It’s Nov. 8, 2012, one year to the day after Hizzoner Foster Harmony’s election as Portland’s first “strong policy” mayor. Wearing his old campaign T-shirt with “The Facilitator” stenciled across the front, Mayor Harmony strides to the lectern for his first annual State of the City Address:

Fellow citizens, I come here tonight first to thank you.

One year ago on this day, you saw fit to make me Portland’s first popularly elected mayor since 1923. If it weren’t for those of you who voted for me in that tough, 16-way race last fall, I wouldn’t be standing here tonight.

I’m also somewhat grateful to those of you who chose me second, third, fourth and so on in the city’s new ranked-choice election system. I’m humbled by your tepid support at the polls and I hope I’ve thus far lived up to your, ahem, marginal expectations.

(Lukewarm applause.)

Folks, I’m going to level with you tonight. It’s been a tough year.

Now they don’t call me “The Facilitator” for nothing.

I spent much of my first sixth months in office fulfilling my duty, as spelled out under the newly revised city charter, “to articulate the city’s vision and goals and build coalitions to further such vision and goals.”

As you’ll recall, we had a wonderful stakeholders meeting last summer down at the Maine State Pier to brainstorm the future of that long-neglected facility along with that of the adjacent Ocean Gateway marine terminal.

From those discussions came my appointment of the Gateway Long-term Utilization Group, also known as GLUG.

GLUG, I’m happy to report, has retained Mahaney & Walsh, a recently formed consulting firm next to the pier that specializes in conflict resolution, to help resolve GLUG’s longstanding impasse over which day of the week it should meet.

Now that GLUG has decided to rotate its meeting day based on the Casco Bay tidal charts — a true model of consensus building, I might add — the group has asked Mahaney & Walsh to stay on and help develop protocols for fixing broken promises and, just as important, soothing hurt feelings.

As the saying goes, fellow citizens, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time this past year fulfilling my duty, again per the charter’s mandate, “to represent the city with other municipalities, levels of government, community and neighborhood groups and the business community.”

I’ve enjoyed this aspect of my job tremendously — with one regrettable exception.

Last January, shortly after I took office, I traveled to Augusta to dispel the misconception among many of our neighbors to the north that Portland is somehow the root of all Maine’s problems.

I actually made some headway — I was searching for a parking space when House Speaker Richard Cebra kindly sold me a discounted pass to the garage next to the State Office Building!

But then I ran into Gov. Paul LePage. Upon hearing I was from Portland, the governor assumed I was on welfare, stuck a shovel in my hand and ordered me to clear the Blaine House driveway.

I tried to tell the governor that I make $67,359 a year plus benefits as Portland’s mayor. But unfortunately, he couldn’t hear me over the bulldozers demolishing the former Department of Environmental Protection to make room for Augusta’s new asbestos plant.

So, public servant that I am, I swallowed my pride and shoveled the driveway.

Closer to home, I know many of you are wondering why, four months into the new fiscal year, the city still doesn’t have a municipal or school budget.

Let me explain.

Under our revised city charter, my role as mayor is to “facilitate among the city manager, city council, board of public education, and the public to secure passage by the city council of the annual city and school budgets.”

Lord knows I’ve tried. The problem, quite frankly, is the public.

You see, a lot of diverse groups who joined together to create this job — the Portland Community Chamber, the League of Young Voters, the downtown arts community, to name just a few — haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye since I took office on what the city’s spending package should look like in these difficult times.

I won’t bore you with the details, but let me just say the chamber wants the budget to be smaller, the young voters want it to be bigger and the arts people will support it only if it’s color-coded and has, let me see here, a “cover illustration to die for.”

So yes, I’ve vetoed the budget not once, not twice, but three times. And until the City Council cobbles together six votes to override me, I’ll keep vetoing it until we forge a budget that, for the first time in Portland’s history, makes all of the people happy all of the time.

On a similar note, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the recent disagreements I’ve had with City Manager Joe Gray over exactly who is running City Hall these days.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think Mr. Gray is an effective administrator who knows infinitely more about the inner workings of our municipal government than I ever will. But I think a year is too long for me to still be working out of my car on Cumberland Avenue while the city manager has the “finishing touches” put on my office somewhere in the basement of City Hall.

That’s why this fall I reluctantly invoked my mayoral power to “oversee” the removal of the existing city manager and the selection of his replacement.

Well, live and learn. I found out the hard way what “oversee” means: I make a suggestion and the City Council decides whether to go along with it. And, as you can tell by their wholly inappropriate snickering even as I speak, they didn’t.

I also tried to rearrange the chairs on the council’s various standing committees. But alas, the charter gives the council final say on that, too. And once again, our esteemed council unanimously told me to stop bothering them and go do a ribbon-cutting.

(More snickering.)

So that’s what I’m going to do. And that’s what I’ll keep on doing until my scissors go dull and you the taxpayers tell me it’s OK to include a pair of new ones in the budget — if and when we ever have a budget.

In the meantime, citizens of Portland, I, Mayor Foster Harmony, stand before you tonight truly honored to be your first-ever, sort-of leader.

And as I look forward to the coming year and the year after that and the year after that I once again want to thank you.

I thank you for your patience.

I thank you for your perseverance.

And last but not least, I thank you for my $1,295 weekly paycheck.

(Silence envelops the council chamber for several uncomfortable seconds. Finally, a voice in the rear exclaims, “Sweet! Does he get vacation with that?”)

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

[email protected]