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Portland Police investigating homicide on Brighton Ave.

Portland Police are investigating an apparent homicide that occurred at 214 Brighton Ave., according to a Friday night press release. Officers responded to the apartment at about 9:05 p.m. Friday evening and discovered one man dead, the press release reported. The incident is under investigation, and no one has been taken into custody at this time, police said. The perpetrator is not believed to be in the area, police said.

Police said anyone with information is asked to call the police department at 874-8575 or text anonymously to 274637 (Crimes) keyword "Gotcha."

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 November 2014 04:02

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They 'go down smooth': Lake Street Dive at State Theatre Saturday

Fans of the soulful sounds of Lake Street Dive might well use one of the band's own songs to sing their praises, telling them "You Go Down Smooth."11-21-14-TG-lake-Rachael-Price-left-and-Bridget-Kearney-of-Lake-Street-Dive

Lake Street Dive have been performing since 2004 after meeting as fellow students at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The band was hand picked by Minneapolis trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighborhood of seedy bars in his hometown. Vocalist Rachael Price came from outside Nashville, Tenn., bassist Bridget Kearney was an Iowa native, while drummer Mike Calabrese hailed from Philadelphia.

"I wasn't only impressed with their musicianship," says Olson, who acquired the nickname "McDuck" while at the conservatory for his reclusive ways. "They were also a lot of fun just to hang out with. The first four years of rehearsals were more like glorified dinner parties."

Those early years stand in stark contrast to the current tour, which is sold out until the new year. Back in the day, a low-budget video the band made of themselves covering Michael Jackson's "I Want You Back" on a Brighton, Mass., street corner shot them into unwitting fame. They posted the video on YouTube and hunkered down at Great North Sound Society, a recording studio located at an 18th century farmhouse in Parsonsfield, owned and operated by their producer/engineer Sam Kassirer. They emerged from the recording studio to learn that their video had gone viral and their star was rising.

These days, the band has upgraded from a van to a tour bus.

"It's been such a heavy year for touring, in some ways being on the road is more like home," says Kearney, whom Lady Zen, the poet and singer, calls the heart of the band.

Price's powerful voice, Olsen's mournfully bleating trumpet, Calabrese's resounding drumming — all rhythmic and mesmerizing — play second fiddle to Kearney's popping bass, says Lady Zen.

Kearney was humble when told of the praise and was quick to credit all of the bandmates for their success. They were making their way through Nashville streets, ahead of the evening's gig, when she took time out to talk about the band, their rise to fame, and their last time in Portland. Price was driving; McDuck was navigating to get coffee. The Bee Gees' first album was playing, and the band was in a typically loose mood.

"That was our biggest show at that point," Kearney said of their previous visit to the State. "We've played bigger (venues) since then, but it's still one of our most memorable shows."
Kearney took piano lessons with her siblings, growing up in Iowa City, and they sang in the church choir. When she was in the fourth grade, she started playing the bass in the school orchestra.

"I never thought at that time it would become my livelihood," she said. Lake Street Dive have not started to record a new album, but they are "working on it creatively, deep into thinking about it — how to shape it productionwise. The studio is one of our favorite places to be."

The band's success has made the day-to-day grind of touring go easier. They have assistants who tour with them and help out with sound and logistics. "That's great because it means we're going to be able to do this longer, while living our lives at the same time as playing in the band," Kearney said. "It leaves time for what we should be working on: the music, with longer sound checks and doing our own things creatively, working on new tunes. All that has been really awesome, but the shows are still a challenge: putting on a great show every night, adapting to bigger venues, trying to keep it exciting and intimate even as (audience) numbers increase."

The band wouldn't reveal any secrets, but they do have a few new covers in store to add to the sultry versions of "I Want You Back," "Faith" and "Rich Girl." The crowd will also hear a few new tunes the band hopes to have on the next record, whenever the tour lightens up enough to produce it.

Last time in town, the band enjoyed oysters in the State Theatre green room and pizza at Otto's after the show. They're anticipating the return.

"As far as what was special about that night, at the State Theatre, people have the opportunity to either sit or stand," Kearney said. "I love the energy of people right up front at the stage, but also realize not everyone wants to stand all show. It's really cool that you have that option. That means the demographic, the range of ages of people who get to see the show, is better."

Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 02:29

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Pratt to serve 42 years for Scott murder

The life of Margarita Fisenko Scott, age 29, ended on Nov. 11, 2012, after she was shot in the neck by her 19-year-old lover, Anthony Pratt. He was incensed that she had once again returned to her husband.11-21-14-MN-margarita-scott

This past October, Pratt was found guilty of her murder by a jury, and the consequence of that finding was given to Pratt on Wednesday by Justice Thomas Warren.

Pratt, wearing his yellow prison garb, was seated with his two defense attorneys, Dylan Boyd and Peter Cyr.

Justice Warren opened the proceedings by stating that he'd received sentencing memos from both sides, victim impact statements from Scott's family members, and letters on behalf of Mr. Pratt, one of which contained a list of 10 to 15 people attesting to Mr. Pratt's good character.

