Get ready to pay more for parking in Portland

Hey, everyone, mountain lions are people, too. Scientists have discovered that the big cats are terrified by the voices of political commentators like Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh.

Even though the mountain lions did nothing to them, researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz set up motion-sensitive cameras and speakers near places where the animals often eat their dinner in peace, then ruined everything by blaring the sound of talking heads railing on about politics.

Amazingly, the scientists found that more than 80 percent of the cats fled when they heard the noise, presumably to emigrate to Canada. The other 20 percent have been hired as commentators by Fox News.

Kidding. No, seriously, though, is anyone else concerned that these creatures will stop eating because they now associate food with the blathering of outraged talk show hosts?

Maine wildlife biologists maintain there’s no breeding population of mountain lions in Maine, presumably because they can’t stand seeing the state’s governor and House speaker sniping at each other in their Twitter feeds.

In other news…

What we’re talking about

Portland can weather a state government shutdown, at least for a while. The city distributes state aid from its own bank accounts and get reimbursed by the state government down the line, so at least in the short term, Portland would be OK. Lawmakers in Augusta need to get a two-year budget passed by July 1 to avoid a government shutdown, and they’re cutting it close. House Republicans made what they’re describing as a major concession in the stalemate over education funding this afternoon.

Maine’s senior Sen. Susan Collins may decide the fate of the GOP healthcare plan, which was crafted by a 13-person working group behind closed doors and could face a vote as early as next week. Republicans in Washington are trying to replace previous President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The Sun Journal’s Steve Collins (no relation to the senator) writes that the bill will die in the Senate if just three of the 52 Republicans therein break ranks and vote against it, and Susan Collins, considered one of the most moderate in the bunch, is one of those swing votes. Sounds like Maine’s other senator, independent Angus King, will be enthusiastically voting against it.

Portland’s Greek Food Fest starts today and continues through Saturday night at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Pleasant Street. Expect to find roasted chicken, lamb souvlaki, Mediterranean mezethes plates loaded with feta, olives, keftethes, hummus and pita chips, among other treats.

The rent is high in Portland. Wow! Who knew? Yeah, yeah. Everyone. But this searchable data set from the BDN’s Darren Fishell gives Portlanders the ammunition to lord it over people in Maine’s next largest two cities. Portland renters pay about 10 percent more of their income on rent than the national average, compared to folks in Bangor and Lewiston, who pay 10 percent and 20 percent less than the national average, respectively.

If you haven’t been enjoying the PortFringe festival yet, you still have a few more days to do so. The BDN’s Troy R. Bennett has a profile of performer Willi Carlisle, whose one-man folk operetta tells the thought-provoking story of a dying folk singer’s last performance. See an interview with Willi here, or catch him at Empire on Congress Street Friday night at 10:30 p.m. or Saturday at 1:45 p.m. PortFringe is an annual weeklong showcase of a wide range of bold performances across a number of city venues. There are still a whole bunch of shows to catch tonight, tomorrow and Saturday as the festival wraps up.

Tweet of the day

From Portland City Hall, delivering some bad news for your change purses:

The Big Idea

Does money really matter in elections? — Matt Gagnon of the think tank Maine Heritage Policy Center writes that the recent special election in Georgia represents more evidence it doesn’t. In that race, Republican Karen Handel was the latest to win a major election — in this case, a seat in Congress — despite being dramatically outspent during the campaign. Gagnon acknowledges that you need enough cash to be competitive, but writes: “There is a point at which you have enough money to make your case, and the voters have what they need to make a decision. Millions — or in the case of Georgia, tens of millions — of extra dollars will mean nothing, and in fact will often harm your candidacy by overexposing yourself and annoying voters.

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

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