The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » News Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:48:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Snake skin found in Westbrook was an anaconda Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:44:01 +0000 The snake skin that was found on the banks of the Presumpscot River in Westbrook Aug. 20 are from an 8 or 9 foot-long anaconda – a snake that is not a native species to Maine.

Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts, in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, said DNA test results confirmed the species.

DNA testing was done by John S. Placyk Jr., Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Texas’ Department of Biology.

“We do not know if the snake skin was planted as a hoax or if it was actually left there by an anaconda,” Roberts said.

The Westbrook Police Department will continue to work with specialists to strategize on ways to locate, capture or euthanize the snake.

In the meantime, Placyk an Roberts are urging the public to remain cautious in the event that the snake, dubbed Wessie, is still alive and prowling the banks of the river.

Roberts said Anacondas would be unable to survive a Maine winter and are more likely to live in and around water.

The snake is more likely to flee when confronted by a human.

“They will usually try and get away, usually via a body of water,” Roberts said.

Anacondas are not venomous, but they do bite. A bite from an anaconda will be painful, but is not fatal. It can be treated with antibiotics.

Placyk said the snake is likely a juvenile based on its size.


]]> 0, 30 Aug 2016 16:48:02 +0000
Swanville man pleads guilty to illegal gun possession Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:43:17 +0000 A Swanville man pled guilty Tuesday to illegally possessing guns after a prior conviction for domestic violence.

John T. Hines, 50, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

According to U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II, Hines had a .357 Ruger revolver, two rifles and a shotgun, but was prohibited from possessing guns because of a prior conviction for domestic violence assault.

Hines faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

]]> 0 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:43:17 +0000
Warmest August since 1940 almost a sure bet for Portland Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:20:13 +0000 The beat goes on with regard to high pressure, sunshine and dry conditions in what’s been a very dry and very warm southern Maine summer for the past three months. I don’t see any significant rain in the forecast for the next 7 to 10 days unless a tropical system throws us a surprise. That is always possible this time of year, so stay tuned.

As Gaston has churned out in the Atlantic it has roughed up the seas a bit. If you are going to the ocean you’ll want to take a bit more caution when swimming and keep an even closer eye on children. Rip currents can come up very suddenly and in spite of a nearly cloudless sky a storm hundreds of miles away can affect our beaches. That’s about the only issue I see with regard to any weather problems.

Temperatures and humidity have been lower than yesterday when it felt a bit uncomfortable. Tomorrow a cold front will be far to our west, but a southerly flow of more humid air and warmer temperatures means it’s back to the feeling of mid-summer, with highs getting well into the 80s. There could be a few showers or even a thundershowers tomorrow night and again Thursday as this front gets closer and then eventually passes off the coast. Behind it, a new dry air mass will take over and bring us into and through the upcoming holiday weekend. At first it will feel fall-like in the morning Friday and Saturday, but as the air mass modifies, it will become warmer and once again more humidity and some heat look to return in the days following Labor Day.

Hot Summer of  2016

It’s not surprising the heat is likely going to come back next week. This will likely end up the warmest summer since records moved to the Portland Jetport. Additionally, this August will also end up the warmest since that time. The official numbers won’t be in until Thursday, but with highs in the 80s tomorrow it’s basically a lock.

Records used to be kept in downtown Portland, not at the Jetport. These started in the late 1800s although records can be found for Maine largest city as far back as the 1700s. Thermometers were not as accurate back then and the locations moved around the city of Portland. Even when readings initially began being taken at the airport they were moved. In December 1940, the thermometer was moved to its present location.

This will be the warmest meteorological summer in Portland ever recorded since records moved to the Jetport in 1941

This will be the warmest meteorological summer in Portland ever recorded since records moved to the Jetport in 1941.

August of 1937 was warmer than this year and the summers (June to August) of 1882 and 1876 also will end up averaging higher. In the modern error, this is the warmest summer since 2010.

]]> 0, 30 Aug 2016 16:20:13 +0000
Victim of sex assault at St. Paul’s prep school speaks publicly for first time Tue, 30 Aug 2016 19:36:00 +0000 CONCORD, N.H. — A teen who was sexually assaulted during a game of sexual conquest at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school said Tuesday that she is no longer ashamed or afraid and hopes to be a voice for others.

Chessy Prout made her first public comments about the assault in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, telling what happened to her at St. Paul’s School in 2014 when she was a 15-year-old freshman.

“It’s been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people – other girls and boys – don’t need to be ashamed, either,” said Prout, now 17 and about to start her senior year at a different school.


Chessy Prout

The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Prout has done.

Former St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was arrested in 2014, days after graduating from the Concord school. Prosecutors say he assaulted the girl as part of a competition known as the Senior Salute in which some seniors sought to have sex with underclassman.

Jurors convicted Labrie last year of misdemeanor sex assault charges and a felony charge of using a computer to lure the student. They acquitted him on three counts of felony sexual assault.

“They said that they didn’t believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly,” Prout said. “And the fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people’s eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way.”

Labrie was sentenced to a year in jail, but he remains free pending appeal.

When she returned to school after the trial, Prout said she got a chilly reception, especially from some of her male classmates.

“Everybody knew. None of my old friends who were boys would talk to me,” she said. “They didn’t even look me in the eyes.”

Prout left St. Paul’s and her parents have since sued the school, arguing it should have done more to protect her. The school has denied it could have prevented the assault, but it has since taken steps to “prevent and reduce risky adolescent behavior.”

In response to Prout’s interview, the school released a statement saying it “admires her courage and condemns unkind behavior toward her.”

“We have always placed the safety and well-being of our students first and are confident that the environment and culture of the school have supported that,” it said. “We categorically deny that there ever existed at the School a culture or tradition of sexual assault. However, there’s no denying the survivor’s experience caused us to look anew at the culture and environment. This fresh look has brought about positive changes at the School.”

As part of the lawsuit, the school demanded that Prout be identified. It argued that its right to a fair trial would be jeopardized if it couldn’t identify her. As a result, lawyers for the family filed an amended complaint Monday identifying the parents for the first time and then Prout went public Tuesday.

“She refuses to be intimidated by the school’s effort to publicly expose her identity at trial,” Steven D. Silverman, one of the attorneys for the family, told The Associated Press. “She has found her voice after remaining quiet for several years out of respect for the criminal justice system and the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”

In the television interview, Prout said she sometimes gets panic attacks because of the assault and hides in her closet. Prout talked about how her little sister would come into her closet “when I’m rocking on the floor and punching my legs, trying to get myself to calm down, and she’ll try to give me the biggest hug, and she’ll say, ‘Chessy, you’re OK. Chessy, you’re OK.’ ”

Prout credited her family with helping her get through the ordeal.

“I can’t image how scary it is for other people to have to do this alone,” she said. “I don’t want anybody else to be alone anymore.”

]]> 0, 30 Aug 2016 15:58:32 +0000
Islamic State group says its spokesman has been killed in Syria Tue, 30 Aug 2016 19:07:03 +0000 BEIRUT — The Islamic State group said Tuesday that its spokesman and senior commander has been killed while overseeing military operations in northern Syria, and threatened to avenge his death.

The Islamic State-run Aamaq news agency said Abu Muhammed al-Adnani was “martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns in Aleppo,” without providing further details.

His death, if confirmed, would be the latest blow to the Islamic State group, which has been on the retreat in Syria and Iraq, where it has declared a self-styled Islamic caliphate straddling both countries.

Adnani, a senior leader in the group, has been the voice of the Islamic State over the past few years, and has released numerous, lengthy audio files online in which he delivered fiery sermons urging followers to carry out attacks.

Earlier this year, he called for massive attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He has also called for attacks in Western countries, telling Muslims in France on occasion to attack “the filthy French” in any way they could, including “crush them with your car.”

He has also disparaged Saudi Arabia and its influential clerics for failing to rally behind the rebels that the monarchy supports in Syria like they did decades ago in Afghanistan.

There was no immediate comment or confirmation from Washington of his death.

Aamaq vowed to revenge against the “filthy cowards in the sect of disbelief.” It said a generation raised in Islamic State-held territory will take revenge.

The Islamic State group has suffered a string of defeats in recent weeks, including in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, where Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels drove the group out of the border town of Jarablus last week.

In Iraq, the group has lost its strongholds in Fallujah and Ramadi, in the western Anbar province. It still controls Mosul, but Iraqi forces are gearing up for a long-awaited operation to retake the country’s second largest city.

]]> 0, 30 Aug 2016 15:14:38 +0000
Bath police seeking man accused of attack with hammer Tue, 30 Aug 2016 17:46:22 +0000 Bath police are seeking a man who they say assaulted another man with a hammer.

Jason Mackenzie

Jason Mackenzie

Jason Mackenzie, 38, of Bath, is being sought on a charge of aggravated assault after police responded to 98 Union St. at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday for a report of a man who had been assaulted with a hammer.

Officers discovered the victim, a 37-year-old man from Bowdoin, with serious but non-life threatening injuries to his face. Emergency responders were called to treat his injuries. Upon interviewing the victim and other witnesses, they were told Mackenzie and the victim had been arguing inside the building. The two men then went outside and Mackenzie picked up a hammer and hit the victim several times in the facial area.

A hammer was located by investigators outside the address where the assault took place.

The victim was taken by friends to Midcoast Hospital and released.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Mackenzie charging him with aggravated assault, a Class B crime. He is believed to be in the Dresden or Augusta areas.

Anyone who knows Mackenzie’s location is asked to call their local law enforcement agency.

]]> 0, 30 Aug 2016 14:09:44 +0000
Cat found in locked trunk in Hollis will be put up for adoption Tue, 30 Aug 2016 17:44:38 +0000 A cat found inside a trunk in a Hollis parking lot Monday is recovering at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

The cat, which has been named Sky, is believed to be about a year old and is well socialized. Photo courtesy of Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

The cat, which has been named Sky, is believed to be about a year old and is well socialized. Photo courtesy of Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

According to the refuge league, the female cat was found by a pair of Buxton residents who were walking at the Hollis Sports Complex fields early Monday morning. They spotted a large trunk in the parking lot and heard a cat meowing inside. They were unable to open the trunk themselves, the league said, so they took it to a friend’s house, where they were able to get it open using a screwdriver.

The cat, which the league believes to be about a year old, had been locked inside without food and water.

Vets who checked out the cat, which has been named Sky, at the league in Westbrook said she appears to have been a family pet because she seemed well socialized. The cat had a significant amount of fleas and flea dirt, they said, but otherwise seemed to be healthy.

Anyone who thinks they may know where the cat came from is asked to call the refuge league at (207) 854-9771.

The organization said the cat is expected to be ready for adoption Saturday.

The cat was found locked in this trunk and a screwdriver was needed to free her.

The cat was found locked in this trunk and a screwdriver was needed to free her. Photo courtesy of Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

]]> 7, 30 Aug 2016 15:38:45 +0000
40 Virginia cases of Hepatitis A now linked to strawberry smoothies Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:49:22 +0000 RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia health officials say there are now 40 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A that are connected to frozen strawberries used at Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations across the state, up from 28 cases less than a week ago.

The Virginia Department of Health said in a news release Monday that about 55 percent of the infected residents have been hospitalized.

There are more than 500 of the smoothie franchises across the country, and Virginia is not the only state affected.

All the potentially contaminated Egyptian-sourced berries were pulled from the 96 Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in Virginia no later than Aug. 8 or Aug. 9.

According to Food Safety News, one of the outbreak victims, Constantinos Raptis, who was hospitalized for four days because his symptoms were so severe, has filed a civil case against Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages, according to

Officials say more cases could emerge, since some symptoms take as many as 50 days to emerge. The Hepatitis A virus affects the liver.

There are two Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in the Portland area, at 45 Western Ave. and 740 Broadway in South Portland.

]]> 0, 30 Aug 2016 13:09:34 +0000
Manatee spotted off Cape Cod worries wildlife experts Tue, 30 Aug 2016 15:59:29 +0000 CHATHAM, Mass. — Wildlife experts are growing concerned for the safety of a manatee that has been recently spotted in waters off the coast of Cape Cod once the seasons change.

Manatees like this one cannot survive for long in waters colder than 68 degrees. Andrew Jalbert/Shutterstock

Manatees like this one cannot survive for long in waters colder than 68 degrees. Andrew Jalbert/Shutterstock

The 8-foot-long manatee was last seen by a father and son while fishing in Chatham this past weekend.

At least a half-dozen sightings of the mammal have been reported since mid-August. It is believed to have arrived from Florida.

Members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s marine mammal rescue and research program were sent to Cape Cod to keep tabs on the manatee, which the organization says has shown no signs of trauma or distress.

Read more from the world of the Strange But True

But officials are becoming increasingly worried about the transient manatee if it overstays its welcome. Manatees cannot survive for long in waters colder than 68 degrees. Tuesday’s ocean temperature at Woods Hole was 75.9 degrees.

]]> 8, 30 Aug 2016 12:22:29 +0000
USDA closes offices in 5 states following threats Tue, 30 Aug 2016 15:55:02 +0000 WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department has closed offices in five states after receiving anonymous threats.

USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick says in a statement on Tuesday that the department had received “several anonymous messages” that raised concerns about the safety of USDA personnel and facilities. He said six offices are closed until further notice.

Herrick said the department is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal and local law enforcement to determine whether the threats are credible.

The closed offices are in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.

]]> 4 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:55:02 +0000
Seasonal gasoline prices reach 12-year low throughout U.S. Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:48:01 +0000 It’s been the cheapest summer for gasoline prices in 12 years and consumers have saved nearly $19 billion at the pump, the analytical firm that provides the app GasBuddy said Tuesday morning.