Relatives of Ms. Scott asked for the maximum sentence allowed to be given. Her cousin Margarita Hillard requested the imposition of a life sentence, saying that Pratt had "no remorse." She said, "He made a conscious decision and also stripped Rita of her dignity," in the manner in which he disposed of her body, which had been stuffed into the back of her Chevrolet Trailblazer and not found until Jan. 17, 2013, in the snow-covered parking lot of Motel 6.

Referring to problems that Scott had with substance abuse, she said, "Her issues should not denigrate the value of her life."11-21-14-MN-Pratt

An aunt, who also wanted the maximum sentence allowed, then spoke and said, "He not only killed Rita. He killed all of us."

Scott's father, Vladimir Fisenko, also wanted the Justice to impose the maximum sentence. He said, "Rita was my only daughter. It is really hard to see Anthony Pratt sitting here when I will never see my daughter again."

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese requested 40 to 45 years for a sentence. She said the judge had to consider the nature and seriousness of the offense; that two children were sleeping in the apartment of Christopher and Tunile Jennings at the time of the murder, and that Pratt shot Scott in the direction of the bedroom where those children were asleep; that the crime was in the context of domestic violence.

Marchese conceded that Pratt's age and youth were mitigating factors; however, she stated the aggravating factors clearly outweighed those. She characterized Pratt as "clearly someone with anger issues. When he realized she (Scott) was sleeping with her husband he drove across town and beat her up." This attack had witnesses who called the police to the Westbrook apartment where it happened.

Marchese said, "He was selling drugs for a living. He was living a criminal lifestyle." She also said had failed to take responsibility and hadn't expressed remorse. Restitution in the amount of five thousand dollars was also requested.

Defense attorney Dylan Boyd questioned the proximity of the children to the crime. He called it a "crime of impulse and emotion." He said Pratt was not a violent person; he was a very young man and had no criminal convictions. He said the crime had one victim and it was not preceded by years of domestic violence.

Boyd said the basic sentence should be around 28 years. But due to the mitigating factors involved that number should be reduced to 25 years. He said, "He was a youth; he was 19; he shot once." Then he discussed the bad upbringing Pratt had, with a drug-addicted father and a mother who had bipolar disorder. He called the crime "a failure of will and reason," saying, "It was not premeditated." Boyd stated that Pratt was engaged in anger-management and domestic violence classes while in jail. He asked that restitution not be imposed and that Pratt receive a 25-year sentence.

When Marchese spoke again she said that restitution is routinely ordered, that it goes for the victim compensation fund. She then said, "He took a life. He was engaged in drug dealing. He was engaged in domestic violence. This was a heinous, brutal crime."

Justice Warren then called for a recess, so he could look over the information he had received.

When court reconvened, Justice Warren stated, "I have considered all the information people have provided. Every case is different. I need to consider all principles in Maine law, the nature and seriousness of the offense, and that the Legislature has set a minimum of twenty-five years."

He said that he understood the views and pain of the Scott family and referred to the crime of domestic violence as "a serious problem and a significant issue in terms of establishing a basic sentence."

The judge referred to the aggravating and mitigating factors involved. An aggravating factor was the lack of acceptance of responsibility for the crime and that no remorse was shown. He felt that Pratt's age was a mitigating factor and also that he had no prior history, and felt that the fact Pratt enrolled in programs at the jail suggested the ability for rehabilitation.
Justice Warren's final words to Pratt were: "I am now sentencing you to forty-two years. You will be earning money while incarcerated. I am going to impose restitution in the amount of four thousand dollars."

Court was adjourned after the judge explained to Pratt that there was a right of appeal and a right to seek review as to sentencing. Pratt had been given the opportunity to speak at the hearing but he chose not to do so.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 02:29

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LePage: MaineCare case likely to end up at Supreme Court

Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage, fresh off re-election, is preparing for a legislative session with Republicans in charge of the Senate and Democrats holding the House, and the contentious issue of MaineCare back on the table.

Last Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the state of Maine is required under the Affordable Care Act's "maintenance of effort" provisions to continue providing Medicaid coverage for young adults until 2019.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, welcomed the decision, arguing that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services should not be allowed to drop Medicaid coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds.

Adrienne Bennett, press secretary to Gov. Paul LePage, said Wednesday that the federal appeals court ruling may not be the last word.

"The governor has indicated that he expects it to go to the Supreme Court, but if and when that appeal is processed, I wouldn't be able to comment any further," Bennett said Wednesday.

Bennett said the governor and his staff are getting ready for the legislative session.

Maine officials asked for the waiver to drop the coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds in 2012, and after the Obama Administration denied the waiver, the Maine DHHS sought to have that decision overturned.

