Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Cultural Exchange Proposal for Brunswick

Brunswick has a cultural exchange agreement in place with a sister city in Cuba by the name of Trinidad.  Dance, food, and all sorts of other inspirations come from this arrangement.  We’re hoping, naturally, that Trinidad hasn’t been labeled “business unfriendly” because of its ties with our town.

Other Side has virtually no experience with anything Cuban, and in particular, its governance, which we suspect is not particularly democratic or participatory.

We are, however, familiar with Japanese society, having done business there in the past.  And there is no more civil, formal, gracious, or polite culture to our way of thinking.

We’ve worked hard to maintain contacts there, and in more recent years, have exchanged thoughts and concerns on local governance with our counterparts in the small northeastern Japanese village of Kabuki.  Our revered contact has been gracious enough to forward video from several of their governing council meetings, and it’s remarkable how dignified and dramatic their deliberations are. 

In this particular clip, the council is debating the budget and related tax rates for the coming fiscal year, just as we are.

As he explains it, the seated group at stage right is the governing council, while the three individuals center stage are the library director, the school superintendent, and the downtown association chairman. Seated midway between the two are the village manager and the village clerk. 

The character who scurries across the back of the stage is the finance director, who knows he needs to be there to be helpful, but is fearful of being whacked with one of the dueling sticks.

Towards the end of the discussion, the three advocates reach harmony on budget allocations, and celebrate with a traditional dance ritual.

In this next clip, the school board chairperson and the head of the library board of directors discuss who has the greater commitment to the wellbeing of village children.

Here, traditions and the desire for the greatest respect run much deeper, and the pursuit of village primacy is all important, so the drama of the deliberations is remarkable.

It’s obvious that the creative aspects of their village culture eclipse anything seen in Brunswick in recent years.  Notably, their council chambers are multi-use, allowing for a variety of theatrical endeavors besides the political variety.  My friend tells me that last year a play called “The Sushi Monologues” ran for several weeks in the same setting.

Inspiration is everywhere in this global society; Brunswick officials should know that Side is ready and able to undertake a multi-week cultural exchange mission (at town expense) in the name of multi-culturalism.

We’re confident that once Kabuki village elders see video of our budget meetings, they’ll be amazed at the similarity to theirs, albeit with somewhat less elaborate costumes and decor.

Re: Condolences – one last glimmer of hope?

The photo above appears in today’s Portland Press Herald coverage of the Richardson affair, with this caption:

John Richardson, right, sitting with attorney and friend F. Lee Bailey at Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe in Brunswick on Monday, discusses what led up to his being denied Clean Election money.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

So close, and yet so close.

(Ed note: the photo makes it clear that the shot run by WCSH in their early report, posted here, was a file shot.  Apologies to Joanne King, campaign treasurer, who may or may not have been at the announcement.)

As for us, all we can say is we’re very glad Frosty’s was open yesterday, or there might have been an uncomfortable encounter in the Tontine Mall.  Other Side sometimes noshes at Wild Oats, known far and wide as a place where the elite meet to greet and eat. 

With a trench coat over our pajamas so as not to disturb the others.

You know, I was just thinking how Richardson said he hasn’t given any thought to what he might do next……..hmmmmm.  Maybe there’s a future for him in aviation, if he can make the right connections.  Nah; not gonna happen.  Couldn’t be.  Stupid thought.  Give it up.

And now you know…..the Other Side of the story.

Ethics Commission Decision Letter

Students of the political “process,” and in particular the recent news on John Richardson’s withdrawal from the gubernatorial race, may want to read the Ethics Commission determination in the case.  You can find it here: Letter to Richardson.   Note the letter is dated Thursday of last week.

Richardson’s campaign issued an “important announcement” that comments thusly about the Commission staff’s findings:

The seed money contributions were found to be in order; however, they determined that we did not submit the sufficient number of $5 qualifying contributions. 

This is, obviously, a tremendous disappointment.  Even more troubling is that the commission staff identified instances where three circulators did not follow the proper process for collecting contributions.

Now you’ve got both views of the circumstance.  You can decide whether this was just a matter of adhering to “protocols,” or something that might be described differently.

And now you know……the Other Side of the story.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Condolences and recipes rolling in….


