Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Senator Stan, the Minority Man

Even the most partisan and jaded among us have to feel the tiniest smidgeon of empathy for our very own beloved Senator Stan Gerzofsky.

Now entering his 11th consecutive year in the Maine legislature, Stan, who insisted he was not a ‘career politician’ during the campaign, won re-election, but not exactly with the outcome he was expecting.

Having cut his teeth in a political environment that tacitly assumed the existence of only one Maine political party in the last 30+ years, we gotta figure that Stan has been suffering mightily from a loss of prestige and influence.  Never in his wildest dreams (or for that matter, in his tamest dreams) could he have imagined that he would be re-elected, but find himself suddenly demoted to minority stature.

We imagine that Stan went to bed with his nightcap firmly in place on November 1st, visions of the Senate Presidency, or at the very least, the Senate Majority Leader spot, dancing in his head.

He awoke on Wednesday to a starkly different reality.  If you’re familiar with the classic holiday film ‘The Christmas Story,’ we would liken Stan’s circumstances to the scene where little Ralphie Parker, having taken all he could handle from schoolyard bully Scut Farkas, pounced on him and beat him at his own game, much to the surprise of Scut and his toady Grover, and the delight of all those who cheered him on.

Stan, in much the same way, is faced with the reality of being on the losing end of the election overall, even though he won re-election to his seat.

His response to this predicament has been quite impressive.  He’s marshaled his resources and turned on his public relations machine.  His toadies at The Coastal Journal, The Forecaster, and The Ostrich have been all too willing to do his bidding.  And just for good measure, he’s turned up the heat on his hissy-fit with the town council.

We’ll make our point with readily available evidence.  Without attention to chronology, look at the front page of yesterday’s Ostrich.  While the lead article focused on the Governor’s statement at the ceremony marking transfer of Naval Air Station airport facilities to the MRRA, the photo accompanying the article was framed and cropped to show only one dignitary besides the Governor, and if you guessed it was Senator Stan, you guessed right.

Stan has also markedly improved his writing skills, as reflected in his numerous columns in the local media.  So much so that we can scarcely believe that he wrote the items himself.  The Coastal Journal carried his column in their issue of January 13th, in which he reminded us that ‘our region has seen the addition of over 600 jobs.’  And we have him to thank for these, among others, in place of those lost on the base.  Perhaps he’ll have time in the near future to take one of you around the base and show you those 600 new employees at work.  Note that this number has grown considerably since the 200 or so he claimed credit for during the campaign.

He said the same things in his commentary in The Ostrich on December 31st.  And he reminds us that he was the force behind legislation ‘to attract businesses to the air station.’  He doesn’t say what it was, but we probably wouldn’t be able to understand the fine points anyway.

Recently, The Ostrich gave Stan commentary space to ‘set the record straight’ in a particularly well written piece.  The subject is the unseemly little power struggle between Stan and town officials over representation on the MRRA board.  Side addressed the squabble a few months back in this item.  Recently we learned that Stan had kicked things up a couple of notches by submitting legislation to block any possibility of appointing Brunswick Town Manager Gary Brown to the MRRA board.

It’s his shot at bringing down the strong arm of the law to enforce his wishes, a move likely to cause a hiccup or two in the otherwise respectful and cordial relationship between Stan and town officials.  Or so I’ve heard.

Stan’s new circumstances may well have inspired this move, since he’s got some sizable ground to make up on his role in the stage play that is Augusta politics.  His lines have been clipped some, and the lights aren’t shining as brightly on him as they did in prior years.  Somebody’s going to have to pay the price for this, and it might as well be our humble little town council.

But simmer down councilors.  Senator Stan assures us that “Brunswick should see an increase of up to $10 million or more from the growth of property taxes.”  Hey…that’s great!  A one third increase in tax revenue!  And it’s especially interesting since just about every thing announced so far for the base is in the tax exempt category.  Like anything to do with aviation, according to state law.  You can read about it here.

Is there any doubt the budget busters are already dreaming up new ways to spend the extra $10 million?  Thanks for the help, Senator!

On a separate note, this is a great time to drive around the former Navy housing in the McKeen Street area.  Only those units that are actually occupied have their driveways fully cleared of snow, so you very quickly get a sense of just how few folks are living there. 

My guess is that the occupancy level is around 10%  or so, not exactly a stampede to the “low cost housing” so many consultants promised. Including those who said this is where the students to fill the new school would come from.

But not to worry; I don’t see any news here that can’t be rewritten with the help of new consultants that specialize in rebuilding the outlook.

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