Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Portland restaurants are donating money to defeat a push for a higher minimum wage; Gabby Giffords is coming to Portland to stump for gun control; and the story behind a reclusive Portland man who gave a fortune to a neighboring school district.
What we’re talking about
Restaurants got a pass when Portland raised its local minimum wage to $10.10. They’ve made it clear they don’t want the issue to rear its head again.
At least 19 Portland restaurants have donated to the ballot question committee Restaurateurs for a Strong Maine Economy, which opposes the minimum wage question.
The fourth question on the November ballot would raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020. For restaurants, the proposal would totally change how tipped staff gets paid, putting them on track to get the full minimum by 2024, at the earliest. Currently in Portland, the base wage for tipped employees is $3.25.
Through September, Portland restaurants made up the bulk of commercial contributions to the opposition campaign, putting in $17,800. Contributions from Governor’s Restaurants, listing their Old Town address, put the town at the next-highest spot, with $4,000.
DiMillo’s topped the list of donors to the opposition campaign, which also included restaurant owners with a less established history of political activity.
That includes relative newcomer Central Provisions, Empire, Brian Boru, Bayside American Cafe (/Bintliff’s), The Great Lost Bear and Jay Villani’s restaurants — Salvage, Sonny’s and Local 188.
In total, the opposing groups had raised relatively little. Groups supporting the question had raised almost $1.4 million through September, compared with $116,710 from opponents. —Darren Fishell
In other news
Why a Portland recluse gave a fortune to Falmouth schoolkids — In his “permanent Portlanders” series, where he profiles people buried in town, Troy Bennett writes:
Crispus Graves of East Deering was a bit of a recluse. He lived with his older brother, Eben, in one cluttered room in their otherwise neat farmhouse. Their walls were papered with news accounts going back decades. They kept mostly to themselves. Neighbors said they only changed their clothes when absolutely necessary.
Legend has it, the neighborhood kids were not kind to Crispus Graves and they would throw rocks at his horse when he passed by.
That may have something to do with the fact that when Graves died, in his early 60s, he left over $15,000 to School District No. 5 — in the neighboring town of Falmouth.
The would-be developer of the controversial Sheridan Street condo complex offered to sell the property to the city — In this newsletter last week, Jake Bleiberg broke the news that a city councilor is planning to block — at least temporarily — a proposed condo development that would obscure the view of Back Cove from Fort Sumner Park on North Street.
Today, Randy Billings follows up with a story that includes this detail:
[Developer Bernie] Saulnier has offered to sell the roughly half-acre development site to the city. Consultant Patrick Venne said the developer offered the land for $1.5 million, or just aerial rights for the upper floors for an undisclosed price.
City Manager Jon Jennings said Monday evening that he has had several discussions with the developer about acquiring the land, but he offered neither support nor opposition. It would be up to the council to make the final decision, Jennings said.
Gabrielle Giffords will campaign for the background check referendum tomorrow in Portland — From a news release: The former congresswoman will stump for the state referendum question that would expand background checks to most private sales. She’ll be joined by Portland police Chief Michael Sauschuck.
The Big Idea
United by pot, divided by policy: How Maine’s pro-marijuana forces disagree — Mike Shepherd writes:
That divide is emblematic of one of the biggest hurdles for marijuana advocates in Maine — finding common ground among the enthusiasts who philosophically agree with legalization, which for two generations was a white whale for starry-eyed counterculture activists and a third rail for politicians.
Now it’s neither. Maine is among the 25 states with medical marijuana laws. Four states — Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska — have legalized recreational marijuana, and Maine is one of five more voting to legalize it in November.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at email@example.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.
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