Monday, September 29, 2014

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!


You’ve probably long since forgotten the national tragedy that was the passing of Michael Jackson. We must admit we have a hard time accepting it occurred more than five years ago.

The only reason we bring this up, other than that he inspired our trademark dance moves, is because we remember the breathless reporting that ensued in the days following his passing:




We remember hearing these ‘hooks,’ looking over at Mrs.Side, and remarking that the latest update was that he was ‘still dead.’


And so it is that we thought about the ‘latest news on NNEPRA’s TIGER Grant Application that was rejected by the US Department of Transportation.’

You know what we’re referring to.  We reported on the details here and here.:

The ‘latest’ news is that none of the major news outlets in Maine consider this newsworthy.


Even our beloved Ostrich, whose coverage area is centered upon Brunswick, the very locus of the “Downeaster Service Optimization Project.”  Here we see one of their cub reporters out on the beat.


‘Nothing to see here, folks; move along please.  We’ve got grooving of raised crosswalks to cover.’ 

‘You know, important stuff.’

Zombie press, anyone?  Otherwise known as ‘the un-reporting?’

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Protocols, Backside Awards, voting, not voting, etc…

We hope you’ll forgive us for a moment of editorial indecisiveness; we can’t decide which of these photos belongs at the top of our post, so we’re using both.  Perhaps after reading what follows, you can tell us which you think would have been the best choice.  (For those with bad eyesight, that’s a fox digging a hole in the right hand image.)


On Tuesday of this week, we posted this item about the selection of John Eldridge to be the new Mr. Manager of our perfect little town, assuming he and the council can agree on terms.  Which might not be as easy as it might look, given that only 5 of the 9 town councilors voted to offer him the job.

This leads us to the thoughts we want to pass along now.  “Protocols” are involved, of course, for more than one reason.  As one among us is fond of saying, we must have protocols. 


We’ve also realized that awards come into play.  In this case, Side’s now famous and sought after Backside Award, for meritorious performance in the course of holding public office.

The first reports of Eldridge’s selection included these words:

Councilors Suzan Wilson, David Watson and Gerald Favreau voted against the motion, made by Councilor Steve Walker. Councilor John Richardson did not attend the meeting because of a prior commitment. 

Although she has also received calls from her constituents in support of Eldridge, and thinks he would do a good job as town manager, Wilson said "the old libertarian" in her was interested in "shaking things up" and moving in a new direction.

Speaking immediately before the vote, Watson said he was opposed because the decision was being made without all councilors present.

In an phone interview Monday night, Richardson, who did not attend the meeting, said he received notice of the meeting on Friday afternoon, too late to reschedule an existing commitment in Rockland.


Subsequent reporting by The Ostrich added these illuminating words:            

On Monday, two councilors — David Watson and Suzan Wilson — said they voted against making Eldridge manager on Monday because Councilor John Richardson wasn’t present.

(So are we to understand that if Richardson was there, they would have voted FOR Eldridge?  How the hell are we to interpret that?  They would have hung Johnny out to dry?  Are you kidding?)

Richardson on Tuesday morning said he is congratulating Eldridge.

Richardson said he was unable to attend Monday evening’s meeting because of a scheduling conflict due to his work with the Maine Labor Relations Board. He said he was informed of the council meeting Friday afternoon, and did not have time enough to reschedule with the labor board.

“I was never told there would be a vote of the town manager,” Richardson said.

(Note to readers: make sure you don’t have a mouthful of Coke or other carbonated beverage before reading the following whopper, or you could end up flushing your nasal  passages with it.)

Asked whether the council ought to have held the vote, Richardson declined to comment beyond stating, “I don’t want to make this about me.”


Richardson also declined to state whether he would have supported Eldridge’s nomination, but noted that he had been in favor of making both Eldridge and Bennett finalists.


Let’s move on to our analysis of the reported circumstances.  As we said in the post on Tuesday, one of the things you learn through years in Augusta is when you need to be in Rockland.  In this case, for work with the Maine Labor Relations Board that could not be rescheduled.

