Saturday, May 31, 2014

Other Side hitting the airways….


Your correspondent has received an invitation from the owner of Brunswick’s newest radio station to appear on the air this coming Monday, June 2nd.  The plan is for us to guest on the morning discussion segment that runs between the 7:30 AM news update and the 8:00 AM recap.

We accepted the invitation, and while we haven’t heard back in confirmation, we’re assuming that the segment will go forward as offered.  Assuming, that is, that we can find the WCME studio in the vast Fort Andross complex.

We hope you’ll tune in, and if the format includes the option to call in, participate at that level as well.

We’ll keep you posted if we hear more details.  For now, the WCME web site says you can stream their broadcast here:


Technorati Tags: ,,

Friday, May 30, 2014

Primary “colors,” candidate forums, and other irrelevancies…


We don’t expect too many of you recall that Other Side created it’s own on-line ‘Candidate Forum’ last fall, timed to coincide with the local general election for Brunswick town council and school board members.  You can read a compendium of the related posts by clicking on this link:

The response, not surprisingly, was disconcerting, though more or less in line with what we expected, with an exception or two.  The prevailing attitude among such candidates, it’s fair to say, was ‘who wants to know, and why?’  Or, ‘just because we’re running for office, what makes you think we should answer your questions?’

We don’t often have contested primary elections here in town, and more importantly, directed at residents in specific neighborhoods of our community.  2014 turns out to be such a year.  Charlie Priest is termed out for his State Representative seat for District 50.

Two local Democrats are vying for the right to ascend to his seat by competing in the general election in November:  Ralph Tucker and Jackie Sartoris (known as JP2, and other piscatorial terms of endearment here on Side.)


Having nothing more productive to do of a Friday night with gathering storms off to the west, we’ve decided to publish a questionnaire aimed directly at this primary contest, and we consider it a ‘targeted’ candidate forum.  The questions are these, and we will publish the answers either candidate sends our way.

  • Is honesty always the best policy when dealing with constituents, or are there times when bamboozling is politically more expedient, and therefore acceptable?
  • Is the Amtrak Downeaster an economic benefit to Maine and the Brunswick region?  Is it fiscally sustainable?
  • Do you believe an MLF in Brunswick is required to support Amtrak Downeaster service to Brunswick?  If so, do you believe “Brunswick West” is the optimum location for this industrial facility?  If so, why?
  • Do you favor increasing taxes in any form to increase state revenue?  If so, which taxes would you increase?  And what would you use the increased revenues for?
  • Which approach do you believe offers greater potential for economic growth: increased government spending via bond issues and the like, or reducing government intervention in economic activity via regulation, control, etc?
  • Where do you stand on implementing statewide ‘single payer health care,’ as proposed by Rep. Priest?
  • If you support single payer health care, would you support single payer nutrition care as well?  Do you think nutrition is a vital component of health care?
  • If a candidate for the legislature is an official of the Brunswick Town Democrat Committee, how does that candidate prioritize pursuit of Committee objectives vis-à-vis ethical obligations of running for state elective office?  Especially if the candidate is running as a Maine Clean Election Act candidate?
  • More specifically, if that candidate is using her Facebook page- – as a vehicle for fundraising to support partisan causes and candidates, is she in violation of the 2014 MCEA Candidates guide?  We refer specifically to her entry on May 15th.  It reads as follows:
  • Free Sunday night? So many people have offered to help by making financial contributions. I even received an unsolicited check in the mail today! But as the only Clean Election candidate, I already have (limited) public finance, which means... See More


    Jackie Sartoris for Maine State Representative OK just trying to challenge my technical prowess... Here's the link to the event!

