Down East 2013 ©
Patriot Day protest: There were some ugly online comments following a Sept. 11 story in the Portland Press Herald  about the local Muslim community celebrating Eid al Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
“’Why’ (sic) is this deemed newsworthy?” asked somebody identified as DTOM. “How much do the people attending this event know about the Christian religion?”
A reader using the pseudonym Blazen added this: “I don't want to here (sic) how caring the Muslim religion is on 9/11. PPH is just as insensitive is (sic) as the Muslim's (sic) trying to put a mosque right at ground zero. They just don't get it!”
Added jim 118, “This is sickening. Does the Catholic Church get this kind of puffball front page coverage?”
There was lots more in a similar vein.
The next day, Richard Connor, the CEO of the Press Herald’s parent company, responded – by apologizing . “[W]e erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page,” Connor wrote in a page-one column in the Maine Sunday Telegram (the Press Herald’s sister paper). “In hindsight, it is clear that we should have handled this differently and with greater sensitivity toward the painful memories stirred by the anniversary of 9/11.”
Connor has a point. It was hard to believe the paper neglected to run a single story on Patriot Day about the pending local observances.
But the CEO also missed a more important point. By failing to acknowledge and reject the ugly tone of many of the objections to the Eid article posted on his Web site, Connor lent them validity. He should have saved at least one paragraph in his lengthy mea culpa for dealing directly with the deep-seeded prejudices expressed by many of the complainants.
Instead, in his usual fashion, Connor used his space to heap praise on himself in a backhanded fashion:
“I expect no accolades for what I see as our prompt and courteous responses. Working fast, with immediacy and with concern for fairness, is just part of our reality these days.”
Hard to say who’s more clueless, Connor or the anti-Muslim creeps.
Problem? What problem? The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting  has emerged victorious in its dispute with the state Public Utilities Commission over access to e-mails between the agency’s former chairman and a wind-power company that later hired him. Last week, the PUC dropped its demand that the center pay more than $36,000 to cover the costs  of retrieving the material. PUC chairman Jack Cashman acknowledged that the actual expense incurred was $160, and he waived even that fee “because of the history of the issue.”
Whatever that means.
Cashman blamed the original excessive charge on a former state information officer, since retired. He said a new information officer discovered the estimate was in error when Bangor TV station WABI also requested the e-mails.
So that’s that. Except for a host of questions that remain. As previously mentioned here , the Portland Phoenix had looked into the state’s failure  to provide the material at a reasonable cost and gotten answers from bureaucrats that amounted to gobbledygook. The system was to blame, they said. It’s incapable of accessing the information, and no other state has a better program.
It now appears that none of that is true. So, were they lying to the Phoenix or are the people in charge of this sort of thing really that ignorant about how the computers they’re supposed to be overseeing actually work?
(Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in the Phoenix.)
It’s not all Jon Stewart: Lizz Winstead , co-creator of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show ,” will present her stand-up comedy show “My State of the Union”  at One Longfellow Square in Portland on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. For a preview of what to expect, check out this report from the other Portland .
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com