Snow ban again; controversial USM event will go on

Good evening from the BDN Portland crew. The city today resembles the ice planet Hoth.

The snow ban starts at 10 p.m. Here are the details.

What we’re talking about

USM won’t cancel event featuring controversial GOP lawmaker — The planned speech, “Alien Invasion: Fixing the Immigrant Crisis,” by Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst — who has a long history of saying controversial things — struck a chord with some USM students, who demanded the university cancel the event.

But USM president Glenn Cummings, a former Democratic speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, says the event will go on as planned

“Though the event may fly in the face of what you or I may believe, we will not and cannot stop the event from taking place,” Cummings wrote in a letter to the USM community.

He also told the Press Herald that the student group that’s sponsoring the event will be expected to pay for extra security.

“In this case, we do believe there is a risk to public safety,” Cummings told the paper. “It could become a highly charged situation, and that is why we believe having extra security on hand will be essential.”

For Lockman’s part, he says he’s not just trolling students in Maine’s most liberal city. He was invited: “I didn’t go looking for an opportunity to come to Portland,” he told Jake Bleiberg.

This is Maine, it’s going to snow — Here’s an oldie-but-goodie that finds its way into social media whenever a fluffy storm drapes itself over the state. As the song goes, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, I gotta tell you just so you know. Hey, hey, ho, ho, this is Maine, it’s going to snow.” — Troy R. Bennett

The Biel-Figdor show — Randy Billings of the Press Herald profiled the increasingly active political duo of Emily Figdor and Steven Biel, who run separate organizations that push for progressive policies in Portland.

You can pretend to be City Councilor Jill Duson or former Mayor Michael Brennan — The Snowlion Repertory Company is auditioning actors for these parts and more in a fall production of “Anything Helps God Bless” a play about Portland’s unsuccessful attempt to ban panhandlers in city median strips. The play, made up from the words of the actual players in the real-life drama, was first presented in workshop form in December. Now, Snowlion it mounting a full production. — Troy R. Bennett

Patients get hooked on opioid overdose antidote, then prices skyrocket — From Kaiser Health News:

Called Evzio, it is used to deliver naloxone, a life-saving antidote to overdoses of opioids. More than 33,000 people are believed to have died from such overdoses in 2015. And as demand for Kaleo’s product has grown, the privately held firm has raised its twin-pack price to $4,500, from $690 in 2014.

Maine’s secretary of state: Now isn’t the time to cave against an Orwellian privacy invasion — In an op-ed, Matthew Dunlap argues: “Adoption of the Real ID would be a reversal of 10 years of state policy regarding your personal freedoms and privacy, and it would achieve no recognizable policy goal. That may not be your biggest concern, but it ought to be.”

Here’s Christopher Burns’ latest story on the Real ID issue.

I’d like to say something, if I may Snowstorms don’t get names, no matter what the Weather Channel says.

‘I lit my tobacco pipe and all hell broke loose’ — Timothy Henderson had just eaten a nice meal of franks and beans, and was stepping outside of his Coplin Plantation camp to smoke his pipe. That’s when the house blew up. He’s OK — or, he’ll live anyway. But he has first and second degree burns on his head, face, neck and hands.

Tweet of the day

From Martha Stewart:

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 2.53.20 PM

The Big Idea

‘Why Whole Foods is now struggling’ — I’ll save you a click: Because everyone — including big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco — sells organic food now. Or at least, food that is labeled organic:

[S]ome organic advocates are concerned that lowering the prices of organic foods — an apparent prerequisite for mainstream popularity — can only happen at the expense of the movement’s early principles. … “If you’re a publicly traded corporation, you have no choice but to maximize short-term profits,” [Ronnie Cummins, the co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association] said. “But we are going to be complaining to Whole Foods if they decrease their quality to keep up with the competition.”

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.