Good evening from the BDN Portland office at 533 Congress St., where we’re getting ready to chow down on pizza and watch the first presidential debate. You should come join us.
What we’re talking about
The Norwegian tourist who threatened to kill Portland police officers with explosives and assault weapons earlier this summer pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday. Dawn Gagnon reports:
“Espen Brungodt, 28, of Norway sent a detailed email on Aug. 13 to the Portland Police Department and to the Portland Press Herald in which he threatened to kill police officers.
He was arrested without incident by federal agents and local police at an Old Port hotel where he was staying with his family, who were unaware of his threats, according to Portland police.
Brungodt faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the federal charge he pleaded guilty to during Monday’s hearing in U.S. District Court.
In the email, Brungodt said he and his partners intended to use assault rifles to ‘shoot and kill as many police officers as they can’ from atop a parking garage near the Portland Police Department’s Middle Street headquarters, according to The Portland Press Herald, which received the email.
The message claimed the parking garage was booby-trapped with explosives, though police checked the garage — which they closed during the investigation — and found no bombs, Portland police Chief Michael Sauschuck said at the time.
The nearby Cumberland County Courthouse also was closed later in the day when police learned the suspect may have been nearby.
He was not armed at the time of his arrest, police said.
The threat put police on high alert, and it came just weeks after two high-profile attacks against law enforcement in other states and one day before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was scheduled to hold a rally at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium.
A gunman shot six officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last month, killing three. That attack came less than two weeks after a sniper in Dallas, Texas, killed five officers and wounded seven others at a previously peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. The Dallas attack has been called the deadliest event for police since 9/11.
Brungodt will be sentenced after the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it expects that Brungodt will seek to have any sentence imposed on him served in Norway pursuant to the International Prisoner Transfer Program, which permits the transfer of prisoners from countries in which they had been convicted of crimes to their home countries.”
LePage’s binder proves thin — The binder that Gov. Paul LePage said showed that more than 90 percent of drug traffickers in Maine “are black and Hispanic people from” out-of-state was released today in response to public records requests. And it does not support the governor’s claim.
“Of 93 pictures of people arrested for drug crimes in it, 57 are apparently white, according to a BDN count,” reports Michael Shepherd.
This is closer to the proportion of convicted drug dealers in Maine state prisons who identify as white: roughly 70 percent, according to the Maine Department of Corrections. But both of these numbers are disproportionate to Maine’s overall population, which is 95 percent white.
Mural of giant clammers adorn Portland bar — “A colorful mural featuring clam diggers, bent over, scratching through the mud in search of their bivalve prey, is taking shape on the corner of Congress Street and Washington Avenue.” BDN Portland’s Troy R. Bennett spoke with the artist behind the new Munjoy Hill mural and got some great shots of her and the clammers at work.
Arctic conference could bring cool $1 million to Maine economy — The Arctic Council’s October meeting in Portland will pump as much as a million dollars into the Maine economy, an organizer told Mainebiz. From Oct. 4 to 6 roughly 250 Arctic officials will meet in Portland to discuss the future of the Arctic and issues in the region including climate change and relations between states and indigenous peoples.
Portland is hundreds of miles closer to Miami, Florida, than it is to the Arctic, but in 2015 the U.S. State Department selected it to host one of three Council meetings in the country at the urgings of Sen. Angus King.
“Maine has turned its gaze North,” King told the State Department last year.
The Big Idea
Do debates matter? — Journalists, like yours truly, tend to get excited by the clash of ideas and grand political theater of presidential debates, but political scientists have consistently found that they have relatively little effect on voter behavior. A review of Gallup polling from before and after debates dating back to 1960 show few instances where the debates had a substantive impact on the election’s outcome.
But that’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, notably the close race between Nixon and Kennedy in 1960 and the 2000 race between Gore and Bush. Perhaps tonight’s debates will do little to shift voters, but the one thing we can say for sure about the 2016 race is that it’s been an exception to the rules.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at email@example.com, or tweet @JZBleiberg.
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