Opium, for ‘a niche and well-educated market’


Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight the owner of Opium says the bar is for a “niche and well-educated” crowd; Otto Morales-Caballeros’ deportation is imminent; and Trump’s top healthcare lieutenant talks drugs in Maine.

What we’re talking about

‘I’m not going to let this government tell us who we can love’ — Otto Morales-Caballeros’ imminent deportation to Guatemala appears to be one of the first instances of a Maine family being forcibly divided by the Trump administration’s more aggressive approach to enforcing immigration law. It leaves his wife without a source of income and with a hole in her home and heart where her husband used to be, she said. But Sandra Scribner Merlim intends to keep fighting to reunite with him, even if it means leaving the home they used to share. “I’m going to be wherever he is and I’m not going to let this government tell us who we can love and who we can marry,” she said.

The owner of ‘Opium’ speaks out  “We are not trying to use this epidemic to open up a 24-seat bar. That is not what this is about,” Opium co-owner Raymond Brunyanszki told Kathleen Pierce, in his first interview since receiving a verbal thrashing online over the bar’s new name. “This is upscale dining where some cocktails are $20 and dinner at [the adjacent restaurant] will cost you $85. It’s a niche and well-educated market that understands the difference between opium and heroin and this is a reference.”  

‘Scourge across this nation’ —  BDN’s Michael Shepherd reports on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s Wednesday visit to Augusta for an opiate addiction roundtable hosted by Gov. Paul LePage. “The president has made one of his top priorities to make certain that we turn the tide on this,” Price said. “At this point, we have been losing the battle.”

Former critics fight to save National Monument — With President Donald Trump targeting northern Maine’s national monument, Katahdin-area leaders who fiercely opposed its creation now say they want to keep it, BDN’s Nick Sambides Jr. reports. Nineteen officials representing towns near the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument wrote Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke asking him to do “everything in your power to ensure that this monument is a success.”

Carfentanil — Has killed the first person in Maine, BDN’s Nok-Noi Ricker reports. The state medical examiner has confirmed that a person in York County died from overdosing on the powerful elephant tranquilizer, a spokesman for the state’s Attorney General’s Office, said Wednesday.

Raise a light refreshment in honor of Woodfords Corner — Learn more about the history of the Odd Fellows block, and the organization that built the Woodfords neighborhood landmark, on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The event, sponsored by Greater Portland Landmarks, will feature light refreshments and tours of the building. It’s free and open to the public but space is limited so reservations are required. — Troy R. Bennett

A mighty gathering of ukes — The Portland Ukulele Social Club will gather at Bull Feeney’s on May 14 at 5 p.m. for a couple of hours of strummin’ and hummin’. All skill levels are welcome and encouraged. Bring your uke and sense of wild adventure. — Troy R. Bennett

Tweet of the day

From ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ star Chris Pratt, apparently throwing his hat in the ring to replace James Comey as director of the FBI:

The Big Idea

Will ‘the Rock’ actually run for president? — WaPo’s Marissa Payne interviews the action movie star and former professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson about whether he might follow the lead of other former entertainers — Jesse Ventura, Al Franken, and Pres. Donald Trump among them — into national politics.

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

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