PORTLAND – City Councilor Dan Skolnik is criticizing other councilors for what he describes as a coordinated effort to ignore him and isolate him politically.

One councilor says Skolnik is having a personal crisis and needs professional help in managing his anger.

The tension, which has simmered for months, culminated this week in a series of e-mails between Skolnik and two other councilors, copies of which Skolnik provided to the entire City Council and local media outlets.

Skolnik said that six of the eight other councilors are refusing to meet with him or return his phone calls. He is aiming his sharpest criticism at two of his former political allies, Mayor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. and City Councilor Jill Duson.

He said they are acting as if it’s acceptable to effectively remove one member of the council and leave his constituents in District 3 — the Stroudwater, Oakdale, Libbytown and Rosemont neighborhoods — with no representation.

“They are so comfortable at this point running the council in such a childish manner,” he said. “My goodness, it’s sad.”

Skolnik even described his situation in a poem, which he distributed to the council. It included the couplet: “Why must one struggle to be heard? It’s because their conduct is absurd.”

Mavodones and Duson say they have given Skolnik the same consideration that they give other councilors.

Skolnik’s blunt style is evident in the e-mails he sent this week to other councilors. In an e-mail to Mavodones, he complained that since July 2, the mayor has refused Skolnik’s repeated requests to meet with him.

“You and your clique have been giving me the silent treatment for 9 weeks,” Skolnik wrote. “I will meet with you today. Right now. Step up and stop acting like such a child, Nick.”

Skolnik said in an e-mail to Duson: “Jill, you are a dangerous politician hopelessly caught in your hypocrises; consistently abandoning reason to defend your poor judgment.”

He also described her as a “spectacular dunce” and characterized one of her comments to him as “unsurprisingly dense.”

On Wednesday, Duson changed the settings of her city e-mail account and her personal e-mail account to block Skolnik’s e-mails.

Duson said the e-mails are “rude” and “accusatory” and have nothing to do with current business before the council. She told Skolnik to communicate with her by putting written notes in her mailbox at City Hall.

Duson said Skolnik’s anger makes her concerned about interacting with him.

“From my observation, he’s in some kind of personal crisis,” she said. “I feel for him. I consider him a friend, and if I could figure out how to be of help to him, I would.”

On Wednesday, she sent Skolnik an e-mail that said: “Please, please get some help!!”

Skolnik acknowledged that he is rude sometimes, but said he doesn’t have a problem managing his anger.

“But my aim is true,” he said in an interview. “I am always going to do the right thing for the community.”

Mavodones said in an e-mail to Skolnik on Tuesday that he would meet with him later in the week at a coffeehouse. But after Skolnik chastised him for acting like a child, Mavodones rescinded.

In an interview Thursday, Mavodones said he would he happy to meet with Skolnik. “Dan has worked hard since he joined the council,” he said. “To wrap up the last few months on a negative note is unfortunate.”

Skolnik, whose term expires in December, is not seeking re-election.

Skolnik also criticized Councilor Dory Waxman for not returning his calls.

Like Skolnik, Mavodones, Duson and Waxman are Democrats. The three once joined with Skolnik to form a crucial voting bloc in support of Ocean Properties’ plan to redevelop the Maine State Pier.

Skolnik won his seat in 2007 in a four-way race. He said he agreed to step aside after just one term because the Democrats on the council wanted to support William Mitchell, son of the Democratic nominee for governor, Libby Mitchell.

William Mitchell is running against former City Councilor Ed Suslovic this fall.

Skolnik said Cheryl Leeman and John Coyne are the only two councilors who will talk to him. Leeman, Waxman and councilors John Anton and Kevin Donoghue declined to comment. Coyne could not be reached for comment.

Councilor David Marshall said Skolnik has become politically isolated on the council because of his behavior and decisions. “It doesn’t take a coordinated effort by councilors,” he said.

Before he leaves office, Skolnik said, he has a list of goals he wants to accomplish. That includes winning the council’s endorsement for state legislation to ban handguns in public buildings, erecting a plaque honoring veterans at the renovated terminal of the Portland International Jetport, and creating a way to put video of council committee meetings on the city website so people can see it live or in archives.

He said he also wants assurance that he will remain co-chair of the Martin Luther King Memorial Commission. But nobody on the council will discuss the issue with him, he said. 

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

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