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Machias Valley News Observer, June 20, 2009

NEWS with VIEWS

by Nancy Oden

WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH $4.75 MILLION?

I promised to talk about puppies and happy things this week, but real life intrudes. Here are two items which may be of interest:

    1. At the Washington County Development Authority (WCDA) meeting last Tuesday, Washington Academy (a privately-owned school) representatives asked WCDA to back a bank loan in the amount of $4.75 million.
       
      W.A. wants to make some improvements with this $4.75 million, including a new house for “Head of School.” This might not be the perfect time to ask a government body (WCDA) to back a loan which, ultimately, should W.A. default, would come back on the taxpayers, because taxpayers fund WCDA.
       
      The idea is to save W.A. a couple of points in interest payments, since WCDA can get cheaper money than W.A. The bank will not have to pay taxes on interest it charges for the loan, since WCDA is a government agency.
       
      Of course, this means we taxpayers will have to make up the taxes the bank doesn’t have to pay, which could easily be called corporate welfare.
       
      W.A. did admit that projections show enrollment skewing downward over the years (they laid off 7 staff people recently), but since they recruit students widely, including from China and other countries, they implied they weren’t concerned about their ability to pay back the loan.
       
      Since this loan is backed by public money should W.A. default, it would have been appropriate to have held public hearings on this request. W.A. is a good school we all know, but taxpayers’ money is in short supply these days, and the public should be deciding whether we’re willing to back a loan of that size.
       
    2. Summer Complaints: I’ve spent the last month on my hands and knees turning a 5x50 patch of solid grassroots sod into a garden. Tearing up masses of roots with just hand tools is no easy task, but now vegetables and flowers are all planted.
       
      Last time the neighbor on that side was up here (comes up about 8 days a year), I asked him if he’d mind if I put my garden right close to the property line, and suggested we share the produce from the garden. He offered no objections.
       
      Well! Two days ago, right at twilight, he came pounding on my door angrily demanding that I CEASE IMMEDIATELY! Seems he thinks my garden is over the property line a couple of inches, even though I showed him in advance exactly where the garden would go. I was, and still am, shocked at this hostile behavior, and told him no one does that sort of thing up here.
       
      Now, though, he says he’s going to hire a surveyor (he obviously has money to throw around) and, if my garden is even over an inch, he’s going to put up a fence. So there!
       
      If he’d said we should check the lines and if my garden is over, then next year I should probably pull back a few inches, I would have said, fine. But I believe the garden is on my property so we’ll have to wait and see.
       
      His card says he’s a professional forester, which means he likely condones the use of pesticides. Since it’s pretty well known that I’m opposed to poisons being spread over all life on earth, he may have spoken to a poison sprayer and mentioned my name. This might have caused an outpouring of hate and discontent, but who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men?
       
      So life is never dull. I will keep on gardening, of course.
       
      If it turns out my garden is a few inches over onto his land, I’ll offer to buy it and see how that works out. He can’t be a gardener or he’d understand that one cannot simply uproot a garden in mid-season.
       
      Don’t depend on the big corporations to feed your family, because they can claim shortages or delivery problems with food at any time to make us pay more, just as they do with oil and gasoline.
       
      Defend your garden! Today’s news tells of over a billion people around the world going hungry. We’d better depend on and defend ourselves because no one else will do this for us. Food is life. If we’re prepared to feed ourselves locally and defend our food supplies from hostiles, we’ll be fine.
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