So here's the list of people President Bush has nominated for the Base Realignment and Closure committee:
-James H. Bilbray of Nevada
-Philip Coyle of California
-Harold W. Gehman Jr. of Virginia
-James V. Hansen of Utah
-James T. Hill of Florida
-Claude M. Kicklighter of Georgia
-Samuel Knox Skinner of Illinois
-Sue Ellen Turner of Texas
Notice something? No, you're not just missing it. There really are people on this board from every part of the country except the Northeast. This is a serious blow, not just for Connecticut, but for the entire region:
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said she was "profoundly disappointed that a New Englander was not included.
"This disturbing decision compromises fairness and balance in a process that is vitally important to our nation's defense and in which the stakes for local communities are extraordinarily high, especially given the fact that New England has lost 50 percent of its military installations in the prior four rounds of base closings," she said.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine and the Naval Submarine Base in Connecticut, as well as Hanscom Air Force Base and Natick Labs in Massachusetts, have all been mentioned as possible targets for closure this year. (AP)
Well, maybe it's not as bad as it sounds. Thomas Sheridan, president of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, tried to put a positive spin on it:
“This will be political, but not as political as we might fear,” Sheridan said. “These are straight-up Americans that will make a decision based on what's best for the country, and the sub base will come out far ahead.” (Hamilton)
Oh, that's a relief. Base closures are never political. Look, I know that the committee is supposed to be impartial, but will the Georgian, the Virginian and the Californian really ignore the interests of their own states in favor of cold, distant Connecticut? That's a tall order, no matter how objective you're trying to be.
Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT2), whose re-election chances very much hinge on BRAC's decision, weighed in:
“It's a huge disappointment, because we feel the rest of the country has received representation on the BRAC and we have not,” said U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District. “We're not sure how we can get a fair shake out of this panel.
“But we're going to do what we've been doing, lobbying the strength of our case,” Simmons said. “We'll continue to work the problem as hard as we can. These are the cards we've been dealt, so there's no sense crying about it.” (Hamilton)
Simmons doesn't sound very sure of himself, but he has very little reason to be at this stage. It's looking ever more likely that the deck has been stacked against Connecticut and New England in general, and that come decision time, we'll lose our bases.
I just can't stand it.
Hamilton, Robert A. "Bush Fills Out Base-Closure Commission President's Choices Exclude Northeast". New London Day 16 March 2005.
"Bush nominates commission on military base closures". Associated Press 16 March 2005.