Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The “News” in Brunswick is not good….

We’ve read in recent days of the demise of Thibeault Energy, a long established family business that we assumed was a rock solid operation, based on decades of serving the local population.  But poof, just like that, the owner has put on his it’s all overcoat.

And then Finest Hearth, from whom we bought our fireplace insert a few years back, announces they are ceasing operation.  Three stores, up in flames, so to speak.

We were out on the town today, running some errands, and what we saw was not encouraging.  The Bookland end of the Cooks Corner Mall is beginning to look more and more like a wasteland, with numerous units vacant, and the prime corner property, the former video store, wasting away as well.

Ironically, you exit the mall looking directly at a new Credit Union under construction.  Lord knows the town could use another credit union, on top of its surfeit of banks.  Don’t know how this works, but it seems strange that the money business is doing so well, but business can’t seem to make money.

On to Maine Street, the Duncan Donuts shop next to Rite-Aid is now gone, and the Wheelhouse Cafe next to Bamforth’s looks to have turned its coffee makers off for good.  There’s a cultural message in the passing of each, depending on your point of view.

OK, businesses come, and businesses go.  Hopefully, things balance out, and on the whole, more come than go.  We’ll see.

You may recall us reporting on the property tax status of The Ostrich over the past several months.  It turns out that the news on that page is no less depressing.  According to public records, the business entities of record, Alliance Press and Brunswick Publishing, have made no progress in resolving their tax delinquencies.

The latest public information shows they are in arrears by more than $100,000 in total  Given the overall decline in print media circulation, and the advertising shortfalls inevitable when businesses shut down, things can only be getting worse, not better.  And another major payment is due in a matter of weeks.

Funny how those most likely to call local activists “anti-tax zealots” are behind in their taxes.  Which is to say, not paying their “fair share.”

Stay tuned.  For now, Other Side is current in its tax accounts, but we may soon need to run some specials for full page ads if conditions persist.

And for the record, we’d be happy to see our competitor survive, if only for the competition they provide, if you want to call it that.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lake Basebegone, or Lake Taxbegone??

(Revised to correct a major error in MRSA citation)

If you’re in the same age bracket as this reporter, you may well remember when daily Bible reading and/or devotions were a staple of American family life.  I certainly do, and I am convinced we are worse off for the loss of that tradition.

That is not our subject today.  Instead, we observe that in the modern age, where governmentality is the driving force in our daily lives, not spirituality, a different form of daily reading is the norm.

Here on Other Side, we are engaged in a ‘Walk Through Maine Statute’ program, in which we are assigned daily readings and then expected to take the passages studied and discuss how they make human existence more ideal. and how Government plays a primary role in such perfection.

Enough preaching.  Today, we only want to give you the specifics of the passages we just read, since they are spot on to our local circumstances here in Brunswick.

First is this, in which Maine Statute tells us that:

An airport authority is a public municipal corporation within the meaning of Title 36, section 651, and the property of the authority is exempt from taxation to the extent provided in that section.

You can find the citation here.

So now, let’s look at Title 36, Section 651, which reads as follows; in particular, focus on sub-paragraph F. which appears to be especially germane to our base redevelopment.

Title 36: TAXATION



Subchapter 4: EXEMPTIONS

§651. Public property

The following public property is exempt from taxation:

1. Public property.

A. The property of the United States so far as the taxation of such property is prohibited under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

B. The property of the State of Maine.

B-1. Real estate owned by the Water Resources Board of the State of New Hampshire and used for the preservation of recreational facilities in this State. [1965, c. 125, (NEW).]

C. All property which by the Articles of Separation is exempt from taxation.

D. The property of any public municipal corporation of this State appropriated to public uses, if located within the corporate limits and confines of such public municipal corporation.

E. The pipes, fixtures, hydrants, conduits, gatehouses, pumping stations, reservoirs and dams, used only for reservoir purposes, of public municipal corporations engaged in supplying water, power or light, if located outside of the limits of such public municipal corporation.

F. All airports and landing fields and the structures erected thereon or contained therein of public municipal corporations whether located within or without the limits of such public municipal corporations. Any structures or land contained within such airport not used for airport or aeronautical purposes shall not be entitled to this exemption. Any public municipal corporation which is required to pay taxes to another such corporation under this paragraph with respect to any airport or landing field shall be reimbursed by the county wherein the airport is situated.

We here on Other Side are not lawyers, by any stretch of the  imagination, but these words would seem to raise some concerns about tax revenues flowing from Kestral occupancy.

Furthermore, we are not the least bit clear on whether the entire MRRA-Kestral relaionship has been ‘sold’ on the premise that as a private sector concern, Kestral would yield property tax revenue to the local community.

Surely we’ll find out in the next day or two.  Here in the offices, we don’t expect the revenue equation to work out in our favor.

And we expect that the language above provides an opening a few miles wide for FLee Bailey to drive his rehabilitation bus through.

