Public Service

Community Service

Portland Regional Chamber, Chair (2012-14) Trustee (2008-16; 2019- present)
Portland Community Chamber of Commerce, President (2019- ) Trustee (2016-present)
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Trustee (2009 - present)
Project Green Schools, Advisory Trustee (2017-present)
Maine Public Spending Research Group, Trustee (2005 - 2008)
Portland Trails, President (1997-1998), Advisory Trustee (2002 - )
Portland Symphony Orchestra, VP of Budget and Finance (1999-2002)
Communities Putting Prevention to Work (ARRA), Leadership Council (2010-11)
North Deering Neighborhood Assoc., Founding Pres. (2001), Trustee (2002-2013)
Portland Public Library, Trustee (2005-2006)
Sweetser, Corporator (2007-present)
First Tee, Board member (2008-10)
Portland Tomorrow (2010-2019)

Political Service

Mayor, City of Portland (2005-2006)
Portland City Council (2002-2008)
Portland City Council Transportation Committee, Chair (2002-2005)
Jetport Master Planning Committee, Chair (2005-2007)
Greater Portland Transit District, Trustee (2002-2005)
Narrow Gauge Rail Alignment Committee, Chair (2005)
Maine Turnpike Authority, Public Advisory Committee (2017-18)
Portland Charter Commission, Vice Chair (2009-2010)
U.S. Conference of Mayors, Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Task Force, Vice Chair (2006)
Portland City Council Finance Committee, Chair (2006-2008)
Metro Regional Coalition, Chair (2007-2008)
Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee, Chair (2005)
Downtown Portland Corporation (2005-2006)
Portland City Council, Community Development Committee (2002-2005; 2007-2008)
Creative Economy Steering Committee, Chair (2007-2008)
Sustainable Portland Task Force (2006-2007)
Portland City Council, Energy and Sustainability Committee (2007-2008)
Riverton School Building Committee, Co-Chair (2005-2006)
Cumberland County Civic Center Joint Task Force (2006-2010)
Mayor's Healthy Portland Task Force (2006-2008)
Portland School Department, Budget and Revenue Task Force, Chair (2013-4)

Experience

Creative Economy

As a City Councilor, Mayor of Portland and member of the Portland Regional Chamber, Jim Cohen has supported the "Creative Economy" of the Greater Portland area. Jim convened a local summit and multiple stakeholder groups in an effort to strengthen this local, knowledge-based economy.

The entries below highlight Jim's efforts to support Portland's Creative Economy.

About the Creative Economy:

Pro-bono government relations services to state-wide cultural institutions:

Jim delivered presentations about gaining advocacy before the Maine Legislature to the Maine Library Association, Maine Humanities Council and Maine Historical Society.

Healthy Portland Initiative

As a public servant, Jim Cohen established a task force that developed recommendations to improve public health in Portland.

The entries below highlight Jim's and the task force's efforts to promote healthy lifestyles in Portland:

  • The task force formalized a bike rack policy that led to a rapid growth in number of bike racks through the city, and a new ordinance requiring bike parking on certain new construction.
  • It developed a plan to provide water fountains in each school cafeteria within the City.
  • It established a "Walk and Talk with the Mayor' program to promote transparent government and healthy lifestyles.
  • The task force developed a plan for a new city ordinance banning smoking in outdoor cafes, which Portland passed, becoming the first community in Maine to adopt such a law. A year later, the State of Maine adopted a similar law statewide.
  • In 2008, Jim received the Ruth Shaper Award from the Maine Public Health Association for his efforts related to public health, particularly with regard to the smoking law.

Jim currently serves on the steering committee of the City's Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, which was an ARRA funded public health initiative.

Metro Regional Coalition

Jim led an effort to form a six-community coalition aimed at promoting regional projects. The Metro Regional Coalition is the group that resulted from those efforts.

The entries below highlight the accomplishments of the Metro Regional Coalition.

Creation of Regional Crime Lab in Portland:

Formation of a Regional Economic Development Corporation:

After years of planning the Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation was formed.

Portland School Budget

Jim Cohen helped establish a partnership with the Portland Public Schools to improve the school budget process.

The entries below highlight Jim's efforts to improve school budgeting:

  • Jim served as a trustee of the Maine Public Spending Research Group, and as part of his service, focused on ways that school systems could become more efficient. Jim delivered a presentation to GrowSmart on this topic.
  • He served as the primary drafts person of the Maine Plan in 2004, a citizen initiative aimed at establishing spending limits at all levels of government. Jim helped form a coalition between business leaders and municipal government officials which ultimately led the Maine Legislature in 2005 to adopt many of the elements of the plan as part of LD 1. Jim spoke about the Maine Plan at a 2005 Maine Water Utilities Association Meeting.
  • In 2006-7, Jim became the chair of the City's finance committee. During his tenure, he facilitated extensive public discussion regarding the proposed school budget, the largest in the City's history. During the process, Jim worked to improve the relationship between the City Finance Committee and the School Finance Committee to better evaluate the school budget.
    -Jim addresses school budget issues, among other topics, in an interview with The League of young Voters.
    -Upon deciding to leave the City Council, Jim's accomplishments as a member of the Finance Committee were reviewed by the Portland Press Herald.
  • In 2007, the public discovered that the School Budget was inaccurate, leading to the resignation of the Superintendent and Finance Director. Jim worked with the School Finance Committee to develop a memorandum of understanding to improve the meetings , information gathering and relationship between the City Council and School Committee. This led to a collaborative budget in 2008 that helped restore public trust in the school system.

