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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Opening to the Future?

The Rockland Free Press reports that energy magnate
Matthew Simmons has assembled a group that plans to buy the former MBNA complex on the South End of Rockland's waterfront. Simmons, who has already contributed to Rockland's rebirth by injecting millions of dollars into the rehabilitation of the Strand Theater , now plans to use the waterfront facility to site a Water Institute, which he describes as a place:
where research scientists could work in a collaborative environment on energy issues related to fresh and salt water, may take two to three years to come to fruition. “The idea was on hold until we got the building.… Now I can gear up and spend more time on it. In the meantime we can make the building a viable commercial success. It will be good for the midcoast.”
The Courier Gazette provides this account of the planned agreement.

In a case of interesting timing, last Sunday's NY Times Magazine included a cover story that posed the philosophical question following its headline,
What Should A Billionaire Give -- namely, "Why should a billionaire give?"

Pondering the author's self-interest v. altruism conundrum is all well and good, but in the end, I won't worry about Mr. Simmons' motives so long as the ends provide Rockland with reasonably open access to its harborside and a good faith effort to use the property as a means of injecting an economic development ethos into the city's imagination.

Out with the old

It appears that last summer's
Matinicus Lobster War has achieved a measure of finality, at least for the time. The matter, which I addressed some time back, involved one lobsterman's territorial battle with a group of lobstermen over the privilege to fish waters off the island of Matinicus. It appears that shotguns and cut lines have yielded no more than a $300 fine for the 74 year old fisherman.

In a follow-up to a previously mentioned story, it also appears that CC prosecutors and celebrity lawyer Tom Connolly have agreed to erase the stain of terrorism charges from Connolly's record in exchange for community service and a public apology. Maine Things Considered had this audio report. The lawyer, who gained fame for taking up the cause of convicted murderer Dennis Dechaine in the late 1980s and for revealing details about President Bush's DUI conviction during the 2000 presidential campaign, apparently will make amends by undertaking community service in the name of toy gun safety and donating $500 to the Bruce Roberts Christmas Fund.

In With The New

Looks like the lawyer charged with drafting a Winthrop couple's pre-nup may not get a Christmas card from his deceased client's family this year. Not to mention the sa-weet deal on a used Grenada they had lined up for him …

The little I recall from Family Law I tells me that Courts generally aren't too fond of prenuptial agreements and will strictly pour through them when their enforceability is challenged. As with employment non-compete agreements, anyone who wants to deprive another party of rights that Americans generally regard as sacrosanct better get a good lawyer if she wants to emerge from a court's inquiry with their intended meanness intact.

Permit me to cross reference a piece blogged over at
Words Matter, suggesting that Lewiston stands on the verge of the rebirth so long predicted for it. I guess that the years of TIF creation, mill rehabbing-as-office/retail/restaurant space, and PR spending a-go-go, are starting to pay dividends -- in part due to the advent of Portland commuters into the city's social scene. Interesting related note that I sadly can only reference in passing, as The New Yorker featured a story about Somalis living in Lewiston but carrying on the difficult clan-tensions that divided their homeland. The link only goes to an online exclusive slideshow, as the magazine opted against posting the whole story on the website. I guess I'll have to search out a Dec. 11 issue or wait for Lexis to post it next week.

Scarborough appears poised to become the host of Maine's first large-scale
Smart Growth development, after years of struggling through a referendum and a lawsuit. The Press Herald provided this editorial on Wednesday, recognizing:
One of the hard lessons of Dunstan Corner is that fighting sprawl will require trade-offs. Density in already-populated areas will have an impact on neighborhood traffic conditions. It will bring more students to certain schools. It could even affect property values.

If developers are going to be able to do these kinds of projects, they need towns and cities to have clear zoning rules and to stick by their approvals -- even if that means limiting citizen petition rights.

The payoff will be development that occurs where it makes sense, near existing sewer, water, school and police and fire services. Every dense development in an already populated area will mean less demand for houses in the countryside, preserving open space.

All that is good public policy, but it won't be to everyone's liking. Making the kind of fundamental changes required to alter the existing pattern of development in Maine means big changes.

If sprawl is to be stopped, people have to live differently than they do in other parts of the country. But then again, isn't that what we're trying to preserve in Maine?

Here's a provocative piece by Doug Most in last Sunday's Boston Globe Magazine that questions Tom Brady and David Ortiz for their practice of sharing tips with their counterparts on other teams. Taking a hardline, Most opines:
Helping a Little Leaguer who’s struggling to throw strikes is admirable. Helping an opponent in the pros is not. Obviously, players today are friends. They share the same agents, same endorsements, same colleges, same tax brackets, and they go out to dinner when they visit for games. They might have even played for the same team at some point, thanks to free agency. That’s all fine. But their friendship mustn’t weaken their competitiveness. It’s called Sports, not Games, and it’s big business. Winning and losing do matter. The difference between the Patriots finishing second instead of first means millions of dollars to the team and the city, not to mention heartache to the loyal fans.

Now, that's not very sporting, is it?

The Christian Science Monitor features a piece headlined
New Hampshires Live Free or Die spirit turns less prickly.

Congressional Democrats have apparently drafted a
manifesto of sorts describing their plan for fixing America.

The Boston Herald's Michael Felger provides a decent feature on
Vinnie Testaverde and his impact on Tom Brady.

BH columnist Howie Carr gets cutesy about
Mitt Romney and his apparent capitulation to the PC police.

A South Bristol story involving a summer resident and tree removal from another person's property within the town's Shoreland Zone
continues to fester.

Final thought

The American Prospect highlights Massachusetts Governor-elect Deval Patrick as a rising star within the party. The article suggests that a new wave of aggressive trial lawyers-types turned Governors, including Patrick, New York's Eliot Spitzer, and Ohio's Ted Strickland, are going to create a Progressive backlash to the New Federalist revolution of the 1980s-2000 where states exercising their power free of Congressional efforts to stymie, yield results that Republicans will find a bit unpalatable:
The action in government has been in the states for a while now. “The federal government has increasingly devolved decision-making to the governors,” says Peter Dreier, the E.P Clapp distinguished professor of politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles. This was, in part, an ideological shift: The Gingrich Revolution trumpeted its renewed federalism, enhancing state authority over everything from welfare to Medicaid. States can’t deficit spend, so handing them once-federal responsibilities under the rubric of a restored federalism promised to shrink the expansiveness, generosity, and responsiveness of government services. Federalist lipstick? Meet small-government pig.
Reminds me of a book I read about called Redefining Federalism, which, like the Prospect article, harkens back to Justice Louis Brandeis' note that "It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." The book's jacket copy notes:
If federalism is about protecting the states, why not listen to them? In the last decade, the Supreme Court has reworked significant areas of constitutional law with the professed purpose of protecting the dignity and authority of the states, while frequently disregarding the states' views as to what federalism is all about. The Court, according to the states, is protecting federalism too much and too little. Too much, in striking down federal law where even the states recognize that a federal role is necessary to address a national problem. Too little, in inappropriately limiting state experimentation.

Fine points.


Anonymous Buck Dharma said...

The picture of Nixon standing in the parking lot surrounded by the typical "miracle mile" of Anysuburb, USA. He is such a creature of the dark, backroom, shadows that seeing him in such a prosaic locale is disturbing.

1:06 PM


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