    Unite the 61% for $61! Brunswick Democratic Committee Fundraiser

    Sunday, May 18 at 5:00pm

    Enoteca, 97 Maine Street, Brunswick, Maine 04011

    “while a candidate is not prohibited from fundraising for a political action committee (PAC) or a political party committee, the candidate should be aware of certain risks in doing so.  If the PAC or party committee is going to spend money to promote the candidate, the candidate may wish to consider whether the assistance with fundraising will create the public perception or lead to the conclusion that the candidate cooperated with the PAC or party committee’s expenditures to promote the candidate."

We recognize that in the hands of the right ‘artist,’ primary colors can be seen as an exercise in creativity.  We simply wonder where the line is drawn between creative imagery and unforgiving reality.


Not that it matters when running to become one of our elected betters.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Who did it? Whooooooo……did it?


Two weeks ago, on Thursday, May 15th, we attended the Town Council’s public hearing on the Brunswick budget for 2014/15.

We’d been out of town for several days prior to the meeting, so we don’t know what we missed in the way of preliminaries.  Let’s just say we were thoroughly surprised by the meeting we did attend.  We were expecting numerous representatives of ‘the schoolies,’ including the mommy mafia and their friends from the BCU (Brunswick Community Unionists.) 


We saw nothing of the sort.  So either they made their presence known in the usual fashion at earlier meetings we missed, or something very unusual took place this year.

In fact, very few people spoke on the budget; the fewest Side can remember.  Your correspondent banged his head against the wall as usual, offering a statement that seemed out of place under the circumstances, though we modified our prepared words on the fly.  (The original version is appended at the end of this post.)

Frankly, we were a bit embarrassed, but since nothing we say ever makes any difference, what does it matter?  We were but an actor upon a stage, strutting out our part, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  (To paraphrase an author in another medium a long, long time ago.)

This is not to say there was no testimony.  One town resident gave what we would call a ‘gut take’ on how tough the constant increases in property taxes are on his family finances.  We have no way of knowing how it was received by the councilors, but as we see it, he distilled town spending and property taxes to their very essence.  Nothing can be spent by the town that isn’t first taken from local tax payers.

He was a grim reminder that discussions of increased spending, even if the increase is reduced from what was originally proposed, affects EVERY ONE of the conveniently anonymous property taxpayers in town. 

We perceive that this simple reality, more often than not, is lost on most.  Too many, we fear, don’t make a connection between their tax bills and town budgets.  Especially those who have their property taxes impounded by their mortgage holder, which renders monthly increases some sort of distant ‘calculation.’  Taxes go up by ‘x dollars a month’ rather than 12 times x dollars per year.  You know how this works; that new car is only $400 a month, not $25,000, or $5,000 per year.  Stop with the whining, right?

Which brings us to the ‘bookies.’  If you’ve been coming here over the nearly five years we’ve been publishing, you know we consider them second only to the ‘schoolies’ in believing they have a moral claim on town resources, no matter the consequences for those who provide them, including the person you see in the mirror. 

The ‘schoolies,’ whom we referred to earlier, are those who rally around school budget requests no matter their scope, scale, irresponsibility, unaffordability, unsustainability, etc.  The ‘bookies’ are those who see the town’s library as even more sacred than the school system, and dare we say, Amtrak’s Downeaster.  (Maybe we should institutionalize the ‘trainies!’)

We’ve said more than once that you don’t want to mess with either, unless you’re as plain spoken about such things as Side is.  We’d like you to be so, but we’re mindful that behaving thusly could lead to your ejection from polite ‘inner circles’ in town.  So take your pick; say what needs to be said, or protect your social stature. 

As for us, as the old saying goes, ‘when you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to lose.’  OK; it’s not an ‘old saying.’  It’s a new saying to add to our original collection.

Wow…we went off on a tangent, didn’t we?  Back to the ‘bookies.’  As we listened to the head of the Library Board of Directors, we were a bit ‘tweaked’ by her choice of language. 

Only upon thinking about it over the next day or so did our thoughts on the matter crystallize.  The hot buttons (emotional triggers) she used included these:

- “our goals for the year”

- “losing important opportunities”

- “services the public demands”

The Ostrich reported on the library issue as follows:

This year, the town funded the library to the tune of $1.2 million. The library is requesting $1.28 million for the next fiscal year. Eldridge is recommending a figure of $1.26 million.

