise Advisory Committee
              Councilor Trevorrow    Land Bank Commission
              Mayor Dion                    Maine Municipal Association Legislative Policy Committee
              Councilor Trevorrow    Maine Municipal Association Legislative Policy Committee
              Danielle West                 Maine Municipal Association Legislative Policy Committee
              Mayor Dion                    Metro Regional Coalition at GPCOG
              Danielle West                 Metro Regional Coalition at GPCOG
              Kevin Kraft                     PACTS Policy Committee
              Keith Gray                      PACTS Policy Committee
              Councilor Pelletier        Parks Commission
              Danielle West                 Chamber of Commerce, Community & City Affairs Committee
              Councilor Fournier        Portland Development Corporation
              Danielle West                 Portland Development Corporation
              Keith Gray                      Portland Downtown
              Councilor Pelletier        Portland Public Art Committee
              Councilor Fournier        Waterfront Alliance

These appointments passed unanimously without comment or discussion.


Five communication items were slated on the agenda, beginning with a routine report from Councilor Ali on the Housing & Economic Development Committee’s work over the past year. The verbal communication was very brief and pro forma, with Ali directing those interested to read the more detailed report.

The next communication item came from Jessica Grondin, announcing a new administrative policy for private groups to request permission to hang banners from Portland’s street poles. This minor expansion of administrative oversight was announced with similar brevity, and similar advisement to review the more detailed policy online for those interested.

Mayor Dion took his turn of offering a brief announcement, this time of the 2024 “Council Goals” which the body had decided upon. These revolved around four primary goals:

  1. DIVERSITY – The expansion of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” programming, also known as “DEI”, by “acting on the recommendations of the Racial Equity Steering Committee.”
  2. HOUSING – “Working on regulations, financing, and coordination” to “impact the housing affordability crisis[.]”
  3. CLIMATE – Working towards “the recommendations of One Climate Future.”
  4. ENGAGEMENT – Exploring the “establishment of an Office of Community Engagement.”

This final goal was also a campaign promise made by the new mayor. The full document, only two pages long, can also be found here.

Somehow even more briefly than the communications which preceded them, Mayor Dion also announced statements from the Land Bank Commission and the Portland Parks Commission regarding homeless encampments. These two bodies which help to govern Portland’s public green space both strongly object to any policy change which would relax restrictions on encampments. They do so for similar reasons, noting the damage which is done to Portland’s collective possessions and the deprivation it causes to other citizens.

Unfinished Business

After a surprisingly brief set of communications, the council progressed to Order 61, a zoning map amendment for an area of land around the Washington Ave–Veranda Street intersection. Planning Board Chair Brandon Mazer explained that these parcels are planned as home to a new mixed-use development above 17 and 25 Bates Street. It would also serve to bring a number of nearby nonconforming buildings into conformity, (i.e. to relax the zoning as to not ban the kinds of buildings which are already there.) Planning department head Grimando presented a detailed slideshow explaining why they feel this property owner ought to be allowed to build housing on his land.

Corporation Counsel briefly explained a technical amendment in the agenda, to comply with recent case law which found that the city of Portland had failed to adequately preserve the recommendations of the planning board. This passed unanimously, with minimal hesitation.

With no public comment or council discussion, the order passed unanimously.

Orders 80, 81, 82 were interrelated orders regarding the Lambert Woods North affordable housing development. These 72 new units would be offered to households earning at or below 60% AMI, (i.e. $56,800 for a household of two,) but require substantial financial breaks from the city and state in order to make their construction feasible. These orders would make the necessary arrangements to enable the construction and authorize the continuing development of the project. A representative from the project gave a brief summary of the proposals before the council.

With no public comment or council discussion, the three orders passed unanimously.

Dougherty Commons Condominiums

Next, Order 83 would appropriate $1.5mm from the city’s Jill C. Duson Housing Trust Fund to give to Maine Cooperative Development Partners, LLC to construct a two-story, four-unit condo building and a three-story, 16-unit condo building. These units would be made available to households earning up to 100% area median income. This money would technically stand as a loan, but there would be a 0% interest rate and the LLC would not need to repay the city, passing the debt instead on to the purchasers of the units to repay.

Todd Morse, of the Urbanist Coalition of Portland, offered a brief public comment in support of the project. George Rheault stepped forward (to the evident delight of some audience members) asking for clarification on what the balance of the Duson fund would be after this allocations, and asking the council whether the per-unit cost is actually worthwhile. He brought up a variety of other projects which would have provided more units of affordable housing but didn’t receive this sort of help from the city. He blamed the politics of the planning process. “You’re setting a precedent tonight that we should be providing big slugs of money to, effectively, private developments to make them happen,” Rheault declared, but then said that “maybe that’s what we need, at this point.”

