Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kathy Wilson: Town Councilor, diehard environmentalist, and rail fan. Well, sort of kind of, ….

We assume our readers are familiar with Kathy Wilson, a long time resident but relatively new town councilor here in Brunswick.  But in case you can’t recall her, here’s a photo of her we found on the internet:


It’s a photo that inspires some bemusement, if not amusement.  Our first reaction was that it calls for a caption contest, so we sent out a call for suggestions over our underground connection, and received these:
  • “Don’t look now, councilor, but there’s a Q-Tip stuck in your ear.  Or is that an avant garde earing?”
  • “Just between us girls, Kathy; does this little hat make my head look fat?”
  • “Don’t tell Wayne Davis I said this, but I agree with him.  We should never have brought the train to Brunswick.”
  • “You and I should start a taxi company; there seems to be good money in it if you have the right connections.  We can call it Turtleneck Taxi.”
  • “Suzie, I think this fleece throw would keep your head warmer than that silly little beanie you have on.”
  • “I think I need a bigger yarmulke; do you know where I can get one?”
  • This last one came in the form of a graphic:

Kathy put up a web site in support of her campaign for town council, which included this photo:


It’s probably just us, but after reading her web page, our guess is that the “40 year” statement on the sign is an attemp to infer she’s been doing pet grooming for 40 years, when her published resume appears to say otherwise.

The web site is here:  Kathy self-identifies as an environmental advocate; she makes clear her concerns about the town dump (we mean landfill) on the distant outskirts of town.  From her website (emphasis ours):
With the 2011 closing of the Naval Air Station coupled with the slow recovery from the 2008 economic collapse, Brunswick is facing tough challenges. As a member of Town Council, I will work hard to make Brunswick an attractive, affordable hometown for all: families, seniors, businesses and institutions.
I will closely monitor spending to ensure that our tax dollars are invested responsibly and that we plan for the future as we address short-term needs.  I believe a good education to be a fundamental right and essential to our nation's prosperity.  I pay my school taxes willingly, but expect them to be spent wisely.  In addition to the children, we must look to the needs of all Brunswick citizens, especially the elderly and disadvantaged who also need our help. 
Thoughtful environmental stewardship will protect our health, provide recreation,  and attract tourism.  We must address the issue of environmental hazards at the Graham Road landfill soon and identify a solution that fills our long-term needs. We also need to continue to monitor the progress of hazardous waste cleanup on the former Naval Air Station to ensure that Brunswick Landing is the safe, successful redevelopment that this community expects and deserves.

If we’ve been reading the news right, Councilor Kathy has also been a staunch supporter of the BYOB and ban styrofoam movements here in B’town.

None-the-less, she practices, at least in public, a sort of ‘pick and choose’ environmentalism, as amply demonstrated in testimony she gave at the DEP public hearing regarding the NNEPRA SWPA permit application.  You might even say she applies political expediency as a rule.

Here’s what she had to say at the March 25th event held at the Brunswick Golf Course, copied directly from the official transcript:
13 MS. WILSON: In the interest of the
14 environment, I only made a couple of extra copies to
15 save trees. You can share.
16 My name is Kathy Wilson. I live on Pleasant
17 Street here in Brunswick and I was born in Brunswick so
18 I'm a life-long resident.
19 Good evening and thank you for the
20 opportunity to speak this evening about the proposed
21 Brunswick layover facility and its need for a stormwater
22 permit. I am an at large counselor on the Brunswick
23 Town Council and as I said before, I live on Pleasant
24 Street, about as close to the facility as many other of
25 the opponents to this project. In fact, I'm only about
(page 256)
1 1,200 feet from the tracks and a short distance further
2 than that where the end of the facility will be.
3 I hope and encourage the Maine DEP to
4 reapprove the stormwater permit that was first issued in
5 November of 2013. It is clear to me that the Northern
6 New England Passenger Authority has jumped through all
7 the required hoops and hurtles to meet the criteria of
8 the permit. And frankly as an elected official, I am
9 dismayed at this otherwise straightforward process that
10 has become a political football, a football that has
11 cost the applicant thousands of dollars because of a
12 simple technical glitch when the DEP first granted the
13 permit. Imagine if the applicant had been a small or
14 mid-size business. There isn't a business that could
15 have afforded to do this every week to pay the amount of
16 money to wade through the mounds of bureaucratic red
17 tape that is fueled by a political motivation of a
18 handful of people. In my view, this should be a simple
19 and straightforward process and treated like every other
20 stormwater permit in the state.
21 I thank you for the opportunity to
22 expression my thoughts on this matter, and I hope you
23 will reapprove the stormwater permit. Thank you.

A few random thoughts on the above.  First, this IS NOT “like every other stormwater permit in the state.”  This was one state agency seeking approval from another state agency; exactly the opposite of a private business entity applying to DEP.

“Political motivation of a handful of people?”  Some might think that perfectly describes the BYOB and ban styrofoam advocacy, but so what, right Kathy?

“Dismayed” over a “political football?”  Wow; what a perfect description of the MLF situation.
We’re pretty sure that she figuratively, if not literally, has called the Bouchard Drive neighborhood  group opposing MLF construction a bunch of whiners and NIMBY’s, which gives her common cause with the carriage set and the All Aboard Brunswick Kool-Aid Krowd.  Q-Tip stuck in her ear or not.

All of which makes us curious as to why Councilor Kathy has recently decided to relocate her domicile, including her business.  This annotated visual from Google Earth depicts her curious response to a recent, very noticeable change in her PERSONAL environment.


To summarize, as we gauge things, Wilson’s business/residence of long standing on outer Pleasant St was about 800 ft from the area where MLF construction is underway, not 1200 ft as she stated in her testimony.

Her new home base at the corner of Cushing and Cumberland is about 3500 ft from the same point, or more than four times more distant from the grand new industrial facility she so fervently supports.  We’re pretty sure this means the sound and vibration levels she’ll personally experience are reduced by even more; attenuation of each is non-linear.


Side, as always, looks for the rationale behind such things.  Perhaps it’s to improve the exposure for her business, which she quickly re-established at her new location.

The Cushing/Cumberland crossroads are widely recognized as a hotbed of commercial activity, especially compared to her former Pleasant St/Rte 1 location, and we’re sure BDA officials endorse Wilson’s cunning move.  After all, location is everything, right?

Just to confirm this, we checked average daily traffic figures that can be found here:

The average daily vehicle traffic for Pleasant Street in her former location is 30,000 vehicles plus per day.  Average daily vehicle traffic for Cumberland St at her new location is reported as 760.  So the genius of her relocation is readily apparent.

You agree, don’t you?  This is the same sort of logic applied when the usual suspects rave about the exponential economic prosperity brought to Brunswick by Downeaster passenger rail service.  And we’re not even going to mention the panache associated with moving closer to the influential residents of Cumberland Street.


While the business rationale may not make sense to the rest of us, there is another possible cause for the move.

Maybe “Change” told her owner she wasn’t too happy about the major change underway in their neighborhood.

Funny how that works.

PS:  As long as we’re on the subject, why not read this article as well:

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