Times Record: Board of Stan (May 14, 2013)

Last we heard from state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, he was accusing Amtrak officials of “abusing” residents who live near a $12 million maintenance facility the agency said it would build on federal land in Brunswick.

Because that proposal sits beyond the reach of state and local regulation and would expand the presence of a positive economic influence in Brunswick, we wondered aloud on this page what Gerzofksy’s real motives were.

Purporting to represent constituents who live near the proposed site was a wonderful act of public service, for which he should be commended — even as he was strangely quixotic about the inevitable construction of the facility, which we support.

Gerzofsky has now provided a new head-scratcher, standing up Monday in Augusta to oppose municipal representation on the board of the Midcoast Regional Redevelpment Authority.

This time, he can’t claim, at least with a straight face, to be representing Brunswick citizens, since none appeared at Monday’s public hearing to say how bad an idea it is, probably since the bill would benefit citizens almost as directly as can be.

LD 1476, submitted by Rep. Mattie Daughtry, D–Brunswick, would address ongoing complaints that neither Brunswick nor Topsham, the former Navy base’s host towns, has a dedicated voice on the MRRA board, even though they are helping subsidize it with tax breaks and other support.

Ten people — developers, business owners, private residents and former and current Brunswick town councilors — spoke in support of the bill before the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.

It was crickets from Gerzofsky’s side, except for a state Department of Economic Development official whose department has shown well-documented disdain for any local control over decision making at the old base, whether it be spiking municipal nominees or forcing a failed tax-exemption initiative for aviation businesses opposed by municipal officials.

Polls (commissioned by the towns) show three-quarters of those asked say there should be enhanced representation for municipalities on the MRRA board. Conversely, no credible statistics or arguments have been put forth arguing against more, and more local, input.

The only argument is coming from Gerzofsky. “My opposition to this bill is based on a twist of the old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, please don’t break it’,” he testified.

The often dysfunctional relationship between the state and host municipalities at Brunswick Landing is — if not “broke” (sic) — always in need of upgrading. Anyone who fails to see that hasn’t been paying attention to the curious dance of politics involving board appointments going back almost a decade, or else has some other motive in play. And we know Gerzofsky has been paying attention.

Whatever it is, Gerzofsky’s latest attempt to scuttle a strengthening bond between the state and the impact communities of Brunswick Landing doesn’t pass Gerzofky’s own standard of representing his constitutents, who should call him up and ask why it’s so awful for Brunswick and Topsham residents to have a direct representative on the MRRA board.

Another train that will benefit Brunswick, Topsham and their residents is leaving the station. Why Gerzofsky is again choosing to lay down on the tracks in front of it is anyone’s guess.

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