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10 years later, we told you so

Ten years of being right (well, mostly)
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  September 16, 2009


Like many in the alternative press, we pride ourselves on being ahead of the game. Sometimes, of course, that means we're wrong about what might be coming down the pike — that's part of the risk of being "out front" and not just reacting to the news as it happens.

But as we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we thought we'd look back to see how we did. Herewith, this sampling of what we've covered, how it's gone, and what's new in those areas.

More from the Portland Phoenix's 10th Anniversary:

Portland theater’s losses and gains since 1999

The 10 most influential bands of our first 10 years

A decade gone by

Portland: From a handful of restaurants to a restaurant town

Diversity times ten

Talking politics: The song remains the same

Marc Shepard: I remember when...

Portland’s art scene has changed quite a lot

New technology

Over the past 10 years, our technological lives have changed dramatically. The Phoenix has tried to keep up. Consider Michael Joseph Gross's November 1999 article about cell-phone etiquette, which advised users not to give their cell numbers out to friends, to keep their phones off as a rule, and to "always tell people, at the beginning of a call, that you're on a cell phone." No mention of sexting.

A few years later, in August 2003, Jess Kilby went "wardriving" (as "the search for wireless internet networks" was dubbed) around Portland. "Though WiFi (wireless fidelity) is enjoying a boom in popularity among early adopters . . . it's hard to discern exactly how much the average computer user knows about wireless technology," she wrote. Clearly iPhones were not even conceivable.

And then in May 2004, Kilby tried out beta Gmail; she praised the now-ubiquitous e-mail program for how swiftly it processed attachments, the automatic and "elegant" spell-check, and address auto-complete. She wasn't so keen on the lack of a simple "Delete" button, and had trouble navigating Gmail's trademark threaded-conversation interface. She did not evaluate what many consider to be Gmail's best feature — its search function; nor did she explore the social protocol of keeping your G-chat window open throughout the workday.

Moderation in Maine

We have the same two senators now that we did 10 years ago — Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. And they're (mostly) pulling off the same difficult brand of bipartisanship that they have been for a decade. On issues like gay rights, balancing the federal budget, health care, and gun control, "the limits of Snowe's and Collins's moderation becomes apparent," Dan Kennedy wrote in an inaugural-issue analysis of Maine's "moderate" Republican senators. "Still, [they] stand out as the kind of Republicans whom progressives can live with, if not enthusiastically endorse."

We've covered Snowe's and Collins's tricky balancing act several times over the past decade. More recently, in a 2006 piece about how their Supreme Court votes would affect women, Sara Donnelly pointed out that Maine's senators "were the only pro-choice women in the Senate to vote for Alito. So much for girl power."

And two years ago, Tony Giampetruzzi delved deeper into the senators' positions on gay rights, specifically as related to gays serving in the military. "[W]hile both refused to endorse the Maine Won't Discriminate effort, saying it was their policy to avoid state issues, don't try to pin either senator down on what clearly is a federal issue: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT)," he wrote. "Activists have tried for years to get Snowe and Collins to speak out against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' but the response from both senators is a kind of runaround — it appears well-meaning, is unfailingly polite, but in the end is unsatisfactory for its lack of awareness that this is a real problem that affects real people."

But just as often as they disappoint, they impress us with their maverick moves — consider their pro-alt-energy positions, their support of President Obama's economic stimulus package, and Collins's important position as co-sponsor (with Ted Kennedy) of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which creates federal protections against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. And of course, Maine's moderates will play a crucial role as Congress, and the nation, debates healthcare reform (see Jeff Inglis's piece on page 5).

Building up Bayside

Ten years ago, there was talk of building an arena in the Bayside neighborhood, between Forest Avenue, Marginal Way, Congress Street, and the Franklin Arterial. The plan fell through, and with it fell dreams of neighborhood revival. Mary Lou Wendell documented the disappointment of Bayside residents, as well as their hopes for the future.

"So long as the arena proposal was on the table, talk among city officials was fast and furious about also creating a small playground and affordable housing, among other things, to help rebuild the long-neglected Bayside community," Wendell wrote. "But as soon as the city council rejected the offer of land and money for an arena from the Libra Foundation last month, all scheduled public forums and meetings to address Bayside's revitalization needs were abruptly cancelled. Now . . . a number of Bayside residents and other in Portland believe that's also the last they'll hear of any neighborhood improvements."

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  Topics: News Features , Barack Obama, Politics, U.S. Supreme Court,  More more >
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 See all articles by: DEIRDRE FULTON

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