If you’re one of the many experiencing problems contacting us, please accept our apologies.  As you might expect, the switchboard at Other Side editorial offices has been jammed with incoming calls.  Our 24 hour staff is doing their best, but they weren’t prepared for the call volume.

The majority of the calls, at least those we’ve been able to take, have been to express condolences that our most promising and engaging story line has been taken from us, leaving us without a kettle to kvetch in, so to speak.  Many callers have also offered secret family recipes that could be adapted to our 55 gallon slow cooking caldron.  We’re most appreciative, since we’re about to pour the current caldron contents into the town sewer system.

We’re already planning to get a new stew started,  But we have a request – please stop submitting recipes that call for horns of a dilemma, or bat meat from hell, or eye of faerie shrimp.  Tempting as they sound, they’re too hard to find; even Morning Glory couldn’t help us.  We’ll simply have to rely on more conventional toil and trouble stew ingredients.

To be honest, it’s probably fair to say that Other Side was beginning to slip ever so gently into delusions of grandeur.  The political intrigue we were speculating upon had us dreaming of a compelling story that would eventually eclipse “Citizen Kane” as the greatest movie ever made.


In our imagination, “protocols” would have replaced “rosebud” as the mystery line, leaving all to wonder in future years what it meant.

But not to worry.  In the hard boiled world of sleazy internet journalism, where pajama clad jesters bob and weave, those of us so engaged know that just when things look bleakest, when you think you’ve seen it all, and that life has no more stories to cover, fools will rush in to give us new ones.

And thus it is that your correspondents will stay on the watch, with our Walter Winchell inspired nightcaps firmly in place.  Our microphones are on; our ears are up.  Our stories are coming in.


And if all else fails, and no new news crosses our desk to dissect, analyze, and report on, so what?

Investigative reporting is virtually dead; what the hell, nobody cares about it anymore.  Imaginative reporting, on the other hand, is a growth industry.


As the legend pictured above proved, it’s not the facts that matter, it’s the seriousness of the allegations.  So we always have options on how to continue serving your interests.  And ours.

Today has been one for the books, hasn’t it?  Watching the testimony at tonight’s budget hearing only made things worse. I’m pretty pooped, and I think I’ll pop a few protocols to help me sleep.

I expect John Richardson will do the same.  We’re both beside ourselves, if for completely different reasons.  But I’ll feel a lot better in the morning than he will.

Especially since I don’t have to contemplate what I’m going to do next.  How could I possibly give up show business?

And now you know…..the Other Side of the story.

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The Ostrich reports in … sort of

Shame, shame on us for doubting whether the Ostrich would be on top of the breaking story about John Richardson’s withdrawal from the gubernatorial race.

Proving us wrong, they led with their “above the fold” print coverage, hinting at what was to happen at Brunswick’s beloved library, which now is even more hallowed ground than before.  We were shocked that Richardson didn’t schedule his presser for the convenience of the NOTWIUM, and conversely, that they couldn’t hold their presses to provide full coverage of the event in today’s edition.

Let’s be honest; the Ostrich did the best it could.  We thought this passage from the print story most misinforming:

Richardson did not immediately return calls to the Times Record.

No doubt they meant to say ‘return calls from the Times Record,’ but we understand how tough it can be to type and edit when tears of anguish are raining down on your keyboard.

They made up for it with their subsequent web update, which included this paragraph:

Citing a decision last week by the Maine Ethics Commission that some signatures collected by three of Richardson’s volunteers were not verifiable, and that he was therefore not eligible for public campaign funding from the Maine Clean Elections fund, Richardson said he would not continue his campaign “for the good of the people of Maine and the good of the Democratic party.”

One could argue that ‘were not verifiable’ were Richardson’s words, not those of the Ostrich.  But as Brunswick’s self-identified “government watchdog,” we assert Ostrich editors could have challenged the characterization on the basis of this language from the Maine Ethics Commission as reported by other sources:

“Staff has found that certain campaign workers falsely stated that they collected qualifying contributions,” Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne wrote to Richardson last Thursday. “The Commission staff also declines to grant MCEA certification because of the submission of documents containing material false statements and other substantial violations of the MCEA.”

It’s no secret that Side does not have the legal credentials of say, a candidate for governor.

But we do have an innate sense that ‘not verifiable’ is a country mile away from ‘material false statements and other substantial violations.’

