Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lake Basebegone: F. Lee to Bail out Sardine Industry

F. Lee Bailey seems to be finding Maine a very nice place to hang around, but he does have deep concern for the recent news of trouble in the sardine canning business. Once a staple of Maine’s employment, it seems they can’t catch enough herring to maintain a viable business.

Altruist that he is, he’s decided to single-handedly revive the canneries by dispensing red herrings wherever opportunity permits.

Unfortunately, the red herring he’s dispensing is of the propaganda species, and can’t be shipped out of state in vacuum packed cans, although I sure as hell wish it could.

The red herring is “Brunswick’s business unfriendliness” and how the smell drove away his ‘investors’ who were allegedly prepared to plunk down ‘immense sums.’

Lake Basebegone: Some thoughts, some questions

I understand F. Lee Bailey was on the morning news today, naming Margo Knight and Ben Tucker as the Brunswick councilors responsible for turning Bailey (“Lee” to John Richardson) and Oxford Aviation into victims of a “truculent” and omnipotent local body.

Apparently, the local newspaper hasn’t had the column inches or advertising space for Bailey to correct the record for the “willfully uninformed.”  Nor have they dispatched any award winning correspondents to willfully dig up the facts to correct the record.  And I see from the Agenda for the upcoming council meeting that Bailey hasn’t asked for time to correct the record eye to eye with the council.

Which brings me back to this bromide from a past post:

“If you have the facts on your side, make your argument to the jury; if you have the law on your side, make your argument to the judge; if you have neither, make your argument to the press.”

It’s ever so much more fun, of course, to be on TV, where your audience is unlimited compared to the print media, sound bites are the stock in trade, and obsequious young correspondents bow in awe.

On to the questions.

1.  The local paper insulted town councilors, insinuating that they are “willfully uninformed” as opposed to exhibiting healthy skepticism.  Besides failing to prove that councilors are so ignorant on the matter, the larger question is how responsible is the local paper for willfully seeing to it that their readership is woefully uninformed on the Oxford/MRRA subject?

2.  The same local paper faulted councilors Knight and Tucker for not talking with Bailey and Jim Horowitz and asking questions.  Are the editors suggesting that the councilors intervene in the business and affairs of the MRRA, especially after the latter made it very clear that the council has no role of any substance in Base redevelopment?  Is the MRRA incapable of doing so and reporting accurately on the results?

3.  Are the editors suggesting that the MRRA didn’t have the obligation to ask the questions and inform the public, so that we could all be willingly informed?

4.  The subject editorial says that Bailey shared his letter to the MRRA with the editors.  This is an item of public business with the MRRA and the people of Maine.  Why haven’t the editors made the entire letter public? Are they acting in the public interest if they use it to make news, while preventing readers from judging the merit of the letter’s content?

5.  If they won’t make the letter public, aren’t they' operating in a secret back channel, leaving us to wonder what other privileged information they’ve seen and withheld?

Knowledgeable citizens and observers know the MRRA has done everything possible to restrain information flow to the public on Bailey & Oxford, and the local paper has willingly abetted them in doing so.

The editors of Other Side fail to see how this is in anyone’s interests except their own.  And isn’t that a fine how do you do?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lake Basebegone: Questions; oh boy, does he have questions….

The Forecaster’s Steve Mistler has done a yeoman’s job investigating and researching Oxford Aviation’s background over the last 9 months or so.  You might say he engaged in journalistic “due diligence” as to their credentials and prior dealings with various officials and governmental bodies.  This is a virtually unknown skill in our area; others should take note.

Steve has just posted a news analysis on the subject.  It opens up several new questions, and ensures that the public is more “willfully informed,” which, one would think, is what journalists are supposed to do.  Others should take note.  We should look forward to further “discussions” of the MRRA’s performance on the Oxford caper.

Here’s a sample passage from the column:

What is clear is Levesque’s close relationship with Oxford Aviation began when he was Gov. Angus King’s DECD commissioner.

In 1996, Levesque signed off on a grant that had Oxford promise to create 50 jobs to bring its workforce to 80 employees. According to published reports, the company fell well short of that goal, creating about a dozen positions.

