Thursday, October 27, 2005

Editorial: Our votes

Published in the Current

(Oct 27, 2005): Election season is when local residents step forward and courageously volunteer to be in the public eye. We applaud all the candidates for their willingness, though we note two major races – Scarborough Town Council and Cape Elizabeth School Board – where there is no race. That’s too bad, and we encourage anyone considering a run to do so.

In this issue we have our election coverage, with candidate profiles and letters and columns taking stands on various election questions. Please write in with your opinions on the candidates and the issues. Also, in this space, we make our endorsements. The biggest endorsement we make is to vote. Your ballot counts, and you can vote in advance at town hall or on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Cape Elizabeth Town Council: We endorse incumbent Anne Swift-Kayatta and newcomer Mary Page. Swift-Kayatta has more than earned reelection, showing her dedication to doing her homework in every meeting, wrestling with data, asking people’s opinions and responding to residents’ concerns. Her regional connections could pay off as well, finding ways to share with other communities to save money.

Page, with less on-paper experience, is nonetheless dialed in to a broad segment of town not now represented on the council: the working folks, who built the town, keep it running and still form its connection to the past. They need a voice, which Page promises to give them, and her outspoken nature on issues like wetlands restrictions shows she will deliver.

Scarborough Board of Education: For the two three-year seats, we endorse Christopher Brownsey and Colleen Staszko. Brownsey’s experience with several ongoing efforts, including the major construction being considered for the intermediate and middle schools, will serve residents well. Staszko, who works as a teacher in North Yarmouth, will bring that experience to the board, helping ensure teaching and learning remain at the forefront of every discussion.

For the one-year seat, Jacquelyn Perry is the best candidate. A longtime member of the board who continues to attend and participate in its meetings as a private citizen, she has the institutional knowledge and up-to-date information to be effective right away.

Scarborough senior center: We urge Scarborough voters to approve the senior center’s $1.2 million bond. The seniors need a place to call their own, and the relatively low costs of debt service and operation of the building pale in comparison to the value a community building could bring not just to seniors, but to all residents.

Scarborough charter change: We oppose the expansion of borrowing power the council is asking for. A “yes” vote would allow the council to borrow up to $700,000 per project or item without asking voters. Now the limit is at $400,000, and a “no” vote would leave it that way. The council wants the change, to make their lives easier. But voters who want to keep town spending in check should not loosen the reins on borrowing, which affects budgets decades into the future.

South Portland District 1: We support Claude Morgan. He has good ideas, and an eye for the future as well as for the bottom line. His support for the schools – including finding a way to provide the school configuration residents want – puts him ahead of the competition.

South Portland District 2: Voters have a true choice here, between fiscal conservative developer Kay Loring and Anton Hoecker, a progressive who opposes spending cuts because, he says, lower taxes reduce people’s participation in the community. While Loring's fiscal conservatism is important, she did not have specific ideas to put into practice. Hoecker needs to be careful how much he fights spending cuts in a city facing a revaluation and potentially massive school construction bonds, but his fresh ideas – such as investing in libraries and child care to attract business – garner our support for him.

South Portland District 5: We support the reelection of James Hughes. Hughes has done very well keeping city spending in check and representing his neighborhood while still thinking of all city residents. His efforts to reduce tension between the council and the School Board are admirable, and his moderate approach to controversial issues have kept focus where it should be: on residents’ needs.

South Portland paving bond: We urge South Portland voters to support the $500,000 bond for road paving and sidewalk improvements. In neighborhoods throughout the city, cars bump along the streets and walkers and bicyclists dodge holes in footpaths. While this bond is not the final step, it is a beginning.

Whether you agree with these ideas or not, the most important message we can give is this: Vote. Whether you do it in advance, by contacting the municipal clerk’s office, or on Tuesday, Nov. 8, your voice matters and your vote counts.

Jeff Inglis, editor

Referendum asks $500,000 for roads

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): South Portland voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to approve borrowing $500,000 for road paving and sidewalk reconstruction around the city.

The question stems from a decision by the City Council earlier this year to focus on roads and sidewalks as one of a few priorities, according to City Manager Jeff Jordan.

Councilors and other city officials – as well as residents – have noticed potholes in roads and deteriorating sidewalks, and the city needs to “play catch-up,” Jordan said.

The council has already agreed to spend $500,000 from existing surplus funds, of which $400,000 would be used for road repaving and $100,000 for sidewalks. The council also is asking voters for another $500,000, to be split the same way, to do more work in the spring, Jordan said. The interest on the bond is estimated at $123,750 over the life of the borrowing package.

Public Works Director Dana Anderson said the city has a list of road and sidewalk projects that would cost $20 million to complete.

He would not talk about specific locations that would be improved with the money, saying he was worried the details might make road improvements a political issue rather than a transportation problem.

The city used to spend about $400,000 a year on road maintenance but has put off the work the last couple of years because of budget constraints, he said.

“We’re really losing the edge,” and need to catch up, Anderson said. “Every other year we’re going to have to do some bonding” to keep on top of the work that needs doing, he said.

Harris and Reuscher unopposed for S.P. School Board

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): William Harris and Mark Reuscher are running unopposed for two seats on the South Portland School Board.

Reuscher, the board’s chairman, is seeking his second term because he thinks they "still have a lot of unfinished work.”

The 47-year-old, unmarried father of two, a son in eighth grade and a daughter in fifth, is a full-time business instructor at Southern Maine Community College, prior to which he owned Ocean Fitness for 14 years.

He said the city’s high school has a good graduation rate, and is concerned about “making sure the kids are actually learning.”

“We’re going in the right direction,” he said. “Last year the budget went really smoothly” because of a new collaborative approach between the City Council and the School Board.

He is undecided on the subject of renovations to the city’s middle schools, on which there are two options: either renovate Mahoney Middle School and build new where Memorial Middle School is, or close Mahoney and build a single middle school where Memorial is now.

“I’ve tried to be honest and make fair decisions for all the children in the city no matter where they lived,” Reuscher said.

Harris, a married 69-year-old making his first run for elective office. retired four and a half years ago from the city’s finance department.

“My father, my brother and I, my two sons, my three step-sons all graduated from South Portland High School,” Harris said. “I wanted to give something back to the city that’s given me a lot.”

