Debate Begins on Potential Closing of India Street Health Clinic
On Tuesday, April 12th, Mayor Ethan Strimling made the following statement via Facebook on the potential closing of the India Street Health Clinic. The clinic is slated to be shut down if the proposed budget is passed as is:
Recently I have received a number of inquiries and concerns related to the proposed closing of the India Street Health Clinic and the shifting of services to the Portland Community Health Center (PCHC) as a part of the City Manager’s proposed budget. Your engagement and activism is exactly what I and my colleagues on the Council need to hear as we move through the review process on the proposed budget. I know that this is a deeply personal issue and it takes courage to reach out – for that I’m very appreciative.
As I review this proposal, I will be looking to ensure that if any changes are made in serving those in need through our public health system, we must not experience even a slight reduction in service – including outcomes, wait times and comprehensive care. I firmly believe that a city can and should be judged by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us, and it is incumbent upon the council as we review the City Manager’s proposed budget to keep that in clear focus.
There are a number of upcoming opportunities to voice your feelings and concerns in a public forum before the Council. The first being at the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 12th at 5pm in Room 24 of City Hall. The second will be Thursday, April 14, at 2pm in room 209. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there too. In the meantime, please continue to reach out to me as well as the rest of the city council to be sure your voice is heard.
Thank you again.
-Mayor Ethan Strimling
Already, West End News readers are responding. Here is resident Michael Anthony’s open letter to the Mayor:
Dear Ethan Strimling,
Your lack of genuine concern about the future of public health and human services in Portland Maine is very troubling.
I hope Portland’s tax (and fine) payers didn’t pay your speechwriter to produce the dispassionate evasion of responsibility that you recently signed your name to and called a response to concerns about the closing of India St Health Center.
You didn’t respond to concerns, you avoided them, and passed the bar, with all the skill of an overpaid speechwriter being asked to form a quick meaningless response.
More troubling then your lack of genuine concern about the future of public health in Portland Maine, is your intentional and/or accidental attempt to disrupt the public process by spreading misinformation about when folks get to speak on the budget.
You referred folks to give feedback on April 12 and April 14 meetings, which are not public meetings.
The public hearings on the budget are on April 21 and May 2, the final vote on the budget will be May 16.
I would hope a new mayor would know better then to be so arrogant enough to blatantly disrupt public process. Please be more forthright in the future if you plan to have a working relationship with the people of Portland.
If I am wrong, and you just made an honest mistake, then let this be a reminder to research the basics of public process before leading the public astray.
-Michael Anthony, Portland
Much more public debate over the potential closure of the public health clinic and the budget is to come in the next several weeks. If you would like to have your voice heard, you can find the budget schedule here: http://portlandmaine.gov/342/Finance-Committee.