Irwin Gratz

Morning Edition Producer

Irwin was born and reared in New York City and, while he never hiked miles to school, he did walk up six flights of stairs every day to the apartment his family lived in until he was nearly 19. Irwin remains a lover of subway rides, egg creams, and the New York Mets.

He moved to Maine in 1978 and worked a dozen years in commercial radio in Sanford, then Portland, before beginning to freelance for Maine Public Radio in 1990. He has been the local anchor of Morning Edition since September 1992.

Irwin served as chairman of the Maine Association of Broadcasters in 2015. From September 2004 to October 2005, Irwin served as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization. He holds a master’s in journalism from New York University. Irwin won a Yankee Quill Award in 2011 from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for his “broad influence for good, both inside and outside the newsroom.”

Irwin also has an interest in astronomy, which he indulges to this day as an occasional show presenter at the Southworth Planetarium in Portland. And he swims, a lot. Irwin has completed seven Peaks Island-to-Portland swims. Irwin is married and has a teenage son.

Ways to Connect

A setback for the state's passenger rail authority in its bid to build a layover facility for Downeaster trains in Brunswick. A Superior Court judge has voided a stormwater runoff permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection, citing a failure to notify nearby homeowners of the proceeding.

Passenger Rail Authority chief Patricia Quinn says "We followed the DEP's guidance on this" and says the rail authority will "wait to see what we do next."

South Portland councilors postponed their meeting and vote on an ordinance to block tar sands crude from being shipped through the city. The council acted after more people showed up for last night's meeting than could be safely accommodated at South Portland's council chambers.

The new ordinance is supposed to be more narrowly tailored than zoning changes rejected by voters last November. But Burt Russell, vice president of Sprague Energy, says that's not what he sees in the new ordinance.

Anti-abortion opponents say they won't drop their lawsuit against Portland, even though Portland last night dropped its ordinance placing a "buffer zone" around the entrance to a Planned Parenthood clinic. Attorney Erin Kuenzig of the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan represents Maine activists who are challenging Portland's buffer zone.

"I think it would signal to the City Council in considering any future legislation that might attempt to restrict First Amendment rights without considering any other alternatives that are available to it," Kuenzig says.

The latest Maine Policy Review is devoted to innovation in the Maine Economy. MPBN's Irwin Gratz talked with Linda Silka, who directs the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, which publishes the review, about what it will take to promote innovation in the Maine economy. She says innovation is more likely when you bring together people with different skills who know something about each other's work:

To read the review, visit digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mpr.

The Portland City Council Monday will consider repealing the city ordinance barring protests within 39 feet of the Planned Parenthood clinic downtown. 

Sunday marks the first anniversary of the oil train disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, not far from the Maine border.  

A runaway train of the former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway de-railed in the center of town. Tanker cars full of oil exploded into flame, devastating part of Lac Megntic's downtown and killing 47 people.

This weekend, a candlelight walk will be staged through Lac Megantic.  It's scheduled to last 47 minutes - one minute for every person who died in the tragedy.

Democratic candidate Shenna Bellows is proposing to debate Republican Sen. Susan Collins 10 times during their race for the U.S. Senate seat Collins now holds.

Severe thunderstorms that swept through the state yesterday hit the town of Rumford particularly hard.

Public Works Director Andy Russell says several roads were badly damaged.  They include the Hall Hill Road, the South Rumford Road, Royal Avenue and the Wyman Hill Road.  

Russell says the 4 to 6 inches of rain that fell on the town washed out some roads, and others were blocked by fallen trees and power lines.

North Atlantic right whale breaching in Cape Cod Bay, May 2009.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia/WDC

A new rule designed to reduce whale deaths from fishing gear entanglement has been finalized and published in the Federal Register.
 

  The National Marine Fisheries Service rule seeks to limit the number of ropes connecting lobster traps with their marker buoys which float on the surface. Conservation groups say marine mammals, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, can become entangled in these floating, vertical lines and drown.

IDEXX Laboratories

Gov. Paul LePage today was in Westbrook to cut the ribbon on IDEXX Laboratories new $35-million  "Synergy Center."  

IDEXX Chief Executive Jonathan Ayers told dignitaries and employees gathered for the occasion that the company tried to create a very different working environment.  "We wanted a space that was inspirational and energizing. And we wanted to encourage communication and collaboration," he said.

 Gov. Paul LePage told reporters in Westbrook Friday that he stands behind his opposition to General Assistance for people who are undocumented.   But the governor said he's sympathetic to those who are trying to become legal immigrants.  "I will help them to get legal," the governor said.   He reminded reporters: "I've had the opportunity to adopt someone.  It took me 10 years to get him a Green Card.

'Cosmos' and Space

Jun 23, 2014
NASA

Few things are more fun, fascinating and educational than gazing into the night sky to see and learn about all that's happening away from the pale blue dot we call home. The success of the re-imagined TV show "Cosmos," starring Neil DeGrasse Tyson, has renewed interest in space, exploration and the science of astronomy.

Former Maine Senator Olympia Snowe has told the Bangor Daily News she supports the idea of open primaries. Snowe told the paper that would allow more independent and moderate to have a say in choosing candidates. Snowe said she was disappointed her former aide, Kevin Raye, lost congressional primary to the more conservative Bruce Poliquin. Snowe told the Bangor paper Raye, "illustrated the importance of consensus, and compromise."

Over the weekend, the Maine Sunday Telegram released poll results showing Democrat Mike Michaud in a statistical dead heat in the governor's race. The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found Michaud with 40 percent support, to Republican Gov. Paul LePage's 36 percent, but a margin of error of 4.3 percent. Fifteen percent supported independent Eliot Cutler and 7 percent told pollsters they were undecided.

The pollsters talked with 527 likely voters June 12-18.

The Portland Press Herald is releasing poll results Monday that show Maine is divided over welfare. The survey, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found 46 percent of those asked believe most people need state welfare benefits, but 41 percent said most people don't need the benefits they get. Forty-six percent of those polled also said giving people welfare benefits does more harm than good; 43 percent said the reverse.

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