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



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Massachusetts Budget: House Minority Speaks Out

Instead of making the tough budget choices, it appears the Democratic legislature will continue to endorse living beyond its means, inflict the same pain on municipalities through mandates and carefully avoid any difficult decisions that risk alienating powerful voting blocks like the flagmen.
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At what point will voters insist that the Commonwealth live within its own budget?

The following is an excerpt of the House Minority Leader, Bradley H. Jones, Jr.'s comments (LINK for full text):


As you may recall from last month’s update, the House Ways and Means budget proposal
increased spending by $1.18 billion, or 4.4 % over last year. By the time “debate” on this
proposal was over, the House added another $210 million to the bottom line and increased
the stabilization fund transfer to $412 million.


This rate of spending outpaces the rate of ordinary inflation and places extra pressure on
the state to raise revenues during a time when many economists have issued warnings of a
possible recession. How can the House justify its spending plan in light of our current
economic situation?


It can’t.


And that’s why I, along with many of my Republican colleagues, voted against every budget
amendment and the budget as a whole. Not because there are no worthwhile programs or
additions, but out of serious concern with the growth in spending. Not because I simply
enjoy my role as the opposition, but because it was the best way to deliver an important
message: way too much!


It’s like a trip to the grocery store. We’ve gone up and down the aisles and picked things
we like, need, and want and now we are at the checkout counter and we can’t afford what
is in our cart. So, instead of making some tough decisions, we just put the difference on
our credit card. And, in this case the credit card is paid by the taxpayer.


The House and Senate are in the process of finalizing measures to increase the tax on
cigarettes and large corporations. I hope these measures do not pass, but even if they do
the anticipated revenues will not raise enough money to pay for the spending plan adopted
by the House.


The situation begs the question: Will the Legislature just keep raising taxes?


Perhaps it will. But for all of our sakes I hope not!


More likely, however, is that the Governor will be forced to institute 9C cuts (emergency
reductions in spending) midyear. And when 9C cuts happen everyone loses.


Last week the Senate finished debating and amending its version of the budget. The two
branches will soon meet and reconcile the differences in their plans, eventually coming up
with a final version to give to the Governor for review.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Massachusetts State Budget & Local Impact

The following are commentary regarding the recently passed state budget bill (MBPC offers a details comparison and analysis):


Senate bill would boost COLA base 33%
Friday, May 23 2008


The state budget bill passed by the Senate contains a costly provision that would increase the base for cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) for municipal retirees by 33 percent, from $12,000 to $16,000.

The provision would dramatically increase costs for cities and towns, without a new revenue stream to pay for it.

The MMA has noted three major problems with the COLA increase:

• The increase would add an estimated $2 billion or more to municipal unfunded pension liability – an increase that cities and towns have no ability to pay given the limits of Proposition 2½.

• Advocates for the increase have said that it will not affect the bottom line for communities if they simply extend their funding schedule by three years, but doing so would only multiply the cost. The Pioneer Institute estimates that extending the state’s schedule by three years would multiply the state’s cost from $2.8 billion to $8 billion.

• The acceptance language is flawed. It does not include the municipal executive in the decision to accept for the 85 cities and towns that have their own pension systems. And it does not include the municipal legislative or executive authority for the 266 communities in county and regional retirement systems.

The MMA will continue to voice its strong opposition to the COLA proposal with the House-Senate budget conference committee, calling instead for an independent comprehensive study of the entire pension system.

By MMA Legislative Director David Baier MMA
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The battle to curb public pensions
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IT'S ONE STEP forward, two steps back in the battle to bring pensions and other public employee retirement benefits under control in Massachusetts.
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Beginning in January, MBTA retirees under 65 will contribute 15 percent toward the cost of their health insurance. Most T employees can retire with generous benefits after 23 years. Until now, those benefits included free healthcare for life. Not a bad deal, especially when you can retire in your 40s. TheBostonGlobe
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Budget Monitor: The FY 2009 Senate Ways and Means Budget
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The budget proposed by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means is closer to being structurally balanced than were the proposals by the Governor and the House. The Senate Ways and Means proposal would spend less than the Governor’s proposal and more than $150.0 million less than the final House budget.
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This Budget Monitor examines the SWM budget by program area and describes how the spending levels compare to those proposed by the House and the Governor and to historic and current spending levels. It also reviews the tax proposals whose revenue is incorporated in the Senate budget. MBPC

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Deadline for New Officials Finance Forum


The deadline to register for the New Officials Finance Forum has been extended to Wednesday, May 28th. The seminar will be held at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester on Thursday, June 5th 2008. Preregistration is required. Bulletin 2008-5B includes the registration form and is available on line at https://www.mass.gov/dls.

For more information, please contact Donna Quinn, Training Coordinator, at 617-626-3838.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Middleboro: Municipal Job Opening


Staff Planner/Engineer, Town of Middleborough
Staff Planner/Engineer
Town of Middleborugh
Position: Staff Planner/Engineer in the planning department. All interested parties should apply in writing to Ruth McCawley Geoffrey, planning director, including resume. Hours: 40 hrs/week Wages: In accordance with the current General Municipal Employees Group Contract, Technical Services Group. Accountable to: planning director. Qualifications: Thorough knowledge of planning practices, landscape design, Mass. General Laws specific to planning and zoning and drainage and road design standards is necessary. Must have excellent communication skills for customer service/public meeting presentation. Strong organizational, writing and presentation skills are essential. Proficiency in Microsoft Office, Excel, Power Point and GIS experience is highly desirable. B.A. degree in planning (M.A. degree in planning and/or AICP status preferred), B.S. in Civil Engineering or closely related field will be considered. Salary per General Municipal Employees Group contract is $51,018.24. Send resume and cover letter to Ruth McCawley Geoffroy, Planning Director, 20 Centre St., Middleborough, MA 02346. Duties: Provide direct staff support to the planning director, planning board and other town boards and committees regarding special permits, site plans, major development proposals and zoning analyses; lead and coordinate technical review with board’s consulting engineers, other agencies, boards and departments; and maintain familiarity with all ongoing planning department projects in order to provide information to the public or direct inquiries. Position assists in strategic planning, zoning studies and community development-plan implementation; performs any other task as directed by the planning director necessary for performance of the planning department’s duties. Posting closes: Will remain open until filled. Pursuant to Federal Regulations 51.55(e)(k)(6), the town of Middleborough does not discriminate on the basis of handicapped status in admission or access to, or treatment in, its programs and activities. (posted 4/28, exp. 5/28) MMA

Jack Healey and the Casino Investors

Excerpts of an article that appeared in the Cape Cod Times on December 18, 2007 (excerpts below, emphasis mine):

Casino investors engineered secret deal

In a secret deal, casino investors for the Mashpee Wampanoag secured an option on 200 acres in Middleboro two days before they purchased 125 adjacent acres from the town.