We trust the Ostrich, vigilant watchdogs they are, will report on the difference tomorrow, once they’ve had a chance to research and digest the details.

And now you know…..the Other Side of the story.

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Richardson update part deux


Here’s a link to the WCSH report on the press conference, including the “full text” of his statement.  The photo above is from the report.

Richardson quits race

Richardson update

As promised, we’ve been watching the news for you.  Here are two up to the minute items:

Panel denies public funds for Richardson campaign

Potential fraud cited by ethics commission staff


AUGUSTA, Maine — Staff of the Maine Ethics Commission denied Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Richardson’s request for public financing because of potential fraud committed by campaign workers, according to documents obtained Sunday.

BDN Link

Richardson to hold 11 a.m. press conference

By Susan M. Cover
Staff Writer

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Richardson will hold an 11 a.m. press conference today in the Morrel Room of Curtis Memorial Library 23 Pleasant St. Brunswick, according to his spokeswoman.

The announcement didn't provide any additional details.

PPH Link

Well, as a famous public official once said, you’ve got to establish and honor protocols. 

If you don’t, they’ll bite you right smack in the ass, it appears.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is Richardson putting on his “it’s all overcoat?”

The blogosphere has been chattering for some weeks about the absence of any word from the state Ethics Commission that John Richardson, Brunswick’s ‘favorite son,’ has qualified for Maine Clean Election Funding.  The deadline to submit his qualifying checks and associated paperwork was April 1st, and they were reportedly dropped off in a feverish last minute delivery.

We’re more than 3 weeks past that date, and still no official word.  The do or die primary election is a bit more than 6 weeks away, crying out for immediate campaign funding if Richardson is to have any chance.

Now the word on the electronic street is that Richardson’s campaign to become Governor of Maine is about to come to an inglorious (to say the least) end.

No doubt the Ostrich won’t be all over this story tomorrow, but who knows.  Even they may understand when over really means over.

This reporter, eschewing such seedy goings on, and ever-mindful of protecting our editorial objectivity, has not been chasing the story in person.

More credible sources in the new media have, however, and we cite their efforts here so that you can judge for yourself whether they are credible.  On their face, Side takes them as such.

Here’s where you can read about it:

Richardson looking for a way out of the race

(If the link above does not work, just move on to the next two.)

More details on the John Richardson controversy

Richardson to quit race tomorrow

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Protocols and Caldrons

(ed note: file this one under “you just can’t make this stuff up!”)


You’d think someone aspiring to become Governor, an attorney at that, and who not all that long ago lectured the town council on the necessity of establishing and honoring protocols, would be able to master the relatively simple protocols associated with the Maine Clean Elections Act.  Just like some of his competitors have, and hundreds have in the past. 

You’d think so, but you’d apparently be wrong, judging from published reports out yesterday.  The two major print media outlets in the state have reported on the situation; this one in Portland, and that one in Bangor.

Favorite Son Richardson managed to deliver a ball of snakes to the Maine State Ethics Commission, headed by Brunswick’s own Johnathan Wayne, on April 1st.  Reports are that a ruling should be issued this week on whether Richardson will get clean election funding or not.

We’ve looked at the form used when collecting qualifying checks, and there really isn’t any room for claiming confusion or other causes of failing to sign the form.  (You’ll find it here.)  Further, if the circulator had read the statement he was signing on the form, he/she would have realized the need to get missing signatures, or find themselves misrepresenting the form’s contents.

Coupled with the campaign’s recent confusion over who is working for it, and whether they were paid or volunteering, this has to be causing some snickers and chortles among the Augusta chattering class, and especially “Johnny Protocols’” primary competition.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bits and Pieces, 19 April 2010

Double, double, double toil and fumble?

Other Side is in trouble, and I suppose you could say it’s trouble of our own making.  But we’re getting help from other quarters.

In this recent post, we laid out a possible “Richardson rescues Bailey plans for BNAS” scenario as the primary election approaches.  The old “rabbit out of the hat” trick, so to speak.

As it stands, things are not falling in to place.  While many probably dismissed our speculation on its face, those who didn’t are aware that some real things have to happen if our hypothesis is to play itself out.  And Richardson and his campaign aren’t helping.

As of 1:30 today, 18 days after the submission deadline, John (Johnny Protocols) Richardson is still not shown as qualifying for Maine clean election funding.  Hmm….why could it possibly be taking so long to go through the “favorite son’s” submission?

