Monday, September 17, 2012

Have you ever, ever, ‘seen it all?’

We don’t think so.  And that was driven home to us this weekend by an ad in one of Maine’s larger newspapers.

Talk about strange branding, and appealing to the lowest common denominator, the ad was for “Vampire Facelifts.”  This should come as no surprise though; In a culture currently fascinated with zombies, this makes sense in a bizarre sort of way.

Go here to check it out:, and make an appointment, if you wish.

Now that we think of it, we have seen some faces around town in recent years that look like they’ve been to the Vampire doctors.

Who knew our own little backwater was rife with such trendsetters?

Which reminds us of how much we miss the great black and white movies of yesteryear, with Bela Lugosi avowing how he didn’t want to hurt the fair damsel; he only wanted to ‘suck her blood.’

We wonder if our GPS will tell us ‘you can’t get to Transylvania from here.’

Dracula-Bela Lugosi

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Some times, you just gotta go with the Fro.’

Small businesses, as we are constantly being reminded, are the backbone of the American economy.  For all the ones that make it, there are many that fail.  They rise to quickly, and then just as quickly, fall flat.

Sometimes, novice owners jump from the fat to the fryer.  Other times, their business model is full of holes.  Oh, they may try to glaze over the details, but unless you can raise your product to customer expectations, you just might lose the dough you invested.

Twist things this way and that way and you might get lucky; or you can sugar coat things to attract more interest.  The icing on the cake, though, is when you find the secret recipe for keeping things improving, and the proof is in the tasting.

Ok, we’ve exhausted our punspiration; let’s just get to the news.  Today’s big city newspaper reports that Brunswick’s own Frostys', which has had an amazing renaissance under the inspired ownership of Nels and Stacy, is expanding yet again.  You can find the story here:

The anchor location is doing a land-office business, operating seven days a week.  We stopped in Friday before 9:30 am, and they were more or less out, with more being cooked in the back, by a sizable crew.

They opened an annex in Freeport a few weeks ago, and from what we hear, that location is doing gangbusters.

Now they’re about to open a new location in South Portland.  We wish them the very best in their endeavors, as we personally think Frostys’ products are head and shoulders above all the rest; they leave the chains (Dunkin’, Tim Horton’s) in the dust, and the local originals, like Tony’s, offer a completely different product that has it’s own devoted fans.

We hope you’ll go to the article linked above and give Frostys a vote in the poll.

And we hope that the owners don’t over-extend themselves to the point of exhaustion.  From everything we’ve seen so far, they have a solid grasp of the business they’re in, mastering all the aspects that make them successful.  And they are a true pleasure to do business with, emphasizing the personal touch.

All in all, they have a very well-rounded operation.  A donut may not be as profound as the circle of life, but it’s damn close in some respects!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

“Corny?” Yeah, but it really, really works!

The other day, we posted a diversion about a magical way to prepare ear corn.

Well, fellow cob-nobbers, we gave it a try last night.  And guess what; it actually, really, works!

Quite amazingly, for that matter.  Not a single stray piece of silk on either ear.  Just like the video, one ear slipped right out, while the other required a bit more coaxing.

Now if we could just find a way to strip some other ‘ears’ we’re familiar with of stray ‘silk,’ we’d be a happy old man.  And the first person who suggests we place our noggin in the microwave will be banned from our midst.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

“Dear Paul,” or how consultants leave us….


According to published reports on the recent School Board meeting, Marty and Kat of Systems in Sync have decided to stay in Vermont vis-à-vis consulting work for Brunswick’s School Board.

In what brings to mind the gut wrenching ‘Dear John’ letters of our innocent youth, Marty had this to say:

"We believe it is in both our best interest and the district's best interest to terminate this work," Marty Jacobs, president of Systems in Sync, said in a letter addressed to Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski.

All that’s missing is the Seinfeld breakup shtick:

Breaking up is hard to do….

You can read the article here.

We’ll still wonder about a few things, regardless of the split.

Who and what was the impetus for Marty coming to Brunswick from far away, when she had no other clients in Maine?