Harris has also been honored for his volunteerism: In 2004 he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in honor of his 35 years as a Little League coach and umpire.

He wants to keep the city’s neighborhoods “vibrant and alive,” perhaps by involving neighborhood associations in classroom projects with teachers and students.

He wants to participate in the construction-renovation decision for the high school and middle schools and work to “figure out a way to keep high school and college graduates from moving out of the area.”

City Council District 2: Anton Hoecker

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): Anton Hoecker is running for the District 2 seat “to bring a progressive voice to the City Council.”

He wants to get “people more involved” and address issues of growth, education, transparency in government, taxation and spending.

He is concerned that a strong focus on cutting taxes is hurting people’s sense of involvement in the community. “The more we cut our financial responsibility for maintaining the community, the more we divest ourselves” from the community, he said.

If the city cuts education funding, “we disconnect ourselves from providing high-quality education for our students,” he said.

“I’m not about wanting to raise taxes. I’m about spending money wisely,” he said. “We’ve become so focused on cutting spending, we’ve stopped thinking about good investments.”

While rising home values are good for individuals’ and families’ financial situations, it is not good for the community if rising values result in pressure for lower taxes, he said. “Cutting spending doesn’t improve the overall quality” of life in the city.

He would like to see Maine’s tax structure reformed, and wants to ask the Legislature to give the city more money because of South Portland’s role as a service center.

He wants new development and any redevelopment to be “environmentally friendly,” including walking trails and addressing static traffic patterns and congestion.

The 50-year-old carpenter is married and the father of two, a daughter, 11, at Mahoney Middle School, and a son, 6, at Small Elementary School.

He supports continuing to have two middle schools in the city, as the school department considers closing Mahoney and building a single new middle school on the site of Memorial.

“In the long run, a single school is more expensive,” Hoecker said. He said research shows students in smaller schools do better, and noted that some larger cities are now breaking up very large schools into smaller elements.

“We need to be investing in our schools, our libraries, because it’ll attract better businesses,” he said. One idea he had that could bring more businesses to the city would be an after-school child care program run by the recreation department, which employ retired people and help free up working parents.

He also supports an ordinance defining what constitutes conflict of interest in city government, saying trust in government is enhanced by “openness and light of day.”

City Council District 2: Kay Loring

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): Katherine “Kay” Loring is running for the District 2 seat on the City Council to “reduce taxes and reduce spending.”

Loring, a real estate developer, is the chairman of the city’s Planning Board, a post she would have to leave if she were elected.

“I’d be willing to, even though I really enjoy it,” she said. “I really want to make a change in South Portland and the only way to do that is to be on the council.”

She wants to reduce taxes by not spending new tax revenue from developments. She also wants to use proceeds from sale of city property – such as the upcoming sale of the Sawyer School – to reduce taxes.

She did not specify where she would look to reduce spending, saying she would have to “look at the budget.”

She wants to delay the proposed middle school construction project – either renovating or closing Mahoney and building a new school on the site of Memorial. “This is not the time,” she said. “I would like to see a couple of years go by.”

“We have all new elementary schools in South Portland and the education is fantastic,” said Loring, who is widowed with four children.

She also wants to help control traffic, perhaps with narrower roads and cul-de-sacs, as well as continuing improvements on Western Avenue, Westbrook Street and the Jetport Plaza Road.

“We’re trying to get some more green space” in developments as well, she said.

Loring thought the city should “look at” affordable housing, but said it’s up to developers to express interest. “I don’t know what the city could do” to encourage affordable housing.

She supports the dog owners who have been working to address problems with dogs in the city’s public spaces. “The dog community has done a fantastic job,” she said, noting that the people who are involved in solving the problems are not those who are the source of the complaints.

“I think a dog park would be great,” she said, adding that “I think (dogs) absolutely should be allowed” in public parks, though perhaps on a rotating schedule such as is being discussed by the dog committee.

This is her first run for elective office. “I never thought I’d run for the council,” she said. “I’m just really upset about the taxes (that) keep going up year after year.”

City Council District 5: Brian Dearborn

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): Brian Dearborn, a former mayor of South Portland, is running for the District 5 seat on the City Council, to bring “common sense” to the council.

A lifelong resident of South Portland, he ran Bri’s Variety in Cash Corner for 28 years, and has served one term on the School Board and two on the City Council, including one year as mayor in the mid-1990s.

He is now an assistant manager at the Falmouth Wal-Mart getting back into local politics because of “the biggest issue in South Portland with everybody I’ve talked to: spending.”

He wants the city to be affordable for senior citizens and young families. “Spending is out of control,” he said.

Though he wouldn’t be specific about how he would reduce spending, he suggested city and school departments combine purchasing power to save money, and consolidate services such as transportation, maintenance and finance. He supports regionalizing services, but only after the city has streamlined its own operations.

He wants to update zoning to reduce the burden on owners of older homes on smaller lots, who must now seek extra approvals when making changes to their homes, because they no longer conform with the city’s zoning laws.

Dearborn also wants the councilors to be “more receptive to people,” and adhere more closely to the council’s standing rules of order. “They have to disagree respectfully,” he said.

He also supports education, particularly the students in “the middle” – not the top 10 percent of the class or the bottom 10 percent.

And Dearborn wants the city to consider traffic more carefully when considering development proposals, citing expected increased traffic on Broadway from the U.S. Postal Service distribution center and the Wal-Mart Supercenter project. From where he lives, in Country Gardens, “we’ve got to cross five lanes of traffic – if we can get across.”

Dearborn, a dog owner, thinks the ad-hoc dog control committee “has done a good job,” though he has what he termed a “personal” problem with allowing dogs to be off-leash: Once his own dog needed 21 stitches after being attacked by an off-leash dog that was not under full voice control.

“If the city’s going to put constraints on dogs, they should have a dog park,” he said. “There’s got to be a compromise there somewhere.”

City Council District 5: James Hughes

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): James Hughes, presently serving as mayor of South Portland, is running for re-election to his District 5 seat because “we’ve got some stuff that I don’t think I finished.” '

He lives on Broadway near Westbrook Street and originally ran because of the traffic in his neighborhood, and his involvement in the Broadway Westbrook Neighborhood Association dealing with traffic.