Analysts with the firm said gas prices are on the rise because of rumors that oil-producing countries will reduce their output, but those prices are likely to fall again. GasBuddy’s analysts said supply has outpaced demand for oil for the past couple of years, leading to lower prices.

Labor Day gasoline prices are forecast to be about $2.19 a gallon, GasBuddy said, and the summer average is forecast to be about $2.24 a gallon. Both figures are at their lowest levels since 2004 for the respective time periods.

In Maine, gas prices averaged $2.22 per gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,228 gas outlets in the state. That price is one cent higher per gallon than the national average.

GasTrac: Find the lowest current gas prices in your area

Demand for gasoline typically falls after Labor Day as the busy summer driving season comes to a close. In addition, environmental rules that call for costlier, cleaner-burning gasoline formulas end on Sept. 15 in much of the country, which also helps to keep prices down.

It’s “a double-whammy of downward pressure just in time for autumn,” GasBuddy said in a statement.

]]> 1, 30 Aug 2016 12:13:10 +0000
Your dog really does know what you’re saying, and a brain scan shows how Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:44:54 +0000 Your dog really does know what you’re saying, and a brain scan shows how Your dog gets you. I mean, he really gets you.

No, really – he actually does. So say scientists in Hungary, who have published a groundbreaking study that found dogs understand both the meaning of words and the intonation used to speak them. Put simply: Even if you use a very excited tone of voice to tell the dog he’s going to the vet, he’ll probably see through you and be bummed about going.

It had already been established that dogs respond to human voices better than their wolf brethren, are able to match hundreds of objects to words, and can be directed by human speech. But the new findings mean dogs are more like humans than was previously known: They process language using the same regions of the brain as people, according to the researchers, whose paper was published in Science.

Some of the dogs involved in a study to determine how dog brains process speech sit around a scanner in Budapest, Hungary. Borbala Ferenczy/MR Research Center via AP

Some of the dogs involved in a study to determine how dog brains process speech relax for a group photo with the MRI scanner at Eotvos Lorand University, in Budapest, Hungary. Borbala Ferenczy/MR Research Center via AP

To determine this, Attila Andics and colleagues at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest recruited 13 family dogs – mostly golden retrievers and border collies – and trained them to sit totally still for seven minutes in an fMRI scanner that measured their brain activity. (The pups were not restrained, and they “could leave the scanner at any time,” the authors assured.)

A female trainer familiar to the dogs then spoke words of praise that all their owners said they used – “that’s it,” “clever,” and “well done” – and neutral words such as “yet” and “if,” which the researchers believed were meaningless to the animals. Each dog heard each word in both a neutral tone and a happy, atta-boy tone.

Using the brain activity images, the researchers saw that the dogs processed the familiar words regardless of intonation, and they did so using the left hemisphere, just like humans. Tone, on the other hand, was analyzed in the auditory regions of the right hemisphere – just as it is in people, the study said.

And finally, they saw that the dogs’ “rewards center” – which is stimulated by pleasant things such as petting and food and sex – did the brain equivalent of jumping and yelping when positive words were spoken in a positive tone.

“It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match,” Andics said in a statement. “So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”

The researchers said it’s unlikely that human selection of dogs during their domestication, which occurred at least 15,000 years ago, could have led to this sort of brain function; instead, they say, it’s probably far more ancient.

That means we aren’t as special as we like to think, at least when it comes to how our brains deal with language. What makes words uniquely human, Andics said, is that we came up with using them.

]]> 2, 30 Aug 2016 14:56:03 +0000
Garmin pledges to continue to publish iconic Maine Gazetteer Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:32:11 +0000 Garmin, the Swiss company that bought Yarmouth-based DeLorme in February, said Tuesday it will continue to publish its popular Atlas & Gazetteers in paper form.

The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer has been a valuable resource for Maine hikers and travelers since DeLorme began publishing it in 1976.

The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer has been a valuable resource for Maine hikers and travelers since DeLorme began publishing it in 1976.

The company said in a release that it will also “enhance” the products, although it offered no specifics beyond saying the atlases will be revised and updated and the company would make additional investments in “resources and cartography staff based in the Yarmouth facility.”

The question of the future of the atlases came up because Garmin is known for its wireless devices and technology in mapping and global positioning.

The Atlas & Gazeteers were the first products DeLorme offered when it was founded in 1976 and were known for their precision and inclusion of little-known roads and sites in rural areas of New England. Generations of Mainers kept a copy of the Maine edition in their cars to navigate back roads, find campgrounds, sand beaches, recreation areas, nature preserves, lighthouses and other scenic attractions long before the development of the Internet and GPS devices.

The company said the atlases will continue to be sold where they have been offered and no changes in distribution are planned. However, at the end of the year, online sales will move from to

]]> 4, 30 Aug 2016 11:48:03 +0000
Crash involving car, motorcycle slows traffic on Brighton Ave. Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:01:28 +0000 Rescue workers are on the scene of a car vs. motorcycle accident on Brighton Avenue in Portland near Rosemont Bakery.

The crash was reported at 9:43 a.m.

The motorcycle driver was down in the street, according to first responder reports, and drivers were asked to avoid the area near Colonial Road.

]]> 2, 30 Aug 2016 12:33:13 +0000
In the morning Gov. LePage says he might resign; by afternoon he discounts the idea Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:35:42 +0000 Gov. Paul LePage took a step Tuesday toward atoning for his recent actions, but he also sent sharply conflicting signals about how he plans to respond to mounting pressure from Democrats and members of his own party.

In a morning radio interview, LePage said he was totally at fault for leaving a threatening voice mail last week for a Democratic lawmaker whom he believed had called him a racist. He later invited Rep. Drew Gattine to the State House to have a face-to-face meeting on Wednesday, and Gattine accepted.

LePage also raised the possibility more than once on the radio that he may not finish his second term because of the controversy, which has stretched on for a week.

“I’m looking at all options,” the Republican governor said while appearing on WVOM, a Bangor talk radio station, Tuesday morning. “I think some things I’ve been asked to do are beyond my ability. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to finish it. I’m not saying that I am going to finish it.”

He said later in the interview: “If I’ve lost my ability to help Maine people, maybe it’s time to move on.”

Some six hours later, in a tweet posted from his Twitter account, LePage backed away from any suggestion that he was considering resignation.

“Regarding rumors of resignation, to paraphrase Mark Twain: ‘The reports of my political demise are greatly exaggerated,'” his office tweeted.

LePage’s press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, would not provide clarification of the governor’s intentions Tuesday afternoon, saying only, “The tweet speaks for itself.”

The uncertainty comes after several days of sustained controversy that began last week when the governor told an audience in North Berwick that he’s been keeping a three-ring binder of drug dealers and that 90 percent of those dealers are black or Hispanic. Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of drug dealers arrested in Maine are white, and critics have said that even if the governor’s numbers were accurate, he is wrong to focus on race.

Over the past week, LePage has repeated his statements about the race of drug dealers in media interviews in several settings, ranging from his Blaine House residence to a meeting with New England governors in Boston – where he was roundly criticized by regional officials for his focus on race.

The governor’s actions, and the responses Maine of lawmakers, residents and others, have been fodder for national media attention, putting the state in an unflattering light.

One of LePage’s critics was Rep. Drew Gattine, a Westbrook representative. When the governor heard that Gattine had called him racist – Gattine actually said the governor made racially charge comments – LePage lashed out by leaving an obscenity-laced voice mail and then later saying he wished he could challenge Gattine to a duel.

Since last Friday, lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns about the governor’s fitness to hold office. Republican State Sen. Amy Volk of Scarborough encouraged the governor to seek treatment.

LePage was on his way to Baileyville, in Washington County, on Tuesday to take part in a ceremony at St. Croix Tissue and was not available for additional comment.

Rob Poindexter, spokesman for the House Republicans, said Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, and Assistant Minority Leader Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, would not comment on LePage’s remarks Tuesday until after their members met that evening.

Senate Republican leaders also had no comment.

Tom Saviello, a Republican senator from Wilton, said the governor, in his radio remarks, started to answer some concerns.

“He has work to do,” Saviello said. “I’m glad that he’s going to have a conversation with Drew Gattine. That’s important to me personally.”

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, said LePage’s apology did not go far enough and called on legislative leaders from both parties “to get in the same room and discuss these very serious issues.”

“I believe the governor has taken away from meeting with Republicans sort of their concerns, but what I didn’t hear was an admission that the governor is willing to admit that Representative Gattine did not call him a racist,” said House Democratic Leader Jeff McCabe. “Also, as part of that interview, the governor sort of tried to turn things around and make himself the victim, which that’s not really what Democratic leadership is looking for at this time.”

McCabe said Democrats still feel the best thing for LePage to do is resign. Outside of that, he said the governor needs to consider treatment.

“I’m not in the medical profession, but it’s clear that the governor needs to seek professional help,” McCabe said. “He’s crossed a line and we are questioning his well-being at this time.”

Senate Democrats had similar feelings.

“As abhorrent as that behavior was, we’re even more concerned with what could happen next,” Senate Democratic leaders Justin Alfond and Dawn Hill said in a joint statement. “What important decision might the governor be making the next time he experiences one of these out-of-control episodes — when he is, as he puts it, ‘so angry he literally cannot breathe?'”

McCabe said he doesn’t know what legislative Republicans have discussed with the governor but said Democrats have been trying to meet with leaders on the other side. So far, that hasn’t happened,

During his radio interview, LePage did apologize to the people of Maine and to Gattine’s family for leaving a threatening voice mail last week, but didn’t apologize to Gattine directly.

“When I was called a racist I just lost it, and there’s no excuse,” the governor said. “It’s unacceptable. It’s totally my fault.” LePage said being called a racist for him was, “like calling a black man the ‘N’ word or a woman the ‘C’ word. It just absolutely knocked me off my feet.”

LePage scheduled one of his recurring town hall events for Wednesday night in Westbrook. But the event was canceled by the governor Tuesday night, and the venue where the event was to have been held, My Space Teen Center, also backed out because it lacked the space to accommodate the expected crowd.

Several times since he made his initial comments about black and Hispanic drug dealers, LePage has returned to the issue of race – even as lawmakers have challenged his assertions. The governor didn’t soften that position Tuesday.

“The fact of the matter is this: I got all of my info in my book from the press. It’s that simple,” he said. “Every drug arrest, we get the story and the people, and when it comes to meth labs it’s all white people from Maine. When it comes to heroin, it’s just the opposite. Whether it’s right or wrong and I’ll leave you to make that judgment, but I spoke fact.

“Now they are saying, you can’t do this because of the racially charged atmosphere in our country but the same token is all lives matter. That’s the bottom line, all lives matter.”

LePage continues to focus on the racial makeup of drug dealers. He first made the claims months ago when he accused black dealers of coming up to Maine and impregnating white women.

Last Friday, in an attempt to clarify his comments at the North Berwick town hall, the governor appeared to endorse racial profiling.

“Look, the bad guy is the bad guy, I don’t care what color he is,” LePage said. “When you go to war, if you know the enemy and the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, then you shoot at red.”

LePage then turned to House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, an officer who serves as a military lawyer in the Maine Air National Guard and sat in on the press conference. “Don’t you – Ken (Fredette) you’ve been in uniform? You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

McCabe said he’s troubled that the governor keeps focusing on race when talking about the drug crisis. He did it again on Monday in Boston following a meeting of New England governors.

“This is a meeting of governors trying to solve issues that affect the states, trying to solve and move forward with addressing the drug epidemic that is beyond Maine, and what the governor does is, he goes down to Massachusetts and he doubles down on the same comments he made here in Maine that caused such an outcry,” he said.

Asked about that, Sen. Saviello said, “It troubles me when he singles out any minority.”

While LePage has repeatedly emphasized his concern about the impact of drug addiction in Maine, state spending on addiction treatment during his administration has actually declined.

LePage met with Republican House and Senate leaders Monday night at the Blaine House but said he plans to talk with his staff before deciding his next move. He said his impression from Monday’s meeting was that House Republicans want to “salvage what we can and move forward.” Senate Republicans, he said, are “making demands.”

State Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, an ardent supporter of LePage, said he hadn’t been paying close attention to everything that had transpired in the last few days as he was dealing with an emergency at his family’s apple orchard involving a burglary.”

“It’s not my monkey,” Timberlake said. “I going to come and see and listen tonight before I say anything. I don’t know what was said to the governor (Monday night) So I need to wait and see how it all shook out.”

LePage seemed to at least acknowledge in his radio interview that his ability to lead Maine may be in question now.

“It’s not about me. It’s about making sure that we can move the state forward,” he said. “It’s one thing to have one party behind (you), it’s another thing to not have any party behind you.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]> 615, 30 Aug 2016 16:39:14 +0000
Heart of Biddeford receives national accreditation Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:55:40 +0000 Heart of Biddeford, an organization that promotes the city’s downtown revitalization, has received accreditation from the National Main Street Center.

The nonprofit Heart of Biddeford partners with the city, business community, property owners and residents to foster economic development and improve the downtown, which has been undergoing a transformation as former mills are repurposed.

“We are thrilled to recognize this year’s recipients for their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach,” said Patrice Frey, president of National Main Street Center, in a prepared statement. “Nationally accredited Main Street America communities work to strengthen the economic, social and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”

National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities focused on preservation-based economic development.

Heart of Biddeford announced its accreditation status Tuesday morning.

Three years ago, the Heart of Biddeford launched a “Main Street Challenge” that helped small businesses open downtown. Those businesses included Elements: Books Coffee Beer, Desert Moon Leather and Biscuits & Company. The organization also helps organize and promote community events, including the upcoming River Jam Festival on Sept. 17.

