Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: The guy who hates the Environmental Protection Agency maybe more than anyone is now running it; a happy story; and a political scorecard says the City Council isn’t as progressive as you might think.
There’s no parking ban tonight, but look out for emergency “no parking” signs on narrow streets where the city is clearing snow. The city says you shouldn’t leave your car parked in the same place for more than 12 hours, since it will be moving those signs around this weekend.
What we’re talking about
Ellen Degeneres gives a Portland teacher a check to pay off student loans — Casco Bay High School English teacher Ekhlas Ahmed said she learned the language that she now teaches partially by watching “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” after coming to Maine as a Sudanese refugee. And Ahmed recently got to meet her teacher when she appeared as a guest on DeGeneres’ show. But that’s not all she got. The TV host was so inspired by Ahmed’s story of perseverance that she arranged to have her college debt paid. — Jake Bleiberg
Don’t drink the water on Munjoy Hill (before boiling it) — After a water main break on Preble Street last night, the Portland Water District says everyone should still boil water before consuming it. The earliest it will lift the order is 11:30 p.m., it says.
Here’s a photo of a moose standing on a car in Millinocket — No explanation needed.
Goodbye Asylum, hello Aura — Nearing completion of a $9.1 million expansion, the new five-room,1,000-person capacity venue — double that of the old club — will also serve as an event space for weddings and small-scale conventions. New high-end touches like green rooms with private bathrooms and showers will help to attract bigger acts owners says.
Dwight Yoakam is slated for May 7 and glam rocker Bret Michaels takes the stage the next day. Jimmy Eat World barrels in May 11 and blues great Buddy Guy croons Aug. 19 followed by country star Wynonna Judd on Sept. 30. — Kathleen Pierce
Portland could be *more* progressive, group says — Political operative Steven Biel’s group, Progressive Portland (background here), ranked each of last year’s city councilors on a scale of how progressive he or she was. Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling scored the highest, with 83 percent. Former at-large Councilor Jon Hinck — whom Biel worked to unseat to elect Pious Ali — scored second-highest, with 78 percent. City government veteran Ed Suslovic, who lost to 25-year-old Brian Batson in the election, came in last, with 37 percent.
Lockman met with protests at USM — More than 100 protesters met Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus Thursday as he delivered a speech, rich with graphic descriptions of criminal and terrorist violence, claiming that Portland’s welcoming policies toward immigrants are endangering Mainers. The talk came at a moment of deep anxiety in left-leaning Portland, and especially in its large immigrant community, which has been put on edge by President Donald Trump’s order temporarily banning immigration from seven majority Muslim countries and recent raids by immigration officials across the country. — Jake Bleiberg
Tweet of the day
The Big Idea
A border wall won’t stop heroin from coming to Maine — The BDN editorial board writes:
No matter what blockades are put up, people will keep finding ways to smuggle heroin into the United States if someone at the end of the journey is willing to pay. Even with all the security surrounding airplanes, for instance, border officials seized more than 800 pounds of heroin at airports in 2014.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.