The deal, and the secrecy surrounding it, may have resulted in the town garnering less money than it could have had the deal last April been more widely advertised.

Former Middleboro Town Manager Jack Healey, who first proposed the auction to raise money for the cash-strapped town, has since retired and could not be reached for comment. Town and tribe officials first met in March to begin talking about a proposed casino, according to Times archives.

Middleboro selectmen approved the auction April 9 and it was held April 27. The auction was advertised only in the local weekly newspaper, town Treasurer Judy MacDonald said.

But if the town wanted to get top dollar for the property, it should have done more advertising, Stevens said.

By comparison, Sandwich officials recently hired a professional auctioneer to advertise and accept bids on property sold by the town this month. The auctioneer advertised the properties in real estate publications in Massachusetts and New York, as well as regional newspapers, attracting 60 registered bidders.

A 34-acre parcel, the Sandwich auction's premier property, fetched $900,000 — about $26,470 an acre, or $12,000 more per acre than the Middleboro land generated.
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Speeded up for budget
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The Middleboro auction was held so quickly to make the funds available for this year's town budget, MacDonald said.

As for hiring an auctioneer, MacDonald said, the town's been doing its own auctions for several years. "Why pay someone when we can do it ourselves?" she said.

Auctioneers, like the one hired in Sandwich, are paid through a premium charged to the buyer over and above the purchase price — usually 9 or 10 percent. CapeCodTimes
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The DOR Report and the Financial audit for Middleboro appear on the nemasket site.

Southbridge, Landfills and Mr. Healey

The following was published in response to Retired Middleboro Town Manager Jack Healey's involvement with the proposed Southbridge Mega Landfill:

To the Editor:

Our Board of Health doesn't need any more of Healy's relentless
pressure, which has been deemed inappropriate by both the landfill
Hearing Officer and by Marcia Benes, the director of the Massachusetts
Association of Health Boards. Perhaps Mr. Healy should give the MAHB
lawyer a call before continuing with his fear mongering to intimidate
these five volunteers who are doing their best to do their job: to
make their decision based on health and environmental facts—not fear.


Healey decried fear-mongering then threatened to cut every aspect of
the Southbridge budget. Sadly, Healey does have a poor reputation
financially; he left Middleboro a mess that auditors are still working
to sort out. The Middleboro Gazette coined the phrase "fuzzy math"
when talking about his tactics of trying to use short term revenue to
fund the current budget. His character was "assassinated" by his
hometown, not us, though his history is repeating itself here. Notice
he can't deny any of the facts.


As for recycling, the problem with the "single stream" recycling is
that much of it ends up in the landfill. Check out Recycle Bank
financials. Casella owns 20% of it and it's losing money. Not that
there is any evidence that Casella is interested in recycling. In New
York Casella was fined $90,000 for dumping carefully washed but
less-than-lucrative recyclables in their landfills. The fines were
used to pay back 2000 customers for recycling service they didn't get.


In the landfill hearings the words of public health research David
Carpenter were devastating, especially given that many of us who live
in a three mile radius of the dump have children. Statistics signify
regions surrounding landfills have increased hospitalizations for
asthma, infectious respiratory disease, diabetes, Cardiovascular
disease, hypothyroid syndrome and genital disease in women. Dr.
Carpenter clearly explained how the inhalation of toxins in the air
and known carcinogens leaching into the water were his primary
concerns. He was especially concerned about children because of their
sensitivity to toxins during development. He cited research results of
higher rates of birth defects and hormonal disruption of babies born
of women living in areas surrounding landfills.


None of us are going anywhere, we will continue to fight the landfill
expansion and the bigger fight for state legislation so this doesn't
happen to any community. The Massachusetts DEP needs to join the 21st
century and adopt policies that are truly protective of health and the
environment. If this modification goes through and we have 405,000
tons of unsorted raw garbage coming into Southbridge every year, it
will harm the air and water in the entire tri-community area. It's an
undeniable fact that eventually two layers of plastic and the
imperfect technology of gas collection will not contain the toxins in
that mountain of garbage and then we'll have a Superfund site
here—but
will there be a Superfund to clean it up?

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For Mr. Healey, getting a "free lunch" from Casella seems like the
easy path. However, as a pregnant woman with two small children, well
water and a home no more than a mile from the dump, I can tell you
that in this instance the easy path is not the right one.


Sincerely,

Lara DeRose

DEP asked to nullify hearings LINK

CarverChick raised the issue of the impacts of effluent on the Nemasket River, a treasured resource that Mr. Healey dismissed in his haste to cram a casino onto a Town, while the Middleboro Board of Selectmen behaved like Bobble Heads and blindly followed:
Of Special Concern
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The Middleboro Board of Selectmen authorized Mr. Healey to investigate the interest of the Mashpee Wamppanoags to locate a casino in Middleboro, but specifically instructed Mr. Healey NOT to negotiate the terms.
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Mr. Healey auctioned the proposed casino land to investors at a bargain basement price of $14,000 per acre, at a time house lot were selling for $200,000 per acre, in a poorly advertised auction as was his custom in ALL other Town auctions.
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Mr. Healey (along with Attorney Whitten, who lacked ANY experience in the area of law) instead negotiated an Agreement that set the bar at $7 MILLION AND WAS GROSSLY FLAWED.
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Twin Rivers, the Rhode Island casino, will net the host community + $20 MILLION because it provides for a percentage of slots.
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Check out the recent articles about casino profits:
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Mr. Healey cheated the Town of Middleborough out of + $20 MILLION per year because he picked a number out of the ethers.
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There are other linked blogs on the right side of this screen that provide greater detail of the casino fiasco that Jack Healey created.
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Fortunately, the Commonwealth House of Representatives has defeated Class III Gaming this year and the Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne has correctly viewed this process as 'Casino Shopping,' in which the newly recognized Tribe has no historical ties to the host community. Mr. Healey's grandiose scheme has been successfully thwarted by others.
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Businesses love to see Mr. Healey coming because he fails to gather his facts or research the details.
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How is $7 MILLION close to + $20 MILLION?
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Please don't allow Mr. Healey's FUZZY MATH to prevail in Southbridge.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jack Healey and the Casino

At the April 9, 2007 Middleboro Board of Selectmen's Meeting, Town Manager Jack Healey presented a lengthy list of properties the Town should auction to balance its budget. Although the recorded Meeting Minutes speak for themselves, it should be noted that Mr. Healey indicated none of the parcels were Conservation Commission parcels, when in fact, 5 parcels had been voted by Town Meeting in 2001 to the ConCom.

