A Portland lawyer’s Uber lawsuit landed him at the center of a private investigation

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Here’s what’s new.

What we’re talking about

Darren Fishell just filed this story laying out new details surrounding the anti-trust lawsuit against Uber, which a Portland lawyer is arguing:

In January, an employee at ridesharing giant Uber set his sights on Portland attorney Andrew Schmidt and his client, Spencer Meyer.

“I have a sensitive, very under the radar investigation that I need on an individual here in the U.S.,” wrote Mat Henley, Uber’s director of security, in an email to the corporate research firm Ergo.

The chain of emails unfurled previous claims that attorneys for Uber CEO Travis Kalanick didn’t know about the investigations into Meyer, who sued him personally in December, alleging violations of antitrust law in a potential class action.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York attempts to put Uber in a legal bind, arguing that if its employees are all independent contractors, then they should have more freedom to set their own prices.

Emails produced in the case have since indicated that Uber attorneys both knew about the investigations, and that investigators allegedly obtained information from friends and associates of both Meyer and his Portland-based attorney, Schmidt, by pretending to work on projects profiling both up-and-coming lawyers and conservationists.

Here’s the link to read more, including the documents.


Helping Maine’s beer business grow other industriesThis morning, 30 players, big and small, in the Maine craft brew scene got together to discuss how the state’s booming beer business can pour over into other sectors. Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewer’s Guild, told Colin Ellis of The Forecaster that the industry is worth close to $500 million and growing. And brewers from around the state think it could help lift the numerous other industries that facilitate beer production — like hops farming.

U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, who spoke at the event, was enthusiastic about the potential for beer to stimulate the economy, even though her own brewing hasn’t gone so well.

“We used to make ‘home brew’ when I was a back-to-the-lander in ’70s.  It wasn’t too good and blew tops off often,” Pingree told us through a spokesperson. — Jake

BONUS: Here’s an interactive map that BDN reporter Bill Trotter built showing all the breweries and brewpubs in the state.

How southern Maine companies are cashing in on your waste — Darren Fishell reports:

As a high-profile fight continues over waste management for 187 Bangor-area towns, a cluster of private businesses based in southern Maine are finding success carving out smaller niches within recycling programs here and, increasingly, elsewhere.

The bottle redemption center operator Clynk announced last month that it will double its footprint by expanding to 51 Hannaford stores in New York by the end of the year. It will serve those centers with a new recycling plant in Scotia, New York.

Earlier this year, Biddeford entrepreneur and Democratic state Rep. Marty Grohman launched the subscription-based Hellocycle that sends customers boxes they can use to mail in small and hard-to-recycle items.

And this summer, the Portland curbside composting startup Garbage to Garden scooped up cash in business pitch contests. In June, it won $100,000 from Greenlight Maine and $10,000 in services at a Gorham Savings Bank contest, during which founder Tyler Frank said the company grew revenue about 40 percent in 2015 and that it would use additional funding to support an expansion to the Boston area.

All three companies are part of a trend in private companies finding opportunity on the edges of the waste stream, where Clynk founder and CEO Clayton Kyle said there’s still a lot of room to grow.

“The waste story in this country is still the Wild West,” Kyle said. “There is a lot of opportunity and a lot of things that we can do better given the technology and economic strength of this country.”

Speaking of which, here’s what happens to the cans you drop off at Clynk — As Troy points out, “there’s a fair amount of automation, but it’s still a hands-on, and slightly sticky operation.”

Portland’s Arabic community mourns the victims of the Baghdad terror attack — WCSH reports: “Attendee Raghda Salman said that when she heard of the bombings, she ‘cried a lot.’ She added, ‘But the things is, I’m used to it. I want to send a message to the people of my country. The Iraqi people. I wish that you become more united. And leave all the hate and racism away and become one country and fight for your country against the bad people.’”

Here’s what’s happening with that plan to open an office for new Mainers in Portland — David Harry of The Forecaster reports that the City Council’s Economic Development Committee will make its recommendation to the full council in December after a couple more meetings this fall — including a public hearing in September.

“I think we are at a point where we have to talk further with folks in the various immigrant refugee and asylee communities,” Councilor David Brenneman told him.

At the first public hearing, Seth Koenig reported that the idea to create an office for new Mainers was had plenty of fans, but there was some criticism:

“Opponents told the committee creating an Office of New Americans could nonetheless be a big slap in the face to a bunch of people: Community leaders already working with immigrants and refugees; underserved minorities who feel like they’re getting leapfrogged in the city’s priority list; and many immigrants themselves who bristled at the label ‘New Americans’ and said the notion they couldn’t succeed here without special treatment is patronizing.”

What do you think about the idea?

Double ICYMI: Read Seth’s part of last year’s BDN project, #TheEconomyProject, which recommended the kind of program Portland is talking about.

No one stole Portland’s porcupine this time — The Press Herald reports that the sculpture is safe and sound after someone reported its attempted theft. It was loose from the base, but not actually missing, and the city said. “The staff went out to look, and it looked like the back of the porcupine had just came loose,” City Spokeswoman Jessica Grondin told the paper. “It didn’t look like any harm had come to it or that anyone had jostled with it.” The original sculpture was snatched earlier this year from its home at the Portland International  Jetport. It was replaced by the current sculpture in May.

Big ideas

Police show racial bias, just not when it comes to shooting people, a new study found — From The New York Times: “A new study confirms that black men and women are treated differently in the hands of law enforcement. They are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police.

“But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.

“‘It is the most surprising result of my career,’ said Roland G. Fryer Jr., the author of the study and a professor of economics at Harvard. The study examined more than a thousand shootings in 10 major police departments, in Texas, Florida and California.”

Dada’s 100th birthday is this week — Yet art still lives.

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 managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.