A committee that surveyed the area recommended granite curbing, especially in the area where schoolchildren cross Broadway. The cost projected was $600,000, which came down at about the same time as the 1 percent tax cap referendum, and was put off for that reason.

Hughes wants to install granite curb in “at least that portion where the schoolkids are,” which would cost less.

Also in terms of traffic, he wants to continue to work on local, state and federal funding for a noise barrier along I-295, which residents want and which has taken some time to make progress on.

He also wants to keep an eye on the Maine Mall area traffic work now in progress and coming up in the next two or three years.

Hughes, a 61-year-old computer consultant, said the past year brought improvements in both the budget process and spending control. City spending increased less than 3 percent last year, in part because he helped build a good partnership with the School Board, Hughes said.

He said he has helped save taxpayer dollars by changing the city’s rules to require a bid process for every purchase over $10,000. “The taxes we pay are well spent,” he said.

He said the city faces a zoning challenge because “our ordinance hasn’t kept up with the changes in the city,” and also because the city doesn’t clearly explain to people how planning boards and zoning boards should work.

Hughes wants to see more affordable housing come to the city, citing Brickhill as a good example. “South Portland is the first city in Maine to use the new law” that allows cities to create tax-increment financing for housing developments, he said.

He supports the efforts of the dog committee so far, including a better definition of what “voice control” of a dog really means. He wants to see the group work more on the remaining issues, such as access to public parks.

“It makes sense to me that we have areas in our parks that are dog-friendly,” he said.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Kids, parents carve pumpkins

Published in the Current

CAPE ELIZABETH (Oct 20, 2005): Sarah Merriam won the under 7 age group category in the Inn by the Sea's annual pumpkin carving contest Saturday. George McKenzie won the 7 and over age group in the contest, judged by Jeff Inglis, editor of the Current.

In the under 7 group, Nat Jordan took second place and Kyle Long took third. In the 7 and over, William Pinette won second place and Aphrodite Makrides took third.

From left, William, Michaela, Melanie, Sheila, Christiana and Tara Pinette carve pumpkins at the Inn by the Sea's annual pumpkin carving event Sunday. (Photo by Jeff Inglis)

Aaron Brogan of Cape Elizabeth carves a pumpkin at the Inn by the Sea Sunday. (Photo by Jeff Inglis)

From left, Nat Jordan, second-place winner in the under 7 age group, with contest judge Jeff Inglis, editor of the Current, and third-place winner Kyle Long. First-place winner Sarah Merriam is not pictured. (Image courtesy of Rauni Kew, Inn by the Sea)

From left, pumpkin carving contest judge Jeff Inglis, editor of the Current, with 7 and over age group winner George McKenzie, third-place winner Aphrodite Makrides and second-place winner William Pinette. Inglis is holding Makrides's pumpkin. (Image courtesy of Rauni Kew, Inn by the Sea)

Downs: Slots promoter bilked us out of millions

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Oct 20, 2005): Scarborough Downs has sued gambling promoter Shawn Scott, saying he manipulated voters, state laws and horsemen to create a monopoly on slot machines in the state, which he then sold for more than $50 million, depriving the Downs of a cut of the windfall.

The suit is an attempt to ensure that Shawn Scott “doesn’t walk away from this a rich man after doing what he did,” according to Downs owner Sharon Terry.

A lawsuit filed in Cumberland County Superior Court claims Scott, a resident of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands who owns gambling operations in several states, always intended to block Scarborough Downs from installing slot machines at its track, or to control any slots at the Downs, despite making statements and formal agreements to support the Downs’ plans for slots.

The suit alleges their efforts cost the Downs the opportunity to receive $50 million from Penn National Gaming, the Downs’s partner in developing a Southern Maine racino. Scarborough Downs attorney Ed MacColl said Scott “made certain agreements” and then took action that “undermined” them, forming the basis of the suit.

Scott’s attorney, Bruce Merrill, said the suit had no basis in fact, and that “when everything is brought to light,” it will become clear that “neither Shawn Scott nor Capital Seven (his company) has done anything wrong.” Merrill has not yet filed a response, and has until early December to do so. He declined to talk about specific allegations in the suit until filing that response.

Scott created the citizen’s initiative that was on the November 2003 statewide ballot, asking to legalize slot machine gambling at racetracks, which required local approval by the voters of the town in which the track would be located.

The Downs sought to leave Scarborough because it wanted to move to a community that would vote in favor of having slot machines at the horse racetrack. Scarborough’s Town Council had voted to ban slots in April 2002, and voters town-wide rejected a proposal to overturn that ban in November 2003. The Downs optioned land in Saco and Westbrook, in hopes of relocating to one of those cities.

‘Tussle between the big boys’

Scott’s original draft of the citizen’s initiative allowed the Downs a year, until December 2004, to seek local approval from Scarborough or a nearby town.

When the Downs asked Scott for an additional year, until December 2005, the lawsuit alleges, Scott then changed the wording to shorten the deadline to December 2003. That wording – and the 2003 deadline – was passed into law when the referendum was approved by Maine voters.

The suit then alleges a litany of wrongdoing by Scott, including that he backed two political action committees opposing the Downs’s efforts to get local approval in Scarborough, Saco and Westbrook, where the Downs sought to relocate; that he was behind a lawsuit trying to block the Westbrook referendum; and that he tried “to intimidate the Westbrook City Council into refusing even to hold a referendum.”

The Downs claims Westbrook residents were in favor of slots until Scott’s public-relations campaign changed their minds.

George Rodrigues, an organizer of “Our City, No Slots,” an independent Westbrook residents’ group that actively campaigned against the racino, described his group’s efforts as a low-budget door-to-door campaign that tried to stay out of the battle between the racetrack and the larger anti-racino groups.

His group was not one the Downs alleged was run by Scott. “We just did the best to run our campaign and stay out of the back and forth between those guys,” Rodrigues said. “We knew this was a tussle between the big boys.”

He said Scott’s advertisements did help sway the vote, though he did not attribute the proposal’s failure solely to Scott’s efforts. He thought his group’s door-to-door efforts had a bigger effect.

“In my opinion, it was the passion of that campaign that made the difference,” he said. “We knocked on a lot of doors.”

