Monday, August 19, 2013

We’re BAAAAA-AAAACK! And with a “King-sized” story!


Well, dear readers, and the rest of you as well, after more than two months of inactivity, we come before you once again.  There are many reasons why we took our sabbatical, but we won’t bore you with them now.  But we reserve the right to bore you with them later.

The reactions to our absence have been interesting, to mince a word.  We always knew we’d be coming back, but that it was probably gonna result from a real swift kick in our ample butt to get us moving.  And it has.  But before we tell you what the swift kick is, let’s take a little trip down memory lane.

Do you remember the TV Program “Queen for a Day?”

In the same vein, over the years, we’ve heard the term “If you were A King for a day, yada yada..”  Some of you might think we’re asking “if you were Senator Angus King for a day….”, but we’re not.

Rather, it might be asked at work to get you thinking ‘outside’ whatever box you are in: “if you were a King for a day, how would you solve this problem?”  Or in politics: “if you were a King for a day, what would you change?”

Now imagine being a King for three years!  Which brings us back full circle to the swift kick in the butt we referred to in our opening. 


As the fickle finger of fate would have it, we’ve just received a “King-sized” kick in the butt, and it’s more than enough to get our juices flowing again, though some of them may have turned to vinegar while sitting in the summer sun.

The kick, whose painful bruise may linger on for months, has been delivered courtesy of the Brunswick Development Corporation (BDC).  They’re the separate little municipal entity set up by Brunswick to, among other things, including economic development, deal with (“convey”) a variety of real estate transactions.  Recently, they were involved in the property exchanges that led to the clearing of the lots at the corner of Stanwood and Pleasant where the new Police HQ building is in its final stages of construction.

And now they are involved in the transaction that will take the no longer useful Rec Center and Municipal Building on Federal Street, and ‘convey’ them to Coastal Enterprises, another quasi-governmental organization, at least as we see it. How many such ‘corporations’ and ‘enterprises’ are out there in the shadows we have no idea.  But we’re sure it’s a lot more than any of us think.

If you’d like a bit more info on BDC, Councilor Benet Pols offers this description on his blog.  There is no date on the post, but it clearly dates back to at least last year, since it lists Joanne King as one of the councilors on the Board of Directors.  And note his explanation of how they spend their public money to save public money somewhere else.  Moving the peas around is fun.

The other party to delivering the smarting kick upon our tukkis is the King family of Brunswick, the folks who own and operate Brunswick Taxi, and whose matriarch Joanne was, until the most recent municipal election, a long time town councilor and council chair.

Both the Kings and BDC delivered the kick in the form of a recently approved loan.  In the promissory note, a copy of which we have in our hands, BDC lends $247,000 to Brunswick Taxi.  The note is dated July 24th of this year, less than a month ago.  It carries an interest rate of 4.25 %.

As best we can tell, the note says that interest will begin to accrue as of August 1, 2013, but loan payments do not begin until September1, 2016, or more than three years down the road.  The payments are calculated on a “ten year amortization period,” but the note calls for a balloon payment of the entire amount then owed on August 1, 2018.

Now the really interesting part – the part that makes the swift kick feel like it was delivered by those pointy toed, sliver-clad Tony Lama boots our man, Senator Stan likes to walk around in: 


In case you are wondering what that means, it means the loaned funds are considered a gift with no strings attached; the slate is wiped clean, and the borrower owes nothing.

Here are the actual words from the note:

3. On or before August 1st, 2016, one hundred percent (100%) of the original principal sum, equal to Two Hundred, Forty Seven Thousand Dollars ($247,000), and the accrued interest, in the amount of Thirty Three Thousand, Five Hundred Twenty Five and 07/100 Dollars ($33,525.07), for the loan term for months one through thirty six, and the accrued interest of Twenty Thousand, Nine Hundred Sixty One and 67/100 Dollars ($20,961.67) for the loan term for months thirty seven through sixty, will be forgiven, so long as the Maker is not in default of any of this Promissory Note’s terms and the following requirements have been met:

We find the presence of the words “On or before August 1st, 2016..” combined with the words “for months thirty seven through sixty…” cognitively dissonant, thank you very much.  But you know us; we’re just a country class engineer, not a ruling class attorney or government official.

Now for the requirements that must be met for the entire owed amount to be forgiven, directly from the note:

a. Brunswick Taxi will retain the business for a minimum of three (3) years, from the date of this Promissory Note, with the exception of selling the business as Brunswick Taxi to Sara King, daughter of business owner, Dale King.

b. At any point in time, when Brunswick Taxi is sold, it must be sold as Brunswick Taxi.

c. Provide proof of current staffing levels as of the date of this Promissory Note.

d. Maintain current staffing levels for a minimum of three (3) years from the date of this Promissory Note. Create two (2) new positions within three (3) years from date of this Promissory Note.

e. Work with Brunswick Downtown Association / Town of Brunswick for marketing and branding, not limited to painting the Brunswick logo on the back of the taxis; and purchasing an annual advertisement at the Visitors Center for three (3) years from the date of this Promissory Note.

f. Purchase of the following vehicles and equipment, and provide proof of purchase:

· $150,000 - Purchase 6 new energy efficient taxi-cab vehicles to drastically reduce maintenance and repair costs, save and increase business and significantly improve the company’s and the town’s images.


(image inserted by Side.)

· $30,000 – Purchase one new energy efficient handicap accessible minivan to increase revenues by expanding the services to the handicapped, seniors and educational and medical institutions.

· $45,000 - Purchase a new 14 passenger van to retain business and to meet the projected increase in corporate and institutional demand from Bowdoin College, Mid Coast and Parkview hospitals, the Brunswick Transportation Center and Brunswick Landing.

· $10,000 – Add GPS systems to all taxi-cab and van vehicles to improve efficiency, safety and tracking capabilities.

· $12,000 - Purchase compressed natural gas conversion kits for all taxi-cab vehicles to reduce emissions and to reduce operating costs.

A full-time position works at least 30 hours per week. Maker and Lender agree there are currently 22 full-time equivalent positions, consisting of employees and independent contractors, at the Maker’s Brunswick location(s). Maker shall prepare and deliver annual statements as to job creation/retention and deliver them to Lender. The Lender retains the right to audit Maker’s financial records to ensure compliance with the job creation requirements of this Promissory Note.

If you add up the sums shown for vehicles and equipment, guess what….they total $247,000!

So there you have it.  “Tough” as those requirements might be, it looks like in three years, the Kings will have received a gift of about one quarter of a million dollars ($247,000) in Brunswick public funds.  Just like we hinted – a King for three years!

But we probably shouldn’t find this surprising.  We’ve always understood that a princely share of Brunswick Taxi revenues derives from government vouchers for services provided via a variety of benefit programs.

And besides, as you look at what they’re going to do with the money, you and Side will be the real beneficiaries of this transaction.  We will be, won’t we?  Say it’s true!!!!  We’re too old to lose faith in our government and public servants at this point.

And you thought there was only one golden goose in town, riding in on a rail.


Which gives us some ideas.  How about if we get together and discuss a plan to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to the BDC?  I’m thinking we might want to hire Johnny Protocols and FLee Bailey, on a contingency basis, of course, to package the deal for us.

And maybe Senator Stan will loan us some boots so we can make it a real ‘kick-ass’ deal.

(Ed. note:  we expect to be reporting further on this story, along with other ‘related’ items.  But you’ve got to give us some time to get the flywheel spun up.)

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