2016-04-22 / Community

My side of the bridge

Questions are better than answers

I recall an old college professor once stating that not only are there more questions than answers in life, but a good question often reveals more than a decent answer. In that spirit, it seemed appropriate to kick off this new space in the Sentry with some topical questions, and an attempt at answers, from my side of the bridge. Some we will give more time in the future. We will also add and probe some new ones along the way. Regardless, I look forward to the ongoing exchange, and the conversations that might ensue, knowing no one has an exclusive to the truth, especially me.

What makes South Portland and Cape Elizabeth great communities?

Plenty I think. A long list would include strong schools, kind, generous people and lots of dogs to make us all look better than we really are. One biggie though that deserves more credit and attention – free and public access to the ocean and other open areas, from Spring Point Light to Robinson Woods, and many more, which leads us to ...

Will we ever see parking meters or paid tickets at Fort Williams?

I sure hope not, and I am ready to fight it with others like we have before. With great blessings come even greater responsibilities, and with that, Cape Elizabeth has an obligation to uphold. That said, free access to me is more important than restoring old structures that are far too expensive to chase against time.

Did Cape deserve its recent ranking as the fourth snobbiest town in Maine?

No they did not. Falmouth was first by the way, as ranked by www.roadsnacks.net. Being a long time resident of South Portland, I have my bias, but my view on Cape has softened significantly with my graying hair. So, frankly, they deserve no higher than eighth! (wink)

Do local students in Trump hats deserve the same free speech protection as those in Hillary hats?

Absolutely. We must assure all our students and residents protection from abuse and harassment of free expression. No exceptions. Master Mullen’s recent editorial in the Maine Sunday Telegram was spot on. I will though remind anyone with controversial opinions, especially when in the clear minority, to be prepared for some debate and division. Sort of like when I elected to wear scotch plaid bell bottoms to an event well after the Bay City Rollers had gone out of style.

Lastly, what on earth is going on within the SP City Council?

As a friend told me recently (a dark blue, long time townie progressive to boot), there is left, then there is left of left, and there are too many, too far left. At least four of them, and they are easy to spot. Think of a car that is out of alignment, doesn’t run well, and can get you in to trouble sooner than later. Better balance and rational, moderate thought is desperately needed on the South Portland City Council. A petition drive to ouster Councilors Brad Fox or Eben Rose would not be surprising or unwarranted. Though well-meaning, we cannot proactively legislate major issues based on the likelihood of something bad happening, with a percentage outcome less than a sharknado in Mill Creek or Trout Brook turning into beer.

Just wishing, but the campaigns for smart, articulate, and truly independent thinkers like Linda Boudreau, Jeff Selser and Fred Hagan should start today. Until our cloudy skies of lawsuits, back door emails, process avoidance, illegal procedures, end around fire codes, and quid pro quo appointment threats abate, we sure could use a stronger, lead first city manager who worries more about what the heck is happening around here, and less about his super salary and company car. Until next time, aloha, and I look forward to seeing anybody on aisle 5 at Hannaford, particularly those I disagree with.

Note: Now, and from time to time when warranted, I will be obligated to disclose that my brother Burt is the kind of caring and responsible corporate executive (for Sprague Energy) that even Bernie Sanders could love. I also proudly supported the waterfront coalition in a winning public vote that was immediately disregarded by a misguided South Portland City Council. That vote by the way had far more to do with little old things like fairness, due process, mediatio, and mutual respect than anything called bitumen.

Don Russell is a local real estate sales agent with The Maine Real Estate Network, and founder of BrandME Marketing. He has proudly lived in South Portland for 20 years. Contact him at don@brandme.net or send a letter to the editor to editor@inthesentry.com.

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