The Downs also claimed Scott instigated and paid the legal bills for a lawsuit filed by a Westbrook couple, John and Carol Peters – allegedly the parents of one of Scott’s attorneys – seeking to block the city’s referendum altogether. John Peters said Monday night that he had no knowledge of the new suit filed by Scarborough Downs and declined to comment on the lawsuit filed in 2003.

The Downs suit claims Scott gave misleading and false information to Westbrook city councilors, but Westbrook City Administrator Jerre Bryant said he did not specifically getting any information from Scott in the weeks leading up to the racino vote.

Jim Violette, the president of the City Council, was also president at the time of the racino vote. He said he does not remember Shawn Scott coming before the council with any information about the racetrack or Downs owner Sharon Terry. “Scott never approached the council or talked to the council,” he said.

Penn on both sides

The Downs also claims that Scott negotiated in competition with the Downs for an option on land in Saco and Westbrook where the track wanted to move, if allowed.

The Downs also claims that having used fraud and deceit to gain a monopoly, Scott then sold it for more than $50 million. The buyer, Penn National Gaming, expects to open a slot machine operation in Bangor in the next couple of months.

A judge refused Oct. 3 to freeze an upcoming payment to Shawn Scott from Penn National Gaming, which is purchasing Bangor Historic Track from Scott and other owners. The suit claims the payment is the final one in the deal and is for more than $30 million, and claims that if Scott is paid, he will “conceal” the money outside the U.S., where it will not be available to pay the Downs if it prevails in the suit.

The judge could revisit the request to freeze the payment, once Scott has had a chance to respond to the allegations in the suit, MacColl said.

Merrill said he would not discuss the total amount of the sale, or the amount of the final payment, but said the final payment was agreed to coincide with the opening of slot machines in Bangor, which he said should be within the next two months.

Penn National also has an exclusive agreement with the Downs to build a racino in Southern Maine, should one be approved. Under that agreement, Penn National would pay for the construction of the new track and buildings, and would collect rent from the Downs, as well as the proceeds from gambling, some of which might be shared back to the Downs.

MacColl said the agreement has never been terminated, but “I don’t know that there’s any active effort” between the two companies at the moment.

The Downs is also slated to benefit from slot machine revenues – even only at Bangor – because a portion of the proceeds is designated to go to the state’s harness racing commission to increase the size of purses for horse races at all tracks and agricultural fairs.

The suit seeks unspecified payment for damages, but indicates the Downs spent more than $1 million attempting to pass the referenda, and could have gained as much as $50 million from Penn National Gaming, if the Westbrook or Saco referenda had given approval to slots at a relocated Downs.

Tighter dog rules on the way

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 20, 2005): Clearer rules governing dogs in public spaces in South Portland got unanimous council approval in a preliminary vote Monday.

The changes include specifying that dogs not on leashes will be under “voice command,” which is for the first time defined in a city ordinance, as meaning the owner can see the dog and the dog comes when called.

Other changes require that dogs be leashed on public roads, sidewalks, parking lots and on the city’s Greenbelt walkway, and that leashes be no longer than eight feet unless it is a retractable leash, in which case the maximum length is 16 feet.

The council will hold a public hearing on the changes on Monday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall, and is expected to take a final vote on the measures at that same meeting.

A committee created by City Manager Jeff Jordan will continue to meet to discuss revamping the city’s fines for violations of dog-control rules, as well as potential fees for dogs to use public spaces, and possibly restricting the hours dogs are allowed in parks and on Willard Beach. That committee will next meet on Friday, Oct. 28.

Claude Morgan, president of the South Portland Dog Owners Group and a candidate for the District 1 seat on the City Council, said he supported the measures given preliminary approval Monday. “This is born of compromise,” he said.

David Bourke, a leading proponent of dog control and also a District 1 candidate, said the proposals “will make it a lot easier for enforcement.” He also said it will “give non-dog-owners, people who want to be safe on the streets, peace of mind.”

Both Morgan and Bourke are members of the city manager’s task force on dog rules.

The proposals approved by the council gained endorsements from two other dog owners who have not been extensively involved in the discussions so far.

Marc Gup of Loveitt’s Field Road, who often takes his dog to Willard Beach, said “it sounds like a fair thing” to clarify the rules. He said Willard Beach is a safe place for his dog, but asked councilors to consider a speed bump on Preble Street to make the road safer for people who walk and bicycle there, including dog walkers.

“Those cars go 50 miles an hour down that road,” he said.

Rommy Brown of E Street said she had “no objection” to the proposals. She urged the committee studying dog issues to “expand enormously” to better reflect the interests of the wider community.

“There are people who do not own dogs or do not like dogs or who have physical challenges” who need representation going forward, she said.

Councilors disagreed on how to do that, with outgoing District 1 Councilor David Jacobs proposing a standing city committee based on “animal control committee” groups in other communities in other states.

In South Portland, “this has become an emotional issue,” he said. “Neither side is wrong.” He asked that the council hold off on additional changes to the dog-control rules to explore having a standing committee, appointed by the councilors, to address the recurring issues.

District 3 Councilor Rosemarie DeAngelis said she would explore such an idea, but did not want to delay the ongoing work of the committee, which she has recently joined.

At-large Councilor Linda Boudreau said she supported Jacobs’s idea, and also called for a council study of the proposal, saying dog-control problems have “come back every single year I’ve been on the council.”

She also asked the committee to discuss possible rules about people walking four or five dogs at a time, and said she was glad the council had moved forward to codify consequences “when you whistle or call your dog and he runs for the hills.”

Fire exhibit shows history

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 20, 2005): As the city of South Portland prepares to close a decades-old neighborhood firehouse, the South Portland Historical Society has put on a special exhibit on the history of the city’s fire department.

“It’s hard to move out of a building you’ve been in for 40 years,” said Capt. Richard Cotton of the Pleasantdale Hose Company. The company was founded in 1893 in Palmer’s garage, and moved into its present digs on Robinson Street in 1921, after a community-wide effort built the firehouse.

At the end of this month, the firehouse will close and the call company will move to a new barn built behind the Cash Corner fire station. The exhibit at the Sawyer School Annex will be open to the public until the end of the month.

“It’s costing too much money to heat the building,” said Cotton, who joined the company in 1963 and took over as captain 15 years ago.

In the early days of the fire company, the fire truck was garaged in various buildings, and had no dedicated horse to pull it.

