To the Editor: Not taking the bait

To the Editor: 

This survey got turned into a cruise sales pitch when the intent was simply to ask, “Do you want cruise ships to continue to come to Bar Harbor?”  

Question number nine is a leading question. It leads one to believe in an economic survey that is stating $20 million for the local businesses. This survey was done by two economists from UMO School of Economics and was paid for by the Maine Port Authority/Cruise Maine USA and other entities that profit from cruise ship visitation to Bar Harbor. 

That economic survey was totally debunked in 2017 and yet has continued to be a cruise ship advertisement on the town’s website. It has been irresponsible to continue to advertise this. It is baiting businesses expecting windfall profits and some fail because of that. It is baiting the public to call for more cruisers. 

Personally, I have not seen one penny in 40 years.  

In 2017, I posted my observation that only one person out of five was carrying a shopping bag as they returned to the ship, single file, down the ramp, to the tenders. The Gabe McConnon study said every passenger was spending $50 in retail at every port of call they visit. 

I was in clear view, parked facing the ramps, next to the Harbor Masters office, only 30 feet from the ramp. It really only takes 10 minutes to figure out these people are not on a shopping trip. 

After recording my observations over three seasons, from this spot, I got a clear picture of 18,954 passengers, and a good approximation of the retail that only a few carried. My estimation, using the science of direct observation, found that only one in five carried what appeared to be a low net profit item. This indicates a 99 percent overestimation of how much net profit stays in the pockets of local businesses.  

I publicized my research in 2017, which prompted two notable gentlemen, Collin Woodard and Keith Jones, to critique the methodology used by Gabe and McConnon. Woodard and Jones found a 60 percent and a 75 percent overestimation of the positive economic impact on the port of call. 

Colin Woodard is a distinguished reporter presently employed by the Portland Press Herald. He was nominated for a Pulitzer prize in explanatory reporting. Keith Jones is a D.C. attorney who has argued dozens of times in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Woodard described this Gabe McConnon survey as smoke and mirrors,” with methodological shortcomings and inaccurate assumptions. 

Keith Jones, in his 75 percent overestimation accusation, uses the words “double counting,” “amateuristic,” “problematic,” “major flaws” and “grossly overstated. 

I believe question nine is disingenuous. 


Jim O’Connell 

Bar Harbor 

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