“Heart of Biddeford’s revitalization efforts build on the work of many people before us, and happen in partnership with the municipality, the business community, hundreds of committed citizens and our partnering organizations,” said Delilah Poupore, the organization’s executive director. “It’s cooperative community development that leads to better economic development for our region.”

Heart of Biddeford’s next major program is the Great Space Showcase on Sept. 26. The group is working with property owners to showcase available spaces downtown and attract businesses interested in moving to Biddeford.

Heart of Biddeford also is actively seeking pop-up stores for November and December to create more vibrant scene and draw more people to check out retail opportunities in Biddeford, Poupore said.

“There’s a movement building here,” Poupore said. “And Heart of Biddeford is proud to partner with so many to foster the revitalization of this beautiful city.”

]]> 3 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 07:55:40 +0000
EU says Apple must pay Ireland up to $14.5 billion in back taxes Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:06:25 +0000 BRUSSELS — Apple will have to pay up to $14.5 billion (13 billion euros) in back taxes, plus interest, to Ireland after the European Union found Tuesday that it received illegal tax benefits over 11 years.

The European Commission is cracking down on the practice in which EU governments offer low corporate tax rates to multinationals. Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The European Commission is cracking down on the practice in which EU governments offer low corporate tax rates to multinationals. Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The ruling is the latest and biggest salvo in the EU executive commission’s battle to have multinationals pay their fair share in the region.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that a three-year investigation found Ireland granted such lavish tax breaks to Apple that the multinational’s effective corporate tax rate on its European profits dropped from 1 percent in 2003 to a mere 0.0005 percent in 2014.

That last tax rate meant that for each million euros in profits, Apple paid just 50 euros in taxes, Vestager told a news conference.

“Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies_this is illegal under EU state aid rules,” Vestager said.

“Ireland must now recover the unpaid taxes in Ireland from Apple for the years 2003 to 2014 of up to 13 billion euros, plus interest,” the Commission said in a statement.

The Irish government denied granting favorable fiscal treatment to the maker of the iPhone and other consumer electronics products, computer software and online services. “Ireland’s position remains that the full amount of tax was paid in this case and no state aid was provided,” the Irish statement said. “Ireland does not do deals with taxpayers.”

The Irish finance minister, Michael Noonan, said he would seek approval from the Irish Cabinet to appeal the EU Commission’s ruling to European courts.

“It is important that we send a strong message that Ireland remains an attractive and stable location of choice for long-term substantive investment,” Noonan said. “Apple has been in Ireland since the 1980s and employs thousands of people in Cork.”

There was no immediate reaction from Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California. A statement from the U.S. government was expected later Tuesday.

In a white paper made public last week, the U.S. Treasury Department accused the European Union of using a different set of criteria to judge cases involving American companies, calling the potential penalties “deeply troubling.”

]]> 8, 30 Aug 2016 08:13:48 +0000
Blaze displaces residents of apartment building on Forest Avenue Tue, 30 Aug 2016 10:23:23 +0000 An early morning fire caused heavy damage to a six-unit apartment building on Portland’s Forest Avenue Tuesday.

Firefighters remained on the scene at 732 Forest Ave. for several hours Tuesday morning to investigate the cause of a fire that started in a storage in the rear of the building. Photo courtesy of WCSH

Firefighters remained on the scene at 732 Forest Ave. for several hours Tuesday morning to investigate the cause of a fire that started in a storage in the rear of the building. Photo courtesy of WCSH

Firefighters were called to 732 Forest Ave. at 1:25 a.m. and arrived five minutes later, according to the Portland Fire Department.

Five of the six units in the buildings were occupied. All of the residents who were home escaped unharmed, including some pets.

First-floor resident Brent Tibbetts, 26, said he arrived home around 1:30 a.m. and saw firefighters directing streams of water into the building.

“I was driving up … and saw flames shooting out of the windows,” Tibbetts said.

The heaviest fire damage was centered in a rear storage area on the second and third floors.

Another first-floor resident, Elizabeth Chaplin, 22, was waiting to get back into her room to assess what of her belongings could be saved.

“There’s a lot of water damage on the ceiling and puddles on the floor,” Chaplin said.

Chaplin said she was not yet asleep when she smelled smoke and heard a roommate cry out that the building was on fire and heard the smoke alarms upstairs start beeping. She said the next thing she knew, there was a police officer in her apartment, helping to usher her out of the building.

Fire Capt. David Petrucelli said the building may not be a total loss. Fire officials said they do not believe the fire is suspicious, but have not yet pinpointed its origin or cause.

The Red Cross said it was called in to assist with relief efforts, and residents had not been allowed back inside as of early Tuesday morning.

A local Red Cross team assisted five residents who were affected by the fire, and plans to offer financial assistance and referrals for help.

]]> 4, 30 Aug 2016 14:20:27 +0000
Some say they’ll remain in homeless camp despite Portland police deadline Tue, 30 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Two men and two women sat at a table under a Maine Turnpike overpass near the Portland-Westbrook line late Monday morning, making it clear they’re in no hurry to leave.

Each had a 25-ounce Natty Daddy, a high-alcohol beer, as they played a game of Trouble. Nearby, three tents were set up near a graffiti-covered wall. A mattress lay on the ground.

“We have nowhere to go. Nowhere,” one of the women said as the highway traffic roared overhead. “We’ll probably all go to jail.”

Portland police have given people staying on nearly 30 acres of land off Brighton Avenue until Wednesday to clear out. It’s unknown how many occupants of the encampment have left or intend to do so by Wednesday.

But the four people sitting beneath the highway said they have no plans to go anywhere.

It’s unclear exactly how many people are staying on the privately owned land, which sits behind Lowe’s and Jo-Ann Fabrics. But it’s apparent that the encampment has been there for years, with well-trodden paths connecting a network of campsites and piles of garbage. Some camps have wooden structures and fire pits, and others have gardens, including one with tomatoes, squash and watermelon.

None of the four occupants interviewed Monday wanted to be identified or would give their full name. Only Andy, a 36-year-old native of Waterville, would give a first name.

Homeless people play a board game Monday under a turnpike overpass where they have set up tents and hope to remain. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Homeless people play a board game Monday under a turnpike overpass where they have set up tents and hope to remain. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Andy estimated that there are more than two dozen people living in what some people have called Tent City, or the Pine Tree Camp. Some have camped there for nearly a decade, he said.

“Don’t call it ‘Tent City,’ ” Andy said. “We call it home.”

Fliers have been popping up around the city to “Save Pine Tree Camp,” saying that “homelessness is not a crime.” Although the fliers call for a halt to any enforcement action, police say they plan to follow through with the order and clear the campsites this week.

Police issued trespassing notices to most of the campers this month, after seeing an increase in service calls to the area for incidents such as domestic violence, arson and individuals with outstanding warrants. That was before a man living in the encampment was stabbed by a fellow camper last week, police said.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said officers will visit the area Tuesday to assess the situation. If any campers remain Wednesday, they will be issued a trespass notice, Sauschuck said. If they don’t clear out by Thursday, they could be cited for criminal trespassing and face either a summons to appear in court or possible arrest, he said.

Sauschuck hopes campers will take advantage of shelters and other services being offered by social workers.

“It’s unfortunate that this situation is occurring, but folks are trying to reach out and to give these folks the assistance they need,” he said.

Case workers from the city and nonprofit groups such as Milestone and Preble Street have been conducting regular outreach to the campers. The goal is to use housing vouchers or bring campers into the shelter system.

A campsite in the 30 acres off Brighton Avenue where homeless people stay contains a tent and other items. Some camps have wooden structures, fire pits or gardens. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

A campsite in the 30 acres off Brighton Avenue where homeless people stay contains a tent and other items. Some camps have wooden structures, fire pits or gardens. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

However, Portland’s tight rental market is making it difficult to find housing, even when someone has a voucher, said Donna Yellen, chief program officer at Preble Street, a social services agency that operates a soup kitchen and day shelter in downtown Portland.

“There just isn’t enough affordable housing,” Yellen said. “The housing crisis in Portland is so severe that they are forced to make their homes outside.”

Portland’s emergency shelters are bursting at the seams, forcing the city to open it’s General Assistance office as an overnight “warming center” where people have to sit upright in plastic chairs.

Yellen said there are about 118 people in Portland who would rather camp out than stay in shelters or sit in chairs.

It’s unclear who owns the property where the campers are staying. Efforts to contact a possible owner have been unsuccessful.

City officials previously said it was owned by Emery-Waterhouse Co., which is located across Rand Avenue, and the Inn at Portland, which is adjacent to the site. On Monday, however, city officials pointed to three parcels owned by Centro Heritage SPE 4, LLC. The city mails its tax bills to an accounting firm in Arizona and could not provide further information about the owner or manager of the property.

Back under the bridge, the four adults said they weren’t interested in entering the overcrowded shelter, citing concerns about bedbugs, lice and scabies. Instead, they are content to wait out the police deadline and see what happens.

“I’ll take this over snoring and farting any day,” Andy said.


]]> 58, 30 Aug 2016 08:14:42 +0000
Maine Mall founder Robert J. Dunfey Sr. dies at 88 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 03:38:59 +0000 Robert J. Dunfey Sr., who founded and developed the Maine Mall shopping center in South Portland, once owned the former Eastland Hotel in Portland, and was a prominent backer of Democratic politicians, died last week. He was 88.

A former resident of Cape Elizabeth, Dunfey died Aug. 23 in Dover, New Hampshire, following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More recently he had resided in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“I still remember the time my father took me for a ride on Payne Road past a pig farm in South Portland. He said to me, ‘There is going to be a mall there, and I said, Dad, what’s a mall?’ ” his son Robert J. Dunfey Jr. of Cape Elizabeth recalled Monday. The Maine Mall, which opened in 1971 with anchor stores Sears and Jordan Marsh, has become the largest shopping mall in Maine. It now features 119 stores.

Dunfey also helped create some of the mall’s adjacent commercial developments, including the Doubletree Hotel – formerly a Sheraton – and the retail complex at Clarks Pond in South Portland.

“He was a true visionary,” his son said. “I learned a lot from him.”

Dunfey also acquired the former Eastland Hotel in downtown Portland in 1960 and helped establish it as one of the best lodging and dining facilities in the city.

Dunfey proved to be an astute businessman throughout his career, co-founding the chain of Dunfey Hotels now known as Omni Hotels.

The younger Dunfey said his father played a significant role in creating peace in Northern Ireland and traveled to Oslo, Norway, with John Hume and David Trimble – prominent Northern Ireland leaders – when they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

In 1980, acting on behalf of then-Maine Gov. Joseph Brennan, Dunfey asked U.S. District Judge George Mitchell to fill the Senate seat of Edmund Muskie, who had been appointed secretary of state by President Jimmy Carter.

Dunfey went on to become good friends with Mitchell, whom he accompanied on a fact-finding mission to Northern Ireland.

Dunfey was also a very political person. He served as the Maine state coordinator for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Dunfey Jr. said Kennedy would call his father every Sunday for campaign updates.

Not all of his accomplishments were popular.

Dunfey led a controversial campaign in 1966 to allow Maine restaurants, lounges and hotels to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday – something that had never been allowed.

“An opponent put sand in his gas tank,” his son recalled. “Knowing my father, he probably took it in stride.”

Though he was a savvy businessman, Dunfey also had a big heart, his son said.

He said he learned after his father’s death through posts on Facebook that Dunfey paid college tuition for the child of one of his workers at the Eastland, and paid the tuition for the child of a housekeeper to attend Cheverus High School.

He was co-founder of Camp Susan Curtis, which was established in memory of former Maine Gov. Kenneth Curtis’ daughter, who died while Curtis was in office. The camp serves economically disadvantaged youths from Maine, providing them with a tuition-free outdoor camping experience.

“My father was a humble person. He didn’t seek any publicity for his accomplishments or his good deeds,” the younger Dunfey said.

Dunfey is survived by his wife, five children, and four siblings. A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 10 in St. John Evangelist Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


]]> 2, 30 Aug 2016 08:15:09 +0000
Gardiner forum on substance abuse focuses partly on reducing stigma Tue, 30 Aug 2016 01:41:46 +0000 GARDINER — More than 30 people spent two hours discussing ways to reduce the impact of substance abuse in local communities during a Monday forum at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Gardiner.

The forum was part of a three-year project by Healthy Communities of the Capital Area to determine what the greatest health-related problems affecting the area are, as well as how to address them.

“We need to build communities, we need to reduce stigma and we need to teach each other about how we care,” said Joanna Joy, executive director of the Gardiner-based organization.

Police Chief James Thoman said he continues to encourage his officers to be seen throughout the community.

“It’s the old adage of get out of the car and go to events that are occurring, whether that be a Little League game or a concert at the waterfront,” Thoman said after the meeting. “I tell them to be approachable and be a part of the community, and let the citizens get to know you on a first-name basis because that breaks down barriers.

“Good things happen when there are no barriers,” he said.

Reducing the stigma associated with substance abuse was a focus of the meeting.

One way to do that, Joy said, is to increase community understanding of the impact of substance abuse and to educate the community about the impact that adverse childhood experiences and trauma have on substance abuse.

Bob Creamer of Hallowell, who spent more than two decades as a recovery counselor, said stigma is a big part of the problem.

“If we continue to focus on the people and not the problem, we’ll keep having these meetings until we’re all gone,” Creamer said. “Addiction is an illness and that is the problem. The person is the victim.”

Creamer said part of the stigma comes from the language people use when talking about substance abuse, including “clean.”

