Toyota

Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon



Thursday, January 31, 2008

Humility

In another lifetime, I attended a series of lectures that were offered by a Hindu Brahmin (Holy Man).
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His lectures were simply worded for all to comprehend.
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His kindness and humility were striking.
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In one of his lectures, when asked to compare religions, he offered the simple explanation of people sitting in a circle with an object in the center.
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As each person attempts to describe that object, their perspective is slightly different, hence their description of that object is slightly different.
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But each person is describing the same thing.
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One of the most striking lessons I learned during the past year meeting town residents was that they have complaints and ideas. Some of their ideas are simple, but cost saving. Many of their complaints had long gone ignored.
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Complaints about the use of fire trucks were pretty impressive, but large red trucks are difficult to ignore.
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That the Middleboro BOS has failed to publicly explain and clarify the personal use of fire trucks after all the complaints that were ignored has defined the BOS.
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Many town residents indicated that they didn't vote in the town elections out of disgust for the choice of candidates.
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Similar comments were made about town meeting being stacked by town employees and intimidation when standing votes were required.
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The issue of intimidation at Town Meeting has long been ignored.
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That the Middleboro BOS, and others who should know better, have historically ignored those voices that describe the same object from a different perspective, proclaims their arrogance.
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Subsequent to the lectures offered by the very humble Hindu Brahmin, I discovered that he was listed in the Who's Who of International Law.
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leaders, Administrators and Dinosaurs #4

There were a number of suggestions Bob Dunphy publicly stated that made great sense, but no one was listening.

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Mr. Dunphy suggested that the BOS should be available at regularly scheduled times for voters to have an opportunity to comment, complain or just kibbitz.

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For the most part, the current BOS doesn't really want to hear from townspeople or avoids contact, like Mr. Spartaro having a non-published phone number.

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But townspeople have the ideas and creative solutions needed to move Middleboro forward.

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That might be taken one step further.

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How about the BOS post a regular Saturday morning meeting to handle correspondence, pay bills, and discuss how to plan for the future?

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The BOS has been so pre-occupied with their administrative dysfunction, they haven't noticed their failure to plan for a FUTURE.
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The Middleboro BOS has NEVER discussed municipal energy consumption and potential alternatives and funding.

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And the Middleboro BOS has NEVER discussed many other issues.

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Let me toss out one:

When I requested a list of town insured vehicles from the former Town Manager, Jack Healey last year, the list received was FAXED FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY.

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Do you think that's odd?

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My interpretation is that the Town DOES NOT have in-house, on computer records of each piece of equipment that's being insured. Nor is that information available within the Town's computer system for a Department Head to examine.

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The naysayers are already sputtering!

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The total number of items insured was 212.

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Doesn't each vehicle cost ~ $5,000 per year to insure?

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(Those items will be called vehicles in subsequent comments for the sake of simplicity, but they may be trailers or other equipment and in fact, not a vehicle.)

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A number of years ago, the Town junked or sold several vehicles and neglected to cancel the insurance. Only an audit disclosed the matter.

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When was the last time an audit of 'vehicles' was done?

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Let's take the issue one step further.

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Because vehicle records aren't maintained in-house, what of maintenance and fuel consumption and MPG and mileage?

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If you had 3 or 4 family vehicles, wouldn't you write it down so you didn't neglect oil changes, inspections and so on?

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Let's say Department X uses a vehicle and accumulates 5,000 miles per year.

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Department Y uses a vehicle and accumulates 50,000 miles per year.

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Wouldn't knowing the departmental usage allow the Capital Planning Committee to make informed long term projections instead of reacting when a crisis arises?

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With in-house computer reports, would it be possible to notice that too much money was being spent on maintenance of a high-mileage vehicle?

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What was most striking about the list of 212 insured items was that many had $500 deductibles.

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Any informed consumer knows that the first insured increment is the most expensive because insurance companies anticipate nuisance claims.

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Could the Town save money - YOUR TAX DOLLARS - by increasing the deductible?

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Is the BOS asking?


Leaders, Administrators and Dinosaurs #3

The greatest hurdle a potential candidate for Selectman needs to consider is the time commitment.


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Without adequate preparation and research time, a person is doomed to failure, as is clearly visible among the current BOS.


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Numerous highly qualified candidates are disuaded solely by that issue.


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Can it be improved?


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There might seem to be a number of conspicuous responsibilities that the current BOS are handling poorly or lack the expertise that would be more effectively handled otherwise.


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1. Board of Health




The Health Agent appears before the BOS with shoulders more sloped and appearing shorter, as if the weight of her responsibilities are wearing her down.


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The BOS clearly have little knowledge or interest in the wide ranging issues that fall within this department's jurisdiction.


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Having discussed the matter with the Health Agent, her reluctance, caused by the failure in other instances is entirely understandable, but surely another town has created a workable solution that combines the necessary expertise and comprehension into a workable framework.


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The issue deserves a public discussion.


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2. The Middleboro BOS currently handles WRPD and Earth Removal Permits.


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One of the last WRPD hearings was an embarrassment to the Town.


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The information IS NOT posted on the Town's Web Site for the public to review for comprehension.

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The BOS discussed posting on the Town's Web Site in 2003 and determined that purchasing the pertinent regulations was such a great source of revenue, it was sensible for the Town Clerk to continue to sell the confusing mass of Town Meeting votes.

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If you haven't examined the copies for yourselves, you might consider doing so. It's yet another embarrassment for the Town and further defines the management as incompetent.


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Clearly, the BOS had not recently reviewed the WRPD for clarity.


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And when it comes to gravel operations, does that belong under the control of the BOS?


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Candidates for Town Manager offered other suggestions.


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We need to discuss both issues.


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3. Animal complaints


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No matter other than the Town's Web Site has provoked more jokes or more negative comments.


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No other issue made the Middleboro BOS appear as complete buffoons.


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Get over it. Address it. Resolve it. It doesn't belong in a public televised hearing.


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4. Meeting organization




Currently, meetings are held with Executive Sessions conducted at the end of the meetings when everyone is tired.


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Frequently, counsel has waited WHILE ON THE CLOCK --- YOUR TAX DOLLAR.


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Let's correct that.


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Let's have a discussion about a 2nd night devoted exclusively to Executive Sessions.