According to DECD documents, Oxford’s job requirements were forgiven because of its remote location and a poor economy had hampered its growth schedule – a puzzling explanation since those same factors were used to justify the grant funding.

If I were you, I’d stock up on some popcorn.  This could be fun.

And for anyone who comments on this post, I’ll see to it that you qualify to get the Forecaster free of charge.  I’ve got connections, you know.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

“The Government Giveth, and the Government Taketh,” Chapter 4

OK, let’s get this damn thing done so we can move on to other things.

Opening Monologue

One of the things that drives me nuts every time the budget season rolls around, and even more when we are facing “tough choices” because of serious revenue/expense challenges, is the implicit article of faith that government is immune from widespread economic conditions.  Everyone else (the taxpayers and the private sector) should pull in their belt, but somehow, every last government employee and every last government service becomes vital, the heart of the community, and the possible target of a “message I don’t think we want to send.”

Why is it so hard to understand that revenues are down because the size of the economic “pie” has shrunk, and that’s because all those who “bake” the pie have less ingredients to add to the mix.  In a “fair” scenario, you should expect government, including all those who earn their living in it, to get a smaller slice of the pie. 

But thanks to carefully negotiated contracts, costs “beyond our control,” and the near sacred premise that you can’t undermine services “the public demands,” the government actually looks to take a larger share of the smaller pie, exacerbating the decline already felt by the “bakers.”

In other words, protecting government doubles the pain for everyone else.

Let’s move on to some specifics.

Lake Basebegone: A question for true-believers

I’m sure the question I’m about to ask has been raised before, but I still can’t get it out of my mind.

Last week’s news was that F. Lee Bailey and friends were pulling out of their proposed deal to occupy Hangar 6 at BNAS, reputedly because of some town councilors’ alleged lack of support for an $800,000 CDBG to build a paint booth.

In the news report, Bailey talked of persuading investors to put up “immense start up costs” to get under way with his plan.  Is there anyone, at least anyone with credibility, who really, truly believes that having rounded up immense funds from his high-roller investor friends (less $800,000, that is), that not being able to get his hands on this modest corporate welfare sum was enough to kill the deal?  You mean Mr. “Legal Zoom” and that circle of friends can’t come up with the additional pocket change to close the deal??

I don’t think this passes the “beyond a reasonable doubt” test.

Welfare aside, the issue of “friendliness” is irrelevant.  The Base is an encapsulated facility that will be operated by the MRRA, and the town, according to them, has virtually no role in the operation of the base.  So what’s the problem?

There is, though, this other annoyance: Oxford Aviation has yet to relinquish ownership of Hangar 6 for their Brunswick Jet Division, at least judging by their web site.  I guess the MRRA just doesn’t have the heart (I’m being euphemistic here) to ask them to take the BNAS fantasy down.

Oh, and one more though.  John Richardson, now a member of the Bailey inner circle, and the closest thing Brunswick has to a mover and shaker, surely could raise the $800,000 among the old money in the area in a heartbeat.  If that truly was the problem.

The faint smell of intrigue in the air tells this novice reporter that it ain’t over yet.  Too many egos and interests are in play to let this just go away.

One has to wonder whether we are being willfully uninformed or misinformed.

A Tidbit or two on Maine

I happened to be at an event today where I heard the facts I am about to pass along.  There’s some bad news, and some good news.

I think I’ll start with the bad news, so we can end on a high note.

For the decade 1999-2009, Medicaid enrollment in Maine increased by 120,000.  That’s right, fully 9% of Maine’s population was added to the rolls of the government funded health care plan for the poor, raising the total to about 250,000.  As I recall, Maine is either first or second in the nation in Medicaid participation.

Now, let’s switch to the good news.  First, the population in Maine grew by about 44,000 during this period.

And here’s the really good news – we’ve added jobs during these 10 years.

56 jobs, to be exact.  That’s right: f-i-f-t-y  s-i-x  jobs.  Perhaps you know one of the 56 lucky winners.