How will the School Board, deemed not ready for strategic planning, overcome that handicap, without the ministrations of $1200 a day facilitators?

Without professional consultants to point to as why the outcomes are what they are, who will step up and take accountability?

One way or another, it should be amusing to watch the will of the community bent to the will of the school department.

You do support the children, don’t you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Maine Wire: Pem on Partisanship….


An excerpt:

As I see it, declaring yourself an independent is the political equivalent of visible body piercings and tattoos. “Hey, look at me! I’m different from all the others!” Not to mention that doing so allows one to bypass the often expensive and contentious primary process for organized political parties.

Angus King exemplifies this category: virtually no one doubts his progressive, Democrat ideology, yet he has “Independent” tattooed figuratively on his forehead.

And another:

I want principle.

If that means being a partisan and digging your heels in, so be it. Think of it as protecting your family, your homestead, your well-being and your life and your liberty from those who would endanger or take them away from you. Because when you come right down to it, that’s the nature of the choice we face today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Corny? Yes, we can be corny, among other things

We don’t know what your experience has been this summer, but from ours, it seems like it’s been a sub-standard fresh corn year, even for Maine.  Perhaps it’s been the odd rainfall pattern, or other things. 

We’ve also had a terrible blooming year on our several hydrangea plants, and some other species as well.  The plants look healthy enough, but didn’t flower like we had hoped…just a few scattered blooms here and there.

And so it is that we find some small solace in what we are about to pass along to you – a miracle of fresh corn cookery.  We have not yet had a chance to try it, but if the honest looking fellow in the video is telling the truth, it’s darn near a summer miracle.

We hope you’ll try it soon and let us know how it worked out.

The “Other Side” of corn shucking!
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

“Dear Paul,” or how consultants leave us speechless, impossible as that may seem

Some years back, we spoke to the town council about hiring us as a consultant to help them figure out how to conduct town business without the need for so many consultants.  Unfortunately, the town did not see the wisdom in doing so; they couldn’t imagine what we could do, and invest in us accordingly.

It may have been around the time that a consulting contract was let for about $1 million to come up with ideas on how to connect US Route 1 to the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.  As far as we can recall, the town itself paid little or none of that sum.  But we remember looking at the related contract documents, only to learn that consultants contracted out to other consultants, and in at least one case, the second tier consultant hired a third tier consultant.

We also remember thinking that even at a generous average consulting fee of $1,000 a day, the contract would pay for four full time, highly paid consultants working for one year to pore over some maps and satellite imagery, drive around town looking at things, and then make some drawings and put a report around them.  No doubt they’d be burning the midnight oil to get the job done for a mere million dollars.

Now we learn that the Brunswick School Department is consulting with consultants on help with the strategic planning process, aimed specifically at the School Board. 

You’ll enjoy looking at a proposal for the consultants (“Marty and Kat”) to prepare the now unprepared School Board for a second contract that would actually involve the strategic planning process, at unknown future costs.  We’re guessing another $50,000 or more.

“After a lengthy discussion with her (Kat), we both agree that the board is not ready to take on strategic planning successfully.” 

You can also find the web page for the consultant here.

Readers who know us know that we aren’t often at a loss for words, but this proposal left us momentarily speechless.  Being speechless has at least two variations.

The first is when you come upon something so visually, emotionally, or aurally stunning that your inner articulator shuts down momentarily, and you are literally at a loss for words.  We think of the first time we held our newborn infant daughter, or when we first viewed the vast Grand Canyon while standing on its very rim.  Moments like these take your breath away, and you need time to absorb the experience, get your thoughts together, and then express them as best you can, if only feebly.

A second way to go speechless is when you encounter something that infuriates you, insults your sense of reason, and gives you the feeling that we are being had.  The words and reactions that come immediately to mind are not fit for public discourse, and so one is at a loss for words, but in a different way.

That’s the case here, so we’ve had to stew overnight and refine our comments.

In our career in a complex high technology field, we didn’t often see consultants hired.  If we lacked a necessary skill, we generally set about developing the skill for ourselves.  And talented individuals were advanced in both skills and responsibility.  But then we weren’t government.