A Town resident spoke up and prevented those parcels from being sold.

The Middleboro Conservation Commission maintains a list of parcels over which it has charge, yet Mr. Healey claimed otherwise.

The Town Planner had prepared a Memo that was forwarded to the Board of Selectmen that itemized parcels that the Town might want to re-consider selling. In her memo, she called attention to the interest that had been expressed in the Precinct Street property, both by casino investors and for future commercial development, as well as other issues.

Town Manager Jack Healey successfully auctioned the only bargaining chip the Town of Middleboro owned for ~ $14,000 per acre to casino investors.

As a side note, the Rock School parcel on Miller Street that was referred to was a school that constructed on land donated with the stipulation that the property was to be used educational purposes or revert to the family/heirs. At the time of the Annual Town Meeting, that issue had not been referred to Town Counsel for a determination.

Selectmen's Meeting Minutes and links below (emphasis mine):

SELECTMEN’S MEETING
APRIL 9, 2007

TOWN MANAGER’S REPORT

Auction Sale of Town-Owned Property

Mr. Healey provided the Board with a list of Town owned parcels that could, and should, be offered for sale.

Mr. Healey said not all parcels will be sold as many are “landlocked”. An effort will be made to notify abutters of the auction. He said, although some parcels could bring in significant cash, it won’t repair the structural deficit.

Mr. Healey also asked the Board to open the Special Town Meeting Warrant to add an article to authorize the sale of the 1.3 acre parcel on Water Street shown on Map 58H, Lot 2386, and the Rock School parcel on Miller Street, shown on Map 087 Lot 923.

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectman Perkins, the Board
VOTED: To open the Special Town Meeting Warrant and add the two (2) above- referenced parcels.
Unanimous Vote.

Upon motion by Selectman Perkins and seconded by Selectman Spataro, the Board
VOTED: To close the Warrant.
Unanimous Vote.

Jane Lopes asked for the projection based on actual Local Receipts.

Mr. Healey said he anticipated difficulty reaching the estimated Receipts, noting that development sensitive revenues are down.

Ms. Lopes asked how much of a shortfall was expected.

Mr. Healey said he won’t know until the excise tax revenue is out within the next month.

Upon motion by Selectman Perkins and seconded b Selectman Bond, the Board
VOTED: To authorize the Town Manager and Treasurer/Collector, to auction the properties as listed in the Town Manager’s Report dated April 5, 2007.
Unanimous Vote.

Ms. Lopes asked if the list had been “shopped around” to Boards to determine if the land is valuable for open space.

Mr. Healey said none of the parcels are ConCom properties. He said it was not reviewed for open space. The land will be sold to get it back on the tax rolls.

If the minimum bid is not offered, the Town will keep the land. LINK

SELECTMEN’S MEETING
APRIL 17, 2007


Auction – Town-Owned Land

Selectman Bond said he had received a series of questions over the weekend related to the proposed auction of town-owned land. He said the issue, besides the timing of selling in a “soft market”, is that four of the parcels are ConCom properties. There was also a letter from the Town Planner advising of putting restrictions on the parcels before selling.

Mr. Healey said there are five (5) parcels that were transferred by a Town Meeting vote in 2001 to the ConCom. He said there is no record regarding this. He called the Conservation Office and spoke to Phyllis who advised that there is not a “list” of all parcels under the ConCom.


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Discussion ensued on two (2) parcels of land on Precinct Street containing 125 acres.

Mr. Healey said those parcels are valued at $490,500 each. An opening bid has been set for $1.5 million. He said this property should go back on the tax roles. He said most of the frontage is wet, and said there is a considerable question as to how much of the property is buildable. LINK

Southbridge and Mr. Healey

The following are excerpts from a Worcester Telegram article:


A ‘bite the bullet’ budget emerges from session
During the session, Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Vandal strongly criticized Acting Town Manager John F. Healey for working toward a side letter to increase benefits to the town from an extension agreement with landfill operator Casella Waste Systems. It passed 7-2.


After Mr. Healey told the town it was setting itself up for annual cuts in services if a site assignment for the landfill didn’t go through, Mr. Vandal said, “I’ve never heard so much bull and scare tactics.” He said Casella was positioned to give the town anything.


Mr. O’Brien called the timing “incredibly curious.”


“It’s before the Board of Health, which is supposed to be purely concerned with the health issues; and if they approve it, guess what? They get all the money they need to build their own bureaucracy. Sure sounds like bribery to me.” WorcesterTelegram

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Perry Property and Jack Healey

Few were paying attention to Middleboro until the casino reared its ugly head, but Matt Carroll, Boston Globe wrote about some questionable land auctions over which Retired Town Manager, Jack Healey had presided.

Mr. Healey insisted on conducting the auctions himself, justifying it to the Selectmen as a cost savings measured. Apparently no one ever heard of Buyers' Premiums.

The land auctions that Mr. Healey conducted were poorly advertised and poorly attended.

And the previous questionable issues that had been raised caused Chairwoman Brunelle to request that the March 2007 auction be videotaped, which of course, it wasn't. But I digress.
The Selectmen's Meeting Minutes for March 5, 2007 reflect the following:


SELECTMEN’S MEETING

MARCH 5, 2007


Mr. Healey also noted that there has been an interest expressed in Town-owned land on Beach Street that is bog property. Because the bog is not being treated, there is a threat of pests destroying it. He said he hopes to offer it for sale within the next month. LINK
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The property was Map 104 Lot 2966, 26.08 acres on Beach Street Assessors (note cranberry bogs). The lot is on the bottom right side abutting Wareham Town property line.
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On March 12, 2007, the Middleboro Board of Selectmen voted to 'auction' that piece of Town property that had been taken for taxes.