Leaders, Administrators and Dinosaurs #2

During some of the comments and suggestions I offered during the Recall process, here are a few that might seem significant:
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1. I made the suggestion that the Town discuss a separate Water/Sewer Committee.
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There was an immediate knee-jerk response from some, sputtering and spewing about how some elected positions were unopposed on the ballot and it was difficult to fill positions, and so on.
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The naysayers had filled in the blanks in their own minds, perhaps hearing the echo, and decided it was unworkable.
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At no time did I fill in the details.
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Allow me to fill in some of those details at this time.
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The BOS, according to the Town Charter, is charged as Water Commissioners.
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Since the failure of the Middleboro BOS to act as Water Commissioners DELAYED the real estate tax bills being sent, a logical person -- a taxpayer -- might consider that a change made sense.
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The Middleboro BOS was told by the retiring Town Manager that the BOS NEEDED TO RAISE THE WATER RATES.
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Since those Real Estate Tax Bills were delayed by more than 4 months, what did that cost you, the taxpayer? $150,000? $200,000?
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How about if we initiate a discussion about a Water/Sewer Committee, composed of 3 people who are appointed and meet quarterly to ADVISE the BOS of necessary changes, future projects, status of current projects, and so on?
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One of those members could even be a Selectman and the others could be the Water and Sewer Superintendents.
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We might have avoided the recent fiasco.
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And there are other things they might consider as well. Maybe they could even consider posting their statistics on a regular basis on the Town's Web Site, instead of merely annually in the Annual Report.
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2. One of the suggestions I would have offered in my closing statements at Candidates' Night, had they been allowed, was a LICENSING COMMITTEE.
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Those knee-jerk naysayers are already sputtering at that suggestions, but allow me to go even further.
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Anyone who watched the former Town Manager prepare and present his lists of assorted town licenses and inspections that were required for the January 1st renewal date, had to recognize that the system or lack of system was dysfunctional.
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Let's say we discuss an appointed COMMITTEE that might meet quarterly to streamline the process and open the communication between departments to simplify coordination.
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Let's say we consider including on that COMMITTEE those who are regularly involved: the Town Clerk, the Health Agent, the Town Treasurer/Collector, a BOS member, Town Manager.
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We might even take a look at how other towns have handled the regularly renewed licenses. We might copy success.
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After watching the BOS' attempt to correct a major flaw in the process on Monday, January 28, 2008, after allowing a restaurant to serve food and liquor without licenses for almost a month, might we have avoided that embarrasment?
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Leaders, Administrators and Dinosaurs #1

To those of us who came to dread the BOS Meetings about barking dogs, unleashed dogs, marauding billy goats and disobedient chickens, the casino issue has filled that time on the Middleboro Selectmen's Agenda to the exclusion of conducting business.

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Some might say 'Bring back the dog complaints!'
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Others quietly muttered 'At least they can't screw up too much if they're talking about barking dogs.'

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There are some among us who were actively involved or participated in some of the fiascos that were created and complain about the NEGATIVITY!

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It's as if they're thinking, "OMG! How dare one criticize? Just because you pay the bills, what gives you the right?"

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Clearly, since they helped create it because of their shortsightedness or poor managerial abilities, they have a vested interest in defending past performance.

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But the critics in town have long been ignored by a tone deaf BOS.

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Complaints are ignored.

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Unless threatened with Recall.

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Beyond those who seek to defend the status quo, it is essential to our form of government to have watchdogs who comment and criticize for faux pas.
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One is not required to cook to be a food critic.

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Surely, one only needs to read the Gazette to recognize that's not its intent. It's nicey, nicely, fluff and feathers, with occasional substance.

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And the Brockton Emptyprize is becoming more EMPTY each day.

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The content is lacking.

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The coverage of Middleboro is scant. But the coverage of other towns is equally as lacking.

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During the Candidates' Night, sponsored by the Middleboro Gazette, closing statements were to be offered. My closing comments provided a laundry list of ideas and suggestions that would have initiated discussions, moved the town forward toward a more workable organization.

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Questions were allowed to run overly long and closing comments were omitted.

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My comments were offered during a number of NEW CANDIDATES events that were public and publicized, although ignored by the Gazette.

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The difference between the Leaders and Administrators and Dinosaurs is the recognition that change is needed. And the ability to analyze the current faults and provide direction to move forward.
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The dinosaurs instead resist change, insist it's ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY, and ignore the need to plan for a better functioning future.

Dinosaurs Discovered in Middleboro!

The Year is 2008.

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Middleboro successfully elected and supports town officials who have yet to discover the computer or the REAL WORLD beyond its borders.

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One of those elected officials, Selectman Steven Spartaro claims to actually work with computers for a living, but could barely contain his snickers and jokes and disbelief when confronted with a used car dealer who actually sells his inventory on the Internet.

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Mr. Spartaro's comments were embarrassing for the audience.

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When Mr. Peter Fohlin, candidate for Town Manager, was interviewed, many remember Mr. Spartaro's rude public confrontation. BOS

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Mr. Fohlin indicated that he believed the Board members should know as much as he did and believed in sending emails to inform the Selectmen to accomplish that goal.

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Maybe that constitutes a portion of Mr. Spartaro's fear - he might actually be informed. That is Mr. Spartaro of the non-published phone number, don't bother me, voters, mindset. The one who ducks when voters approach him. This is the Selectman who told you this was the BIG LEAGUES, but arrived late to the Jan. 28th meeting and ate his supper at the Jan. 21st meeting.

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BIG LEAGUES, ANYONE?

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But I have digressed from my intent.

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Each Friday, a Middleboro Police Officer actually delivers a package to each Middleboro Selectmen's home.

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That package contains PIECES OF PAPER pertaining to the Monday Night Follies, conducted by the Middleboro Selectmen.

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It would seem that a Board of TECHNOLOGICALLY INEPT FOLKS simply haven't figured out that MOST of the information in their packages was generated by computer.

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A click of a mouse, and that information COULD be sent to their home computers.

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Last year, I obtained a hard copy, an actual printed report in a fancy folder, from Melanson et al, the Town's former auditing firm.

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The report is ~ 50 pages long and I wanted it in electronic format to circulate on the internet.

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I actually requested the report in electronic format from the BOS AFTER I CALLED MELANSON and confirmed the report was available. Melanson said they would send it with permission from the Town since it was considered PROPRIETARY by them.

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Chairwoman Marsha Brunelle was compelled, for perverse reasons that I fail to understand, to submit the matter to Town Counsel for his opinion.

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Chairwoman Brunelle subsequently reworded Town Counsel's opinion and produced a letter, essentially paraphrasing the Public Disclosure Statute.

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The Town is not obligated to produce a report in a format in which it DOES NOT exist.

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One can only speculate that Town Counsel is as TECHNOLOGICALLY INEPT as the rest of the Board of Selectmen.

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If you are reading this, even if you are as computer inept as I am, what you see or generate is ELECTRONIC FORMAT.

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There is no magic here.

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Yes, I could have scanned the 50 pages myself, zipped it and accomplished the same.

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Your tax dollars paid for ELECTRONIC FORMAT.

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Now, Selectman Bond is currently being praised for discovering that the Town Clerk was spending $1800 for updates of law books in hard copy that the rest of the Town had available on the internet.