In those rare cases where consultants were hired, you could almost always sense that the person doing the hiring was seeking a crutch, and was buying air cover for a decision he knew would be unpopular, or he didn’t have the guts to think through and make on his own.

We have the distinct impression from our review of the cited document that the same thing is happening here.  That while the process is supposedly aimed at ‘strategic planning,’ as in developing a plan, it is more about developing a strategy to gain support for a plan that has already been made.  (Witness the board’s asserted lack of readiness.)  So it might more accurately be called planning strategy, rather than strategically planning.

Why do we say that?  Because of the context.  You see references to a referendum in the spring, and existing architectural plans for renovation.  You see references to ‘buy-in’ by various parties, official and otherwise. 

In essence, the School Department’s plan is known and addressed clearly; the consultant is proposing to shape the thinking of the School Board in particular, and the various stakeholders in general, to fully support the plan already on the table.  And the consultant makes it clear from having met with Board Members and the Superintendent that the former is not yet ready to have their views shaped by others, so some preliminary work is required to soften them up.

The renovation and investment plan is a fait accompli; it’s already in the CIP.  You don’t see a proposal to study town demographics and growth outlooks, or ability to take on major new capital spending.  You don’t see an effort to understand how those responsible allowed the physical plants to deteriorate to this critical stage, or what alternatives there might be.  Or how the organization should be changed to see the same thing doesn’t happen again, and how snow shouldn’t be allowed to pile up on roofs until structural damage occurs.

You see only a proposal to pay others, and pay them well, to convince the School Board to sell the public on a plan that has already been laid out.

Well, enough general commentary.  Here are some specific observations.

1) The consultancy, Systems In Sync, is located in Vermont.  When you look at its list of clients, you find they are all in New Hampshire and Vermont.  Except for one – the Brunswick School Department, which is not exactly on the New Hampshire border.  This leads us to wonder just how this particular consultant came to be the choice for this work.

2) We find the opening – “Dear Paul” and the references to the consultants as “Marty” and “Kat” to be strangely familiar in professional business documents.  We find the third party references to themselves odd as well.

3) We’re a bit troubled by the notion that readiness ‘includes a high level of trust and support for the strategic planning process..’  In other words, trust us, because you’re paying us a lot of money.  Readiness also involves a ‘relatively low level of conflict and disagreement amongst board members.’ 

Clearly, unanimous or near unanimous support for the plan already in place is the goal, and it may take more payment for Marty and Kat’s services to get that.  On the other hand, the board penchant for almost always voting unanimously to support whatever the Administrations proposes would make this seem like not much of a challenge.

4) Don’t you just love the term ‘building capacity,’ as in ‘an opportunity for the board to assess its readiness to build capacity for both strategic planning and governance?’  We have a hard time seeing the board as being involved in ‘governance’ of any form, unless you consider approving what the administration puts before it to be ‘governance.’  ‘Building capacity’ sounds more like a class for incoming Bowdoin students, in which they learn techniques for holding their liquor or beer better, though we did find this as one definition on the web:

Capacity building often refers to strengthening the skills, competencies and abilities of people and communities in developing societies so they can overcome the causes of their exclusion and suffering.

Regardless of the meaning in the proposal at hand, the use of such terms is part and parcel of justifying $1,200 a day consulting rates.   A person could make a damn good living at that rate, though we don’t have our slide rule handy.

5) On page 3, under purpose and goals, we read in the list of outcomes that ‘the board will gain a clearer understanding of board roles and responsibilities that will enable them to govern more effectively.’  Besides the prior comment on governance, do we really have to pay people $150 an hour to tell the board what its roles and responsibilities are?  Hasn’t the Superintendent already done that?  Isn’t that his job?

6) We realize that Vermont is a long way away, but we still think nearly $3,000 for mileage and tolls is a bit heavy handed.

In conclusion, we realize that $28,000 for this proposal in a Department with a $33 million budget is chump change, and that the ensuing actual ‘strategic planning’ contract, though probably only $50,000 or so, will similarly be chump change for securing a town investment of $20 million plus to pay for deferred maintenance expenses.  Still, we find the rates involved to be alarming for  services designed to overwhelm harsh reality with confidence and consummate professionalism, while dazzling the local populace with ‘shared visions’ and group-think.  Sorry, that’s ‘group decision making.’