Curtis Memorial Library President Kate Egan noted that the library has lent out 130 percent more items and experienced 8 percent more traffic than five years ago. Cuts to the library’s proposed increase may result in “critical staffing positions” not getting filled, said Egan.

“So what’s your point?,” we ask.  Shall we come to budget hearings with reports on how much our food, gasoline, utility, and health bills have increased?  And how the increases have eaten into our ‘discretionary’ ability to pay for town ‘services,’ especially those THE PUBLIC DEMANDS?

Bluntly put, this classic trope of ‘services the public demands’ makes us want to grab the town chicken by the neck and choke the living sausage out of it.  This was a standard card played by a long time Brunswick Mr. Manager who retired a few years ago, and was also favored by a long time Brunswick school superintendent who retired and then became Mr. Manager in a nearby town.

We won’t bore you with the details of the People Plus request for an increase in town subsidy of nearly 5%.

We’ve asked before that anyone who comes to a governing body to seek increased taxpayer support for services ‘the public demands’ provide written proof of these demands, including names and addresses of those making such demands.  We’ve sat in public hearings, and listened to residents assert how they were ‘more than willing to pay higher taxes to pay for blah-blah-blah,’ and when we passed them a sign up list to record their name, address, and how much more they were willing to pay, discovered they had somehow left the room, or otherwise lacked the courage of their convictions.

So you know what, Library Lady?  Take your ‘public demands’ and sell them somewhere else.  They have no more relevance than folks standing in line at Hannafords ‘demanding’ we pay a greater share of their grocery tab.  Frankly, HOW DARE anyone use the word “DEMAND” to impose their will, via government force, on the rest of their neighbors?

Come to think of it, perhaps we should begin our statements to the town council in the future by “demanding you lower our property taxes.”  We’re tired, thank you, of sitting idly by while others get up and suggest that others whom they don’t know have an obligation to pay for whatever they might want, no matter what the consequences will be for their own family finances.

In our system of ‘justice,’ the accused has the right to confront their accuser.  We think it’s time that the demandee have the right to confront the demander.  Every time we get up to testify and make our demand for lower taxes, the council will have a face and a name to associate with the demand.  Which is exactly the opposite of the demands voiced by others.

In a manner of speaking, the next time we hear someone reference undocumented demands, we will offer up this gesture in response:


As long as we’re on the subject, we’d like to remind readers that public health and safety are core obligations of municipal government, clearly expressed in the Town Charter.  Providing free loans of books and other library materials are not, no matter how much the community governing elite may think so.

We have ‘pay per bag’ for trash collection, and we even have a current candidate for the state legislature bragging about her role in creating this program.  The same candidate just resigned from the Sewer District Board of Trustees, which has yet to institute a ‘pay per flush’ system, though the technology to do so is readily at hand.

Surely, Shirley, it’s time to institute a ‘pay per book’ program.  How about 50 cents per loan?  That’s much less than the cost to acquire whatever you borrowed, and would create a flood of revenue so the library could hire several more staff members.

What’s that you say?  “That wouldn’t be fair?”

Sorry; we’ve had it up to here with “DEMANDS” that aren’t matched by a willingness to pay for the consequences of such demands.

Stuff it, we say.

While you’re thinking about the subject, ponder the words in this recent report:

Even with that "glimmer of hope," prospects for the CIP committee's recommendations are dim, Eldridge said.

"I'd like to think it is a deferral, but in all honesty, given what we're looking at and what we already have for built-in increases for next year's budget, I think it's wishful thinking that we're going to fund this at the CIP-recommended level next year," he said.


