Mayor calls for charter review, councilors sigh

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight the mayor won’t veto the budget; this coffee is on nitro; and a new community group pushes a rent control referendum.

What we’re talking about

Mayor doesn’t veto budget — On Monday, Mayor Ethan Strimling said he wouldn’t follow through on his suggestion from last week that he might veto the $240 million municipal budget over the city council’s decision to cut his aide’s job. Instead the mayor is now pushing for a citizen task force to reexamine the city charter and provide a non-legal, “official interpretation” and recommendations on how to “operationalize that meaning.” Last year, the city spent more than $20,000 to have an outside lawyer interpret the charter, and several city councilors expressed deep skepticism that there was any need for more analysis. “The only person who doesn’t understand the role of the mayor is the mayor,” said Councilor David Brenerman.

Nitro cold brew is sweeping the state — Adding gas to coffee sounds like a late-night lab experiment gone wrong. But caffeine fanatics from Kennebunk to Bangor are tanking up on the cold brew coffee that pours like a Guinness. From startups like White Cap Coffee at Portland’s Fork Food Lab to brewers in Belfast, nitro cold brew is giving businesses a competitive edge. — Kathleen Pierce

This abstract sculpture had a real-life impact — That zig-zagging metal sculpture you’ve walked by for years, behind One City Center, has been rusting into a distinguished patina since 1974. Back in the day, it helped bring this city a little closer together. Portland vocational high school artist-in-residence, John Raimondi, designed it. His students fabricated it from half-ton sheets of cor-ten steel. They were finishing it up at their school on Casco Street 43 years ago this week. — Troy R. Bennett

“Fair Rent” — That is what a new community group told the Press Herald’s Randy Billings that they intend to fight for. A group called Resurgam is pushing for a referendum on rent control as Portland continues to see a boom in high-end housing development. The group’s proposed ordinance would block landlords of larger buildings from raising rents on existing tenants by an amount that exceeds inflation, and allow people renting month-to-month to automatically renew their leases without worry that the landlord might say no without reason.

”Don’t poach eels.” — That was the advice that Michael Bryant offered last week after being the first person sentenced for his role in an international eel poaching conspiracy. BDN’s Bill Trotter reports on everything you need to know about the first sentence to come out of Operation Broken Glass, the federal sting that netted 12 men for poaching more than $4 million worth of the baby eels, also known as elvers or “glass” eels.

Don’t miss Trotter’s appearance to talk about the story on NPR today.

Coffee with Cooks is all about bagels this week — Our weekly Facebook Live series travels to North Yarmouth on Tuesday for a conversation with Krista Desjarlais. The former owner of Bresca in Portland turns out Montreal bagels in a gourmet, one-room cafe. She was nominated for a James Beard award, has upped picnic fare at Bresca and The Honey Bee at Sabbathday Lake, and plays with fire. Join us at BDN Portland Facebook page at 3:15 p.m. — Kathleen Pierce

Because nobody really needs a thneed — It’s family movie night at the Maine College of Art on Wednesday as the Sierra Club and Environment Maine host a showing of the Seuss classic “The Lorax.” It’ll be followed up with arts/crafts and a discussion about the importance of environmental protection — including the current threats to Maine’s environment. — Troy R. Bennett

Tweet of the day

From Shahak Shapira:

The Big Idea

“Roaming Charges” — Using your cell phone, police “can track where you’ve been, how long you were there, and when you left” and they don’t even need a warrant, The Atlantic’s Matt Ford reports. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court could take up the issue.

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

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