“You hear someone say they are clean when they aren’t using,” Creamer said. “Well, the other side of that would be someone is dirty if they are using, but we don’t use those words when talking about any other disease.”

Nobody says a person who is in remission from cancer is clean, and when they are fighting the disease they are dirty, Creamer said.

Before the meeting broke into group discussions, Joy shared several alarming statistics from the most recent Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey.

Data showed that 63.1 percent of high schoolers from southern Kennebec County, which includes 18 towns from Wayne to Richmond and on both sides of the Kennebec River, don’t believe that marijuana is harmful and 42 percent of local high school students said they’ve vaped.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Gardiner program director Nate Mitchell recently spoke to a group of mostly high schoolers and said peer pressure and the desire for attention are among the reasons kids use alcohol and drugs.

The same survey found that 50 percent of area high school students feel like they don’t matter to other people. Later in the meeting, the discussion focused on making community connections by increasing shared activities between students and their parents or guardians and by identifying safe spaces for youths to be with their peers.

Last week, data released by the Maine Attorney General’s Office showed drug overdose deaths continuing to climb in Maine with opioids including heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers at the heart of the problem.

There have been 189 drug overdose deaths this year in Maine through June 30, an increase of 50 percent over the same period last year, when there were 126 overdose deaths, according to the data.

Joy said she wasn’t shocked when she read the report. She said her organization has interviewed foster families, local teenagers, Head Start program providers, people in recovery and health care providers in researching ways to reduce the risk factors associated with substance abuse.

The Mayo Clinic says people of any age, sex or economic status can become addicted to a drug, but the health care organization identifies several factors that can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction. Those include lack of family involvement, peer pressure, anxiety, depression and loneliness and having another mental health disorder.

An application is due in September for a grant that would provide $60,000 per year for the organization to continue the community collaboration fostered in these meetings. Joy is confident the Gardiner-based organization will receive the funding.

Healthy Communities of the Capital Area will hold a similar forum at the Buker Community Center in Augusta at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

]]> 1 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:53:52 +0000
Falmouth plans to hire consultant for Route 1 North design Tue, 30 Aug 2016 01:15:54 +0000 FALMOUTH — The town plans to hire a consultant to develop a long-term concept plan for part of Route 1.

In a request for proposals issued Monday, the town said it wants to create a 25-year vision and creative plan for Route 1 North, a section between the Maine Turnpike spur and the Cumberland town line.

The area is one of two commercial growth areas in town and is zoned as a business professional district. According to the town, the area is intended for commercial and mixed-use growth and possibly residential development. According to the request for proposals, the consultant would help a town committee and staff to articulate a vision for the area, identify infrastructure improvements and come up with possible amendments to land use regulations.

Falmouth has master plans for commercial areas on Route 1 south of the turnpike spur and Route 100, on the west side of town, but no plan for Route 1 North.

The deadline for proposals is Sept. 29.

]]> 2 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:18:33 +0000
Outrage prompts Italy to alter funeral plans for earthquake victims Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:59:17 +0000 ROME — Italian quake survivors rebelled in anger Monday over the government’s plan to hold a state funeral for their loved ones in an airport hangar in a distant town, where scores of bodies are being kept in refrigerated trucks, and let them watch it on screens from near their emergency tent camp.

One relative of 7-year-old twins who perished in central Italy’s Aug. 24 quake was so upset by the announcement he could barely speak, holding up seven fingers when explaining how old the children were. The mayor of Amatrice, the hardest-hit of the three medieval towns flattened by the quake, was also upset.

“Give us back our dead!” yelled one man in the crowd of several dozen survivors.

Sensing a public relations disaster, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi’s government quickly reversed course, and he said the latest state funeral will take place Tuesday in the devastated Apennines hill town.

So far, 231 of the quake’s 292 victims have been found in Amatrice, with the toll rising by two Monday when two bodies were extracted from rubble.

The bodies of some 10 people, including that of the town’s baker, are believed to be still buried under the rubble of hundreds of buildings that collapsed, many reduced to piles of stones. Hundreds of people were injured.

Last week, a stream of ambulances brought more than 100 victims in body bags from Amatrice and another hard-hit town, Accumoli, to the airport at Rieti, 40 miles away. There they were being kept in refrigerated big-rig trucks parked in the hangar. Some relatives who live elsewhere in Italy had sent hearses with coffins to claim their loved one’s body for funerals elsewhere.

But nearly 80 bodies that families hoped would be buried near Amatrice or Accumoli remained at the hangar, and now, after the government relented, the corpses were going to be transferred back to the town.

Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told a crowd that Renzi had just spoken with him by phone. “He granted the people’s appeal,” the mayor said.

Later, Renzi told state TV: “There were so many polemics, but it’s absolutely right the people be able to weep for their dear ones in their place, their village.”

Renzi’s office later announced that the premier had declared Tuesday as a day of national mourning. The funeral will be held at the edge of Amatrice’s obliterated medieval town center, on the grounds of a Catholic retreat home for elderly and others seeking a quiet respite in the mountains.

The same complex has a makeshift morgue, with about 10 corpses still inside awaiting official identification.

On Saturday, a first day of national mourning, a separate state funeral, for 35 victims was held in Ascoli Piceno, a town unscathed by the quake.

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 21:14:43 +0000
Fairfield police close in on burglary suspects Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:55:16 +0000 FAIRFIELD — Police are closing in on suspects in a string of car burglaries last year, while dealing with a new spate over the last 10 days.

There have been reports of about 16 car burglaries since Aug. 19 on downtown streets, according to Police Chief Tom Gould. Most are happening late at night and the burglars seem to be targeting unlocked vehicles, he said.

Burglaries occurred on Kelley, High, Main, Savage and West streets. Car windows were broken in some recent burglaries, he said.

Gould said his department just received results from DNA testing of evidence from last summer’s 40 car burglaries and may bring charges within the next two weeks.

The chief said a burglary spree like the recent one isn’t uncommon. It’s the second or third string of car burglaries he’s seen in Fairfield since he became police chief three years ago.

There were a large number of car burglaries last summer in Fairfield and Skowhegan from June to August. The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office worked with Fairfield and Skowhegan police to investigate the dozens of burglaries on Bigelow Hill Road, Six Rod Road and Center Road. Police believed the burglaries were related.

One string of burglaries involved seven cars that were all unlocked and burglarized early on June 17.

Police are reviewing video footage to narrow down the list of suspects in the recent burglaries. Gould said residents and businesses with exterior surveillance cameras should check their footage and call Officer Shanna Blodgett at 453-9322 if they see anything suspicious.

Gould also encouraged people whose cars have been burglarized but have not yet notified police to do so.

He said people should be careful to secure their cars and should report any suspicious activity to the police.

]]> 0, 30 Aug 2016 00:40:26 +0000
FAA expects a surge of commercial drones as new rules take effect Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:41:37 +0000 WASHINGTON —There will be 600,000 commercial drone aircraft operating in the U.S. within the year as the result of new safety rules that opened the skies to them on Monday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration estimate.

The rules governing the operation of small commercial drones were designed to protect safety without stifling innovation, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a news conference.

Commercial operators initially complained that the new rules would be too rigid. The agency responded by creating a system to grant exemptions to some of the rules for companies that show they can operate safely, Huerta said.

On the first day the rules were in effect the FAA had already granted 76 exemptions, most of them to companies that want to fly drones at night, Huerta said.

“With these rules, we have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world’s busiest, most complex airspace,” he said.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said people are “captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer.” The few thousand commercial drones that had been granted waivers to operate before Monday have been used to monitor crops, inspect bridges and transmission lines, assist firefighters, film movies, and create real estate and wedding videos, among dozens of other uses.

In general, the new rules apply to drones weighing 55 pounds or less, and require commercial operators to:

 Keep the drone within sight at all times.

Keep drones from flying over people not involved in their operation.

Limit drone operations to the hours from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

Limit speed to no more than 100 mph.

Fly no higher than 400 feet.

Drone operators must also pass a test of their aeronautical knowledge administered by the FAA. More than 3,000 people had registered with the FAA to take the test as of Monday.

The Air Line Pilots Association complained that the new regulations are “missing a key component” because there’s no requirement that drone operators first have an FAA pilot license to fly a plane.

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 21:30:15 +0000
Portland Democrats to host discussion on racism, inclusiveness Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:40:11 +0000 The Portland City Democratic Committee will host a panel discussion Thursday on racism and inclusiveness. The discussion is expected to include Gov. Paul LePage’s recent repeated comments about the racial makeup of drug dealers in Maine.

The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Reiche elementary school.

“When our governor goes on a racist tirade and calls people of color enemies of the state of Maine, you better believe that we’re going to fight hard to hold Gov. LePage accountable,” the committee wrote in an invitation sent Monday.

The discussion will be moderated by Danielle Conway, dean of the University of Maine School of Law. She will be joined by seven panelists from the Portland community: Mayor Ethan Strimling, the Rev. Kenneth Lewis, Rachel Talbot-Ross, Kate Knox, Ekhlas Ahmed, Sean Alonzo Harris and Samuel James.

]]> 33 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:54:55 +0000
Westbrook residents voice support for $27 million school expansion Mon, 29 Aug 2016 23:33:18 +0000 WESTBROOK — Residents spoke Monday night in support of a $27 million expansion at two Westbrook schools, but repeated their calls for a moratorium on housing development they said could strain the district.

The money would pay for a renovation and 12 new classrooms at Saccarappa Elementary School, as well as 12 new classrooms at Westbrook Middle School. The school committee voted unanimously in favor of the plan this month. The Westbrook City Council will need to have two public hearings before voting on the plan. About 20 residents showed up Monday night for the first; the second is scheduled for September.

If passed by the council, the bond will go to voters on the November ballot.

“Our building project is something that is absolutely necessary for the children who are in our schools right now, and the children who are coming to our community,” newly appointed Superintendent Peter Lancia said.

The city’s two other elementary schools – Congin and Canal — have been renovated in the last decade. City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Westbrook schools are at capacity, but the price tag for the construction might give pause to some in November.

“I don’t think there’s any question of the need for expansion,” he said last week. “I don’t know if they’ll be happy about the number.”

The six members of the public who spoke supported the project.

“I realize it is a big chunk of change, and we are all concerned about our taxes,” Cole Street resident Kathleen O’Neill-Lussier said. “However, education in this country and this city and this state still needs to be a priority.”

Ward 3 Councilor Anna Turcotte listed the challenges her two young children have experienced due to cramming at Saccarappa. Her son sometimes eats lunch in his classroom because the cafeteria can’t accommodate all the children, she said, and her daughter takes the bus to a different school for gym.

“They don’t know what’s not normal about that, because that’s what they’ve lived,” Turcotte said. “I think it does impede their education.”

In 2012, the school department closed Prides Corner School — and its 15 aging classrooms. In 2014, the City Council approved a sale of the building to a condominium developer. Fifth-graders moved to Westbrook Middle School, while elementary students were reshuffled throughout the district.

At the time, Prides Corner was in dire need of repair, and school officials said the district was experiencing a consistent decline in enrollment. From 2003 to 2009, the student population dropped from 2,688 to 2,390. The elementary schools alone shrank by 130 students during that period.

“Part of the rationale is, or was, how many school facilities do we want to maintain?” Bryant said.

That decline in enrollment, however, has reversed since then. For 2014, total district enrollment was back at 2,483. With 1,208 students in 2014, numbers for kindergarten through fifth grade are slightly higher than a decade ago. To accommodate those students, the district has added five portable classrooms at the elementary schools.

Bryant attributed that increase to a growing immigrant community in Westbrook, as well as new construction. Lancia has estimated 331 students could join the district by 2025, which factors in an ongoing housing boom in the city. Neighbors have pushed back on a major subdivision project, citing concern about its impact on already overcrowded schools.

On Monday night, some residents worried the planned expansion wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the city’s growth.

“It’s the dog chasing its tail,” Duck Pond Road resident Dale Perry said. “I think we need to control our growth. Don’t stop it. Just control it.”

Jessica Corriveau, who lives on Austin Street, echoed an earlier request for a 180-day moratorium on residential building permits, which residents have requested in order to revise Westbrook’s process for approving new construction. In particular, she and others advocated for a system of fees on developers to account for future impacts on public infrastructure like schools.

“It’s a Band-Aid on a wound,” she said. “I’m very upset that our city continues to give out permits to keep building when our schools are already overcrowded. … It seems like the city has the opportunity to ask (developers) to chip in.”

Rocco Risbara, president of Risbara Bros., said more than half of 146 apartments at his Blue Spruce Farm development are leased, and none have school-age children. He said charging a fee for an impact that might not exist is “unfair.”

“Our apartments simply don’t produce children,” he said.

If approved by voters, the renovation of the schools would be complete no sooner than 2018. In a report to the City Council, Lancia noted the school department would likely need to hire three new employees as a result of the expansion — an administrative assistant, a custodian and a cafeteria worker.

“Initially, the growth at Saccarappa would be addressed by reassigning teachers from other schools,” he wrote. “Any additional teaching positions would be requested through our annual budgeting process as enrollment increases.”

Documents related to the school expansion are available online as part of the City Council agenda and on the school department website. The second public hearing on the plan will take place during the council’s meeting Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at Westbrook High School.

]]> 11, 30 Aug 2016 10:43:34 +0000
FBI investigates hacking of state election systems Mon, 29 Aug 2016 23:17:22 +0000 Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russian hackers were behind the assault on the election system in that state.

The bureau told Arizona officials that the threat was “credible” and severe, ranking as “an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10,” said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

As a result, Secretary of State Michele Reagan shut down the state voter registration system for almost a week.

