Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, where we mostly just tried to avoid getting blown off the face of the earth by today’s crazy wind:
Here are 5 things to do this weekend
First Friday Art Walk — Get out and get culture. Lincoln Park is all aglow tomorrow night, several performances of MacBeth pop up all over town and St. Lawrence Arts hosts the work of painter Brian Killeen. There’s a show featuring art made with seaweed at PhoPa Gallery on Washington Avenue, and, as always, the Portland Museum of Art is free. Here’s the First Friday rundown.
Hot dogs at Tandem — Frankfurters at a coffee shop? Must almost be spring. Tandem Coffee and Bakery supplies your First Friday Art Walk fuel to go. The Congress Street cafe will be “cranking the heat and blasting the Beach Boys, and slinging Hawaiian dogs, kraut dogs, potato salad, beer, beer cocktails, and more” Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. Who needs coffee? 742 Congress St., Portland.
Who’s the best mixologist in town? — Maine Restaurant Week is in full swing and Friday’s cocktail competition at Sonny’s toasts the 9th annual event in style. Bartenders Jeremiah Davis of Local 188, Kit Paschal, former Roustabout owner (now at Union at the Press Hotel), Seth Fogg of The Cumberland Club, John Watson at Top of the East and Caitlin Hula of The Tiller at the Cliff House in Ogunquit duke it out. You sip, then vote. Goes from 3 to 5 p.m. Sonny’s Restaurant, 83 Exchange St. Tickets are $35.
Sunaana takes over Thompson’s Point — Want to rock out in a warehouse, sip craft beer and dance all day and night? Of course you do. It’s the first annual Sunaana music and beer fest. Hear local bands like The Very Reverend, SoPo rapper Dylan Raw and international groups such as Mammut as you sample suds from more than 20 craft breweries. Sounds like Saturday is covered. Goes from 1 p.m. to midnight. Get tickets, $45, here.
Irish trivia night — Get up to speed on your Irish history and learn a few limericks while you’re at it. The Irish American Club of Maine is priming you for Saint Patrick’s Day, two weeks away. Test your Emerald Isle knowledge Sunday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray St.
— Kathleen Pierce
What we’re talking about
Longfellow Books gets political — Startled by the Trump administration’s policies, Longfellow Books owner Ari Gersen is reconsidering the role of a local bookstore, Kathleen reports. Starting with this week’s First Friday Art Walk, the bookstore will be hosting discussions about political action and activism in the Trump age. “This is about people feeling unsafe. This is about people not wanting to go to school because they are afraid they will get deported, people missing classes in college, about Jewish cemeteries getting vandalized,” said Gersen. — Jake Bleiberg
Groups aim to bring hockey back to Portland — The Cross Insurance Arena has received four different proposals to bring a hockey team back to Portland, the Press Herald’s Glenn Jordan reports. The groups are looking to install a minor league team at the arena to replace the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates who were sold last May and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. All the unnamed groups are reportedly looking to bring in teams from the lesser ECHL league. The arena’s Strategic Development Committee will meet next week to review the proposals. — Jake Bleiberg
Maine doctor finds a way around soaring EpiPen prices — Dr. Cathleen London, who runs a family practice in Washington County, was disgusted when she heard that the makers of the EpiPen were raising the price of the epinephrine injector to $600 for a two-pack BDN’s Jackie Farwell reports. So the Downeast doctor decided to do something about it. After some Googling and fiddling with the injectors, London devised a way to make her own refillable version of the life-saving device. The price tag: $50 for the injector, and $2.50 for a refill. — Jake Bleiberg
Tweet of the day
Mike Huckabee wins today for his mistaken horror reference:
The Big Idea
12,198 calls to Maine’s child abuse hotline went unanswered last year — Erin Rhoda’s story today is a must read.
The state’s child abuse hotline wasn’t able to answer about 1,000 calls per month on average last year, increasing the possibility of injuries to children that otherwise could have been prevented.
Every year, people place about 55,000 calls to a statewide hotline, available 24 hours a day, because they suspect a child in Maine is being abused or neglected. Those initial calls set in motion a process that may result in an investigation and intervention in the lives of families.
The 1,000 unanswered calls per month are better than the 1,500 calls per month, on average, that weren’t answered on the first try the previous year, but Maine can still improve, according to a national expert.
Here’s a detail that jumped out at us:
In a document posted to a state website to back up its desire to spend nearly $700,000 on contracted workers to fill a gap in hotline staffing, the department described “near constant” vacancies, which were causing an average wait time of 68 minutes, with 40 percent of callers hanging up before their calls could be answered.
The numbers, however, were incorrect, said Martin, when the BDN asked about them.
“We can’t back those up at all. My staff, when they created that document, looked at the data and used it out of context,” Martin said. “It’s inaccurate, completely inaccurate.”
He added that the state’s system doesn’t even calculate average call wait times — only the longest wait time in a given day. The listed average wait time of 68 minutes “was pulled incorrectly off a report,” he said.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at email@example.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.