Is there any doubt that Marty and Kat know that they’re dealing with OPM, and that the pickings are easy?  And that the usual army stands ready to redeploy those “imagine and invest” signs?

Not to mention getting Sally Sellit to remind us that funding the Marty and Kat team is vital to protecting our home values. 

It’s amazing, isn’t it, how a very expensive journey can begin with the simple step “Dear Paul.”

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Apologies on the WSJ link

Your humble correspondent garbled the link for the WSJ article in the prior post.

We corrected it, and here it is as well:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Economic insights and lessons….


Under the heading of read ‘em and learn, we’ve got another very informative item to pass along.

The first passage that caught our attention is this one:

Today, 70% of government discretionary spending devalues human assets by paying people to be unemployed, unmarried, retired, sick, poor, homeless, hapless, disabled or drugged. With the eclipse of family life in the inner cities of America, we have created a welfare state for women and children and a police state for boys.

Superintendent Perzanoski used the word ‘pathology’ in his stirring letter to staff last month.  If there is such a thing as government pathology, the symptoms above describe it.  And eclipse anything PSPP had in mind.

The most obvious rule of social science is that people will abuse any free good. The price of "free" evokes unbounded demand while choking off supply. In the perverse feedback loops of "free," free health care comes to mean hypochondria, illness caused by needless exams and treatments, queues for an ever-expanding portfolio of mediocre services, and ultimately euthanasia under government bureaucracy.

The highlighted sentence just above is perhaps the most succinct and pithy explanation of the entitlement state and its ensuing fiscal death spiral we’ve ever encountered.

We hope you read the entire column.  We’ve truncated the paragraphs above, and in so doing, omitted far more wisdom.

We are in awe of the author’s ability to capture in very few words, relatively speaking, the problems we face, and the challenges in dealing with them.  We think you’ll find his insights worth your time.

Is it our destiny? Or just dumb luck?

We know many of you believe we were born to do this job.  These are flattering thoughts.  As we’ve said before, however comma we’re quite proud of our humility, and we strive to see that such perceptive views do not get into our fat (size 7 3/4) head.

But sometimes, as the old saying goes, “Side happens.”  Case-in-point, our posts this week on the travel arrangements of Senator Stan the Minority Man, or, if you prefer, Gerzetto.

On Monday, we published a post puzzling over our man’s travel to Charlotte for the just concluded convention.  We played off the theme of a Magic Carpet ride.

We think the flowing robes and unique flight helmet (could it be custom made by Tony Lama?) perfectly compliment our man’s stature.

It later occurred to us that there was another option for his travels, and we posted about it here yesterday.  The new angle was the possibility of Stan winging to NC on the Pingree-Sussman private corporate jet.  They could have picked him up at Brunswick’s Executive Airport, and his Caddy would be in safe hands on the premises while he was gone.  We know the jet’s crew carries a red carpet for such moments.

                N888CE @ KDCA - Taxi DCA - by Ronald Barker

Now the “Side happens” angle.  After publishing these posts, one of our little birds reminded us that the Pingree-Sussman private corporate jet is registered to – brace yourself, now – Magic Carpet Enterprises LLC, of which Sussman is the sole owner.  At least he was two years ago.  You can read about it here and here.

You know the old saying – one congresswoman’s Dassault FALCON 2000EX is another senator’s magic carpet.  We’ll take the accommodations in the former over the latter, however.

So, back to the opening conundrum: is it destiny, or dumb luck, or for the more mystical among you, karma?

We report and we laugh; you can decide.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lagging/nagging questions re Senator Stan’s free ride….

It occurred to us that there is another option on how Gerzetto is winging his way back and forth between Portland and Charlotte.

How could we have forgotten; are we losing our edge?

Look here.

While ‘carpet’ is involved in both our first suggestion and this one, we’re having a hard time which is more becoming to Stan.  Perhaps we should conduct a poll.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Go, go; go Johnny go!

