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, April 30, 2009

Amory Lovins Honored

The Rocky Mountain Institute, whose motto is "Abundance By Design" has announced the following --
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RMI Co-founder and Chief Scientist
Amory Lovins Receives Time 100 and
"Design Mind" Awards
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There is some great information on the site and email subscription is available.
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The 2009 TIME 100
Amory Lovins
Amory Lovins had the solution to the energy problem in 1976. It's taken the rest of us 33 years to catch up. In the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, Lovins wrote his seminal piece in Foreign Affairs comparing what he called "the hard" and "the soft" energy paths.
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The hard path, which most people advocated, involved securing more and more fossil fuel at any price. The soft path involved looking for new and renewable energy sources. In 1982, Lovins, who had studied physics and the arts at Harvard and Oxford, founded the Rocky Mountain Institute, where he kept his green drumbeat going, calling for cars that hacked away at the inefficiencies of the postwar era. Now 61, he is watching as his arguments become accepted wisdom and is even helping in the transition away from fossil fuels, as when he taught Wal-Mart how to make its trucks more efficient. It's been a long wait — more than three decades — but Lovins' patience has clearly paid off.

Pope is executive director of the Sierra Club
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10th Annual Design Awards
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NYT

Nuclear? We Can't Afford It!

Last July's two nuclear spills in France can be traced to --
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facilities owned by Paris-based Areva, which has U.S. headquarters in Bethesda, Md. and Lynchburg, Va. and is working with Maryland-based Constellation Energy to market its reactors in the United States.
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Excerpts below from an ISS article about the GOP efforts to promote dirty nuclear energy as a solution to our problems without gathering the facts, or maybe they're just ignoring them [emphasis mine]--
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U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee delivered the weekly Republican radio address Saturday, using the occasion to call on the United States to build new nuclear power plants. And not just a few plants, mind you, or even a few dozen: a hundred brand-new nuclear plants.
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GOP lawmakers are expected to try to add provisions offering more subsidies for coal as well as nuclear power. Gearing up for a fight, sustainable energy advocates are holding a national call-in to Congress today against additional coal and nuclear subsidies.In his address, Alexander criticized Democrats' for proposing billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy -- but he failed to note that nuclear power is already
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In 2005, Congress handed the
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nuclear power industry $13 billion in federal aid,
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and two years later went on to approve
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an additional $20.5 billion in loan guarantees,
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making U.S. taxpayers the cosigners on loans for new nuclear projects --
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half of which are expected to end in defaults.
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Taxpayers and ratepayers have also forked over
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$11 billion for the Yucca Mountain high-level waste disposal dump,
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which the Obama administration recently scrapped over concerns about long-term safety.
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Clean? Hardly. Low cost?
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At an estimated $6 billion per reactor, nuclear can't seriously be considered "low cost," nor can the estimated power generation costs from new nuclear plants of 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour -- triple current U.S. rates.
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Vive la nukes? Quelle horreur.
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If Alternative Energy received this level of federal subsidies, we would all have solar collectors on our roofs.

Swine Flu and Hog Farms

SouthernStudies commented on the Swine Flu --
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REPORT - What else is breeding in factory hog farms?
by Sue Sturgis
The story
we reported this week about bloggers' speculation that the swine flu epidemic sweeping the globe may have originated in a Mexican community that's home to massive industrial hog operations owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods has jumped to the mainstream media.
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The Associated Press
reported on claims by residents of La Gloria in the state of Veracruz that their community -- where a 4-year-old boy was among the first to test positive for the virus, a genetic mix of swine, bird and human flu -- is the "ground zero" for the outbreak that has sickened hundreds of people worldwide and killed more than 150 in Mexico alone:
As far back as late March, roughly one-sixth of the residents here in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz began complaining of respiratory infections that they say can be traced to a farm that lies upwind five miles (8.5 kilometers) to the north, in the town of Xaltepec. But Jose Luis Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of La Gloria, said he knew the minute he learned about the outbreak on the news and heard a description of the symptoms: fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. "When we saw it on the television, we said to ourselves, 'This is what we had,'" he said Monday. "It all came from here. ... The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here."Granjas Carroll de Mexico, a half-owned subsidiary of Smithfield, operates eight hog farms in the area. The Mexican media has reported that health officials traced the La Gloria outbreak to a type of fly that reproduces in pig feces. But
Smithfield denies the allegations, saying it's found no clinical signs of swine flu in its hogs or employees at its farms in Mexico.
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Mexican agriculture officials also said this week that inspectors found no sign of swine flu among pigs around the suspected farm. However, the farm's manager told the AP that no one from the government inspected his facility for swine flu.

