When President Barack Obama came to Portland in late March, the city’s Mayor Michael Brennan got a chance to ride from the airport to Southern Maine Community College with the president and talk about Portland, as well as how the federal government can better serve Maine and its largest municipality.
On Monday, Brennan’s office announced that he and other southern Maine mayors have picked the conversation back up, with a Friday conference call with a top White House official the first in what local leaders hope will be a series of such calls — and an open line of communication with the Obama administration.
In addition to Brennan, mayors or municipal representatives from Auburn, Augusta, Biddeford, Waterville and Westbrook took part in the conference call, which was manned on the White House end by Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Jay Williams.
Brennan issued this statement after the call:
Friday’s call was a great opportunity to open the lines of communication between the White House and Maine’s largest cities. So much of what we do is impacted by policy set at the federal level and being able to share ideas and provide feedback from the front lines helps both local and federal leaders. Whether it’s the health care or sequestration, it’s important that our voices are heard.
A major topic of conversation during Friday’s call, according to Monday’s announcement by City Hall, was the impact of cuts to federal Title 1A education funding. Here’s more about that particular conversation snipped from the city’s announcement:
Biddeford is anticipating a $90,000 reduction and Portland is facing a loss of $340,000 this fiscal year. The funding is designed to support low-income children in achieving academic standards and while service center communities like Portland have experienced an increase in the number of low-income children attending schools, funding is being reduced. Further challenging the situation are the appeal restrictions, which deny urban communities the opportunity to appeal as their population is too large.