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Well, don't stop there Mr. Bond. The DOR Report raised additional issues about the failure of Middleboro to adequately employ TECHNOLOGY.

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Ever notice that the Town Clerk is still generating handwritten receipts? Surely those are sorted by hand to determine a recap of the dump stickers, dump permits and much else. How about the dog licenses?

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The rest of the world is moving to reduce paper documents, including the rest of government. Not so Middleboro!

And lest you vaguely believe anyone would be overlooked, Selectmen Rogers conducted the water rate hearing, spent much time accumulating information and producing reports. Those reports were ON HIS PERSONAL COMPUTER.

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There we go with ELECTRONIC FORMAT again!

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As a voter and taxpayer, I requested that Mr. Rogers post the information on the Town's Web Site for the public to review.

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Mr. Rogers participated in a committee that reviewed the consolidation of the Water and Sewer Departments in 2006. Mr. Tom White, as chairman of that committee indicated that the report would be completed before the end of the year (2007).

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Not done. Not posted. Not available to the public.

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Why do I keep thinking 'DONE IT THIS WAY FOR A HUNDRED YEARS, MAUDE!'

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Is it time to get rid of the dinosaurs?
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More to come with some positive solutions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Computers and Water

Does anyone know anything about the pipe breaking in the basement of Town Hall in December?
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Did it destroy any computer equipment?
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Isn't that where the Town's computer equipment is?
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Is that the best location?
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What would happen if the Town's equipment in the basement got ALL WET?
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Does the Town have a Disaster Recover Plan in place for the Town's computer records?
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What happened the last time the system crashed? Does anyone remember how much that fiasco cost the Town in terms of manpower to input the information that was lost?
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More importantly, isn't that where the MUSHROOM FARMING is done?

Whys ever'body always pickin' on me? Charlie Brown!

Is anybody else getting tired of the old worn out refrains from the Middleboro Selectmen?
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Because the November 5th STM was such a slap-dash affair, hastily cobbled together, with illegally worded Warrant Articles and numerous omissions, the Sachem Street Article was not acceptable. (There were also other Articles on the Warrant that were illegally worded.)
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And please don't offer excuses because the ATM left the budget unbalanced, so the need for a Fall STM was KNOWN in the spring.
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And let's not continue to blame DOR for the fact that the Middleboro BOS failed to increase water rates to cover the costs of the Enterprise account. That was KNOWN as well.
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The Town Charter makes the BOS the Water Commissions.
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So at the January 28, 2008, BOS Meeting, Selectman Perkins again blasted regulations, delays and who knows who else he was blaming for the delay.
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Well, Mr. Perkins, maybe if the BOS had been paying attention and doing their jobs and done it right the first time, this would have been a fait accomplit.
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Fortunately, the Town Planner was there to advise the BOS of the requirement to refer the matter to the Planning Board, yet again.
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If she hadn't spoken up, Mr. Perkins, you would have done it illegally, yet again and who would you have blamed for your own poor performance?
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Wouldn't it be a novel idea if the Middleboro BOS begin to accept some responsibility for the things they screw up, like delaying the tax bills, that cost you tax dollars?
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And wouldn't it be novel if the BOS acknowledged their Administrative failure in minor matters, like allowing a restaurant to continue to serve liquor for almost a month with no liquor license? And whether that restaurant was appropriately licensed to serve food or conduct business remains undetermined.
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If this is the BIG LEAGUES, isn't it time to start behaving like that?
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Isn't it time to stop blaming others and accept some responsibility, Charlie Brown?
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The second line of that song is 'HE'S A CLOWN, THAT CHARLIE BROWN.'

Simple Math or More Hockus?

After waiting 90 days for a presentation by the IT Director, Roger Brunelle, the Assessor, Barbara Erickson and the Town Treasurer, Judy MacDonald to discuss QUARTERLY TAX BILLING, townspeople are still left in a quandary.
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The information was clearly lacking.
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In addition, as has become Mr. Brunelle's routine, rather than making his presentation available on Thursday of the previous week to allow the Selectmen to review it over the weekend and make the information available to the media, Mr. Brunelle instead distributed a limited number of his reports directly to the BOS members.
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Did you see it on an overhead projector or the easel?
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Does the viewing audience know what Mr. Brunelle presented?
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It was noted that Selectman Bond felt the need to comment on how colorful the report was.
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And is that information going to be included in the Selectmen's Meeting Minutes that are not currently being posted on-line?
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Part of the presentation included razzle-dazzle gibberish about the historical presentation of real estate tax bills for the last 24 years. Was it lost on the audience that Mr. Brunelle was on the Finance Committee and the BOS 2 of the 4 times bills were mailed late?
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Way to go, Roger! More MUSHROOM FARMING!
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To simplify:
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If Middleboro goes to QUARTERLY TAX BILLING, real estate tax bills would be sent out on July 1st (the beginning of the fiscal year).
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The first payment would be due on August 1st and quarterly thereafter.
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Under the current system, tax bills should be mailed by October 1st and due November 1st. (*This year, of course, since the BOS failed to act, we know how late the bills were sent. First payment not due until FEBRUARY 2008.)
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In other words, the first payment is due a full FOUR MONTHS later under the current method - instead of August 1st under QUARTERLY TAX BILLING, they are currently due November 1st. (*assuming the bills are sent on time, which they rarely are).
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Were it not for the cash flow from the Gas & Electric Department, Middleboro would be forced to borrow during that period as other towns do.
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For simplification, let's say the total Town budget is $60 Million. So, for one quarter (which is 3 months), the Town would require $15 Million.
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The figure the Town Treasurer keeps referring to represents INTEREST INCOME ONLY that the Town is loosing from its inability to invest the G&E funds for that period.
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Please consider that in discussions regarding the Town's deficit, budget and revenue, the BOS keeps saying you either cut services or you increase revenues.
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Can't we define INTEREST INCOME as INCREASED REVENUE?
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While Mr. Brunelle managed to get his little dig in about the Department of Revenue favoring quarterly tax billing, can you understand why it makes sense?
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For those few who have not yet reviewed the DOR report, there's a link on the right side of the screen. Mr. Middleboro offers the report in a more readable format (in addition to his restaurant reviews that are a MUST READ).
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It would seem sensible to combine BI-MONTHLY PAYROLL with QUARTERLY TAX BILLING.
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Here's my reasoning: the Town Treasurer has already told you that bi-monthly payroll will save 2 1/2 days of a person's time every other week. Isn't that your partial person to handle the increased payment processing necessitated by quarterly tax billing?
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But there's also another matter that remains cloudy.
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The Town Treasurer made a comment, when asked about AUTOMATIC DEPOSIT, that she got the checks for FREE.
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Do we know if the Town is actually issuing PAYROLL CHECKS?
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It would seem this is town employee time in the generation, distribution, reconciliation of paychecks.
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Is the BOS even asking?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Middleboro BOS actually DID something!

