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.

No comments:

Post a Comment