A high school band has driven two Portland politicians to socialism

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Then-mayoral candidate Tom MacMillan speaks at a debate in the University of Southern Maine's Hannaford Hall in 2015. (File photo by Troy R. Bennett)

Then-mayoral candidate Tom MacMillan speaks at a debate in the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in 2015. (File photo by Troy R. Bennett)

A high school band has driven two Portland politicians to socialism —  A high school band’s performance at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration has struck the wrong chord with some on Maine’s far left.

Tom MacMillan, a 2015 candidate for Portland mayor, and Seth Baker, who lost a November bid to represent the city in the state Senate, say they’re leaving the Maine Green Independent Party because a party leader will be attending the presidential inauguration.

Instead of sticking with a party that “is unwilling to keep its own leadership in line,” MacMillan said he and Baker would be joining the Socialist Party, which is not currently on the ballot in Maine.

“That was the last straw,” said MacMillan. “It’s really a betrayal of values.”

The thing is, Green Secretary Ben Meiklejohn says he isn’t going for political reasons. He’s a music teacher and director of the Madawaska school band, which was invited to perform in the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Concert” at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 19. Trump will be sworn in the following day.

“The students are really excited,” said Meiklejohn, who served on the Portland school board from 2001 to 2007. “I think it would be an injustice to deny them the opportunity they would get because of my political views.”

The idea that Meiklejohn is doing his job and providing his students with what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity didn’t satisfy MacMillan. He said the performance is “normalizing something that should never be normalized” and pointed to other bands that have refused to play inaugural events. — Jake Bleiberg

A group of Portland singers organized a street choir to perform at protests — The Portland Street Choir is a“ breakaway mobile unit of the more established singing group The Phoenix Chorale. Conceived before the election, the ad-hoc a cappella ensemble formed to add harmonic heft to marches, vigils and human rights protests,” Kathleen Pierce writes.

Cookies for a cause — More than 15 chefs and bakers from greater Portland are donating baked goods on inauguration day to raise dough for Planned Parenthood. The owner of Little Giant, Briana Volk, launched Friday’s cookie drive on Facebook today. The goal is to raise $6,000 by selling $40 boxes of “badass treats.” Cookies from Aurora Provisions, to Tandem Bakery to the brand new Congress Street eatery LB Kitchen, will be baked in the name of health care for all. All the money raised will go directly to Maine’s Planned Parenthood health centers. — Kathleen Pierce

TOMORROW: The South Portland Police Department is holding an open meeting to discuss its plan to outfit officers with body cameras. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the police department, 30 Anthoine St. Here’s Jake Bleiberg’s explanation of its policy around the new technology.

Netflix and no chill — Among the many proposed tax changes in LePage’s budget is a 6 percent tax on digital subscription services, like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify.

Darren Fishell reports:

The governor’s budget proposal reaches further into the digital realm, too, requiring rental platforms such as Airbnb to collect taxes for Maine rentals booked through what the budget bill defines as a ” transient rental platform.” The budget separately raises the lodging tax to 10 percent, from 9 percent.

[The proposal] extends a push by the state and federal government to capture revenue from online retail sales. A 2013 state law broadened the state’s power to collect tax from such retailers.

Future Red Sox stars will stay in Portland until at least 2020The Portland Sea Dogs and Boston Red Sox announced the extension of their player development contract for an additional two years. With the extension, the Dogs will continue as the Sox’s Double-A Eastern League affiliate through the 2020 season. — Troy R. Bennett

Portland novelist says he’s been gentrified off Munjoy Hill — In Downeast Magazine, writer Ron Currie Jr., author of “God is Dead” and “Everything Matters,” laments how economic changes in the city forced him into exile in Libbytown. “The young artists and cooks and dog walkers are being weeded out. Ever more yupsters and slick urban types prowl the brick sidewalks, and ever more hyper-modern architecture dominates sightlines,” writes Currie. — Troy R. Bennett

Tweet of the day

From John Hodgman:

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The Big Idea

Scientists say the northeast U.S. will warm 50 percent faster than the rest of the planet — That’s based on a new study from  University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which also found that “the United States will reach a 2 degree Celsius warming 10–20 years before the globe as a whole,” according to the Guardian.


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.