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With the epidemic
hurting its profits, the pork industry has asked health officials to rename the disease. However, the World Health Organization is sticking with the "swine flu" designation because the virus is the type that affects pigs, Bloomberg reports.
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Back in Mexico, residents of La Gloria have long complained about conditions at the Smithfield subsidiary, saying they are bothered by foul odors, flies and problems with water contamination from the massive lagoons where hog waste is stored. After an outbreak of severe respiratory illness in February, health workers sealed off the town and sprayed chemicals to kill flies that were swarming in people's homes, the Times U.K.
reports.
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The Times also points out that the epidemic is likely fuel more controversy in Veracruz, home to thousands of farmers who claim the state stole their land in 1992. Now part of
a movement called Los 400 Pueblos, the farmers -- most of them poor and many indigenous -- have become famous for their naked demonstrations in Mexico City. (For photos of the protests, click here.)
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Regardless of whether health officials ultimately tie the swine flu epidemic back to Smithfield's hog operations in Mexico, the story has already helped illuminate how factory farms can act as a vector for environmental injustice, imposing suffering on nearby communities because of the serious ecological problems associated with industrial livestock operations.

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It's a harsh reality that many residents of the United States are all too familiar with -- especially residents of the rural U.S. South, where such farming methods were first developed before being exported south of the border ... (Please click
here for the rest of the story.)

"The Oxymoron" by Dirty Coal

Dirty Coal's poster child is Harriman, Tennessee, site of the December 22, 2008 massive environmental degradation of the TVA Coal Ash Spill, the first of three recent coal spills.
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30 Times The Size of Exxon Valdez
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30 Times The Size of Exxon Valdez #2
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30 Times The Size of Exxon Valdez #3
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Dirty Coal is working overtime through its new mouthpiece, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, to convince Congressmen of its false "cleanliness," disregarding the visible environmental mess created by Coal Ash and Mountaintop Removal.

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Instead of fostering Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy options such as Cape Wind, which would eliminate the need for additional Dirty Coal burning power plants and allow a phase out of the dirtiest ones, Congress is funding research that might produce results decades in the future.



Off Shore Drilling: Are Americans Being Snookered? :
Wind is already more competitive than electricity generated from new nuclear and coal-fired power plants.
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More Wind Mills or Hot Air?

Coal generates 54% of our electricity, and is the single biggest air polluter in the U.S.
Coal is Dirty!

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The Center for Public Integrity issued a new report that's worth reading. Below are several excerpts [emphasis mine]:

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The ‘Clean Coal’ Lobbying Blitz
As hearings began on landmark climate change legislation, the Center for Public Integrity delved into the story of an unprecedented corporate campaign over the past year to preserve coal’s role in the nation’s energy future. The report looks at how the mining, rail and utility companies put together their drive, bolstered by at least $15.6 million in federal campaign contributions in the 2008 election cycle.
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The burning of coal for electricity is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has promoted the message that technology can solve what is really an intractable pollution problem. At $45 million a year, the campaign is three times larger than the industry’s previous lobbying and public relations efforts. But it’s just a small slice of the money the industry has amassed, due to record profits, and this Center report provides a new picture of the coal coalition’s political influence.

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...the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a collection of 48 mining, rail, manufacturing, and power-generating companies with an annual budget of more than $45 million — almost three times larger than the coal industry’s old lobbying and public relations groups combined. ACCCE (pronounced “Ace”) is just celebrating its first birthday, but it has already become a juggernaut shaping the terms of the climate change debate on Capitol Hill — even while weathering a high-profile assault by critics who accuse it of peddling hot air.
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ACCCE’s considerable impact will be on display this week at House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings on a new draft climate bill penned by panel chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. Just a year ago, Waxman and Markey backed a moratorium on new coal-fired electricity plants. But their latest draft would allow new coal plants through 2015, if they are retrofitted to cut carbon dioxide output some 40 to 60 percent within another decade. The technology to do that does not yet exist, but not to worry: the new measure would set up a $1 billion-a-year clean coal research fund to help.
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When voters don't shout louder than lobbyists for Dirty Energy, they win!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poor Air Quality

The American Lung Association recently published their State of the Air .
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Since air quality has been an issue that has been raised both in discussions regarding the impact of the Mashpee Wampanoag Mega Casino that is no longer coming or the proposed Brockton Power Plant. You will note that air quality information for Plymouth County is not included.
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How could any project that effects air quality be discussed in any informed fashion when information isn't widely available?
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Any resident of the area is aware that on a hot summer day, you only need to step outside and view the cloud of pollution enveloping the area.
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Does anyone know where the information is available?

Rumor is ....