“Anybody’s horse that went by became the fire horse,” Cotton said.

The historical society’s exhibit was inspired by the discovery last year of a 1914 roster of the Knightville fire company, in an antique store in Freeport by society historian Kathy Onos DiPhilippo.

It may be the last exhibit in the society’s longtime home, the Sawyer School Annex on Braeburn Avenue. Congregation Bet Ha’am, which has been holding services in the school’s main building for some time, is buying the property, including the annex, which is slated to be demolished, according to society curator Mary Anne Wallace.

The society, which gets lots of support from the South Portland Lions Club, is looking for other places to call home and hold exhibits such as “Call Box 4215,” named for the alarm code that would sound in firehouses to tell firemen there was fire at the annex location.

The exhibit showcased historical firefighting equipment, including old water pipes made of wood that had to be replaced when modern pumper trucks were built. Those pumps pulled the water too hard, ripping the wooden pipes out of the ground.

Many items were loaned or donated by South Portland firefighters or their family members, such as a collection of badges and insignia used through the years.

“Firemen have a real sense of their own history,” Wallace said.

Other items included information about the department’s three Dalmatians, one of which, Tapper, lived at Engine 6 in Thornton Heights and was trained to stamp out cigarette butts.

Letters in a binder on display indicated that firemen had trouble getting around the city early in World War II because they lacked the proper permits to be out driving around during government-imposed blackouts, instituted to foil enemy attacks from the ocean.

In one test run described in an official letter from the period, some firemen were blocked by blackout wardens and others were only able to arrive at the intended destination by talking their way through roadblocks. The incident was just a test, but was used as an example of what could happen unless proper paperwork was issued.

One old photo on the wall sparked a more recent memory from Cotton. The photo showed the old Engine 10, a foam truck, whose door had the last hand-painted city seal on a fire truck’s door. Cotton found that door again in May, in the rafters of a chicken coop in Hope, now used to store old fire trucks and other fire memorabilia.

Editorial: Opening their eyes

Published in the Current

CAPE ELIZABETH (Oct 20, 2005): The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust is to be commended for developing ways to get young students outdoors and exploring the environment all around them. And the fourth-grade teachers at Pond Cove School should be applauded for taking advantage of such an interesting and fun program.

We all remember what it was like to learn about biology by looking at pictures in books and having speakers come into the classroom. And we all remember, too, how that world came alive when we first ventured outdoors with a knowledgeable person and began to really look at all that is there.

A group of Cape students – many of whom, no doubt, had already begun to explore the outdoors – are getting a very special treat, exploring land trust property in their hometown through the seasons, as we learn on Page 1.

In a time when schools and teachers are constantly pressured by governments and parents to cram more information into students’ minds, in preparation for regurgitation on multiple-choice exams taken in uncomfortable chairs in rooms blanketed in fluorescent light, an outdoor excursion to look, touch, smell, hear – and maybe even taste – Mother Nature is an increasingly rare opportunity.

As a society – not just during school hours – we need to do more to get students out of houses and classrooms and engaged in the world around all of us, whether in the context of nature, civic action or other endeavors.

We hear constantly – and we report on here in the pages of the Current from time to time – that Americans in general and children in particular are less fit and more overweight than ever before.

Getting kids outdoors, moving around, is one way many experts see to combat this dangerous and unhealthy trend. It’s not just the distance from the television, which benefits the body, but also the involvement with other people in experiences beyond the self, which expand the mind.

The land trust lesson, that if kids spend time outside, physically exploring nature, they can learn amazing things and have a lot of fun, will pay off for years – far beyond the last game of kickball or floor hockey.

Keep yours open, too

No doubt you’ve seen the posters and heard the pleas on TV and in print, but keep your eyes open for any sign of Lynn Moran, the 24-year-old Windham native who disappeared 10 days ago now after spending the day and evening in Portland.

One person said Moran was on Anthoine Street in South Portland at around 11 p.m. Oct. 10 – near the police station, of all places. Police and Moran’s family need the help of all of us.

South Portland police have said they turned up no leads in a city-wide search Tuesday, but residents should still be on the lookout.

Many of us remember the all-too-similar disappearance of Amy St. Laurent in 2001, and the tragic end to the search for her. But we also remember that the man who killed St. Laurent was brought to justice and is now behind bars.

We hope and pray Moran is safe and well, and we hope that her family will not have to wait weeks, as St. Laurent’s did, worrying, hoping and, worst of all, not knowing.

Information from anyone who was out and about in Portland and South Portland late on Oct. 10 will be useful in the search for Moran.

If you even think you might have seen her, please call Portland police at 874-8575.

Jeff Inglis, editor

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Town's oldest resident turns 104

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Oct 13, 2005): When Blanche Cook’s 98-year-old brother needed someone to look out for him at his Brunswick home, she was the one the family sent.

Cook, who turns 104 Oct. 13, just got back from spending a few weeks up there with him.

During the visit, she and a friend who helps out her brother around the house went shopping, and watched a lot of baseball – including staying up to watch all 18 innings of the Astros-Braves marathon game Sunday night.

She also watched the Red Sox-White Sox series, in which she got to watch her favorite Red Sox player, Johnny Damon, strike out with the bases loaded in what ended up as the final game in the series.

“I felt so bad for him,” she said.

Cook is Scarborough’s oldest resident, and was honored just over a year ago with the presentation of the town’s Boston Post Cane. She is 11 years older than the next-oldest qualifying resident, Joe Lothrop, now 93, according to Town Clerk Yolande Justice.

Born in 1901 in Nashua, N.H., Cook said she is “really a Mainer” because she has lived in the state since she was 1 – longer than almost every other person now living in Maine.

She grew up in North Pownal and Pownal, where she still goes to a bean supper every Saturday night when visiting her brother. She would go in Scarborough, but at home she doesn't have anybody to go with.

“When we were young, we used to go fishing every single day in the summer on the Royal River,” catching pickerel.

The world has changed since then, because “things kept being invented” – like airplanes and radios. “My father had a Stanley Steamer,” an early steam-powered automobile.

“Now they got the computer,” she said. “A kid 5 years old would know more about that than I do.”

She was a teenager when the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918. Last year she watched all the games. In 1918, “I didn’t have anything to watch it on or hear it on.”

