PORTLAND — The Portland Press Herald asked the city’s 15 mayoral candidates Monday for their views on this month’s fireboat accident.
Nine days after the crash, many candidates still had questions about boating licenses; supervision of firefighters; communication between the city manager, city councilors and the public; and why the story took more than four days to surface.
Here are excerpts from how the candidates answered two questions: “How would you characterize the way City Hall has handled the incident?” and “If you were mayor, how would you respond to this situation?”
Charles Bragdon: The city rightfully suspended the firefighters, he said, but “there should be policy against having civilians on the boat during training exercises. Those seem like the most dangerous times, not less dangerous times.”
Michael Brennan: “It’s totally unacceptable to be using public resources for personal or private entertainment. I may have taken stronger action against the two people involved. At least in the short run, I would want more direct reports from the fire chief to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Peter Bryant: “The on-duty chief should have been disciplined. This is the second incident (the boat ran aground in 2009), and if there’s a third, he should know heads will roll. Also, the firefighters should have gotten steeper punishments. They were the ones not doing their jobs.”
Ralph Carmona: “My gut reaction is, the chief should be suspended, if he doesn’t know what his people are doing. … Four days to come out! That smacks of a cover-up. It all seems like a violation and abuse of the public trust
Richard Dodge: This is proof leadership needs to change at City Hall, he said. All departments must be looked at to ensure there are proper supervision and policies.
Jill Duson: “I’m fine with the way it was handled” by the fire chief, she said, but she hopes the mayor will be briefed sooner in the future.
John Eder: “At the moment, I would step back and let the manager look into it,” Eder said, noting “that’s his job.” But he thinks the city should track who goes on and off the fireboat.
Hamza Haadoow: (Didn’t respond to emails or phone calls for comment.)
Jodie Lapchick: (Didn’t have enough information to comment intelligently, she said.)
David Marshall: “I think we need to look deeper into this issue. I’m not completely satisfied with the response, to this point. I plan on speaking with the city manager about it.” He said city councilors should have been notified quicker.
Nicholas Mavodones: “I would have liked to know that it happened before the press called me,” he said. But the fire chief and the city manager are generally excellent, he said, and are forming policies to prevent such an incident from happening in the future.
Markos Miller: “There should be clear policy for use of the fireboat, like what is entailed in a training exercise, who’s allowed on and what happens when there’s an accident. That’s ‘Organizational Management 101.”
Jed Rathband: The city should be more forthcoming with details, he said. “Not being on the inside, I’m not in the position to judge. However, a cloud of ambiguity is precisely what voters are hoping to move away from.”
Ethan Strimling: “I think the incident itself has been handled well. When something inappropriate happens, they should respond quickly, and they did with the suspensions. In the past, I felt like that hasn’t happened, and City Hall needs that accountability.”
Chris Vail: He said the city should keep logs of who gets on the fireboat, for transparency and security reasons. “But the city manager has handled the accountability issue. Punishment has been handed down to the people involved. And that aligns with what I’ve been talking about as mayor: We need straightforward, simple accountability.”