It turned out that the hackers did not succeed in compromising the state system or even any county system, but rather had managed to steal the user name and password for one Gila County elections official.

Nonetheless, the revelation comes amid news that the FBI is investigating suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems, and this month warned states to be on the alert for intrusions.

In Illinois, officials discovered an intrusion into their state voter registration system in July.

The FBI’s Aug. 18 warning follows heightened concern over Russian hacks of Democratic Party organizations and possible meddling in the presidential election.

Although the hackers did not alter any data, the intrusion into the Illinois database marks the first succesful compromise of a state election database, federal officials said.

Until now, countries such as Russia and China have shown little interest in voting systems in the United States. But experts said that if a foreign government gains the ability to tamper with voter data, for instance by deleting registration records, such a hack could cast doubt on the legitimacy of U.S. elections.

Meanwhile, the recently discovered hacks have state officials across the country scrambling to ensure that their systems have not been compromised. At least two other states are looking into potential breaches, officials said.

“This was a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign (international) entity,” said Kyle Thomas, director of voting and registration systems for the Illinois State Board of Elections, in a message that was sent to all election authorities in the state.

In July, officials in that state discovered the intrusion, in which hackers were able to retrieve voter records. The amount accessed was “a fairly small percentage of the total,” said Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois elections board.

State officials alerted the FBI, he said. The Department of Homeland Security also got involved, he said. The intrusion led the state election board to shut down the voter registration system for a week.

In June, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office shut down part of its website after the FBI found a potential threat to its state voter registration system, according to the Arizona Republic.

Following those breaches, the FBI issued its “flash” alert, which listed Internet protocol addresses and other technical fingerprints associated with the hacks.

“The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected,” said the FBI alert, which was first reported by Yahoo News.

The FBI declined official comment other than to note it “routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators” it turns up in investigations.

The bureau has told Illinois officials that they’re looking at possible foreign government agencies as well as criminal hackers, Menzel said.

The technical details in the alert were gathered by the MS-ISAC, a multi-state information-sharing center that helps state, local and tribal government agencies combat cyber threats and that works with federal law enforcement agencies.

“I’m less concerned about the attackers getting access to and downloading the information,” said Brian Kalkin, vice president of operations for the Center for Internet Security, which operates the MS-ISAC. “I’m more concerned about the information being altered, modified or deleted. That’s where the real potential is for any sort of meddling in the election.”

And James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has told Congress that manipulation or deletion of data is the next big cyber threat – “the next push on the envelope.”

But Tom Hicks, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, an agency set up by Congress after the 2000 Florida recount to maintain election integrity, said he is confident that states have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure efforts at manipulation will be unsuccesful.

For one, he said, if a voter’s name does not show up on the list, the individual can still cast a provision ballot and once his or her status is confirmed, the ballot will be counted. Also, he said, in general the voting systems themselves “are not hooked up to the Internet” and so “there’s not going to be any manipulation of data.”

Nonetheless, more than 30 states have some provisions for online voting, primarily for voters living overseas or serving in the military. An official at the Department of Homeland Security cautioned this spring that online voting is not yet secure.

“We believe that online voting, especially online voting in large scale, introduces great risk into the election system by threatening voters’ expectations of confidentiality, accountability and security of their votes and provides an avenue for malicious actors to manipulate the voting results,” said Neil Jenkins, an official in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security.

Some private-sector researchers say some of the information released by the FBI points to a potential Russian link, but they caution that their work is preliminary. Rich Barger, chief information officer at ThreatConnect, said that several of the IP addresses trace back to a website-hosting service called King Servers that offers Russia-based technical support. He also said that one of the methods used was similar to a tactic in other intrusions suspected of being carried out by the Russian government, including one this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“The very fact that (someone) has rattled the doorknobs, the very fact that the state election commissions are in the cross-hairs gives grounds to the average American voter to wonder: Can they really trust the results?” Barger said.

On Aug. 15, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call with state election officials, offering the Department of Homeland Security’s assistance in protecting against cyberattacks.

He said that DHS was “not aware of any specific or credible cybersecurity threats relating to the upcoming general election systems,” according to a readout of the call. It was not clear whether he was aware at the time of the FBI’s investigation into the Arizona and Illinois intrusions.

]]> 9 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:35:30 +0000
Oil spill response ship pulled from service as Portland pipeline deliveries slow Mon, 29 Aug 2016 23:09:27 +0000 The Maine Responder, a massive pollution-control vessel that has been moored in Portland Harbor for more than two decades, has been pulled from service because its operator has lost funding and the risk of an oil spill in the region has dropped because of declining tanker traffic to the Portland Pipe Line Corp.

News of the change Monday surprised many who work to ensure the safe operation of the harbor and are concerned about protecting Casco Bay and shipping routes that the vessel has covered from Maine to Massachusetts and beyond.

The Marine Spill Response Corp. of Herndon, Virginia, confirmed Monday that the 210-foot-long vessel, which has docked in Portland since 1995, had been removed from service and its six crew members had been told they will lose their jobs.

Marine Spill Response will keep the boat in the water at Union Wharf and will continue to operate 10 other spill-response vessels, so several shipping companies and other facilities in the area that contract for its services will be able to maintain Coast Guard-approved spill-response plans, said company spokeswoman Judith Roos.

“(The Maine Responder) is being removed from active service as of today,” Roos said in a phone interview while in Portland. “We will continue to be able to meet our customers’ planning obligations in this sector even without the Maine Responder.”

Roos said the harbor has a “lower risk profile” because “trading patterns have shifted” in recent years, but she declined to draw a direct connection to the dwindling flow of the Portland Pipe Line, which delivers foreign crude from its ocean terminal in South Portland to refineries in Montreal.

“There are fewer tanker vessels trading into this area,” Roos said. “The (Maine Responder) will be deactivated with the potential to be reactivated should trading patterns change.”

Roos wouldn’t say how much it cost to operate the Maine Responder.

Peter Milholland, longtime staff member at Friends of Casco Bay, called the decision to suspend the service “shocking.” As pilot of the organization’s baykeeper’s boat, Milholland has participated in numerous spill-response drills and assisted in the cleanup after the 1996 crash of the tanker Julie N, which dumped 170,000 gallons of oil into the harbor after striking the former Portland Bridge.

“It will be a big loss to our area,” Milholland said. “There are a lot of other threats to our waters. There are other vessels that come through with other (petroleum) products, and lots of other boats with the potential for having problems, including cruise ships.”


The pipeline has nearly shut down in recent months as demand for foreign crude has fallen in the wake of booming tar sands oil production in Alberta, Canada. The pipeline received no oil deliveries from January through May this year, then took in nearly 1.4 million barrels in June, according to the latest data available from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Pipeline officials declined to provide recent shipping data, so it’s unknown whether additional crude deliveries arrived in July and August. The pipeline transported more than 22 million barrels in 2015, down from 32.6 million barrels in 2014, according to the DEP.

“(The pipeline) remains open for business, supporting its customers, the community (and) employees … and continuing the safe and excellent operation it has long been known for,” spokesman Jim Merrill said in a prepared statement.

Merrill noted that the pipeline company has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of South Portland, challenging its 2014 ban on crude oil exports, a measure intended to protect air quality that also effectively stops the pipeline company from possibly reversing its flow in order to export tar sands oil from Canada.

The Marine Spill Response Corp. is a nonprofit, Coast Guard-classified “oil spill removal organization,” according to the company’s website. It was formed after the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which was passed by Congress following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. It is the largest emergency response organization of its kind in the U.S., offering oil spill cleanup services that mitigate environmental damage.

Shipping and trading companies that belong to the Marine Preservation Association, a separate nonprofit membership corporation, contribute a certain percentage of their receipts to operate the company and meet its capital needs.


Marine Spill Response has held a lease at Union Wharf for 21 years, said Charlie Poole, president of the Proprietors of Union Wharf.

Poole declined to comment on the company’s plans for the Maine Responder, other than to say that “they have a lease and they have honored their lease.”

The Maine Responder is one of 15 responder-class oil spill vessels operated by the Marine Spill Response Corp. across the U.S. In addition to a helipad, it has radar technology and infrared cameras that can detect oil in the water, hauls a 2,640-foot oil-containment boom and is capable of skimming and recovering 444,000 gallons of oil and water per day. The nearest vessel of its kind is in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, also operated by Marine Spill Response.

Crew members of the Maine Responder could fill job openings elsewhere in the company, Roos said. The company will keep five staff members in Portland. Vessels still operating out of Union Wharf include an MSRC 620 skimming barge and a 30-foot Kvichak Marco skimming vessel.

Wyman Briggs, the spill response preparedness specialist with the Coast Guard in South Portland, was among several local officials who were surprised to learn about the Maine Responder’s fate.

“It’s an unfortunate loss,” Briggs said. “It’s a very capable vessel. There’s not another one of its size in this area. Obviously we always prefer to have more response capability.”

Briggs said the Coast Guard will likely review the spill response plans of companies who have contracted for the services of Marine Spill Response.

Milholland noted that several other agencies also provide spill-response services, including the Coast Guard, the DEP and private contractors, such as Clean Harbors.

Acting Harbor Master Kevin Battle and South Portland Fire Chief Jim Wilson also were surprised to learn that the Maine Responder was being pulled from service.

Wilson said regional officials were scheduled to hold a tabletop spill-response drill Sept. 7. Now they’ll have a new factor to consider.

“Anytime you reduce a capability to respond, you have to make sure you can still respond adequately,” Wilson said. “We’ll probably get a good idea of the change in our capability when we meet next month.”

Staff Writer Penelope Overton contributed to this report.


]]> 17, 30 Aug 2016 08:27:44 +0000
New school opens at site of Sandy Hook shootings Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:59:51 +0000 HARTFORD, Conn. — Elementary school students attended school in Sandy Hook on Monday for the first time since a shooting rampage there killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

Joseph Erardi, Newtown’s School Superintendent, said it was a great and uneventful day for the just under 400 students at the new 86,000-square-foot Sandy Hook Elementary School, which was built to replace the one torn down after the December 2012 shooting.

“I spent all day there and it felt the way that it should feel,” he said. “Students were excited to be there.”

The $50 million replacement was built on the same property as the former school, but not in the old footprint. All that remains are two large concrete slabs containing dinosaur footprints that also sat outside the old building.

About 70 current students attended the Sandy Hook Elementary School when the shooting occurred. School officials say about 35 of them were in the building at the time, but none witnessed the shootings. Those students, who were all in kindergarten at the time, are now fourth-graders.

Erardi said he visited all of their classrooms and there were no issues.

Because of retirements and transfers, about 60 percent of the staff members from the original Sandy Hook are still with the school. Others left through retirement or job changes, and a handful chose to transfer as part of their recovery process, Erardi said

He credited parents for creating a smooth first day back for students, noting the vast majority of families took the time to tour the new school in advance of opening day to prepare the children.

“It was a back to business first day,” he said. “There was nothing extraordinary that took place with announcements with any type of ceremonies. Just off the bus and let’s go to work.”

After the shooting, Sandy Hook students attended a school in neighboring Monroe, which renovated a previously closed elementary school to serve as a temporary home for them.

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 18:59:51 +0000
Maine man makes court appearance after being bitten by police dog Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:57:44 +0000 AUGUSTA — A man who fled into the woods in China late Saturday after allegedly threatening to kill family members with a screwdriver went before a judge Monday via video from the Kennebec County jail.

Dwayne A. Kuse, 46, was arrested in the woods near the home after a police dog tracked him and bit him.

Kuse was treated at the Augusta hospital for bite wounds before being brought to the Kennebec County jail early Sunday.

According to an affidavit by Sgt. Jacob Pierce of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, police responded to a Mann Road address after a woman reported that her ex-boyfriend was intoxicated, pushed her and “threatened to stab everyone at the residence with the screwdriver and that he was holding it in a threatening manner.” There were seven people at the home, including Kuse.

The woman called again to say Kuse was hollering in the driveway “that he was going to kill everyone and to ‘come find me.'” Later, she called to say he was yelling, “I’m going to slice your throats tonight.” She also said there was a loaded handgun in the home.

Kuse then fled into the garage and finally into the woods.

He was located in the woods, according to the report, and was bitten by Maine State Police Trooper G. J. Neagle’s dog, Draco.

Kuse was treated on site for the bite wounds and then taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center.

State police Sgt. Scott Dalton, who runs the K-9 Training Center at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, said Monday, “Apprehension canines are trained to bite and hold suspects.”

Pierce wrote that Kuse hollered at him during the ride to the jail and again threatened to kill people, including Pierce, after he was released.

“He threatened to kill the officer by putting a bullet between his eyes,” Assistant District Attorney Alisa Ross told Judge Evert Fowle at Monday’s hearing in the Capital Judicial Center, adding, “Alcohol was certainly a factor.”

Attorney Dennis Jones, serving as lawyer of the day, represented Kuse at the hearing and said, “There’s no question alcohol was involved. I believe there was serious intoxication.”

However, Jones sought a lower bail amount of $1,000 cash with a Maine Pretrial Services contract, saying Kuse hopes to get admitted to a detoxification unit at the VA Maine Healthcare System at Togus.

Jones said Kuse is a longtime employee of Togus, a homeowner and previously completed a probationary period successfully.

Kuse was held without bail over the weekend. On Monday, Fowle set bail at $5,000 cash or alternatively at $1,500 cash with a Maine Pretrial Services contract. Bail conditions prohibit Kuse from contact with his ex-girlfriend, from being anywhere in the town of China, and from using alcohol and illegal drugs.

