Should Mayor Strimling keep his new beard? Or shave it?

For at least the next four or five days, all of our file photos of Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling are unusable.

The somewhat famously well-groomed Strimling, once called the “senator from handsome-town” on The Daily Show, is now sporting a beard, as the Portland Press Herald’s Randy Billings Tweeted today.

The mayor later told Randy the facial hair experiment may be short-lived, as about 65 percent of the feedback he’s received has been in opposition to the beard. Randy Tweeted that Strimling told him the face fuzz won’t “last much longer” than Labor Day.

What do you think? #SaveStrimsBeard or #ShaveStrimsBeard?

What we’re talking about

Portland is installing 13 sound monitoring devices throughout the city. These things are meant to collect data on what constitutes normal noise levels in various places around Portland, so when people complain about loud concerts or bars, the city has something to compare that loudness to. City officials promise they’re just recording decibel levels, not what people are saying.

Chebeague Island lobsterman Alex Todd caught a rare white lobster. Lobster experts say a true white albino lobster is about a 1-in-100 million rarity, but also say Todd’s lobster might just be a somewhat less rare blue lobster that’s just between shells. Todd was skeptical he’d caught a blue lobster, saying based on the firmness of its shell, it had likely been months since the creature had molted.

Former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler is stepping down from his role as the head of an effort to consolidate the University of Maine System’s top graduate programs under one roof in Portland. Cutler said he’s done enough and never planned to make a career out of the job. But he maintained the project is worthwhile: “The traditional and still prevalent models of American graduate professional education — with siloed faculties and remotely relevant course content — don’t adequately prepare students for the challenges that they will face in the 21st century.”

A Scarborough ambulance team delivered a baby boy on Congress Street in Portland on the way to the hospital Wednesday night, according to a post on the town fire department’s Facebook page. “The parents had started to the hospital in their personal vehicle but pulled over in North Scarborough and called 911,” the post reads, in part. “Our crews responded, loaded her in the ambulance, and headed to the hospital. They delivered a healthy baby boy on Congress St”

The Forecaster’s David Harry has this deeper dive story about what a Portland city official has called “downtown issues,” namely a disturbing trend of bothersome and sometimes dangerous incidents involving mentally unstable individuals in the Old Port. The highest profile such incident came late last month, when a man came into Sisters Gourmet Deli on Monument Square and screamed vulgarities at the employees for an extended period before the police responded.

Maine state employees have agreed to “right to work” contract language long sought by Gov. Paul LePage. Both the Maine State Employees Association, which represents more than 9,000 executive branch employees, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents approximately 800 corrections officers and mental health workers, notified the state Wednesday that they have ratified two-year contracts. Those contracts will include 6 percent pay raises for the employees, but also have language eliminating the requirements that employees pay union fees even if they’re not members.

Tweet of the day

From BDN political reporter Michael Shepherd with more breaking gubernatorial campaign news:

The Big Idea

Science backs up the Scotch snobs: The drink is better with a splash of water.  Discover magazine provides the scientific evidence behind the long-held practice of Scotch aficionados. An excerpt: “Whiskey is … diluted, to roughly 40 percent, before it’s bottled, which causes ethanol to accumulate near the surface accompanied by guaiacol. When ethanol levels are diluted to 27 percent — say, when a Scotch drinker adds that splash of water — ethanol and guaiacol aerosolize, and those fragrant compounds waft into your nose. Taste and smell, of course, go hand in hand, so it appears the right amount water will indeed enhance the flavors.”

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