Good morning from Augusta. Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hear the speech that he gave at Bowdoin College in 1964 here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Much courting was done in the red leather seats. Handholding, sharing popcorn and such was part of growing up in those years,” Becky Drew said, recalling time spent at the Island Falls Opera House, which is being restored by a local businessman. “The lobby was a great place with candy and popcorn and drinks in paper cups that often served as flying comments when the film broke or the bad guy was not appreciated or if the romance got a bit heavy.”
What we’re watching today
Maine is stepping up security measures in Augusta ahead of the inauguration, though protests in the past few weeks have been minimal. The State House, which has been closed to the public since the coronavirus hit last spring, added officers and metal detectors at entrances to an adjacent office building, and police were staked out over the weekend in anticipation of a potential demonstration that never materialized.
Gov. Janet Mills activated the National Guard out of caution in case there is a demonstration in Augusta the day of the inauguration, although she said there is no evidence there will be anything other than peaceful protests. It’s a sign of how on edge leaders are around the country as Wednesday approaches following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. All 50 states have taken similar measures, according to The New York Times.
In Augusta, protests have been relatively quiet and small. A Sunday event saw a heavy police presence but nothing to police. Protests have been taking place at the State House in recent weeks, but they have mostly been focused on opposition to mask mandates. Some attendees at a small rally on the day of the riot said they disagree with the violence that happened. Many of these people falsely believed, however, that the election had been stolen.
The Maine Capitol Police chief is now under scrutiny for social media posts in the wake of the riot. Chief Russell Gauvin has apologized for Facebook posts that questioned the November election results and mocking the use of masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Democratic governor told Maine Public that Gauvin is currently under review to determine whether he violated state policies.
Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, condemned Gauvin’s comments Friday, saying he should be held accountable depending on what the review found and if he could not maintain public trust, he should resign.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine may see slower COVID-19 vaccine expansion amid federal supply problems,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “The news is a blow to the federal and state efforts to fight the virus. The administration of President Donald Trump announced this week that it would release a large reserve of doses that were being held in reserve for second shots, but The Washington Post reported Friday that the reserve was already depleted by the time that announcement came.”
The news that fewer doses could be available at the federal level comes as the virus shows no signs of slowing in Maine. The state saw more than 800 new cases confirmed each day for three consecutive days at the end of last week, and fell behind a dozen states in terms of confirmed cases on a population-adjusted basis. The seven-day average of the positivity rate remains above 5 percent after dropping below 1 percent last fall.
— “Federal court halts construction on last segment of CMP corridor,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “Just after Central Maine Power’s parent company said it had received the final key permit for its hydropower corridor and started construction, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that the company could not start work on the last 53 miles of the project from The Forks to the Canadian border.”
— “Maine businesses take a hit from canceled high school basketball tourney,” Ernie Clark, BDN: “No tourney means lost opportunities for the athletes and coaches to etch their names into Maine sports history. It also means lost revenue for the arenas, cities and businesses; the tournament organizer, the Maine Principals’ Association; and those who usually work in the venues.”
The full economic impact of Maine’s high-school basketball tournament has not been measured, but this year’s cancellation affects businesses and governments. The annual event in Maine’s hub cities of Portland, Bangor and Augusta was canceled due to the pandemic this year. At the city-owned Augusta Civic Center, it means a loss of $130,000 in revenue. Timber Kitchen and Bar in Bangor, across from the Cross Insurance Center, expects to lose $40,000 during the week normally reserved for the tournament.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews, Jessica Piper and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.
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