Statement to Town Council on Budget May 15, 2014

  • Did you ever notice that rain only falls down, and never, never falls up? I point this out as an oblique reference to Chicken Little, who usually attends these hearings disguised as a variety of parents expressing 'sky is falling' outlooks 'for the children' because of perceived injustice in the funding of the Brunswick School System.

  • We inevitably hear mention of constant cuts in school funding, which is an outright lie. Virtually without exception, especially on a per student basis, funding increases every year.

  • If the council, in all its wisdom and concern for tax rates, asks the school department to reduce a $36 million budget by $100,000 or so, weeping and wringing of hands is heard, and talk of slashing expenditures to the bone is sure to follow. Though only ¼ of one percent is being considered, or about $40 per student per year.

  • Sure as the sun coming up, we can expect to hear that there is no choice but to eliminate school bands, or junior varsity sports, or some other highly visible favorite of parents. That's part of the “police and firemen first” theory of manipulating public sentiment during budget discussions.

  • And before anyone voices the usual equivocation, I don't want to hear one word about cuts in state and federal revenue. That's a deliberate attempt to distract from the fundamental issue, which is spending, regardless of where the dollars come from.

  • If reducing proposed spending by $40 per student leads to falling sky, you'd think increasing per student spending by hundreds or even thousands per year would lead to euphoric claims that the sky is turning sunny as far as the eye can see! Can anyone here remember an occasion when parents bubbling over with joy for sharp and continuous increases in spending per child spoke in gratitude for such generosity?

    • Maybe you can, but I sure as heck can't. And I've been watching budgets and coming to these hearings for a pretty long time.

  • So tonight I'd like to boil things down to a few simple observations and a question or two.

  • First, for this coming school year, the department proposes to spend over $15,200 per year per student. That's an increase of a full $7,000 per year per student compared to ten years ago.

  • I'd like someone to explain what we're getting in the way of increased value for that $7,000 more per year in spending. How have achievement levels improved over those ten years? What other measures of performance are there that reflect positively on that enormous increase in spending?

  • In round numbers, that's an average increase of 6% per year in spending, way, way above inflation rates over this period. Add in the reduction in the number of active school plants over the same years, and the addition of a hyper-efficient new building, and as I see it, taxpayers are owed a lot of explanation.

  • By comparison, if per student spending had increased an average of 5% per year over the same period, still a very fast clip, we'd be looking at a school budget proposal of $32.6 million, or $3.6 million less than is here on the table.

  • Over the last few years, there have been public discussions over whether our schools have a mission to provide 'adequate' education to our children, or 'excellent' education.

  • In that regard, can you recall any time at all when the school department came before the town council to discuss what they were doing to put our children's educations at the very highest priority in budget planning, and how the proposed budget reflects that priority?

  • Can you recall any presentations on improvements in instruction, staff quality, and overall focus on performance and accountability?

  • Neither can I.

  • The only discussion I can remember in front of the council at budget time is how rain only falls down. And how unless taxpayers provide very expensive umbrellas for the school system, the schools and the students will wash away in a flood.

  • Isn't anyone in a position of budget authority ever going to demand more for taxpayer money? Doesn't anyone care about delivering value for taxpayer's funds compelled from them by law? Isn't anyone going to show the courage to seek full disclosure of the conduct of our most expensive government activity?

  • Isn't anyone going to recognize that we are on an unsustainable course that will surely make this town less and less affordable to live in, and add to an already grim demographic destiny?

  • Are you simply going to preside over our demise, because you refused to look beyond the next few weeks into the longer term realities?


MaineBiz Award: further thoughts

We habitually have second thoughts about something we’ve just posted, and this often happens as the sheep are a-leaping over our heads at the end of the day.  Not ‘second thoughts’ in the sense of regrets, but in the sense of additional things we could have said but didn’t.

Herewith such an addition to yesterday’s post on the five donkey Other Side award to MaineBiz.

