Friday, March 1, 2013

A Golden Opportunity for a Random Act of Senseless Fair Share-ness.

We happened to be perusing the agenda for the upcoming Brunswick Town Council meeting when we came across this item:


24. The Town Council will consider setting a public hearing for March 18, 2013, on the following resolutions:

“Resolution Amending the 2012-13 Budget and Appropriating $345,580 from the Unassigned Balance of the General Fund to Fund a Rescue Vehicle Already Acquired Pursuant to a Bond Ordinance and to Fund the Acquisition of Another New Fire Department Rescue Vehicle”


“Resolution Amending the 2012-13 Budget and Authorizing the Design and Re-construction of College Street and Related Improvements, with Total Project Costs Not to Exceed $1,233,000, and Further Appropriating $500,000 from the Unassigned Balance of the General Fund, plus any Additional Appropriation Authorized under this Resolution,” and will take any appropriate actions.

We remembered our recent musings and postings on the local shrine to “the 1%” (Bowdoin), including “the loopholes and tax breaks for special interests” this corporation receives (Pres. Obama’s words, if you want to know.)

As we did, it occurred to us, in the way these things sometimes do, that this would be a perfect occasion for the College to ‘reach out to the community’ and make a substantial payment to the town ‘in lieu of taxes’ to fund the street project.  In case you don’t know, College Street is the little lane that bisects the two main campus blocks.

Economic justice, street justice, budget justice, tax justice, infrastructure justice, and so much more would be well served by a payment of say, $1,233,000, just to throw out a figure.  As our leader likes to say, everybody benefits when the wealthy are asked to pay ‘a little more,’ especially when it comprises a ‘fair share.’

We discovered today that there is a fly in the ointment, to borrow a phrase.  Today’s edition of The Bowdoin Orient contains an article about the movement to get Bowdoin and other institutions ‘invested in societal well being’ to divest themselves from fossil fuels.

Which would seem to create a conflict requiring resolution as regards the reconstruction of College Street.  Before reading this article, we had comforted ourselves in the belief that the College would insist on the use of sustainably sourced, responsibly harvested, and renewable species of gravel, sand, asphalt, reinforcing steel bar, and other construction materials.  The article reinforces our hopes:

“Bowdoin has been spent years boasting what a green school they are, and how committed they are to climate change,” McKibben said. “Colleges are committed to intellectual consistency, and it makes no sense to not have a green portfolio as well.”

(McKibben, however, raises serious doubts as to his credibility with the ‘colleges are committed to intellectual consistency’ comment.  There’s as much cognitive dissonance on college campuses, perhaps even more, than here amongst the townies of Brunswick.)


We see a bigger problem now for the College and College Street.  We’re not a public works type, and we’ve never been professionally involved in street reconstruction.  But somewhere in our past, we came to believe that the black stuff they pave streets with….you know, they dump it out of a truck into a paving machine and roll it out… a petroleum based product.  The asphalt, that is.

Which makes it FOSSIL FUEL derived!  Oh the horror!

What would an intellectually consistent college do?  Demand that College Street be paved with good intentions, cobblestones, planks, or recycled bamboo skewers?  And be prepared to pay for it, no matter the cost?  Or simply live with a dirt road? 


And how about those parking lots they keep adding, multiplying their impervious surface area to intolerable levels?  Intellectual consistency?  Go sell crazy somewhere else.

We can’t wait to watch the public debate on this paving project, and to see how the college puts its money where its mouth is.

And now a public service announcement to the Crookers and Labbes of the area, and others like them who engage in the planet-killing practice of asphalt based road paving: get ready to be made sport of by sign-carrying protesters on the brick-paved sidewalks of Brunswick.

And to the rest of you, start loving those potholes.  They are what ‘climate action’ and ‘societal well being’ look like.

Especially on roads paved with good intentions, even when we don’t know where they’re headed.

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