Marcella Makinen’s Oct. 1 letter (“City manager system marginalizes Portland’s poor, people of color”) was uninformed.

Municipalities with managers make it easier for the disadvantaged, since a manager (not a mayor) is bound by a code of ethics to serve all residents equally. Voters throughout Maine – not the Ku Klux Klan – voted to bring the city manager plans into existence.

Portland has an exceptionally talented city manager in Jon Jennings. He won the 2019 Leadership Award of the Maine Town, City and County Management Association, of which I’m a proud life member. Jon correctly pointed out that the southern Maine homeless problem is a state and regional issue. He asked the simple question: “Why should Portland taxpayers foot the bill?” Then he found a way to settle the refugees in the Expo and helped raise nearly $900,000 in donations to help pay their expenses.

The decision to relocate the Oxford Street Shelter was made by the City Council. Hopefully Portland residents will elect a mayor who wants to cooperate with the council and manager.

The executive director of the International City Management Association is an African American, and there are many black, Hispanic and female managers around the country. That wasn’t true 100 years ago when the first manager plan started, nor in 1971 when I became a member. By the hard work of members like Jon Jennings, whose residents are every color and gender, there is a good chance that a plan will be found to serve people of all incomes and races in Portland.

Bert Kendall

senior adviser, Maine Town, City and County Management Association


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