Is he short on checks?  Is he short on signatures?  Are his papers not in order?

One would have thought that after years of providing legal representation for unions, and years and years in Augusta tending to their interests, JP should have been able to drum up more than enough checks with a finger snap.  Then you’ve got the thousands of local residents who should have been lining up at his front door to make sure he qualified.

It does seem, surprisingly, that the Richardson outfit is a bit lacking in mastery of campaign and public statement protocols.  You may have read the published reports about one “Jimmy” Cook finding employ above his station on JP’s DECD staff.  But Richardson denied that Cook had any paid or volunteer role on his campaign.  Richardson’s campaign communications director later repeated that Cook had not been a paid campaign worker.

But then, wouldn’t you just know it, Cook’s name was found on nomination petitions for JP.  The communications director subsequently acknowledged Cook’s role as a volunteer.

Protocols, John, protocols.  Including the right hand knowing what the left hand is doing, and the hand in the middle knowing what each is up to. 

Here’s hoping you have better coordination governing the state on the outside chance that you make it through the primary and win the general election.

Circulation success: reaching the “disturbed” cohort 

The other day, we pointed out that we were having great success reaching those who disagree with us, raising hopes that our influence is spreading.  This was based on the high number of “idiotic” ratings received for our efforts.

Little did we know that this sharp change in readership trends would portend another major advance – reaching the disturbed, and in large numbers!  We simply were not prepared.

Well, in recent days, virtually every one of our front page items has been given a “disturbing” rating.  Could there be any more tangible proof that our readership now includes the disturbed?

Welcome aboard; we welcome the diversity you bring to our pages.

Library Funding: The ceiling is falling 

Regular Brunswick budget watchers know it’s a toss-up as to which special interest responds more hyperbolically to the suggestion of budget constraints: the Library (known on Other Side as “the bookies”) or the School Department (“the schoolies” to Other Side.)

At the moment, the bookies are in the lead, with a PR campaign that makes the schoolies look like mere children.

According to published reports, the library’s total operating budget is $1.28 million, of which about $1.08 million, or 84%, is provided by the town.  Budget discussions have mentioned the possibility the town would reduce it’s subsidy by $107,000, or 10% of it’s current level, and a bit more than 8% of the library’s total operating budgets.

The response?  The Library “could have to close on Sundays, and perhaps Saturdays.'” 

Well, to begin with, it is closed on Sundays in the Summer, and is only open from 9:30 to 1:00 on Saturdays.  So apparently, townfolk have adjusted to a paucity of weekend hours under the current funding profile without life as we know it coming to an end.

During the winter, the doors are open for 62 hours, of which 11.5, or 18%, are on Saturday and Sunday.

Is it too much to ask why an 8% cut in the operating budget would require cutting 18% of winter operating hours?

I know from experience that I’m running in to a gauntlet of cream pies, or worse, by even raising this subject.  But since when are ‘the bookies’ immune from common sense?

Surely there’s a book on the subject somewhere in the library.

Town played for suckers on TR building by SMCC?

Here’s hoping we do better “the next time.”

Brunswick Town Government has not exactly distinguished itself in capital property acquisition, development, and renovation in recent years.  The record is replete with lack of management rigor; inability to control and manage to cost; and non-existent or sadly lacking “due diligence,” among other things.

The Times Record building over near the Public Works Dept is a case in point.  I readily confess to supporting the purchase, accepting as a given that professional town staff would conduct due diligence on the property before closing on the deal.

Bad assumption on my part, apparently.  Somehow, no one noticed the need for $5 million in renovations to make the building ‘fit for use’ until AFTER we became the proud owners.  Funny how that happened and killed the plan to become a spacious facility for our Police Department.

So instead, we sunk some short money (a million or so) into improving the building to provide space for SMCC and other uses.  My memory is getting hazy, but I seem to recall that a number of elected state officials praised and supported the SMCC arrangement as a sign of economic booms to come, and local-state “partnerships.”

Now, published reports indicate that the town is, in a word, desperate to rid itself of the property.  Hence, whatever the asking price was before, it just dropped by a boatload.  And we read that while SMCC once planned to buy the building, that is a non-starter.