Not to mention the fact that our man JP1 (Johnny Protocols) didn’t know the meeting would be about selecting the new town manager.


As to that claim, here’s the meeting notice we received Friday afternoon, September 19th, with a time stamp of 3pm:

Special Meeting Agenda
September 22, 2014
5:00 P.M.
Council Chambers
Town Hall
85 Union Street
Roll Call
Acknowledgment that meeting was properly noticed
Executive session – Personnel matter regarding Town Manager search process per 1 M.R.S.A. §405(6)(A)
Action may or may not occur after the executive session. 

It’s pretty clear, don’t you think, that it wasn’t going to be about anything OTHER than selecting a new town manager?

Now as to that claim that it was too late to reschedule his commitment to work with the Maine Labor Relations Board on Monday evening in Rockland.  Lucky for you, we have reporters in the field who can look into such things.  One of them contacted the Maine Labor Relations Board office, and surprisingly, they had nothing on the three calendars they maintain for Monday night in Rockland.  Nothing for the Board itself, or the Mediation Panel, or the Board of Arbitration.


We’re sure this must be some record keeping anomaly, and that Johnny Protocols can clear things up.  And when he does, we’ll gladly publish the explanation here, and withdraw our doubts about the accuracy of his reason for missing the meeting.

Until such time as he does, we’ll offer our view of things. 

As we said when he got elected to the town council, we saw it as the commencement of his rehabilitation to set the stage for seeking higher office once again.  We all know he won’t be denied, and that he considers it his due.

We expect the rehab will continue with him being elected to chair the council when the transition to a new council takes place around the first of the year.  Benet Pols isn’t running to keep his council seat, and from our view, we don’t see anyone else challenging Johnny, so our money says he’ll slide right into the position of GoJo, the Governor of Brunswick, to coin a phrase.


This will buff up his credentials and visibility for seeking the State Senate office of Stan Gerzofsky, who will be termed out in 2016.  If Johnny wants the office, who’s going to stop him?  And from there, he runs for Governor in 2018, if not an available federal position.

<s>The photo just above shows the lifelong BFF’s conferring on the strategic nuances of such a master plan.</s>


Vital to such a plan, we all know, is for Protocols to keep on the right side of those who would support, direct, and fund him in such an upward climb.  We’re convinced some of the powers in the shadows wanted him to vote against Eldridge, and others wanted him to vote for him.  The only way out was to use the moves he learned in Augusta to avoid doing either.  At least that’s the way it looks from our offices.


Oh yes; thanks for reminding us. We almost forgot to announce the Awards.  And hoist the flag that goes along with them.  We must advertise our local products as often as possible, mustn’t we?


We admit that our judges are heading for the door at this late juncture on a weekend day, but we snared the envelopes from them before they left.


The first awards, at the Three Donkey level, go to councilors Suzan Wilson, a prior winner at this level, and Dave Watson, for their bizarre and inane explanations of why they voted against the motion to offer the job to John Eldridge.  That being that they didn’t know what else to do because their Svengali was not there to give them courage.  And for expecting us to believe that had he been there, they just might have voted in the affirmative.

<s>Here’s a publicity shot they posed for after making their statement:</s>


And now, this week’s grand prize winner, at the Five Donkey level is….


….Councilor John Richardson (AKA Mr. Speaker, JP1, Johnny Protocols, and GoJo to Side readers!!!) 

Five Donkey’s are the call for demonstrating rare and distinctive creativity in explaining why he had to miss the meeting; and for sheer chutzpah in believing anyone, and we mean anyone, could possibly believe the sentiment “I don’t want this to be about me.”


We, of course, in order to preserve our reputation for integrity in such matters, promise to reduce Johnny Protocol’s award to the Three Donkey level should he provide information that clarifies his Monday evening conflict in Rockland.

Rockland, Maine, that is.  On MLRB official business.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Haircuts, oil, and other little things

Yesterday morning, we awoke early enough to head over to Leo’s Sustainable, Organic barber shop before the appointed opening hour.  This time, we were first in the parking lot, and we spent just under an hour on premise, if you count waiting time and clipping time, which is a modern day record for us.


