Join BDN Portland for the presidential debate Monday

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street and a happy weekend to you all.

What we’re talking about

BDN Portland will host a viewing party for the first presidential debate this Monday at Think Tank Coworking. Join our local team and political reporter Michael Shepherd to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump throw down over the future of the United States.

Doors at 533 Congress Street open at 8 p.m. Pizza is on us, but bring your own beverage. 

Moderator Lester Holt announced that the official debate topics will be “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America.” While these are pretty broad, here’s a brief primer on two issues of special importance to Portlanders and Mainers:

Immigration: Portland has long been a resettlement site for immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Earlier this year, the first Syrian refugees arrived in the city, and just this week, state business leaders said that attracting new immigrants to Maine is an economic necessity.

The major parties’ nominees for president are starkly divided on immigration. Clinton wants to give so-called dreamers a path to citizenship, and Trump has called for deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and building a wall along the Mexican border.

The two also have taken opposing views on whether Muslims and people from the Middle East should face extra immigration hurdles, with Trump in favor and Clinton opposed. They are likely to clash on President Barack Obama’s administration’s proposal to admit 110,000 refugees in 2017.

Gun control and gun violence: As in Maine, where expanding background checks to cover private gun sales will be Question 3 on the November ballot, nationally the presidential candidates have been weighing in on gun control. The issue of mass shootings is likely to come up in the debates as are the persistent police shootings of black men and women. 

Both Clinton and Trump expressed concern over the fatal police shootings of black men in Oklahoma and North Carolina this week, but their proposed solutions to police violence are very different. On the question of expanded background checks, the candidates are clearly divided. Clinton is in favor and Trump opposed, although a few years ago, the Republican candidate praised Obama’s call for tighter gun control after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.   

In Maine, the campaigns for and against expanded background checks are both being supported by monied, national lobbying groups. The ballot measure has gotten support from Maine law enforcement leaders, but it is staunchly opposed by state gun sport advocates.

You can RSVP to watch the debate on our Facebook page. And on a quick nonpartisan political note, congratulations to Portland City Clerk Kathy Jones who today won the Lorraine M. Fleury Award from the secretary of state for here contribution to the election process.  


Part of Lobsterman Park renamed for ex-city manager — A former Portland city manager was honored this afternoon when the city dedicated a portion of Lobsterman Park to him. The new John E. Menario Plaza sits near the intersection of Middle Street and Temple Street. A bronze plaque bearing the manager’s likeness was placed several yards from the statue depicting a Maine lobsterman. 

The city credited Menario “with helping to change the city’s landscape through urban renewal programs and an overhaul of the city’s business center” in a statement. Menario served in various roles in city government from 1967 to 1976. The plaque honoring him was paid for with private money.  

More bad news from Bath Iron Works — Bath Iron Works is eliminating 160 jobs across its engineering, finance, human resources and support departments. The shipbuilder announced Friday that it will lay-off 30 employees and cut another 130 positions through retirements, transfers, resignations and canceled job postings.

The job cuts come one week after BDN’s Beth Brogan broke the news that BIW had lost its bid for an $11 billion shipbuilding contract from the Coast Guard. But company spokesman Matt Wickenheiser said the two events are unrelated.

Common Ground Fair Starts — The Common Ground Fair kicked off today in Unity. If you’re looking to get away from the city for the weekend, BD Portland’s Kathleen Pierce has six reasons you should check out the celebration of Maine agriculture. I, for one, am excited for the sheep dog demonstrations. 

The Big Idea

 Obama’s exit interview — With his would-be successors vying to fill the Oval Office, Barack Obama sat down with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to talk about his presidency and what comes next.

 Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at, or tweet @JZBleiberg.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.