Disclosure: I volunteer for Save the Soul of Portland’s Yes on 2 referendum campaign. But even those of you not following the campaign should be concerned about the way our city is doing business lately.

 In February, city staff allowed state certification of the city’s Comprehensive Plan to expire, exposing taxpayers to legal action on zone changes and developments approved thereafter. They also allowed the Portland Co. developer to file an incomplete zone change application without saying why it was needed (plans for the site are still mostly secret).

On April 6, minutes before a public hearing on the rezoning application, the City Council canceled it, citing the lapse in Comprehensive Plan certification. Hundreds of residents were denied a public hearing and the opportunity to have their signed petitions delivered to the council.

June 2: The council finally adopted the zone change around 1:30 a.m., long after many members of the public had gone home. The still-uncertified Comprehensive Plan? Apparently no longer a concern.

Aug. 3: The council set a date for the Yes on 2 referendum, but first changed the wording of the petition summary statement – a petition reviewed and accepted by the city clerk and corporation counsel before being signed by over 2,600 voters. The developer asked for a change, and the council said “yes.”

Sept. 8: The Planning Board brushed off objections of our Historic Preservation Board and canceled a public hearing on the fate of historic Portland Co. buildings, before a room packed with people who came to speak. Once again, at the request of the developer.

Scorecard on the people’s business: Developers 6; People 0. Representative democracy is fragile in Portland. Ask your councilors and candidates to change the way the city does business on our behalf.

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