‘You can’t arrest away all the issues’

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, where our ears are still ringing from last night’s Fishbone show at Port City Music Hall. Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re talking about

Last Wednesday afternoon, a short, tan woman in a bright pink tank top stood at the edge of an empty parking lot one block west of the Oxford Street Shelter. She was alone and bent double at the waist, teetering and twitching sporadically — high on Spice, according to Portland Police Officer Daniel Knight. The drug, marketed as a synthetic form of marijuana, has become the go-to drug in West Bayside for many seeking relief from opioid withdrawal.

Knight watched the woman with visible frustration for a few minutes and then moved on, leaving her to sway alone.

A big part of Knight’s job is deciding when some good can come from enforcing the law. Earlier in the day he’d made an arrest, confiscating dozens of dime bags full of weed, a few pills of a drug called Molly, and a thick wad of bills. But Knight often doesn’t see much use in arresting someone struggling with addiction who will just spend a night in jail and be back in on the street using the very next day.

“We can’t arrest away a problem like this,” said Knight. “You can’t arrest away all the issues.”

Knight, who has been patrolling West Bayside for nearly 10 years, shared his perspective on policing in a part of the city where the visual signs of addiction are obvious.

Jake Bleiberg spent some time with Knight as the city tries to address longstanding quality of life problems in the neighborhood using a variety of methods — from better lighting and street sweeping to more police patrols and outreach.

In his story today, he writes:

Over the past 15 years, as shelters in other parts of the city have closed, populations of homeless people and those suffering from addiction have become increasingly concentrated in the two-and-a-half-block stretch between the Preble Street Center and the Oxford Street Shelter.

But the area is also home to families, many of them recent immigrants, whose children walk to school through the neighborhood. And developments are planned nearby, which puts “more pressure on the city to rein in the activities that are going on,” in West Bayside, according to Steve Hirshon, president of the Bayside Neighborhood Association.

Now, Portland is trying to address some of the neighborhood’s problems, with a new program, even as some question whether its plan will only scratch the surface.

ICYMI

Documents reveal Freeport man fought and died for Islamic State — Scott Dolan and Megan Doyle of the Press Herald report: ‘An Iranian man who came to Maine as a refugee in 2009 became radicalized in his Islamic faith while living here and was fighting for the Islamic State when he was killed last year in Lebanon, according to newly unsealed federal court documents.’

Inside the Portland bakery that’s been making bread for nearly 70 years — Kathleen Pierce writes:

To see Stephen Mathews in action, who co-runs the bakery with his brother Bob Mathews, is to see someone earn his living by the sweat of his brow.

“It’s very demanding,” said Stephen Mathews, who works 13-hour days and gets an average of three hours of sleep per night.

How does he do it?

“Coffee,” he said, pointing to an ever-present travel mug.

During the summer, when restaurants from Taste of Maine to DiMillo’s are at their peak, so is Botto’s. Before the night is through, 500 loaves of Italian bread, 500 loaves of deli bread, 800 dozen sub rolls and 300 dozen hamburger rolls are baked.

Come morning, supermarkets and restaurants from Woolwich to Biddeford, about 200 wholesale customers in total, receive a fresh Botto’s bounty.

The painter in Congress Square would finish faster if you’d stop asking so many questions — Painter, illustrator and teacher Kerrin Parkinson is one of five artists chosen by Portland’s Public Art Committee to spruce up the plain, black utility boxes dotting the city.

Today, Parkinson touched up her creation in Congress Square while being peppered with questions from people passing by.

She took each interruption in stride, saying making art in public — for the public — was like a musician playing in front of an audience. See Troy Bennett’s photos here.

The second part of the city’s tour of aging schools is next week — On Monday, Portlanders will have the opportunity to tour Reiche and Longfellow schools, two of the four elementary schools where city councilors and Board of Education members are pondering how to fund renovations. The tour will begin at Reiche, 166 Brackett St., at 5 p.m.

It follows a visit by city leaders to Presumpscot and Lyseth Elementary schools earlier in the month, where the school principals pointed to variety of facilities problems, including double-wide trailers that have been used as classrooms for years. You see see photos from that visit here.

The Big Idea

Your political posts on Facebook are probably less effective than you think — You can write all the open letters you want — your Facebook friends are likely not swayed by the political opinions you share, according to a survey.   


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

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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.