When the Charter Commission recommended that Portland return to an elected mayor, a principal argument was that the office would represent Portland’s political will in Augusta; doing so would advantage Portland within Maine’s political arena. So what happened? I understand, based on the performance of two elected mayors, that the result is the opposite of what was promised.

The current mayor was elected to replace the first because the former couldn’t get along with the City Council. We’ve gone from the frying pan into the fire with the current mayor. He has a significantly different view of the job than that of the council, the city manager, the city’s legal counsel, and an independent law firm’s charter review and determination of the elected mayor’s duties. Unless he gets his way, this disagreement will be unresolvable per the mayor’s own statements.

The elected mayor position has become divisive, embarrassing and detrimental to the city’s business. The council’s work is interfered with when tending to the mayor’s sensitivity issues and want of relevancy.

This is evidenced by City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau’s meeting plea to the mayor, “Come back to this council. … I will be here.” Really? It reminded me of the little boy in the 1950s Western calling out, “Come back, Shane.” At this point, Portland’s mayoral situation is probably a source of amusement in Augusta, not a source of influence.

The office appears to be a perch for personal political ambitions responding to various causes that play best in the media. I am unaware of any significant action from this office to help retirees, including teachers, police, firefighters and others, stay in their homes by managing tax increases. Will the Charter Commission reconvene and assess the value of continuing with this office by comparing what was promised to the reality of what is actually happening?

Robert Kahn