Who says we don’t have a fine and sustainable economy here in Maine?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lake Basebegone update: Hold it right there, F. Lee Bailey

Just who was that masked man?

Here at Other Side, Sunday night is when we usually take a bath, slip on a fresh pair of pajamas for the coming week, and brew a new 100 cup pot of coffee to sustain us through the coming day or two.

Upon finishing the Gerzofsky post just a short while ago, your overworked reporter was therefore looking forward to a quiet evening of fire-feeding, dog-petting, wife-tending, and general laziness, all planned to recharge the trunk full of batteries our earth-friendly, sustainable, hybrid editorial offices are powered by.

And then it happened; Side’s automated remote video capture and processing system issued an alert, and it would not be denied.  I rushed down to the central media control room to see what it was about, and I couldn’t believe it.  Let’s just say that sometimes, even this reporter gets a surprise.

Gerzofsky offers help on school funding crisis

Even I’m impressed, my friends, and you know that doesn’t happen very often or very easily. 

But there’s a really big man in our midst.  Senator Stan “our man” Gerzofsky, that is.  The good Senator often invokes the image of a Santa Claus with that jolly laugh of his, and that shiny red chariot he gets around in.

Lately, the Senator has taken a highly visible role in mentoring Brunswick town officials, and lord knows they could sure use some help.  Gerzofsky has been offering gentle counsel on respectful behavior in the finely nuanced realm of political pecking orders, and the appropriate demeanor and decorum when approaching one’s superiors.

Most recently, the Senator has reached out his hand, tightly wrapped around a ruler, to a young and enthusiastic school board member.  A few remedial whacks were definitely in order, and the Senator administered them with all the compassion and restraint we’ve come to expect of him.

Demonstrating, as a good mentor would, that he is forgiving of such youthful exuberance in a protege, the Senator followed the whacks with a generous offer to the concerned official.

Responding to the severe shortfall of state funds for the Brunswick school department, our Senator demonstrated his willingness to remedy the problem, and indeed, his chagrin over not having already been asked to do so.  Speaking to the Forecaster:

Gerzofsky said he is disappointed that the Brunswick School Board didn't contact the delegation for assistance.

Still holding that ruler, Gerzofsky firmly yet lovingly added this plea, revealing a wholly unexpected vulnerability:

“It would be awfully nice if the School Board invited legislators in to work on ideas instead of going to the television and newspapers to yell and scream,” he said.

Hoping to emulate his revered superior, Rep. Charlie Priest added this about the recent dustup:

“But I think it's best for everybody to put all that aside and work together.”

Yes, indeedy, we’re fortunate to have such men offering to come to the town’s rescue on the school budget.  We’ll be watching carefully to see the results of their efforts!

(And pssst,  Senator, I promise not to mention that you made your comments to the newspapers, or that you appeared on television this weekend.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lake Basebegone Press Wars: The truth is out

Well, the quiet days are over for awhile in Lake Basebegone, where all the politicians are apolitical and all the celebrity attorneys are just wronged benefactors of country folk who don’t know no better.

Before updating you, a postscript to today’s earlier post.  I have my own concerns about Maine’s and Brunswick’s business friendliness, but that’s for another time.  Let’s be very clear and very blunt: given the facts on the public record, facts that no relevant party has challenged, anyone who uses the skepticism and remarks about Oxford to assert Brunswick’s business hostility is lost on the lunacy axis, and will soon hit the guard rails on the highway of economic development.  Note to those involved: cut the victim crap.

Afterthoughts on “Bailey Bails”

…..and Oxford takes off

I’ve got more to say.  I know, “there’s a surprise,” right?  I hope you won’t hold me to a five minute limit.

First, let’s set the stage with this hazily remembered dollop of advice for attorneys, source unrecalled: 

“If you have the facts on your side, make your argument to the jury; if you have the law on your side, make your argument to the judge; if you have neither, make your argument to the press.”

What follows will probably come across as a bit higher in pitch than the usual droll Other Side columns, and that’s because the more I reflected on Wednesday’s report, the tighter the knot in my knickers became.  So I’m gonna do what I can to unknot them.