Four more members of the Urbanist Coalition of Portland spoke in favor of the project. Wendy Cherubini said that the loan would enable a fundamentally new type of housing in the city: cooperative housing. Zack Barowitz, also a former commissioner and neighbor to the project as well as a UCP member, gave brief remarks in favor of the project as well. Chris Parelius further elaborated upon the plight of the housing shortage, especially for low-income Portlanders, and supported the project. Liz Trice, one of the leaders of the project, explained some of the details of the project’s financing further and shared the vision her organization has for affordable, permanent housing.

Closing public comment, Mayor Dion took up Rheault’s question of the Duson fund’s balance. Mary Davis, who had until recently been serving as interim director of the Housing and Economic Development Department, confused the question somewhat but ultimately answered that the balance would sit at around $6.4mm. Dion further asked Davis to clarify as to whether this project truly is an outlier in terms of cost-per-unit.

Before answering the mayor’s question, Davis explained at length as to why affordable condos “require” more subsidy from the city compared to rental units. Finally, she said that “yes,” this project is unusual in the amount of money being offered by the city per unit, but that it was justified.

Councilor Fournier asked whether this appropriation would be the only ask from the developers, or whether further requests for money are to be expected. A representative from the development stepped forward to explain that yes, more requests for funds from the city are planned as the project continues, but that more specifics aren’t prepared yet.

Councilor Bullett asked city staff what sorts of mechanisms were available for assuring accountability. Davis, again, seemed somewhat confused by the question, but referred Councilor Bullett to the memorandum to review the recommendations from a third-party auditor. Councilor Sykes also noted that the Duson fund is mostly fed by developers choosing to buy their way out of mandatory 80% AMI units, and since this project is aimed at 100% AMI units, she was skeptical of the wisdom of this trade. Nevertheless, she did indicate her support, even while criticizing the funding of middle-income housing, “let’s move forward in a different way.”

The council voted unanimously in favor of Order 83.

182 and 186 Woodford Street

Planning Board Chair Brandon Mazer and Planning Department chief Christine Grimando again presented a zoning map amendment, this time for parcels of 192 and 186 Woodford Street. This recommendation, coming at the end of the long and involved process of review, would allow Community Housing of Maine (CHOM) to redevelop the land around the former Woodfords Church Parish building to erect 80 new affordable housing units. Enthusiasm for this particular project was strong in the planning bodies, as it was focused around a “priority node” which the city had identified as being uncontroversial to develop.

George Rheault stepped forward to comment, asking first if anyone knew why this property, which had been owned entirely by the church for a long time, was divided into three separate parcels to begin with, (smaller parcels are subject to greater zoning restrictions.) He signaled approval of the development, noting the success of CHOM convincing the neighborhood that building housing is preferable to people sleeping in parks. But he objected to the “exclusionary” nature of the extended planning process, calling the restrictions on housing “spatial apartheid.”

Rheault’s comment was interrupted, however, by a stern Mayor Dion, “I want to grant you grace and latitude, but I’d like you to narrow it to this particular order. We’re not taking general commentary[.]” Rheault agreed to wrap up his comments, but did not lighten up on his invective, to the clear amusement of some in the audience.  “George, we’re done,” the Mayor finally cut him off.

Brian Kilgallen, development officer of CHOM, stepped forward to offer comments in favor of the project; CHOM is a housing development firm focused on building affordable housing. He emphasized the broad approval and cooperation CHOM has enjoyed with the surrounding area’s residents.

Closing public comments and moving into council deliberations, Councilor Phillips expressed confusion about the layout of the development, asking Kilgallen to further explicate the exact plans. Once he had, Phillips became deeply concerned that churchgoers and other neighbors would suffer from the lack of parking that these housing units would cause. Kilgallen attempted to assuage her concerns, noting the emptiness of much nearby parking, but appeared largely unsuccessful. Planning Chair Mazer stepped in as well, noting that there will be future opportunities for reviewing the site plan, that even this hearing did not constitute the end of the process for these units.

Without further discussion, the council voted unanimously to pass Order 84. The mayor then announced a ten-minute recess.

LD 2003

The next item, Order 85, concerned Portland’s compliance with the state law commonly known as “LD 2003,” which mandates municipalities to allow for a minimum degree of housing construction in the wake of the unprecedented housing shortage in Maine.

Eighteen public commenters, including the state legislator who was the architect of LD 2003, representatives from both the Portland Chamber of Commerce and the Maine DSA, and a slew of members from the Urbanist Coalition of Portland (UCP), all stepped forward to urge the passage of four amendments introduced by Councilor Rodriguez and drafted in collaboration with the UCP.