As punishment for our early arrival, we had to endure a bit more verbal abuse from the proprietor than usual, but we dished it back pretty good.

The most painful part of our experience was when Leo told us he had just taken delivery of a load of heating oil for $3.00 a gallon.  Wow, we thought, since just a day or two earlier we had a delivery of our own, on our ‘fixed price’ delivery plan at a price 23% per gallon higher!

This is the gamble you take when going with a contract for a year.  Sometimes you make out, sometimes you don’t.  It’s like haircuts.  This time, we had far less growth for Leo to shear off, but he had the unmitigated nerve to charge us just as much as he did last time. And he laughed as he did.

We got home and checked cash oil prices on the internet, and sure enough, heating oil is widely available at $3.00 a gallon at this very moment.  So if you’re in a position to do so, you might consider phoning a local supplier ASAP and filling your tank(s) at this almost unheard of price in recent years.

The money you save might help offset the increase in your property taxes. 

As we’ve learned over the years here in our perfect little town, if one clip job doesn’t get you, another one will.  You might as well relax and enjoy it.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In The Maine Wire: Downeaster-“Obama on Wheels”


Silly gooses that we are, those engine windshields remind us of other ‘see-through’ panels we glimpse all too often these days.


The ‘rose colored glasses’ caption only heightens the analogy.

And so it is that we submitted a treatise on this theme to The Maine Wire, which published the item today.  You can read it here:

We hope these excerpts will inspire you to read the entire column at the link provided:

For those who aren’t aware, in spite of its name, NNEPRA is a creature of Maine State Government, defined statutorily in 1995 during the Angus King administration. The law mandates that NNEPRA create passenger train service in Maine, bypassing any thought of analyzing public transit needs, and then synthesizing and proposing a publicly driven approach, if indeed one was warranted.

In December of last year, The Maine Wire published an article I wrote with a friend, “Why Obamacare is Off the Rails.” This connection with railroads was a bit of editorial whimsy. Especially in contrast to the hypothesis I offer here: that the Downeaster and its ‘administration’ embody the very essence of Obama the man, and the establishment that surrounds him.

We begin with this comment in a Wall Street Journal column: “’Nudge’ is a favorite Obama slogan for government encouraging citizens to do what government thinks is best for them.” Speaking bluntly, the Downeaster has been forced upon we citizens from the very beginning, without regard to underlying viability or sustainability, because government knows best. “Push” seems more accurate than “nudge.”

In a recent Weekly Standard article, we read that for Obama, things were going fine, and “like a burst of bad weather, the winds blew, the skies opened, and things went to hell. Mysterious forces conspired against him, terrible setbacks occurred for no reason, “ etc. This fits perfectly; like the failure to capture competitive federal grant funding in 2012 and 2013 (and maybe this year?), and the ‘unexpected’ realities of New England winters, which reeked havoc upon rails and ties on which $70 million or more had been spent in recent years, and for whose fitness for Amtrak use NNEPRA is responsible. Regardless, in an article this spring, Patricia Quinn, NNEPRA’s Executive Director, was reported on this way:

Addressing the authority’s board of directors on Monday at a meeting in Portland, Quinn said that Pan Am Railways, which owns the tracks between Brunswick and the Massachusetts border, has been replacing 2,000 rail ties. The ties were damaged due to age and the repeated freeze-thaw cycles that occurred during this year’s extended winter.

“The railroad was not left in good shape after the winter,” she said

Note the passive voice. Given a regulatory mandate to inspect the track a minimum of twice a week, you’d think ‘someone’ might have noticed problems before a crisis could sneak up on the system.

- See more at:

We hope you’ll give the column a full read.  What else are you gonna do on a chilly fall evening that could be as amusing?

Technorati Tags: ,,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An article worth reading….about circumstances similar to what Brunswick faces


An interesting article crossed our desk today.  While not exactly the same circumstances as in town Brunswick residents face as NNEPRA plans to construct their huge MLF just over their back fences, it certainly provides relevant insights into what others have experienced, especially as compared to what they were promised.

