Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Pennell Institute: Part Duh!

The Pennell Institute: Part Duh!

Initially I was going to formulate this piece around the concept of “Majority” and how it applies to the current Pennell question. I will touch briefly on that subject but, a recent incident or two has caught my attention that I feel I must address.

Friday last, October 17th a group encouraging a no vote on the Pennell question put out signs in various locations throughout the town. The locations of choice were both legal and public. The ones I noticed were along side the road by a very old Graveyard just past the center of town. You have to wait at a traffic light on most nights so the area is ideal for many political campaigns. There are signs everywhere, promoting Tom Allen, Susan Collins, Sue Austin, as well as a few from Fed Up with Taxes, asking people to vote “Yes on One”.

By Saturday morning the 18th fifteen plus of the signs had been removed in an attempt to silence the Save Pennell group’s voice. No other signs, except the Pennell ones were touched. Regardless as to how one feels about this particular proposal, the act of removing and destroying the signs is contrary to our fundamental belief in freedom of speech. That is why there are laws prohibiting the molestation, disfigurement and or destruction of political placards and signs during the election season. I am deeply disturbed by not only the audacity of this criminal act, but also by the idea that someone finds that such behavior is acceptable or justified. I very much would like to tear down every Obama /Biden sign, burn them publicly and roast marsh mellows over the flames. I care not for their message or what that ticket represents. Alas, I restrain myself, for in this country people can express their views even when in opposition to my own. So I do not destroy the opposition’s property in some form of angry protest, nor do I attempt to silence them by denying them any medium in which they chose to convey their message.

This act of vandalism is unacceptable in the extreme and needs to be pursued vigorously by the authorities. I expect that this will be low on the list of items the town council and Sheriffs Department have on their agenda, but it should not be thus. By allowing or ignoring such an infringement on the one freedom we all hold so dear, a precedent will and can be set.

October 2nd in the Gray Independent Tracey Scheckel was quoted as saying:

“There is a vocal minority in this town who can’t deal with the prospect of

I was a little annoyed by this statement for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is it’s dismissive tone. As I wrote before in {The Pennell Institute: Part Uh!} People have some very strong views when it comes to this old building, and those views ensure that debate is heated. However, emotion should not supersede civility for if it does then we might as well start bashing each other over the head with clubs to make our respective points. I will try to be civil whilst I break down this faulty statement of the Gray Town Council’s Vice chairperson.

The very vocal minority, of which Vice Chair Scheckel speaks, are the Citizens, Taxpayers, and community minded people of Gray. They are her Constituents, who upon being elected to office, she is supposed to represent along with the majority. This “Minority” has not only the right, but the duty, to call into question any action that their government might propose, and to dissent if necessary. This is basic to our political system and should be understood by any who hold office, high or low. To dismiss these people and their concerns in such a fashion is unbecoming of an elected official.

The status of Minority as it compares to a Majority in this debate has yet to be determined. We will need to wait for the results of the ballot on Nov. 4th before we can say definitively whether or not who is actually the larger group. To say that those who oppose this move are in the minority now is misleading for all the data is not in yet.

The second half of Tracy’s sentence accuses the people who wish to save Pennell of being resistant to any kind of change. This is hogwash pure and simple!

I contend that the opposite holds true for the supporters of the Save Pennell group. By trying to stop the Town Council from borrowing $2.4 million dollars that we as citizens cannot afford, they are saying ENOUGH! They are trying to CHANGE how their local government spends tax dollars and are asking for their representatives to be more fiscally responsible. The time has come for the town council to Change how they do business, they need to be more prudent in their spending and conservative in their borrowing. The people of Gray have the opportunity and duty, to convey that message to the council with a no vote on November 4th.

No, Miss Scheckel the Save Pennell folks and the citizens of Gray are not resistant to change, they are promoting it.

In the end it will fall to each of us to decide what is to be done with the Pennell Institute, I personally will be voting No on the question as I could not live with myself if I did otherwise. I cannot in good conscience align myself with any group that allows the suppression of speech or who believes that dissent is of little import. Nor can I allow things to continue on as they have fiscally in our town budgets and our community borrowing habits. As it is last night’s performance by the council and the rubberstamp they tried to put on it, the fight for Change will be a tough one.



This about sums up the Acorn situation.

The sad fact that this organization is even allowed to exist frightens me quite a bit. Voter Fraud was a crime the last time I looked and any organization that fosters or promotes said criminal act should be prosecuted in full as well as be disbanded. I for one feel that if Acorn needs to register dead people, illegal immigrants, and toddlers, in the hopes of getting Senator Obama elected, then that fact alone is testament to not only their view of this country, but of their candidate of choice as well.

Here is a news flash for all you bleeding hearts:

If you are not 18 years old.....You do not have the right to vote
If you are in this country illegally....You do not have the right to
If you are in this country on a Visa.....You do not get to vote
If you are DEAD and in the afterlife...You definitely do not get the right
to vote.
And lastly, If you are a citizen of this country...You do have the right to
vote, but only ONCE!

Acorn and their supporters are guilty of not only the base criminal act of voter fraud, they are also actively undermining one of the most fundamental freedoms we enjoy. Take a close look everybody, for what Acorn and Barack are doing to the people of this nation is but the beginning. Rest assured if elected not only will the power of our vote be destroyed, but so too will our other fundamental beliefs and freedoms suffer assault.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Pennell Institute: Part Uh?