A full breakdown of the significant impact of these amendments, as well as the back-and-forth among city officials debating the amendments and order, can be found here.

Ultimately, three amendments passed 8-1, with only Mayor Dion dissenting. His objections were on process grounds. One of the amendments passed 7-2, with Councilor Phillips joining Dion in dissent, since she was concerned about a shortage in available parking spaces.

Order 85 passed 8-1, with Mayor Dion remaining in opposition.


The only other order to be passed this evening was Order 86, concerning a $5,000 donation made anonymously from a family in Falmouth, Maine to be used as a Secret Santa giveaway by the Portland Police Department to those in need. This is a routine donation that has been made for five years now. The acceptance and appropriation of this donation passed without comment or discussion unanimously, and as an emergency.

Two first-reads were made, one a zoning change on Ocean Avenue and Presumpscot Street, the other a relaxation of appointment rules for the Land Bank Commission. Votes would be held on these items at the following meeting.

A Surprise Resolution from Councilor Trevorrow

When Mayor Dion was planning on bringing the meeting to a close, Councilor Anna Trevorrow of District 1 moved to suspend the rules of the council and brought forward a resolution for the body to consider. This “Resolution Opposing the City of Portland’s Plan to Sweep of the Harborview Encampment and Other Encampments on City Property” was considered, following a unanimous vote to suspend the rules.

A copy of this resolution was distributed around the dais as Trevorrow spoke, introducing the tension between “operational responsibility and policy responsibilities.” She emphasized that she respected and recognized the work that city staff does, but asserted the Council’s own position of being charged with taking firm policy stances in response to their constituents. The resolution was made up of a series of value statements challenging the necessity of city officials to clear the homeless encampment at Harborview Park the following day, December 19th.

Councilor Trevorrow, in tandem with Councilor Rodriguez, are coming hot off a prior attempt to prevent the sweep of this encampment, their joint Order 68. The full details of Order 68 can be read here, and the details of the failure of Order 68 can be read here in the November 20th edition of City Council Review.

Unlike Order 68, which introduced a number of binding amendments to law, council resolutions are not enforceable, but rather represent expressions of beliefs and preferences by the City Council.

Trevorrow’s introduction of the resolution was rather brief, noting the self-explanatory and straightforward nature of the resolution.

Council Reactions

Councilor Phillips asked for clarification as to the precise recommendations of the resolution, as while the text called for the postponement of the sweep it did not specify as to whether this should be a permanent or temporary postponement, and if the latter, when it would become acceptable to resume sweeps. Trevorrow responded by restating the nonbinding nature of a resolution. This seemed to satisfy Ms. Phillips.

Mayor Dion then shared that he had discussed this issue of encampments fruitfully with Trevorrow, as well as with Councilor Fournier, and also restated the nonbinding nature of a resolution, suggesting that to assent to this resolution would be to signal opposition the council’s previous vote on Order 68.

Councilor Sykes said that the public should have a chance to discuss this further, but asked Corporation Counsel whether the council has any power to prevent the sweep if they wanted to. He clarified that they are free to amend the code, and Order 68 was a failed attempt to do this, but short of amending the code it is up to the City Manager to establish administrative policies to carry out the code. He also noted that the HHS committee has already been tasked with reviewing this issue. The Mayor also spoke, repeating many of these same points. Sykes concluded by emphasizing that the nature of this issue was that of a “public health crisis,” and not just “camping,” as is so often said.

Trevorrow spoke up again to insist upon the need for a “high-level discussion among this body” regarding homeless encampments, instead of just responding to individual crises as they crop up. She said that a simple statement of values like this would be the way to open that conversation.

Councilor Fournier recalled a similar resolution the Council passed recently, the “deprioritization” of psychedelic drugs; read more about this deprioritization in the October 2nd edition of City Council Review. She indicated her likely support, but shared the difficult balance that needs to be struck between ensuring public safety with not being cruel to those in the encampments. She expects that committee discussions to be fruitful on the subject.

The Mayoral Perspective

Mayor Dion then drew the council’s attention to an email from the City Manager, which expressed regret at not attending the meeting in-person, and also stated that city staff were willing to compromise by suspending sweeps until December 28th. She hoped that the extra time would provide an opportunity to those in the camps and those trying to help them, among both city staff and private nonprofits. Councilor Rodriguez responded to this message from the Manager by emphasizing the importance of making data-based decisions, and needing updated information from city staff. He also obliquely criticized the sudden lack of information from staff which had been so forthcoming during the Order 68 fight.

