City Council meetings are getting weird

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: an interpretive dancer arguably improved a City Council meeting by pretending to throw up on someone; the women’s strike is tomorrow; and LePage is no fan of the GOP’s Obamacare alternative.

What we’re talking about


Great City Council meeting, or greatest City Council meeting? — This video, featuring an interpretive dancer opening Monday’s City Council meeting, is proof that Portland is still a great city (watch from 4:10 to 9:00).

As the Press Herald’s Randy Billings reports, the climax of the dance performance by Sarah Juli — who was opening the proceedings as part of Mayor Ethan Strimling’s “Arts in the Chamber” initiative — came when she climbed on the lap of a man who was there to be appointed to the zoning board of appeals, and pretended to throw up on him:

After that episode, Juli looked [Robert Bartels] in the eyes and said, “I’m so sorry.” Then she ran to the side of the room, next to a police officer, and kept repeating [“Have you ever tried so hard to do something that it paralyzed you?”] with a quickened pace until it turned into gibberish.

She ended with a loud scream. And then took a bow.

What you need to know about Wednesday’s women’s strike — Kathleen Pierce reports:

Following last month’s A Day Without Immigrants, this week’s A Day Without A Woman is billed as “a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity,” in the U.S., and is organized by the same group that spearheaded the Jan. 21 marches across the country to stand up to the Trump administration.

Women are encouraged to take a day off from doing any work — including shopping — and wearing red in solidarity.

Related: ‘Why I’m not participating in the women’s strike’ — Here’s what Cara Courchesne has to say about the event:

I have no doubt that A Day Without A Woman will be somewhat effective — it already is. I’m not questioning the potential ends. I’m questioning the means. If a political action is only accessible to those who can afford it, we need to change our approach.

I want a movement that lends a voice and enables participation for everyone, not just (mostly) white professional women who can take a vacation day.

If our goal is to disrupt the economy and give voice to people who don’t have privileges like mine, we can’t continue to do it on the backs of — and at the expense of — women who can’t participate.

LePage ripped the GOP health plan this morning …“Right now I am very, very discouraged and disappointed with what House Republicans are introducing,” Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday during a radio interview on WVOM. “We don’t know what the cost is, but based on what I see and I’m reading and what has happened over the last 15 years, I don’t think it’s an improvement. I think we’re punting the ball, is what we’re doing.”

… and later, he sent a letter to TrumpMichael Shepherd reports:

Gov. Paul LePage doubled down on opposition to the proposed health care plan from Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, sending a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan to inform him that “early signs do not look encouraging” for his party’s congressional leaders.

The letter, which was forwarded to Trump and published on Tuesday afternoon by the news arm of the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, is indicative of a wider conservative split on the plan and puts the governor at odds with President Donald Trump on policy in the first high-profile way since the president took office.

ICYMI — Portland’s first winter beer-and-music festival was appropriately cold.

‘Why Portland, Maine, Is the Next Tech Hot Spot’ — WEX executive Nicola Morris pitches Portland as tech hub. Her company — which pulled in $1 billion in revenue last year — is located in South Portland.

Tweet of the day

From @SMLXist:

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 6.11.30 PM

The Big Idea

‘Wikileaks: The CIA is using popular TVs, smartphones and cars to spy on their owners’ — Alarming story of the day from the Washington Post:

The latest revelations about U.S. government’s powerful hacking tools potentially takes surveillance right into the homes and hip pockets of billions of users worldwide, showing how a remarkable variety of everyday devices can be turned to spy on their owners.

Televisions, smartphones and Internet-connected vehicles are all vulnerable to CIA hacking, according to the Wikileaks documents released Tuesday. The capabilities described include recording the sounds, images and the private text messages of users, even when they use encrypted apps to communicate. The CIA also studied whether it could infect vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks, which Wikileaks said could allow “nearly undetectable assassinations.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.