Before we get to that, allow us an aside.  We’ve posted several times in the past about ‘awards’ and their place in the great self-esteem culture that infects so many of our enterprises today, both public and private.  Two prior items we think have relevance on the subject:

The latter post includes this passage, which we find especially apropos:

It is important to note that there are "absolute awards" and there are "relative awards." For example, the Oscar is given to the "Best Picture" of the year, regardless of how good it is in an absolute sense. If all the movies in any given year were undistinguished, the least undistinguished would still win the Best Picture award. Even worse, if all the movies stunk, the least stinky would win Best of the Year.

I'm not aware of any year in which it was declared that no movie worthy of "Best of the Year" was nominated, and so no award was granted. Similarly, I don't know of any year when a Nobel Prize for Peace was not awarded because no achievement worthy of the prize had been nominated.

This phenomenon is in keeping with the general decline in our culture. No matter how low we sink, there is always someone or something that, relatively speaking, is "best." No pass, no fail; this is grading "on the curve" taken to it's most destructive extreme.

And this one:

I'm reminded of the state's ranking system for which town should receive funding for construction of a new school. I visited with the officials in charge, and it became very clear that there was no absolute standard for receiving funding. Rather, the whole system was based on allocating a predetermined amount of funding every year.

There was no pass/fail grade on the applications submitted by the various school districts; there was simply a "scoring" followed by a rank ordering of the applications. If 30 applications were received, and 27 of them really didn't warrant new school construction, it didn't matter. The state had a sum allocated for the year, and it would be spent no matter what. The awarding of funds was completely relative, and the primary goal was to spend every last available dollar, whether it was warranted or not.

Plus one more:

That's the way the annual awards the local paper is so good at winning work. Every win is for "Best of the Year" in this or that category. Further, the award selections are made by industry peers, rather than objective outside authorities.
Given this standard of merit, and the rather small number of newspapers in our area, the net result is that nearly every paper gets to claim some "award winning" performance for the year.

The process is not particularly rigorous or error free. Not that long ago, our local paper's former opinion editor was awarded the prize for best editorial of the year for an item she didn't write. When I pointed that out to her and the editors of the paper, they blew it off as just an irrelevant nit.

The takeaway from the above is that none of the cases described has an absolute standard or expectation of excellence; they are each relative awards granted by comparison to other offerings, no matter how lacking each might be in merit.

Think about what that concept means when applied almost universally in every aspect of our society.

Alright; back to the subject at hand.


Notwithstanding the utter silliness and cognitive dissonance of the term “Non-profit Business Leader,” it seems to us there are some reasonable questions that relate to the concept, and the choice for this year’s award.  Here are the ones that came to mind before the sheep did their job last night.

  • What is the standard of excellence applied to winnow down the nominees for Non-Profit Business Leader of the Year to determine the winner?  Are higher operating losses (‘non-profit achievement’) more prized than lower operating losses, or vice versa?
  • Is there an absolute standard of achievement that must be met for the award to be given, or is this a ‘best of the year’ relative award?
  • Is ‘business’ economic viability a consideration?
  • Are there guidelines for determining which candidates qualify for consideration, and which don’t?  For example, are they government employees or not?  Do they operate a business or not?
  • How broad a scan of Maine’s ‘Business World’ is conducted to look for winners?
  • Where did this year’s also ran’s stack up in operating loss percentages for their so called ‘non-profit businesses?’
  • Who nominated Ms. Quinn of NNEPRA?  Was it TrainRiders Northeast, NNEPRA’s lobbying affiliate, headed by Wayne Davis?
  • Has any other government employee won the award in the past?

We’d like to ask this question as well, but some would probably consider it a cheap shot, so we’re running it in invisible type:

  • Is “MaineBiz” an abbreviation for Maine Bizzaro World?

If you can see it, you must have your secret decoder ring on.

We’ve also pondered one other unknowable.  If, through some strange cosmic connection, we were able to land a grant for $10 million a year from a highly placed government source, take a suitable annual fee for ourselves, and then hand out the rest to various businesses with the condition that they lower their prices by oh, 50%, and make up the difference with a sum we provided them, would we qualify for consideration for the award being discussed here?