Middleboro BOS delayed the Real Estate Tax Bills from being sent by their failure to act in a timely and responsible fashion.
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And that's YOUR TAX DOLLARS.
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Many of the recommendations in the DOR Report have been ignored.
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The Charter Commission? Does anyone remember?
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The BOS discussed quarterly tax bills in 2003. Watch tonight and see what action they take.
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But a visit to TOWN HALL today was truly SHOCKING!
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After numerous comments about how non-functional the Office Space was, the space has actually been rearranged.
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At what meeting was it discussed? Is it one of the ones I fell asleep watching?
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I would check the Selectmen's Meeting Minutes, BUT ......
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the following is an excerpt from a hand-delivered letter to the BOS, filed with the Division of Public Records:
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A review of the Selectmen’s Meeting Minutes posted on the Town’s Web Site will reveal that minutes have not been posted promptly and regularly since October 2007.
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Attached, you will find the Town’s Web Site index for October. There is no single entry for October 2007. LINK
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A review of the November Index reveals only November 5, 2007 and November 7, 2007 Meeting Minutes are posted. LINK
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A review of the December Index reveals only the December 17, 2007 Meeting Minutes are posted. LINK
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A review of the January 2008 Index reveals that NO MEETINGS are posted. LINK
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Budgets are being discussed during Selectmen’s Meetings.
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Shouldn’t those figures and reports be included in the Selectmen’s Meeting Minutes that are posted on the Town’s Web Site in a timely fashion?
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The Secretary of State has offered the following guideline for meeting minutes:
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When must minutes of an open meeting be made available to the public?
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Minutes of open meetings, regardless of form, are public and must be made available at the close of the meeting. There is no requirement that the minutes be transcribed or approved before they are made public. A records custodian should clearly mark all such minutes “unofficial.”
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Minutes of prior open meetings, regardless of form, should be reviewed and accepted promptly. Copies of the minutes of all open meetings should be readily available. Records custodians are strongly encouraged to waive all fees associated with the minutes of open meetings.
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Minutes of executive session meetings must be reviewed and released regularly and promptly.
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Executive session minutes must be released to thepublic as soon as the stated purpose for the executive session protection has ceased.
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The Open Meeting Law is enforced by the local District Attorney for thecounty in which the records custodian is located. Any questions regarding the content of minutes, requirements to keep minutes or any procedural aspects of the Open Meeting Law should be addressed to the local District Attorney.
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Did anyone hear any discussion regarding the work that was done? How much did it cost? Where did the money come from?

Important Middleboro Dates

Thursday, February 14, 2008 Last day to draw nomination papers
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008 Last day to submit nomination papers
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FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008 FINAL DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE FOR ANNUAL TOWN ELECTION.

ON THAT DAY, THE TOWN CLERK'S OFFICE WILL BE OPEN FROM 8:45 A.M. UNTIL 8:00 P.M. (you can register at any other time during regular office hours: 8:45 A.M. UNTIL 5:00 P.M.)


SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 2008 ANNUAL TOWN ELECTION POLLS OPEN 8:00 A.M. UNTIL 8:00 P.M.

If you may be out of town on that day, don't forget you can vote absentee.

New Candidates in Middleboro Town Election

Effective this afternoon, the following candidates have taken out nomination papers for the Annual Town Election:

Judy M. MacDonald - Treasurer/Collector 3 yrs.
Stephen J. McKinnon - Finance Committee 2 yrs.
Joseph A. Masi, Jr. - School Committee 3 yrs.
Buddy D. Chilcot - Housing 5 yrs.
Frederick E. Eayrs - Assessor 3 yrs.
Robert M. Sullivan - Park 3 yrs.
Frederick E. Eayrs - BOS 3 yrs.
Cheryl Leonard - Park 3 yrs.
Marsha L. Brunelle - BOS 3 yrs.
Richard Pavadore - Finance Committee 3 yrs.
Walter A. Glendye, Jr. - BOS 3 yrs.
Helen M. Belmont - BOS 3 yrs.
Charles B. Shea - Assessor 3 yrs.
Judith Bigelow-Costa - BOS 3 yrs.
Muriel C. Duphily - BOS 3 yrs.
Jason F. Reith - Finance Committee 3 yrs.
Roger D. Haber - School Committee 3 yrs.
Donald E. Swarce - Planning Bd. 2 yrs.
Leonard Ruprecht - BOS 3 yrs.
Jessie A. Powell - BOS 3 yrs.
Michael O'Shaughnessy - BOS 3 yrs.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Since we're talking about it ........

Since perusal of the OFFICIAL MIDDLEBORO TOWN WEB SITE, a perennial topic of bile and jokes, has arisen, where's the CALENDAR that the IT Director indicated would be added in October 2007?
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He said October. Did anyone ask what year?
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Maybe when the Middleboro Board of Selectmen, who seem mostly technologically inept themselves, discuss the IT budget, they could ask.
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Or the interim Town Manager who doesn't seem to know how to turn on a computer.
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Maybe someone could show the IT Director how to do it?
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My Goodness! How'd That Happen?

After years of denying the existence of the Middleboro Finance Committee, they finally have a spot on the Town's Official Web Site.
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Check it out LINK
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Welcome Finance Committee!
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Hope to see all those meeting minutes and departmental budgets widely circulated.
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Ooops! Did anyone tell THEM?

Middleboro Selectmen's Meeting Minutes

Middleboro's Selectmen's Meeting Minutes are generally posted on the Town's Web Site.
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A review of the index will reveal missing minutes.
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Here's what the Secretary of State had to say:
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When must minutes of an open meeting be made available to the public?
Minutes of open meetings, regardless of form, are public and must be made
available at the close of the meeting.


There is no requirement that the minutes be transcribed or approved before
they are made public. A records custodian should clearly mark all such
minutes “unofficial.”
Minutes of prior open meetings, regardless of form, should be reviewed and
accepted promptly. Copies of the minutes of all open meetings should be
readily available. Records custodians are strongly encouraged to waive all
fees associated with the minutes of open meetings.
Minutes of executive session meetings must be reviewed and released
regularly and promptly. Executive session minutes must be released to the
public as soon as the stated purpose for the executive session protection has
ceased.
The Open Meeting Law is enforced by the local District Attorney for the
county in which the records custodian is located. Any questions regarding the
content of minutes, requirements to keep minutes or any procedural aspects of
the Open Meeting Law should be addressed to the local District Attorney.