They would, however, like to continue operation in the building until their space on BNAS is ready.  They cannot, though, afford to pay any rent.  Great.  What fine stewardship of the resource.  Pour money into it for no lasting purpose; keep funding its operation for a tenant that can’t pay rent.

The town has sunk something like $4 million total in recurring and non-recurring dollars into the building, with more to come.  And one of the options being considered is demolishing it.

No doubt SMCC has a similarly beneficial arrangement in mind with the MRRA for occupying space on the base.  That would continue the proud record of stewardship of public assets in the region.

As for us here at Other Side, we don’t think the town should be allowed to proceed on any form of capital property project until it conclusively and publicly convinces us that they have the process, the ability, and the commitment to do right by all of us.  At this point, there is nothing on the record to give us that confidence.

We should expect responsible town councilors to demand nothing less.

Crocodile Dundee & economic justice

Alright, I’m ready to give up.   Give up on what?, you must be thinking.

Before I answer that, watch this memorable clip from a popular movie of what….30 or 40 years ago?  After you do, keep the principle in mind.

What I’m giving up on is the debate over the role of government in our lives.  My acquiescence is inspired by the editorial in the Ostrich edition of Wednesday, April 14th.  How could we allow government to spend so much on national defense, the editors asked, when there are so many social needs to be funded?

The editorial embodies the tacit belief that the majority of our population thinks Government is one giant social agency whose primary role is to redistribute wealth and make life fair, or if you prefer, equitable.

Thinking on this, I recalled past debates with local officials who claimed to believe in “fair taxation.”  That was always their lead-in to a preference for higher taxes, but you could never pin them down to a level of taxation that would be enough.  Their justification was that there were always more ‘vital needs’ to be met by government than could be paid for by current tax rate levels.

After years and years of listening to their sensitive cries, and the sob stories ascribed to underfunded government, I’ve concluded that this whole life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness thing is just too hard, and too unfair.  What’s fair about one person residing in an apartment in an in town tenement, and another having a house in the country?  What’s fair about you driving a Subaru or a Pious while I drive around in a pickup?

Vacationing a “human right,” says EU chief

(Before you read this, please note that the parody lamp is NOT lit.)

My son-in-law in Canada forwarded this encouraging item that he came across in one of the newspapers up there.

All I can say is imagine the possibilities when you let devout socialists engage in “visioning” or any of the other forms of letting your thoughts wander out onto the j-axis and other places they probably shouldn’t go.

The European Union has declared travelling a human right, and is launching a scheme to subsidize vacations with taxpayers' dollars for those too poor to afford their own trips.

Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, proposed a strategy that could cost European taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros a year, The Times of London reports.


The plan -- just who gets to enjoy the travel package has yet to be determined -- would see taxpayers footing some of the vacation bill for seniors, youths between the ages of 18 and 25, disabled people, and families facing "difficult social, financial or personal" circumstances. The disabled and elderly can also be accompanied by one other person. The EU and its taxpayers are slated to fund 30% of the cost of these tours, which could range from youth exploring abandoned factories and power plants in Manchester to retirees taking discount trips to Madrid, all in the name of cultural appreciation.

For those of you convinced that health care is a “human right” and that the federal government is the best choice for providing it, but that it isn’t socialism, and doesn’t pave the way for more such policies, what do you think of this new “human right?”

Think of the possibilities for our region; no need to “attract visitors” when a benevolent and fair government can ship them our way by the train-full!  I suppose it’s about time we had a “Vacation Csar” in this country anyway. 

Soon as I find out who it is, the gift baskets will start a-shipping.  I’m thinking of a “cross-cultural” experience with Italy for starters.  Last time we were there, we “appreciated their culture” big time.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Other Side circulation and response booming!

From the beginning, Other Side has viewed itself as having something of a missionary mission in the field of journalism, reaching out to those who would not normally appreciate its world view. 

We never aimed to be a New York Times clone, or more to the point, echo the offerings of the Ostrich.  There’s enough lockstep posturing in the local media to satisfy the local demand for that and more.

So back up the Subarus and the Piouses and pay attention.

Simply put, we’ve been intent on conversions, on gentle and subtle cajoling and schmoozing of the questioning and the wandering, hoping to gain their allegiance to our view of things.  It’s obvious that this is a crap shoot.  One would think, though, that the more crap you shoot at, the more you’d hit.

