Both school bonds have strong support: poll

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight lobster is going to pinch your wallet; both school bonds have strong support; and Falmouth mourns.

What we’re talking about

Strong support for both school bonds — The competing $64 million and $32 million school renovation bonds that will appear on the November ballot both have strong support among Portland voters, according to a poll paid for by Progressive Portland, a local advocacy group that favors the larger bond. Public Policy Polling found that 58 percent of the voters surveyed in April supported the $64 million plan that would renovate Presumpscot, Longfellow, Reiche and Lyseth schools and an identical 58 percent said they supported the $32 million bond, which would pay for work at Lyseth and Presumpscot.

Of the 350 voters the left-leaning pollster surveyed by phone, 39 percent “strongly supported” the larger bond while 29 percent felt that way about the smaller bond. Asked to choose between the bonds, about 46 percent of voters chose the larger one, 30 percent chose the smaller one, 21 percent opted for neither and 3 percent were uncertain, according to the poll, which has a 5.2 percent margin of error

Voter turnout in November is likely to be low because there are no congressional, legislative or gubernatorial races, adding to the uncertainty of this relatively high margin of error.

Because Portlanders will be able to cast ballots for either or both bonds, the polling suggests that one of the most divisive local issues in recent years could come down to a very close vote. A bond requires a majority of votes to be approved. If both proposals break the 50 percent threshold, whichever gets the most votes will be the winner.

$45 a pound — With a cold, rainy spring weather keeping supply down and demand surging from San Francisco to Singapore, that’s the lofty price of lobster. BDN Portland’s Kathleen Pierce reports:

The market price for a lobster roll at Red’s Eats is $26.50, the highest it’s been in 79 years.

Yet tourists in line at the iconic lobster hut on the Sheepscot River this week didn’t blink. They came for a taste of Maine and were willing to pay for the experience. And they did, handsomely …

The sky-high price of fresh lobster meat this spring sent a jolt through lobster roll purveyors such as Red’s and mobile eatery Bite into Maine in Greater Portland.

Heavy hearts in Falmouth —  People in the Portland suburb where Kyle Milliken grew up remembered the U.S. Navy SEAL, who was killed in combat Friday, as a “hometown hero,” Nick McCrea reports. A four-time Bronze Star recipient, Milliken was remembered in a post from the local police department as a dedicated student athlete, devoted father and husband, and member of a family that has spent generations in Falmouth. “Our hearts are heavy for the Milliken family’s loss,” the Falmouth police wrote on Facebook.

This is why the British burned Portland — The British burned Portland in October 1775. That’s pretty well known around these parts. What’s less known is why they did it. Chief among the reasons was a short, thick militia man with a stutter named Col. Samuel Thompson. He started it all 242 years ago this week, on May 9, 1775. — Troy R. Bennett

Action of the Eastern Waterfront — The Press Herald’s Randy Billings has a roundup of the myriad projects and developments that may transform the underutilized industrial area in the coming years. They include a new boat berthing and park space on a city lot, a new marina as part of the redevelopment of 58 Fore St., development of the 48,000-square-foot gravel parking lot on Thames Street, and possible plans for the Maine State Pier.

If you have strong opinions about that fort in the harbor — Friends of Fort Gorges and the city of Portland will host a public forum at Merrill Auditorium Rehearsal Hall on Wednesday, May 10, at 5:30 p.m. It’s your chance to learn about the upcoming Army Corps of Engineers’ work on the historic fort and ask your questions about what’s in the works. — Troy R. Bennett

Coffee with Cooks returns Tuesday— Only this time it’s Beer with Brewers. Kathleen Pierce sits down with Liquid Riot Bottling Company owner Eric Michaud on Tuesday to find out why craft beer continues to play a huge role in Maine’s economy, what’s brewing at his Commercial Street brewhouse and why he is the only Maine maker distilling fernet. Join in at 3:15 p.m. on the BDN Facebook page.Kathleen Pierce

Tweet of the day

From The Huffington Post’s polling director Ariel Edwards-Levy on today’s action on Capitol Hill:

The Big Idea

Ancient illnesses — In case you were looking for another reason to worry about climate change, the BBC reports that melting permafrost is releasing viruses and bacteria that have lain dormant for thousands of years.

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

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