According to the terms of the Waste Management contract, the one not available on the PTWS (Pathetic Town Web Site) if the Middleboro BOS was ever interested in transparency, the company paid for equipment that was left at the landfill when they assumed the management operations.
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Without a Public Records Request and payment of an inflated fee intended to discourage those requests, we may never know the details of the committee or the contract, but I digress.
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Waste Management paid for equipment, the details of which are not readily publicly available, and the money was used to purchase spanking new equipment for the DPW at Town Meeting, using the argument that the trucks/equipment were ancient.
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Rumor has it that a brand new dump truck was purchased. A brand new overly large snow plow was attached to that dump truck. Because the snow plow was too large for the frame of the dump truck, the frame was bent and the truck requires replacement at taxpayers' expense.
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Although it is commonly believed among the male population that their female counterparts are mechanically inept, I can only judge by my experience -- I purchased a vehicle and took it to someone to attach the appropriate snow plow for my purposes. While my needs differ from the heavy duty requirements of the DPW, this is not uncharted territory. Had the frame bent on my vehicle, whose fault would it have been?
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This raises a host of questions about who stipulated the specifications of the plow, among other things. Where was the oversight?
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Let's not whitewash this issue and expect Middleboro taxpayers to write a check before the answers are clear.
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And let's not accept Marsha Brunelle offering scripted excuses that fail to satisfy.
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Maybe the Middleboro BOS should be available to listen to taxpayer complaints and comments, even if the means Mrs. Brunelle making her email website address available to do so. Maybe Mrs. Duphily could allow Middleboro residents to email her as well, since her friends, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is already doing so.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Moral Bankruptcy of Global Warming Deniers

Lobbyists are flooding Washington, D.C. to assure that dirty, polluting industries continue to destroy the environment and climate, all in efforts to preserve their profits.
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Much as DIRTY COAL has worked to preserve and protect its status as the dirtiest and most destructive energy source, the Moral Bankruptcy of Global Warming Deniers is being defined.
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The New York Times offered some of the information that has previously been commented on:
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Benjamin D. Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory whose work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was challenged by the Global Climate Coalition and allied groups, said the coalition was “engaging in a full-court press at the time, trying to cast doubt on the bottom-line conclusion of the I.P.C.C.” That panel concluded in 1995 that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”
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“I’m amazed and astonished,” Dr. Santer said, “that the Global Climate Coalition had in their possession scientific information that substantiated our cautious findings and then chose to suppress that information.”
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EDF posed the following:
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...New York Times features a story that may not shock you, but should concern us all:
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As far back as 1995, scientists working for the oil, auto and gas industries were telling their bosses that human-caused global warming could not be refuted.
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But, that hasn't stopped industry lobbyists from waging a cynical campaign to undermine the science and cloud the debate.
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Americans were outraged a decade ago when cigarette makers made similar claims about the evidence linking smoking and lung cancer. And then we discovered reams of damning research hidden away in tobacco company vaults.
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The only real difference between then and now is that global warming stands to threaten more than just people -- millions of species face extinction, entire ecosystems altered beyond recognition, the natural world as we know it today irreparably diminished.
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The Next Two Weeks Are Critical
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These revelations come at a defining moment in the fight to stop global warming.
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Some time in the next two weeks, the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment is expected to mark up and vote on landmark global warming legislation. According to our political experts this Subcommittee bill will set the tone for the entire debate that follows in both Houses of Congress.
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In short, whether or not an effective global warming bill lands on President Obama's desk in 2009 may depend on the actions of 34 subcommittee members over the next week or two.
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The opposition may be morally bankrupt, but their political coffers are overflowing. Global warming deniers are spending hundreds of millions on lobbying and advertising aimed at confusing the public and scaring legislators.
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More than 2,000 top corporate lobbyists are on Capitol Hill doing whatever it takes to stop global warming action.
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What do we have? The truth. And you.
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If you want to speak out, use the following link:
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Take Action

Thursday, April 23, 2009

HWM FY 2010 Budget

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center provides additional details about the state budget --


New and Noteworthy Reports from MassBudget
Budget Monitor: The House Ways and Means Fiscal Year 2010 Budget
April 23, 2009
The Commonwealth is facing a severe fiscal crisis, caused both by the deep national recession and by policy choices made over the past decade in Massachusetts. One option to close the state’s $3.5 billion budget gap would be to develop a plan that resembles a stable four-legged stool: budget cuts; federal stimulus money; new tax revenue; and reserves.


The House Ways and Means (HWM) proposal seeks instead to balance the budget on only two of these legs, suggesting no withdrawal from the Stabilization Fund and no new tax revenue. As a result, the committee proposes deep cuts in local aid, human services, education, and virtually every other area of state government.