Middleboro Selectmen's Agenda January 28, 2008


AGENDA
Monday, January 28, 2008

A. SELECTMEN’S MINUTES

B. HEARINGS, MEETINGS & LICENSES
7:05 PM Road Layout Public Hearing re Sachem Street
7:30 PM Steve Smith, SRPEDD
8:00 PM Finance Committee re Joint Committee Appointment
8:15 PM Treasurer/Collector, Assessor/Appraiser, I.T. Director
Re Quarterly Tax Billing
8:30 PM Budget Presentations (See attached schedule.)

C. NEW BUSINESS
1. Hiring of Attorney for Comcast Franchise
2. Request to place Rabies Clinic sign on Town Hall lawn
3. Authorize Chairwoman to approve & sign, in the absence of the Town Manager,
Title 5 Loan Program Grants:
· West Side Septic $11,290.00
· GAF Engineering, Inc $2,175.00
4. Vote to approve and sign Betterment Agreements:
· $16,750.80
· $16,807.50
5. Approve Planning Board Job Description for Staff Planner/Engineer
6. Authorize Chairwoman’s signature for FY’08 Community Development Block Grant
7. Town Hall Rentals:
Eastern Bank Meeting Room
· Veterans’ Service
Auditorium Requests:
· Charles Armanetti re Piano Recital
· Middleborough Public Schools re Art Show
· Brian Cook re Wedding reception
Auditorium, Selectmen’s Mtg. Room, Assessor’s Room:
· Health Care of S.E. Mass, Inc. re Health Summit

D. OLD BUSINESS
E. TOWN MANAGER’S REPORT
F. SELECTMEN’S BILLS

Verizon $26.39
Semass $11,301.79
Semass $11,109.03

G. OTHER
H. CORRESPONDENCE
I. EXECUTIVE SESSION
Collective Bargaining/Pending Litigation

MEETING WILL BE HELD AT TOWN HALL
10 NICKERSON AVENUE
MIDDLEBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS

Municipal Job Openings

Below, are a number of job listings posted on the MMA site:

Fire Chief
Town of Orleans
Position manages fire prevention, suppression, safety programs and emergency medical services. Position also supervises 20 full-time and 12 call-firefighters and serves as emergency management director. Qualifications: B.A. in fire science or fire administration, EMT certification required, and 10 years’ work experience, five of which were in a command capacity. Residency required within six miles of Orleans fire station within one year of employment. Starting salary negotiable to $110,000. Job details available at http://www.town.orleans.ma.us . Deadline is Feb. 29, 2008. EOE. (posted 1/22, exp. 2/29) MMA
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Fire Chief
Cotuit Fire District
Picturesque Cape Cod community; population 3,000; seasonal 6,000 plus. Salary flexible, currently salary is $91,000. Fire Chief manages 10 full-time and 10 call-personnel. $1.4 million budget; 700 annual calls for service; ALS provided. Chief reports to three-member board of fire commissioners. Chief should have strong communication and interpersonal skills, sensitivity to the needs of citizens, financial management skills, and leadership skills. B. A. desirable; EMT required; 10 to 15 years of diverse supervisory and command experience, or equivalent, required. Resume and cover letter by mail only to MMA Consulting Group, Inc., 41 West St., Boston MA 02111, by Feb. 21, 2008. EOE/AA. (posted 1/16, exp. 2/21) MMA
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Town Counsel
Town of Arlington
Position performs responsible administrative duties as chief legal officer of the town, prosecutes and defends all litigation and provides advice to all ton departments. Position performs varied and complex professional legal functions, assuming full responsibility for their planning and execution; exercises considerable judgment in making decisions and rendering advice regarding the town’s legal affairs, policy-making and administration. Juris doctor degree; member of the Massachusetts Bar and Federal Bar; five years’ experience in municipal law and litigation. Salary range: $105, 000-$120,000 annually. Please apply by Feb. 22, 2008, to Town of Arlington Personnel Department, 730 Massachusetts Ave., 3rd Floor Annex, Arlington, MA 02476. For a full position description please visit http://www.arlington.gov . (posted 1/14, exp. 2/22) MMA
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Chief of Police
Town of Provincetown
The town of Provincetown seeks qualified candidates for the position of Police Chief. Provincetown is a diverse community with a population of approximately 3,300 in the off-season and 30,000-60,000 visitors during the summer. The Police Chief is appointed by the town manager and supervises a full-time staff of 17 sworn officers, plus additional police dispatchers and civilian support staff. There are approximately 10-15 seasonal officers who are hired to supplement the staff during the summer months. Additional information can be obtained by reviewing the town Web site (http://www.provincetown-ma.gov ). Minimum requirements include 10 years’ full-time police experience, including five years of supervisory experience with the rank of sergeant, bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related field, master’s degree preferred. Base salary: $90,000-$100,000 plus educational incentive and competitive fringe benefits. Residency is required. Please send resumes and cover letter by Feb. 4, 2008, to Sharon Lynn, Town Manager, 260 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA 02657, or by e-mail to....Provincetown is an equal opportunity employer. (posted 1/18, exp. 2/04) MMA
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Town Accountant
Town of Raynham
The town of Raynham, Mass., (12,500 population: budget $27 million) is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Town Accountant. The Town Accountant works under the general supervision and administrative direction of the board of selectmen/town administrator. Responsibilities include financial monitoring of the budget; maintaining comprehensive financial records; generating required periodic reports; assisting with annual budget preparation and supervision of accounting department staff. Thorough knowledge of UMAS, GAAP, and GASB regulations, knowledge of Data National accounting software, and a working knowledge of applicable Massachusetts General Laws are necessary. The applicant should have strong communication skills. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, plus a minimum of three years’ municipal accounting experience. Massachusetts Governmental Accounting Certificate preferred. Salary range: $45,000-$65,000, commensurate with experience. A job description is available upon request. Please send cover letter and resume to Town Administrator, 558 South Main St., Raynham, MA 02767, or e-mail to...Applications requested by Feb. 15, 2008, but will remain open until position is filled. EOE (posted 1/09, exp. 3/01) MMA
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Accountant
Town of Wayland
The town of Wayland seeks a highly qualified individual to fill the position of Accountant. Under the direction of the finance director, responsible for day-to-day accounting activities, including preparing, reviewing and entering all journal entries and reconciling accounts; maintaining all town accounting records, preparing annual financial statements, Schedule A and other required reports to the DOR. Position assists in the oversight of the financial management software, MUNIS and prepares various excel spreadsheets as well as other assigned duties. Qualifications: B.S. in accounting or related field, several years of professional accounting experience, municipal accounting experience preferred. Strong interpersonal skills and MS Office is required. Experience with MUNIS software is highly desirable. Salary range: $46,918-$61,231 plus excellent benefit package. Resumes to HR Director, 41 Cochituate Road, Wayland, MA 01778. EOE (posted 1/14, exp.3/01) MMA

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Public Records Disclosure #10 The Ongoing Denial of Information

Unlike the Federal Government, cities and towns are prohibited from deficit spending for your protection as a taxpayer, except in certain EMERGENCY SITUATIONS.
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When information regarding DOR authorization was requested for the Selectmen's Meeting (listed below), the response was that there was no record.
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Did the TMFH constitute an EMERGENCY?
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Did DOR approve the deficit spending? Or did the BOS just plow ahead on their determined course, acting illegally?
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As a taxpayer, don't you have a right to know if the BOS conduct was legal?
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SELECTMEN’S MEETING
JULY 16, 2007
Selectman Bond asked Attorney Murray what methodology the Board has for authorizing the expenditure of funds to the Committee.

