Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hoist High the BS Flag – atop the House of Cards


Something is very rotten around here, and we’re not referring to eggs.  The editorial in The Ostrich on Friday, September 27th hammers that home in an unmistakable and concise way.  We’ll get to that in a moment or two.

Given the title of this post, and the opening artwork, some of you probably thing we’ve lost our savoir faire and our finely honed sense of decorum.  But as many of you are wont to do, you’ve jumped to unwarranted conclusions.

Shame on you. 

You’ve probably heard the old saw that says “those who love sausage and the law should never watch either being made.”We’ve always been fond of it. 

It occurred to us that one could take “B” for Brunswick, and “S” for Sausage, and abbreviate the pairing with “BS.”  So unless otherwise stated, when you see the BS Flag on Side, you can cure your pretty little self of the vapors, knowing we would never stoop so low.


Why do we think something smells rotten in Cape Brunswick?  Well for one thing, because of the near panic about closing the deal on locating the MLF adjacent to the Bouchard Drive neighborhood.  Local officials, train zealots, and others not so local, urged on by NNEPRA doomsday scenarios, are rushing to judgment before any more sleeping dogs cause problems.  They’re also making sure to squelch any meaningful public disclosures.

Adding to the rotten smell are a number of glaring falsehoods that are repeated over and over again in various discussions.  As if saying them often enough will change them from false to true.

What are they?

1) “The trains only have to idle while stopped in temperatures below the mid-40’s,” and it’s corollary, “that if the MLF is built, trains won’t have to idle inside it.”  Who you gonna believe?  NNEPRA or your lying eyes, olfactory passages, and ears?

2) “There is absolutely no other site that is workable or acceptable for the MLF.”  Poppycock.

3) “Without the MLF at the proposed location, train service to Brunswick is a dead letter.”   Horse feathers.  Amtrak, which contracted the passenger service to NNEPRA, does not own the land. Amtrak is not insisting on the Brunswick West site, nor is it threatening to end passenger service if the layover facility is not built.  Amtrak could be happy with various other alternatives between Boston and Brunswick.

4) “The train is a socio-economic boon for Brunswick and the region,” and it’s corollary, “that the MLF is an economic benefit to us.”  Balderdash.

As we watch the hair on fire crowd, we begin to sense that this whole caboodle is a house of cards, and that those who have cards in play are afraid they’re about to lose them.

Truth be told, given federal fiscal circumstances, where the only money we have to spend on such things is borrowed or newly printed and created out of thin air, the cards of which the ‘house’ is constructed are credit cards like the photo above, rather than old-fashioned playing cards.

Now, about that editorial we linked to above.

The paper writes with smug conviction that Amtrak service to Brunswick is our very own community entitlement program, paid for by the Federal Government because, well, we deserve it, and how dare anyone threaten to question it?  As they see it, taxpayers should pay more than half the cost of the operation, even if the government is in a spending death spiral. 

We are Brunswick, aren’t we?, and we’re special.  Economic common sense is for the little people, not for us.  The tooth fairy lives somewhere ‘over there’ on McKeen, and the free lunch truck shows up at Maine Street Station every day.

Something else about the editorial grabs our attention.  It suggests making impact payments to residents in the area of the MLF, which as we understand things, is out of the Federal Railroad Authority handbook for dealing with such matters.

We doubt that any members of the town council have looked into the handbook, because they’re trying their very best to stiff-arm any discussion of the issue.  And we have a very hard time believing that The Ostrich has suddenly decided to become an expert in such arcane regulatory issues.  So we’re left to believe that the editorial is largely, if not completely, a plant, and more than likely from NNEPRA.

If we’re right, it just adds to the overwhelming sense that the fix is in big time, and it’s going to take a brace of steam engines and a team of Budweiser Clydesdales to move things off the current course.  And that The Ostrich, in keeping with its rich traditions, is anything but a ‘government watchdog,’ as they have historically anointed themself. 

Read the editorial, and you’ll see what we mean.  It fairly oozes with the sanctimony of faux righteousness.  Let’s take a look at some of the points made:

“That the facility will be built between Stanwood Street and Church Road is not credibly in dispute.”

Well excuse us, but that is the core of the very dispute, and we don’t think it’s credible for the editor to make that decision, or to portray otherwise.

Having walked Maine Street on a recent Saturday when Amtrak was offering a special $5 fare from Haverhill, Mass., we can report there are literally dozens of new customers coming to the Mid-coast using the luxury and convenience of passenger rail.

Do the editors really think that a $5 fare for a ride like that is sustainable?  Hell, why not make it free!  We’d also like to know how they could tell which ‘customers’ on Maine Street came on the train.  And one more thing – did editors walk the streets of Portland, Boston, and other points south of Brunswick to see how many ‘new customers’ (Brunswick area residents) are roaming those environs with discretionary dollars that could have been spent locally?  We think not.

And expansion is exactly what officials say the layover facility will help them do.

We’re not sure we accept the premise that the layover facility will drive expansion to begin with, but the LOCATION of the facility certainly has nothing to do with expansion.  Do the editors really believe that a few miles to the east would change anything in this regard?  This is journalistic round-heelism of the highest order.

NNEPRA has gone the extra mile to bridge that gap.

There is no ‘credible’ proof to substantiate that claim, but there is a history of NNEPRA skirting procedures and regulations, and playing loosey-goosey with the facts.  They haven’t gone the extra mile, they’ve taken every short cut they could, travelled in some off-road gullies, and then some.  The only extra distance they’ve gone is to create the illusion they’ve welcomed public involvement of the deepest and broadest sort.  Oh yeah?  Did you see the meeting last Thursday  night?  Don’t bother trying to watch it now; for some reason, the town’s Cable 3 system is having ‘problems’ with video-on-demand replays.

An assessment has been completed, finding no significant impact.

Then the editors have not been paying attention and doing due diligence.  And they don’t begin to understand the specific processes involved here.

We’re not sure residents will be able to find the scientific footing to rebut these claims definitively.

The problem isn’t finding ‘the footing;’ it’s getting the authorities involved to listen to the copious information collected, well beyond what NNEPRA has collected to prove the opposite.  But we appreciate the ‘not sure.’  A real confidence builder there.

What cannot happen is a scuttling of the facility where it is proposed, nor any further delay in the timetable for construction.

Why exactly is that timetable, dear editors, and what does the proposed location have to do with viability?  Why the rush to break ground before ALL the facts are known and public?  Is there fear that further examination could reveal errors in fact, process, and judgment?  How could that be possible; we’re talking about the government!

But our communities’ place in the world is far too enhanced by our new regional transportation links to go backward now.

Oh, please!!  Would it be too much to ask that you get real?  Our ’place in the world?’  Engage in hyperbole much?  And what enhanced links does the train provide that buses didn’t already provide, and more?  Have you looked at routes and fares and schedules?  Not to mention the horseless carriage.  And flying machines.

Like we said at the start; something is rotten around here, and the stink is getting worse by the day.  Let’s hope we can find where it’s coming from, so we can make sure it doesn’t smell up the town forever.

And while we’re at it, lets ask the local ‘press’ to stop believing their own made up stories, and those handed to them by others without benefit of any credible journalistic diligence.

Or are we supposed to make believe that we’re just a hit TV show of the moment, as in House of Cards?



And just let the cards fall where they may?


Like we said; something smells rotten around here.  And it ain’t just diesel fumes, thank you.


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