I have been reading statutes for years and become accustomed to the meaningless rhetoric used to assert the noblest motivations and philosophy as a way of packaging, for public consumption, a thoroughly corrupt system. I am here in presenting some reality checks on rhetoric found in the Camoin Report, quoted above, and commissioned by the Joint Economic Development Council (JECD) of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor and paid for by the taxpayers of the two towns.
Economic Development Action Plan Matrix Objectives in the Action Plan Matrix are intended to address change and leverage the Boothbay Region’s assets to best meet future needs while reflecting community values. Strategies were derived from data analysis, stakeholder interviews, the work session, research, and review of previous planning documents. When applicable initiatives build upon actions that are currently underway or have been suggested previously as part of prior planning efforts, while other initiatives focus on economic development best practices and an understanding of the issues facing the region and individual communities. The actions within the Economic Development Action Plan encourage a cooperative approach to regional economic development, to foster an environment that is welcoming, creative, economically active and dynamic to the needs of residents. It is important to note that while these are important goals/objectives right now, the ever-changing economy, as well as fluctuating state and national priorities, may dictate adjustments to the Plan. It should be stressed that this was a regional effort by Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Edgecomb and Southport (???) to proactively pursue an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the entire peninsula’s future. Additionally, economic development is a shared responsibility across the community, from policy leaders and elected officials to business owners and residents. Implementation of the Plan will require the talent, energy, and expertise of individuals across the peninsula. (emphasis mine) Camoin Report, pg 8
"Master plans" are plans for rapid changes to a community. Changes that take place at a slower pace do not have master plans, other than God's plan. Slower changes take place with the involvement of a greater number of people from more greatly diversified factions interacting over time. Slow change has long been a distinctive character of the Boothbay Region. When I returned to the region in the early nineties, driving with a friend, in a journey which started in the completely manicured landscape of the Hamptons on Long Island, taking the ferry to New London, Connecticut where the manicured landscape gave way to scattered working waterfronts. When we got to Maine, my friend remarked: "This place is different", and so it was, comparatively having hardly changed at all since I had left about a quarter of a century earlier.
"Community values" is used in the report to connote the values of the faction wanting a rapid transformation of the communities on the peninsula via a master plan. Those "community values" are decided by the JECD which seeks to become a public-private board managing the economy of the whole peninsula with powers provided by the State Legislature as written about in my last post The JECD consulted with a select group of businesses listed on page 27 of the Camoin Report, but there are many subcultures of the peninsula not represented therein, yours truly included.
Given the legal basis for the JECD's formation as provided by the state, and the goal to control an expanded geographical area, incorporating multiple municipalities, and numerous other factors, the JECD is arguably an unofficial instrument of the public-private state representing the values, thereof. The JECD is seeking to solidify central management of the peninsula economy, consistent with the governing philosophy of the state since it became a public-private government in 1976.
Excuse me, while I indulge a digression on instruments of the state. The state has since chartered three former military bases as "municipal corporations serving as instruments of the state" as if charting a municipal corporation is permissible pursuant to the Maine Constitution. Not so! The wording of the Constitution makes an exception "for municipal purposes". All instruments of the state serve state purposes. For consistency with the Constitution, a municipal corporation must be an instrument of the municipality, serving municipal purposes, which, until I read the innovative Maine statutes, I thought that a municipal corporation served municipal purposes, by definition! It was astute that the Legislature of 1876 had the foresight to word Section 14 as "except for municipal purposes", rather than "except for municipal corporations". Perhaps because it was a time similar to our own and the authors of the constitutional amendment were aware of how inventively language can be used to all ends.
All corporations are subject to general laws, which makes all three municipal corporations serving as instruments of the state, subject to Title 30-A: MUNICIPALITIES AND COUNTIES, a legal conundrum worthy of the legal construction of the three city-states.
Section 14. Corporations, formed under general laws. Corporations shall be formed under general laws, and shall not be created by special Acts of the Legislature, except for municipal purposes, and in cases where the objects of the corporation cannot otherwise be attained; and, however formed, they shall forever be subject to the general laws of the State.
