Bruce Gagnon Is Right; Maine Has Been ‘Outsourced’ to Bath Iron Works

I’m skeptical of bold claims.

That’s why I wondered last week if peace activist Bruce Gagnon was indulging in a little hyperbole when he sent me an email alleging a local newspaper, the Maine legislature, and the city of Bath’s police department were all abdicating their duty to the public and instead doing the bidding of Navy contractor Bath Iron Works.

Gagnon is currently leading the campaign against a proposed $60-million tax credit to BIW, a builder of Navy destroyers and a subsidiary of defense industry behemoth General Dynamics.

“The Bath PD was outsourced to BIW/GD,” Gagnon’s email read, “the Times Record newspaper has been outsourced to BIW/GD, and the Maine state legislature has been outsourced to BIW/GD.”

But, after looking into each of these claims, I can’t say I disagree. Continue reading Bruce Gagnon Is Right; Maine Has Been ‘Outsourced’ to Bath Iron Works

Jingoism From the So-Called Left

[NOTE: A version of this opinion article was published on RIFuture.org.]

There are many people on the left who think “Russiagate” merits wall-to-wall news coverage and MSNBC’s near-singular focus.

I’m not one of them. In fact, I’m beginning to find the rhetoric coming out of the Democratic Party on Russia, with its comparisons to the deadly attacks of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, more than misplaced. They’re irresponsible and frightening. Continue reading Jingoism From the So-Called Left

Koch Funnels Millions Into Brown University

[NOTE: A version of this story was published in The Providence Journal.]

Visit the website of the Political Theory Project, a think tank at Brown University, and you’ll see a homepage that appears not so out of place for a group based at an Ivy League school with a long-established liberal-progressive reputation.

Featured prominently is a photo of radical political theorist Noam Chomsky, a reference to the Enlightenment and “the rise of democratic ideas and institutions,” and an excerpt from a letter to Karl Marx by French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

But critics of the think tank and its director, Prof. John Tomasi, say look closer: What you’re really seeing is a clever veneer meant to project a commitment to free speech and unfettered academic inquiry while distracting outsiders from the group’s true aim — to advance extreme free-market ideology on the Providence campus.

Their alleged smoking gun? For starters, the more than $653,000 in donations the project received in 2016 from the Charles Koch Foundation, according to an Internal Revenue Service 990 form filed by the charitable organization named for the billionaire CEO of Koch Industries, a conglomerate operating in the chemical, pipeline, agriculture and energy sectors. Continue reading Koch Funnels Millions Into Brown University

Maine State Rep. Jennifer DeChant Sought Corporate ‘Talking Points’ to ‘Counter’ Activists

When faced last year with growing criticism over her plans to propose a $60-million tax deal to one of Maine’s largest private employers, state Rep. Jennifer DeChant turned to an apparently reliable ally: the very company she was advocating for.

“Jon- I am sure you have seen the Op Ed piece below,” DeChant said in a Dec. 4 email to Bath Iron Works attorney Jon Fitzgerald, following the publication that same day of a commentary in Portland’s Press Herald by peace activist Bruce Gagnon, titled, “General Dynamics has no business asking for more tax breaks.”

DeChant continued, “I am looking for some talking points to counter this.” She suggested they would be used in an upcoming meeting with constituents. Continue reading Maine State Rep. Jennifer DeChant Sought Corporate ‘Talking Points’ to ‘Counter’ Activists

Professor Puts Brown University’s Koch Connection Under the Microscope

The Koch-funded “Political Theory Project,” founded at Brown University in 2003, has come under closer scrutiny in recent weeks.

The critique comes from an anonymous faculty member who worked with the advocacy group UnKoch My Campus to speak out against what the academic says, in a blog post published Jan. 23, is a nationwide and “unabashedly political project to advance the interests of the rich and powerful.”

The article, meticulously researched with 34 end notes, connects the larger Koch-backed effort at American colleges and universities to the specific project at Brown, which the unnamed professor argues has opened the door for “radically” conservative, free market influence on the Providence campus. Continue reading Professor Puts Brown University’s Koch Connection Under the Microscope

General Dynamics Doesn’t Need Money From Connecticut or Maine

[NOTE: A version of this opinion article was published in The Day newspaper, of New London, Conn.]

General Dynamics is not a poor company.

Far from it.

Like all of the country’s top defense contractors, its stock is trading at record highs. As of this writing, one share in the Falls Church, Virg.-based company costs more than $226, nearly $55 more than tech giant Apple.

General Dynamics’ current market capitalization, a measure of a company’s value, is $67.2-billion, up $14.6-billion from 2016. To put that into context, Maine’s entire gross domestic product was $59.3-billion in 2016.

On a recent earnings call, CEO Phebe N. Novakovic told analysts the company’s revenue last year exceeded $31.7-billion, outperforming the prior year by $412-million. Cash flow for the year was $3.45-billion.

And things should only get better. Continue reading General Dynamics Doesn’t Need Money From Connecticut or Maine

General Dynamics CEO Calls Republican Tax Law a ‘Happy Event’

Top brass at defense contractor General Dynamics, owner of New England subsidiaries Bath Iron Works, and Electric Boat, say they are buoyed by the anticipated reduction in their company’s effective tax rate under the sweeping “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” pushed into law last month by Republican members of Congress and Pres. Donald Trump.

On an earnings call earlier this week, Chief Financial Officer Jason W. Aiken told analysts the company, based in Falls Church, Virg., will likely see its 2017 full year rate of 28.6 percent drop to 19 percent in 2018.

According to a transcript of the call available online, Chief Executive Officer Phebe N. Novakovic characterized the passage of the tax overhaul as “a happy event.” Continue reading General Dynamics CEO Calls Republican Tax Law a ‘Happy Event’