Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: Russia has not annexed Falmouth; you can still get a Valentine’s Day reservation; and how fortune tellers feel about a potential tax on their services. There’s no parking ban tonight, but city offices aren’t opening until 9 a.m. tomorrow.
What we’re talking about
Someone planted a Russian flag off Martin’s Point — Jake Bleiberg writes:
The Russian flag replaced the stars and stripes that flew from a small flagpole erected in an old, submerged bridge piling in the Presumpscot River estuary, just west of the Martin’s Point Bridge.
The flagpole is on the Falmouth side of the border, but it’s not maintained by the town, and neither local officials nor police knew where the new flag had come from or when it appeared there. Falmouth police said they are not investigating the Russian presence in Maine water, since it’s not a crime.
York County casino question to appear on Maine’s 2017 ballot — Michael Shepherd reports:
A $4 million signature-gathering effort that took nearly a year to complete has succeeded, letting Maine voters decide in November whether to allow a controversial developer to open a new casino in York County.
Now the second Maine referendum effort in 14 years linked to Virgin Islands developer Shawn Scott, who made $51 million by selling the rights in 2003 to what became Hollywood Casino in Bangor, will likely move into a public phase after saying almost nothing about the effort so far.
Forgot to make Valentine’s Day reservations? We’ve got your back — Dining out on Feb. 14 is kinda cliche, but is also part of the glue that holds relationships together — romance! From bustling bistros on Munjoy Hill to sprawling Italian emporiums in the Old Port, several Portland hotspots still have tables at the ready. But don’t drag your feet. Valentine’s Day is the Super Bowl of dining out and the coziest of nooks in Maine’s tastiest city are going fast. — Kathleen Pierce
LePage wants to tax psychic readings. Fortune tellers didn’t see it coming — Kathleen reports: “Psychics are paid to peer into the future, but few local clairvoyants saw this one in the tea leaves: Tucked into Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget is a 5.5 percent tax on psychic readings.”
USM students plan ‘SlutWalk’ — Riding the momentum of last weekend’s Women’s March, two University of Southern Maine sophomores are planning a sexual assault protest called SlutWalk. The international movement challenges the notion that women should dress conservatively or fall prey to rape. Students Molly Roberts and Emma Donnelly, both 19, have created a Facebook page, are securing permits and looking for organizations to support them in the April event. “Trump is very disrespectful to women and wants to cut women’s violence programs and is a perpetrator of sexual violence,” said Donnelly, adding “this would have happened regardless because sexual violence will be an issue either way.” — Kathleen Pierce
The cocktail party syndrome of the southern Maine Republican — Lance Dutson writes:
If you happen to be a moderate Republican in southern Maine, you know what I’m talking about.
You go to some type of social gathering and hope to God no one asks you about politics. As you hear the left-leaning din of conversation spread around the room, you start to sweat nervously, and you start practicing evasion techniques in your head.
It’s not that you’re embarrassed of your belief system, but you know that identifying as a Republican in Maine brings with it a whole truckload of baggage.
Portland firefighters part of the Patriots AFC Championship win — The Portland Fire Department honor guard was on the field in Foxborough last night as part of the pre-game ceremonies at the AFC Championship game. Firefighter Travis Gibson, Lt. Todd Libby, Lt. Todd Zsiga and Firefighter Tyler Nash represented the city in dress uniforms. The department posted pictures on Facebook. — Troy R. Bennett
Lock your car doors — Portland police say they’ve seen an uptick in car burglaries. “Side streets and parking lots off of Brighton Avenue between Stevens Avenue and Riverside Street have been targeted over the last two weeks,” the department said on Facebook. “Most of the crimes involved unlocked vehicles being entered. In a few cases wallets or other valuable items were left in plain sight and the windows were broken to gain entry.”
And three vehicles have been stolen from the Oakdale and Woodfords neighborhoods in the last two weeks, it said. In those cases, the owners left spare keys inside, with the doors unlocked.
Tweet of the day
The Big Idea
‘Trump just reinstated the global gag rule. It won’t stop abortion, but it will make it less safe.’ — Vox lays out the concerns around this rule, which is repealed and reinstated basically every time a new party takes control of the White House.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.