When you visit here, you have to expect that my lack of elite journalism credentials can result in a loss of personal discipline from time to time.  And that my petty personal views might mix in with my otherwise superbly objective reporting.

This, dear readers, and those of you not covered by that appellation, is one of those times.  As I said in the early days:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chapter 3 of “The Government Taketh…..”

Curses, Batman!  In the process of restructuring the “Government Taketh” post prior to publishing the first two chapters, I apparently deleted all the remaining notes I had made for the rest of it.  Major bummer, I can tell you. 

All efforts to find them failed, so I began the process of reconstructing them.  And then the "proverbial” silver cloud appeared.

I came upon the Forecaster’s latest article reporting on the budget discussions last night, so now I can take that into account as well, adding to the timeliness of this post, and eliminating the need to do another.

By now, both you and I have probably forgotten the origins of this subject, and if you have, let’s face it, you have no one to blame but…ummm, uhhhhh……me.  So if you can tolerate it, you might consider going back to read the first two chapters via the link in the first paragraph above.

Lake Basebegone Update: Feb 17, 2010

Bailey Bails, leaves Oxford adrift

Well, it’s a not so quiet week in Lake Basebegone this time around.

A published report states that the repackaged F. Lee Bailey/Oxford Aviation proposal to occupy Hangar 6 on BNAS is being withdrawn by the famed attorney because of allegedly hostile remarks made by town councilors.

As you might expect, the report casts only glowing and flattering light upon Bailey and the sketchy details of his unidentified  investors, and makes but oblique reference to the troubling record established by Oxford and Jim Horowitz in their various public-private partnership undertakings.

MRRA officials expressed pro forma piety over their role in pushing the clearly questionable proposal, instead focusing attention on the anti-business climate of the town.

In other words, Bailey, Oxford, and the MRRA are all victims.  The collapse has nothing to do with the substance or particulars of the proposal, or those who backed it.

It remains to be seen whether Oxford will remove the photo-shopped Hangar 6 – their “Brunswick Jet Division” – from their web site.

(Update: not yet!

I expect we’ll be hearing soon from Brunswick favorite son John Richardson, candidate for Governor, about how even he couldn’t save the deal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lake Basebegone: Smoke, Mirrors, and Other Illusions from the MRRA

We may have dodged the blizzards, but there was plenty of snow in the air last week.

Jibber-jabber, Boston Legal style.

A ‘feature item’ in the local paper on Wednesday, Feb 10th may be the best (worst??) example of doublespeak, mixed tense, rhetorical hand-waving, time distortion, and assorted other forms of bureaucratic back-tracking and self-contradiction we’ve seen in many a moon.

It says oodles about the Authority in charge of BNAS Redevelopment, and what they think of us.  Even more interesting is what it says about the editors of our “government watchdog” press, who let this atrocious and mis-leading op-ed run as it did.  If I was the cynic readers think I am, I’d label the piece an embarrassment to both these institutions; but I’m too big for that.

This reporter knows from personal experience that if the editors, and publisher, for that matter, take issue with the premise of a submission, they will diligently challenge the facts, assertions, sources, and grammatical nuances.  One defining instance of their “healthy skepticism,” magnified by the reality of its highly selective application, led to the founding of Other Side.

Perhaps you read the recent item, perhaps you didn’t.  If the former, perhaps your reaction was similar to mine; perhaps it was not.

Mindful of the demands upon your time and interests, my purpose here is to ‘highlight’ some of the more egregious examples of balderdash, slight of word, and poppycock in the column.  Many readers may respond “so, you expected better?” 

They’d suggest this is what we should expect from politically appointed bureaucrats who hire consultants who hire even more consultants, and who almost always think more taxpayer money is the answer to everything.  And who are convinced that Oxford Aviation and F. Lee Bailey are the best hope for base redevelopment and reviving the local economy.

The Coastal Journal, Gina Hamilton, and Language Abuse

A casual glance at the Coastal Journal quickly reveals it to be largely the play toy of Gina Hamilton, the Editor.  She writes the editorials, a column describing her personal life, and the majority of the “analysis” and news items.  You might call it The Gina Journal most of the time.