In the winter, she walks one lap around the Maine Mall most mornings, and this summer even walked to a nearby store and back, “until I got lazy,” she said.

Even sitting down, she is in constant motion, tapping her fingers and rocking back and forth in her chair. Some of her movements appear related to her hearing problem, as she leans in to hear conversation.

Age has also caught up with her eyes. “I write, but I can’t read it,” Cook said. She can see the baseball game if she gets really close to the television.

So, she listens to the radio a lot (Howie Carr and Rush Limbaugh are favorites).

“She’d be living by herself if she could,” said her daughter, Lorraine Libby, now in her 70s. “I think she’s sharp as a tack.”

Though Cook didn’t go very far in school – only a couple years of high school in New Gloucester – she was a hard worker, packing sardines and dipping chocolates.

“I learned at Haven’s,” Cook said, and later worked at Len Libby’s and then Libby’s Candies, both in Scarborough. It was at Libby’s Candies that Cook’s daughter Lorraine met her husband, Leonard K. Libby.

“She was quick at what she did,” said Lorraine Libby.

The family lived in South Portland – after Cook met her husband, John, at Redmond’s dance hall in Ferry Village – and left Meetinghouse Hill only after Lorraine graduated from high school.

The couple moved to Scarborough, where they bought three acres on Westwood Avenue, where they built a house and farmed the land, selling strawberries, raspberries, vegetables and flowers.

It is where she still lives, now also with Lorraine and Leonard.

Cook also used to work at the cafeterias at Scarborough High School and Scarborough Middle School. “When I stop to think, it’s further back than I realize,” she said. “You forget things. It’s so long ago.”

“She’s quite active,” Lorraine Libby said. Cook is often at local activities for senior citizens, as often as she can get a ride.

“I’m always on the go,” Cook said. She even went strawberry picking this summer.

“When she was in her early 90s, that was her bowling average” at the Big 20 lanes, Libby said. In candlepin bowling, that is a very good score.

Cook said she does not know why she has lived so long.

“There’s no secret. You’re just lucky – or unlucky,” she said, noting that nearly all of her family is gone, including her husband, who died 27 years ago, and three of her four siblings.

“When you get to my age, all your old friends are gone,” she said.

She does try to “stay away from doctors” but goes once a year because her daughter insists. “I don’t worry about much,” she said. “I don’t plan nothing.”

She expects her birthday celebration “won’t be very exciting” – just a small gathering with some cake for her and a younger friend who also has a birthday coming up.

She will approach it the same way she does most things: “Take it as it comes and be thankful for what you get.”

Husband, lawmakers upset at trucker's lowered bail

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Oct 13, 2005): A Scarborough widower is upset a judge has reduced bail for the driver whose 18-wheeler crushed his wife's car, killing her.

The driver, Scott Hewitt, was originally being held on $100,000 cash bail, but had his bail changed last month to allow him to post either that amount or $500,000 in liens on property.

Last week, Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup lowered Hewitt's bail, to $75,000 cash or $300,000 in property bonds, at the request of Hewitt's attorney, Joel Vincent. Vincent did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Hewitt is charged with nine misdemeanor charges stemming from the crash, including operating after suspension and operating a commercial vehicle that had been placed out of service.

Though his "inattention" was ruled at fault in the crash, Hewitt is not charged with anything that holds him responsible for causing the death of Tina Turcotte of Scarborough, whose car was crushed by Hewitt's 18-wheeler when he failed to slow down as other cars in front of him, including Turcotte's, were slowing for a traffic backup on I-95 in Hallowell July 29.

“While no amount of bail is going to bring Tina back,” Scott Turcotte feels lowering the bail is “a reflection of some sympathy for Scott Hewitt’s plight,” said Turcotte’s attorney, Michael Vaillancourt.

“There should be no sympathy shown” for a man with an extensive record of driving violations, Vaillancourt said, adding that his client believes Hewitt “should not be released from jail” until after the criminal charges are dealt with in court. Hewitt's trial is slated for Dec. 23.

Hewitt’s record includes more than 60 convictions, more than 20 license suspensions and involvement in two fatal crashes, including the July one in which Tina Turcotte died.

The changes to Hewitt's bail have also drawn criticism from legislators, who note that Hewitt was arrested on a charge of operating after suspension just days after the fatal crash in July, and worry that he might drive again if released from jail.

Rep. Darlene Curley, R-Scarborough, attended Hewitt’s bail hearing Friday. She said she was "disappointed they lowered the amount" of Hewitt's bail, and found it "unbelievable" that the judge said Hewitt could be released with no financial bond if a group or organization agreed to supervise him in advance of his December trial date.

Hewitt's record, which includes more than 60 traffic convictions, more than 20 suspensions, and involvement in two fatal crashes, including the July one in which Turcotte died, shows his disregard for the law, Curley said.

"I'm concerned that he would be behind the wheel as soon as he gets out of jail," she said.

Immediately after the bail hearing, she and Sen. William Diamond, D-Windham, went back to the Statehouse and added a provision in a bill they plan to present to the Legislature in January, she said.

The bill will increase penalties for people who drive on suspended licenses. Curley said they added the ability to hold such a person in jail before trial "for prevention." She said a similar provision is in federal law, but said she did not know if there was such an allowance elsewhere in Maine law.

Curley, who spoke Tuesday afternoon via telephone while driving on the highway from Augusta to Scarborough, said she was on the road with a number of large trucks. "You can't help but look left and right and wonder" if any of them are being driven by repeat violators of the state’s traffic laws, she said.

As of Wednesday, Hewitt had not posted bail from Kennebec County Jail.

Editorial: More loopholes

Published in the Current

(Oct 13, 2005): Trucker Scott Hewitt has found another of Maine’s legal loopholes through which he may yet slip.

He has already effectively gotten away with killing Tina Turcotte of Scarborough, whose car Hewitt’s truck demolished on I-95 in Hallowell July 29. Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle has determined Hewitt cannot be charged with manslaughter, even though Hewitt’s inattention was ruled the cause of the crash.

Fowle told the Current last month that the law allows a charge of manslaughter only when a person’s actions meet the legal definition of “recklessness” or “criminal negligence.” Fowle said he cannot consider the circumstances under which Hewitt was driving, including while his license was under suspension and after his commercial truck had allegedly been placed out of service for safety violations.