The Unsexy Solution

Before considering that sleek, sexy wind turbine with gently gliding blades churning out kilowatts or that photovoltaic array on the roof to awe neighbors and friends, comes that dull and boring assessment of reducing energy consumption through a variety of means.
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Maybe it begins with an energy audit.
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Maybe it also involves calculating actual energy costs and assessing where those costs can be reduced.
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It also includes assessing some bad energy habits and working to change them - leaving lights on, eliminating the energy vampires, changing to those curly light bulbs or LEDs, replacing the outdated energy chugging appliance that still works but lives on borrowed time spinning the meter.
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New England is blessed with a magnificent and elderly housing stock that includes uninsulated homes with single pane windows and lovely features that leak heated air like a sieve.
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Efficiency Is Our Best Untapped Energy Source included Amory Lovins comment -
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... for example, in the United States we could save at least half the oil and gas and three-quarters of the electricity we use, and that efficiency investment would cost only about an eighth [of] what we’re now paying for those forms of energy. …
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The experts in the field, Steven Chu, Amory Lovins and others, have all spoken of the ability of the US to reduce our energy consumption by .... are you ready for this? ... the politically incorrect concept of conservation! We can no longer call it that because the word engenders visions of sitting in the dark and shivering, so must now be called "EFFICIENCY" ! Those experts tell us that we waste 30%, 40% and according to the new Energy Secretary, a recent report says we can reduce building consumption 80%.
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So, before considering PhotoVoltaics, consider --
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One of the most common complaints about "going solar" is that the upfront cost is just too high. The primary reason a solar power system can be a high ticket purchase for many solar power shoppers is because of the customers’ bad energy usage habits. The majority of solar power shoppers don't realize they are energy hogs until they start shopping for solar power, when they are forced to understand and analyze their electric consumption.
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So how can solar power shoppers instantly get a deep discount on their solar power system? The answer is simple, "reduce then produce." Focusing on energy efficiency, and implementing lifestyle and product changes can greatly reduce the upfront cost of a solar power system. It is always more cost-effective to reduce your consumption through efficiency than it is to produce your own power.
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Think of it this way, the more you can save through energy efficiency, the fewer solar panels you need to cover your electric usage. It’s that simple. But most solar power consumers get frustrated seeing high upfront costs of going solar and think there are no alternatives to bring the cost down.

Find out how to reduce your energy consumption, continue reading this article at
http://www.intent.com/blog/2009/04/22/want-go-solar-cut-your-energy-use-first.
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Not surprisingly, it includes the basics [LINK] --
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Think of it this way, the more you can save through energy efficiency, the fewer solar panels you need to cover your electric usage. It’s that simple. But most solar power consumers get frustrated seeing high upfront costs of going solar and think there are no alternatives to bring the cost down.
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How do you reduce your energy consumption?
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1.) Change all your light bulbs to LEDs. Lighting can contribute up to 10 to 20 percent of your electrical load. Want to minimize that load? LEDs (light emitting diodes) consume a fraction of the electricity that incandescent bulbs and even CFL light bulbs consume. While LED bulbs cost more than their counterparts, they last over 11 years, and LEDs differ from CFLs in that they contain no mercury, a very toxic element. LED bulbs can fit in standard lighting sockets and only cost a dollar or two per year to run a standard household light bulb. Since LED bulbs operate cooler, the decrease in temperature can also keep your home cooler during summer months.
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2.) Invest in insulation. Drafty windows and gaps under doors can significantly raise your heating and cooling costs. These costs usually comprise over half of all energy outlays made by homeowners. By investing in insulation, you can lower your energy costs by as much as 30%.
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3.) Get rid of old appliances. These tend to be less energy efficient. For example, an old coffee maker can consume power equivalent to the output of four solar panels! Purchase Energy Star appliances.
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4.) If you’re not using it, turn it off! Unplug unused items (they draw energy even if they are plugged in, but not in use). These sneaky loads are called “vampire loads”, and they cost U.S. consumers 3 billion dollars per year! How much are these loads costing you? Smart power strips can help you fight vampire loads by shutting off power draw when the appliance is not in use. Remember to set your computers to automatically hibernate (power saving mode) when they are idle for more than 5 minutes. And most importantly, turn off the lights when you leave a room!
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Changing the way you consume energy can have a significant impact on the overall price of a solar energy system. Reducing energy consumption can shave off thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars from the final cost of a system.
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It seems like today, everyone wants to produce their own watts through solar panels and wind turbines. But we need to first produce “negawatts.” Negawatt power is a term promoted and introduced by Amory Lovins of The Rocky Mountain Institute; essentially, the term means that by saving energy, we create a "virtual power plant," thus not having to create a new power plant to increase electrical supply. The direct reduction in electrical demand through energy efficiency is called a Negawatt.
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Energy efficiency and solar power fit very well with each other. When considering solar power, think about easy ways you can reduce your consumption first – that way you'll save tons of cash, making the solar investment that much more attainable.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day! 2

In September 2008, Mercury, Power Plants, Fish and Cement Kilns was posted.


