The political divide has only gotten worse

In terms of the political polarization, Maine is living up to its motto: Dirigo.

Almost a year after the state split is electoral college votes between the Republicans and Democrats, the Pew Research Center is reporting that the national political divide is wider than ever.

On issues including the social safety net, race and immigration, Pew’s poll found the views of people in the two parties to have diverged dramatically during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

More on what is going on in the part of the state that mostly voted for Trump later, but for now here’s the local news.

What we’re talking about

Four-hundred-fifty-eight and dropping. That’s the number of right whales that scientists believe to be left in water off the East Coast and Atlantic Canada. The whale count is down from 482 in 2010 despite the United State’s efforts to protect the critically endangered species. And the recent number doesn’t yet factor in the large die-off this past summer. The shrinking whale population is worrying to ecologists and animal lovers, and is also a concern for Maine lobstermen. They’ve already been required to switch to more expensive fishing equipment and gear configurations to try to reduce whale entanglements.

Maine is getting ready to put its court records online, but unless you’re a lawyer there’s a good chance you’ll still need to walk to court to look at most of them. That was the gist of the recommendation from the judicial committee deciding how to spend $15 million to digitize state court documents. People with cases before the courts and lawyers would be able to access their files online — and everyone would be able to view the court schedule, hearing notices and some other documents online. But the limited internet access to case files has open government advocates unhappy.

Finally, toast! After some delay, Scratch Baking Co. is expected to open up its new Toast Bar in South Portland in the next few weeks. The Forecaster’s Melanie Sochan reports that the new venture from the beloved bakery will feature all things toastable, plus an array of beverages. It’s located right next to Scratch’s bakery on 205 Broadway.

“It is time to do something” about the Maine State Pier and Portland Ocean Terminal, according to outgoing City Councilor David Brenerman. As the longtime councilor eyes the end of his term and time on the council, he’s looking for plans to redevelop the underused waterfront space, The Forecaster’s David Harry reports. City staff are evaluating new uses for the area, which also includes the Casco Bay ferry terminal, a small park and a large fenced-off area where vehicles wait to be driven on board the CAT ferry to Nova Scotia. Staff want to bring in an outside consultant to help them reimagine the space.  

Tweet of the day

From seasonally festive Booooooper Grover:

The Big Idea

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is unique in the Northeast as the only place to give Donald Trump and electoral college vote in last year’s election. Ten months into his presidency, BDN statehouse chief Chris Cousins wanted to hear how voters all over the northern half of the state think things are going.

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

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