The editorial stance is on the far left side, viewing government as one huge social agency and redistribution authority.  Private sector activities are tolerated as the means to fund government goodness.

Lately I’ve come to believe that Gina must be a blood relative to a former prominent congressman, Democrat Lee Hamilton of Indiana.  A number of columns by him have run in the CJ, and I’m not ready to believe that he just randomly selected the little paper from Bath that has an editor with the same last name.

On to the point of this post.  Gina is an archetypical liberal journalist when it comes to shading and abuse of plain English to serve her ideological purposes.  She tweaked me enough to write this item in her “analysis” of last week titled ‘The proposed budget and you.’

In it, she referenced a telephone press conference informing the press of “budget items that would affect the working and middle class.”  She then added that “since most people in Maine are either working OR middle class……”  Do you sense the disdain?

Monday, February 15, 2010

“Bookies,” the Budget, and a $5 million gap

This reporter attended a special Brunswick town council “workshop” this past Thursday night.  The meeting was scheduled, among other reasons, to take citizen comment on the upcoming budget development process.

I have some good news and some bad news to report.  The bad news is that the town is staring at a roughly $5 million problem in the context of a $55 million total spending profile for municipal and school department operations.

The good news is that you can plan on a bigger property tax deduction when you work on your income tax returns a year from now.

A $5 million problem, taken point blank, would require a roughly 17% property tax increase to resolve.  Expecting the municipal side to reduce spending by $1 million and the school department to reduce spending by $4 million to ‘close the gap’ borders on lunacy.  Not that Brunswick doesn’t have lunacy to spare; but that’s lunacy of another sort.

Here’s my prediction.  There will be much wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, and public wailing over “devastating cuts to vital services and unfair punishment of our children” as the budget details roll out.  The pros at the game, and there are many, will back the council into an extremely uncomfortable corner, and they will end up trying to make themselves look like penny pinchers with a 10% property tax increase.

We’ll hear all the usual rhetoric about “tough choices” and “hard decisions” councilors and school board members had to make. There will be not a single mention of the “tough choices” and “hard decisions” taxpayers will have to make to cover the tax increases, even if they’ve lost their jobs or suffered major reductions in their income.  Suck it up, folks.

There won’t be a peep about “tough choices” and “hard decisions” made by the teachers’ union, because they won’t make any.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend Reading Assignment: Feb 12, 2010

In keeping with Other Side’s scatter-gun approach to things, which inevitably leads to falling behind on other ‘chores,’ we hereby recommend a few reading items for interested followers.

The first is aimed at those who are aware of the ‘post-partisan’ mantras of the day, and the suggestion that polite discourse is the way to deal with the fundamental issues of governance, especially when they relate to having others provide what you want via government action.

I could say that nothing surprises me these days, but that would be a lie.  As cynical and distraught as I may be over the societal re-engineering taking place in response to identity groups and special interests, not a week goes by that I don’t come across something even more disturbing.

Here’s some great examples from the Midwest Academy, which in their own words:

advances movements for progressive social change by teaching strategic, rigorous, results-oriented approach to social action and organization building.  The Academy provides training (introductory and advanced) and consulting, equipping organizers, leaders, and their organizations to think and act strategically to win justice for all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

KKK Economics; are they OK?

I occasionally read columns by Paul Krugman for comic relief, and because he’s the banner carrier for the local newspaper’s economic views.  He’s even more amusing in his occasional TV appearances; sort of a mad little Napoleon type.

For some time I’ve been concerned that the columnist has gone certifiably delusional from his frequent excursions on the axis of imaginary economics.  As you know, he’s a Nobel Laureate in the subject, but given recent history, that doesn’t prove much of anything, other than instilling unwarranted confidence in oneself.

You may have read about “Bush Derangement Syndrome” or BDS in recent years.  I’m concerned that Krugman could be suffering from ODS, or Obama Delusional Syndrome.

I first observed his troubling behavior sometime last year.  He wrote a column advocating a massive stimulus package, in which he said something to this effect: “we might as well use the money to do this, or otherwise it’s just going to lay there and go to waste.”