In response to that post, Mercury and Cement Kilns was posted about the Ravena, New York community who have been affected by the Lafarge Ravena Cement Plant.
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In January 2009, Cement Kilns and Highly Toxic Mercury Pollution explained that EarthJustice had reached a settlement regarding mercury pollution from Cement Kilns and EPA standards were to be announced in March 2009.
It included the following --
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The report -- titled "Cementing a Toxic Legacy?" -- drew on the latest EPA data, which found that the nation's 151 cement plants generate 22,918 pounds of airborne mercury each year. Previously, EPA believed that cement kilns accounted for about 11,995 pounds of annual mercury emissions...
one-seventieth of one
teaspoon of mercury can
contaminate
a 20-acre lake and make
the lake's fish unsafe to eat.
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Earth Justice announced --
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Federal Government Cracks Down on Mercury Pollution From Cement Kilns
Air pollution rules from new administration will cut mercury pollution by between 81 and 93 percent
April 21, 2009
Washington, DC -- The federal government is proposing, for the first time, to reduce airborne mercury pollution from cement kilns with new rules issued today. The new
standards will cut mercury pollution from the nation's more than 150 cement kilns between 11,600 and 16,250 pounds (or a reduction of 81 to 93 percent), according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Led by Lisa Jackson, the EPA Administrator newly appointed by President Obama, EPA is proposing first time standards for cement kilns of mercury, hydrochloric acid, and toxic organic pollutants such as benzene. In addition, the agency is strengthening the outdated standards for particulate matter to better control kilns' emissions of lead, arsenic, and other toxic metals.

Local and national environmental and public health advocates cheered the news, which follows a decade of delay and represents a hard-fought victory for those who have long pushed for these mercury limits. The new standards are being proposed as part of a court settlement reached between the US Environmental Protection Agency, the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice representing Sierra Club and community groups in New York, Michigan, Montana, California and Texas, and the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Earthjustice prevailed in a string of lawsuits aimed at forcing EPA to set limits for airborne mercury pollution from cement kilns for nearly a decade. Such limits were due under the federal Clean Air Act in 1997.

"This is great news and is a promising sign that the new leadership at EPA and in the White House is serious about protecting public health and the environment," said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew. "By stopping pollution at its source, we can keep mercury from poisoning the fish we eat. Bit by bit, we can reclaim our nation's waters and protect our children's health and our environment from dangerous mercury pollution."

Although cement kilns have avoided controlling their mercury pollution until now, they are one of the largest sources of mercury emissions nationwide and the worst mercury polluters in some states. But kilns can curb their mercury emissions by using cleaner raw materials, cleaner fuels, and readily available technology like scrubbers and activated carbon injection.

In addition to requiring kilns to cut their mercury emissions, the proposed rules also limit, for the first time, kilns' emissions of the acid gas hydrochloric acid which acts as a lung irritant and other highly toxic pollutants such as benzene. In addition, they will significantly reduce cement kilns' emissions of particulate (PM) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution, pollutants which damage heart and lung function.

"The Obama EPA is waking up to community voices which have been calling for years for protection from the cement industry's toxic spew" said Marti Sinclair, Chair of the Sierra Club's Clean Air Team. "The spell which has enthralled EPA to corporate interests has been broken by the dogged persistence of Americans fighting for what is right."

The new rules would also require cement kilns to monitor their mercury emissions for the first time. In the past, the industry has been notoriously lax about reporting these emissions: a study last summer from Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) found that cement kilns emit mercury pollution at more than twice the level estimated as recently as 2006 by the EPA, which only started to collect data on the problem in 2007.

The report -- titled "Cementing a Toxic Legacy?" -- drew on the latest EPA data, which found that the nation's 151 cement plants generate 22,918 pounds of airborne mercury each year. Previously, EPA believed that cement kilns accounted for about 11,995 pounds of annual mercury emissions.

Mercury is dangerous in even very small doses; one-seventieth of one teaspoon of mercury can contaminate a 20-acre lake and make the lake's fish unsafe to eat. But a study by the University of Florida found that when mercury pollution is reduced, ecosystems can indeed bounce back, documented by reduced mercury levels in fish and certain bird species within just a few years.

A dangerous neurotoxin, mercury interferes with the brain and nervous system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight percent of American women of childbearing age have mercury in their bodies at levels high enough to put their babies at risk of birth defects, loss of IQ, learning disabilities and developmental problems. The build up of mercury in aquatic systems and the resulting fish contamination undercuts the million-job industry supported by the nation's 45 million recreational fishers and renders a portion of the hard-won catch unfit for human consumption.