If not, pray tell why?

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

MaineBiz earns “Five Backsides” Award

(Ed note: If you’re the type that likes to keep a neat office, you can file this post under “Are You Freakin’ Kidding Me?”)


Some months ago, we created the Other Side Backside Awards, which you can read about here.  As you’ll see when you do, we established five levels for the prize, running from one ‘donkey’ to five ‘donkies.’  We’ve been so scatter-brained and unfocused of late that we’ve been remiss in making sure we publicize those deserving public acclaim for their exemplary performance.


As long as we’re talking about the Amtrak Downeaster, we’ve decided to salute Maine Biz with the highest level of our trophy…the coveted five backsides award.


Why?  Funny you should ask.  In a nutshell, because of this simple act: MaineBiz recently declared Patricia Quinn, Executive Director of NNEPRA (Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority), “the Non-Profit Business Leader of the Year.”  We read about Patricia’s award in this news item (edited to preserve reader sanity):

“The Success of Rail in Maine, and A Vision for the Future”

MDF is thrilled to present a Leadership Unplugged with Patricia Quinn, Executive Director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.  Patricia half-jokingly refers to the Amtrak Downeaster passenger service she oversees as her "third child." Since assuming NNEPRA's reins in September 2005 — five years after being hired as a part-time marketing consultant and almost four years after the Downeaster passenger service began between Portland and Boston — Quinn has seen yearly ridership increase 123% to a record-setting 556,347 passengers in fiscal year 2013. Patricia was recently awarded the Non-Profit Business Leader of the Year by MaineBiz.

LEADERSHIP UNPLUGGED is a series of conversations with Maine leaders around issues of economic importance. It is an opportunity for leaders to come together in an intimate, relaxed setting to discuss the pertinent issues of the day. 

Presenter: Our conversation will be with Patricia Quinn. Patricia Quinn is a native of Norwich, Connecticut and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration/Marketing.  She joined the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority in October 2000 to promote the inauguration of the Downeaster and was officially appointed Executive Director of NNEPRA in September 2005.  Since that time, an additional round-trip has been added and service has expanded to Freeport and Brunswick, and Downeaster ridership and revenue have more than doubled – all while maintaining one of the highest passenger service rankings in the nation. Patricia received the Amtrak President’s Service and Safety Award for State Partners in 2007, was recognized as one of “Maine’s Most Intriguing People” by Portland Magazine in 2009, a “Woman to Watch” by MaineBiz in August 2011 and “Non-Profit Business Leader of the Year” by MaineBiz in March 2014.

Why do we think the five backside level award is justified?  Let us count the ways.

  • Just what the hell is a ‘non-profit business?’  The term, to those with a clue, is an oxymoron…..along the lines of ‘jumbo shrimp.’
  • Who forms a ‘business’ to be ‘non-profit?’  The only possible answer in this case, and numerous others, is taxpayers who are compelled to do so without their knowledge and consent.
  • NNEPRA is not a ‘business.’  It is an instrumentality of state government, established in state law.
  • Patricia is not a ‘business person;’ she is an employee of the state.  She does not operate or manage a ‘business.’  She heads a state ‘authority.’
  • You can refresh your understanding of the realities by reading the material here:
  • We provided some details on the degree of ‘non-profit’ performance achieved by Quinn in this prior material:
    • NNEPRA FY13 Annual Report figures (
      • food service revenue was $611,812; food service operating expenses were $773,420.  That’s a loss of 21% on food service.
      • total operating revenue was $9,182,012 against total operating expenses of $16,762,301.  That’s an operating loss of 45% overall -  $7.5 million.  With ample reason to expect the loss will grow in the current year and in the future.
    • In round numbers, fares on the Downeaster would have to double for the operation to approach financial ‘sustainability.’  What effect would that have on ridership?
    • Capacity for riders between Portland and Brunswick is 1200 per day with two round trips.  Average ridership (143 per day) is barely 12% of this capacity, yet we hear constant talk of ‘expanding service to Brunswick.’
      • MLF is ‘required’ to store trains in Brunswick because of severe limits on track slots between Brunswick and Portland; how can service be expanded?