And it seems to be true.  We’re pleased to announce that the “Double, double toil and trouble….” post is setting new records in readership.  We’re not sure why, given the irrelevance of the subject, but it has us thinking about a revenue generating model for our publication.  (There’s that pesky capitalism thing sneaking in again.)

The really exciting news is that metrics show we are, in fact, reaching the previously unreached.  There is hope after all.

To prove this, the “Double, double….” post has elicited 5 “idiotic” ratings against 2 “brilliant” ratings.  And the “Just thought you’d want to know..” post has drawn 3 for idiotic vs. 2 for brilliant.

Taken together, the totals are 8 for idiotic, and 4 for brilliant.

Proof enough, we believe, that we are reaching our target audience.  And the motivation derived from this response is impossible to quantify.

So we close with this commitment: we will do whatever we can to grab your attention and raise your consciousness. 

Or if you prefer, grab you by your hackles and raise your awareness.

And in closing, keep those idiotic ratings coming!  We appreciate the feedback.

Other Side: low carbon footprint!

Everybody’s running around like a chicken with their head cut off these days, worrying about their “carbon footprint.”  Meanwhile, various governors (past and soon to be past) and other former members of the governing elite are positioning themselves to make a fortune developing taxpayer subsidized wind power operations.

Hey; capitalism is good, and if you can get some government help with your capitalism, all the better, right?  We all know how to tell the difference between “taxpayer funded investments” and “corporate welfare." 

You do, right?  If you don’t, leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

Anyway, that’s not the point at this moment.  Instead, Other Side is reporting in on our own efforts to minimize carbon footprint, if not blather footprint.

Yesterday we received a memo that appears to be from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.  It documents the sources of our electrical power.  You should have received one just like it.

Guess what.  About 40% of our power is “hydro” based; 22% is nuclear; 23% is from natural gas; only 13% is from oil and coal. The rest is from other renewable resources such as biomass and municipal waste.

The way we see it here in dinosaur land, that’s pretty low on the carbon footprint scale.  And they want us to cough up endless dollars to fund wind power development, enriching elite insiders, and in the end, pay what they promise will be much higher recurring rates for the power itself?

Yeah, that sounds good.  Almost as good as buying a social disease, Officer Krupke.

To quote a memorable line, “go sell crazy somewhere else.  We’re all stocked up around here.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ecce irony

That would be “behold the irony,” for those readers not trained in classic Latin like your reporter.  See?  You can always learn something on Other Side!

The Sunday Portland paper had an interesting “Maine Voices” column by a Cape Elizabeth resident entitled “Where have all those hippies gone?”  You can read it here.

Always mindful of local sensitivities, I’ll resist the urge to suggest that many of those free spirits of the 60’s and 70’s have settled here in Subaru heaven.  Or sent trust funded offspring to represent their interests.  (Where DID that wealth come from????? Certainly not the fruits of capitalism, we trust!)

At any rate, the column talks about the free spirits of that era and their lust for freedom to “do their own thing,” and the need to always question “The Man.”

The author, Eric Lusk, ends with this:

Let's skip the constitutionality of the health care legislation for a moment and admit we've landed in curious times: The freedom-lovers of Woodstock past are the gray-haired statists of today.

I miss the hippies who loudly questioned "The Man's" authority to tell people what to do with their lives.

Come back, we need you.

I hope you don’t miss the irony in this; you’ll need to know what “statist” means, of course.  If you don’t know, it’s time to find out, because it symbolizes today much like “flowers in your hair” symbolized the hippie era.

Come back and write again, Eric Lusk.  We need you.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just thought you’d want to know….

Oxford Aviation still hasn’t given up advertising their occupancy of BNAS Hangar 6 on their web site, as you can clearly see here.

We simply can’t figure out why responsible officials have not intervened in this flagrant misrepresentation of the relationship between Oxford and the MRRA.

As for Oxford – well, maybe the leaky roof and the slow settlement payments have occupied their energies, and they just haven’t had a chance to edit their web site.

Or maybe they’re leaving it as is at the advice of aviation entrepreneur F. Lee Bailey.  Too bad John Richardson didn’t have a chance to straighten out this ‘willful misinformation’ when he dined with Bailey and friends in Portland recently.  Protocols, protocols, protocols, no doubt.