Additional Resources:

For an interactive map showing the locations of cement kilns nationwide, including kiln-specific information, please visit:
http://www.earthjustice.org/library/features/cement-kilns/interactive-map-of-featured-cement-kilns.html
For an interactive web feature illustrating how cement manufacturing creates mercury pollution, please visit:
http://www.earthjustice.org/library/features/cement-kilns/mercury-emissions-from-cement-production.html
For an interactive web feature illustrating how mercury impacts humans, please visit:
http://www.earthjustice.org/library/features/cement-kilns/mercury-and-bioaccumulation.html
For a report documenting the recreation fishing economic engine, please visit




Two Seattle Cement Kilns From Above
This video features two Seattle cement kilns, located just outside of downtown Seattle. Mercury emissions from these sites impact hundreds of thousands of people around the Puget Sound. Toxic levels of mercury in fish affect everyone, especially children and pregnant women.




A Bay Area Cement Kiln From Above
This video features the Cupertino cement kiln, located just outside San Francisco. Mercury emissions from this site impact hundreds of thousands of people in the Bay Area.


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Take action and send a letter of support to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Thank you, Mr. Perkins!

Brockton Enterprise reported --

Middleboro official blasts state for Quinn bill mess
Towns must still fund benefit for police officers
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Alice C. Elwell

ENTERPRISE CORRESPONDENT
Posted Apr 21, 2009 @ 03:00 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MIDDLEBORO — Finance Committee Chairman Richard J. Pavadore greeted the House budget’s $1 million cut in state aid to Middleboro with one word, “Wow.”


Pavadore said reports the state isn’t going to fund the Quinn Bill provisions don’t sit well with him.

“If the state doesn’t fund it, why do we have to,” he said.But he says it’s not that simple, because Middleboro taxpayers are contractually obligated to the provisions.

Pavadore said last year nearly $300,000 was paid to 23 police officers as a career incentive under the Quinn Bill, with the state picking up 50 percent of the cost.

In addition 30 firefighters were paid $92,800.95 in educational incentives.

He said the Police Department budget is already down to the bare bones, and he doesn’t see where $300,000 can come out of that budget, because the town is under contract for minimum manning requirements through selectmen’s negotiations.

Pavadore said other departments will have to make up the difference, unless a one-time revenue can be found to make up for it.

He said taxpayers are funding the cost of the higher education and then paying the employee annually for having a degree. He said in many cases, degrees are not necessary for the position.

“I think we’re in good shape, based on what the town manager has forecast in state aid for 2010,” said Middleboro Assessor/Appraiser Barbara Erickson.

Town Manager Charles J. Cristello instructed a town-wide budget reduction of 31/2 percent to close a $1.3 million deficit. Cristello estimated the town would get $19,437,628 in state aid. The proposed House budget released on Friday is $19,678,743 in state aid for Middleboro.

Of that amount, the School Department will get the lion’s share, $17,290,908.
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Mr. Pavadore, always politically correct and professional, doesn't tell you that Wayne Perkins negotiated the contract that included the provision that provides that the Town will fully fund the Quinn Bill if the state doesn't.
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That was the contract that Mr. Perkins kept insisting was 3%, 3%, 3%, when in fact, I finally got him to acknowledge at Candidates' Night the he had negotiated
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36%, 3%, 3%
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Do you ever wonder what Mr. Perkins told you that is incorrect?
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Mr. Perkins also negotiated the contract that extended the Quinn Bill to the Fire Department. How many other towns do that? Find one and post it in the comments section, please.
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Mr. Perkins might have done so believing that it ensured his re-election.
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Judging from the election results, Mr. Perkins had to actively campaign for a nominal position of Town Moderator against a relatively unknown new comer and only won by a narrow margin.
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How'd that work out for you, Wayne? Are you still planning to run for Selectman next year?
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Putting the contracts in perspective, Wayne negotiated 36% pay raises along with a continuation of employees only contributing 10% of the health care premiums with a $5 co-pay.
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Find other municipalities that do so and post in the comment section.
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Collective bargaining contracts are public record if you care to do your own research.
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Prop. 2 1/2 allows basically for a 2 1/2% increase in revenue.
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How could Mr. Perkins justify this kind of legacy? Please say thank you next time you see him.
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You still think town government is unimportant?
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And BTW, we're still using one time revenues to balance the budget.
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That's like selling your furniture to buy food.

Happy Earth Day!




The daily green offers loads of environmental information, cost saving ideas, health information and at the bottom includes a comprehensive blog roll of other sites.



includes


Earth Day Facts and Tips for Everyone


If you have a friend who doesn't love the Earth but loves saving money, recommend some of these tips.