Kuse did not answer to the charge of domestic violence criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a felony which would have to be presented to a grand jury. He pleaded not guilty to two related misdemeanor charges, domestic violence assault and domestic violence terrorizing.

Newspaper records indicate Kuse graduated from the Co-Occurring Disorders and Veterans Court, a specialty court aimed at helping defendants with mental health and substance abuse problems, in December 2014. He was admitted to the veterans court program, which operated out of Kennebec Superior Court, on Oct. 18, 2013, about eight months after he was charged with assault in South China.

After successfully completing that program, he was sentenced in January 2015 to 364 days in jail with all but 10 days suspended, to be served in the alternative sentencing program, and one year probation.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

Twitter: @betadams

]]> 5, 29 Aug 2016 18:57:44 +0000
Developer scales back plans for Blue Spruce Farm subdivision in Westbrook Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:56:39 +0000 A developer will scale back plans for a controversial housing complex in Westbrook because of a legal conflict with a landowner.

Risbara Bros. is already building nearly 200 single-family homes and apartments at Blue Spruce Farm on Spring Street. In response to high demand, the company applied to extend the subdivision by more than 300 units, mostly apartments.

Worried that the housing boom might strain the city’s roads and schools, some neighbors have called for a 180-day moratorium on residential building permits. Despite those concerns, the second phase of Blue Spruce Farm was on track for approval by the Planning Board this fall.

On Friday, however, company president Rocco Risbara penned a letter to the city to withdraw the current layout. “We will not be moving forward with the project as presented,” he wrote.

The land for the proposed second phase is owned by two separate entities – Westbrook Land Co. and resident Daniel Chick. Westbrook Land Co. is tied to a property management group in Massachusetts, according to property records.

Both properties are under option to Risbara Bros., but the company’s letter to the city suggests Westbrook Land Co. has backed out of the deal for its 29 acres. It is unclear what has caused the dispute, or whether it is related to concerns from residents.

“Due to the fact that the sellers of the Westbrook Land Company have breached the contract by refusing to close, we have been forced to file a lawsuit to compel their performance,” Risbara wrote.

That legal battle could take months or even years. If the land does become available, Risbara wrote that the company would consider it for additional development.

In the meantime, Risbara said development will move forward on the Chick parcel, which abuts the existing neighborhood. While the original proposal included 13 single-family homes, 40 condominiums and 250 market-rate apartments, the revised plans could include slightly more than 100 apartments. The new plans will likely call for nine buildings on 13 acres of land, according to Risbara’s letter.

The developer said redrawing the plans will allow Risbara Bros. to address some of the neighbors’ concerns, including cutting out a proposed public road.

“Buffering to existing neighborhood areas will be increased and easier to achieve with this plan as well,” Risbara wrote.

Bill Risbara, one of the company’s owners, did not return a call for comment Monday. The company will submit new plans to the city in coming weeks.

]]> 8, 30 Aug 2016 00:36:19 +0000
EpiPen maker says it will offer half-price alternative Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:41:03 +0000 EpiPen maker Mylan said Monday that it would introduce a generic version of the lifesaving allergy injection at half the price of the brand-name product, after politicians denounced the company for a drug coupon program seen as a public relations Band-aid.

The generic, which the company said will be launched “in several weeks,” will carry a list price of $300 for a two-pack carton. That is half the list price for the branded product, which costs $608 for a two-pack, but it is still nearly $40 more than the price three years ago, according to data from Truven Health Analytics.

“We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it,” Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch said in a written statement. “Our decision to launch a generic alternative to EpiPen is an extraordinary commercial response.”

Joshua Sharfstein, a professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, called it a face-saving move by the company. The generic offers a way of dropping the price of one version of the drug, while also bringing the company some benefits. It will allow Mylan to segment the market, because some people will continue to buy the brand-name product.

Sharfstein said one important question will be whether the price stays the same over time.

The introduction of Mylan’s generic also won’t automatically open the window to true competition from other generic companies, said Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers Law School. Companies can introduce generics of their brand-name drugs, called “authorized generics,” but the effect on competition is ambiguous, he said.

“We have more competition than we did yesterday, but on the other hand, we don’t have wide-open competition among the generics,” Carrier said. “And maybe by having this authorized generic, we’re keeping at bay some of that true competition.”

He noted that when the first generic drug enters the market, it usually gets a very shallow discount off the brand-name list price – maybe 5 percent or 10 percent. It is only when multiple generics enter that deeper discounts occur. The deep initial discount off the brand-name price could make the market less attractive to generics companies.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has been trying to launch a generic version of the drug, but it was rejected by regulators earlier this year for “certain major deficiencies,” according to a spokeswoman. The product launch has been delayed until at least 2017.

Public Citizen, a patient advocacy group, noted that not everyone will get access to the generic, making it an incomplete solution to the high price – similar to the critique leveled at the coupons and patient assistance.

“The weirdness of a generic drug company offering a generic version of its own branded but off-patent product is a signal that something is wrong,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said in a written statement. Mylan “aims to continue ripping off some segment of the marketplace – both consumers who do not trust or know about the generic, and perhaps some insurers and payers constrained from buying a generic.”

He noted that the price in Canada is $200 for a two-pack of EpiPens and the price in France is even lower.

]]> 13, 29 Aug 2016 20:33:36 +0000
Affleck tweets sneak peek at potential Batman nemesis Deathstroke Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:21:36 +0000 Live-action footage of DC Comics villain Deathstroke on the internet is nothing new – we’ve seen the character on the CW show “Arrow,” portrayed by actor Manu Bennett. Live-action Deathstroke footage being tweeted by Batman himself, Ben Affleck, well, that’s something else entirely.

In Batman-like stealth fashion, Affleck dropped a tweet with what looks to be test footage of an unidentified actor suited up as Slade Wilson, aka one of the most lethal killers in the DC Comics universe: Deathstroke.

The question that has no doubt stopped the presses over at The Daily Planet is what part, if any, Deathstroke may have in Warner Bros./DC Entertainment’s upcoming movie slate. We know that Affleck recently had his utility belt amplified slightly when he was named an executive producer of WB/DC’s upcoming “Justice League” movie.

Deathstroke doesn’t seem to be the type of villain who would scare Affleck’s Batman into traveling around the world searching for super-powered beings. In “Justice League,” Affleck/Batman is building a team to go up against an unknown – as of right now – and possibly other-worldly threat. Deathstroke is a heavy hitter when it comes to DC bad guys, but does Batman really need Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, the Flash (and possibly a back-from-the-dead Superman) to take him on?

What if this footage is instead the beginnings of a solo Batman project that he and DC Entertainment President Geoff Johns have both confirmed they are working on? We’ve already seen Batman’s rivalry with another assassin, Will Smith’s Deadshot in “Suicide Squad.” Deathstroke seems like the right type of villain for future solo-Batman films.

While it might be a while before we know who is under the Deathstroke mask and when and where he’ll appear, if there’s one thing this reveal does confirm, it’s that the DC Comics universe on film is continuing to grow.

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 18:21:36 +0000
Puppy retrieved 3 weeks after East Madison crash, scrawny but alive Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:16:09 +0000 A Labrador retriever puppy that was thrown from his owner’s car during a crash on U.S. Route 201 has been found and reunited with his family after surviving more than three weeks in the woods of East Madison.

Tucker, the 7-month-old puppy, was rescued Friday with the help of volunteers from Maine Lost Dog Recovery who set a live trap for the dog, said Chief Deputy James Ross of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

Ross said Tucker was on the verge of starvation when he was found, and pictures on the Maine Lost Dog Recovery Facebook page show a very skinny dog with his ribs showing. Maine Lost Dog Recovery did not immediately respond to requests for details Monday.

The nonprofit organization works with families of lost dogs, shelters, animal control officers and people who find lost dogs to help reunite them with their owners, according to the Facebook page.

Tucker’s owner, Shanya Pottle, 20, of South China, was seriously injured in the Aug. 9 crash that took place about a mile north of the Lakewood Golf Course. The dog was reportedly thrown from the vehicle during the crash and had been missing since.

Pottle was taken by ambulance to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan and later transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

A hospital spokeswoman at Maine Medical Center said Monday that she did not have a record of anyone with Pottle’s name at the hospital.

Pottle could not be reached for an interview Monday.

A truck driver who Pottle passed immediately before the crash told police she was on her cellphone, and police said at the time the crash may have been because of distracted driving.

Ross said Monday that he did not have further information on the cause of the crash or Pottle’s condition. He said it is unlikely there will be criminal charges.

“Under the circumstances it would be really hard to prove (that there was distracted driving),” Ross said. “That’s what it appeared to the truck driver who passed her, but being able to convert that into something you can prosecute is hard.”

]]> 6, 29 Aug 2016 19:38:10 +0000
Portland police release images of car wash robber Mon, 29 Aug 2016 20:50:56 +0000 Police in Portland have released new images of an Aug. 20 robbery at the ScrubaDub car wash and are asking the public to help identify the robber.

The man entered the business about 9:15 p.m. and demanded money, threatening a clerk with a large knife. The business also serves as a gas station and small convenience store.

The man then ran off.

Surveillance video shows a light-skinned man in his 30s or 40s. He was wearing a blue Red Sox baseball cap, a red hooded sweatshirt with a design on the chest, jeans and tan work boots. He was seen riding a bicycle in the parking lot just prior to the robbery.

Police continue to investigate a similar robbery of Bimbo’s Bakery at 1037 Forest Ave. that occurred on Aug. 23. In both incidents, the robber was armed with a large knife.

Anyone with information about the robber or either robbery should contact Portland police at the anonymous tip line at 874-8584.

]]> 15, 29 Aug 2016 17:32:29 +0000
Gene Wilder, zany star of ‘Wonka’ and Brooks films, dies at 83 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 19:30:27 +0000 Gene Wilder, an actor whose work with comics Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor made him one of the most popular stars of the 1970s and whose memorable portrayals of neurotics and eccentrics included the hilariously mad scientist in “Young Frankenstein,” died Sunday at home in Stamford, Conn. He was 83.

A nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, confirmed the death in a written statement that said the cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Wilder had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma nearly two decades ago.

He grew up in the Midwest, trained at the Old Vic in England and brought classical stage technique to Brooks’ outlandish humor. “My job was to make him more subtle,” Wilder once said. “His job was to make me more broad.”

But sometimes Wilder brought important comic ideas to Brooks. While filming “Young Frankenstein” (1974), a tribute to Universal Studios horror movies of the 1930s, Wilder urged that he and Peter Boyle, who was playing the monster, tap-dance a duet to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

Brooks objected to the musical number until a test audience reacted with howls of laughter.


In another era, Wilder’s Harpo Marx-like mop of golden hair, his slight physique and his soft, almost lisping voice might have hindered a career as a leading man. But Brooks once said he found Wilder “a natural . . . an Everyman with all the vulnerability showing. One day God said, ‘Let there be prey,’ and he created pigeons, rabbits, lambs and Gene Wilder.”

Brooks channeled the actor’s wide-ranging comic talents into many types of roles. For the theatrical farce “The Producers” (1968), Wilder played an ultra-nervous accountant who becomes hysterical when his baby-blue security blanket is taken away. It was a portrayal that film critic Pauline Kael called “almost a shtick of genius.”

In the western spoof “Blazing Saddles” (1974), Wilder played the other extreme as the Waco Kid, an alcoholic gunman whose draw is so quick that he disarms eight attackers in one scene without the camera detecting any expression or movement on his part.

After an early Broadway career, Wilder debuted onscreen in a brief role as a kidnapped undertaker in “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967).

He soon teamed with Brooks, and Wilder’s comic skills tended to overshadow his work as a director, writer and championship fencer, all of which he displayed in “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother” (1975).

His other well-known portrayals included the candymaker who gleefully watches greedy children meet their just deserts in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and a doctor lovestruck with a sheep named Daisy in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask” (1972).

The second role was widely acknowledged as an exercise in brilliant deadpan comedy. Keeping in character, Wilder later joked that the part was made easier because of “very attractive things about this sheep, the little black hairs around each eye.”

With Pryor, Wilder made several buddy comedies that broke ground in their interracial teaming, including “Silver Streak” (1976) and “Stir Crazy” (1980). Wilder pushed for casting Pryor to deflect cries of racism in light of controversial material, such as the scene in “Silver Streak” in which Wilder applies shoe polish to his face and tries to “act black.”

Wilder’s career faded in the 1980s after he made a series of undistinguished films, several co-starring his third wife, “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Gilda Radner. After her death from ovarian cancer in 1989, Wilder co-wrote a book about ovarian cancer and started a cancer support network.

Gene Wilder was nominated for an Oscar twice: as Supporting Actor in "The Producers" and as a "Young Frankenstein" co-writer.

Gene Wilder was nominated for an Oscar twice: as Supporting Actor in “The Producers” and as a “Young Frankenstein” co-writer. Associated Press/Jessica Hill


Jerome Silberman was born in Milwaukee on June 11, 1933. He later took his stage name from the playwright Thornton Wilder. His first name came from the main character of Thomas Wolfe’s novel “Look Homeward, Angel,” although Wilder later wrote in a memoir that his psychoanalyst suggested another reason: His mother’s name was Jeanne.

As a boy, Wilder was warned by a doctor that if he directed anger toward his emotionally fragile mother, it might kill her. He spent hours trying to make her laugh, and from there he developed an interest in theater. Along with acting classes, he took up fencing and won the all-school fencing championship during a year spent at the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England. He also enrolled at the Actors Studio in New York, where he studied the “Method” style that asks performers to draw on personal memories in forming a character.

