I was driving around today and heard the newscast on NHPR mention the ATV trail opening tomorrow. In fact, I heard them mention it two different times. Residents of Berlin notice when statewide media report the fires that happen all too often in town. It’s worth pointing out when they are covering the good things as well. While it is usually WMUR people mention when they talk about this phenomenon, they aren’t the only media outlet in the state. Berlin needs to fight the image battle in whatever way they can.
Weather looks good for tomorrow. I’ll be up to cover the opening ceremonies. Hopefully some other media outlets will as well.
Update: I just took a look online, it looks like the story made it out on the AP wire. That’s a good sign people will show up. Heck with statewide media, that’s nationwide.
And I’ve noticed the war has broken out on here about CPD, PSNH and Laidlaw. Wow. Impressive. I’m still waiting to get the official transcript to get a clearer picture of what happened on Tuesday, but I’ve had a few good conversations about the issue. I don’t really worry, however about what people think any of it means. In the end the PUC will likely decide exactly what it means.
I received some vitriolic responses to my posting the report I got. As I’ve said before LPJ isn’t the news outlet I work for. I don’t print rumors in the paper. (I did, however, put Rumorz in the paper.) On LPJ I post whatever I like, including things I haven’t researched. In any such post I’ll point that out, but if you go through and read my posts and think its all news it’s you who has experienced a failure in judgment. In fact I’ve never claimed this site to be a replacement for the paper; it’s something I do for fun people interested in Berlin frequent to supplement their experience with the city. If you don’t like it feel free to direct your browser elsewhere. If you enjoy the discussion, feel free to contribute.
The debate about this one issue is so funny to me. The same day I posted the PUC comments I posted about a building collapsing on Mason Street. I thought it might have been part of the housing initiative effort. I tweeted congratulations to Andre Caron for taking down another one. I was wrong. The building collapsed due to a clogged roof drain, and it was torn down unexpectedly on the fire chiefs orders. I updated the information as I learned it, and no one complained I was shirking my journalistic duties.
Then I post a report I got about the hearings, clearly including the fact that the report is unsubstantiated in the post. Almost immediately get a comment from Laidlaw CEO Michael Bartoszek commenting about my “bad journalism.”
Bad journalism? Really? Which one of my stories in the Reporter was biased? I once was accused of bias because of the questions I asked someone I was interviewing. Really? Bias? Which one of my stories in the Reporter was biased? I don’t think people making these accusations understand what they are talking about when it comes to bias and bad journalism—I’d have to put it in the paper for those terms to apply.
I imagine Mr. Bartoszek is trying to protect his company’s reputation among investors, which commonly check out LPJ. I fully encourage him to tell his side of the story, either on here or anywhere else. And maybe if everyone understands the roll of this site it will relieve me of having to address accusations of bias or bad journalism. If you are coming to LPJ for the news you’re in the wrong spot—check out the Berlin Reporter if that’s what you’re looking for. If you are interested in hearing one more perspective on a dynamic city in the midst of change, that’s what this site is about. I have never billed it as a news site, or as a replacement for either the Reporter or the daily paper. If you want to add to the conversation, I’d love to hear your view. If you want to bitch about my trust fund (Huge. Really.) grow up and learn to read a newspaper.
By the way, I do have an opinion about events in Berlin. It would be impossible to spend as much time there as I do and not. I am not convinced biomass in the center of the city would kill it’s viability as a recreation destination. In fact, I think Berlin could cash in on green energy to improve its image, whether that is on the fringe of the city or in the center.
I don’t know if there is enough wood to support the two plants, but I don’t know there isn’t. Many experts aren’t sure, so I don’t write off the project because of that.
I think CPD does a good job of holding the city’s hand through a process that is often confusing and complex. Bill Gabler comes to Berlin almost daily and is happy to explain what CPD is doing every step of the way. Laidlaw could learn a lot from CPD’s approach. In northern New Hampshire having a face attached to a company goes a long way. Lou Bravakis seems like a great guy, and if he were in the community to the same extent as Mr. Gabler it would alleviate a lot of residents’ concerns.
Laidlaw could remove many of the hurdles in front of them if it wished. They could remove them because they erected them.
I am not, like many people who post comments here, dead set against the project. I think if Laidlaw were to approach Berlin with a bit more transparency, with a better recognition that this is a serious issue for a small city used to getting screwed by industrial interests, they could bring many opponents to their side.
It’s like Laidlaw doesn’t recognize Berlin has been scarred in the past. The city is like an abused child, both angry and scared by people approaching it and likely to lash out. It takes deliberate, cautious movements to move forward in Berlin and not raise the ire of residents. CPD has done that well. Laidlaw could follow suit.
They could easily fix their PR problem with a little heavy hand-holding, instead of another press release. Explain what happened in Ellicottville. Show up to city council meetings. Agree to provide a small percentage each year for community giving (it will likely reduce your taxes anyway). Talk about wood and workers and location like they are something other than statistics. In Berlin that mill site is precious. Some people hate it, others love it, but for everyone it is central to their identity. The people of Berlin, as Councilor Ryan Landry said, are more comfortable when that stack is puffing smoke. Don’t try to elbow your way in, Laidlaw; show people what you’re doing so they have confidence in you.
I don’t think Laidlaw recognizes how closely their project treads to the soul of the city. If they did maybe from the start they would have taken a different approach. Of course they want to make money, but I imagine they also want to be part of the community they are located in. They haven’t done a good job integrating thus far, but I believe that can change. All it would take is a little effort.