Howard Zinn and Lake Basebegone

Every now and then a letter to the editor in our local paper reads like it comes from another galaxy, far, far away.  There was one like that yesterday.  It suggested we use the teachings of Howard Zinn to guide the reuse of BNAS, and as such, is a perfect example of why Maine is dying demographically and has the economic promise of a dormant volcano surrounded by vernal pools.

The writer suggests that the focus is now on “the easy thrill” and the “Faustian option of the promised jobs” related to drones.  I don’t know where his planet gets its news, but I haven’t seen anything on drones in quite some time, and I’ll be damned if I can recall any promises about jobs connected with them. 

But the piece-de-résistance of the letter is the writer’s assertion that “technocrats are poised to lead us down the path of instantaneous explosive gratification.”  Wow!  Sounds like he’s studied the F. Lee Bailey Guide to Public Hyperbole.

The only thing explosive I can think of around here is a frozen burrito nuked for 30 minutes in a microwave.

Oh sure, the MRRA ED has talked about 40 plus firms that have “been in contact with us” about possible base occupancy, but he can’t tell us who they are because we can’t be trusted to keep a secret.  And apparently the companies themselves don’t want anyone to know about them; what a business plan.

Then we have those 5 or 6 Fortune 500 firms that John Richardson was courting before dropping out of the Economic Development field to pursue personal goals.  Must be he put those hot leads in his Protocol Lock Box and took them with him so they can pop out of the box at appropriate times in his campaign act.

“Hey kids, wanna see what’s in the box?  Ok, step back now!”

Isn’t it strange that the only proposal being discussed publicly is being recycled over and over with transparent attempts to dismiss the realities of its prior unfulfilled commitments, and to make Oxford Aviation seem like “instantaneous explosive gratification.”  Shouldn’t somebody be asking MRRA “is this all you got?”

Apparently, even the letter writer is on to their shtick, and that, my friends, is not a small thing!  I hope he contacts the town council and convinces them not to give away a nickel of our money.

Maybe he’ll have better luck; they won’t listen to reason from this planet.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Novak to take reins at Other Side

News Alert!! This just in from an insider news service in the Washington area:

In a bulletin issued from an undisclosed location, Robert Novak, the famed columnist, commentator, and TV personality, has announced that he will be taking over Other Side operations, currently headquartered in Brunswick, Maine.  P. C. Poppycock, the founder and current head, will be relegated to a support role, focusing on facilities and other technical matters.

Novak, a legend, was known as the Prince of Darkness during his illustrious career.  He pointed out that Maine is the first place in the Continental US to go dark every day, and thus has always occupied a special place in his thoughts.

I’ve been impressed by the potential for darkness shown by Other Side during its brief existence, but persistent questions about it’s awful reputation led me to believe they needed a leadership makeover,” Novak said in the bulletin.  “And the writing…..uh, well, it’s better suited for obituaries rather than informing and influencing.  I’ll be changing the editorial image of Other Side immediately, and I’m confident I can bring some new life to its pages.”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lake Basebegone and “Quote of the Day'”

I was just glancing at the quote of the day on the Blog, which reads thus:

Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.

Aesop (620 BC-560 BC)

It seems a perfect reminder for Brunswick’s town council as they find themselves having to decide on whether F. Lee Bailey’s Oxford Aviation should be the beneficiary of taxpayer funds.

The quote reminds us it’s always easier to get into a situation than it is to get out of it.  And that before we get in, we should have a plan/understanding of how to get out.

My guess is there’s no way out of a CDBG once it’s been approved.  And with F. Lee Bailey at the helm, there’s no desirable way out of an “affair” with Oxford Aviation.

This is government at work, after-all, and how many disasters have you ever seen them back out of?  Getting out is never the choice when more spending is an option, is it?

Locavores??? “Farmer Knows Best”

Before you chastise me, I know, I’m behind on my other follow up post.  As they say, “life happens.”

And while it was, I came across this article, in which a farmer examines the various benefits usually cited for ‘eating local,’ and makes a number of interesting points that contradict the usual thinking.

