Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. It’s the last weekend of August. May it be peaceful and devoid of controversy.
What we’re talking about
Today marked the zenith of outrage in a big week of controversy for Gov. Paul LePage — who this time, targeted state Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, calling him some horrible names and fantasizing about challenging him to a duel. The BDN’s Chris Cousins lays out the timeline here.
As national media swarmed this latest batch of news, late this afternoon, the city of Westbrook released a letter, addressed to “the People of Maine” that criticizes LePage’s comments in pretty strong terms:
LePage’s voicemail to Representative Gattine is so outrageous it is beyond our ability to know how to respond. Furthermore, his threat to want to “shoot him between the eyes” would be reprehensible coming from anybody, but from the individual holding the position of Governor of our State is insanity. Even in LePage’s attempt today to take back these comments, he continues to bury himself deeper by making the incredulous statement that Gattine is protecting drug dealers. LePage seems to ascribe to a principle that he is always right and that anyone who disagrees is evil and ought to be destroyed.
City Council President Brendan Rielly told me this afternoon that the letter comes from him, the mayor and the chair of the school committee, but wasn’t meant to be a statement on behalf of the city.
“I don’t have any delusions that the governor is going to change how he behaves. But when a bully comes into your town it’s important that you stand up to him,” he said.
Congress Street will be closed to car traffic between Elm and State streets tomorrow from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the annual WCSH-6 Sidewalk Art Festival and Portland Fine Craft Show. All the side streets off of Congress will be closed for one block along that stretch.
If a strange man approaches you next month while you’re grabbing your morning coffee, don’t worry, it might just the mayor — From a city news release: “Beginning September 13th, Mayor Ethan Strimling will hold office hours at businesses in neighborhoods around the city. Dubbing the effort ‘Strimling on the Street,’ the meeting times are designed to engage Portland residents as they go about their daily routines: getting a cup of coffee or a doughnut, visiting a hardware store, shopping for groceries, or grabbing some takeout.” The first one will be Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 11:30 am to 1 pm at Aurora Provisions on Pine Street in the West End.
Meet USM’s first Muslim student body president — From MPBN’s final profile in a four-part series on Muslims in Maine: “Mohammad ‘Humza’ Khan’s life is a list of firsts. He’s a first-generation immigrant, the first student in more than a decade to serve on the Gorham School Committee, and the first Muslim to be elected student body president at the University of Southern Maine. And he’s just about to enter his junior year in college.”
Gary Johnson came to Portland today — Mike Shepherd writes:
What’s unclear is whether Johnson will muster enough support to get into the debates, which are scheduled to start in September. Candidates must meet a qualifying mark of 15 percent in an average of five specific polls, with Johnson’s website placing his average at just over 10 percent.
That quest has led to a barnstorming of New England. Johnson and Weld were in New Hampshire on Thursday and will be in Boston on Saturday. After the Portland event, the two headed to Lewiston for a sold-out evening rally at the Gendron Franco Center.
“We’re going to be terrific stewards of this office and in that context, we’re going to be gentlemen,” Johnson told a small brunch crowd at the Portland Regency Hotel. “We’re not going to be rock-throwers, but we’re not going to be afraid to take positions that haven’t been taken.”
Maine has been identified as a potential strong spot for Johnson, given the state’s history of supporting third-party candidates. In the 1990s, no state liked Ross Perot more than Maine.
The Big Idea
Here’s a C-SPAN guest’s response to a white man who asked how to change his prejudice — Vox has the transcript of the response from Heather McGhee, the president of Demos, a public policy organization:
So what can you do? Get to know black families, who are not all and not even any majority are involved in crime and gangs. Turn off the news at night, because we know … that, actually, nightly news and many media markets that have been studied actually over-represents African-American crime and under-represents crimes that happen by white people. Join a church if you are a religious person that is a black church or a church that is interracial. Start to read about the history of the African-American community in this country. Foster conversation in your family and in your neighborhood where you’re asking exactly those kinds of questions.
This fear of communities that we do not live near … We are still a very, very segregated country. Millions of white Americans live in places where they rarely see anyone of a different race. This fear and set of ideas that we only get from the worst possible news, it’s tearing us apart. And we know that in order to be — our name means the people of a nation, “Demos” — in order to be a Demos, that is united across lines of race and class and gender and age, we have to foster relationships. We have to get to know who one another actually is. And we’re always, I think, as Americans, surprised when we build relationships across race.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.
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