Oh, well.  The place of the unwashed is not to reason why; it is to simply sit down, shut the old pie-hole, and be grateful for the permanent ruling class.

Back to the caldron, then.  The toads need tending.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Double, double toil and trouble…..

Richardson and Bailey: the tension mounts, and Augur stands by, ready to ????

from Macbeth:  A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.

In the poison'd entrails throw.—
    Toad, that under cold stone,
    Days and nights has thirty-one;
    Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
    Boil thou first i' the charmed pot! 
    Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

Forgive me; I just couldn’t resist the urge any longer.  Somewhere in the deep, dark, inner recesses of what used to be my mind, there on a back burner, a caldron of conspiracy stew has been simmering unattended for weeks.  I had almost forgotten about it, until the bubbling suddenly increased enough to get my attention.  And the ‘aroma’ took a turn for the worse, heightening my curiosity.

I started the stew some weeks ago when the Ostrich suddenly awoke from its slumber over all things having to do with the MRRA, Oxford Aviation, and F. Lee Bailey, reporting that Bailey was “pulling out,” dramatically playing the victim card. The editors, who are testy risers, launched off against skeptical town councilors, and messed themselves in a nasty editorial where they raised the concept of “willfully uninformed.”  We commented on their thinking here, suggesting that the Ostrich leads the way in willfully uninforming its declining readership.

We were, frankly, perplexed by their new found interest in the situation, especially since it surfaced only when Bailey’s rescue of the Oxford snafu seemed to be coming to an ignoble climax.  Why, Side wondered, did Ostrich editors suddenly see the shenanigans as worthy of their interest.  And then it dawned on me.


What if, I thought, this was all part of a grand strategy for the Gubernatorial campaign of John “Johnny Protocols” (JP) Richardson, featuring Bailey in a leading role? It’s common knowledge that JP and F. Lee had become tight over the course of the months they had been “working” together.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seatless go-kart???

Did you see the item in today’s local paper about a go-kart being swiped from someone’s front lawn?  It had been placed there with a for-sale sign, something we see often enough around the area.

It’s a “Yerf-Dog” cart, without a seat installed.

This reminded your reporter of a joke heard on Prairie Home Companion some years ago.

“John Deere is coming out with a new line of tractors that have no seats and no steering wheels.

They’re for farmers who’ve lost their ass and don’t know which way to turn.”

While we feel sympathy for the loss to the owner of the cart, it appears he doesn’t fit into the customer base for the John Deere tractors described above. 

But the thief might be wondering why his ass is dragging, even though he hasn’t put in an honest day’s work.

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BNAS/Brooklyn Bridge Progress Update

Readers with intact memories may recall that we broke the story of Brunswick and the MRRA purchasing the Brooklyn Bridge in this post a few months back.

At that time, all we had to show you was a photo of the bridge that had been included by Bailey Properties in their sales pitch.

In a superb example of innovation since the purchase, development efforts to incorporate the bridge on the base, and to integrate it with the surrounding region, have progressed at a remarkable pace.

An anonymous free-lance source of Other Side’s has reported in on the transformation.  An inventive sort, the source launched his own drone over the region to snap telling photos.

He was willing to give us a free sample; you can see here how the bridge relates to the runways, and how comfortable BIW’s DDGs are in cruising under the span.


We’re currently working on an MOU (and conducting due diligence) before we consider signing up for more of his work.

He’d like us to offer a PIF (Poppycock Incentive Financing) to cement the deal. 

Given our flat advertising revenue in recent weeks, we don’t think we can swing it on our own, so we’re asking for supportive readers to send us a check for whatever you can afford to help us “lock in the deal.”  We’ll even take cash….just give us a call, and we’ll be happy to make a collection run to your place.

Please treat this with the importance it deserves; the last thing the region needs right now is a reputation for being free-lancer unfriendly, especially when drones are part of the deal.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Overheated rhetoric – it’s in the ear of the beholder?

Yours truly had another item make it into print today; this one in the local paper.  We’re running it here as well for your convenience.


What about the Democrats?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 2:10 PM EDT

We’ve been scolded twice now by the editors for the “violent metaphors, overheated rhetoric and threats of violence” in today’s political debate; once by using Bob Herbert of The New York Times as a proxy (“A distinct absence of class,” March 24) and, more recently, in an editorial (“Halting Armageddon near and far,” March 26).