Now Hewitt, who has been held in jail pending his December trial, has found a judge willing to lower his bail to the point that many – including Turcotte’s widower – worry that Hewitt might get out of jail and drive again, as he did just days after the crash in which Turcotte died.

Setting bail is an art more than a science, and while the rules and regulations of administering bail are laid out in Maine law, no mention of any amount is made in Maine’s bail code. That leaves lawyers, judges, suspects and the public little to go on.

The right to not be subject to “excessive bail” is enshrined in the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – the same part of the Bill of Rights that bars “cruel and unusual punishment” – and also in Article 1 of the Maine Constitution. That’s about it.

Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup has twice made easier the prospect of Hewitt bailing out of jail. Last month he allowed Hewitt to post $500,000 in property bonds, as an alternative to the $100,000 cash that was Hewitt’s original bail.

And last week, Studstrup lowered both of those amounts, to $75,000 cash or $300,000 in property bonds.

The law requires a judge to consider the nature and circumstances of the charges, as well as the defendant’s criminal history and other past conduct, when setting bail.

However, there is a lot of leeway in the law. Hewitt is charged with nine crimes, but they are all misdemeanors carrying relatively light maximum sentences of six months in jail and $1,000 fines. That would tend to favor lowering his bail: People charged with minor crimes are typically considered less serious and are allowed to post smaller bail amounts.

On the other hand, and we believe far outweighing the lack of severity of charges, is Hewitt’s almost unbelievable record.

Beyond his appalling driving file, including more than 60 convictions and more than 20 license suspensions, Hewitt drove just a few days after the crash. He claimed at the time of the fatal crash that he did not know his license was suspended, but has no such excuse for driving afterwards.

Former Maine Secretary of State Bill Diamond, now the Senate majority leader in Augusta, and Scarborough Republican Rep. Darlene Curley are concerned that Hewitt’s bail may be set low enough that he could get out of jail and be back on the road. The judge has already said if Hewitt does bail out, he would not be allowed to drive, but nobody seriously believes he will suddenly begin to obey that restriction.

Curley and Diamond have made a move that might close that loophole in the future, but it still exists right now, and may be big enough for Hewitt to fit through.

If he is able to bail out of jail, it will be a shame – and a hazard to all Mainers. Though Hewitt will likely be required to give assurances he will not drive – and will have to certify he understands and agrees, before being allowed out – we have no reason to trust his judgment.

Jeff Inglis, editor

Crash kills Scarborough man

Published in the Current

CAPE ELIZABETH (Oct 13, 2005): Heavy rains are believed to be a factor in two separate crashes on Sunday and Monday that killed three people, including a Scarborough man, and injured five others, including a man from Cape Elizabeth.

On Sunday, a single-car crash on Interstate 95 in York killed 21-year-old Scarborough resident Thyrak Ann. He was driving north on the highway when his car slid off the road shortly after 2 a.m.

Ann was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Richard Waltz, 23, of Arundel was transported to Portsmouth Regional Hospital and died the next day, according to Maine State Trooper Anthony Keim.

According to Ann’s uncle Sokhann Duong, Ann was traveling back from Connecticut to get to his job at the Marriott Sable Oaks in South Portland Sunday morning.

Duong said the young man had immigrated to the United States from Khio I Dang, a Khmer refugee camp in Thailand, when he was 8 years old.

He said that his nephew attended South Portland schools throughout his childhood and made a lot of friends. He graduated from South Portland High School in 2002.

On Tuesday afternoon a group of Cambodian monks visited the home to bless the family. The monks will return Friday night and will bless Ann’s body Saturday morning.

Ann leaves behind his mother, Lon Ho Ann of Scarborough, a brother, Ron Ann of South Portland, and a sister, Nancy Ann of Scarborough.

On Monday a five-car crash on I-295 in Falmouth killed a 9-year-old boy and injured five others, including a Cape Elizabeth man who was driving a pickup truck that crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic and started the pileup.

Just before 5:30 p.m. Monday, Andrew Bernstein, 49, of Cape Elizabeth was driving southbound across the Presumpscot River Bridge when his Volkswagen crossed over the median and struck a northbound Lexus head-on, according to Maine State Police Trooper John Kyle.

Ryan Guthrie, 9, of Winslow was a passenger in the Lexus, which was driven by his grandmother, June Quirion of Benton. Guthrie died Wednesday morning at a Portland hospital, Kyle said. Quirion was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Guthrie suffered "severe internal injuries and severe head injuries" in the crash. He was not in a child seat, but was wearing a seat belt, Kyle said.

Three other cars piled up behind the VW and the Lexus. A Ford Focus rear-ended the Lexus and bounced off to the side. A pickup truck rear-ended the Focus, and was itself rear-ended by a Mustang.

The sole occupant of the Focus, Lorraine Gressey of Phippsburg, and the driver and passenger of the pickup truck, Nicholas Parent of Kennebunkport and Kenneth Hunnewell of Arundel, were also taken to the hospital for treatment. The Mustang's driver, Brooke Babb of Bowdoinham, was uninjured and her car was considered drivable, so she drove away from the scene, Kyle said.

"It was raining heavy" at the time of the crash, Kyle said, but the weather was "not the primary cause" of the collision.

After Bernstein lost control and his car crossed the median "some things happened" that indicate "hydroplane was not the reason he drove head-on into that car," Kyle said. Bernstein did not return messages left at his home seeking comment.

Kyle said none of the drivers was exceeding the speed limit, and said most of them were going about 60 mph, in an area where the speed limit is 65.

He said no charges have been filed, but said there might be charges, depending on the results of tests of blood samples drawn from all four drivers who received medical treatment. He said those could take "a few weeks to process."

Local bachelor Maine’s most eligible

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Oct 13, 2005): A former Scarborough resident who thinks black is "such a sexy color" has been named Maine’s most eligible bachelor by a national women’s magazine, and was featured on national television broadcasts Wednesday.

Shane Bradstreet, 23, is a bartender and night club manager in Portland. He appeared on NBC’s “Today” show and ABC’s “Live with Regis and Kelly” Wednesday morning, after being named one of the nation’s 50 most eligible bachelors by Cosmopolitan magazine. One bachelor was featured from each state.