As such, it should give pause to those who think critically on plans and rhetoric attending to such publicly funded projects.

We’re simply going to post it here, without further commentary.


Eagle Tribune

Some relief for train station neighbors in Haverhill

Noisy trains to be replaced, other changes in Bradford studied

By Mike LaBella | Posted 4 days ago

HAVERHILL — After years of complaints, neighbors of the Bradford train station hope to see changes that will eliminate noise and fumes which make their families uncomfortable.

Neighbors said the problems, which began in the late 1980s when the layover station began operating, have never been adequately addressed over the years, despite many promises made by train officials and local leaders.

At a meeting on Thursday with commuter rail officials and city leaders, neighbors said the ultimate solution is to move the layover station out of Bradford. However, they said they were happy with some of the changes proposed by the MBTA and officials from Keolis Commuter Services, which handles maintenance of the trains.

One short-term solution offered involves removing as many as four “screamer” trains that park overnight at the Bradford station. Officials said these particularly noisy F40 diesel locomotives create a screaming sound when started up and during idling. The officials said these noisy trains will be immediately replaced with newer models that are less noisy and emit fewer pollutants.

To reduce noise and emissions even further, MBTA officials said they plan to put as many as four new locomotives into service in Haverhill next spring. The new units would even less noisy and replace the trains that replace the “screamer” units.

State Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives and state Reps. Linda Dean Campbell and Diana DiZoglio scheduled Thursday’s meeting so neighbors could directly discuss their concerns with commuter rail officials.

Campbell, D-Methuen, who also represents part of Bradford, said she planned to formally ask the MBTA to look into moving the layover station out of Bradford and into an industrial area in the Merrimack Valley.

“We want to look at other layover options,” Campbell said. “I don’t think we should overlook that from a fresh perspective with regional planning.”

Keolis signed a contract on July 1 with the MBTA to begin operating the commuter rail system. The system was previously operated and maintained by the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Company.

Neighbors Bert LaCerte Jr., Mary Zappala and her son Joseph Zappala attended the meeting.

Bradley Kesler, chief railroad officer for the MBTA, presented a short PowerPoint presentation outlining what times of day and how long trains are allowed to idle at the Bradford station. It triggered an immediate response from LaCerte, who along with other neighbors have been battling the MBTA for years in hopes of reducing train idling times and emissions.

“The site is inappropriate. It’s so close to homes,” LaCerte said. “Because it’s in the wrong place, it creates an enormous problem for the neighborhood.”

LaCerte told Kesler that the city should never have allowed the Bradford layover station to be created.

Joseph Zappala, whose backyard on Front Street overlooks the layover station, said the idling times indicated in Kesler’s presentation are not always adhered to.

“Some operators leave the engines on high idle when they pull into the station and let off passengers,” he said.

Gerald Francis, deputy general manager for Keolis, referred to his company as “the new kids on the block” and told neighbors that part of the process is to involve residents in finding solutions. He invited Joseph Zappala to be part of a team looking for those solutions.

City Councilor William Macek praised Keolis officials for responding to neighbors’ concerns.

“I’m glad there’s a new group here,” Macek said. “We didn’t get any satisfaction for 20 years.”

Joseph Zappala said the most disruptive times for train idling are at 1 a.m., when trains pull into the layover station for the night, then again at 4 a.m., when they start engines in preparation for morning runs into Boston. He said the idling lasts two hours or more on many weekday mornings between 4 and 7 a.m. and causes noise and fumes.

“The idling is for an extremely long time,” he said. “Why can’t they just shut it down?”

Wood School area neighbor Dominick Pallaria, holding several documents in his hand, told officials that health issues are also a big concern and that tests show high levels of pollutants in that area of the city.

“There’s an impact to people’s health in that area,” he said.

City Councilor Melinda Barrett and Mayor James Fiorentini asked train officials what they could to do reduce the impact of noise on neighbors, such as installing sound deadening mats or a sound wall.