The Pennell Institute is an old, dark, and somewhat forbidding red brick building in the town of Gray, Maine, which has been the cause of one controversy or another for years. For the past six years I have seen article upon article discussing this building written in local papers. I have listened to different people express some very strong views as to this building and its fate, helping to ensure emotions run high on any issue surrounding it.

I personally, have never been inside this historic structure. Even if I had wanted to go and look it over to appease my inquisitive nature, I doubt I would have done of my own accord. For, as I stated before, the look and feel of it is not really inviting. This could probably be attributed to the fact that it is in something of disrepair. The grounds are a little unkempt and the windows remain dark even on bright days. Even if I was able to overcome my childish fears associated with monolithic old buildings and ventured to the doors, I do not think I would gain entrance. People do go in and out of the Pennell Building. I have seen pictures to prove that fact, but to date; I have yet to witness the act of a living being going through the doors. Funding for upkeep, most definitely, is the root cause of this state.

Regardless of my personal fears and ideas as to the structure, I have been silent on all the issues and debates surrounding Pennell until now.

Now many may feel that I, of all people, am not qualified to voice an opinion on the recent controversy surrounding the Pennell Institute. They might say that six years is not long enough to garner all of the facts and gather the information needed to cover the long standing controversy surrounding this historic site. Although I may admit to the validity of that argument, as I am going to address the most recent issue, and in that this issue will directly affect me, I need to put forth my take on the situation.

On September 2nd 2008 a report was put on the Gray Town website which goes by the title: Town Office Village Concepts Report. According to this document, the Council is advocating that the Town borrow 2.4 Million Dollars (bond) to renovate the Pennell Institute and to move the Town Office into the renovated building.

On the surface, this idea looks sound in that it utilizes an existing structure, to meet the needs of the community. However, the more I find myself looking at this proposal, the more I am completely and utterly unconvinced that this is the best plan. For starters let’s look at whether or not the community really “needs” to move the town offices at this time.

To advocate for a move of such costly proportions, the Town should establish a well-defined need. For example: the current town office is a hazard to its employees, or that it poses a danger to the community in some way i.e. a fire hazard. To date, I have heard no such arguments put forth to establish a reason for such a move that proves to me that this is necessary. Town business can continue to function, meetings can still be held at Stimpson Hall or Newbegin Gym and as far as I can tell no one is going to die if this bond does not pass. Yet the proposal is on the table all the same. I wonder if the members of the Town Council have been privy to any type of newscast as of late? I am sure that in their eagerness to help the Gray taxpayer they have been unable to get to a television set and see that the nation’s economy is under serious duress. I fault them not, for they are “working hard” after all.

Sarcasm aside, I have no choice but to assume that the council members are feeling the same pressures we all are in our personal finances due to the current economic crisis. That being the case, we can conclude that each and every one of them is taking the same actions in their personal lives to cut costs and unnecessary spending. I am sure that they prioritize their spending and are worried about their own financial future just like you and me.

So I ask: “If the council members can prioritize their personal finances and limit their spending at home, why then can they not apply the same principles to their duties as members of the council?” For, as I have established this proposal has not been justified as needed. This very contradiction in behavior is one of the greatest problems we face not only on the local level but in the state and federal areas of government as well.

Right, I must also point out that some of the logic being used for the financing of this project is not only poorly thought out, but in my opinion, completely inane. Though I am sure some very “hard work” was done to piece it all together, I just can’t get my head around it.

In the Village Concepts Report they propose to “offset” some of the cost with projected sales of unused town property. I read projected sales as property not yet sold but a value has been placed upon it all the same. Sort of like the Blue Book trade in value of a car. If the property is not sold yet, then how do we know such proposed valuations are accurate? With the serious decline of property values these past eight months can we be sure the numbers applied will actually be the same when and if said property is sold? If these properties sell for less than the value applied then the Bond (loan) principle will be all that much larger, so too the interest. Notwithstanding the fact that the fluctuations in the real estate market are trending downward and that the value placed upon these properties may be false, we also must remember that these same properties are not even sold yet. This looks like padding the butcher’s bill to make it more appealing to the voter.

I feel that if the same properties that are deemed “Projected sales” are actually worth what the council says then they should sell said properties first. Thereby accomplishing two things:

1. Gaining actual proceeds from the sale which will cut maintenance costs
permanently ( not to mention tax revenue from the new purchaser)
2. Applying
said sales proceeds to the project as cash, which, if all the other math pans
out, would reduce the bond (loan) principle and consequently the interest.

By using projected sales the council in essence, is “counting their chickens before they hatch”. Which we all learned in our youth, is something one should not do.

Basically, what I am saying is that the Citizens of Gray should reject the Proposed Pennell bond issue as the Council has failed to meet even the most basic of criteria in their proposal. They have not taken into account the current economic climate in which the taxpayers are forced to make do with the resources at hand. They have not established a definitive need for the borrowing package ( need being those things one must have to continue on) and they have failed to properly deal with current town assets in that they are using projected sales as an actual dollar figure.

There is so much more……

My next piece will deal with what it means to have a majority and how it applies to the Pennell Institute aptly titled The Pennell Institute: part Duh!