Friday, January 27, 2006

Basic arithmetic using fingers

Lets put this whole finger thing in perspective, shall we? The reason Prata is obsessed with Lynn Olson's upraised digit is this:

More time spent on flipped finger = less time spent on inexcusable council behavior.

Everybody got that? Good. We will now resume our regular programming.

Personal Expression

A college environment encourages free thinking. It also encourages free-spiritedness, which may get a little out of hand . . . That said, the personal expression shown by Lynn Olson is nothing more than that - personal expression. Was it appropriate? In the context of the meeting and the heat of the moment, and based on years of mean-spiritedness by Prattle . . YES. Publishing the photograph is Prattle's sophomoric response to someone who doesn't kowtow to petty antics should be chastised as such, so you are both grounded for a week. If you can't play nice, you will not be invited to any more play dates.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Its getting ugly

Was just told by a source close to the story that a printout of this page was sent anonymously to Lynn Olson's employer.

If true, I can think of only one person in Gray twisted enough to do something like this. Will post more as the facts come out.

Editorial response to The Monument

....from all of the proud members of Gray's many, non-Prata-approved "micro-domination systems".

(Photo credit: Elizabeth Prata. Original here. Always eager to report dissident thought to her Politburo pals, Prata sent this photo to the town council, forerver making it part of the public record.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Clown show continues...

Couple of things noted during intermittent viewing of last night's town council workshop:

1. Andy Upham, self-described man of detail and fiscal micromanager, admitted that his initial cost estimate for renovating the basement of the library was off by 25%. After consulting with Gray's CEO, his lordship now puts the renovation cost at $200,000, up from $160,000. I will have more to say about this project at some point, but for now let me just state that Upham's new number is also a crock. The man is not a construction professional and clearly has no idea what he's doing. His figures are based entirely on a severely outdated 1999 RS Means Construction Cost Data guide from which he has selectively compiled cost categories. Until his recent discussion with Paul White, Upham apparently never discussed this project with anyone even remotely connected to the construction industry. Yet he (and Foster) INSISTED his original estimate (which is on the sidebar at right) was sufficiently accurate to justify proceeding at full speed. Myself, I
don't think this thing can come in at much under $300,000, and with Upham at the helm its a disaster waiting to happen.

2. Upham's ignorance did not prevent him from making it clear that the proposed GPLA engineering review of the library basement renovation was an unwelcome intrusion. The man is probably terrified of what the professionals will say about his plans. Its much easier to just force the thing down the throats of uninformed taxpayers. Upham did, however, make it clear he wants GPLA to raise and contribute a boatload of money for this fiasco -- he just doesn't want them to have a say in how its spent. And did I mention that at last Saturday's budget workshop, Upham also proposed charging first-time-ever library fees for all users in order to pay for his opus?

3. There's almost nothing Gary Foster won't do to score partisan political points, even if its at taxpayer expense. For some time, Foster and Crane have been going on about the Dirigo Health program's impact on insurance costs for town employees. At the beginning of last night's workshop, our council chairman informed us that he had asked Mitch Berkowitz to provide him with data about the program's impact from the Maine Municipal Association, through which the town gets its insurance. Foster declared that the information Mitch obtained proved that Dirigo accounted for a 3% increase in insurance costs. Except for some brief derogatory chitchat, there was no further discussion of this information or any indication why it was relevant -- except as a way to knock Govenror Baldacci during an election year.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about the Guv or Dirigo, Foster's naked partisanship should raise a troubling question: is it now OK for taxpayer-funded town employees to spend time looking up information that is used exclusively for partisan purposes?

Monday, January 23, 2006

A reply from Denise and a response

Denise Duda replied to my earlier email about the retracted Prata letter. Here's my response:

Hi Denise.

Thanks for your followup. I reviewed the Jan. 17 council video. Here's a summary of what transpired during the Prata letter exchange:

Just as you started reading Elizabeth Prata's letter, Gary Foster interrupts you and asks to see it, saying he "knew there was one that she (Prata) had retracted." You then show the letter to Foster and ask him if it had been read at a previous meeting. Foster says he isn't sure. After reviewing the letter for a few moments, Foster says he had received two letters from Prata, one of which Prata read earlier that evening and another that he "canned." He hands the letter back to you, and you say that you would not read a letter that somebody wanted retracted. A few moments later you say you don't know what to do. At this point Prata (off camera) says something about the letter being part of the public record. You ask if you should read it, but due to its length you decide to enter it into the record.

My interest in the retracted letter stems from Gary Foster's apparently arbitrary decision to delete a public document. Once a letter becomes part of the record, it is inconceivable to me that it can be retracted, even by the writer. Foster's deletion of Prata's original letter may qualify as destruction of public documents. Perhaps you can inform him that his action was irresponsible at best and possibly illegal.

Incidentally, I paid fifty cents at town hall to get copies of a document that turned out not to be the retracted document I asked for. I kept the receipt. Can I get a refund?

Thanks again,

----- Original Message -----
Cc: ; ; ; ;
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 10:24 AM
Subject: Re: FOA request

I know there was some mention of a withdrawn letter at the last meeting. I haven't been asked by any citizens to withdraw a letter. The letter I brought was viewed by the author who had no problem with it being read aloud. Either way it would be and was entered into Council record.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Where did it go?

The January 17 council meeting will be best remembered for FUC's remarkable decision to table the CEDC abolishment vote in the face of certain defeat. But there was a small incident that occurred much later in the meeting that was also worth noting. It happened during council correspondence, long after the most of the audience had left.

At the end of her correspondence summary, Denise Duda mentioned three different letters from Elizabeth Prata. The council's ensuing discussion is confusing, but it appears to come down to this: Prata requested that one of her previous letters to council be withdrawn and replaced by a new letter, subject(s) unknown (but possibly related to Prata's comments about Lynn Olson in Nathan's post directly below). Duda also mentioned a letter Prata sent to council dated Dec. 31 that was critical of CEDC. The withdrawn letter naturally piqued my curiosity, so I asked Denise to send me a copy, which clearly belongs in the public record despite Prata's withdrawl request. Denise informed me that Mitch had the letter, and I could view it at town hall. So I troop down there, and Mitch tells me only thing he had is Prata's CEDC letter, not the withdrawn letter, which he has never seen.

I paid my 50 cents -- there's a new council policy that requires anyone not named Prata to cough up $.25/page for FOA documents -- and got a copy of Prata's Dec. 31 CEDC letter. I informed Denise of this situation and am awaiting her reply.

Anyway, here's a snippet from Prata's 12/31/05 CEDC letter, quite remarkable on its own merits. My bold text added for emphasis:
...I applaud the Council's wish to delve into what is working within the Town and what is not. Though the members are volunteers, the Council's hallmark is accountability, and I am highly interested to see that the CEDC members are accountable for their statements and actions. At the very least, abolishing a negative and falled committee will make room for something good to come in.

My words are strong, and my opinion perhaps unwelcome, though not surprising since I have editorialized in this vein on and off over trme. I am emphatic about appropriate positive work within the town, and raising the standards of expectations and outcomes. Gray has suffered for too long with a negative self-image, and the CEDC's promotion of that negative self-image should stop.
Full text on document sidebar at right or here.