  • How do you sustain a ‘non-profit business’ operating at a loss of 45%?  How can such performance, under any definition, be considered award worthy?
  • All things considered, shouldn’t the award given to Quinn be redesignated ‘The Biggest Losing Enterprise Leader of the Year” Award?’


Now we’d like to ask Maine Biz how they could have missed other more deserving candidates for their “Non-Profit Business Leader of the Year” award.

Did they completely miss the news about the Brunswick Development Corporation (BDC) and their grant of nearly a quarter million dollars to Brunswick Taxi?  Compared to the numbers for Quinn’s “business,” which lost only about 45% on the year, the Brunswick Taxi deal alone had a net loss of 100% (or more), and was heralded by many as a remarkable contribution to local economic vitality.  The BDC followed up on this success by entering into other ‘business arrangements’ that had going in losses in the range of 50%.


Surely they deserve a statewide forum to describe their model for success, and a gushing series of citations and awards for what they’ve achieved.  Ridership increases for Brunswick Taxi could be cited along with other compelling evidence.

In a related category, we understand the newly formed Maine Association of School Architects and Builders is planning to create an award recognizing school administrative districts that have done the most to further their growth in both design and construction.  An inside source tells us the Brunswick School Department has the inside track for receiving the inaugural award, in recognition of creative methods for causing school collapse, innovative rationale for school swapping, and exemplary neglect of capital asset stewardship.

When you think of the economic ‘leadership’ of federal, state, and local government authorities in the few simple examples we’ve just touched on, is it any wonder we’re staring at economic collapse on every level of our public enterprise?  And why those in charge can’t come up with any other idea other than compelling more personal assets from us by force of law?


The way we see it, it shouldn’t be all that hard to recognize what they’re doing wrong, and how to change their ways.

But maybe they don’t want to change their ways.  Maybe what they’re doing is too easy, too much fun, and has no real consequences for their personal circumstances.

Nah.  That couldn’t possibly be.

Or could it?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Breaking News: Jacquie P resigns from Sewer District Board of Trustees


We expect to have more details in a subsequent report, but we’re told by a reliable source that The Ostrich is hard on a story that Jacquie P, otherwise known as JP2 here on Side, has just resigned from the Board of Trustees of the Brunswick Sewer District.  Piranha apparently prefer cleaner waters than those involved in sewage processing.

A somewhat related news story, giving some insight into possible political infighting, can be found here:

The BDN version of the story has a stock “I am your hero” picture of Johnny Protocols, known as JP1, running with the story.  This leads us to suspect a delicious food fight may well be underway.

From what we observe, JP2 is locked in a losing primary battle with Ralph Tucker to ascend to the Legislative seat of Charlie Priest, who is termed out.  Priest is also the Chairman of the Board of the Sewer Trustees, oddly enough.

We’re thinking personal political ambitions are at the very heart of this unfolding story, along with long standing ‘relationships.’  While we’re no authority in the underlying socio-political forces at play, we can’t help but believe that JP2 is making a desperation move to preserve any chance she might have to move from sewer management to a role in the larger buried pipelines of Augusta.


Playing a leadership role in the handling of local sewage, we suppose, prepares one well for legislating in Augusta. 

But it looks like JP2 might be getting her pipes cleaned in the upcoming primary.  Oh well, there’s always joining the board that manages the landfill and pay per bag processing to make another run at the big hill.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hello Maine; good bye New York; hello Montana


The beloved Ostrich gets a blood transfusion….

