That there’s a possibility of an elected mayor ruling the roost in the hallowed halls of Portland city government seems like an adventure worth voting for.

Councilors receive $5,500 per year in salary and Portlanders have received exactly what they’ve paid for. It’s a lousy system for a city with some degree of complexity to be led by a city manager/council form of government that has consistently demonstrated an inability to lead.

There are several future issues that need strong leadership with forward thinking, particularly the growth of Bayside and the revitalization of the Eastern waterfront.

Bayside in particular is a vast landscape that’s being developed helter-skelter. Here’s a chance for exciting architecture in a part of the city that’s like an ailing frontier panting for sparkle. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Walgreen’s have or will prosper there. These three retailers are a beacon for neighborhood growth.

There hasn’t been any architecture worth pointing to in the city grid since the 1800s. What would be wrong with having a few skyscrapers of architectural merit erected downtown or apartment buildings with height, stature and style that could have views of the harbor and ocean and allow empty nesters in the suburbs to move back to the city to enticing spaces?

What the city needs is a real city planner, knowledgeable in architecture and planning issues. Most of the land in Bayside is owned by the city — lying fallow when it could be used for profit and tax revenue.

It’s no surprise that Councilor Cheryl Leeman opposes electing a strong mayor. Where would that leave her conservative views in a city aching to be exciting?

John Golden

Portland

As a lifelong resident of the city of Portland, I will not address the merits of the proposed charter change regarding an elected mayor.

I will however, ask, if this is an expense that we can afford.

Our current tax rate is already stressed beyond sustainability.

We have, in an effort to avoid further increases, laid off many dedicated and qualified workers in a wide swath through the city departments.

While our tax burden grows, the actual benefit or service to the community continues to shrink, (and we are) paying fees for trash, parking, water sewer usage and many other incidentals that were once provided through tax dollars.

The coalition claims that a mayor will add credibility to our city.

They say this will cost only a mere $67,000 per year. They fail to say where this money is going to be coming from.

They fail to mention the possible future administrative costs for assistants, clerks, office space, furnishings — and the list goes on.

The system we currently have has been working for a number of decades. Do we really need to change it? Can we afford to change it?

Do we need to establish a position with a political power base while we witness a public outcry against excessive government control?

I for one say no. I will do all that I can to encourage others of like mind to stop standing by and just accepting the inevitable and speak up for what is right concerning our tax dollars.

Spend the money on what we need and not what we may want. Teachers are begging for paper and pens and (yet) some (people) want to create yet another layer of administrative expense.

John Bennett

Portland

Cal Thomas’ view of Islam violates American ideals

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas is an example of just what we don’t need for the “war on terror.”

He fits right in line with the pundit-fueled hysteria about the Park51 building in Manhattan and the outrageous response to a wonderful story about Portland’s Eid celebration on Sept. 11. Now Thomas is saying we should ban Muslim immigrants from some nations (“Al-Qaida’s here, and growing,” Sept. 17)?

This outcry against all things Muslim is problematic on so many levels. It paints the religion of Islam and all Muslims with one brush, as if every Muslim were responsible for the extremist violence of a few. It erases the Muslims who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, as well as Muslim first responders.

It has incited violence against individual Muslims, and other Muslim centers, including an arson fire at a planned mosque in Tennessee. Finally, this outcry goes against the best values of the American pluralistic tradition — freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.

Ironically, in the case of Park51, people are targeting an institution whose purpose is to foster interfaith understanding and dialogue. Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf has been an ambassador for good will between Muslims and non-Muslims for many years. He is an imam in the Sufi tradition of Islam, which might be the most pluralistic of the Muslim traditions.

In his interview with Soledad O’Brien on Sept. 8, he said, “(T)he battlefront is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. The real battlefront is between moderates on all sides of all the faith traditions and the radicals on all sides. We have to turn this around.”

Let’s stop inflaming the extremists and support the moderates who form the majority of Muslims in this country. We need genuine conversation between people of all faiths.

Rev. Dr. Myke Johnson

Allen Avenue Unitarian-Universalist Church

North Yarmouth

Well, finally Cal Thomas has come clean and now openly advocates the overthrow of the of Bill of Rights and the repeal of the Constitution.

Mr. Thomas wrote, “We won’t win this war (against radical Islamic terrorism) if we permit the uncontrolled construction of mosques as well as Islamic schools. We won’t win this war if we continue to permit large-scale conversion to Islam of prison inmates. “

If anyone is not shocked by this warning, then in place of “Islam” substitute the words “Catholicism” or “Judaism” or “Mormonism.”

Then you will know how far we have gone down the road towards loss of our freedom. A nationally syndicated columnist is openly advocating the suppression of a world religion within the borders of the United States.

What is next on his agenda?

Robert Cronin

Cape Elizabeth

Meet green challenge by hanging out the wash

Rep. Melessa Walsh Innes deserves thanks for her column on how to meet environmental challenges. Firewood, increasing insulation, recycling and wind power are all good ideas.

Here is another: Let’s go back to the 1950s. My mother hung her wash out on the line for all but the coldest months. Now nobody does it.

Think of the electricity that could be saved by hanging your wash outside on the line. What better way to take advantage of solar and wind power?

William G. Ambrose

North Yarmouth