Attorney Murray [Town Counsel] said, absent an appropriation, it can’t.

Chairwoman Brunelle said she had a discussion today with the DOR regarding how to do this. She said there is a method to deficit spend for emergency purposes if the DOR approves. She said there is also $50,000 in the Reserve Fund that could be spent with a commitment to replace it at the Fall Town Meeting.

Mr. Brunelle said some costs do not have to be paid up front and can wait for Town Meeting.

Selectman Bond said more than 2/3 of the costs need to be contracted now. MeetingMinutes

Public Records Disclosure #9 The Ongoing Denial of Information

The Town Clerk's letter (dated January 7, 2008) includes an itemized list of the following charges:
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Town Clerk
rate of pay $34.95 per hour
approx 20 minutes
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$11.00
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Police Department
$86.92
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IT/Selectmen's Department
$15.28

Public Records Disclosure #8 The Ongoing Denial of Information

In my original submission, I requested an opportunity to review Selectmen's Meeting Minutes of EXECUTIVE SESSIONS that have become public records.
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Here's what the Secretary of State has to say:
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Minutes of executive session meetings must be reviewed and released
regularly and promptly. Executive session minutes must be released to the
public as soon as the stated purpose for the executive session protection has
ceased.
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That request has been ignored.
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Since meeting minutes are posted on the Town's Web Site, except for the sporadic posting for the last 3 months, there might be a reasonable expectation that, as Executive Sessions become public, they should also be posted.

Public Records Disclosure #7 The Ongoing Denial of Information

After a conversation with an attorney from the MA Division of Public Records, the Town Clerk sent a 'detailed breakdown of costs' that constituted the $115.00 for Public Records requested DATED JANUARY 7, 2008.
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My original request for documents was submitted OCTOBER 23, 2007.
While I'm not an attorney, this is the guideline offered, in plain English, to the public:
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Is a records custodian required to provide an estimate for copies of public
records?
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The Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) require that a records
custodian provide a detailed, written, good faith estimate for the cost of
complying with a public record request when the cost of compliance is
expected to exceed ten ($10.00) dollars.
The estimate should contain a statement advising the requester that the actual
cost of producing the record might vary once the custodian begins preparing
the record. A records custodian may require payment of the estimated fee
before commencing work.
In the interest of open government, all records custodians are strongly urged
to waive the fees associated with access to public records, but are not required
to do so under the law.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Public Records Disclosure #6 The Ongoing Denial of Information

During the November 26, 2007, Middleboro Board of Selectmen's Meeting, a memo from the Middleboro Town Clerk regarding Public Records Disclosure, as well as my complaint were discussed.
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Don't look for the Meeting Minutes because for some reason, they're not posted.
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It seems that the Selectmen have adopted a policy of posting Meeting Minutes ONLY sporadically.
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After the motion had been made, seconded and voted unanimously NOT to waive the fees, Selectman Spataro felt the need to ensure that the secretary add '...consistent with the original policy.'
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One must wonder what policy, Mr. Spataro?
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Now, Steve, this is the Big Leagues and you're just peeved because I comment on your non-published phone number which helps you avoid those obnoxious calls from voters and your tardiness.
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Well, OK! So I also comment on the fact that you're usually unprepared.

Public Records Disclosure #5 The Ongoing Denial of Information

In response to my correspondence, I received the following letter from the Middleboro Town Clerk, dated November 20, 2007:
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Eileen S. Gates, CMC
Town Clerk

November 20, 2007

Jessie A. Powell

Middleborough, MA 02346

Dear Ms Powell:

The records that you requested on October 23, 2007, are ready for pick up. The cost associated with this request is $115.00. If you wish to have them mailed there will be an additional fee of $1.10 for postage, making the total due $116.10.

Please let this office know as to whether or not you wish to pick up these records or if you will
be sending a check to have them mailed.

Thank you.

EIleen S. Gates
Town Clerk



Public Records Disclosure #1
Public Records Disclosure #2
Public Records Disclosure #3
Public Records Disclosure #4

CPV: Concentrating Photovoltaics for the future?

For the technologically savvy amongst us, Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV) appears to accomplish major changes that will revolutionize the PV industry. The following is passed along for your consideration and information. The comments of tech folks would be appreciated.
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CPV goes commercial – how to build, maintain and run a profitable CPV plant
Cells * Lenses * Tracking Systems * Finance * Regulation * Case Studies * Risk Management
Harnessing the power of CPV :
Analyse and compare the cost per installed watt of traditional PV technologies with CPV and realise the tremendous cost reduction potential of CPV
Inside ISFOC :
A step by step guide to the role, comparison projects and findings of the Institute for CPV Developments
Solar cell efficiency gains :
Hear how CPV leaders are designing high efficiency multi-junction cells that tolerate high temperatures and how your business can implement them today
Reduce costs through superior cell cooling devices :
Find out which cooling designs lower temperatures and increase the efficiency of your cell
Maximising your lenses :
Understand how to achieve maximum lense concentration at minimum cost to lower the cost per W of your plant
Optimise your tracking systems :
Cutting edge designs that minimise the project costs of your tracking systems through efficiency gains
Case studies :
Lessons learned from in-the-field experience – hear the real case studies from the experts in CPV that have successfully installed power
Technology updates :
Find out what's hot in CPV technology including intermediate band cells and thermo-photovoltaic technology
Standardisation :
Find out the latest about the standardisation procedures to ensure that your technology is up to the high expectations
Financial Risk Management :
Get the funding you need – convince the bank of the viability of your project and reduce your risks
'PV concentrator power generation at $3 per watt is imminent in the coming few years' Vahan Garboushian, President, Amonix
At just over €2/W, Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV) technology is fast developing into the most cost-effective renewable energy generator around. In the last two years there has been a surge of interest in CPV technology increasing output from just 1 MW in 2004 to 18 MW in 2006. And this is just the beginning…commercialisation is just around the corner with proof being provided by the establishment of ISFOC (Institute for Concentration Photovoltaic Systems) in Spain… a major step for this exploding industry!
CPV is already revolutionising the utility scale solar market, with the capacity to produce vast amounts of energy for a fraction of the cost. Experts expect that CPV will overtake CSP in generation capacity over the next 5 years. And with major industry players raising upwards of $300m in financing recently the future of CPV has never looked brighter.
Can you afford to miss out on CPV's immense potential and the opportunity to take a slice of the massive CPV pie? Thought not! Book now for the event that shows you, step by step, how to profit from the CPV revolution.
CPV reduces costs and drives up efficiency gains!
Put simply, CPV can significantly drive down the cost per watt installed, and ultimately per kWh produced. Concentrating light on a solar cell greatly increases its output and with current improvements in technology offering efficiencies of up to 38% meaning that US$3/W systems are just around the corner! Now is the time to stake your claim and harness that all important competitive advantage. Cost wise things look favourable as well with just $30-50m (for a 100MW/year) required for a CPV plant deployment set against the $150-300m investment required for crystalline silicon PV or thin-film PV plants.
Furthermore, commercial applications are being scaled up right now, CPV can adapt to your project needs – whether it's a 5MW or 500MW project so you can be sure you will ROI – fast.
Take Sol3G for example, they're installing up to 5MW of CPV in 2008 with installed projects in Denmark, Girona, Lleida, Barcelona, Sevilla and Madrid. Do you want to hear what they have to say and how they did it? Well you can, because they'll be on hand to tell you about their successes and the lessons they learned.
Confused about which cells will be right for your project, or intrigued as to the next generation developments that will change the way you operate. No problem, Spectrolab and Azur Space will update you on the state of the art technologies that can harness efficiencies of up to 38% on multi-junction and III-V cells for CPV. CPV