After Army service in a psychiatric ward, Wilder picked up his theatrical career and appeared in several Broadway productions. His small role in Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children” in 1963 proved crucial to his career. Also in the show was actor Anne Bancroft, whose then-boyfriend Brooks was a TV comedy writer struggling with a film script.

“Mel said to me, ‘I’ve got a great idea for a movie, and you’re the only one I want for this part,’ ” Wilder told The New York Times in 1967. “Three years went by, and I didn’t hear from him, not a message, not a phone call. Then I was in (the Broadway comedy) ‘Luv,’ and one matinee day I got a knock on my door, and he said, ‘You didn’t think I forgot, did you?’ ”

The film was “The Producers,” and the supporting role brought Wilder an Academy Award nomination. His only other Oscar nomination was for co-writing “Young Frankenstein.”

Wilder made no more movie appearances after 1991, although he periodically acted on television. He won a 2003 Emmy Award for his guest role on the sitcom “Will & Grace,” playing a quick-to-anger boss.

Mostly, he devoted himself to painting and writing, including the memoir “Kiss Me Like a Stranger” (2005).

His marriages to Mary Mercier and Mary Joan Schutz ended in divorce. Survivors include his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, a speech therapist who taught him to lip-read for his role as a deaf man in “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” (1989).

]]> 6, 30 Aug 2016 00:32:37 +0000
With goat’s help, elusive Clydesdale goes AWOL for 5 days Mon, 29 Aug 2016 19:11:06 +0000 SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — A dwarf billy goat gave new meaning to the word “scapegoat” when he busted out a surprisingly slippery Clydesdale that went on the lam in California for several days.

Budweiser was safely back in his corral Sunday, after his frolic in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Photo courtesy of Tamara Schultz via AP

Budweiser was safely back in his corral Sunday after his frolic in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Photo courtesy of Tamara Schultz via AP

The nearly 1-ton horse named Budweiser, who goes by “Buddy,” was safely wrangled back into his pen Sunday in the Santa Cruz Mountains on California’s Central Coast.

The goat named Lancelot knows how to butt open the stable gate, and did just that Wednesday, letting his best friend escape, owner Tamara Schmitz told the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.

Another Clydesdale, Harry, also fled and was nabbed in a meadow the next day. But Buddy was more wily, Schmitz said.

“Buddy’s very elusive,” she said. “He’s not like other horses. He’s not attracted by meadows and other horses. He can stay hidden.”

That made him very hard to find. He eluded volunteers from around the Santa Cruz area for five days, with evidence like tracks and loud snorts suggesting he was as far as 3 miles away.

The owners even trotted out Lancelot and Harry to try to lure back Buddy, but he didn’t fall for it. They just hoped the horse would stay away from Highway 17, a busy and dangerous road running through the area.

A pair of searchers on horseback finally found Buddy hiding amid manzanita shrubs Sunday.

“When we got him back in the pen, he was particularly frisky and playful and happy,” Schmitz said. “I think he was glad to be back.”

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 15:21:58 +0000
Stephen King tweets LePage is a ‘bigot, homophobe, racist’ Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:41:09 +0000 AUGUSTA — Maine author Stephen King is chiming in on recent controversial remarks by Gov. Paul LePage, saying the Republican is “a bigot, a homophobe and a racist.”

King made the comments on Twitter this weekend.

Last week, the governor said blacks and Hispanics make up the majority of drug arrests in the state. He also left an obscenity-laced tirade on a Democratic lawmaker’s voice mail, calling him a vulgar name that can also be used as a gay slur.

LePage said he believed the lawmaker had called him a racist, which the lawmaker denies. LePage says he takes it “very seriously” when someone calls him a racist.

Last year, King told the governor to “man up and apologize” after LePage said states without income taxes had lured away Maine residents including King.

King maintains his Bangor residence.

]]> 41 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:44:47 +0000
Concert review: Sean Lennon, Les Claypool create something altogether new Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:37:41 +0000 The Claypool Lennon Delirium played to the edge of imagination at the State Theatre on Sunday night. Their heavy mix of classic and newly minted songs, with a variety of electronic enhancements, kept the large crowd engaged and moving. And their sense of humor further served to make the 90-minute performance an exciting one.

Les Claypool and Sean Lennon have established a promising partnership after befriending each other last year during a combined tour of their respective bands, Primus and The Ghost of the Sabre Tooth Tiger. Claypool’s virtuosic electric bass work and Lennon’s getting-better-all-the-time lead guitar playing, combined with some shared eccentricities, has already made the group a formidable force in a music scene hungry for something new, even when it contains many elements of what’s come before.

The group offered several tunes from their album, “Monolith of Phobos,” a collection put together by minds obviously open to what’s beyond the everyday.

The title piece emerged from a spacey electronic haze to establish the setting for Claypool’s insistent vocal, asking “why we live and do or die.” The song’s spooky lyrics were mirrored in an instrumental core shared among Claypool’s percussive bass work and Lennon’s psychedelic guitar lines. Keyboardist Mark Ramos Nishita and drummer Paul Baldi filled out the sound.

Some comedic camaraderie, initiated by Claypool, led to the funky “perversity” of their song about “Mr. Wright,” who’s always “creeping through the night.”

The arty, prog-rock era of the last century seems to have special allure for the band as selections by King Crimson and Pink Floyd figured prominently in the mix.

“The Court of the Crimson King” added drama, with Lennon’s vocals calling to mind the playful dreaminess of his Beatle father John Lennon’s psychedelic period. A wash of organ chords and heavy-on-the downbeat guitar thunder also reinvigorated this vintage anthem.

Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine,” with its descending chorus seemingly out of some sci-fi B-movie, likewise took things to an edge of the musical universe that this group favors. A soaring guitar solo matched Lennon’s vocal in celebrating the ethereal.

Things reached transcendent levels on the set closer, a tune written by Lennon’s dad that highlighted the ways in which the son sounds and thinks like his legendary father. “Tomorrow Never Knows,” with its exotic harmonies and movement-inducing rhythmic lurch, rode the young (at 40) scion’s vocals into a spectacular instrumental close with wah-wah guitar evolving into a loop of sound that persisted as Lennon doffed his hat to the crowd and left the stage.

The evening began with a brief set from JJUUJJUU, a quartet well into its own journey to psychedelic jam nirvana.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

]]> 1, 29 Aug 2016 17:26:22 +0000
Lockdown lifted at Corinna school; man in protective custody Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:37:19 +0000 The Corinna Elementary School was in lockdown for about an hour and a half Monday afternoon following a report of a suicidal man in the area who was taken into protective custody shortly before 2 p.m., according to reports.

Police were responding to a report of a man who had threatened to harm himself with a knife in an apartment or residence about 200 to 300 yards away from the school, according to Lt. Mark Brooks of the Maine State Police. The man was reportedly taken into protective custody shortly before 2 p.m. when the lockdown was lifted, but police were not immediately available to confirm that.

The school was in lockdown starting at around 12:15 until just before 2, according to Principal Ellen Surprenant.

“We have resumed all normal activity,” Suprenant said around 2 p.m., adding that there was no threat to safety at the school.

At around 1 p.m., Brooks said troopers were at the scene talking with the man and trying to get in touch with his family to get him help. Brooks said the man had only threatened to hurt himself and had not made threats against others.

“Anytime you have something like that happening so close to a school they advise the school to go into a lockdown to make sure nobody goes in or out until they resolve the situation,” Brooks said.

Additional information was not immediately available from police.

This story will be updated.

]]> 0 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:59:16 +0000
Rumford drug felon gets 4 years in prison for gun possession Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:24:52 +0000 A 27-year-old Rumford man was sentenced to four years in federal prison on Monday for possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony.

Troy Blanchard was arrested Jan. 19 by police in Rumford after he was spotted walking along a road in town with a shotgun.

When police pursued him, Blanchard dropped the gun and went into a nearby residence, where he was arrested without incident.

Blanchard has been prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a 2014 conviction in Oxford County for drug trafficking. He was sentenced by District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby.

]]> 0 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:20:07 +0000
Maine Maritime Museum honors Eimskip for ‘extraordinary’ impact Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:18:50 +0000 Shipping company Eimskip USA was honored by the Maine Maritime Museum last week for its “extraordinary contributions” to the state’s maritime heritage and its impact on Maine’s culture and economy.

The company, which is based in Iceland but operates its U.S. headquarters in Portland, received the museum’s annual Mariners Award at a ceremony Wednesday.

“The Icelandic shipping company’s decision in 2013 to make Portland its primary U.S. port of call has had – and will continue to have – a transformative effect on Maine’s economy,” according to a release from the museum announcing the honor.

It cited the company’s involvement in getting Maine to become an active member of the multinational Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum for discussing sustainable development and environmental protection and other issues in the Arctic. Portland will host an Arctic Council forum in October, drawing representatives from countries all over the world.

John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, provided the keynote address, and Eimskip USA’s Managing Director Larus Isfeld accepted the award on the company’s behalf.

]]> 1 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:33:18 +0000
LePage considers ‘corrective action’ after Republicans intervene Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:58:52 +0000 AUGUSTA — Top Republicans in the Maine Legislature met Monday night with Gov. Paul LePage and were told he planned to speak with his family and advisers to decide how he’ll respond to the outrage over statements he made last week threatening a Democratic legislator and identifying blacks and Hispanics as “the enemy” in Maine’s war against drug addiction.

Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport spoke with the governor at the Blaine House for about 90 minutes, said Thibodeau spokesman Jim Cyr.

“The governor told leadership he was going to be speaking with his closest friends and family about the corrective action that Thibodeau was talking about (earlier in the day) and he would get back to leadership (Tuesday),” Cyr said.

After the meeting, which also was attended by House Assistant Minority Leader Ellie Espling of New Gloucester, Thibodeau told television reporters, “The ball is now in the governor’s court.”

Fredette, in a telephone interview after the meeting, said House Republicans will hold a caucus Tuesday evening to discuss the events of the past few days involving the governor. The caucus will take place at 6 p.m., but the location has not been determined.

Fredette declined to speak about what happened at the meeting with LePage and said the Legislature and state government need to focus on issues such as dealing with the state’s drug crisis, welfare reform and reducing high energy costs.

“Those are some of the issues that the people of Maine really care about. Personality differences are not going to solve any of those problems,” he said.

Espling said the meeting with LePage went well.

“It was proactive and productive. Us being able to have the time to sit down with the governor is a really good thing. We were able to air a lot of our concerns,” Espling said.

Rep. Drew Gattine, the Democratic legislator from Westbrook who received LePage’s obscenity-laced voice mail last week, appeared Monday night on MSNBC to discuss the governor’s actions and the national attention they have drawn.

“The governor’s behavior becomes more erratic and bizarre, calling into question whether he’s fit to serve,” Gattine said in response to questions from host Chris Hayes.

Gattine, in a telephone interview Monday evening with the Portland Press Herald, said two members of the board of directors for the My Place Teen Center in Westbrook told him that the board voted Monday to cancel the governor’s town hall meeting there, which had been scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Donna Dwyer, the center’s president and CEO, said in an email that LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett had been notified that the center did not have the capacity to host the town hall.

Bennett and other LePage representatives did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday.

Democratic leaders commended Republicans for taking the matter seriously, but said a possible legislative censure was not enough and that LePage should step down.

After a short closed-door meeting Monday morning with a handful of House and Senate Republicans, Thibodeau said he had spoken with Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, who posted a statement Sunday on Facebook saying a legislative censure of LePage might be appropriate, and suggesting that LePage may have a substance abuse or mental health problem that requires professional intervention.

Thibodeau said many other Republican senators share her concern.

“She is not on an island here,” Thibodeau said of Volk. “Look, if anybody did this, that was an employee of any corporation in our state, there would be ramifications.”

But Thibodeau and Fredette refused to speculate on what those ramifications might be for LePage or what “corrective action” he needed to take.

After leaving the profane voice mail for Gattine last week, LePage then told reporters he was so angry at Gattine he wished it were 1825 and the two men could duel over their disagreement.

“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage said. “And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”

LePage was reacting to Gattine’s response to statements the governor made Wednesday at a town hall meeting in North Berwick, where he told a member of the audience that more than 90 percent of those arrested for drug trafficking in Maine since January were black or Hispanic.

LePage also said he kept a three-ringed binder with booking mugshots of those charged with drug crimes as proof. That statement prompted Gattine to say LePage’s comments were “racially charged.”

On Friday, LePage met with reporters again for nearly 40 minutes, apologizing for the language he used in his message to Gattine but not apologizing for saying it. He also reiterated his position that drug-trafficking crimes in Maine are largely perpetrated by people of color.

“Look, the bad guy is the bad guy, I don’t care what color he is,” LePage said Friday. “When you go to war, if you know the enemy and the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, then you shoot at red.”

LePage then turned to Fredette, who was at the news conference and serves as a military lawyer in the Maine Air National Guard. “Don’t you – Ken, you’ve been in uniform – you shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

Federal statistics on drug trafficking arrests in Maine show that is not true. The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service reported that in 2014, 1,211 people were arrested for selling or making drugs in Maine, and of those, 170 – or 14.1 percent – were black.

LePage was in Boston earlier Monday discussing energy and other issues at the 40th Conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. During the event, the governor again turned to the theme of the race of drug dealers involved in heroin and fentanyl arrests in Maine.

“They’re Hispanic and they’re black and they’re from Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Bronx and Brooklyn,” LePage said, according to a State House News Service report quoted in Boston Magazine. “I didn’t make up the rules. That’s how it turns out. But that’s a fact. It’s a fact. What, do you want me to lie?”

Thibodeau said that while Republican leaders had a range of ideas on what should take place after their Monday meeting with LePage, they had not settled on a plan.

