To read Greg Kesich’s column in last Wednesday’s paper, you’d think that building and development in Portland are dead industries. He uses examples of just two projects to illustrate this. Both of them, midtown and Congress Square, involve a public process – hardly unique to Portland – by which governments and the citizens it represents discuss how municipally owned land is to be used and developed, for whose benefit and for whose profit.

In fact, there’s a lot of building and development going on in our city. Housing, both condominiums and rentals, is under construction or in the planning stages, in the East End especially, and a number of hotels have been built or renovated in the last few years.

St. Lawrence Arts’ plan for its event space is moving forward; Bayside is a growing hub for innovative small businesses; and every month seems to bring word of a new restaurant joining our nationally recognized list of interesting places to eat.

While there is plenty to discuss about the socioeconomic shift that much of this development signals for Portland, you cannot, as Mr. Kesich does, pronounce that our city is suffering from “economic nondevelopment.” His frustration, it seems, stems more with the process of democratic discussion about the midtown and Congress Square projects in its myriad forms, up to and including street demonstrations and litigation. Perhaps he’d prefer simple government by fiat, or a municipality in which the citizenry sits home and watches TV and cedes the future of land use and the cityscape to the big-boy developers.

No thanks, Mr. Kesich. This, as the saying goes, is what democracy looks like. There are alternatives, but none of them seems to have worked.