IN THE CROSSHAIRS
I was back out on the streets of Bath yesterday after taking a day off from my door-to-door efforts around the Bath Iron Works (BIW) tax break issue. My legs were tired and it rained on Thursday so it worked nicely for me.
I will finish the last of our flyers today by hitting the remaining part of town we'd not yet visited. By this evening we should have done the vast majority of houses in the city. Nine of us have been doing this door-to-door work.
From reports I am hearing many local business people are now asking the question: "Can we ask the city of Bath for a tax break as well if we expand our business operation? Why should BIW be the only one to get corporate welfare."
Three nights ago (Wednesday) the city council chambers were packed with BIW workers (including many middle management types) and people opposing the proposed corporate tax breaks. BIW's lead council Jon Fitzgerald again led off the testimony as the city began their first official public hearing on the BIW request for $265,000 a year tax breaks for the next 25 years. He said: "You are going to hear a whole lot about General Dynamics [which owns BIW]. But this not not about General Dynamics, it's about BIW which stands on its own. This is not about padding anyone's profits. The city has a responsibility of stewardship, 125 years of building ships here. Some folks want to distract your attention from these facts. BIW needs to cuts costs."
One BIW worker got up and marveled at the amazing capability of the destroyers made at BIW and said, "These ships have shot a satellite out of the sky!" She was referring to a 2008 demonstration that the "missile defense" systems on-board Navy Aegis destroyers could also function as Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. Like the other BIW workers that spoke, she feared that unless the taxpayers of the city subsidized the wealthy corporation, then they might close up shop and leave town. (This is the same tune we are hearing all over the nation as greedy corporations threaten local communities in order to extract tax subsides. It's basically socialism for the corporations.)
Our side had several good speakers including retired University of Southern Maine law professor Orlando Delogu who has studied these corporate tax breaks for 30 years. He said, "It is disingenuous for the corporation to come into a forum such as this and imply that BIW is on its last legs, and to make the town as a whole fearful that BIW may close, to make their employees fearful."
You can watch it yourself here and go to 2:38:56 in the meeting to see his testimony.
Next up is the public forum being organized by our local citizens group on Wednesday, Nov 13 at city hall here in Bath. Then the city council will hold its 2nd public hearing on Nov 20 and make their final decision at that time on the tax break request by BIW.
I told a friend yesterday that while going door-to-door I was thinking about Sister Stella going to trial on Jeju Island for trying to block Navy base construction vehicles. I can't avoid the links between corporate profits at BIW, the expansion of Obama's "pivot" to surround China using Navy destroyers, the destruction of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, the taking of more lands in Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa for US bases, and the possibility of a new Cold War. It's all connected.
Better we convert places like BIW and build rail, wind turbines and solar. More jobs would be created doing things that are vitally needed on our mother spaceship.