How quickly time ‘flies’ and things come full circle.  And apparently, how short the memory of the average voter is.

We ran the photo below in an April, 2010 post in the formative years of this revered media outlet.

It ran in the Portland Press Herald coverage of the Richardson SNAFU, 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.

Soon after, Bailey reportedly moved to Maine, though we’ve heard precious little of him since.  His self-described status as an ‘aviation expert’ and entrepreneur seems to have stalled in mid-air.

Johnny “Protocols,” as we called him back then, seems to have successfully distanced himself from the half a dozen or more Fortune 500 companies he was ‘in discussions with’ back then about setting up operations on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station (Brunswick Landing, if you insist.)

And the Fortune 500 firms, apparently, forgot about their discussions as well, once Johnny’s prospects for becoming Governor went in the tank.  Funny how that works. 

But rehabilitation, or as we like to call it, rehab, has revived many a political career.

Now, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, comes a report that Johnny is getting his coif tweaked, and will run for the at large seat on the Brunswick Town Council.  This would be the one held by Joanne King for a good long time, most of it as Council Chair.  She has chosen not to run again, understandably, given the work load and the obligation to endure all sorts of abuse from aggrieved citizens.

In case you’ve forgotten, Joanne was the treasurer for Johnny Protocol’s ill fated campaign for Governor, though she escaped any culpability for the campaign’s ethical challenges.      

Given his ‘complicated’ relationships in both Augusta and Brunswick over the years, we’re wondering how this news is sitting with Gerzetto, the would be puppet-master of Brunswick.   Here he is with one of his young puppets, who made it all the way to the statehouse before his growing nose cost him his office.


Things could always have been worse, of course (or better??)  Whose to say whether the House of Sartoris would have put forth a successor to the crown if Johnny hadn’t beat them to it?

Maybe one of these days we’ll have a Bombay Sapphire on the rocks with Johnny….in a gesture of…..we don’t know….accommodation?….accord?…..détente?

Or just plain digging for the inside story.  We’d of course want to know what this portends for Johnny’s future aspirations.

What stories we’d have to tell if we happened to run into Gerzetto at the same watering hole!  We’d even pick up the tab, since the poor guy has no income, and you can’t buy a drink in any place we know with sweaty Tony Lamas or Harley decals.


Last week, Public Servant Paul Perzanoski issued a public statement that in his mind at least, is an ‘apology.’  He’s not sorry for showering his employees with partisan posturing, just for getting caught by how he did it, it seems.


Make what you will of PSPP’s plaintiff offerings below; as for us, it only reinforces the arrogance and elitist self-view of government school personnel.  Mr. PP, Brunswick’s School Superintendent, shows all the symptoms of teachers union pathology, from whence he ideologically springs. 

Like all such leaders, he  proclaims that ‘children are the first priority,’ while religiously avoiding focus on accountability, teacher performance, metrics, and any other way of determining whether expectations are identified (if even acknowledged!), and are being met.  A subsequent item published on Sunday, written by the President of the Maine teachers union, fortuitously reinforces this view with standard union-speak, as you will see.

We still view PSPP’s staff letter as a case study in political  harassment, in which, like union officials, there is an explicit and implicit assumption that all ‘members’ unequivocally support the partisan position of the administration.  Funny how clear those expectations are; if only such clarity were applied in other areas.

Before we go any further, here is his statement. 

Over the course of this week many Superintendents in the State of Maine will be addressing their staff about current issues facing public education in their convocation addresses. Some of the topics will probably be improving student achievement, bullying, public education bashing, staff morale, charter schools and the restraint/seclusion mandate. One school department will be dealing with a $350,000 to $500,000 deficit to pay for students to attend charter schools.

The text of these speeches will probably not reach the media because there will be no media present. I placed my concerns in writing, in a letter to staff which had very different ramifications. The right to express myself appears to be a different issue than the forum used to do it. I will sincerely apologize for using the “Back to School” format to the Brunswick community and the Govenor (sic), yet I will continue to stand behind the message of my letter and interview. Support of public education and the staff that work within it will be voiced through personal letters, appearances and my professional organizations.