The advertisement appeared in the Middleboro Gazette on March 15, 2007.

This is residential property in the RR zoning district.
Hadn't the Middleboro Selectmen previously determine that they wouldn't sell any residential property?

SELECTMEN’S MEETING
MARCH 12, 2007

.
OTHER

Vice-Chairman Brunelle read the Notice of an Auction of Town-owned property on Beach Street . The property contains 26.8 acres and includes a bog and associated upland.

The Auction will be held at the Town Hall on March 31st at 11 AM. Viewing of the property will be on March 23rd at 11 AM.

Upon motion by Selectman Spataro and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board
VOTED: To authorize the Auction.
Unanimous Vote.

Vice-Chairman Brunelle suggested the auction be videotaped.


SELECTMEN’S MEETING
APRIL 2, 2007

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Mr. Healey said there was some “good news”. He noted that the Perry property on Pine Street had sold for $435,000.
LINK


We'll never know if the Town got the most possible for this parcel, but it was one of Mr. Healey's many endeavors that makes one wonder.

Cape Wind Opposition

Cape Cod Today has done a thorough job following the issues surrounding Cape Wind and the money trail of the opposition.
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The continued links of opposition to energy is worth following:
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Documents link wind farm foes to energy firm
Filing revised as alliance calls it a mistake
By Stephanie Ebbert

A new lobbying firm for the group opposing a wind farm off Cape Cod filed a federal document last month reporting that its work for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is partially funded and shaped by an international energy conglomerate.
more stories like this
The disclosure represents the first documented financial connection between the group opposing the wind farm and Oxbow Corp., which mines and markets energy and commodities, including coal, natural gas, and petroleum. Globe

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Middleboro BOS Agenda May 19, 2008

SELECTMEN'S AGENDA
Monday, May 19, 2008
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A. SELECTMEN'S MINUTES
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B. HEARINGS, MEETINGS, & LICENSES
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C. NEW BUSINESS
1. RFP for Ambulance Service 7-1-08 to 6-30-11.
2. National Multiple Sclerosis - Request for Bike Ride Permit.
3.Library - Request appointment to Board of Trustees.
4. Discuss Summer Meeting Schedule
5. Town Hall Rental Request - Northbrook Academy
D. OLD BUSINESS
1. Central Baptist Church - Request use of Town Hall land.
2. Continue Discussion on Fire Chief Search Committee.
3. WRPD re Allen & Major for Gary Cristina (feedback from department re
consideration of self-imposed hardship/impact on other property owners).
4. Discussion re Winthrop Atkins - Donation of Property.
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E. TOWN MANAGER'S REPORT
F. SELECTMEN'S BILLS
G. OTHER (BOS & Public - 10 minutes)
H. CORRESPONDENCE
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MEETING WILL BE HELD AT TOWN HALL
10 NICKERSON AVENUE
MIDDLEBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Middleboro ATM Adjourned

Middleboro Annual Town Meeting was adjourned on the second evening after concluding the Warrant Articles that included several controversial items.
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Because the information was available earlier than previous years, voters circulated and discussed pertinent issues and were able to research the details prior to Town Meeting.
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Of particular importance during this process, has been the nemasket discussion forum that allowed consideration of the 43D proposal. It was an invaluable asset to ask questions, toss around solutions and sort the issues with the input of others.
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The budget process resulted from the cooperation of a great many, working together to present a balanced budget at Town Meeting, unlike previous years when dissatisfaction forced department heads to present their issues on Town Meeting floor.
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A town resident, Bob Dunphy suggested that signs advertising Town Meeting be posted on lawns and around Town as an advertisement and reminder.
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Since Town Meeting adjourned on both evenings with a quorum still present, the signs seemed effective.
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As signs were being retrieved, some of the comments of those who had attended previous Town Meetings highly praised the improvement of the process and the professionalism of Mr. Steve Lombard, interim Town Manager.
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There seems to be no greater indictment of Retired Town Manager Jack Healey than the effusive praise of a temporary replacement who has done nothing more than HIS JOB in a professional manner.

Middleboro School Department: Science Fluff and No Substance?

Middleboro residents have long been aware of the threatened loss of accreditation of the Middleboro High School due partly to the science labs.
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As the Superintendent read the list of items being considered in the upgrade to satisfy the state, conspicuously missing from that list was EQUIPMENT that would enhance students' educational experience.
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Hopefully, the School Committee will give greater consideration to the $250,000 expenditures beyond replacing cabinents and superficial changes.
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A number of people with diverse educational backgrounds availed themselves of the opportunity after town meeting to comment on their disappointment with the proposed school changes.
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Someone seems to have their priorities skewed when cabinets are more important than equipment.
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Some of those parents who commented have taken their children out of Middleboro's Public School System for precisely this reason. And a few commented on the need to go to a voucher system.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Talking Trash with Mr. Healey #2

The Middleboro Board of Selectmen's Meeting on May 12, was again filled with discussion of the
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TRASH FEE and the current flawed accounting that has surrounded it since its implementation.
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The new Town Manager, Mr. Charles Cristello was charged with the task of determining the accurate costs and revenues after his starting date of July 17, so sometime in August it is anticipated that he will tackle the contentious task.
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For consideration, the budget passed at ATM indicates on page 26:

$398, 164.84
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Page 98 of the Annual Town Report, indicates, under Public works, Program Revenues, Charges for Services (Year ending June 30, 2006):
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$1,836.432
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Since Middleboro's current town accountant was not employed by the Town at that time, he was unable to determine what might be included in those costs, but did indicate that through March 2008, approximately the following revenue has been received:
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$850,000
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Clearly, this should have been established differently at its inception.


