Friday, September 20, 2013

Johnny on the Spot: JP comes to our rescue on BDC and the BTC

You all remember Johnny Protocols, shown here in one of his more well-known publicity photos with a kindred spirit:

Even DGiles probably knows that J.P. is now on the Brunswick Town Council, occupying the at large seat formerly held for many years by Joanne King.  The poetic justice in that reality remains to be addressed.

And even DGiles, as slender, young, and non-white as he apparently is, should know there has been a regular brouhaha locally over the Brunswick Development Corporation (BDC), and a completely forgivable quarter million dollar loan they gave to Brunswick Taxi, owned by members of Joanne King’s immediate family.  Or as we prefer to call it, a grant, which is what government calls a gift.

Clearly concerned about the massive ‘public confusion’ over the specifics of the BDC and it’s operation, Johnny seemingly took command of the subject at a BDC meeting held this week.  You can read about it here:

As we read it, we couldn’t help but notice a discrepancy or two, and perhaps a comment or two of J.P.’s that warrant a word from us.

For example:

Councilor John Richardson, one of two councilors now on the BDC board, said some of the proposed by-law changes, including the addition of a conflict-of-interest policy, were not a direct reaction to the recent criticism.

Richardson no doubt said this immediately after discussing the purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge by the BDC, in order to generate more revenue for simulating economic development in town.

Instead, he said, some of the changes have been in the making for months and, in some cases, years. The BDC's by-laws were last modified in 2010.

This is the same claim Council Chair Suzan Wilson made at the meeting on 3 September, arguing, in effect, that the Bylaws were in a state of constant review and change, even though they hadn’t been revised for more than three years.  Which leads us to believe that Wilson probably supported J.P.’s suggestion that the BDC purchase the Brooklyn Bridge.

"I think there has been a lot of confusion on the part of the public that has been driven by some personal and political agendas," he said after Wednesday meeting, "but largely, the public has remained somewhat confused about the role of the BDC, because the BDC has not done as good a job as it should in explaining its role, its mission and how it has improved the town of Brunswick."

Yeah, that’s it, Councilor.  If anyone knows anything about personal and political agendas, it’s you!  Meanwhile, to the extent your humble correspondent fed any public sense of confusion, our political aspirations and personal agenda are a matter of public record.  It may be a blank public record in this regard, but it is very public. 

If only J.P.’s were as public.  And of course, we can all agree that giving free vehicles to Brunswick Taxi, free money to Gelato Fiasco, and giving CEI a hell of a deal to move 55 jobs from another nearby town to ours is undeniably ‘improving’ Brunswick.

Some of the proposed changes include removing town Finance Director John Eldridge from the BDC board, adding another citizen member…

Call us perplexed as to why he had to identify who would be removed by name, rather than by office, which is the way the Bylaws deal with it.

Another proposed change would require the BDC to post advance notice of its meetings, with agendas posted to the town's website and BDC's proposed website.

Color us perplexed again; when we first read the Bylaws, we thought they skirted the issue of public notice of BDC meetings.  But again, Council Chair Wilson, at the 3 September meeting, was profuse in her assertions that the meetings are regularly ‘noticed.’

Richardson said the BDC is technically a nonprofit organization, and is considered a public-private partnership because of its board make-up, which consists of two ex-officio town staff members, two Town Councilors and three citizens.

Color us skeptical, but we’re confident the first version of this article we saw mentioned ‘four citizens,’ for a board total of eight, even though the Bylaws clearly say seven total.  But as pot-shooter DGiles will tell you, old fat white guys don’t know nothing.

Oops…then there’s this:

"It's very difficult to state to the public that with four public members, two town employees and two elected officials, that this doesn't have some sort of connection to the town," Richardson said. "It does. (But) you almost have to be a lawyer to understand ... that (BDC's current fund balance) isn't town money."

So that’s where we saw the expert opinion…from Johnny Protocols himself, a member of the board, and as it turns out, ‘a lawyer.’  Apparently, you have to be a lawyer to understand the BDC fund balance, even if being a lawyer means you can’t understand the

So in case he needs a refresher, here’s the relevant passage from the Bylaws:

Section 2.3 Directors. The Board of Directors shall be comprised of seven (7) members. The persons holding the Town of Brunswick positions of Town Manager and Finance Director shall be ex-officio directors of the Board of Directors so long as they remain in those positions. The Town Council of Brunswick shall appoint two (2) members of the Town Council as Town Council directors, whose terms shall expire annually on December 31st. The Town Council shall appoint three (3) public directors, from a list proposed by the ex-officio and Town Council directors. Each of the public directors shall have demonstrated education or experience, as evaluated by the ex-officio and Town Council directors, in one of the following areas: law, finance, accounting, business development, or banking. Public directors’ terms shall expire on December
31st. The initial terms of the public directors shall be one year, two years, and three years, on a staggered basis. Thereafter, such public directors shall be appointed for three-year
terms. No Town Council director or public director of the Board of Directors shall serve in any capacity on any other economic development corporation or board serving residents or businesses of Brunswick.   Section 2.3 Directors - Amended March 10, 2010

(above emphasis ours)

You know, it’s almost like you have to be a lawyer to figure out what J.P. is saying, what he wants to say, what he means to say, and what he wants us to think he is saying.

“We’re just saying,” that is.

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