BIG DOINGS BY THE WATER

When people talked about protecting the working waterfront in Portland, it was sometimes hard to see what they were talking about.

Fishing has been on the decline for decades, shipbuilding disappeared with the departure of the Bath Iron Works dry dock and cargo lines failed repeatedly over the years. Some argued that the highest and best use of Portland Harbor would be using it for restaurants, hotels and condominiums.

That is not the talk this week, with the announcement of plans to double the size of Portland’s container port operation on the western waterfront, opening the way for more shipping, both international and domestic, and linking the port to a rail line that will be able to reach across the continent.

The biggest factor in the turnaround was the decision last year by Eimskip, the Icelandic steamship company, to make Portland its base of operations for North America. Then the passage of the transportation bond in November, which put $24 million into “multimodal” projects.

These developments will mean a lot of economic activity for the city and the state. Now it’s easy to see what the working waterfront activists were trying to save. We are thankful that they succeeded.

WHAT’S IN THE BAG?

We’ve all seen the bottles and bags that come out of vending machines get bigger and bigger over the years, but not everyone has taken the time to read the fine print on the back.

That serving of soda is 95 calories, if you drink only 8 ounces from a 20-ounce bottle. And that 2.5-ounce bag of tortilla chips adds only another 140, if you can close it up again after munching on just 11 chips.

If you drink the whole bottle and eat the whole bag, you are looking at more than 500 calories, about what a sedentary middle-aged adult male should be eating at a whole meal, not a between-meal snack.

Companies have been able to list moderate calorie counts on the back of their packaging as sort of a secret pact with their customers. People who would rather not know how many calories they were stuffing down could buy products from a manufacturer that would rather not tell them.

That ought to change with new food labels proposed by the Food and Drug Administration that more closely resemble reality.

The calories in a serving of ice cream would jump from 145 to 290 when the serving size went from a spartan half-cup to a more realistic 8 ounces.

This change is long overdue. Consumers should get the best information available about what they are choosing to eat, whether they want the information or not.

SHAME THAT SOMEONE HAS TO LOSE

Portland is home Saturday to both the Class A boys’ and girls’ basketball championships, which will be played at the newly renovated Cumberland County Civic Center.

The boys’ game will feature two unbeaten teams in Portland High School and Hampden Academy.

Portland has not lost all year, coming into the final game at 21-0. Hampden is 21-0 this year as well, but the reigning state champions were also undefeated last year, too, so their record is really 43-0.

The girls’ game is a matchup between the near-perfect Catherine McAuley High School (20-1), the other 2013 state champ, and Oxford Hills High, with a respectable 17-4 record. These should be two great games between teams that have had fantastic seasons.

Area residents are lucky to have this great event on their home court again.

MAKING LEMONADE

Political communications offices are supposed to be able to make the best out of bad news, but House Republican Leader Ken Fredette’s team went above and beyond this week.

What do you say when a yearlong investigation finds that the governor of your party summoned unemployment hearing officers, who are effectively judges, to the Blaine House so he could yell at them about the decisions they had been reaching?

A statement from Fredette’s office quickly went out, and it includes our quote of the week:

“Democrats are quick to politicize a report from the Obama Administration criticizing the governor for his hands-on approach to an unemployment appeals process that many have viewed as being too anti-business.”