Kesler told them that he does not have anyone on his staff who is an expert in this area, but that “we can work on keeping the screamers out.”

Neighbors said that in addition to the noise caused by idling trains, vibrations cause their windows to rattle.

Steven Adkins, director of maintenance for MassDOT’s Rail & Transit Division, told neighbors that commuter trains are following regulatory guidelines in terms of train idling times. But he said from what neighbors told him, he wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.

“This is an awakening for me,” he said. “I’ll want a detailed understanding of who is working and when and who is idling. I want facts.”

City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said regulatory rules aren’t the issue and that neighbors want their concerns about noise and pollution addressed.

“To think that it’s taken this long is discouraging,” she said.

Mary Zappala told officials that their promises sounded much like those that were made 20 years ago and questioned whether any significant changes will happen. She said if neighbors were told years ago that a layover station was going to be created near their homes, she would have laid down on the tracks in protest.

“We have lived under terrible conditions in our own homes,” she said. “Do we have hope? No. Do we feel something will be done? No.

“I’m 85... I can’t wait another 20 years for the trains to leave that station,” she said.

Thomas Mulligan, general manager for Keolis’ Boston Commuter Operations, told Zappala that following the meeting he and other officials planned to do a visit the Bradford station to inspect it.

“If you really want to get rid of the noise, you have to move the noise,” Mulligan said.

Following the meeting, LaCerte and Joseph Zappala said the changes proposed were encouraging, but they will wait and see what happens.

Zappala said that in the past, he’s been put in contact with railway officials, but that over time those officials end up being relocated and communication with them ends.

“We’re going to be in the loop this time and hopefully these guys won’t be shuffled around,” Zappala said.


You can find the article here:

Downeaster Ridership: a quick question (or more)

There appears to be a much confusion in reporting on ridership statistics for the Downeaster operated by NNEPRA.  Even reports in the ‘mainstream media’ contain conflicting figures, and cast doubts upon the methods used to accumulate and officially report on public support of the service.


The concern of course is that ridership is the single metric used to trumpet success of the service.  NNEPRA and their lobbying group love to hype the numbers in every public setting they can.

So we have a question or two to pose.

First, if we purchase a round trip ticket between Brunswick and Portland, but don’t use it, do we he have an effect on ridership totals?

Second, if we do use it, how do we affect ridership totals?  Do we represent an increase of two in total ridership: one for the trip from Brunswick to Portland, and one for the trip back to Brunswick?  Or do we represent an increase of four: one departing Brunswick, one arriving Portland, one departing Portland, and one arriving Brunswick?

We hope, of course, that we don’t represent an increase of six total, the four just mentioned, plus a rider at the Freeport station in each direction.

We have no doubt that the system and NNEPRA are highly motivated to maximize the ridership totals, and their ‘growth.’  But until the same rigor and discipline is applied to ridership figures certified accounting methods required of financial reporting, we simply can’t be sure.


Especially since there is virtually no public disclosure of PRECISELY how ridership information is collected and reported.

Eldridge selected as new Town Manager


Brunswick now has a new “Mr. Manager.”

John Eldridge won the job in a 5-3 vote, with Councilor John Richardson absent due to ‘another commitment.’  Suzan Wilson, Jerry Favreau, and Dave Watson voted against Eldridge.

You learn some interesting things in Augusta.  Like when to be in Rockland.

Congratulations to Mr. Eldridge.

An update:


In what surely ranks as one of the finest examples of chutzpah ever uttered by town councilors, the Ostrich report on the Eldridge vote contains this passage:

Wilson and Councilor David Watson said their votes in opposition were because they said the full council ought to have been present during the vote.

We’re beside Side’s selves on this one.  Shirley that’s the way the votes will be seen by those in the know. 


Note that this time, Bert didn’t echo Ernie; they voted the same, but used different reasons for their stance.


Technorati Tags: ,

Friday, September 19, 2014

Breaking News….well, not really.


We have ‘breaking news’ for you, at least in one sense.  But ‘breaking’ is not the same as ‘surprising.’

