Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. For no real reason — besides the fact that it’s Friday afternoon — here are a bunch of pictures of animals that look like rockstars.
What we’re talking about
Eight places that shaped Portland’s African American history — As Black History Month draws to a close, Chloe Martin and Julie Larry of Greater Portland Landmarks review some of the historic sites of most importance to Portland’s black communities. Did you know that black Portlanders saved the Abyssinian Meeting House on Newbury Street from the great fire of 1866 by covering the the roof with wet blankets?
LePage to feds: Crack down on drugs — Gov. Paul LePage asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to increase prosecution of drug crimes and more actively pursue drug dealers, summarizing one part of LePage’s strategy in response to the opiate addiction crisis, the AP’s Marina Villeneuve reports. In a Jan. 26 letter, LePage told the former U.S. senator that slow federal prosecution is leaving the state to handle people who people who break “the most serious” federal laws and straining Maine’s legal resources. Out-of-state drug gangs are “decimating” Maine’s residents, the governor wrote. LePage’s letter, which was sent before Sessions was confirmed as attorney general, became public on the same day that the Maine Legislature’s budget committee unanimously approved a $29 million emergency spending package that includes funds for addiction treatment.
Why is Rep. Lawrence Lockman afraid of immigrants? — Catherine Besteman writes in the Press Herald on Lockman’s recent talk at the University of Southern Maine, where he address what he sees as Portland’s dangerously lenient policies toward immigration.
I agree that it’s important for government to provide safety and security for residents. But I cannot understand Lockman’s insistence that U.S. citizens should fear immigrants because some may be dangerous. More Americans are killed by white extremists than by foreign-born terrorists. More Americans are killed by animal attacks or heat waves than by foreign-born terrorists. Americans are more likely to be killed in a shark attack, by a lightning strike or by falling furniture than by a foreign-born terrorist.
The best bar in Maine, according to Yelp — It started out with mocktails and soon added the hard stuff. Now, Vena’s Fizz House in Portland is the best bar in Maine, according to Yelp. What’s your favorite Maine bar?
Who wants to buy an island? — Sturdivant Island in Casco Bay can be yours for a cool $1.75 million.
Tweet of the day
The Big Idea
A Swedish town might pay people to take sex breaks — Look, it’s for a good reason!
The town’s population is shrinking. So a councilman there came up with an idea: giving people an economic incentive to have sex.
Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old councilman from the northern town of Overtornea, wants to add to those benefits, by offering the municipality’s 550 employees the right to subsidized sex. In introducing his proposal this week, he told fellow members of the town council that it would give a nudge to the dwindling local population, add spice to aging marriages and improve employee morale.
The idea quickly got attention all over Sweden, where for at least some, it was a welcome distraction from President Trump’s vague reference to problems the country was having with immigration, which were strongly denied by baffled Swedes
There’s a parallel here to Maine, of course. Deaths outpaced births here last year and immigration has driven what little population growth we’ve seen. That matters because economists agree that Maine will face a shortage of workers in the coming years, as the current ones reach retirement age.
To be clear: I’m not calling for a bill that would enforce paid time off to drive up the population. Not yet, anyway.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at email@example.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.