Congress Square activist launches bid for Portland City Council

Good evening, Portland. My name is Seth Koenig and I’ll be handling your nightly newsletter for a while starting today. It’s great to be back in this beautiful city after a year away from the BDN’s Portland desk.

Well, I won’t get too mushy about it. Say, “hello” if you see me around the Old Port, and follow me on Twitter @SethKoenig.

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Let’s move onto the things we’re talking about in the Congress Street office…

What we’re talking about

Congress Square Park activist launches campaign for City Council — Bree LaCasse, who was one of the activists at the front of the movement to prevent the city from selling the publicly owned Congress Square to private hotel developers in 2013-14, is setting her sights on the at-large City Council seat currently held by longtime councilor Jill Duson. Among the 21 people endorsing LaCasse right off the bat are former Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant and Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument donor/advocate Lucas St. Clair. Also running for that seat is Joey Brunelle, who announced today he’s been invited to raise one of the rainbow flags for the upcoming Portland PRIDE festivities.

Locals buy South Portland’s Griffin Club – The Griffin Club, which closed last week after five decades as a popular Knightville hangout, has been bought by a company owned by Cape Elizabeth women Penny Prior and Ginger Cote, according to the Portland Press Herald. Cote, an accomplished drummer who’s toured with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris, said they plan to renovate the building and reopen it in some capacity.

Ole and Emjar meet the Casco Bay sea monster — It sounds like the title of an old B movie but it really happened — or did it? You’ll have to be the judge of that. Whatever happened, it happened 59 years ago this week, on June 5, 1958. — Troy R. Bennett

Good bye Caiola’s hello Chaval — The West End’s favorite bistro Caiola’s re-emerges this month as Chaval. The owners of Piccolo purchased the restaurant a year ago. On Tuesday’s “Coffee with Cooks” host Kathleen Pierce grabs a cup with chef/owners Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti to discuss the transformation. Join us on the BDN Portland Facebook page tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. to tune in and comment.

Lobster conference planners call for international ‘collegiality’ in light of Trump efforts — You’d think if scientists would be gathering every so often to discuss lobsters, Maine would be a natural place to do so. That said, this week’s 11th International Conference & Workshop on Lobster Biology and Management in Portland represents only the second time the event has been held in the U.S., and first time in Maine. The BDN’s Bill Trotter provides the state of the Maine lobster fishery, which reached record numbers again in 2016, here. On the conference website, workshop organizers posted a statement offering to help facilitate international colleagues’ travel to Maine for the event, “in light of recent events in the U.S.” Although the conference organizers don’t mention these actions specifically, the statement comes against the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban from Muslim countries and controversial decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.

Tweet of the day

From @historyepics:

The Big Idea

When will robots deserve human rights? — Think about Commander Data from Star Trek or Michael Fassbender’s android characters in the recent “Aliens” precursor movies. It’s not such a crazy idea. Linda MacDonald-Glenn, a bioethicist at California State University Monterey Bay and a faculty member at the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical Center, is among the subject matter experts to weigh in for a story for Gizmodo: “For example, in the United States corporations are recognized as legal persons. … New Zealand recently recognized animals as sentient beings, calling for the development and issuance of codes of welfare and ethical conduct, and the High Court of India recently declared the Ganges and Yamuna rivers as legal entities that possessed the rights and duties of individuals.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email the BDN at or, or tweet @JZBleiberg or @SethKoenig.

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