Monday, August 10, 2020

How to take out two rocks with one kumquat

Pardon us if we seem a bit out of sorts, or more correctly, a bit off our gimbal mount.

This happens occasionally when we come across something in the normal course of our day that ought to be just another yawner, but is in fact just the opposite.  The effect is particularly profound when our reaction is caused by those who believe they exist to make our lives better....and yours too, obviously.

Such as the free press, like local print media with the tag line "Local. Legitimate. Journalism."

And our government benefactors.  Combine the two in a single item, and it's like winning the Daily Double at the Brunswick Ostrich Track.

Do we have you disoriented enough now?  Good.  Then you should be able to receive this item in the spirit with which it is intended.    

The above item appeared in The Ostrich in the August 6-9 Edition, meaning the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday edition.

The first thing we want to bring to your attention is the careful and precise editing of the sub-headline for an item on the front page.  Note that it reads as follows:

"A $10 Million project would to convert commercial space into 14 affordable housing units"

If you don't pick up on the glitch, don't feel bad.  The "legitimate journalists" producing the paper didn't either.   Of course, they're being paid to get it right.  Aren't they?

You can read the cited article in full here:

https://www.pressherald.com/2020/08/06/lisbon-low-income-apartments-in-need-of-tlc-tenants-may-be-getting-some-help/

Make sure you've got your head screwed on tight if you do, so it won't spin off.  Not all that long ago (circa 2010) we had occasion to follow what was going on at the Maine Housing Authority as they worked to increase the state's stock of "affordable housing."  At that time, they were in the midst of building some apartments in Portland for about $325,000 each.  At the time, you could buy a damn nice house for WELL under $200,000, but our public servants were busy building apartments for twice that and calling them "affordable."

How times have changed.  Ten years later, folks involved in this project are planning on converting space in an existing building into 14 (FOURTEEN) Apartments for $10 Million. If you don't have a calculator handy, that works out to $714,286 per apartment.  

Make sure you read all the gobbledy-gook about average rents for apartments in the area.  Maybe you'd like to call the Lisbon economic director and ask him to clarify a few things.

We don't know where you live, but we live in a pretty nice area with homes that are typically two story and quite nice, with garages and all sorts of other features.  A number of properties in the area have sold recently, and some are listed.  None of the prices are in the $700,000 range; they are in fact well below that.  And they have the nerve to refer to these new apartments as "affordable housing?"  Makes you wonder what apartments fall into the "unaffordable" range.

We once owned some rental property, so we've had some experience with "working the numbers" to set rent and see if the investment could work out.  The numbers here are so bizarre as to strain one's grasp on reality.

At the very least, shouldn't the reporter and editors have had a red light go on suggesting that they ask a few questions before publishing the article as it stands?

Doesn't anyone have the instinctive sense of "a test of reasonableness" that kicks in before gobbling up such ludicrous material?  Shouldn't that be a basic skill required to claim you practice "Legitimate Journalism?"

Apparently not.  No wonder print media is dying off.  They don't even read their own work with a critical eye before printing it.   Or if they do, they don't have the basic skills to make their work credible.