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.


1 comment:

  1. The following was presented to the Town Council last night. I haven’t enough money or time left to mount a legal challenge to the government’s authority to engage in or subsidize private companies to compete with the free market. I believe however, that I have demonstrated to you the moral, ethical and economic folly of such action.
    Two weeks ago I gave you a copy of the paper I wrote on the real story of Loring Air Force Base and the Loring Development Authority. For those who have not had the opportunity to read this paper let me very briefly summarize it. Loring AFB near Presque Isle Maine was shut down in 1994. For the last 15 years, it has been managed by a state corporation, the Loring Development Authority. It has spent over $66 million of the taxpayer’s money and as a consequence generated fewer than 350 private sector jobs. These jobs would almost immediately vanish if it were not for the continued subsidies provided by the taxpayers through the Authority. The same could be said for the government jobs there, when political expediency suggests they be moved elsewhere or eliminated. When the state decides it has had enough, the problems will be dumped on the local community. It is my firm belief that the same folly will occur with the Brunswick Naval Air Station. The reason is that their basic premise is false, that is; if you build it they will come.
    For example; no government or non-profit agency has stepped forward to claim the 250 unit Transient Visitors Quarters at the Brunswick Naval Air Station for free. Neither the Navy nor the MRRA is likely to sell or lease this facility for its obvious purpose, as a motel, for fair market value. The reason is that no bank or investor would risk its money to add nearly 50% to the room capacity of Brunswick in a declining market. Nor would it be desirable to the local owners and operators of the 11 or so hotels and motels that have rooms they are already having trouble in filling. The same is true for all the remaining facilities. Rest assured, the MRRA, unless otherwise deterred, will repeat the same mistakes made at Loring because it is the only way they will preserve their existence.
    The town itself is not immune from a similar malady. We are standing in the latest example of good intentions gone sour. It is a facility that would not exist if it were not for the council’s gift of the people’s assets in support of private profit. That was not enough, when the feasibility of his investment worsened; the developer is now returning to the public trough to obtain more concessions to build even more hotel rooms the economy cannot support. Do you need more reason why the people would never have voluntarily authorized in the Constitutions of the country and the state or town charters for their representatives to risk their money in this way?
    Unfortunately, many who share my views remain on the sidelines with the mistaken belief they are but one small voice in the wilderness. The recent vote in Massachusetts shows that they can when pushed far enough draw a line in the sand. I hope they draw one here.