We just learned that The Ostrich has hired a brand new Managing Editor, Rob Montana, who hails from “upstate” New York.  We’re taking the liberty of printing his self-introduction that appeared on the op-ed page of the Friday, May 16 edition, complete and unedited.  We’re hoping his editing skills and attention to detail improve quickly as he adapts to our ‘culture.’

A brief introduction

2014-05-16 / Commentary

Rob Montana


I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself — I’m Rob Montana, new managing editor of The Times Record. I’ve come to Brunswick from upstate New York, but please don’t hold that against me.

I’m very happy to be here, getting to know the community better and settling into the way life should be. I am excited to be undertaking this role at a newspaper with its eye on the local region, as that philosophy has been the undercurrent in my previous newspaper experiences. I been on the job just two weeks now, but I am pleased to have found a newsroom staff here that is dedicated in their work and committed to providing the local coverage a community needs from its newspaper. In the other places I’ve worked, the staffs have worked hard to cover the communities well, to dig out the truth and shine a light on the heroes of the local towns. The people I get to work with everyday at the Times Record are the right people to do that job here and I’m glad I get to be a part of that team.

I know what communityfocused newspapers can do, especially when the focus is on basics of reporting. Much emphasis has been placed in recent years on digital platforms and social media integration. That’s all well and good — if you have the resources to do so. But when the choice is between crafting a Facebook post and spending an extra five minutes to polish a story, it shouldn’t be too hard a decision.

It’s true that technology can be a great resource, not only for spreading the news but for gathering it as well, but I think not enough emphasis has been placed on personal connections. That is what makes stories great and earns the trust of those we are reporting on, and I still believe those connections are best made with a handshake and a smile.

That may sound smalltownish, but I keep finding myself in situations where that theory has been proven time and time again.

It is the newspaper’s job to be engaged with its community — in person, not through social media — and inform its readership about the important issues and work taking place locally. It is at the local level that the greatest change can be made, as state and federal government spin their wheels and bicker about politics. It’s important for reporters to be aware of what’s going on around them. Interesting stories are all around us — it just takes open eyes and minds to see them.

It’s important for us to keep a watchful eye on what our town and school officials are doing, to make sure the people — and their tax dollars — are being represented well and appropriately. It’s equally as important for us to write about the many good things happening around us — volunteers offering their time, community initiatives, programs that help those who need it, the achievements of area youth, events that are taking place and people with an interesting story to tell. That is what we aim for at The Times Record.

To do that, we need your help. We need to know what you think is important, what issues are on your mind, what achievements, projects and activities you want us to know about. I want to know what our readers want to see, because if we don’t know, we can’t work toward giving you what you want.

There are many ways to do that — a list of them is available at Contact_ Us.html — but I invite the public to contact me personally with questions, concerns or ideas. I can be reached via email at and by phone at (207) 504- 8209.

ROB MONTANA is the managing editor at The Times Record.

It’s safe to say, we suppose, that Rob is something of an unknown quantity in these parts, as compared to the Claire Bastiens, Rob Longs, Jim McCarthys, Bob Mentzingers and others who came before him, and established the NOTWIUNS stellar record for objectivity, investigative reporting, and devoted watchdogging of something, we’re sure.   You can read his own summary of his experience here:

Our initial reaction is, we should say, unformed.

However, we can only wonder how high the steam pressure has risen in Gina Hamilton’s tea pot.  Her devotion to the shrill offerings of Doug Rooks, Paul Krugman, not to mention her own offerings, have continued the inbred hard left tilt of the paper, limiting it’s appeal to the point of continuing its demise.

We’ll see how long it takes for the real Rob to show his cards.  Things are clouded by the fact that the ownership of the paper seems highly obscured, and we’re not really sure who the true editorial influence behind the printed pages is at this point.  That tops the list of our many questions about this transition in leadership.  They seem to be coming at a furious pace in the last few years.

In closing, we wish Rob well in his new job, and we hope to chat with him soon to give him a glimpse of The Other Side of town.


Along with a bit of advice that derives from years of keeping our head out of the sand.