My un-opinionated observations for the week

This week, I’m taking a vacation from writing opinions. Instead, I’ll just list some recent observations from which you can draw your own opinionated conclusions…

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie makes a presidential campaign appearance in Portland, interrupting the breakfast of maybe a couple dozen people at Becky’s Diner. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders does the same and upwards of 9,000 people rearrange their dinner plans to see him speak at the largest indoor venue in town. “I think he’s the real deal,” Gov. Paul LePage says — of Christie, of course.

• Breathe easy, you’re in Maine, where it’s illegal to exhale e-cigarette vapor (whether it contains trace amounts of nicotine or not) in public places, but perfectly legal to carry a loaded gun without a permit (whether it’s concealed or not, even in public places).

• There is no conclusive evidence that secondhand vapor poses a significant risk to human health. The same cannot be said of second-hand bullets.

• Portland Mayor Mike Brennan is a “friend” of Portland City Councilor, and recently declared mayoral candidate, Ed Suslovic, on Facebook. As of this writing, anyway.

• Recent updates to Suslovic’s Facebook page largely consist of occasions when he changed his profile picture to another snapshot of his big, goofy, gap-toothed grin. Example: an April 2014 picture of Suslovic arm-in-arm with a clown, next to which someone named Brianna Suslovic commented, “i see the resemblance…” In June of 2014, Suslovic broke the trend by changing his picture to a political sign: the “Vote No on 1” logo of the group that endeavored to sell most of Congress Square Park to a high-end hotel before most Portland voters nixed the deal.

• Traffic signs along the residential streets of Portland’s Libbytown neighborhood alert drivers to the presence of “speed humps,” despite the fact that sort of behavior is far more common in the parking garages of the Old Port.

• The Democrat running for the Portland City Council seat representing the West End is a lawyer at the prestigious firm Verrill Dana. The Dem running for the East End seat has been a lawyer for Shipyard Brewing Company since 2011.

• Two years ago, after Portland officials determined that Shipyard owed the city $1.5 million in water fees for which it was (mistakenly) never billed, the brewery’s legal team negotiated a settlement by which the company paid $300,000. Which makes City Council candidate Brandon Mazer either the kind of savvy operator Portland sorely needs in its financial dealings with private entities, or a scoundrel who cheated his neighbors out of over a million bucks and over 150 million gallons of water.

• The town of Arundel could use a selectman with Mazer’s skills. Reservations are now being accepted to buy units at the Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve, a private, gated community that’s expected to eventually contain nearly 260 small, seasonal cottages for part-time Mainers. The tax-increment-financing (TIF) deal the town struck with the developers will put only a quarter of all the property tax revenue generated by the project into Arundel’s general fund. Two-thirds of the remaining revenue will be returned to the developers to help cover their construction costs, and a third will be set aside by the town to “address other infrastructure needs spurred by the growth spurt, such as police, roads and schools” according to a July 3 article in the Kennebunk Post. Given the fact that the development’s residents cannot legally occupy their cottage for the first four months of each year, the number of additional public school students the project will bring to town can reasonably be expected to be zero. The developers are paying to pave their project’s streets. And if it’s anticipated that the presence of these cottage-dwellers will require the town to beef up its annual law-enforcement budget by millions of dollars, perhaps Arundel would be better off without all those wealthy, retired serial killers, rapists and arsonists. (Sorry — I kinda drifted into opinion there.)

• Two men were standing on the sidewalk in Saco the other evening vying for the attention of passengers in vehicles idling at a traffic light on Route 1. The younger man waved a sign promoting deals at a chain pizza joint located in the strip mall behind them. The older man was preaching about salvation and Satan and sin, haranguing drivers to join his church. This called to mind a famous injunction: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s; render just $5 unto Little Caesar, get a large pepperoni pizza.”

Chris Busby

About Chris Busby

Chris Busby is editor and publisher of The Bollard, a monthly magazine about Portland. He writes a weekly column for the BDN.