Talking Trash with Mr. Healey

Middleboro ATM Continued Thursday May 15, 2008

Annual Town Meeting voters concluded the ATM Warrant with Article 19.
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The ATM will re-convene on

Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 7 PM


at the High School.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mr. Healey: Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

For inexplicable reasons, the Middleboro Board of Selectmen charged the Town Manager with inspection and enforcement of the Town's Earth Removal By-Laws.
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Those By-Laws allow Gravel Removal Operations on the pretext of creating cranberry bogs because after all, Middleboro is the Cranberry Capital.
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Many of those in their efforts to comply with their engineering plans complain of Mr. Healey's difficult dealings, but one of the biggest complaints seem to be from those who complied, but witnessed others being allowed to work with no permits with Mr. Healey's full knowledge.
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Ooops!
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One such project continued to excavate after hitting water. The gravel operation filled the deep holes with stumps cleared from the gravel removal and was covered with dirt to produce the weedy appearance of a bog, an adjoining subdivision created and the project abandoned.
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The stump dump will cause problems after Mr. Healey's demise, so who can blame him? What's a little methane between friends? inter alia.
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Don't you just hate those satellite photos that document these project, Jack?
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And don't you just hate those trouble makers who bothered to take photos?
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Keep in mind, Jack, that your casino sham activated folks who are participating, asking questions and wondering about what you have done to their Town.
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Democracy is NOT a Spectator Sport!

Verizon: Cheatin' Still?

The following was received and posted:
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Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Verizon: Your Cheatin' Heart .....#2":
I gave up talking with Verizon people on the phone because this didn't get resovled after 4 calls. So I sent an e-mail twice. Told them I will not speak with anyone on the phone anymore because we go in circles. Finally got an answer. They told me they needed my account number. I gave them my account number and they said call this toll free number. What part of I don't want to speak with anyone over the phone didn't they get......I ordered FIOS to save money. They installed it in November 07 and I ended it in December 07. Didn't save. And the support service was definately not up to speed. When they installed it, there wasn't much explanation of how it worked. It wasn't the techs fault. From what I hear, their managers are telling them to get it done quick and get out the door (in so many words). The equipment was picked up by a rep on January 24, 2008, even this took a long time for the offices to get someone out here. I have a signed receipt. Now in March I am receiving a bill for FIOS. I don't have FIOS. I didn't get anywhere with my e-mails to them so I had to call the number. Four times I tried to resolve this. I was informed ok mame, it's resloved. That was two weeks ago. May 5 I receive a bill for past due charges of 174.17. I don't have FIOS. I don't want FIOS. Someone at VERIZON needs to fix this. I was informed by a Verizon rep that I pulled in off the street that I should call 411 for the presidents numbers. 411 Doesn't have a number like that. The number listed in the e-mail for Christine O'Toole, Complaint Officer, gives a fast busy signal.I need help getting this resolved. It's esculating. And so is my patience. This is unethical.
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Does Verizon hear anything? Can't you help this person?
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Recently, others have complained about NO LOCAL PROGRAMMING yet again.
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FIOS speeds vary or are as slow as dial-up, no televisions received as promoted and much else.
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A google search of Verizon complaints produces an overwhelming list of dissatisfied customers that are being ignored.
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In spite of my numerous complaints about Verizon promising phone and internet for $56, I finally surrendered when the bill was reduced to $69, $13 per month more than promised. We're considering ComCast.
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If Middleboro were smart, they'd provide their own services at a cheaper rate, but that's a digression.
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Verizon: The Whiners!
Verizon: You Jokers!
Verizon: Finally, Middleboro Can Hear!
Verizon: WAY TO GO!!!!!
Verizon: Your Cheatin' Heart .....#3
Verizon: Still Not Listening?
Can you hear me now? Verizon says No!
Verizon
Verizon: Never Take No for an Answer!
Verizon: Your Cheatin' Heart .....#2
Verizon: Your Cheatin' Heart ..... This provides a link to the DTC and an online complaint form.
Verizon and the Middleboro BOS

Mr. Healey and Those Ever Changing Laws

Little noticed by most is the importance of the ADA and its impact on making life accessible to ALL.
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When Middleboro's Town Hall was renovated, the parking lot was re-paved and the pavement markings were painted. The HP spaces were appropriately marked on the pavement.
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Repeated requests to re-install the vertical markers were ignored.
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Since important meetings transpire at night, sometimes in the rain or with snow-covered ground, the pavement marking was frequently obscured.
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A written request was filed with Mr. Healey, self-appointed ADA Coordinator and ignored.
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A complaint was filed with the state that prompted a resolution, a minor project.
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Mr. Healey's public explanation at a BOS Meeting was that the state keeps changing the laws.
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Huh?
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There's the oft-repeated story of Mr. Healey bursting into uproarious laughter from his office as the wheel-chair bound Commissioner tipped over because the walk was uneven.
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Maybe that's why all of the other issues regarding flawed curb cuts and building access were dismissed or ignored by Mr. Healey: they just keep changing the laws!
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Mr. Healey's Legacy Continues to Haunt

Retired Middleboro Town Manager, Jack Healey is credited with being the architect of a scheme to purchase Chapter 61 land to prevent a 40B subdivision from being constructed abutting the Town's Plumbing Inspector on Fuller St.
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Since the Town had no money, the land was purchased for $1 MILLION through the Water Department Enterprise Account on the pretext of a Town Well Site which, of course, failed to appear.
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Didn't they need DEP approval to do so?
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Since the Board of Selectmen is charged in the Town Charter as Water Commissioners, some might wonder about their fiduciary responsibility to water ratepayers.
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Little noticed by most was that ONLY the back land was in Chapter 61 and Town Counsel ruled that the Town could NOT purchase the street frontage or ACCESS.
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When the developer offered deeded access to the Town free of charge, it was declined.
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So, now the Town owns a landlocked parcel and is looking for a use to justify the cost and repay the Water Enterprise Account and the folly.
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Using a right of way, gravel removal is underway that Mr. Healey explained would generate $4 MILLION. Endangered turtles got in the way, but not to stop!
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This parcel was discussed at last night's BOS meeting yet again and continues to haunt: an expensive purchase in pursuit of a use.
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It's in the records: Selectmen's Meeting Minutes
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The following discussion about the gravel project pertains to the Fuller Street property:
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SELECTMEN’S MEETING
APRIL 17, 2007
TOWN MANAGER’S REPORT

Gravel Project – Black Friday News – We May Have Box Turtles!