Middleboro's Failure

In July 2007, the Middleboro BOS interviewed potential candidates for Town Manager in public hearings. Some may recall that was when Selectman Spataro publicly embarrassed himself in his abusive comments to one candidate in particular, Peter Fohlin.
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In the course of the exchange, it became apparent that Mr. Fohlin had made a disparaging comment about the IT Director, Mr. Roger Brunelle, the husband of the Chairwoman of the BOS, Marsha Brunelle.
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Mrs. Brunelle subsequently abstained from voting, without explanation.
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Mrs. Brunelle was also charged with negotiating with Mr. Fohlin, which she did mostly via telephone.
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We will never know the truth about what transpired in those conversations, but we do know that the results of BOS action allowed qualified candidates to be lost in the process, yet another failure by the current Board.
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Mr. Fohlin said there needs to be a common understanding of the word “deficit”. He said just because everyone asks for more than we can afford does not necessarily constitute a deficit, but rather a “disappointment”. He said the first thing to do is to determine what the actual deficit is. He created a spreadsheet to address this. After a couple years, he was able to perfectly forecast the deficit and noted a perpetual half million dollar deficit. This would require an override every year. The fundamental way to cure it is to “tighten our belts and reign in our budgets”. He said he believes in revenue driven budgets, not expense driven. He said there are 2 choices: more revenue or less spending. He said he didn’t know the long history of Middleboro. At the end of a day, a realist can project State aid. Once you do this, you balance your budget, figuring what you can and can’t live without. He said he didn’t believe in “saving our way to success”. You can’t turn to employees and not give raises because that “can’t buy the groceries”. He said intelligent choices need to be made in balancing expenditures and revenue. It is not complicated. BOS
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A review of the Williamstown web site seems indicative of the professional environment in which Mr. Fohlin works. They even post the office hours!
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Cape Wind Comment Period until February 21, 2008

CCT reports on the opportunity for public comments to the Corps of Engineers regarding revised plans submitted by Cape Wind, as well as links to more than 2,000 related articles using their search feature.
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Cape Wind promises to provide 75% of the electricity used on the Cape.
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The opposition consists of wealthy Cape residents, like the Kennedys and Christy Mihos who don't want their view spoiled.
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Take the time, invest in a stamp to express your support for clean energy, a cleaner environment and Cape Wind.
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Cape Wind submits revised permit application to Corps for wind turbine proposal
Corps encourages public comment, deadline February 21, 2008
CONCORD, Mass. – Cape Wind Associates, LLC has submitted a revised permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for work in waters of the United States in conjunction with a wind farm proposal in Nantucket Sound, Mass.
A public notice and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were issued by the Corps of Engineers in 2004. Since that time, the Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service (MMS) has become the lead federal agency on the review and has recently issued a new Draft EIS (see here ). Check that site for MMS public hearing dates and locations scheduled in March 2008.
Several changes to the project proposal have occurred since the original permit application and the previous public notice. The applicant has provided a revised application to the Corps to show the minor revisions to the proposed project. The Corps is soliciting public comments on the project revisions. Public comments and inquiries specific to the MMS Draft EIS should be submitted directly to MMS.
The proposed project is the installation of 130 wind turbine generators, an electric service platform and associated submarine cables. This work is proposed in Nantucket Sound with cable landfall at New Hampshire Avenue in Yarmouth, Mass. The project includes work in navigable waters including the discharge of dredged or fill material for the proposed Wind Park located on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound between Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
The electricity produced by each turbine will be transmitted via a 33 kilovolt submarine transmission cable system to the Electric Service Platform centrally located within the turbine array. The electricity will then be transmitted to the mainland via two 115 kilovolt alternating current submarine cable circuits, making landfall at New Hampshire Avenue in Yarmouth.
Several changes to the project proposal have occurred since the original permit application and the previous public notice. The configuration and location of the turbines have changed slightly and the construction method for landfall transition has been modified to include a temporary cofferdam. In 2004, the state territorial boundary expanded further seaward in this area of Nantucket Sound. Ten of the original turbine locations were within these newly designated state waters. The proposed locations for 20 other turbines have changed to avoid archeologically sensitive areas, potential impacts to commercial fishermen, and to reduce the potential for impacts to commercial marine navigation. Rock armouring is now proposed as an alternative to the scour mats at the base of the turbine monopole foundations, if needed. The lighting plan has been developed consistent with the Federal Aviation Administration guidance that was issued in November 2005. The landfall transition of the 115 kilovolt submarine transmission lines from water to land at Yarmouth will be through the use of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to avoid disturbance of the shoreline. A temporary cofferdam will be installed at the seaward end of the HDD borehole. The steel sheetpile cofferdam will enclose an area of approximately 2,925 square feet with dimensions of 65 feet wide and 45 feet long. It will open at one end to allow the installation of the conduits. A temporary turbidity curtain may be used to confine sediments within the work area, if needed. Approximately 840 cubic yards of sediments will be temporarily removed, stored on a barge, and backfilled after the installation is completed. Clean sand will be used to supplement the backfill material as needed to restore the seafloor to preconstruction grade.The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps of Engineers in compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in United States waters, including wetlands; and with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the United States. The revised public notice can be reviewed online at the Corps website. Select Regulatory/Permitting and then weekly public notices.Public comments referencing this revised permit request (File # NAE-2004-338) should be forwarded no later than Feb. 21, 2008 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Karen Adams or Kevin Kotelly), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Managers Karen Adams or Kevin Kotelly at 978-318-8338 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts).
Release courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Massachusetts Budget: Now's the time to speak out!

