Thursday, February 25, 2010

Maine State Pier: who's accountable?

My Talk of Maine column in the new issue of Down East is on -- wait for it -- the Maine State Pier (and the not-unrelated effort to rewrite the constitution of Maine's largest city.)

If you haven't been following this saga, you're in for a treat: people in high places using money and influence in an effort to effectively privatize a major public asset under false pretenses and for what would have worked out to little money.

If you've had season tickets to this one, the new development is that the city's official position is that, internally at least, everyone has always known that the pier never needed a major fix. As you'll see in the piece, this is hard to square with former councilor Jim Cloutier's talking points back in 2007. But, once again, nobody is accountable, which leads to the article's other question: will the Charter Commission's efforts to revamp city government ensure that the buck stops somewhere?

For now, the buck is apparently not stopping with current councilors Nick Mavodones and Jill Duson. The longtime supporters of the pier project once again did not respond to interview requests. I've interviewed foreign heads of state, sitting U.S. governors, several Bosnian war criminals, three cardinals, two Orthodox metropolitans, the Aga Khan, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, but I've never once gotten the current and immediate past mayor of my hometown to talk about waterfront issues. Curious.

For more background on the Portland waterfront, start here.

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