Mr. Healey informed the Board that the site of the proposed gravel project, athletic playing fields and future school site may also be the home of the Eastern Box Turtle according to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program People.

We must hire an expert to see if they can find a turtle. Then we have to put a transmitter/locational device on the turtle and monitor his habitat area. Then maybe the State will allow us to hire someone to protect the turtle(s) we find from the heavy equipment while we mine the site and build the fields!

Life is good! (Especially if you are a turtle) LINK

Talking Trash with Mr. Healey

Watching the goings on in Southbridge sure makes one think the Retired Middleboro Town Manager really likes trash.
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As a proponent of a TRASH FEE, Mr. Healey formulated a plan to fund a budget shortfall using the FEE, which just coincidentally would provide the exact amount needed to fund that fiscal year's deficit.
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The fee imposes a cost of ~ $216 per household. (Less for those who opt for the per bag stickers.)
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Although the issue was to be re-visited, no one can produce the itemized costs. No one can say if Middleboro actually made money, which would constitute an illegal tax. And the funds were never set up as a separate Enterprise Account.
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The costs of trash disposal at SeMass are not isolated.
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Wasn't this the issue for which FUZZY MATH was coined?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mr. Healey Inflicts Slap-Dash on Southbridge!

Retired Middleboro Town Manager, Mr. Jack Healey is known for his Slap-Dash Management style in which he auctioned land at a poorly publicized town auction to casino investors for a pittance of its value (~ $14,000 Per Acre), leaving the town to negotiate a flawed Intergovernmental Municipal Agreement with no bargaining chip left.
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(Of course, the money earned at that auction, one-time revenue, was used at the Fall Town Meeting to fund budget shortfalls, euphemistically called the Structural Deficit, a customary Middleboro practice.)
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Mr. Healey has taken his ill-considered management style to Southbridge to inflict a Mega Landfill on the region.
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With his vast scientific comprehension, he assures the leachate involved is essentially “dirty water." Telegram
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It looks like Southbridge needs more accurate reporting.
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One must wonder if Southbridge town leaders have the sense to recognize that more time is required to consider the ramifications of the project since Middleboro's leaders were easily lead down their primrose path.

Middleboro ATM: Page 35 Employee Fringe Benefits

Total Employee Fringe Benefits:


$14,947.296.00


Middleboro Health Care Costs #2: Nothing to sneeze at!

Middleboro: Health Care Costs

Middleboro ATM: Page 34 Debt Service

On Page 34 of the budget, total Debt Service Expenses are:

$5,864,664.00


Keep that in mind!

Middleboro ATM: Town Accountant Budget Page 4

Middleboro hired a 4 day a week Town Accountant for $75,000, contract posted below.
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Page 4 of the budget provides a salary of $78,365.00.
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MMA job listings below. Note comparable salaries.
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Municipal Job Openings

Middleboro Town Accountant's Contract

Town Accountant

Anyone know?

When the Brockton Enterprise announced the interim appointment of Retired Middleboro Town Manager Jack Healey to the ACTING position in Southbridge, the last sentence, little noticed, contained an almost ominous comment:
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Middleboro residents haven’t seen the last of Healey. He said he’s still volunteering at the Hub, at a children’s reading program. And he’s giving selectmen a hand sorting out drainage problems on Plain Street, and will meet with the engineers on Feb. 22. Enterprise
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No one seems able to answer who charged Mr. Healey with responsibility for those drainage problems. Maybe I dozed during the Selectmen's Meeting when it was discussed. Isn't that the road, that after many years of delay, was finally paved by Saxon Partners, owners of Oak Point?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thanks, Jack!

As a consequence of Middleboro's RETIRED Town Manager being immersed in trash in Southbridge, he has unwittingly provided some interesting contacts and information and resources.
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Thanks, Jack!
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During one of those conversations, it was revealed that Southbridge takes those CABLE FEES that are paid to the town and funds their own Local Access Programming Department as a non-profit. They actually have someone who is paid to air a wide array of local meetings for educational purposes, to Jack's dismay.
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Gee, that sounds like a prescription for transparency!
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Some say that transparency piqued Jack mightily and caused him to want to rid the town of such a dastardly varmint who aired public hearings better left private.
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Does anyone seem to know what's done with those fees in Middleboro? Wonder why Jack never thought of doing that. Ooops! I think I know.
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It seems to fulfill my MUSHROOM FARMING THEORY -- you know, raised in the dark and fed a diet of manure.
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For a town the size of Southbridge, 4,000 homes, the annual total is ~ $160,000.
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With the direction in which newspapers are headed, sounds like a win-win for local coverage.
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Middleboro ATM: Article 34 Voting Machines

The Town of Middleboro is being asked to appropriate funds for those new glitzy touch screen machines that lack a paper audit trail and seem to have a pattern of glitches, like actually miscounting votes.
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For those of us who have watched the issue, those little GLITCHES such as significant UNDERVOTES and OVERVOTES have been problematic.
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One must wonder how a computer produces more votes than are cast or a significant undervote in hotly contested races.
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And then of course, there are power outages and fluctuations that can be blamed for the results. How will we know?
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Below, are just a few articles that are readily available regarding the importance of a paper audit trail for research and consideration prior to Middleboro's Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 13, 2008.
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Make your Town Meeting vote informed.
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Middleboro's Voting Machines
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GOP objects to bill allowing recounts
Voting rights activists who hoped the federal government would help local governments pay for paper trails and audits for electronic voting machines have gone from elation to frustration as they watched Republicans who supported such a proposal in committee vote against bringing it to the House floor. The result: The elections in November will likely be marred by the same accusations of fraud and error involving voting machines that arose in the aftermath of the 2004 presidential race.
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While some election reform activists would have preferred a mandatory bill, many saw it as the best they could hope to get in time for the next election. “On Election Day, if machines are breaking down and there are no paper ballots, the failure of this bill will be one place to look for explanations,” said Norden. Holt is predicting exactly that: Ultimately, he said, the bill’s failure will mean that “millions of voters will leave the 2008 election questioning the process and whether their vote means anything.” Politico
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HAVA explained on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's site.
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Judge muzzles Sequoia e-voting attack dogs
NJ machines to be inspected, after all
New Jersey voting rights advocates will have the chance to have independent experts inspect electronic voting machines they say malfunctioned during the recent presidential primary election, a state judge has ruled.

