Monday, November 14, 2011

MSHA – Lagging thoughts, as usual….

Some tidbits, in no particular order:

We hear much about ‘crony capitalism’ these days; books on the subject have been written and published.  We think the label may be off the mark, so Side hereby coins the term “capitol cronyism” to describe the likes of Rosa Scarcelli’s ‘Stanford Management’ and too many similar enterprises to mention.  In these cases, ‘capitalism’ as commonly understood is not involved, but capitols, of both the state and federal type, clearly are.  Just to remind you of the scale of such ‘business:’

Rosa Scarcelli currently owns and manages over eighty affordable housing complexes in Connecticut, Maine and Pennsylvania and continues to grow Stanford Management’s affordable housing portfolio.  She has managed the development of over $500 million in real estate assets throughout the Eastern United States, and oversees a large staff in several regional offices.

We’re frightened, frankly, as we ponder just how many such ‘under the radar’ government based speculative enterprises exist, operating well outside the normal bounds of free market forces.

Now let’s talk about MSHA operation.  We’d sure like to have someone explain the business model from inception to destruction for MSHA projects.  Who is the funder?  What is the competition process?  Who owns and operates the result?  Who profits from the project (see Rosa Scarcelli and family)?  What form does the $13,000 plus per home for more than 84,000 Maine homes take?  is this a permanent arrangement, or does the benefit expire at some point?  What are the qualifications to receive the benefit? 

In other words, could we please see a flow chart of funds across all stages of MSHA activities?

Moving on, it turns out that the LIHEAP program is run by MSHA; that’s the “Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program,” and it’s always in the news this time of year.  Recently, AARP, that supposed non-partisan organization, is all in a dither over funds available under the program this year, and wants State Government to pony up added dollars to boost the kitty:

AARP urges state support for heat assistance

November 10, 2011 11:36 PM

To the Editor:

....AARP’s Public Policy Institute ... issued a report on winter heating is not good.

....For New England residents age 65 and older, the average....cost in 2010-11 was $3,058. Projections indicate ... for 2011-12, this will jump almost 10 percent.

.... huge cut to LIHEAP ...will...affect many Mainers... AARP’s sincere hope that Gov. Paul LePage will consider directing part of the state budget toward helping low-income Mainers as they struggle to stay warm.

John Hennessy
AARP Maine Director of Advocacy


So let’s get this straight: by their own admission, MSHA dishes out more than $1 Billion annually in federal funds, but they don’t have enough for heating cost assistance? More than 84,000 homes getting an average of $13,000 each in ‘services,’ but there isn’t enough for heating costs?

Next subject: interestingly, one of the most prominent items on MSHA’s web site is their report on how the salaries of their more than 100 employees compare to salaries elsewhere:

Each year, the Maine Department of Labor independently compares salaries of many organizations to comparable positions in the total Maine market. Using the labor department’s 2010 data and comparing it to MaineHousing salaries, MaineHousing employees are paid on average 15% below the market.

At the end of the discussion is a link to a list of their salaries compared to ‘the Maine market.’  You can follow up and see what you think.

By the way, for those of you interested in just how much money has been spent by Maine Government in recent years, including federal funds, to address AARP concerns, take a look at this resource:

It’s awful hard to look at these totals and accept that any aspect of government services is suffering, since total state expenditures have grown and grown over the years, and most of all, the federal component. At a far faster rate than economic output has.

One wonders how many other MSHA type operations there are funneling billions to destinations unknown and lacking in full public disclosure. 

More than you know, more than we can guess, we are confident.   We better stop here, or the venting could get ugly.  Next thing you know, we’d be making up stories about federal subsidies being used to bring trains to Brunswick, whether that makes any sense or not.

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