Parking ban tonight; documents show how DHHS misspent millions

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: LePage delivers his State of the State address; the BDN got a hold of some DHHS emails; and a story about a man and his dog that will make you cry. Today is Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas’s 28th birthday. All hail.

There is a parking ban tonight. Here are the details. Also, please remember to shovel your sidewalk.

What we’re talking about

How $13M in unlawful spending took shape in Mary Mayhew’s DHHS — Matt Stone of the BDN’s Maine Focus team got his hands on more than 300 pages of emails that show how the agency knowingly misspent millions in federal funds meant for low-income kids and their families.

After 40 years of nightmares, a dog has helped a Maine veteran find peace — Troy R. Bennett’s story about a local organization’s program that provides veterans with a dog and 16 weeks of training to combat PTSD and the effects of brain trauma. Here’s one example:

Bob Laidlaw flew combat missions, delivering fuel to forward Army and Marine bases, in Vietnam between 1968 and 1972. Those missions still haunt his dreams. Sometimes, his nightmares make him thrash and throw punches in the darkness, endangering his sleeping wife. His night terrors have hounded him for 40 years.

But now, Laidlaw has found a friend who can help. Her name is Shadow, and she has a wet nose and a tail.

During his night terrors, Shadow, a black mutt, senses his struggle, and she puts her reassuring weight and paws on his chest, waking him.

Here’s the latest in NIsbet’s bid for a retrial  — On Feb. 23 lawyers for the Portland landlord sentenced to 90 days in jail for his role in the Maine’s deadliest house fire in decades will be back in court to argue that he deserves a new trial. The hearing will be the latest twist in the closely watched case of Gregory Nisbet, who in December was convicted of a single code violation and acquitted of six manslaughter charges arising from a 2014 fire at a building he owned on Noyes Street.

Days before Nisbet’s sentence was set to begin, his lawyers requested a new trial claiming that they hadn’t received important documents until after the trial ended. Some of the substance of those documents came up in court testimony, but the Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren put Nisbet’s sentence on hold until he could rule on the request. 

The hearing will be at 1 p.m. in courtroom 11. If Warren decides not to grant Nisbet a new trial, the landlord may still appeal his sentence. — Jake Bleiberg

BreaLu will return (sort-of) thanks to a guy behind Palace Diner — Meredith Goad of the Press Herald reports that Chad Conley of Palace Diner in Biddeford is planning to open another breakfast/lunch only spot at the former site of BreaLu Cafe. The diner closed last year after it was damaged by a fire in a neighboring building.

Here’s a video of a bunch of ukelelists taking over City Council chambers — That’s all.

‘One by one, black New England Patriots players are refusing to visit Donald Trump’s White House’— Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett plan to sit out the White House visit that is customary of Super Bowl winners.


—At time of publishing, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this evening was hearing arguments to decide whether President Donald Trump’s immigration ban will remain suspended. Here’s Vox’s breakdown of what’s happened so far.

— Gov. Paul LePage will deliver his fifth (depending on how you count it) State of the State address this evening. We’ll have the livestream on our homepage. Here’s Michael Shepherd’s preview of what to expect. By the way: LePage called the Legislature irrelevant today on talk radio — which continues to be the only traditional form of media with which he is willing to communicate.

Tweet of the day

From Steven Hyden:

Screenshot 2017-02-07 13.54.20


The Big Idea

‘The United States is coming to resemble two countries, one rural and one urban. What happens when they go to war?’ — The Atlantic’s David Graham writes:

American cities seem to be cleaving from the rest of the country, and the temptation for liberals is to try to embrace that trend. With Republicans controlling the presidency, both houses of Congress, and most statehouses, Democrats are turning to local ordinances as their best hope on issues ranging from gun control to the minimum wage to transgender rights. Even before Inauguration Day, big-city mayors laid plans to nudge the new administration leftward, especially on immigration—and, should that fail, to join together in resisting its policies.

But if liberal advocates are clinging to the hope that federalism will allow them to create progressive havens, they’re overlooking a big problem: Power may be decentralized in the American system, but it devolves to the state, not the city. Recent events in red states where cities are pockets of liberalism are instructive, and cautionary. Over the past few years, city governments and state legislatures have fought each other in a series of battles involving preemption, the principle that state law trumps local regulation, just as federal law supersedes state law. It hasn’t gone well for the city dwellers.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.