Sequoia Voting Systems, the manufacturer of the touch-screen machines, previously forced New Jersey officials to scrap plans for an independent review after threatening legal action. Lawyers for the company claimed the audit would violate its trade secrets.
Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg of Trenton gave the go-ahead for the experts to test software and firmware of Sequoia machines that were used in the February 5 presidential primary in New Jersey. Officials from New Jersey's Union County requested the review after discovering that paper-tape backups showing the number of Democrats and Republicans casting ballots didn't match the same data contained on cartridge printouts. Officials from four other counties later identified the same errors. The Register
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The BreakdownsIn Los Angeles, badly designed ballots kept a quarter of a million independents from voting in the Democratic primary. In Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico, thousands of voters found their names missing from registration lists, because of new statewide voter databases that scrambled names and assigned people to other political parties, or mistakenly indicated that they had to vote by mail. Across the country, election officials underestimated voter turnout and ran out of ballots. Meanwhile, the administration is not allowing volunteers onto V.A. campuses to ensure that wounded veterans are properly registered to vote.
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Will your vote count in the next election? Maybe not! How will we even know?
The Verified Voting Foundation champions reliable and publicly verifiable elections in the United States.
We advocate the use of voter-verified paper ballots (VVPBs) for all elections in the United States, so voters can inspect individual permanent records of their ballots before they are cast and so meaningful recounts may be conducted. We also insist that electronic voting equipment and software be open to public scrutiny and that random, surprise recounts be conducted on a regular basis to audit election equipment.
verified voting
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Test the Machines
By
Ed Davis
Jan 08, 2007
When Congress passed the Help America Vote Act four years ago, one of the problems it was intended to eliminate was the incestuous system of testing voting machines. Now, we find that the system is not improved -- rather the Election Assistance Commission has joined in the incestuous relationship among the vendors and testing labs.
This is how it works: The private companies making voting machines pay the testing labs (only a couple do this kind of work). The testing process and results are all secret. The system was cobbled together years ago by some elections officials and vendors, with little government oversight (or funding - a big problem) and over the years has become a joke.
The passage of HAVA and creation of the EAC gave at least some hope that the process would change and there would finally be some oversight. But,
as the NY Times reported last week, the EAC decertified of one of the testing labs, but didn't see fit to tell us, the voters, about it.
Back to the drawing board. Here's what the
NY Times says today in an editorial:
The veil of secrecy that hangs over certification is good for the companies that make voting machines and for the ones that test them. The government should not be protecting those private interests. It should be protecting the voting public. CommonCause
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UTC reaffirms $40 per share cash proposal to Diebold
HARTFORD, Conn., March 5, 2008 --
United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX) today issued the following statement regarding its offer to Diebold Inc.’s (NYSE: DBD)
United Technologies Corporation remains committed to its offer.
Diebold’s financial and stock performance and the inability of Diebold’s leadership to file timely financial statements are not valid reasons to avoid a dialogue with UTC. UTC
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War Machines/ Voting Machines McCain/ Clinton "The Connection"
United Technologies Lobbiest Group=Lincoln, Charlie Black,head of Lincoln is Political adviser to John McCain. Black is CEO of BKSH which is owned by Burson- Masteller and the CEO would be the same Mark Penn who is the political adviser to Hillary Clinton. Oh, did I fail to mention... United Technologies is now planning a hostile take over of DEIBOLD yes the same Diebold with all the Voting irregularities from past elections. A new level of corruption? Is this the experience Hillary is referring to? BuzzFlash
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Diebold rejected a $2.6 billion takeover bid from United Technologies. Diebold makes cash machines and security systems,
but is best known for electronic voting machines, a relatively small part of its business. Conspiracy theorists had a field day when some Diebold gizmos malfunctioned during an election in California in 2004.

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SOME CAST DOUBTS ON VOTING MACHINES
At Florida Polls, Touch Screens and Crossed Fingers

The new touch-screen machines were in place in Sarasota for the election, and they were assumed to be an improvement. But after the polls closed, a troubling anomaly appeared in the results.
There were 18,000 "undervotes" in
Sarasota County -- that is, 18,000 people showed up to the polls and chose candidates in other contests but not in the prominent and hard-fought congressional race. In the four other counties where voters cast ballots in the same race, the undervote percentage was far smaller.
What happened?

If the machines had left a paper trail of each voter's actions -- such as the punch cards or the lottery-ticket ballots -- many believe auditors would have had important clues to what happened.

In the wake of the investigations and ambiguity, the Florida legislature moved earlier this year to switch to voting machines that leave a paper trail.

But if they're reliable, why did the legislature move to get rid of them? "Floridians have said they want to be able to cast a ballot on a piece of paper," Ivey said. "We're moving to a paper system to help restore confidence." WP


Voting bill advances
Paper-ballot plan clears committee despite opposition
A paper-voting proposal cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday, despite stiff opposition from county clerks and Secretary of State Mike Coffman.
A Senate committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 189, which calls for voters statewide to cast paper ballots at polling places but also would allow those who ask to use electronic voting machines. Rocky Mountain News
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Optical scan voting works in Ohio

More than 400,000 voters went to the polls yesterday in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, using a new optical-scan system that appears to have worked with no more than the usual number of complaints in an election day plagued by foul weather and a closely contested race. GCN

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Middleboro's Gain is Southbridge's Loss