Both justified their outrage and calls for restraint and civility only with citations of Republican transgressions.  Somehow, no examples of Democrat misbehavior came across the news wires.

There’s no need to rehash the years and years of despicable rhetoric aimed at the prior administration and Republicans in general on these very same pages over the years; some from the editors, and some far worse from readers. Immature, hateful, vitriolic rants and worse were frequently on display, and frequently from highly educated members of the region’s aristocracy.
No matter, it was appropriate to the circumstances, right?

Perhaps the editors, in the spirit of recent pleas, could find a way to address Democrat behavior as well when discussing “violent metaphors, overheated rhetoric and threats of violence.”

For example, if one Googles “‘Pingree + ‘fighting for’” the result is several thousand listings, describing what both of the Pingrees in our political life are “fighting for.” And it’s safe to say that virtually every “report from the State House” we’ve received over the years is filled with the same aggressive and combative imagery.

How can this be? Who do the Pingrees have to “fight?” Both have lopsided majorities in each chamber plus the executive branch on their side! Are they putting on the gloves to pummel vastly outnumbered Republicans just for the sheer fun of it all? 

That would make them thugs and bullies. They would be threatening “the foundation of our democracy, which depends on healthy political debate, not the verbal equivalent of all-out war,” to borrow some words I read recently.

How unlady-like!  Haven’t we been told that women in political leadership would bring an end to the nasty aggression that the male animal brings to his politics?

Private servants, public masters?

This item by your reporter is running in the Forecaster this week.  If you wish to comment on it on line, go here.


Forecaster Forum: Public servants or public masters?

Time was when taking a job with the government was seen as a bit of a sacrifice, and hence the term "public service" seemed appropriate. Those working in government were giving up financial reward while they provided services to the public.

When I graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering in 1963, the government offered me a job at about two-thirds the starting pay then common in the private sector. It took me about a nanosecond to decide which offer I’d accept.

Today, according to columnist Amity Shlaes, “wages and benefits for federal civilian workers were more than double the average total compensation in the private sector: $119,982 versus $59, 909.” I’ve also seen data that shows that the average compensation for a Maine state employee is more than $10,000 (30 percent) higher than average private-sector incomes in our economically disadvantaged state.

So much for sacrifice. And when you consider that government employees have far more secure benefits, and virtually guaranteed lifetime employment, the notion of "public servant" is nearly impossible to accept. Hence I bristle whenever that bromide is employed for emotional effect. Especially when accompanied by a “we know better than you do” attitude and resistance to any form of accountability.

And so we come to the annual cycle of local budget deliberations. How many times have you heard highly paid public managers explain that proposed spending increases are “due to costs beyond our control?” I heard it for years, and finally realized what they meant was “costs we approved in prior years.”

True costs “beyond our control” include only those related to weather, and the cost of commodities determined in the larger marketplace, like heating oil. What the officials really meant by costs beyond their control were almost entirely the consequences of labor contracts they approved in years past, which guaranteed compensation increases for two or three years in the future.

The premise is that local taxpayers have no choice but to deal with these pre-negotiated increases; taxes must be raised because the expenditures are “beyond our control.” And then it dawned on me. These are not public servants in the literal sense; these are public masters demanding tribute from their private servants.

They "negotiate" a contract in which they receive increased compensation, but the taxpayer receives nothing in return, other than a promise not to walk off the job. Ultimatum seems like a far more accurate term than negotiation.

The balance shifted many years ago. No longer do we have a public (government-employed) sector self-sacrificing to serve the interests of their private-sector employers. In fact, we have just the opposite: a sector of private "servants" obliged to meet the pre-established demands of their masters in the public employ.

I submit that it is time to restore the concept that government serves at the pleasure and consent of the private citizen, instead of vice-versa. Instead of public-sector unions, and especially the teachers unions, negotiating generous increases the taxpayers are forced to “deal with,” regardless of the cost, let’s reverse the model.

From now on, let local taxpayers negotiate with town and school department officials to lock in place what they are willing to pay in taxes for the next three years. And when the economy is sour, like it is now, the contract would include spending decreases. Then, teachers and other government employees would be obligated to “deal with it.” Because they are the “public servants” and we are the private employers.

This would restore the rightful relationship between government employees and those they "serve." And public servants would be faced with realities that taxpayers consider “beyond their control.”