Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lake Basebegone Update: Mid November 2009

Mail call! Mail call!

It looks like just about everybody has mail! Oops....not so fast, Poppycock.

Gloomy day, gloomy Gus here at Other Side offices. Once again, no mail for us from the MRRA, or the town council, or anyone else for that matter. I guess that must have been them when the phone didn't ring either.

All that work inquiring of our "public servants," only to be shunned again and again. You'd think we'd be developing self-esteem problems by now, wouldn't you? Mere mortals would; but trained professionals don't let it bother them. If it did, we wouldn't be able to serve the public with our reporting. And all without public grants, loans, tax breaks, or other incentives.

Well, enough jibber-jabber. Time to give you the latest.

The MRRA will be holding its next board meeting this coming Tuesday (the 17th) at 4pm in the council chambers in the Maine Street Station building, above Scarlet Begonia's. (If you go, make sure you back into those diagonal parking spots, or it will cost you plenty.) The meeting will be televised by Cable 3, which means you can also pick it up via live video streaming at their web site. Go here and click on "watch live" at the top.

According to Steve Levesque, executive director of the MRRA, the board "is not scheduled to vote on a lease" with Oxford Aviation at the meeting. At least as of two days ago or more. Nothing in that statement precludes them from doing so, however, if they should have a mind to. It's simply a matter of how coy they wish to be.

They're not scheduled to glare with disdain in my direction either, but that doesn't mean it won't happen, does it?

Levesque said the MRRA is still "negotiating," and "we continue to exercise due diligence on the lease, and when it's ready, it'll be ready." If you parse those words, it sounds like they've already decided to go forward with a lease; they've just got to iron out some details. Like who will bear the greatest risk.

If only they could find a way to exercise due transparency on the Oxford deal, perhaps we could all feel a lot better about this.

Since there hasn't been a whole lot happening recently, I had some spare time to think. And that's never a good thing.

Hangar 6 at the Base, which Oxford wants to occupy, cost taxpayers $31 million plus just a few years back. Levesque says it will cost $650,000 a year to fund airport operation at the base. That's $54,000 plus a month, or $12,500 a week. And until "a miracle occurs," that cost will be borne by taxpayers one way or another.

That's not peanuts, especially if Oxford Aviation is the only cause for operating the airport, and the only potential source of revenue to offset the costs.

So I asked myself, self, why does Oxford Aviation deserve various government grants, loans, and tax breaks to make use of a fully paid for, brand spanking new $31 million hangar, a brand spanking new, fully paid for control tower, and world class 8,000 ft runways? With custom capital improvements?

If Oxford's potential is so great, why aren't greedy venture capitalists and private lending institutions courting them as an investment? Given F. Lee Bailey's promises of "global aviation leadership" and "potential beyond anything he imagined," why is anything more needed or deserved from the taxpayers? Obtaining financing should be easy, especially with "deals with Airbus" and others just waiting to be signed.

Why, indeed, should taxpayers make yet another major cash infusion and capital investment on Oxford's behalf, when it has failed so miserably to deliver on the promises made in past "public-private financial partnerships?"

Especially when Oxford's public image is one of unashamed misrepresentation; just look at it's web site, where it advertises to the world that it will occupy the entire hangar, even though Levesque says negotiations involve only half the space.

Even worse, look at how it lied to working families in the mid-coast area when it advertised that 200 jobs would be filled on the base this past June. When they, the MRRA, and anyone else in the loop knew that was patently absurd.

This is a company worthy of taxpayer speculation? On what basis? If the promise and potential is so great, why are taxpayers the funding source of last resort?

Does Oxford have us over a barrel? Are there really that many other $31 million hangars available elsewhere, with 8,000 foot runways in operation? With sweetheart deals on the table? Are we in some kind of bidding war to get Oxford?

I don't think so, Tim.

Levesque says Oxford Aviation isn't the only potential tenant with which MRRA is negotiating, but has declined to identify the others. Why is Oxford being made public, but everyone else so private? What's the difference here? Is Oxford the best we've got in the hopper?

Oxford's past is extremely troubling, raising warning signs aplenty to say this is a very risky scheme. If Oxford is worthy of public disclosure, what does it say about the others that aren't????

State and local officials have looked the other way, been silent, or caved in when Oxford didn't deliver on promises made elsewhere. Some willingly, some probably unwillingly. Some for obvious reasons, some for reasons not so obvious.

Under known and reported circumstances, it's not hard to surmise what the outcome of the MRRA's "due diligence" should be.

It won't be long before we know. The early odds are in favor of "yes, but this time will be different, and you can trust us on that."

Roll the dice anyone?

1 comment:

  1. To the reader who rated this post "idiotic:" feel free to post your reasons why.

    In all likelihood, they'll be published. And you'd be doing the reading public a favor.