The Governor's budget reflects inclusion of non-existent potential casino licensing fees and much else.
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No budget and no state aid formula should be tied to undetermined revenues.
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Please review the sites listed below to understand the impact of the proposed budget on local services.
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Please ask your legislators to protect local aid so that cities and towns have the resources they need to end the local fiscal distress that is eroding our economy.
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MMA Video explanation
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MMA issues statement regarding Gov. Patrick’s proposed FY09 budget
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
For more information, contact MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith at (617) 426-7272.
Cities and towns are facing widespread fiscal distress, a fact that has been widely reported during the past year. Communities are essential to our state’s economic competitiveness, delivering the vital services that keep and attract families and businesses to Massachusetts, and the fiscal unrest that confronts our localities weakens our economy, a dangerous trend that must be averted. After adjusting for inflation, fiscal 2008 local aid is $621 million below fiscal 2002 levels. In order to make up the difference and balance their budgets, cities and towns have been forced to increase their reliance on the property tax, cut services, or do both. The governor’s proposed budget for fiscal 2009 contains significant and important investments in cities and towns, including full funding of the $223 million Chapter 70 school aid increase, and scheduled increases in the special education circuit breaker and the school building assistance program, together with added funds for the PILOT program. The MMA applauds these proposals, and asks the Legislature to embrace these funding levels. A vital priority for cities and towns is maintaining the current $935 million Lottery distribution. Cities and towns would face devastating fiscal pain if this amount is not protected. The governor’s budget allocates $935 million to level-fund Lottery aid, however, the MMA opposes conditioning any part of the Lottery distribution on passage of separate casino legislation. Under the budget submitted today, $124 million of existing Lottery local aid would be contingent on passage of this new revenue source. Current local aid to cities and towns should not be cut, and should not be conditioned on new revenue sources such as casinos or other such initiatives. Lottery revenues have slumped for the past two years, and municipal leaders deeply appreciate the state’s action to protect cities and towns during this time. The state has honored the budgeted Lottery distribution of $920 million in fiscal 2007 and $935 million in fiscal 2008. The governor and legislators have recognized that a cut in Lottery aid would trigger a fiscal crisis at the local level. Cities and towns need at least level-funding of Lottery aid at $935 million, and none of this amount should be conditioned.We look forward to examining the governor’s entire budget proposal, and working with members of the House and Senate and the administration to make sure that local aid is protected, and that cities and towns have the resources they need to end the local fiscal distress that is eroding our economy.• Download MMA Statement (60K PDF)
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MBPC :
January 23, 2008
Fiscal Year 2009 is likely to be the most difficult year for budget writers since the last fiscal crisis. The budget filed by the Governor uses several strategies to bring revenues in line with expenses and fund modest new initiatives. While the Governor's budget both imposes cuts in spending and implements tax reforms to increase revenue, it also relies on revenue transferred from the Stablization ("Rainy Day") Fund, meaning that the budget is not structurally balanced. This preliminary analysis will briefly examine some of the new initiatives proposed by the Governor, including: significant investments to enhance education, such as an expansion of full-day kindergarten and extended learning time; paying for the new costs of providing access to health insurance for 225,000 people through the Commonwealth Care health insurance program; and, tax reforms aimed at reducing corporate tax avoidance, projected to increase revenue by $297 million this year. This analysis also highlights steps taken to improve budget transparency.
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Help us close the corporate tax loopholes
After Governor Patrick files the bill to close corporate tax loopholes, the bill will get a public hearing before the Joint Legislative Committee on Revenue. As you might imagine, big businesses will be opposing any measure to close the tax loopholes. MASSPIRG will present this petition to the committee as a counterbalance to the overwhelming voice by many of the business lobbyists.
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Petition Text
For too long, a few powerful corporations and industries have gotten away with paying little or no taxes thanks to tax loopholes in the law. Among Massachusetts’ biggest businesses, those with sales over $50 million a year, a third paid just the minimum corporate income tax of $456 last year. By contrast, the Bay State’s average taxpayer paid $3,532 in state income taxes.
All taxpayers, including businesses rely on public infrastructure and services including education, transportation, police, fire, sanitation, parks and recreation, and public health.
Whatever your perspective about the level of taxes, our taxes should be fair. Some taxpayers should not be required to pay more while other businesses pay less through unintended, outdated or unreasonable tax breaks.
We urge you to close the corporate tax loopholes outlined in the Special Tax Commission’s report, making our tax code fairer to everyone. masspirg

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Middleboro: Where we cherish incompetence!

This was not my intent.
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I went searching for information.
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INFORMATION SOLELY !
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And I can only shudder at what I found!
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One might be led to believe that Middleboro has an interim Town Manager who, at least creates the illusion of something. Most of us have figured out what, but are too polite to say.
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But, frankly, what can you expect for $500 a day?
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And the Selectmen have finally put a 4 day a week accountant in place to adequately cover their posteriors and create an illusion.
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And the interim Town Manager found an out of towner to call their secretary.
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So ALL'S RIGHT WITH THEIR WORLD!
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In the process of seeking some information, I reluctantly checked the OFFICIAL MIDDLEBORO TOWN WEB SITE.
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So many jokes have been made about the site, no further explanation is required.
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The first encounter is the Parent Directory, whatever that means.
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A review of the December meeting minutes seems to indicate that the Selectmen had one meeting in December.
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But what's perhaps even worse, is that the meeting minutes are posted as 'docs.' So, maybe I can live with that.
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But reading the meeting minutes, the following was contained within those minutes:
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Board requests Town Counsel be asked if offer made to us would constitute bonified offer under 61A being defined as a good faith offer made by a party unafilliated with land owner. Motion withdrawn. Will continue with matter on 1/14/08 and if Mr. Tinkham indicates must be sooner, will do on 1/7/08. LINK
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And if one looks for January's meeting minutes, they're where?
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What is perhaps most pathetic about this entire issue is that the Selectmen receive the meeting minutes in their packets to review over the weekend and approve at Monday Night's Follies.
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There are numerous omissions that are apparent to anyone who attended or watched the meetings.
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But that the Town of Middleboro hired a secretary who can't use spell check? 'scuse me?
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And the computer inept interim Town Manager hired a secretary who can't use spell check? or post the information on the site?
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Would you be outraged to know what YOU, as a taxpayer are paying this secretary?
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Ahhh..... yes! Middleboro! Where we cherish incompetence with our tax dollars!