Students should come first as we work through reform in public education. We understand this and embrace it, which is why we use data driven decision making to improve student achievement. Recently we have begun to see improvement as evidenced by the last three years of achievement scores.

Education has always been the great equalizer in America and it is more important than ever to keep it that way.

Paul Perzanoski
Superintendent Brunswick School System

“The great equalizer;” wow!  There’s more than one way to read that.  To quote my freshman composition prof at Rutgers, ‘ambiguous-reword for clarity.’

As always, we get complaints about funding, at the same time his own system funding on a per student basis grows at an alarming and unsustainable rate.  He says ‘children should come first,’ and indeed they should.  But they don’t in the Brunswick system (and most others).  Look at salary curves for teachers who do the same job year after year.  As far as ‘reform,’ unless that means hiring more staff and paying higher salaries, we have no idea what he’s talking about.

And we’ve provided pretty compelling evidence that students are not the top priority of Brunswick’s government schools, regardless of the test scores. As Joe Biden says, ‘show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what your values are.’

Case in point: Brunswick’s values are paying teachers more without any evidence that doing so achieves anything except better compensated teachers. And schools falling into disrepair faster than they should have.

We refer you to these two posts of some months back:

See if you can decide

Some help on the answers

So, we say, poppycock!

Now, if you’re up for more poppycock, read this “Maine Voices” column in Sunday’s Portland paper, written by Lois Kilby-Chesley, MEA President.

We’re just going to respond to the ‘highlights’ in her piece.

We must make 2012-13 "the year of the child" in Maine and focus attention on making public schools our No. 1 priority.

From the union President?  Unions are about making the unions and the members and their chosen political champions their ‘No. 1 priority,’ nothing more and nothing less.

Public school educators have always put our students at the top of our priorities.

Balderdash; see all of the above.

Nowhere in the governor's introduction does it say "public education." It is imperative that we focus school improvement and reform on public schools.

Why do solutions to ‘school improvement and reform’ have to be limited to thinking only ‘inside the box’ of public schools?  You said children are the 1st priority, but this doesn’t sound like it, does it?

A -- Accountability. Educators agree that teachers, parents, students and elected officials should be held accountable for guaranteeing we put students' needs first.

Should is the operative word, yet we see no evidence of any commitment; see all of the above.  The last thing unions will support is accountability of any sort directed at them and their members.

B -- Best Practices. We believe that we should raise the bar by adequately preparing educators for the changing role of schools, and providing professional development that informs good teaching and benefits students.

Just like always, it comes down to more money, and all of it spent on teachers.  While you’re at it, how about telling us what you mean by ‘the changing role of schools,’ though we have our own hunches.  Aren’t schools supposed to teach/educate kids?  Or should the focus be on dispensing meals, providing health care, and social, cultural, and political indoctrination?

The second alternative is moving taxpayer dollars away from public education (including public charter schools) into the hands and pockets of out-of-state, for-profit, corporate charter schools.

What about in-state charter schools and private schools?  Is anything but government run schools inherently evil and greedy?  What happened to ‘choice’ as the hallmark of free society?  And what about those out of state textbook suppliers and others?  Do taxpayer dollars flow into their for profit hands and pockets?

Private charter schools have one incentive -- making money for investors.

In case you haven’t noticed, Madame President, private enterprises don’t survive if they don’t deliver for their customers.  We recognize that your beloved government schools and your members survive no matter how poorly they perform; they have the force of law on their side, and the ability to compel funds to keep them ‘in business.’  As we see it, the number one incentive of government schools is funding unions and union members, with no incentive for satisfying their customers, unless you consider the members the customers.

Reforming our schools takes more than rhetoric about our failures.

Well that’s a refreshing observation!  It also takes more than rhetoric about your successes.  It takes openness to real reform, something you have never shown.

Let's focus on what works. Teaching students to think creatively, accept others' differences and listen to differing opinions develops 21st-century learners. Give students the opportunity to practice creativity and problem-solving, critical-thinking and collaboration skills.

