Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: Portland gets money for its police body camera pilot program; a cocktail joint has a secret back bar; and what Portland’s police chief is saying about yesterday’s arrest by ICE.
What we’re talking about
The mystery of the seafood-flavored gelato shop has been solved — Kathleen Pierce got to the bottom of those crazy signs you’ve been seeing in the Old Port:
The mystery behind the seafood-flavored gelato shop, Bikram yoga and hot sauce emporium and Brazilian blowouts and dumpling house in the Old Port has been solved. Behind the scenes at 26 Exchange Street, where humorous posters for fictitious businesses have foiled the public for months, Portland native Joshua Miranda is creating a deluxe cocktail bar steeped in Maine history.
Key detail: The upscale cocktail joint has a secret entrance to a second bar, where the food is much less fancy (think plates of beans instead of oysters.)
Police body camera pilot funded — The U.S. Department of Justice will allow Portland to repurpose $26,000 in unspent funds from an existing federal grant to outfit some officers with body cameras, spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said. The grant will cover outfitting a handful of officers with the cameras before all local police are scheduled to begin carrying them in the 2019 fiscal year. It is unclear when the pilot program will begin, but it will likely not be until after the city has finished ongoing contract negotiations with the officers union. — Jake Bleiberg
Police chief distances department from ICE arrest — A day after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested a Somali man in the Portland courthouse, the police department is offering assurances that it had nothing to do with the controversial arrest. “The Portland Police Department was unaware federal officials were investigating or had plans to arrest Mr.[Abdi] Ali,” said Chief Michael Sauschuck in a statement. “We had no discussions with them about Mr. Ali.” The city has a policy of cooperating with federal law enforcement, but the statement said that Portland police did not coordinate with ICE or assist in Ali’s arrest. Although they are common elsewhere in the country, this was seemingly ICE’s first courthouse arrest in Maine. The tactic was strongly decried by a city councilor and immigration and civil rights activists as undermining the justice system and undercutting trust between immigrants and law enforcement. — Jake Bleiberg
Thunder on the night he died — Amid last night’s storm, Auburn police reported that Channel 6 meteorologist Tom Johnston was found dead. The Old Orchard Beach police had been searching for Johnston, 46, who was reported missing after giving a live report at an event at Sunday River last Saturday. Police said Johnston’s death is being investigated as an “apparent suicide.” Rest in peace. — Jake Bleiberg
Unexplained explosives — That’s what were found by a work crew set to demolish an old Westbrook house on Thursday. The workers called the fire department and Portland Hazardous Devices Unit to address old bombs found in the West Pleasant Street house. Police said the public is not in danger and that nothing criminal is suspected, but they were slated to go back at the scene Friday. — Jake Bleiberg
Tweet of the day
From me, because it’s my last day producing this newsletter. Jake Bleiberg will be your evening news guru starting on Monday.
The Big Idea
‘Acting on Instinct, Trump Upends His Own Foreign Policy’ — “In a dizzying 48 hours, he upended a foreign policy doctrine based on putting America first and avoiding messy conflicts in distant lands,” the NYT’s Mark Landler writes.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @JZBleiberg.