September 10, 2010

Skolnik objects to treatment by council

He believes his colleagues are isolating him, triggering some accusatory e-mails from Skolnik.

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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

‘WHY MUST ONE STRUGGLE TO BE HEARD?’

One of the controversial e-mails sent by City Councilor Dan Skolnik included this poem, which he made available to members of the media.

Councilors so comfortable in their seats,

Councilors so lacking maturity,

Practicing mean-spirituality,

Are out of touch with reality.

Why must one struggle to be heard?

It’s because their conduct is absurd.

Why should Portland have to compete

With their self-regard; their care – for needs

Unmet or ill-considered – that falls

Somewhere else than with us all?

Though now I question, Is this the hour

For speaking truth to haughty power?,

I will do so 'til I’m hoarse,

Because the answer is, Of Course.

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.

(Continued on page 2)

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