It’s an interesting read, and should make you a better thinker on the subject.

Here’s a passage or two to get you motivated:

…..the concept of “food miles” ignores the advantages that fertile land and agreeable climate give some producers.

There are perfectly defensible reasons both for shopping locally and for dispersing production, but protecting the environment isn’t one of them.

Local food isn’t always fresher, either.

You’ll be better informed after reading this, written by an actual farmer.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lake Basebegone follow-up; Feb 4, 2010

In yesterday’s news from Lake Basebegone, your reporter expressed some uncertainty about his hearing of an early morning news report about Oxford Aviation on a local TV station.

As it turns out, the uncertainty was unwarranted; we were bright and bushy-tailed.  In an effort to preserve credibility and maintain your trust, Other Side contacted the station directly to ask for a transcript of the report, and they have graciously done so.

Here’s the reply, exactly as received from the news director:

Here is the script. As you can see, the source was the president of the company, who spoke to one of our reporters Tuesday.






We humbly suggest that you read, reread, and reread again the statements above.  And that town councilors in particular parse the words carefully.

They would appear to confirm, with little room for wiggling, that all that’s happening here is that F. Lee Bailey (or “Lee Bailey,” as John Richardson calls him) is being identified as the top dog in the Oxford proposal, and that Oxford is not backing out of anything.  Different day, same “stuff.”

They’re just putting a new face on things, you might say.  Amazing how it changes things.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Government Taketh, and the Government Giveth; and then the Government Taketh Back

Perhaps it’s time for “The Taxpayer Giveth, and the Taxpayer Taketh Away.”

Chapter 1

Well dear, loyal, anxious readers,  Here I go again.  I’ve been thinking about the general subject of this post for a week or two, and began to make serious notes this afternoon, with the intent of sending it to the presses today.  It would include hard data illuminating a serious fiscal challenge facing our beloved town; information which I have already compiled from authoritative sources.

And then, “love stepped in and opened up the door.”  Love in the form of Sweety Bitch and Boo-boo, otherwise known as Maggie and Boomer, our two English Springer Spaniels.  They’re “twins,” and will be 8 in dog years next month. 

In recent weeks, your reporter and the “kids", as we call them around the editorial offices, have gotten in the habit of a late afternoon walk in the cool crisp air around dusk, right after I start a fire in the wood stove.

As you know by now, your humble correspondent suffers from running mouth, hyper-typer syndrome, and excessive obstrepory on a variety of subjects.  Taking the kids for a walk only exacerbates the problem, what with the accelerated heart-beat (yes, I DO have a heart), invigorating temperatures, and a runny nose.  It’s particularly severe when we “walk” out of the house and I’m already cogitating on a specific subject.

That was the case tonight, and the scope of the task at hand has expanded.  So your reporter bows in your general direction and asks for your indulgence.  I feel the need to set the context for the topic in a more robust fashion, and will do this in a moment.

Lake Basebegone Update – Feb 3, 2010

I confess that though I was up and around, I wasn’t exactly bright and bushy-tailed at 5:30 this morning.  None-the-less, I believe I heard a brief report on Channel 6 that condensed the update posted yesterday into a statement that F. Lee Bailey would be taking over as head of Oxford Aviation, and that his leadership would mean “even more” job potential for BNAS redevelopment.

I suppose we should be pleased to have a celebrity lawyer who has a local island named for him offering his services to the good taxpayers of Maine.  It seems appropriate to review his qualifications for the uninitiated, since we can expect to see more of him in the area, and in particular, pleading his case for speculation with investment of taxpayer funds along with granting of access to the plum property on the base.

Before beginning, it seems we’re left to assume that any previously rumored Bailey connection with John RIchardson’s campaign for governor is out the window.  Right???

Moving on, here’s the early Bailey on a classic TV talk show in the 60’s:

In mid-career, Bailey found himself prominently advocating for another flier:

So renowned is the good counselor, soon to be Czar of Hangar 6 on BNAS, that he has been the inspiration for a Broadway tribute:

Does this mean that Hangar 6 will end up being known at “The Big Top” in local legend?  All I can say to Tony at the Deli of that name on Maine Street is that if you got a problem with that, you better get yourself one hell of a lawyer!

