Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Maine: Portland Charter Commission disclosures now online

In case you missed it, Portland is considering rewriting its constitution and the possibility of again allowing voters to elect their mayor (instead of having the city councilors appoint one of themselves to the position.) Most of the action is taking place within the 12-member City Charter Commission, which will play a big role in the future of politics in Maine's largest city. So who made them boss?

Three of the charter commissioners were appointed by the city council, but the other nine were elected by those of you who turned up at the polls earlier this year.

I've finally had an opportunity to photograph, crop, and post the campaign finance disclosures for the winners of those elections (since the city hasn't.)

A preliminary review turns up nothing unusual. Most candidates' war chests were measured in the tens or hundreds of dollars, and the biggest donors tended to be relatives, friends, or political associates.

City councilor John Anton (Green) supported James Gooch (Dem), while former city council candidate Bill Linnell donated to fellow Greens Ben Chipman and Anna Trevorrow. Trevorrow also got backing from current Green schoolboard candidate Anthony Zeli, who's her longtime partner, and Chipman's election committee, which gave her $125. (Trevorrow is the Green party state chair, Zeli is the treasurer, and Chipman heads the Cumberland County branch.)

Richard Ranaghan (Dem and former city finance director) received contributions from John O'Brien, the longtime Cumberland County register of deeds. Former mayor Jim Cohen got money from the Portland Longshoreman's' Benevolent Association, school committee and planning board member Jaimey Caron, and Washington, DC power attorney and congressional investigator Michael Bopp; (Bopp and Cohen have been friends since the attended school together at Baxter Elementary and Deering High.)

For the 99.9% of you who haven't been focused on the charter commission, the three political appointees are former transportation director Tom Valleau, 2008 city council candidate Naomi Mermin (who received contributions from Anton, then-mayor Ed Suslovic, schoolboard members Kate Snyder and Peter Eglinton, and the Portland Chamber of Commerce PAC), and former mayor Pamela P Plumb (chair), a past director of People's Heritage Bank (now part of TD BankThat'sChargingYouNewFees) and past president of the National League of Cities.

Of course if you think I've missed anything or made an error, feel free to comment. And if you have copies of any Portland disclosures from before 2004, consider contributing them to the website, as the city has destroyed their copies.

[UPDATE, 1:40 EST: Have added a few more references to donations by elected officials as readers have pointed them out to me.]

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