Hey, everybody. I’m Portland Mayor Dave Marshall, and I’m stoked to deliver the 2016 State of the City address. Oh, and sorry I’m late — I forgot what time this inauguration thing was supposed to be.
When you elected me the city’s first Green Party mayor last November, you sent a clear message. Well, a lot of the messages I got were rambling and incoherent, scrawled on greasy burger wrappers from Five Guys, but I heard you loud and clear. You want to get stoned without the cops hassling you outside the newly renovated Zig-Zag Center, formerly the Cumberland County Civic Center. And now you can.
Marijuana is legal in Portland, and Governor Eliot Cutler has pledged to sign legislation legalizing pot throughout Maine as soon as he gets approval from Beijing.
Legalization has been a boon to the Forest City. Revenues from our cut of the $50 per ounce excise tax will allow us to complete some long-overdue infrastructure projects, including improvements to the wastewater treatment facility on the East End, the stench of which continues to make it a bummer to play frisbee or convene a drum circle on the Prom.
Portland’s restaurant scene, already nationally renowned, is now internationally renowned — and, according to some observers, intergalactically renowned, with diners arriving from as far away as Alpha Centauri. Our restaurants, pubs and hookah dens are packed every night, with dozens of food trucks prowling the streets to find and feed stragglers suffering from the munchies.
Marijuana tourism is now our No. 1 industry, followed closely by the trade in hemp jewelry and corny 420 T-shirts, which got a big boost when we allowed street artists to sell such fine art on every sidewalk in town. My own neon-pastel paintings are selling like hotcakes at Denny’s after last call.
Four new hotels have opened in town since 2013 — five including the refurbished Eastland Park — and they’re all operating at or near capacity year-round, though the hippies who vacation here often forget to check out and pay their bill. Luckily, their VW buses are slow and easy to spot.
If the state allows Portland to collect a percentage of an increased meals-and-lodging tax, our charter schools will finally have the money they need to buy textbooks. General Secretary — um, I mean Gov. Cutler, has indicated a willingness to entertain this idea.
Legalization has allowed the Portland Police Department to shift resources from drug enforcement to actual crimes, like tobacco smoking. With the help of a generous federal grant secured by Sen. Chellie Pingree, a new fleet of drones will soon be patrolling our parks and trails to hunt down and neutralize this threat to public health.
The city of Portland has banned Styrofoam, polystyrene foam, sea foam and excessive amounts of foam atop lattes and craft beer. A pending ordinance banning dogs from foaming at the mouth will make our city almost entirely foam-free.
But our work is not done. We’ve banned plastic bags, yet continue to require residents to buy blue plastic trash bags, which now retail for $20 each. That makes no sense. So in addition to the mandatory recycling and composting programs, I propose phasing out weekly trash collection and requiring residents to bring whatever they can’t recycle or compost — meat bones and pot seeds, basically — to ecomaine’s waste-to-energy plant on outer Congress Street.
The decline in garbage power has been more than offset by the gains we’ve made in wind power. Thanks to a generous federal grant Sen. Angus King gave himself, the Casco Bay Wind Farm, formerly known as Peaks Island, supplies almost 3 percent of the city’s electricity needs on blustery days. The installation of 12 more turbines atop historic Fort Gorges promises to boost that to 4 percent — during nor’easters.
Now, I’ve also heard your complaints. You say city government has become less responsive since we legalized marijuana. I agree that “Dude, I totally spaced that” is not an acceptable answer when a developer has been waiting months for a building permit. Firefighters and EMTs should not be allowed to make pit stops for chips and soda on their way to emergencies, and snow-removal crews should be held accountable for all the mailboxes they’ve plowed over this winter.
As mayor, I pledge to remember to write these issues down on something and get around to addressing them when I get a chance someday. In the meantime, I invite you all to join me at the post-inaugural reception in the State of Maine Room for light refreshments and bong hits. Resurgam!