There you go; the heck with mathematics, reading, writing, literacy in general, science, and all the other outdated skills no longer needed today.  Instead, let’s focus on group therapy, cultural programming, and social engineering.  Students needn’t worry about making it on their own; we’ve got the government here to help them.

Let's take action now to support our schools, not denigrate them.

The only action you and your unions support and approve is giving you more money and more control over government schools.  

Admittedly, not everything is perfect. We must do better for our students' sakes. 

We’re shocked…a rare moment of modesty and vulnerability from a teacher.  Now please tell us exactly how you need to do better, and how you will!

Rather than building walls between our stakeholders -- parents, educators, community leaders, businesses, professional organizations and the Department of Education -- let's spend the next 10 months honestly working together for our public school students, and lead the way to great public schools in Maine. 

We wish we could believe that last part, but we don’t.  And for the reasons why, you can start with Michelle Rhee and the Washington DC School System.

All in all, Ms. Kilby-Chesley, we give you an A+ in mastering the propaganda from the unions, both state and national.  They’ve had decade after decade to hone their message in the face of public concerns, and have their way with local, state, and federal budgets.  You’re just the latest to be educated in their private school of union orthodoxy.

Imagine what you could accomplish for our children if you truly had them as your highest priority; after all, that’s what public service once meant.  A long, long time ago.

Instead, Madame President, we’ll leave you with this quote from a teachers union legend:

“When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children.”

Albert Shanker - President of the United Federation of Teachers [1964-1984] & the American Federation of Teachers [1974-1997]

TTFN, teacher; we’re off to our next class.  And we trust you will ‘accept our differences’ in this matter.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Senator Stan, the poverty man?

Senator Stan the minority man (Gerzofsky, that is) is nothing if not an enigma.  We were reminded of this recently by two things.  First, the receipt of his official “I love me” mailer from the State House, in which he reviews his central role in all things good in Maine, just in time for the upcoming election.  (We wish we could take credit for the “I love me” label, but we can’t; a good friend coined it.)

We’ve addressed the puzzle that is Stan in some detail in the past, pointing out that according to his own public statements, he’s worked and lived in two states at once, with a variety of unrelated and overlapping career pursuits.  We documented his strange and conflicted resume in this post two years ago.

The second point that brings Stan to the forefront is a recent report that he is headed to Charlotte, North Carolina to play his role in the Democrat National Convention this week.  As a grand high poobah of Maine’s Democrat machine, we would expect no less.

Except for the fact that Stan seems to be living in abject poverty, and, you would think, be unable to afford the luxury of traveling to Democrat party central where his presence will make no difference at all.

Which brings us back to the enigma thing.  Stan owns a sizable cabin cruiser, a ‘garage full of Harleys’ (in his own words,) drives around town in a big old Cadillac, and dresses nattily in pin stripes and Tony Lama boots worthy of a “you’re gonna like the way you look; I guarantee it” label.

Fine; given his concurrent career paths in separate locations, we should expect no less.

But then you look at his filing with the Maine State Ethics Commission, in which he is required to report his sources of income for the year 2011.  You can see what he submitted here.

Surprisingly, Senator Stan had not a single source of income for 2011.  No pensions, no investment income, no rents, no social security, no disability checks, no alimony, no obscure government transfer payments, and most interesting of all, not a nickel of income from his role as a member of the State Legislature.

The latter, as we see it, was required to be listed in Part 1 of the ethics filing.  He did not do so, and curiously, neglected to check the ‘none’ box here and in other Parts of the form.  Probably just a ‘gaffe’ as they call it in political circles.

Given what happened in Tampa last week, we wish we could get Clint Eastwood to do an encore turn, in which he flags Senator Stan as ‘the intellect of the Maine Democrat Party.’

Failing that, we’ll watch for the contrails from Stan’s magic carpet as he wings his way to and from the circus in Charlotte.  And we’ll wonder how much he was given to pay for his travel expenses, and whether he’ll report it as income in his 2012 ethics filing.

We’ll leave questions about the cabin cruiser, the Harleys, and the Cadillac for another time.  You can ponder them as well if you wish.

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