For the first time, the Middleboro Town Meeting Warrant Articles and the Town Budget were actually available for town residents 3 WEEKS BEFORE TOWN MEETING!
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Historically, town meeting voters have picked up their copy of the Warrant AT Town Meeting.
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The budget appears balanced and budget projections, never previously done, appear within reach.
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This accomplishment was under the tutelage of the interim Town Manager, Steve Lombard.
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Mr. Lombard has a low key style and got the job done without a fuss, and by working to make the information available on time, voters have circulated the warrant and discussed it and investigated it PRIOR to the public hearings. It seems that Mr. Lombard focused on working with Department Heads, working with the Finance Committee and presenting the budget in a timely fashion to the Board of Selectmen, and it was accomplished.
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The Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen are working together toward a common goal, instead of the previous hostile relationship created by Mr. Lombard's predecessor.
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In short, greater transparency has been created. We're not where we need to be as a Town with the current condition of the pathetic Town Web Site, but the availability of the budget information has been a good start.
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And Middleboro's future appears brighter with a new Town Manager arriving who can proudly advertise a triple A bond rating from his current employers. Not so Middleboro with our current A2 bond rating that costs a premium for historical poor choices.
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While Middleboro's future seems bright after a legacy of FUZZY MATH, courtesy of the creator of the method of municipal finance, pity poor Southbridge that seems to have taken on our problems.
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It seems Middleboro's Retired Town Manager, from whom no one ever asked for the Town Hall keys, has pursued his great love of spreading the FUZZY MATH model to other towns, as well as spreading comparable loosing landfill deals.
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Rumor has it that the same attorney who negotiated Middleboro's Waste Management Whopper recommended Mr. Healey for the Southbridge Landfill Fiasco. And Mr. Healey's FUZZY MATH prevails! Anyone remember how the numbers changed?
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Mr. Healey's revenue figures are a source of wonderment like a Chia Pet he waters at night.
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Middleboro has much to be thankful for during Mr. Healey's reign. One major accomplishment might be a casino agreement that should have netted the Town of Middleboro + $20 MILLION for a percentage of slot revenues that Mr. Healey successfully reduced to $7 MILLION.
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Great job, Jack! We're forever thankful!
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To Southbridge residents: Jack won't overstay his welcome. He'll run out of assets to sell to fund expenses, but could you return the Town Hall keys?
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You might want to check what the carefully worded Department of Revenue Report had to say about Middleboro funding expenses with one time revenue sources and other things or what the Auditors reported. Sorry! You won't find it on the Town Web Site! But you'll find it HERE.
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If you have any doubts about the Waste Management deal in Middleboro, you might want to check out the Southbridge site. At least the residents appear better informed and more concerned about their environment, like those nasty things that get dumped in rivers: RATS
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Gee, do you think the stuff dumped in the Nemasket River could have anything to do with the decline of the herring? Does anyone know? And what do you suppose will happen if the mega monster comes?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mitigation or What? #2

The most recent attacks against casino opponents seem carefully intended to distract from the failure of flag waving supporters to do their homework and present legitimate facts/information.
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What more effective strategy to divert attention from your failures than to focus attacks on your opponents?
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For those who might be out of the information loop, the following sums up the fairy tales rather well:
Internet abusers target Internet abuse
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After a rather impertinent letter to the editor was published in the Boston Globe, authored by Selectman Adam Bond, demanding obedience from our legislative delegation and a rather embarrassing display by him condemning Rep. Tom Calter for his opposition, Rep. Calter spoke before CFO and the Board of Selectmen (reported below in the Enterprise in February 2008).
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Calter tells Middleboro officials casino contract flawed
The state representative
tells selectmen the casino agreement underestimated the effects on town services.
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Calter said the contract also does not include a labor agreement with unions and does not address the issue of jobs and their quality.
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Board Vice Chairman Adam Bond, an attorney who helped negotiate the contract, told Calter, “There’s a risk in any agreement,”
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Sure, Mr. Bond! Let's dismiss a flawed Agreement you helped negotiate and your continued failure to retain those EXPERTS who would actually project the Town's costs.
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The convicted rapist and serial liar Glenn Marshall promised great things: union jobs, businesses would be compensated, homeowners who lost value would be compensated and blue skies.
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In a conversation with Senator Pacheco, the issue was raised that the union jobs ARE NOT included in the Agreement. There are no benefits' guarantees. And yet the union followers blindly support the Agreement without questioning.
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If the Commonwealth funds the infrastructure improvements, Prevailing Wage laws will PREVAIL.
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What if the casino investors fully fund and contract the same projects? Can they legally hire whomever?
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Rep. Calter raised the issue of the need for supporters to hire experts to do projections about the numbers, most specifically SCHOOL POPULATION.
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Middleboro's School System is currently close to capacity, with a 5 year lead time required for state reimbursement.
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Should this mega-monster come our way, what will the impacts be? If each child currently costs ~ $10,000 per year to educate, how many additional children will the mega-monster add to the town's schools?
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While Mr. Bond presented a slap-dash NO IMPACT presentation of flawed figures, isn't it time to re-visit this issue?
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Isn't it time to be honest about MITIGATION?
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Each time the issue of the cost of educating non-English speaking children is raised, cries of racism are heard.
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A non-English speaking child costs twice as much to educate.
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Shouldn't we plan?
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A sudden influx of those speaking other languages needs to be discussed and planned for. Public safety issues should be paramount.
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Your house is on fire and you don't speak English. You do what?
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Medical crisis, car accident, sudden serious injury, you don't speak English, you do what?
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Accusations of racism continue to cloud the discussion of substantive issues.
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It's time to behave like adults and expect the casino supporters to do their homework.

Middleboro Mitigation? #1

The dull and boring subject of the Middleboro Landfill was recently brought to my attention and much as we'd all like to bury it (pun intended!), sometimes you simply can't.
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The Middleboro Landfill disposed of the leachate, you know that nasty, chemical laden guck (technical scientific term) at the Waste Water Treatment plant free of charge, to be dumped in the Nemasket River.
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It seems to be a widespread understanding that the Waste Management contract provides the same freebie and this requires clarification.
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When the landfill was closed, the WASTE that the Middleboro landfill had accepted (sewage solids) was trucked to Rhode Island and it was discovered that the Town of Middleboro hadn't been charging the current commercial rates to the Waste Water Department that is operated as an ENTERPRISE account.
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Since the WW Department also accepts the contents of those trucks that pump septic tanks, that must mean that commercial haulers also weren't paying their fair share.
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Much as we'd all like to flush and believe it's gone, could this be another issue the BOS lacks the expertise to comprehend and manage? Could this be another issue defined as lack of transparency since nothing is posted on the Town's Pathetic Web Site?
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Since the CRAC (Casino Resort Advisory Committee) seems to be bogged down at present justifying a town-owned ambulance service, it might be convenient if mitigation information were posted on the Town's Web Site to answer questions that have been raised regarding the impact of comparable issues on town services, unless as the Chairman continues to maintain, a mega-casino will have no impact.