In 2009-10, Jim served on the Portland Charter Commission, and helped draft and get passed changes to the City's charter that formalized the process established by the memorandum of understanding. These changes were approved by the voters in November 2010.

Regional Economic Development

During his time as Mayor of Portland, Jim Cohen facilitated a multi-party stakeholder group of municipalities, colleges, and businesses to form a regional economic development corporation. Jim continues to support regional economic development as vice-chair of the Portland Regional Chamber.

The following entries provide more information about Jim Cohen's regional economic development efforts:

Regional Economic Development Stakeholder Facilitation:

Regional Economic Development Initiatives:

Jim Cohen appeared in a TV ad on behalf of the Civic Center Bond Campaign. The bond initiative was eventually passed by voters with 58% of the vote.

Sustainable Portland

During Jim's time as Mayor and City Councilor in Portland he made sustainability a priority. He spearheaded the City's effort to promote economic, environmental and community sustainability.

The entries below highlight Jim Cohen's sustainability work as a public servant:

  • Prior to joining the City Council, Jim was active in forming The North Deering Neighborhood Association, and served as the president of Portland Trails. Based on this background, Jim set out as Mayor to help develop a formal approach to sustainability called Sustainable Portland.
  • Jim Cohen discussed his plans to create a Sustainable Portland Task Force in his Mayor's Inaugural Address.
  • Jim convened a stakeholder group, and served on it for a year. In 2007, the group developed a report that addresses Portland's environmental, economic and community needs which became part of the City's comprehensive plan in 2010. The group also developed a website and logo for Sustainable Portland.
  • In 2006, Jim became the first mayor to sign onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Action Plan. Jim was recognized by the Sierra Club for this effort.

Sustainable Portland included many recommendations, including a plan for the City to invest in municipal buildings to lower energy costs. In 2008, Jim served on the City Council's energy and Environmental Committee which started this process.

Firm Highlights

Blog

Maine Rural Water Association Annual Conference with Verrill Attorney Mathew J. Todaro

Verrill Attorney Mathew J. Todaro, along with two others, will be presenting at the Maine Rural Water Association’s 41 st Annual Conference and Trade Show. Their presentation, “PFAS and Practicality Regulatory Updates with a...

Blog

Kelsey McCutcheon Selected to Join the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) Emerging Leaders Initiative

Verrill associate Kelsey McCutcheon has been selected to join the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) Emerging Leaders Initiative. The Environmental Law Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, that seeks to "make law work for people...

Blog

Maine PUC Releases Report on Evolution of Electrical Grid to Meet Climate Goals

On December 1, 2021, the Maine PUC released a Report on the first phase of its investigation into necessary design and operational changes to the electrical distribution grid to facilitate the State’s clean energy...

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Intertidal Court Victory for Property Rights, Marine Conservation, and Public Participation

The Maine Superior Court has dismissed all claims against five intertidal landowners represented by Verrill in Masucci v. Judy’s Moody, LLC . The landowners had been sued because they contacted Maine Marine Patrol to...

Blog

Incidental Take of Migratory Birds Prohibited Once Again as New MBTA Rule Becomes Effective

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) final rule that presumptively reinstates liability for incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”) becomes effective on December 3. The new rule revokes a Trump-era...

Blog

Verrill Alum Bill Harwood Sworn in as Public Advocate for State of Maine

On January 26, 2022, Maine Governor Janet Mills swore in Bill Harwood as Public Advocate for the State of Maine. Bill was unanimously confirmed by the Maine State Senate and the Legislature’s Joint Standing...

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Environmental Protection Agency’s PFAS Roadmap

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced its PFAS Strategic Roadmap. PFAS are a class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that have been used in a wide variety of industries since the...

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NextEra Subsidiary Fined $8 Million under MBTA for Eagle Deaths at Wind Power Projects in Western U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that ESI Energy LLC (ESI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Nextera Energy Resources LLC, pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and acknowledged at least...

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Verrill Alumni Bill Harwood Nominated as Public Advocate for the State of Maine

Blog

Maine Public Utilities Commission to Receive Bids for Northern Maine Transmission and Renewable Generation Projects

On or before May 2, 2022, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has requested bids for proposed transmission and generation resources that would boost energy exports from northern Maine. The northern Maine region has long...

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