Portlanders don’t seem to love the mural of LePage dressed as a Klansman

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, where we’re revving back up after a peaceful, labor-free weekend. Here’s what’s up.

What we’re talking about

This is one caricature of the governor that might have gone too far.

Some residents of Maine’s liberal stronghold are uncomfortable with the latest denunciation of Gov. Paul LePage: a mural in the East End depicting the governor dressed in the robes and hood of a Ku Klux Klan leader.

The likeness of the governor appears next to the text, “Dump LePage,” on a publicly owned wall that the city has sanctioned for use by graffiti artists. The city says that the mural does not constitute hate speech and is therefore protected under the First Amendment.

But the mural is rubbing some the wrong way.

“I called the Portland Water District general manager and asked him to take this down,” Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling wrote on Facebook. “The Ku Klux Klan has a long, deep and terrible history in Maine. As much as we are all infuriated by the governor’s statements, equating his language to the systemic terrorism and murder grand wizards inflicted upon African Americans (and Catholics) trivializes the KKK. I said the same thing to the Governor when he equated the IRS to the Gestapo. There is no comparison and making one is a bridge too far.”

The Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization today offered to provide volunteers to remove the mural, which appears along Eastern Promenade Trail on the wall in front of the wastewater plant.

“It seems a stretch too far to allow … bikers, joggers, walkers and children to suffer the glaring, scary image of an enormous Ku Klux Klansman, regardless of who’s face is depicted wearing it,” Jay Norris, the organization’s president, wrote in an email to the Portland Police Department.

Art on the city-sanctioned graffiti wall changes regularly and a city spokeswoman told us that there are no rules governing what is put up there.

“It probably won’t be staying there very long,” one Portlander told BDN Portland’s Troy R. Bennett. “He’ll be gone in a couple weeks probably.” — Jake Bleiberg

ICYMI

Strimling wants to make a company hire locals before it can get a tax break — David Harry of the Forecaster reports on “the mayor’s intention to attach strings to city financial aid for an expansion of biotech company Immucell.”

Basically, the mayor wants to add amendments to a tax increment financing agreement that would do the following, according to Harry:

“One amendment requires all people hired to be paid wages and benefits defined by prevailing state or city laws.

“A second amendment requires 25 percent of the project work hours to be filled by city residents who have lived in Portland at least 30 days. It also stipulates the 25 percent of the project work hours be filled by members of ‘protected classes,’ as defined by the Maine Human Rights Act, or people considered disadvantaged.”

Longtime LePage foe launches effort to remove him — Christopher Cousins reports: “Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship, who co-sponsored a failed attempt to impeach LePage in January, has asked Dunlap to invoke a provision in the Maine Constitution — Article 5, Section 15 — that is designed to remove a governor in extreme circumstances when it is believed the governor is unable to fulfill his or her official duties. The process has never been used.”

A water main break means residents on three islands have to boil their water before consuming it — The Portland Water District issued the order Monday night for Cushing, Little Diamond and Peaks islands, the Press Herald reported: “Customers have been cautioned to boil water for one minute at a rolling boil before drinking, making ice cubes, washing food, brushing teeth or any other activity that involved consuming water, according to water district officials. Boiling water kills bacteria and other organisms that could potentially be in the water.” 

The Big Idea

The Maine work ethic is real. We work the longest hours in New England. — From Darren Fishell’s analysis published on Labor Day:

Maine people work longer hours on average than the rest of New England, but our paychecks buy us far less, federal figures show. …

But this holiday weekend, inspired by the labor movement, Maine workers’ long hours are not necessarily a cause for celebration. Here, the money we earn for weekend adventures doesn’t go as far as in many other places.

While federal surveys of employers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Mainers work longer hours, our paychecks are estimated to have among the lowest actual purchasing power, according to a Bangor Daily News analysis.


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.