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Heh, heh, heh….could it be the ghosts of classes past?

It’s been many, and I mean many years since your correspondent’s Boy Scout campout days in the wild jungles of Northern New Jersey.

At these events, one of the traditions was for our leaders and their assistants to tell stories around the evening camp fire, and they almost always involved ghosts, and for good measure, the ‘lizzie monster.’

So it is with some nostalgia that we read of goings on at the new elementary school, and our imagination cut itself loose to dream up all sorts of explanations.  The events reported involved driving rains and furious winds, and those always provide the right conditions for mischievous spirits to wreak a little havoc on unsuspecting humans.  

Given Brunswick’s penchant for all sorts of exotic ‘spirituality,’ it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that the new school just may be a haunting ground for the departed spirits of those with close ties to the location and its former glory.

Before the old school was torn down, I remember taking a couple of tours, and hearing about the leaking windows in the old building.  As we walked around, we always had the uneasy feeling that we were being watched and followed, but we never saw anything specific. 

Just the same, you couldn’t avoid thinking of the thousands of prior graduates from the Old  High School, now passed on, who spent some of the best days of their lives in that building.  It’s not much of a stretch to believe their spirits, if there are such things, are not happy with what happened to their old and cherished Alma Mater.

The report we are talking about recently appeared in The Ostrich.  The gist of the item is this:

The manufacturer of 161 windows installed in Brunswick’s new elementary school has proposed a “very expensive” repair after more than a third of the windows leaked during heavy rainstorms last fall.
That fix, should the school department accept the proposal, would come at the expense of the window manufacturer and general contractor Ledgewood Construction after architects and school officials — and the school attorney — met with representatives of Bonneville Windows of Quebec late last month.
Sixty-six of 161 windows installed last summer at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School seemed to weather ordinary rain just fine, architect Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects told the Elementary School Building Committee earlier this month.
But after a number of storms bringing gales of up to 45 miles per hour in October, some of the multi-component windows began to leak.

This is not an appropriate time to revisit the serious ugliness of some of the installed windows; we’ll follow up on that another time.  But it is an appropriate time to suggest that all those professionals in charge of the project, including the architects, construction firm, and assorted sub-contractors and suppliers should be the finest available.  After all, this program is being overseen by State Government, and if we can’t trust them, who can we trust?

So the notion of ghosts of classes past wreaking havoc on the building is appealing, especially since it would link the new building to the old, which was discarded because of numerous such problems that were just too much to take on.

What’s next: saplings and scrub brush growing out of cracks in the masonry near the roof-line?  This could just be a monument to the ‘green’ spirits that undergird the entire project, so we would caution those in charge not to carelessly yank out the offending plant life; they might just be an omen of peace with the departed graduates.

Oh….and we hear reports that the new school’s population at opening will be in the 300’s, rather than the 500-600 range as projected earier.  We’ll have to run down the facts, but if you have any info, please forward it. 

Sounds like the spirits of classes past will have plenty of room to make themselves comfortable.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lake Basebegone: Be careful what you wish for….

A very busy week has finally come to a close, not to mention dealing with 16” of fluff needing to be cleared from our driveway, including three berms left by the Public Works department on successive trips up our road.

We’re hoping to get back into the publishing groove very quickly, and we are way, way behind on reporting the news from Lake Basebegone.

We’ll quickly offer up this “fast food equivalent” of news on the subject, which should serve as a reminder that the “nutrition level” of the all you can eat buffet served up by the MRRA and friends (FLee, are you there?) may cause severe indigestion.

A recent news report from Massachusetts is a perfect example of the political entrepreneurism syndrome that is quickly becoming the norm in our economy, especially in desperate situations like ours here locally.

Patrick announced the expansion of Evergreen Solar at the former Army base in Devens to great fanfare in 2008 when the company pledged to double the size of the manufacturing plant it was constructing and triple its workforce to 1,000 employees.

The company accepted $58.6 million in grants, loans, land, and tax incentives over the last few years as incentive to expand in Massachusetts and add at least 350 new jobs to the economy.

Patrick, however, was forced to defend his decision to invest public dollars in the company during his re-election campaign last year after Evergreen announced in late 2009 that it intended to move some of its solar panel production to China.

Note that the subject here is green energy jobs, the same grand concept being touted as the answer to Lake Basebegone’s woes.

We particularly resonate to this comment in the article:

House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading), said the loss of jobs at Devens highlights the risk of investing in particular industries instead of working to create general market conditions that would foster growth and job expansion.

We have long felt that if authorities did the right things for our economic and regulatory climate, companies would be tripping all over themselves to come here, rather than needing to be bribed, or if you prefer, tempted with taxpayer funds.

How old school, we suppose, in keeping with Other Side’s normal view of things.


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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Public reading of the US Constitution: Oh the outrage!

