City Council set to vote on school bond

Good evening and happy spring from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight the city council is set to vote on borrowing money for school renovations; we’ve got James Phinney Baxter ‘s greatest hits; and beer is booming.

What we’re talking about

City council set to vote on the school renovation bond, or bonds — As you read this, the city council and residents are likely debating the wisdom of letting voters decide whether the city should borrow up to $64 million to renovate four of Portland’s aging elementary schools. The proposed school bond has been a hot-button political issue in Portland for more than a year and tonight councilors are expected decide what residents will get to vote on. There are three different bond proposals ranging from $24 million for work at mostly one school to the full $64 million for all four and voters could end up seeing some, one, or none of these options on a future ballot.

The council meeting started at 5 p.m. and will likely go late. I’ll be tweeting the highlights.

James Phinney Baxter’s greatest hits are all over town — You might not know who James Phinney Baxter was but you’re probably familiar with his greatest hits. They include the Western and Eastern Proms, Baxter Boulevard and the public library. He’s the former mayor behind them all. He’s also Gov. Percival Baxter’s father. He must have taught him a thing or two about generosity. The younger Baxter donated Mt. Katahdin to the people of Maine. — Troy R. Bennett

In 10 years, Cumberland County went from 4 to 27 breweries — Since 2007, Maine has increased its craft brewery count sixfold and there is now at least one brewery in every county except Piscataquis, the BDN’s Darren Fishell reports. By 2018, Maine’s breweries are expected to up production 39 percent from last year’s levels, with the majority of breweries in York and Cumberland counties. This boom will be one of the topics on tap at a Brewers’ Guild’s regional summit in Portland later this month. By the end of last year, the state’s breweries employed 1,632, paying about $50 million in salaries and wages, according to a survey by the guild.

Let’s talk about shrimp — The regulator that shut down Maine’s shrimp fishery in 2013 is ready for a conversation about how to save it, the AP reports. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is inviting the public to weigh in on a plan to make the fishery more sustainable in the long term, including the possibility of changing the catch quota system. While scientists warn that warming ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine hurt shrimp, Canadian fishermen continue to pull them in.

Lunch is the new dinner — Busy with kids and careers, Portlanders are rediscovering lunch, BDN Portland’s Kathleen Pierce reports. “Restless parents, twitchy telecommuters and gig workers are taking time out when the sun is high in the sky to indulge their palates with shaved crimson cabbage salad, endive assemblages with smoked ham powder, ground steak burgers with cider-cured bacon and Maine pork bahn mi sandwiches. Lunch — the less rushed, more affordable meal out — has become the new dinner date.”

Tweet of the day

Maine Memes welcomes the season:

The Big Idea

Trump is New Yorker. So why does he attack cities? — For one, it’s good politics, as the clustering of like-minded people have pushed American urban centers to the left and the rest of the country right. But casting America’s multicultural, globalized cities as failures is also essential to the president’s agenda, writes Will Wilkinson in the Washington Post.  

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at, or tweet @JZBleiberg.

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