The magazine, which its publisher said was on the streets Tuesday but was not in local stores Wednesday afternoon, showcased what it called “the nation’s most knee-weakening single guys.”

Bradstreet, who moved to Portland from Scarborough recently, said his sister nominated him for the award. The first he heard of it was a phone call "out of the blue one day" telling him he had been chosen.

In his profile on Cosmopolitan’s Web site wrote that he used to be shy before becoming a bartender. He said he loves sushi and goes out to Japanese restaurants.

He also admitted to a frustration with women, saying he doesn’t “understand how sometimes they can do an instant 360.” He said one woman he was dating “wanted to rip my face off” because he did her laundry for her and “accidentally mixed whites with colors.”

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Holy Cross students raise $5,500

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 6, 2005): Students at Holy Cross School in South Portland raised $5,474.09 to help victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in several events, including a two-mile walkathon, a coin donation drive, a bake sale and a dress-down day.

Most of the money will go to Catholic Charities, which is helping with the relief efforts. About $300 will go to a program with the National Catholic Educational Association that helps rebuild Catholic schools destroyed by the storms, and to support Catholic school students affected, according to the school's principal, Deacon Steve Harnois.

"Our faith tells us we have to give housing to the homeless, clothe the naked, feed the hungry," Harnois told the students during a rest stop at the one-mile mark of the walkathon, which went along Broadway in South Portland from the school building to the Southern Maine Community College campus and back.

Editorial: Eyebrows in the sky

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Oct 6, 2005): The proposal that Scarborough taxpayers may be asked to cough up $54 million for a new intermediate school and a renovated middle school – on top of the $27 million already borrowed for the high school renovation and expansion – will no doubt raise eyebrows in town. Read about the idea on Page 1.

The $27 million high school is already the most expensive local-funding-only school project in the state’s history. Before the paint is even dry on that – and while there still remain questions about the building’s durability – the town’s school department wants to surpass it with a $35 million brand-new intermediate school and a $19 million renovation to the middle school.

After that, there’s the prospect that the town’s elementary schools could need expansion or replacement, according to Superintendent Bill Michaud. All three now hold some classes in modular additions.

It’s enough to make some seniors – many of whom have pledged support for more school building in exchange for a $1.2 million center to call their own – choke a bit on that promise.

While Board of Education Chairman David Beneman expects people will love the idea – he said it would be “exceedingly popular” – other board members are wary. Dianne Messer has an idea that might trim $19 million off the tab, but that would still leave what would still become the most expensive town-only school project in state history. Board member Christopher Brownsey accurately predicts the idea to spend that much money will be “a hard sell.”

And the school administration and its construction partners are not making that sell any easier. After the school board and the Town Council refused to pay for an independent review of the high school construction, the town’s code enforcement department required it.

And the study found some structural problems independent engineers fear might shorten the useful life of the high school building. They recommended the town, with project architect Harriman Associates and general contractor Pizzagalli Construction, purchase a long-term insurance policy to pay for any repairs that might be needed as a result of the structural deficiencies.

Now Harriman, already enlisted to plan for the upcoming $54 million in new building, and Pizzagalli are defending their work, saying there is no need for an insurance policy.

It’s great that they are so confident in their work, and they’re absolutely right. The town has no need for an insurance policy. The companies should agree to cover the costs of any repairs or other work required as a result of these possible shortcomings.

These are good companies, staffed by skilled, dedicated professionals. Their word, and a legally binding lifetime warranty (regarding just the problems identified by the outside engineers), should be enough. If they’re right, and the building is fine, they have nothing to lose. If they’re wrong, it’s their fault, and they should fix it.

If the companies are not sure their work is up to snuff, then they can decide how to pay for an insurance policy to cover the problems they have created. They have another option, of course: to go back in, rip out the problem areas – and work covering many of them – and replace it all up to proper standards, at their own cost.

The school department needs to stand firm, ensuring that Harriman and Pizzagalli provide exactly what the building agreement asked for, including adherence to all relevant building codes.

If voters are to have confidence that they will get $54 million worth of school building out of the new proposal, they need to be absolutely certain that they are already getting $27 million worth out of the construction they are already paying for.

Continuing next week
Our publication of Scarborough’s most recent property values, following the town-wide revaluation this summer, will continue next week. Roughly half of the list is in this week’s issue of the Current, on pages 13 through 20. They are sorted by street and house number. Please check back next week to get the rest of the data.

Jeff Inglis, editor

Monday, October 3, 2005

Cianchette pulls out of governor's race

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 3, 2005): Peter Cianchette has pulled out of the race for governor, barely two months after announcing he would make another run for the Blaine House.

A South Portland Republican who lost to John Baldacci in 2002 and was one of two Republicans vying to challenge Baldacci in 2006, Cianchette announced Monday he would no longer be seeking the Republican nod.

In a statement, Cianchette said he had concluded he wanted to be near his children for "some of the most important years of their young lives."

The announcement came as a "complete surprise" to Rep. Harold Clough, R-Scarborough, who said he found out about it the same way many people did, in an e-mail Monday afternoon.

Clough said he expected more potential candidates to come forward now that Cianchette was out of the race, saying some people would have stayed out and supported Cianchette. Clough would not name names.

Rep. Darlene Curley, R-Scarborough, had been mulling a run for the Blaine House but decided earlier this fall not to run. She could not be immediately reached for comment, but attended Cianchette's campaign launch Sept. 13 at a rally at Bug Light Park in South Portland.

At that event, Cianchette formally launched his campaign with his wife, Carolyn, and children, Evan and Maria, by his side.

At the September event, he thanked his family for their support in his campaign efforts. In Monday's statement, he thanked his family for backing his decision to drop out of the race.

"My wife and children are my strongest supporters," Cianchette said in an interview.

He said he thought they might have wanted him to stay in the race. He also said they would have understood if his campaign duties – or those of being governor were he to win – kept him from attending their activities or other family events.

"I didn't want to miss those things," he said. He said other people had asked if he or a family member was sick, or if his poll numbers were down, and denied that either was the case.

Cianchette said it was time on the campaign trail that showed him "this is not the right time for me."

"Public service and the demands that come with a public life" need to fit well with other aspects of a person's life, he said. He did not feel his personal priorities would have received enough attention, were he to continue to run.