“Laws constrain people; Constitutions constrain government.”     -Source unknown.

“The Constitution is a document of negative rights.”    -Barack Obama

I’m sure we’ve discussed this before, but the state of high dudgeon among the chattering class in the last day or so, in both print and electronic domains, over the public reading of the US Constitution in the House of Representatives today, is sufficient cause to revisit the subject.  In fact, it’s more than sufficient; it compels us to do so, because of the complete and utter lack of knowledge many of the comments reveal.

The basic, inarguable facts pursuant to this subject are as follows:

  • The very institution in which the Constitution is being read at this moment, and the other branches of the federal government, exist ONLY because “we the people,” through the Constitution, create and ordain them.
  • The elected officials involved occupy offices that exist ONLY because “we the people,” through the Constitution, create and ordain them.
  • The responsibilities, obligations, and authorities of those elected officials are specifically and ONLY as enumerated by “we the people” in that same Constitution.
  • On those occasions where “we the people” determine that the Constitution should be revised or otherwise modified to address modern circumstances, there is an amendment process defined therein by which “we the people” may do so.

In other words, the clear consequence is that if any of the officials who hold power to govern because of the Constitution consider it irrelevant, malleable, or otherwise not germane to government of the people, by the people, and for the people, then they render themselves irrelevant, unauthorized, and without power at the same time.

I don’t know how much more simply you can say this: without primacy of the Constitution, we simply have no federal government, no President, no Congress, no Courts, and we have no ordered liberty.

What would you say if the local “Community Bible Church” dismissed the Bible as an impediment to its purpose and principles?  (OK, don’t answer that; in this age, this is probably a counterproductive analogy!)

If you don’t accept the assertions above, please let me know, and I’ll invite you to Other Side’s first annual organizing convention, in which your correspondent will install himself as Grand High Poobah, Exalted Potentate, Ruler, King, Lord Master, President, Speaker of the People, and Supreme Justice of the People in the Land of Poppycock.

You’ll need to wear your work clothes and bring all your tools, because the first edict will be that you find sufficient marble to erect a majestic statue of yours truly that stands above all the lands and subjects of Poppycock.

And if you’re wondering how we can do this, there’s no really good explanation.  But none is needed; in the absence of a Constitution, we can do it just because we can do pretty much whatever we want to.  (Gee…where have I heard that before??)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A quote for our times….

I came across this today; I believe it stems from a classic text of many years ago:

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it."

-Frederic Bastiat

As I often do, I suggest you read it slowly, and more than once, to let the words sink in as they relate to present times.

Pogo has this quote filed under '”us.”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year’s ‘Two-fer’

Well good evening, Other Side readers.  We know not about you, but we’ve missed our regular exchanges.  As we sit here on the first Sunday of the new year, we look forward to a 2011 where the pace of sizzling dialogue is……ummm,…..sizzling.  As most of you know, we’ve always been more about the “sizzle than the steak.”

We’re surely glad the hype for the change of years is nowhere near the level we experienced as 2000 approached.  Do you remember the looming sense of disaster associated with that turnover?  And how long ago that was?  Tempus flies, and time fugits, doesn’t it?

Your correspondent is now back in the offices, relaxing after our traditional new year’s feast of baked ham, macaroni and cheese, and succotash.  Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, especially our home-made version of the mac and cheese, which we prepare in huge amounts, so as to enjoy it long after the Rose Parade has ended.

Now to the main subject of this post.  We have regularly chatted on about “putting lipstick on a pig,” but we won’t bore you with links to examples from the past.

Instead, we offer up two current reports exemplifying the art, submitted under the heading of ‘you can’t make this stuff up.’

Porcine Pulchritude, Maine-Style

1) FLee Bailey, lipstick merchant extraordinaire, combines forces with a total make-over expert

Bailey, the noted barrister, has spent the better part of his professional life applying lipstick to a long list of infamous celebrity pigs in the hopes of making them beautiful in the eyes of the public, and more importantly, in the eyes of our legal system.  And he has enjoyed much success in doing so; sufficient to buy himself a variety of aircraft and yachts.

In recent years, he worked very hard right here in the Brunswick area to convince MRRA officials, and others, that Oxford Aviation was an aviation diamond in the rough, worthy of millions in public ‘investment.’  He collaborated with ‘Johnny Protocols,’ otherwise known as John Richardson, former candidate for Governor, to make Oxford’s Photoshop fantasy a reality.  But Oxford would not become Bailey’s latter day O.J. Simpson.

Now we learn that Bailey has relocated to Maine, and we are anxious to learn of his plans for our future.  Including the involvement of Johnny Protocols, oops, I mean John Richardson, his soul-mate.  We simply refuse to accept that we have seen the last of either of them.  And to prove us right, FLee reportedly attended the recent annual dinner of the MRRA board.

Portland’s daily newspaper recently published an article that gives us some insights.