In January 2013, Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner noted that some of the legislatively approved
reductions to the Medicaid program had received federal approval.
In a letter from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS)
dated Jan. 7, 2013, Mayhew was notified that Maine's State Plan Amendment to eliminate benefits for parents from 133 percent to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) had been approved, as was a 10 percent reduction to eligibility categories in the Medicare Savings Programs. Maine's additional request to reduce coverage for parents to 100 percent of FPL and elimination of eligibility for recipients 19 and 20 years old was not approved by CMS, citing that the changes do not comply with certain requirements in the Social Security Act, as amended by the Affordable Care Act. The changes promised to save the state $4 million, Mayhew said at the time.
"The loss of federal stimulus funds has created an additional burden on state budgets," Mayhew said at the time. "In Maine, while the overall Medicaid budget grew by less than $16 million in State Fiscal Year 2012, the amount of state funding required grew from $526 million to $776 million or roughly 48 percent."

Pingree said that Monday's ruling, Mayhew v Burwell, was the right one.

"Maine has covered these young adults for over 20 years, and dropping the coverage now clearly violates the provisions of the Affordable Care Act," Pingree said. "This is good news for thousands of low-income 19- and 20-year-olds who faced the loss of health care coverage."

Pingree wrote to then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebellius in 2012 urging the rejection of the waiver, saying "elimination of Medicaid coverage would not only adversely affect the health and wellbeing of Maine residents and upset Maine's local economies, it would also be in direct violation of the maintenance of effort requirement, even in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling."

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills weighed in on the side of the federal government, saying the decision to reject the waiver was correct and constitutional, Pingree noted.

The Republican sweep of the Nov. 4 midterm elections could affect the fate of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Public approval of the controversial law remains below 50 percent, according to recent polls, and the push for repeal was reinvigorated earlier this month with the circulation of YouTube videos in which John Gruber, the "architect" of Obamacare, said the law was passed because of the "stupidity" of voters and thanks to a lack of transparency.

Politico reported Tuesday, "Gruber, an MIT professor and health care expert who has been dubbed as the 'architect of Obamacare,' has come under fire after multiple videos surfaced in which he ridicules voters. In one video, he calls voters 'too stupid' to understand the Affordable Care Act, while in another, he speaks about misleading voters on details of the law."

Amid this controversy, however, sign-ups for the law continue. The Portland Public Library, in partnership with Opportunity Alliance, Mercy Hospital and Portland Community Health Center, has launched a series of Health Insurance Assistance sessions on Wednesdays now through Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon in Meeting Room No. 3. For details, visit www.portlandlibrary.com.

At the state level, meanwhile, legislative or administrative changes to MaineCare may be forthcoming. The First Regular Session of the 127th Maine Legislature convenes on Dec. 3.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 01:28

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Goodwill Industries of Northern New England opening Brunswick store

Goodwill Industries of Northern New England is opening a new retail store in Brunswick just in time for the holidays.

The grand opening is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26, a day before Thanksgiving (an earlier announcement featured a different date). The new store and donation center will occupy a newly constructed building at 21 Gurnet Road, Brunswick, in the Cooks Corner area.11-18-14-goodwill-in-bath-4

Goodwill operates two stores in Vermont and eight stores in New Hampshire, including a Somersworth store which opened Saturday.

"Brunswick will be our 29th store total," said Ken Christian, senior director of communications for Goodwill.

"Brunswick will be the 18th store in Maine," he said.

Goodwill operates in Maine, New Hampshire and northern Vermont.

"The stores are really the engine for the agency," Christian said. "We offer programs and services like our job connection, and we have two brain injury recovery centers, one in Portland and the other in Lewiston. And we also operate 23 group homes across the state of Maine."11-18-14-goodwill-in-bath-main

In 2010, a Goodwill store opened in the old Circuit City building in South Portland and has enjoyed success in that high-traffic location, Christian said.

"For us it's all about putting people to work," he said.

"While we're in a period of growth in retail, we're also trying to grow our programs and services not only in Maine but in Vermont and New Hampshire as well," Christian said.

The Brunswick store boasts 14,500 square feet of floor space and will employ 39 people, Christian said.11-18-14-goodwill-in-bath-3

A recently relocated Falmouth store and donation center is located at 251 U.S. Route One in the Falmouth Shopping Center, a few storefronts down from the previous Goodwill store location. Shoppers and employees christened a new 15,800-square-foot building there this fall. Goodwill moved in Falmouth and opened in its new location Sept. 25.

The Somersworth, N.H. store which opened on Saturday replaces a Goodwill store which closed in Dover.

Goodwill Industries of Northern New England's services are funded by revenue from retail and recycling operations, grants, fees and philanthropic gifts, according to the nonprofit, which counts more than 1,900 employees across Maine, New Hampshire and northern Vermont.

Today's provider of workforce development services started in South Boston, when Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister from Iowa assigned to the settlement houses in South Boston, "saw new Americans who were lacking in basic essentials: food, and clothes – dignity. So, he took it upon himself to solve the problem," Goodwill recounts on its website. Helms founded the international Goodwill Industries movement in 1902. Closer to home, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England was established in 1933 in Portland by the Rev. Frederick Olsen.

For more information about Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, visit http://www.goodwillnne.org.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 16:06

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