Union worker transition: from private to public

You were assigned some reading on this subject several days ago in this post: Public sector unions & budget crises...a homework assignment.

It was followed, of course, by the elevation of your faithful scribe to national status as described here: “Other Side” goes National!

The Wall Street Journal has published another succinct column on the subject today, and you can find it here.

It begins thus;

It's now official: In 2009 the number of unionized workers who work for the government surpassed those in the private economy for the first time. This milestone explains a lot about modern American politics, in particular the paradox that union clout with Democrats has increased even as fewer workers belong to unions overall.

And contains this graphic for data junkies:


If the phone don’t ring, I’ll know it’s the Journal not looking for another letter.  I’ve already had my 4 column inches of fame.  And I’ve spent the earnings.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

News from Lake Basebegone – Feb 2, 2010

Well, it’s been a not so quiet several days in Lake Basebegone, where all the politicians are apolitical, investors risking their own funds are called speculators, speculators risking other peoples’ funds are called investors, corporate welfare is called grants, and candidates for Governor have all the fluid moves, jukes, and feints of an O. J. Simpson.

Most amazing of all is that the local newspaper seems to have awoken from a long slumber, at least as it relates to the MRRA vis-a-vis Oxford Aviation goat rope.  Having long ago tossed aside its self-proclaimed government watchdog role, and any pretense of digging for the facts, the daily’s awakening is curious on its face.  Others might speculate there is a plot afoot, in which the MRRA and the paper, with the encouragement of some usual suspects, concoct a Willy Wonka and the Airplane Factory style fantasy scenario to charm and distract the locals.

Others might do so, but we here at Other Side will not lower ourselves to the more tawdry levels of polite political discourse in this town.  It would serve no useful purpose, and if we did, elected dignitaries would lose respect for us.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Other Side Transparency & Lake Basebegone

In keeping with our policy of transparency here at Other Side, we are posting the letter we just sent off to town dignitaries.  Perhaps readers will consider sending a letter of their own.  The email for the council is “”

Councilors, et al:

I am stunned into disbelief by what I read in the Forecaster and the local paper on Friday regarding the MRRA, F. Lee Bailey, and Oxford Aviation. I can’t dispel the image of a master prestidigitator having his way with a horde of desperate for attention, unsophisticated rurals, lulling them into submission with charm and slight of hand.

How any organization operating in the public trust could fall for such a transparent attempt to paper over a “train wreck” of an enterprise, without an extensive and very public disclosure and airing of all the particulars, is simply beyond me. Especially when there are other troubling undercurrents upon the waters, and huge public capital and fiscal assets are at stake.

I won’t dwell here and now on the multitude of issues and concerns surrounding the entire enterprise.

I will simply point out that the council has previously bemoaned their lack of a “voice” and a “vote” on MRRA decisions, since the Town of Brunswick will feel the consequences more deeply than any other entity.

Enter the reported MRRA plan for the town to approve a $400,000 CDBG in support of the Oxford/successor proposal. I assume this means you will have to vote on the matter. So your wishes are being answered. And you will all be on the public record as to where you stand on the rush to grant corporate welfare to an extremely risky and unproven entity, which if it was sound, would be able to finance its growth by other means.

As I’ve written to you before, there is no, I repeat NO lack of capacity in the industry in which Oxford Aviation, Bailey Aviation, or whatever it will be called, proposes to operate in Brunswick. The premise of drawing commercial airliners to Brunswick for service, is, on its face, bizarre.

Given all the other economic challenges Brunswick faces, your decision in this case is historic in scale. It will, we can be sure, have the longest lasting effect of anything you do while in office. Should things go awry, the potential for the base’s single most valuable and visible asset to be tied up in litigation for years and years is more than obvious.

Choose wisely, but before you do, I implore you to discharge your responsibility to the citizenry by exercising all due diligence, rather than succumbing to the hyperbole and sweet music of a master pied piper. And most especially if he says he’s being courted by others and you need to act “quickly” or the opportunity will be lost.