Several days ago, we posted an item that looked like this:

Breaking News: NNEPRA fails to win 2014 TIGER 6 Grant

A little over a month ago, we posted these two items:

in which we went to some length giving you background info on NNEPRA’s application for a 2014 TIGER 6 Grant.

The basics are shown in this table from the Grant Narrative document:


To refresh you, the overall context here is the “Downeaster Service Optimization Project,” with a total project estimate of $30 million.  As you can see, NNEPRA took the position that they already have $16 million in hand, and applied for $14 million as their Grant Request to complete the funding profile.

In an announcement here dated today, September 12, 2014, the 2014 awards have been announced, and NNEPRA was not among the winning applications.

The ‘breaking news’ is that more than a week after the announcement, no media outlet, as we’ve already said, finds the loss of $14 million in funds on a $30 million project newsworthy.

We’re reminded, strangely enough, of the story about the $247,000 totally forgivable loan to Brunswick Taxi.  A story that was broken on these pages, and only appeared in ‘mainstream media outlets’ weeks later.  Because they were so damned busy carrying other stories that were far more important to local readers, and there’s a shortage of newsprint and ink.


So thanks, Yogi.  You’re a great American.


And to the conventional media outlets guarding our freedoms and our interests, time for you to give us the ball and head for the showers. 

You’ve lost your “stuff.”  And we’re worried you might soil your bed.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sidely’s “Believe it or not……”

Many in our midst consider us an incorrigible anti-government type, and wonder why we come to the discussion table with an instinctive distrust of spending by government authorities, whether at the municipal, state, or federal level.  Or by those sketchy and vaporous entities known as ‘quasi-governmental agencies.’

Look no further for an explanation than this news report we came across today.  It turns out that MRRA, the “Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority,’' has won a $1.5 Million grant to construct a new, 6,500 sf storage facility for snow-removal equipment.

MRRA, we need to remind you, is in the same category as the Maine Turnpike Authority, the Maine State Housing Authority, and lest we forget, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.  Which is to say it is an organization with virtually no legitimate oversight or accountability, and which is praised at every turn for its ‘remarkable contribution to economic development.’  As if the massive funds it expends come from someone else other than you and your neighbors.  And Side.

In other words, it subsists on OPM: “other people’s money.”  Which leads to a particularly cavalier understanding of the term ‘value.’

If you’re the type who keeps a calculator nearby, you might be offended by the fact that a 6,500 sf shed could cost $1.5 Million, or $230 per square foot.  At that rate, a commodious 2500 sf  house would cost nearly $600,000.  That house, of course, would include windows, a basement, plumbing, a kitchen, and any number of other complicated aspects of a family domicile.

Shocking as this all may seem, the worst is yet to come.  And remember, we’re talking here about a place to park snow removal equipment under a roof.  (We feel obliged to tell you that we keep our convertible John Deere lawnmower/snow blower in a shed on the order of 200 sf, along with all our other yard maintenance paraphernalia.)

The ‘worst’ is this passage in the news report:

“The Navy, when it operated the air base on the site, did have a a dedicated snow removal building, but that was found to be larger than needed for civilian use of the airfield.”

To which we reply, in the modern vernacular, AYFKM? 

There is an existing shed for storing such equipment, but it’s TOO BIG?  So you’re going to build a NEW ONE?  For $1.6 MILLION FREAKING DOLLARS?

We suppose that when we eventually sell our home, if the new buyer has a snow blower smaller than our John Deere, he’ll feel it necessary to build a smaller shed, rather than use the one we built.

Could someone please get real?

OK, enough beating on that dead horse; let’s move on to the next one, and see if it stands up and rides off into the sunset.


Nobody, we repeat NOBODY, with the exception of Side, has reported on NNEPRA’s third consecutive rejection of a TIGER Grant Application.  We told you about that in this post:

We set the stage on the TIGER 6 Grant subject in these posts:

For the life of us, we can’t understand why not one single media outlet in Maine has reported on this outcome, which renders NNEPRA short of $14 Million in their proposed $30 Million “Downeaster Service Optimization Project,” a capital plan for only one purpose – expanding service between Portland and Brunswick.

