About Town - April, 2006

Thursday, April 20, 2006

NO HITTING - Another March for immigrants' rights

We just got word that there will be another rally for immigrants' rights this weekend, organized by the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project in Portland. This rally will happen this Saturday, April 22. Meet behind the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Congress Street at 10 am for a march down to Monument Square. The rally should last until around noontime.

At the last immigration rally on April 10, some poor protestor protesting the protest got clocked. This was so not cool, although it did help get the event some front page press in the local daily. Maybe every cloud does have a silver lining.

4/20/2006 2:26:04 PM by Sara Donnelly | Comments [0] |  

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

OLD PORT PRESSURE - City may make all OP bars and clubs close at 1 am

The Portland City Council is gearing up to consider another limit on nightlife in the Old Port by preventing bars from staying open past 1 am. Gary Wood, attorney for the city, will propose a 180 day moratorium on after-hours licenses in the Old Port at the next council meeting tomorrow night -Wednesday, April 19, at 7 pm. If it passes, the city will likely use those 180 days to craft clearer, objective standards for the granting of after-hours licenses.

If you think this is a bad idea, don't rush down to city hall and risk missing Lost just yet. (Screw it, miss Lost. The show sucks. Seriously, we've had our fill of pregnant pauses and predictable twists and dudes running around underground. Solve some of the mysteries already. Throw me a bone.) 

This is just the first reading of a required two before the council votes and Wood will ask them to not even consider the item or take public comment until early June. This will give the Public Safety Committee, chaired by Munjoy Hill councilor Will Gorham, time to hash out the pros and cons of Wood's suggestions.

For those of you who want to pipe up, this Public Safety Committee meeting is where it's at since they're the ones who will endorse, nix, or tweek Wood's proposal. Their meeting will be held on May 11 at 5 pm in room 209. Wood says the committee will be taking public comment.

Wood hopes the moratorium will make it though committee and to the council by June, just in time for the summer rush. If passed as is, the 180 day moratorium will be retroactive to April 19 and will affect the only two after-hours license holders in the Old Port as well as anyone who plans to apply for a new late-night license. Brian Hanson, owner of the Industry, and Tom Manning, owner of the Lava Lounge, Liquid Blue, and Diggers, hold after-hours licenses. Wood says the Industry plans to close and become the restaurant Right Proper Charlie's any day now and Tom Manning is not currently using his after-hours license, so the moratorium won't affect them adversely.

The Industry's allegedly impending closing motivated Wood to suggest the 180-day freeze.

"Basically, there's in my mind at least going to be a considerable entertainment vacuum when the Industry closes [and other bar owners want its late-night crowd], leaving us right where we are now, which from the police department's perspective is not a good decision," says Wood.

Here's the agenda item for the April 19 meeting:

Article III (Music, Dancing and Special Entertainment)

Division 2 (Licenses) Section 4-51– Sponsored by Gary C. Wood, Corporation Counsel. 

Current city law allows late-night entertainment to go to 3:00 a.m.  This moratorium will establish 1:00 a.m. as the interim law for the next 180 days as 1:00 a.m. is the time that the bars have to stop serving. 

The ordinance is drafted to impose a moratorium from April 19, 2006, when it will be given a first reading, to October 17, 2006 on any license for entertainment between 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.  During the 180 day moratorium staff will work with the Mayor’s Old Port Nightlife Task Force and the Public Safety Committee to craft standards for approving a late night entertainment license and conditions for operating under it. 

The ordinance applies to activities that currently require an entertainment license under Chapter 4, Article III (Music, Dance, Entertainment) notably dance halls and concerts both of which are broadly defined in Section 4-42 so that they apply to the normal entertainment in bars and late night establishments providing music or dancing. 

The ordinance allows existing late-night licenses for areas outside the Old Port overlay zone to be renewed during the moratorium if late night entertainment has actually been provided. 

Staff will ask the Council to postpone the item for public comment and action at the Council level to the June 5th Council meeting.  That postponement will allow sufficient time for the item to be taken up by the Public Safety Committee at its May 11th meeting. 

This item must be read on two separate days. This is its first reading.

4/18/2006 4:31:17 PM by Sara Donnelly | Comments [0] |  

GOT TO RUN - Maine soldiers finish marathon in Iraq

IMPORTANT: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS RATED "UNCLASSIFIED" BY THE US ARMY. Which means we can share with you a piece of lunacy, demonstrating how crazy our military is going while stationed overseas.

A group of Maine soldiers stationed in Iraq with Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment of the Maine Army National Guard ran the Boston Marathon as well - an officially sanctioned version of the race, complete with a BAA finisher's medal for each person who went the distance.

The four Mainers, Captain Darryl Lyon, Private Norman Gilmore, Sergeant James Chappelow, and Sergeant Keith York, all from Brewer, ran the 26.2-mile marathon distance in the desert, carrying 35 pounds of combat gear each, including M-16 rifles. (See below.) We could call that cruel and ununsual punishment, except that they appear to have done it voluntarily. We could call it torture, but who lets prisoners just run and run and run?

They finished in under six hours, even more of an achievement when you factor in the temperature, which hit triple-digits. The race course, instead of meandering through Boston's suburbs and into the city, took a scenic detour, while outside American lines (but still within the Italians' security perimeter) past the Ziggurat of Ur, a monument built in the 21st century BC - that's as long before the birth of Jesus as we are after it now.

(photos by Engels Tejeda, 207th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment).

4/18/2006 2:30:17 PM by Jeff Inglis | Comments [1] |  

Monday, April 17, 2006

MIXED MESSAGE - Drinking cop promoted over drinking-control cop

The Portland police officer most famous for being involved in an OUI crash after a night out in the Old Port has been promoted to captain of patrol, chosen over the Portland police officer most famous for trying to control drinkers in the Old Port.

Lieutenant Ted Ross is known for driving his city-issue unmarked cruiser into another car on York Street in December 2002, resulting in a taxpayer bill of $271,000 to the driver not only of the car he hit, but also of the one that was hit in the richochet. The real catch? Ross had been drinking at an open-bar police department party hosted by then-chief Michael Chitwood, and then went from there to another bar with other senior officers from the department. He was heading home to Cape Elizabeth when he crashed, and later pled guilty to OUI.

Ross was not booked for OUI, but later took it upon himself to revise the accident report to reflect the fact that he had been drinking. The responding officers swore up and down, including in court, that he had not appeared impaired to them, though his blood-alcohol level was reported to be 0.25 percent, or more than three times the legal limit.

He was also charged with a misdemeanor, meaning he would not lose his legal right to carry a firearm - as is true of convicted felons - and therefore his job, if he pleaded guilty.

Ross, who was for a time transferred to a less-desirable position supervising the officers working at the Portland International Jetport, now outranks Lieutenant Janine Roberts, the department's first woman lieutenant, who was also up for the post.

Roberts is in charge of the special unit of police officers charged with keeping order in the Old Port, and is closely involved in the city's efforts to crack down on the area, which is no worse off than most other New England cities. And, Portland's effort is being done without the help of national groups succeeding at balancing bars and economic development elsewhere, leading to frustration from bar owners and city officials alike.

4/17/2006 10:54:12 AM by Jeff Inglis | Comments [0] |