Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. It’s time for our evening review of everything that happened today. Grab a drink.
What we’re talking about
More than 1,000 rally outside City Hall against Trump’s immigration ban — Shouting “no hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here,” more than a thousand people gathered outside City Hall Wednesday night to rally against President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking entry to the U.S. for refugees from seven majority Muslim nations.
Everyone from the daughters of Pakistani immigrants to Somali teenagers to Iraqi businesses owners to the mayor of the city turned out to protest for one hour in the cold February air.
“During World War II, quotas kept Jewish people out of this country. What I am seeing today is the same injustice to our Muslim brothers and sisters,” attorney Jeffrey Neil Young told the crowd. “Today I speak as a Jew … We must keep the door open.”
Organized by University of Southern Maine student Hamdia Ahmed, the rally was originally scheduled for last Friday, but because of an anticipated high turnout, it was postponed to ensure the event was safe.
Educator Timothy P Wilson, director of Seeds of Peace, took to the podium to rail against the Ku Klux Klan, which he said was active in 1966 when he taught in Dexter. “That was 50 years ago and we are still fighting the same dumb stuff,” he said.
Pointing to the crowd of immigrants, he assured them: “This is home. You belong in Maine. You came here to have a home.” — Kathleen Pierce
Black Lives Matter protesters may again face charges — Jake Bleiberg reports that the meeting between police and the 17 adult Black Lives Matter protesters arrested for blocking traffic last summer during a rally fell apart when the two sides couldn’t agree on logistics.
Protesters could not agree with police and prosecutors Wednesday over whether the conversation should be held in a single large session or two separate ones. The clash casts doubt on what would likely have been the first time a restorative justice process was used to resolve a civil disobedience case in Maine.
There may be another attempt at similar session, according to Ackerman. But the deputy district attorney also said she is prepared to move forward with prosecuting the protesters.
Short-term rental hosts allegedly offer to give $10,000 to the city — A group of short-term rental hosts who have been advocating against strict regulation of services like AirBNB offered the city a “$10,000 investment,” hinted at the possibility of donating up to $100,000 a year toward a “deserving city cause,” and suggested the money might be a hedge against future regulation, the Forecaster’s David Harry reports.
“It is going to be hard to do that to us if we are raising a lot of money for some deserving city cause,” Share Portland’s Ken Thomas reportedly wrote in an email to City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau. David reports that Maine Attorney General Janet Mills looked into the matter and found “no basis for a criminal investigation at this time,” her spokesman said. — Jake Bleiberg
Business leaders worry Trump’s ban will hurt the economy — The concern is that the need for skilled workers will only get worse if it’s harder to immigrants to come here, the Portland Press Herald’s J. Craig Anderson reports.
Maine’s need for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — or STEM — workers is expected to rise sharply in the coming years, according to the state Department of Labor. The number of science- and technology-related jobs is expected to increase at nearly three times the rate for all occupations and account for nearly half of expected net job growth. Maine policymakers expect many of those jobs to be filled by highly skilled foreign workers.
It’s worth going back and reading Seth Koenig’s big piece on this issue from December 2015.
Susan Collins opposes Trump’s education secretary nominee DeVos — Michael Shepherd reports: “U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday that she’ll oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, withholding a confirmation vote for Betsy DeVos that could place her nomination in jeopardy.”
A new group in Portland wants to make it easier to get healthy food — Kathleen reports: “Reducing food insecurity, maintaining a resilient fishing industry and increasing the production of healthier food citywide is the starting point for the 15-member Portland Food Council, which officially launched Monday night at Fork Food Lab. Formed out of former mayor Michael Brennan’s past local food initiative, a cross section of food advocates, city councilors, non-profits, chefs, grocers and just plain eaters gathered to toast the joint mission.”
This son of an Portland immigrant bartender won six Oscars — John Ford, born Sean Feeney on Feb. 1, 1894, crafted more than 140 films and won a record four Academy Awards for directing. He’s remembered today as one of the greatest filmmakers to ever look through a camera lens. — Troy R. Bennett
Maine’s LGBTQ community concerned about a potentially stormy future — Meg Haskell writes: “[A]s an advocate, [Jess St. Louis] said the divisive presidential campaign, the rise of extreme social conservatism and the loss of basic civility threatens recent progress in social acceptance and legal protections for transgender people and other members of the LGBTQ community. And while the changes threaten all LGBTQ people, she said, the potential impact on transgender people is different.”
What (maybe) was overheard after hours at the museum — The Portland Museum of Art posted a video on Facebook this week imagining two pieces of sculpture razzing each other over their wardrobes. The video appears ahead of the museum’s grand reopening on Friday after weeks of being shuttered while it did renovations. The museum says there will be 20 percent more art on view, including the special exhibition, “The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.” — Troy R. Bennett
Tweet of the day
The Big Idea
‘To Keep Their Artists, Cities Explore Affordable Housing’ — Pew lays out an essential question for cities like Portland: “How do you stimulate and preserve your city’s culture when artists and musicians can no longer afford to live there?”
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.