If you're just getting started, start here.


If you're having trouble going green, these tips are for you. They're for everyone. They're that easy.


The Daily Green teamed up with the NRDC to produce these tips, which highlight simple steps and match them to real environmental benefits. For instance, if we all requested that we stop receiving junk mail -- which you can do quickly online -- it would save 53 million trees and 56 billion gallons of water.

Happy Earth Day!

Let's End Mountaintop Removal!

NRDC is conducting the email campaign below, to speak out and speak up to end the environmental devastation of MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL ---


Tell your senators to pass the Appalachia Restoration Act and end mountaintop removal mining

Mountaintop removal coal mining is ravaging Appalachian communities and landscapes. This practice clear-cuts forests and flattens mountain peaks, leaving denuded mine sites in its wake. Besides destroying irreplaceable forest habitat, coal companies dump waste material from mountaintop removal mining into adjacent valleys, contaminating drinking water sources for the surrounding communities. More than 1,200 miles of streams and rivers have already been destroyed or seriously polluted by coal mining waste in central Appalachia.

The recently introduced bipartisan Appalachia Restoration Act would stop this destruction to our environment and mining communities. The bill would end the current practice of coal companies receiving permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to destroy southern forests and dump mountaintop removal mining waste into streams and rivers. Passing this critical bill would add to the growing momentum to stop coal companies from ravaging our natural heritage.

Take Action
On Point provided an interesting explanation of the proposed energy legislation --

Starting today, Congress takes its first real look at capping carbon emissions.

It’s spurred on by some major momentum in the EPA and the looming deadline of a world climate conference in Copenhagen this December.

But Republicans, big business, and some Democrats are leading a strong counter movement and sounding the alarm about the costs and feasibility, especially in this economy.

Would Facts Change Your Mind?

If you found out this was true, would it change your mind about Predatory Gambling and gambling addiction?


Gambling May Have Played Role In 'Craigslist Case'

BOSTON (WBZ) reports

Investigators are looking into possible gambling issues that may have played a role in the murder and robbery at two luxury hotels in downtown Boston, sources tell WBZ-TV.

When police arrested Markoff on I-95 in Walpole on Monday, prosecutors say he was on his way to Foxwoods. While they would not comment on reports that Markoff had unpaid gambling debts, casino officials tell WBZ they are talking with investigators about Markoff, who frequented the casinos often.

He was driving to Foxwoods Casino with his fiancee, Megan McAllister, when police arrested him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Celebrate Earth Day: Rain or Shine!

Wikipedia defines Earth Day --

Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year. This date is Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

Earth Day Network offers activities and issues to celebrate Earth Day.

Grist offers What’s the matter with Earth Day?
or Our fourth annual Earth Day list of the year’s goodies, oddities, and inanities
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Lewis Black deconstructed Earth Day children’s programming on last night’s The Daily Show, including a great jab at actor / MTV Cribs balla’ Wilmer Valderrama.
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WP offered extensive video of Steven Chu speaking on all aspects of energy. Do you think he got it right about saving 80% of a building's energy use?
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In case you're headed to DC tomorrow, you can mosey over to -- EPA to Hold Earth Day Festival and Open House at Headquarters
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ENN always provides a wide array of energy and environmental issues, such as --
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What’s the right energy price benchmark? and you gotta love environmentally responsible chocolate --
Walking The Walk On Sustainability
Speaking of Mars, the candy company of the same name claims it is the "first global chocolate company to commit to fundamentally changing the way sustainable cocoa farming practices are advanced by aiming to certify" that its entire cocoa supply is produced in a sustainable manner by 2020.
It wants to achieve this through collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit that works on land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior. They unveiled new goals in their continuing campaign to help cocoa farmers get on the path toward sustainability. They agreed to redouble efforts to help thousands of farmers meet holistic social and environmental standards so that their farms could earn Rainforest Alliance certification.

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Kaboose offers kids stuff!
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Nuclear Energy: Not A Solution #4

Each time Nuclear Energy is spoken of as the energy of the future, Washington State comes to mind. Nuclear Energy is promoted as clean by the industry simply because the environmental impact can't be seen. DemocracyNOW!, broadcasting from Spokane discussed the nuclear waste left behind --

Hanford Nuclear Reservation: A Look at the Nation’s Most Polluted Nuclear Weapons Production Site

KAREN DORN STEELE: Hanford is the nation’s largest plutonium production complex. It made the plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. In the course of weapons production, it sent a lot of radiation into the air, contaminating the region.