Section thirteen presents a discretionary field of action which your own honor will impel you to occupy to the fullest extent.'The title of 'Special and Private Laws,' which includes so large a portion of the laws of former Legislatures, is an obnoxious one, conveying suggestions of privilege, favoritism and monopoly; though happily these evils have not in fact, stained the character of our legislation, they should not be suffered to have, even in the form of our laws, any grounds of suspicion that can be removed. Other weighty objections to special laws for private benefit are, that they are obtained at the public expense, and in their passage distract the attention of legislators from matters of public interest. The opportunity is now afforded, and the duty enjoined upon you, by the amendment, to restrict the necessity for such laws to the narrowest possible limits. An analysis and classification of the private and special laws upon the statute books, will inform you of the objects for which it is desirable to provide by general laws, if practicable. 'Many objects have been hitherto specially legislated upon although they were amply provided for by general laws. I have distinguished authority for the statement that sixty or more of the corporations created by a special act for each, by the last Legislature, could have been created and organized under general laws. The reason why the general laws have not been resorted that's it a greater extent, is not, so far as I am informed, to be found in any insufficiency or defect of those laws, but in the greater ease and simplicity of the method of application to the Legislature and in the fancied higher [146 Me. 323] sanction of an authority proceeding directly from it. Section fourteen, relating to corporations is compressive and peremptory.. It relates to all corporations, except only those for municipal purposes. It clearly prohibits their creation by special acts if the objects desired can be secured under existing general laws.' From Governor Seldon Conner's Inaugural Address 1876 - found in The Maine Constitution- A reference guide by Marshall J Tinkl
In 1976, clever politicians found a way around the constitutional restrictions against the Legislature chartering corporations, and the special laws for private benefit, obtained at the public expense, which Governor Connor railed so passionately against. The centrally managed economy was deemed to be an "essential" government function at a moment in time when Maine had been a state for 176 years without such a government function. The only sort of government in which a centrally managed economy is essential are totalitarian governments, Totalitarian governments, be they of fascist or communists flavor, rally against individualism, central to the American political philosophy. The free enterprise system is the only economic system consistent with the sovereignty (freedom) of the individual on which the American political philosophy is based. The transformation of Maine's free enterprise system to a centrally managed economy was not decided by a public referendum as was the Home Rule Amendment, added to the Constitution, seven years previous. There was no constitutional amendment putting into place a radical change in the governing philosophy of Maine. The transformation of Maine into a centrally managed economy was achieved through the actions of that group of people, which, in mirrored concert, the Camoin Report refers to as "the community leaders". The original board, brought into being by Governor Longley, composed exclusively of the heads of the largest and wealthiest corporations in the state, openly plotted against the Maine Constitution when they included as one of their primary goals the intention "to eliminate the requirement for a local referendum on municipal bond issues" constitutionally authorized by the Home Rule Amendment, only seven years previously.
In 1985, The Maine Legislature chartered the FAME corporation (Financial Authority of Maine) by special act of legislation and included this rhetoric, returning Maine to its monopolistic roots, awe-inspiring if only for it's sheer audacity:
Words from The Financial Authority of Maine corporate charter:
The authority will serve a public purpose and perform an essential governmental function in the exercise of the powers and duties conferred upon it by this chapter. Any benefits accruing to private individuals or associations, as a result of the activities of the authority, are deemed by the Legislature to be incidental to the public purposes to be achieved by the implementation of this chapter. [1985, c. 344, §5 (AMD).]
The public purposes to be achieved has not been identified beyond concentration and redistribution of wealth and the trickle-down effect. One might say "what about job creation?" but job creation benefits individuals and factions, and not the general public. Only the trickle-down effect can be construed as a general benefit. The words above can be interpreted to mean any redistribution of wealth going to private interests is incidental to the trickle-down effect which is assumed to occur when the state directly benefits private interests and that benefit "spills over" to the rest of the economy. It is effectively a denial of special benefits going to private interests because the special benefit is necessary before there can be a trickle-down effect from private profit. This rationale is so accepted that it need only be cited without substantiation:
While there are certain locations in the region that may garner more economic activity than others, an investment in one portion of the region has positive spillover effects for each community. Camoin Report, pg 8
The Maine statistics complement a report released last month by the Congressional Budget Office showing that real, after-tax income grew by 275 percent from 1979 to 2007 for the top 1 percent of the population with the highest income. By comparison, the six out of 10 residents in the middle of the scale saw real income rise by under 40 percent during the period .Portland Press Herald November 16 2011
Maine has 6,838 earners in top 1 percent, averaging $810,805
Understanding the CPI
A Consumer Price Index of 158 indicates 58% inflation since 1982. The commonly quoted inflation rate of say 3% is actually the change in the Consumer Price Index from a year earlier. By looking at the change in the Consumer Price Index we can see that what cost an average of 9.9 cents in 1913 would cost us about $1.82 in 2003, $2.02 in 2007 and $2.33 in 2013 See Table  www.InflationData.comPer the table on Inflationdata.com, from 1979 to 2007, the income of Maine's middle sector increased by under 40% while the spending power of the dollar decreased by 70%. The combined effect factors out to a 38% decrease in spending power.
During the same time frame, the top 1% of Maine's economy saw a spending power increase of 112.5%. The middle class is receding into history.
Every step the JECD has taken, excepting the advertising campaign coordinated with the Botanical Gardens, is found in the plan created by Camoin Associates It's neither a bad plan nor an exceptional one. The question is, why couldn't the JECD come up with an equivalent plan on their own at less cost to the taxpayers? The data presented in the plan is useful but can be sourced from government websites. Directing a software application to generate a diagram is a basic skill, not an advanced one. A small investment in one or two local professionals and apprenticing bright young high school students would engage hands-on community involvement inclusive of the age group the community is seeking to retain. What better way to retain the young than by providing them with meaningful opportunities? Why not start with what we have, here and now?
Economic development begins with a seed, or visions of what can be. It takes time and patience to find the right vision, equitably for the common good. Why rush?
The following was posted in an online conversation. It was written in the same era in which Article IV Part Third Sections 13 & 14 were added to the Maine Constitution. This type of discussion has been missing in Maine media as the public-private state becomes more deeply entrenched: