Education official charged over suspended license

A newly elected member of the Portland School Board has been issued a summons by Falmouth police on a charge of driving with a suspended license.

Lt. John Kilbride, a spokesman for the Falmouth Police Department, said Tuesday that Sgt. Kevin Conger stopped 44-year-old Pious Ali of Portland on the night of Dec. 20.

Ali won election to an at-large seat on the board in November.

Kilbride said Conger had cause to pull Ali over after he observed his car “drifting” over the centerline on Route 1, near the Martin’s Point Bridge, while driving 10 mph under the posted speed limit.

Ali is scheduled to appear in Portland District Court on Feb. 13, according to Kilbride.

Ali said he did not notify the state of an address change when he moved in early 2013 from Cape Elizabeth to Portland, an oversight that he says may have resulted in his not being notified that his license had been suspended Dec. 11.

“It was an honest mistake,” Ali said.

State records show that Ali has been involved in at least two minor traffic accidents since October 2012 in which he allegedly rear-ended other vehicles.


Woman escapes house fire that killed one of her cats

A woman, her two dogs and two cats escaped a two-alarm fire Tuesday morning in Berwick that destroyed a garage and left her home with extensive smoke and fire damage.

Deborah Whitman was roused by her smoke alarm at 6 a.m. and saw that the garage attached to her house at 9 Haley Road was in flames, said Fire Chief Dennis Plante.

One cat died in the fire.

Berwick firefighters were joined by nine fire companies from surrounding communities and brought the fire under control in about an hour.

Plante said the cause has not been determined and the State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.

When Whitman fled the house, the temperature was 3 degrees, Plante said. The extreme cold led to icing at the fire scene, he said.


Cutler won’t accept funding from PACs, campaign says

A Maine independent candidate won’t accept donations from political action committees in his bid for governor in 2014, his campaign staff said Tuesday.

The decision by Eliot Cutler will benefit Mainers because he won’t be bought by or beholden to special-interest groups and PACs, said a campaign spokeswoman, Crystal Canney.

“PAC money drives the agenda,” Canney said. “People in Maine deserve better than that.”

The year-end fundraising deadline for the governor’s race was midnight Tuesday. Campaigns are expected to file fundraising reports in January, which will show how much money is pouring into the likely three-way race next November. Cutler lost to Republican Gov. Paul LePage by less than 1 percentage point in a three-way race in 2010.

Lizzy Reinholt, a spokeswoman for the Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, said Cutler’s announcement was disingenuous, arguing that he hasn’t been backed by any major organizations, so he wasn’t likely getting much PAC money anyway.

It seems “more of a political ploy than an actual, genuine effort to keep money out of politics,” she said.

As a businessman and investor, Cutler is able to self-finance his campaign like he did in 2010 with more than a million dollars of his own money, Reinholt said.

LePage extends rule waiver for heating fuel truck drivers

A waiver of a federal safety rule will allow drivers of heating fuel delivery trucks in Maine to work more than 60 hours behind the wheel each week, Gov. Paul LePage’s office said Tuesday.

The governor extended for two weeks a waiver of the federal rule because of recent snow and ice storms that battered parts of the state before Christmas. More snow and a deep cold snap are expected to arrive later this week and last for several days.

LePage first declared the limited emergency Dec 13. Tuesday’s two-week extension will end Jan. 18.

Throughout the state, some residents have had to reschedule home heating oil deliveries because truck drivers could not safely reach their homes because of insufficiently cleared roads or icy conditions along driveways and access roads.


Four arrested after fight leads police to find drugs

Police say a fight at a Rockland hotel over the weekend has led to the arrests of two Maine residents and two people from Massachusetts.

Officers responded Saturday to the Trade Winds Motor Inn, where they found two men fighting in the lobby, allegedly over a drug transaction.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency says a search of two rooms turned up 25 grams of crack cocaine, 200 oxycodone pills, drug paraphernalia and $4,700 in cash.

Police arrested Cameron Soto, 21, of Fairhaven, Mass., and Felicia Timoteo, 21, of New Bedford, Mass., WABI-TV reported.

Also arrested were Christopher Sawyer, 25, of Vinalhaven and Veronica Ames, 23, of Rockland.

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