Saturday, October 10, 2009

News from Lake Basebegone, Oct 10, 2009

This reporter is now ready to resume timely, informative, and profoundly useful reporting on local matters.

This post will provide an update on the Oxford Aviation initiative to assume control and occupancy of the crown jewel on BNAS, with the ample support of MRRA officials and state commissioners anxious to prove themselves, and generous application of taxpayer funds with virtually nothing gained in return other than easily broken promises. All of this "business" is being conducted in the relative dark of night, of course.

If you're Jim Horowitz, owner of Oxford Aviation, you can't be too happy with the mounting reports that seriously undermine his credibility and reflect growing problems with Oxford's existing operations.

You wouldn't know anything about this from reading our local BRUNSWICK newspaper, which has so far succeeded in keeping its editorial head in a very large sandpit, except for an occasional gasp for breath. Others might suggest that this apparent insouciance is inspired by pressure from well-known members of the local aristocracy, political and otherwise, but Side is above such pettiness.

For some reason, the Forecaster, and even the Lewiston Sun Journal, have taken an interest in the subject. They must feel a certain obligation to residents of the local area that is not shared by our local "government watchdog" press.

Herewith I refer you to several recent articles which I hope you will read carefully, as they are very troubling, and contribute to an overwhelmingly negative perception of the entire Oxford undertaking. A second reading is warranted, as it often reveals even more cause for concern.

Let's begin with this item from the Forecaster dated September 23rd.

Here are a few troubling passages: may not eliminate questions about the company's deteriorating relationship with Oxford County, which earlier this year sued the company for breaking its lease agreement by repeatedly withholding rent payments.

Oxford Aviation's performance has also become an issue at the Eastern Slopes Regional Airport in Fryeburg, where the company runs a small avionics shop and is the airport's fixed base operator. The executive committee, Cullinan said, could discuss Oxford Aviation's repeated failure to pay rent and fulfill its duties at the airport.

In return for public funding, the company was supposed to create 50 jobs. Grant close-out documents obtained through a Freedom of Access request show that Oxford Aviation created just 15 jobs.

On September 25th, the Sun Journal ran an item titled "Fryeburg Airport Authority mum on Oxford Aviation Issue."

You should find these words disturbing:

Eastern Slopes Aviation, a division of Oxford Aviation which operates at the Oxford County Airport, is under the gun by Authority members who were reportedly set to discuss terminating its lease at a meeting Wednesday, according to the Forecaster.

Eastern Slopes Aviation mechanic Kevin Gilbert of Harrison said Thursday that work at the small aviation maintenance shop, where inspections and repairs are made on about 20 to 30 airplanes a year, has slowed considerably in the past four years.

The Forecaster followed with another article on October 1st suggesting many more questions about Oxford Aviation.

These excerpts are informative:

Pilot Bob Mahanor said last week that the Sept. 9 eviction letter from the authority's counsel to Oxford Aviation's attorneys was distributed to attendees of the airport authority's meeting on Sept. 24.

The Sept. 9 draft letter tells a different story.

It claims Oxford Aviation did not settle default rent payments by Aug. 22, and therefore its lease was not automatically renewed. The authority's attorney said that despite Oxford Aviation's attempts to catch up, the company still failed in its airport duties, such as hiring a full-time mechanic and providing market-priced aviation fuel.

That was the case in 1999 when the company was supposed to create 50 jobs as part of a state-organized funding package of $935,000 for a hangar expansion. State records show the company created just 15 jobs.

There simply is too much damning reportage in this article to copy here; you simply must read the entire article if you want to be informed.

And lastly, there's this curious offshoot of the Oxford Aviation & F. Lee Bailey partnership. A Sun Journal article dated October 2nd is titled "Bailey advocates for felon work-release program in Maine." It says:

Nationally known trial attorney F. Lee Bailey advocated work-release programs for convicted felons..

Then, connecting the dots from this initiative to his "aviation" advocacy, Bailey pointed out that:

Oxford Aviation hired a felon for six months who was successful.

Readers might thus reasonably wonder whether the Horowitz/Bailey "vision" for Hangar 6 is to serve as a halfway house for felons assigned to work on major jet-liners. That's a comforting thought.

And lastly, this ironic and incredibly suggestive remark:

Bailey said the participants in a program have to be carefully selected and a former inmate should be part of the system "because they can spot a con man who talks a good game."

I could'a laughed the socks off my feet and the remaining hair off my head when I read that line!

I wonder if we can hire "a carefully selected former inmate" as a consultant to let us know if we might be victims of a "con man who talks a good game."

I have my own suspicions in this regard, and so should you, but neither of us apparently has the right credentials. At least I don't, and I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Innocent until proven guilty and all that stuff.

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