Monday, February 4, 2013

In case you didn’t know; the first step in your training

We’re pretty well aware that many in our readership sphere of influence think we’re a few bricks short of a full deck.  Or worse. 

So it might seem a bit presumptuous of us to suggest that we know  something that you don’t.  You can judge us on that when you finish reading this.

If you already knew what we’re about to disclose, please forgive us for under-estimating you.  But if you did, why the hell didn’t you tell us so we could avoid making an ass of ourselves in this public forum?

That’s what they sometimes call a question that answers itself.


Today’s lesson is about NNEPRA, an acronym for an entity that is at the center of all the passenger train activity here in Brunswick, and specifically the hubbub over the location of a mammoth layover facility on the tracks adjacent to Bouchard Drive.  You can visit their web page here:

NNEPRA stands for Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.  Naive as we are, we took from the name that this was a multi-state endeavor of unclear pedigree, at least to us.  We had no real reason to research things, so we labored under this illusion.

Recently we came to learn that we were off the mark.  In this particular case, Northern New England equates to Maine.  And NNEPRA offices are nearby in Portland.  We have no way of knowing whether this name was chosen willy-nilly, or it was an intentional move to create an image and brand of a scale beyond reality.  Perhaps some ‘Mad-Men’ types influenced the decision.

We discovered this when we located the Maine Statute that created NNEPRA.  It turns out that NNEPRA is of a kind with the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA); the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA); and the Midcoast Region Redevelopment Authority (MRRA); all of which have cloaked themselves in various degrees of controversy in recent years.  As you may know, the former head of the MTA is on an extended stay at the Graybar Hotel, and the former head of MSHA decided to ‘pursue other interests’ before she risked similar accommodations.

When we say “of a kind,” we mean they all fit under the rubric of quasi-governmental agencies.  They are created by Maine Statute (law); employees have the advantages of careers with Maine State Government, including near-bullet proof job security, benefits far better than you get in the private sector, and as has become clear, higher average pay than citizens in the private domain.

Accountability, performance reviews, and other trappings of the workaday private sector are virtually non-existent, because even though they are a creation of State Government, their quasi-governmental aspect virtually eliminates any form of Executive and/or Legislative oversight.  At least until a shake things up type Governor comes along, and decides that enough is enough, and has appointment availability that allows for a change of culture.

If this isn’t making any sense to you, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger; it isn’t intended to make any sense as best we can tell.

So let’s get right to the source material.  You can read about the creation of NNEPRA here and in the paragraphs following.  The opening reads as follows:

§8111. Purpose

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, as established by Title 5, section 12004-F, subsection 16, is a body both corporate and politic in the State established for the general purpose of promoting passenger rail service as set forth in subchapter 1. It is declared that the purposes of this chapter are public and that the authority must be regarded as performing a governmental function in carrying out this chapter.

The Statutes creating and defining NNEPRA date back to 1995, which means we have Angus King and his administration to thank for it, along with the legislators then in power.  So the next time you see the junior Senator from Maine, you can thank him on behalf of all of us, and especially those folks on Bouchard Drive who are expected to just ‘suck it up’ on behalf of the common good.  (And ask him to talk to his friends at Bowdoin about joining the ‘suck it up’ movement by welcoming the idling incinerator to their lovely little neighborhood.)

As fate would have it, the lead article on page 1 of today’s Portland Newspaper is about passenger train service.  You can read it here:

We suggest that when you do, you make sure your Bravo-Sierra light is lit, and you have your propaganda goggles firmly in place.  We may not be experts in the subject area, but our alarm went off more than once when we read the story.  The current head of NNEPRA had a career path in marketing, and it shows.  Having come from business development, a related field, our circuits are a good deal more sensitive than others might be.  And we don’t take kindly to disrespect for the profession.

But as we admitted yesterday, we haven’t been trained right.


  1. All of these entities; the Pease Development Authority, Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, NEPRA and their ilk are unconstitutional constructs of the Maine Legislature and the politicians and their friends who benefit therefrom. Maine's Consitution specifically prohibits the state from creating any state corporation except that of a municipality and in the Case of the MRRA one that leases land for more than 5 years and whose existance is for more than one year or violates municipal home rule (read Brunswick from whom the land was orginally taken)

    The problem for the taxpayer is they have little or no recourse when the government fails to obey its own laws, even whenthey have knowledge of that violation. I have recently tried with the new Attorney General but have yet to receive any answer.

  2. We are a 'nation of laws.' Unfortunately, we only choose to enforce those laws when it suits our purposes, rather than seeing it as an obligation.

    And it's always better PR to make new laws rather than enforcing existing ones. You know, the 'do something, do anything' style of legislation and governing.