“I think there is a whole bunch of different ideas about what the right thing to do is, but I don’t think there was anybody that thought what has transpired is appropriate,” Thibodeau said. “And I would hope that we could come up with something that ends well for the governor as well as the people of the state of Maine.”

LePage’s comments triggered national media attention and were the focus of intensive coverage on MSNBC, CNN, ABC and CBS news and a host of other online, print and television outlets. Many broadcast audio recordings of LePage’s inflammatory voice mail to Gattine, with the obscenities bleeped out.

Rep. Kevin Battle, a Republican from South Portland, told the Associated Press that LePage felt provoked, though that didn’t excuse him from failing to control himself. “There’s some very upset people and rightfully so,” said Battle, who won’t be able to caucus Tuesday. “There needs to be a professional approach.”

Fredette said he and other lawmakers are frustrated by the distraction that LePage’s behavior causes, saying it is keeping them from working on important policy issues, including the state’s opioid drug crisis.

Democratic leaders issued a statement Monday reiterating their position that LePage needed to resign.

Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, assistant majority leader in the Maine House, said Democrats were trying to give their Republican colleagues the space and the time they need to address LePage’s actions.

“Republican leadership needs to take care of the problems that are going on with their chief executive, with their governor, and I think by having that meeting they are showing they want to do that,” Gideon said.

She said she did not know what “corrective action” means, but for Democrats there were only two options for LePage.

“We’ve all been very clear in what we are looking for,” Gideon said. “We feel that the governor has really demonstrated behaviors, and it’s not just that it’s not appropriate for a governor, it shows that he is not in control of either his emotions or his actions, and yes, we have called for his resignation. We think it should be nothing short of that.”

Gideon also echoed some of Fredette’s frustration about LePage’s actions being a distraction for lawmakers.

“We all know we have so many challenges in this state to address, and the really interesting and sad thing about this is (that) all of this sort of arose from one of our greatest challenges, which is this drug abuse and addiction challenge we have in this state,” she said. “It is really just crazy that we are not working together and working on this instead find ourselves embroiled in what is not productive, and quite destructive, actually.”

To vote on a censure of LePage or take any other official action against him, the Legislature would have to convene in a special session. In order to do so, a majority of the members in the Republican and Democratic caucuses in both the House and the Senate would have to agree.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.


]]> 341, 30 Aug 2016 10:44:36 +0000
Scratch Baking Co. to close for a week while it opens its new bakery Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:39:20 +0000 Scratch Baking Co. in South Portland will close Sept. 6-12 so that it can move its bagel- and bread-making operations out of Willard Square and into the former Getty station on the corner of Sawyer Street and Broadway.

Scratch Baking Co.'s Willard Square store in South Portland will close for a week starting Sept 6. John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Scratch Baking Co.’s Willard Square store in South Portland will close for a week starting Sept 6. John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

The Willard Square site will reopen Sept. 13, according to a notice posted for customers. While baking will be underway on Broadway, the “toast bar” where customers can purchase bagels to take away, or enjoy toast and bagels with a variety of toppings, will open in late fall.

Sonja Swanberg, co-owner of Scratch, announced in April that the bakery was expanding, an effort to provide some relief to customers tired of standing in long lines or frustrated by how early Scratch’s popular bagels sell out. Most mornings, customers arriving after 10 a.m. are left holding an empty bagel bag. Swanberg told the Press Herald in April that the new facility will produce at least 25 percent more bagels per day.

Nothing will change at the Willard Square location other than the baking of bread and bagels being moved off site.

]]> 4, 29 Aug 2016 14:23:52 +0000
Driver suffers medical problem, hits Macy’s at Maine Mall Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:32:44 +0000 A pickup truck whose driver suffered a medical emergency crashed into Macy’s department store at the Maine Mall on Monday morning.

The driver and a passenger were both taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, according to South Portland Police Lt. Todd Bernard.

The crash occurred when the driver experienced an unspecified medical emergency while behind the wheel. The pickup took out a fire hydrant before it struck the side of Macy’s, causing minor damage to the building.

The hydrant will have to be replaced, Bernard said.

]]> 0 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 20:25:50 +0000
Citing lack of capacity, hosts say ‘no’ to LePage’s planned town hall event in Westbrook Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:09:08 +0000 The board of the Westbrook teen center where Gov. Paul LePage planned to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday night has voted to cancel the event.

The move follows growing condemnation of the governor’s recent actions, including inaccurate comments he made that drug traffickers arrested in Maine are predominantly black and Hispanic, and an obscenity-filled voice mail he left Drew Gattine, a Democratic state representative from Westbrook.

Westbrook leaders last Friday, in an open letter defending Gattine, said LePage had “humiliated himself and the office” with his latest actions.

However, LePage told his staff last Thursday, while several reporters were present for a meeting with him, that he wanted his next town hall to be in Westbrook.

Donna Dwyer, president and CEO of My Place Teen Center in Westbrook, confirmed Monday night that LePage’s planned town hall meeting had been canceled because the teen center lacked the capacity to host it.

Wednesday’s event was to be held just one week after a town hall in North Berwick during which LePage disclosed that he has been keeping a three-ring binder of photos of suspects charged with selling drugs in Maine. He said that 90 percent of the photos were of black or Hispanic suspects, prompting many to criticize the governor for focusing on race. LePage previously had made comments about black drug dealers from out of state coming to Maine and impregnating “white girls.”

Among those who criticized LePage for his latest comments was Gattine, who as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee has tussled with the governor.

Told Thursday, the day after the North Berwick town hall, that Gattine had questioned his comments about race, LePage responded angrily to reporters and then left an expletive-filled voice mail on Gattine’s cellphone. He later told reporters that he wished it were 1825 so he could challenge Gattine to a duel.

Gattine has denied calling the governor a racist, but said he was troubled by LePage’s racially charged language.

LePage met with reporters later Thursday after leaving the voice mail and again on Friday in an effort to further explain himself, but he did not apologize to Gattine and did not back off his claims about race and drug dealers. In fact, he took his comments further.

Referring to the fight against drug traffickers as a war, he said: “You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

Since Friday, many lawmakers, including a growing listnumber of Republicans, have called on the governor to seek professional treatment. Democratic leaders have asked him to resign. Senate Republican leaders said Monday that they met with the governor to discuss “corrective action.”

Westbrook’s Mayor Colleen Hilton, a Democrat, was among many who condemned the governor’s recent words and actions. Along with City Council President Brendan Rielly and School Committee Chairman James Violette, Hilton last week addressed an “Open Letter to the People of Maine.”

“Once more Governor LePage has humiliated himself and the Office of the Governor,” it read. “He continues to again embarrass the citizens of this wonderful state. Unfortunately, the current target of his inappropriate outbursts is Drew Gattine, a respected member and leader of our community, the City of Westbrook, and a highly respected member of the Maine State Legislature.

“Drew Gattine is what we want in a Maine leader. He is totally dedicated to helping others, has integrity and a strong ethical compass, is willing to lead with humor and humility, is articulate and is open to dialogue with those who disagree with him.”

Rielly also confirmed that the town hall had been canceled and said that a rally for decency was scheduled for Riverside Park at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Westbrook, a mostly blue-collar mill city of about 18,000 residents, has seen its demographic makeup shift in recent years. Many immigrants and refugees have settled in the city, in large part because of affordable housing, and recent events have created racial and ethnic tension.

After it was learned this month that Adnan Fazeli – an Iranian refugee who became an Islamic State radical – had lived in Westbrook, Muslims in the same housing complex were targeted with anonymous typed notes that read, “All Muslims are Terrorists should be Killed.”

Westbrook, like many communities, also has been hit hard by the heroin and opiate epidemic. Following a rash of overdose calls, the city’s police department accepted an offer by Maine’s attorney general to equip officers with more doses of the life-saving drug Narcan.

In 2014, Westbrook had 11,770 registered voters, made up of 38 percent Democrats, 22.9 percent Republicans, 4.5 percent independent and 34.6 unenrolled,according to the secretary of state. When LePage was re-elected in 2014, he received 41 percent of the votes cast in Westbrook.

House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, criticized LePage for wanting to schedule the town hall event in Gattine’s hometown.

“It’s unbelievable that the governor plans to hold a town hall in Westbrook on the heels of his threats toward Rep. Drew Gattine. He doesn’t seem to be in touch with reality here. He keeps making bad decisions in the wake of his meltdown last week. This erratic behavior is why we and many Republicans do not have faith in his ability to hold his office.”

LePage previously held a town hall forum in Westbrook in February 2015, during which he talked mostly about his proposed budget. That event, one of his first town halls, was held at the city’s Performing Arts Center, located at the middle school.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.


]]> 104, 30 Aug 2016 13:08:53 +0000
Madawaska backs off proposal to drug-test welfare recipients Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:57:49 +0000 MADAWASKA — The town manager in Madawaska says he is backing off a proposal to drug test welfare recipients.

Madawaska Town Manager Ryan Pelletier said earlier this summer that such new rules could apply to the town’s use of state General Assistance money. He said on Monday that he is not moving forward with a random drug testing policy.

Instead, Pelletier is recommending that the town follow the state’s lead with drug testing requirements for convicted felons. He says he will tell the town’s Board of Selectmen on Monday night that the local charter commission should explore the adoption of a similar policy.

The General Assistance program provides money for things like food.

The ACLU had raised questions about the legality of the plan to drug test welfare recipients.

]]> 5 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 12:05:26 +0000
Clinton aide leaving Anthony Weiner after latest sexting revelation Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:45:20 +0000 NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is done playing the good wife to Anthony Weiner, announcing Monday that she is leaving the serially sexting ex-congressman after he was accused of sending raunchy photos and messages to yet another woman.

Abedin, who as vice chair of Clinton’s campaign is destined for big things if the Democrat is elected president, stayed with Weiner after a sexting scandal led him to resign from Congress in 2011 and after a new outbreak of online misbehavior wrecked his bid for New York mayor in 2013.

She didn’t leave even when a recent documentary blew up tense moments in their marriage to big-screen proportions.

But on Monday, she effectively declared she had had enough.

“After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband,” she said in a statement issued by the campaign. “Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life.”

The New York Post published photos late Sunday that it said Weiner sent last year to a woman identified only as a “40-something divorcee” who lives in the West and supports Republican Donald Trump.

The photos included two close-ups of Weiner’s bulging underpants.

In one of the pictures, Weiner is lying on a bed with his toddler son while texting the woman, according to the Post. The tabloid also ran sexually suggestive messages that it said the two exchanged.

Weiner told the Post that he and the woman “have been friends for some time.”

“She has asked me not to comment except to say that our conversations were private, often included pictures of her nieces and nephews and my son and were always appropriate,” the 51-year-old Democrat told the newspaper.

Abedin, 40, is a longtime Clinton aide and confidante who is often referred to as the candidate’s second daughter.

Abedin has been under scrutiny during the probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Federal prosecutors declined to file charges in the investigation, but FBI Director James Comey said Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.

Abedin began working for the former first lady as a White House intern and became a trusted aide as Clinton won a seat in the Senate representing New York in 2000, ran for president in 2008 and served as President Obama’s secretary of state. Former President Bill Clinton officiated when Abedin and Weiner married in 2010.

Abedin was pregnant with the couple’s son, Jordan, when a photo of a man’s bulging underpants appeared on Weiner’s Twitter account in 2011. After initially claiming his account was hacked, Weiner acknowledged inappropriate online communication with several women.

]]> 45, 29 Aug 2016 19:43:57 +0000
Truck carrying Takata inflators explodes, kills woman nearby Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:05:07 +0000 DETROIT — Air bag maker Takata Corp.’s troubles worsened Monday as the company confirmed that a truck carrying its inflators and a volatile chemical exploded last week in a Texas border town, killing a woman and injuring four others.

The truck, operated by a subcontractor, crashed, caught fire and exploded Aug. 22 in the small town of Quemado, about 140 miles from San Antonio, leveling the woman’s house. The company says it sent people to the site and is helping authorities investigate the crash.

Takata has a warehouse in nearby Eagle Pass, Texas, and it has an air bag inflator factory across the border in Monclova, Mexico.

The News Gram of Eagle Pass identified the victim as Lucila Robles.

Takata says it has strict procedures covering transportation of its products that meet all government regulations. The explosion left debris up to two miles from where the truck crashed, The News Gram reported.

Takata sent employees to the Quemado Public Library last week to advise residents to report any suspicious material on their property so it could be disposed of properly, the newspaper said. Authorities searched the area with metal detectors in an effort to find any inflator canisters.

Sheriff Tom Schmerber told the paper that to his knowledge, the county clean-up has finished.

Robles’ charred vehicle was one of the only items remaining at the scene of her home. It was later taken away.

Takata uses ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that fills air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to prolonged heat and humidity and burn too fast. That can blow apart a metal canister and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 11 people, and probably 14, have died worldwide due to Takata inflator explosions. The deaths have occurred in the United States and Malaysia, where three remain under investigation.

The Takata factory in Monclova made the faulty inflators that were blamed in several of the deaths.

The deaths and more than 100 injuries sparked a massive global recall of more than 100 million inflators, including 69 million in the U.S. in what has become the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

Earlier this month Takata stuck to its forecast of a $129 million profit for the fiscal year through March. It reported a quarterly profit of $19.8 million from April through June. But analysts note that recall costs that are now being shouldered by automakers eventually will be billed to the Tokyo-based Takata, which has had two straight years of losses over the recalls.

Takata also faces multiple class-action lawsuits over its defective air bag inflators.


]]> 2 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:05:11 +0000