Apparently, the Bangor Daily News, the Portland Press Herald, the Brunswick Times Record, the Forecaster, and various others, don’t consider this meaningful news worthy of being reported to the general population.  What a great indication of their ‘government watchdog’ role in service to the general public.

On to the next item.  Even though we’re getting a bit tired at this late hour.


We told you of proposals to pilot commuter bus service in communities between Portland and Brunswick in this post:

Today we came across a news report stating that Freeport’s town council has given ‘strong support’ to the idea.  Not only that, but the numbers are looking better than initially estimated.

So lest you think a passenger train is the only alternative to  personal auto travel (or a horse and buggy for the more traditional among you), be advised that others are at work to compete with the highly subsidized Downeaster rail service.

Fill ‘em up, Pardner!


Alright; now we’re even MORE tired, but we have one more subject to discuss.  The Brunswick Bobbsey Twins, and many others, posting on published news articles, have stood up for NNEPRA’s commitment to complying with each and every environmental regulation associated with operation of the Downeaster.

We’re quick to admit that we’re not subject area experts in such things.  But we’re also not prone to tying our shorts in knots with the cabbage that fell off yesterday’s truck and wrapping them around the axle of the noon balloon as it arrives in Brunswick.

So we can’t help but wonder about this recent photo of a Downeaster engine being refueled at the Cedar Street “Park and Ride” lot just east of the Spring Street overpass, and just steps away from the front door of the MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program building.

Apparently the contractor doing the refueling is a licensed dealer from Massachusetts.  It remains to be seen whether that raises any issues or not.

But could someone please explain to us why a contractor from Massachusetts had to refuel a train at its northern most terminus in Maine, in a Park and RIde lot accessible to the general public, without any obvious means for containing spillage or any other hazardous consequences of such a procedure?


We look first to NNEPRA, which operates the Downeaster.  Perhaps they’d say the train was ‘running on fumes,’ and had to be refueled in order to make it back to Portland.  To which we would say, ‘what; these things don’t have fuel gauges?’  And there are no fuel suppliers in the nearby area?

Even more, given the ‘regular’ schedule for Downeater service, isn’t there a standard operating procedure for seeing that trains are refueled on a predictable basis?

Which leads us to raise a question heard elsewhere recently:  “Is this any way to run a railroad?”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update News Alerts: Tuesday’s edition

As sometimes happens in this business, news can break after the initial story has been filed.  We strive, of course, to keep our efforts as fresh and up to date as we can.

Today we come to you with two such updates.

<p>The first has to do with this post:, which we filed just yesterday.

The response to this story has exceeded all expectations, and we can tell you now with confidence that Freeport and Brunswick want this dump built.

Those words may sound a bit familiar, but it’s probably just your imagination.  We do trust that cognizant authorities will give the views of Freeport the consideration they deserve. </p>

Now for the second story, which relates to this post:


In the post, we told you how NNEPRA had failed to win a $14 million TIGER 6 Grant from DOT, and how that would complicate their plans for a $30 million Service Optimization Project that deals with capital improvements between Portland and Brunswick, including the Maintenance and Layover Facility adjacent to the Bouchard Drive neighborhood.

According to other sources, however, this don’t make no never mind.  We read today in a posted comment by Benet Doneit to an article published yesterday in the PPH that:

“They have the funding secured through other sources.
Build it there, build it now.”

We’re not familiar with Mr. Doneit, but the name somehow rings a bell.  That aside, he appears closely connected to NNEPRA authorities and inside information.  Either that, or Mr. D has a lot of guile.

If Doneit is right, we can’t help but wonder whether NNEPRA has some legal exposure for not revealing their other funding sources in the TIGER application to DOT.  We’ll leave that to the attorneys to figure out.  We know they have several available to them for pro bono work.

Though some could be occupied on other ‘landmark’ legal cases.

Technorati Tags: ,,,