And Another Thing…

Posted Sept. 01, 2011, at 5:32 p.m.

• In 1993, as the national economy struggled to recover from a bad recession, it seemed the country couldn’t get a break. From May through September of that year, the Mississippi and Missouri rivers flooded, causing significant damage in nine states. In all, repairing the damage was estimated at $15 billion.

Though the flooding seemed a setback for new President Bill Clinton’s efforts to turn around the economy, it actually may have been a blessing in disguise. Some economists suggested the federal money spent rebuilding the flood damage acted as a sort of backdoor stimulus package.

Hurricane Irene, then, could inject federal money on the East Coast.

• Another hurricane-related item: Some urban residents have wondered why electric wires, which are buried in cities and so don’t blow down in storms, aren’t similarly protected elsewhere. Irene left about 7 million homes and businesses without electricity, and of course utility companies had to scramble and pay overtime to line workers to restore power.

Does it make sense to consider burying power lines?

No. At least not yet. Ted Kury, director of energy studies at the University of Florida, said it costs about $1 million per mile to bury wires in that state. And that’s a state without frost or the ledge found in New England.

• It may not have gotten the attention it deserved, but a Law Court decision upholding the right of Eastport residents to cross their neighbor’s waterfront to get to the water to scuba dive is an important decision in a long line of case law.

The case law goes back to the Colonial Ordinance of 1647.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley wrote that though Maine has “a rich history of private ownership of intertidal lands, that ownership has always been subject to the public’s right to cross the wet sand to reach the ocean.”

Given the height of Maine’s tides, this is a significant bit of wet sand (or rock). The legal debate likely will continue.

• Among the press releases we received this week was a call by the Dollar Coin Alliance to phase out the dollar bill in favor of — you guessed it — the dollar coin. The alliance claims as much as $522 million could be saved each year.

• Who says police dispatchers don’t have a sense of humor? In Belfast this week, officers were looking for a local man who goes by the name Elvis. A Waldo County dispatcher told an officer that he had been located: “Elvis is in the building… at the hospital,” he said.

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