The local problem in Millinocket is not hate, nor is it a vendetta.
The problem is outrage at the way business has been conducted between the town and Millinocket Area Growth & Investment Council (MAGIC), and between MAGIC and those they refuse to listen to.
Millinocket Area Growth & Investment Council (MAGIC), which was co-founded and partially funded by Councilor Matt Polstein, has made a habit of holding itself above the “rules of engagement,” and has repeatedly presented itself as an organization which was not subject to the rules.
We saw that when Bruce McLean spent a couple of years not bothering to inform Millinocket’s town councilors of what he was doing, despite oft-repeated requests, invitations, and – some would say – demands from that council.
We saw it when the MAGIC board, which at that time included Councilors Matt Polstein, Gail Fanjoy, and Avern Danforth, refused to acknowledge the public’s upset with what was largely perceived as a practical, if not legal, conflict of interest when these three councilors decided in MAGIC board meetings what they wanted and then voted that interest in the following council meetings.
We saw it when Bruce McLean engaged 4 town councilors in an illegal meeting in order to get the building that was earmarked for MonoLite to one of his business partners, Terry Ingram (Allagash Valve & Control).
We saw it when MAGIC decided not only to go to workshops in Vermont and at River Drivers Restaurant which were put on by preservationist group The Wilderness Society, but then decided to accept money from TWS.
We saw it when Councilor Don “Magoo” McLaughlin offered to give MAGIC $75,000 if that special interest group would simply decline the grant of $25,000 offered by TWS. This move made it clear that Bruce McLean and his board thought it more important to prove that they could do what they wanted than it was to get funding.
We saw it when Councilor Bruce McLean, in MAGIC's “year-end report” included his involvement in council meetings as part of his MAGIC duties.
We see it in that same MAGIC report’s “Business Counseling Report” where Bruce McLean, attempting to justify the money MAGIC has gotten, lists 4 pages of businesses he has counseled but rather than give the names of a single business, lists each one as “Confidential Information.”
We see it in the fact that Bruce McLean has formed a private company, Federal Services Corp., with two people for whom he has gotten grants: Terry Ingram (Allagash Valve and Control) and Jerry Tudan (Katahdin Energy Commons). And in the fact that once this fact became public, McLean chose to simply remove Tudan and Ingram from the website rather than to correct the problem.
We see it in the fact that Bruce McLean is using the very businesses MAGIC pays him to help (including Porter’s Woodworking and Michael J. Brown Cabinet Makers) as personal “references” on his Federal Services Corp. site.
We see it in the contempt that MAGIC shows when we read in the official MAGIC minutes that Millinocket residents are “like basset hounds, slow but loyal.”
And we see it when we read in everything MAGIC publishes that Bruce McLean is “considered a key leader in winning the ‘cold war,” which ended nearly two years before he joined the Air Force!
I could go on, but my fingers are tired.
My point is that Millinocket Area Growth & Investment Council (MAGIC), has and does conduct itself as an entity which knows so much more than the poor, misinformed peons who are the citizens of Millinocket that, like parents of small children, they bother not to explain to those children what they are doing or why.
The recent vote to fund MAGIC at $30,000 instead of $60,000 is a potential turning point. MAGIC can take this opportunity to allow the scab to heal, or it can continue picking at that scab.
I certainly hope it does the latter.
As Rose Weymouth so eloquently put it, “It seems like there’s a civil war in Millinocket, and we’re not interested in it.”
We really aren’t.