Tenant defends Theatre tenure

As the last tenant and operator of the State Theatre in Portland, I read your article (“Icon gets a face-lift for encore,” Feb. 25) with great interest.

The owner of the Theatre, Stone Coast Properties, knew of the Life Safety Code problems before and during my nine-month tenancy in 2005-2006. Yet none of its agents disclosed them to me.

Specifically, the fire escape and the number of exits — both cited by the article as among the major code deficiencies Stone Coast has finally addressed — drew official actions by the state Fire Marshal’s Office before I even entered the picture.

Stone Coast now claims the condition of the fire escape and the number of exits is somehow due to my operation of the Theatre, rather than its ownership of it.

But the real reason the State Theatre has been sitting dark and dormant for four years is Stone Coast allowed it to become so dangerous that no one could operate it.

Stone Coast’s president, Ron Goglia, admits the company shut the State Theatre right after my tenancy, as he states, “I could not open the Theatre and sleep at night.”

My nine months didn’t cause the fire escape to rust away or the doorways to disappear.

It’s time for Stone Coast Properties to take responsibility for the very serious danger it presented to the public for years until March, 2006.

Christopher Morgan

Maine Entertainment Company

Manchester, N.H.

 

 

No merit to arguments for non-citizen voting ban

 

The Feb. 9 public forum on the Portland Charter Commission offered a preview of the debates to come as we approach the November ballot. The issue of non-citizen voting promises to be the most contentious.

It is problematic and will be hotly debated.

To clarify, the question pertains only to legal permanent residents and only on municipal ballot questions.

Two arguments against it ought to be put to rest right now.

The most straightforward objection is that voting is a privilege of citizenship; residents should prove their commitment to citizenship in order to earn the vote.

Fine. It’s worth noting, though, that most Americans take the right to vote for granted. I didn’t do a blessed thing to engineer my birth in this country. Many Americans like me have the right to vote yet don’t, or vote based on prejudices, misinformation or fixation on a single issue. Did they earn this right? Let’s not pretend that we have earned anything by the accident of our birth.

The second objection — that we will open the floodgates to the intervention of “foreigners” at every level of government — rings equally hollow. Non-citizen, municipal voting was long the practice in many parts of this country, before new waves of European immigration threatened a comfortable native majority.

At the local level, all residents have an intimate stake in the effects of public policy. Nearly all legal residents pay taxes here. And all are affected by issues from sanitation to policing to public education. In fact, many non-citizen residents have children in the Portland schools who are citizens.

They deserve a voice in decisions that directly affect their families. Moreover, these residents and their children may come to feel pulled toward American citizenship and political participation precisely because they have practiced it at home.

Non-citizen voting won’t give away the store to outsiders. Passing this measure at the local level will engage many more stakeholders in civic life, and potentially strengthen our democracy by making full citizenship even more desirable.

Alex Endy

Portland

 

 

Law should be changed for ‘misclassified’ workers

 

I have been a construction worker for the last 34 years and this week Gov. Baldacci will address an issue that is hurting the construction industry and the taxpayers of Maine.

I am talking about misclassified workers who should be classified as employees, not independent contractors. We are seeing this grow every year. Maine is losing millions.

Can we really afford to do business this way?

John Griffin

Portland

 

 

Cumberland can fund road repair without new taxes

 

I feel that it is unfair for Andrew Young to criticize the Cumberland Taxpayers Association for its recommendation of a “No” vote in today’s citizen-initiated special referendum dealing with repairs to Route 88 in Cumberland (“Cumberland should vote to make improvements to Route 88,” March 1).

I agree with Mr. Young that Route 88 is in disrepair and needs fixing.

My interpretation of the CTA’s recommendation is for the Town of Cumberland to live within its means.

In other words, if it’s that important to fix Route 88, then the town leaders need to find money from some other area in the town’s budget, and not additionally tax the citizens of the town for this project.

Yes, that means taking from “Peter to pay Paul,” but in these very difficult recessionary times, that’s what I expect of the leaders of my community.

Mark Aranson, M.D.

Cumberland