Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When you’re gambling with OPM, the sky’s the limit, and the possibilities are endless……


We think we’ve told you before that we’re a devoted fan of “The Great American Songbook,” which includes songs like ‘Pennies From Heaven.’ 

Don’t you know each cloud contains…pennies from heaven.  You’ll find your fortune falling….all over town; make sure that your umbrella…is upside down!” 

We can recite the lyrics of the song even now, more than 50 years since we put nickels in the Juke Box at Dee’s Luncheonette, so we could listen to Sinatra sing it.

If only today’s record setting downpour would have left pennies on our roads and driveways.

You know what?  That really doesn’t matter when OPM is so readily available. 

“Stella?  Get Cole Porter on the line, and tell him we have an idea for a new song…..OPM from heaven.  And bring me one of those cigars, will ya’ Hon?”

Shirley, you must remember our friends the Oppem sisters, don’t you?  Moppem, Soppem, and Foppem we call them.

All three joined us at a gala “Rally for Passenger Rail” in Auburn last Thursday night.  At least in spirit.  The event was put on by the Passenger Rail Coalition whose logo is shown above.

On this great occasion, we heard Patsy Quinn, ED of NNEPRA, affirm that her goals are to have “4 to 5 round trips daily” between Brunswick and Boston, and “6 round trips per day” between Portland and Brunswick.  NNEPRA, of course, is the state agency that operates the Amtrak Downeaster, so those of you who enjoy the coming and going of the train at Maine Street Station can look forward to triple the current movements to and fro.

These disclosures were more or less an incidental bonus to the main subject of the gathering, which was the expansion of passenger rail to Lewiston/Auburn, Bethel, and points beyond, like Montreal.

We provided some excerpts of the parameters associated with this sort of expansion a few weeks back in this post.  Here are the highlights:

MDOT Aug 11 Portland North 1

MDOT Aug 11 Portland North 2

For Bethel, the particulars are equally appealing:

MDOT Aug 11 Portland North 3

MDOT Aug 11 Portland North 4

A bit of follow-up on your part will show that capital investments up front include additional train sets, new Layover Facilities, and new stations, among other things.

A friend of ours, a transport professional, looked at the numbers above and determined the operating subsidy would be over $100 per rider.


But as passenger rail advocates in New Hampshire have said, ‘it’s worth the gamble.’  Of course it is in their conception; going to Las Vegas, or in this case, the Oxford Casino, and playing with someone else’s money, can only have an upside.

Seriously; what’s the worst that could happen?

And the best?

Remember the old days when mobster movies referred to cash money as ‘lettuce?’  OPM is the new, non-GMO, sustainably raised version of ‘lettuce,’ and out there in Western Maine, they apparently believe it’s available in ample measure.

With a tasty dip and a few sides to make it more attractive.

Media coverage of the event included this photo:


In case you don’t recognize him, this is Tony O’Donnovan, founder of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition, and tireless lobbyist for passenger rail in Augusta.  The same Toney Donovon who called your humble correspondent a Richard (well, actually, a common nickname for Richard), and who testified in March at a hearing for LD 323 as follows:

My name is Tony Donovan, Portland resident commercial realtor specializing in site location of development at train stations. I have been involved in passenger rail for over a decade. I was the first Realtor to market the Brunswick Maine Street Train Station site, the Realtor who attracted a $100 million dollar investor to the station site in Portland and I am working with municipalities and investors at similar sites
around New England.

The towns and cities served by the Downeaster Amtrak passenger rail between Boston and Brunswick, like their counterparts across the nation, are realizing exponential economic prosperity at the sites served by passenger train stations.

He’s a legend in his own mind in Brunswick, and the authority declaring that we’re experiencing ‘exponential economic prosperity,’ whatever the hell that is, because of the Downeaster.  And he adds the credibility of the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club to that declaration.

How could you not be impressed?

And how could you not tell everyone else that it’s certainly been worth the gamble here in Cape Brunswick?

                   Ladies of Brunswick

Even if the “Ladies of Brunswick,” who formed All Aboard Brunswick, frown on gambling.  Though they’re known to make exceptions for special cases, especially when advocated by handsome young men like Tony.

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