Mayor Dion expressed a somewhat tangled mix of responses, first agreeing with the need for data. He then brought up the difficulty staff has in negotiating with campers and shelters for acceptable terms of shelter. Then he moved on to talking about the hazards which these encampments can pose, and the liabilities that the city can bear, noting in particular the danger of snow covering some dangerous debris and causing harm in the spring.

The mayor then shifted to talking about how the encampments are already spreading and affecting other neighborhoods even without a sweep. “I am getting a stream, that’s growing to a river, from out in Libbytown. Their brand-new park, for kids, has already been overtaken. They can’t go there.” Defending the city manager, he restated the importance of maintaining health and safety. “I don’t think any decision which has been made by the executive has been capricious or arbitrary.”

He ultimately concluded by describing a bewildering variety of constituents who write to him, ranging from nonprofits to schools to mothers of adults in the camps, all with different and sometimes mutually-exclusive demands. “There’s a lot of streams that run into this lake.”

Councilor Bullett lamented the absence of representatives from the homeless community at the meeting during this conversation, and pointed out that there likely wasn’t enough shelter space for everyone in the encampments. Dion contested with that latter point, explaining that counting tents would produce an inflated number of homeless individuals because some tents are used as storage. He said that during a sweep the city could gain a more accurate count.

Belated Public Comment

After reading out the full text of the resolution to comply with council rules, Mayor Dion then realized he had not asked for public comment on the matter, and opened the floor now.

The first to approach was Eamonn Dundon of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, who viciously opposed anything which would approach sanction for the encampments. He reminded the council of those campers who had been “raped, burned to death, [and] brutally assaulted,” and said that obligating those in the encampments to come inside would save lives as well as improve the lives of those around them. He further scorned (but did not name) “some of this council” for repudiating the duty of the city to keep people safe, and criticized the “kind of insane process” by which the council was now debating this issue. “[Y]ou will be ramming through a resolution that the public has had no ability to scrutinize, against the advice of your staff who have been working under dangerous conditions on the front line, and against the recommendation of your Land Bank Commission and your Parks Commission… Plain and simple this is a mockery of the legislative process in our city at a time when trust in government has never been lower.”

Signaling that the truce the two had made earlier in the evening on housing had already lapsed, Maine DSA Campaign Co-Chair Wes Pelletier stepped up to counter Dundon’s comment. “I very strongly support this resolution. I would support action more, but I see where we’re at.” He rejected the idea that the City Manager’s recommendation was based on research or data, and also rejected the equivalence between the discomfort of housed people (he said that he himself had to deal with “needles in his car,”) and the needs of the homeless. “We can’t keep shuffling people around hoping that they die.” Concluding with asking the mayor to stop “spouting off” with data he said was unsubstantiated, Pelletier pleaded with the council to adopt the resolution. Another commenter briefly brought up the adoption of LD 2003’s provisions as a reason to give the homeless time while the city builds homes and other facilities for them, supporting the resolution. The mayor then drew this period to a close.

Continued Deliberation

“I’ve been adamantly against sweeps since the jump,” Councilor Pelletier stated, continuing council discussion, “There’s a misconception that I hear a lot, that in advocating to stop the sweeps we’re advocating to leave people outside. And I really encourage others to expand their viewpoint on that. If we had it up to us, everybody would be safely inside a home, in a warm bed, but the reality is that is not the case.” She lamented the inability of the council to pass meaningful reform on this topic. “We’ve had four or five deaths since Order 68 failed.” She did seem somewhat confused about what the resolution would actually do, but emphasized the need to be clear about what the council believes.

Corporation Counsel then put himself forward to discuss his concerns with the resolution’s language, “these are the kinds of things that keep lawyers up at night.” He especially objected to language which implied, or outright stated, that the city’s actions were causing harm, and said that this was unsubstantiated by data or research. Goldman explained that some of the text in the resolution could be construed as the council admitting that Portland is committing actionable wrongs against the homeless, which could be turned against the city in court. Despite his reservations, he also recommended that the council adopt this as an emergency so it could take effect immediately, but Trevorrow declined to amend her motion to do so.

Mayor Dion concluded the discussion by talking about how the public did not have nearly enough opportunity to respond to this motion, and that not enough data is available yet. He augured of the Portland residents who would wake up tomorrow and see what their council had passed without any forewarning to the public.

The resolution passed 7-2, with Mayor Dion and Councilor Phillips opposing.

Following a brief technical amendment at the suggestion of Corporation Counsel, the council adjourned at 10:07 p.m.

Ashley D. KeenanAshley is an editor of the Portland Townsman, with work focusing on the mechanics of local government and housing policy, and also a member of Portland’s Historic Preservation Board. You can reach Ashley personally at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *