THROUGH THE CONSERVATIVE PRISM: LES OTTEN EDITION

Mr. Otten was one of the candidates that took the time to come to the Piscataquis County Caucus.  This columnist was surprised at how uncomfortable the man seemed without a teleprompter; although, I have to say, he was not the only candidate that seemed uncomfortable with the short time allotment.  With a crowded primary field and caucus business to attend to, we thought it necessary to limit the speakers to three minutes.

The pressure of time constraint can be an interesting test in itself.  It does take a special leader to consolidate his thoughts, focus his presentation, and impact his audience.  I’m not sure Mr. Otten pulled that off.  I noticed many quizzical expressions on caucus goers faces as he stumbled with his note cards.  Perhaps he should try writing notes on his hand.

Mr. Otten’s claim to fame and money is his ownership of Sunday River and Sugarloaf.  He does come from a family of money also as his father, Albert Otten or Ottenheimer, was a wealthy steel magnate in Germany before migrating to the United States landing in Princeton, New Jersey.

Les Otten purchased Sunday River in 1980.  In 1995 and 1996 Otten formed the American Skiing Company by acquiring Killington, Mount Snow, Haystack, Waterville Valley, and Sugarloaf/USA from S.K.I.  After purchasing Pico Peak, Otten began to spend heavily in marketing and infrastructure.  This ignited a huge growth boon but American Skiing soon was under a mountain of debt.  Mr. Otten’s spending habits had overleveraged the company and the company had to be bailed out.  Where have we heard that before?!  No wonder Mr. Otten kept choking on his words before the Red County Caucus.  Must have been a Freudian frog in his throat.

In the face of American Skiing’s 100 million dollar mountain of debt and stocks careening downhill (I couldn’t help myself), Les Otten sold his controlling shares and left the other partners holding the proverbial bag.  Unfortunately for Mr. Otten’s partners, American Skiing’s earnings did not keep pace with their owner, Les Otten’s, spending.  Now help me, Mr. Otten, because I’m having a hard time seeing the fiscal conservatism here….anywhere here.  Does spend thrifty Augusta really need a spend thrifty Governor?  Just asking a small common sense question.

Mr. Otten seems to embrace the liberal business model of spend now and dodge the consequences later; in fact, the more we dig into Les Otten’s campaign the more liberals we find.  Take for instance Christian Potholm, who helped the Baldacci campaign capitalize on conservative infighting to re-elect a very unpopular Governor.

My fellow Conservatives be wary of this tactic.  Moderates such as Otten, Mills, and Abbott will bide their time hoping a misstep by a Conservative such as Lepage will generate dissension within the Conservative ranks.  They will then pounce and capitalize on our disunity.

Of all the candidates, Les Otten seems to be hiding the most.  He was appointed by Governor Baldacci to chair the Wood to Energy Taskforce at the same time he was forming a wood pellet business.  Conflict of interest…maybe?  When asked why he supported the bogus Income Tax “reduction” bill, he said he did so “reluctantly”.  Hmmm, Mr. Otten, Mainers are fed up with political “emotions”.  They want actions and yours definitely speak louder than your words.   Then, of course, it would be remiss to not show the Otten “O”:

I…ah…I…I just don’t know what to say …except perhaps, “Les, you really Otten to have done that.”

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