The city council is probably going to delay that school bond vote

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Eid Mubarak!

We’ve moved the newsletter to another (hopefully better) platform and renamed it. It’s also going out in conjunction with our brand new blog, which still has that new blog smell.

We’ll continue to tinker a little with the format. As always, we’re open to new ideas. Do you want more links? Fewer, but more deeply explained stories? Just original content? Kittens? Reply to this email, or comment on the blog and let us know.

What we’re talking about

Jake is at City Hall tonight to report on the bond proposal to renovate four Portland schools. Follow him on Twitter for updates. Here’s a preview of what’s going on:

The City Council is expected to delay deciding on a $70 million bond to fund elementary school renovations that the Board of Education has been trying to address for 20 years. Instead, the council will likely pass a resolution creating a special committee to review the proposal at tonight’s meeting, according to multiple city councilors.

The new committee would be the seventh task force devoted to this issue since 1994 and would close the possibility of the bond issue being put to the people of Portland on the November ballot.

The bond proposal was originally supposed to be reviewed by the finance committee, and would have paid for renovations at Presumpscot, Longfellow, Reiche and Lyseth schools. But with several councilors — including finance committee chair Nicholas Mavodones — voicing concerns over the proposal, it seemed unlikely that it would make it out of committee and get the seven up votes it would need to be passed along to voters

Instead, the council is expected to create an ad hoc committee of four councilors and four school board members to go over the proposal, with the hopes of finding a way to fund renovations that will maximize opportunities to win state funding and minimized the burden on Portland taxpayers.

If a bond proposal — for $70 million, or some other sum — makes it out of this special committee, it will then be sent back to the school board, which will in turn review it and decide whether to send it back to the council. From there, it will again face review by the finance committee and subsequently need seven votes to be passed along to the people of Portland.

Asked how long this process is likely to take Mavodones said, “I’m not optimistic that this will be ready in time for November, but I wouldn’t want to wait until next November.” — Jake Bleiberg


 

Jake and Troy witnessed the celebration of Eid al-Fitr today at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Make sure you check out Troy’s photos here.

On Wednesday morning, some 2,000 people gathered at Fitzpatrick Stadium, where they bowed east in prayer, toward Mecca and the rising sun.

With men gathered at one of the football field’s end zones and women clustered between the 30- and 50-yard lines, the city’s diverse Muslim communities came together in a public celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Calls to prayer at around 7 a.m. drew hundreds of Muslims from around Portland. They came by car and on foot, in families and alone, dressed in T-shirts and suits, as well as the traditional garb of the city’s Somali, Iraqi and Afghani communities.

Prayer was led by Imam Younus Alfayyadh.

Alfayyadh, also a teacher at Deering High School, encouraged the gathered crowd to carry the sanctity of Ramadan with them throughout the year and to turn their thoughts to the Islamic communities around the world that have seen the holy month disrupted by acts of terror.

“We are living in the freest country, the most comfortable country. We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in the rest of the world,” Alfayyadh said to those gathered in prayer, referencing attacks by the Islamic State that indiscriminately killed hundreds in Turkey, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Iraq this Ramadan.

Speaking with BDN Portland, Alfayyadh reinforced that Islamic State has nothing to do with the religion practiced peacefully around the world.

“These are the real Muslims,” he told BDN Portland, gesturing out to the football field. “They came to pray peacefully.” — Jake Bleiberg


 

Do you like standup comedy? How about nearly nude standup comedy? As part of the Portland Maine comedy festival, One Longfellow Square is hosting a night of standup billed as “The Adam & Eve Comedy Showcase.”

This show features: Headliner Dan Martin (RI) Hosted by: Doug Collins Featuring: Jenna Lynn, Ben Roberts, John Culpepper, Ali Simpson, Angela Merrill, Joe Deshaine performing wearing nothing but fig leaves.

The show is at 11 p.m. and doors are at 10:30. Cover is $11

 

ICYMI

Port of Portland in line for $7.7 million federal grant, to double capacity — Darren Fishell reports: “Federal transportation officials have selected the port of Portland to receive $7.7 million for upgrades Maine’s congressional delegation said will double the output capacity for the port.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it picked the $15.4 million project as part of a program created in 2015 to fund freight rail and highway projects.

“Maine Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt said the funding will increase efficiency and productivity at the port, where Icelandic shipping company Eimskip relocated in 2013.”

Trump, Sanders and Clinton still owe Portland money for rallies — Mike Shepherd reports: “The three candidates have been billed a combined $2,618.01 by the Portland Police Department for overtime labor costs connected to rallies in Portland.

“That’s led by Trump, who was billed $1,583.81. Sanders was billed $771.61 and Clinton $262.59. Trump and Sanders appeared there in March ahead of the state’s caucuses, while Clinton held a rally there in September.

“Portland spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said those bills were sent in late March and early April and haven’t been paid yet. It’s a small amount of money, but it illustrates the difficult arrangement between cities and campaigns. Many cities have been incurring heavy costs from Trump rallies, according to a Bloomberg review.”

The East End is getting a new independent bookstore — Emily Russo — Maine author Richard Russo’s daughter — and Josh Christie are opening a new bookstore in the old Angela Adams space on Congress Street. The new owners tell the Press Herald that Richard Russo “will interview first-time authors at Print as part of its author series.”

The Brooklynites are coming! — JK, they’re already here. 

Big ideas

Immigration worries are mostly about security — Vox’s  Matthew Yglesias lays out the results of a recent national poll: “Voters express a range of concerns about immigration to the United States, but according to new polling done in partnership with Vox by Morning Consult, a nonpartisan media and technology company, concerns about physical security — crime and terrorism — are more important than concerns about jobs and the economy.

“Complementary to that analysis, Americans’ views about immigration differ substantially according to where the immigrants are from; immigrants from Europe and Asia are viewed much more positively than immigrants from Africa and Latin America, and immigrants from the Middle East are viewed least positively of all. The poll also shows that this dynamic is heavily influenced by the specific views of white Americans — while black and Hispanic Americans evaluate the impact of European and Latin American immigrants similarly, for example, white Americans are much more enthusiastic about immigration from Europe than from Latin America.”

Want people to eat healthier? Support farmers, local food programs — BDN’s editorial board argues: “Numerous groups are working hard, using federal and private funds, to increase access to healthy, locally grown food — which, by the way, can also improve the health of the Maine economy by boosting sales from the state’s farmers. If the governor is truly concerned with improving the eating habits of Mainers, poor or not, he’d tout these efforts in his frequent town hall meetings and include some state funding for them in his budget proposals.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.