Radiation Exposure from 50 Years of Uranium Mining Continues to Affect Spokane Indian Reservation

AMY GOODMAN: We go now from the contaminated Hanford nuclear site to a key part of nuclear weapons production and nuclear power generation: uranium mining.

My next guest is Twa-le Abrahamson. She is with the Spokane Indian Reservation, where the only uranium mining in Washington State took place. The two mines on the reservation, Sherwood Mine and Midnite Mine, have not been active since the ’80s, and the Midnite Mine was declared a Superfund site in 2000. The mine was operational from 1955 to ’81 and now contains several open pits filled with heavy radioactive metals and water.

Midnite Mine was operated by a subsidiary of the Denver-based Newmont USA Limited, one of the largest mining corporations in the world. It’s long refused to pay for the cleanup of the mine. But last year the Environmental Protection Agency won a lawsuit that requires Newmont and its subsidiary, Dawn Mining Company, to help pay for cleaning up the abandoned mine.

Twa-le Abrahamson and her mother Debbie have founded the SHAWL Society, which stands for Sovereignty, Health, Air, Water and Land. It’s a grassroots organization addressing the impact of radiation exposure caused by over a half-century of uranium mining on the Spokane Reservation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Executive Meeting Minutes 1-7-08

Reviewing the Executive Meeting Minutes that are supposed to be released regularly and promptly according to the statute [Once Upon A Time...] ---
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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.


I discovered that the regular public meeting minutes are posted for 1-7-08.

The following request will be submitted to the BOS requesting a correction --

Re: Executive Meeting Minutes 1-7-08

A review of the PTWS (Pathetic Town Web Site) will indicate that the item posted as the following:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009 4:39 PM 50176 E.S. 1-7-08.doc

Represents the regular meeting minutes for the public session.

This requires correction.

Your prompt attention would be appreciated.

OMG! An astute reader pointed at that the Executive Session was posted at the end of the public meeting that was re-posted! Who would have thought? Who would have expected any consistentcy in the method anything is posted on the PTWS?

The following represents those meeting minutes and since they represent collective bargaining matters that have been resolved, one must wonder why they weren't previously released since this is what the statute says --

Executive session minutes must be released to the public as soon as the stated purpose for the executive session protection has ceased.

EXECUTIVE SESSION January 7, 2008
Middleborough Board of Selectmen
At 9:55 PM, upon motion by Selectman Perkins and seconded by Selectman Bond, Board voted by Roll Call to go into Executive Session to discuss strategy relative to collective bargaining and pending litigation. Roll Call: P. Rogers, Yes; S. Spataro, Yes; W. Perkins, Yes; A. Bond, Yes; M. Brunelle, Yes. Chairwoman announced Board would not return into Open Session.

Board met with Attorney Leo Peloquin to discuss collective bargaining issues.
Upon motion by Selectman Perkins and seconded by Chairwoman Brunelle, the following Roll Call Vote was recorded:
“To designate Labor Counsel, Town Manager, and designated Selectman as the Town’s negotiating representative with the two Police Unions

SELECTMAN P. ROGERS YES
SELECTMAN S. SPATARO YES
SELECTMAN A. BOND YES
SELECTMAN W. PERKINS YES
SELECTMAN M. BRUNELLE YES.”

Board agreed that the Town Manager will stay involved in Union negotiations, while on vacation, via telephone. Letter is to be drafted by Labor Counsel notifying the Unions of the Board’s policy decision.

Labor Counsel assured Chairwoman she did not need to leave the meeting while discussing GMEG Union as Board discussed position of Deputy Fire Chief only.

Regarding retirees and the health insurance co-pay reimbursement issue, Chairwoman asked Labor Counsel to call Town Counsel and discuss language in article. The following Roll Call vote was recorded:
“To support the Town Meeting article, which supports retirees and their spouses regarding health insurance co-pay reimbursements

SELECTMAN P. ROGERS YES
SELECTMAN S. SPATARO YES
SELECTMAN A. BOND YES
SELECTMAN W. PERKINS YES.”
Chairwoman M. Brunelle Abstained

Board requested Building Commissioner, Health Officer, and Town Counsel attend Board’s meeting on Monday, January 14, 2008 to discuss Holton lawsuit.

At 11:03 PM Board voted by Roll Call to adjourn meeting. Roll call: A. Bond, Yes; W. Perkins, Yes; P. Rogers, Yes, S. Spataro, Yes, M. Brunelle, Yes.

________________________________________________
Jackie Shanley, Confidential Secretary, Board of Selectmen

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kudos To The Middleboro Finance Committee!

Wicked Local:


Middleboro takes step toward outsourcing IT department
By Eileen Reece


MIDDLEBORO - The Finance Committee is recommending that the selectmen hire HUB Technical of South Easton to conduct an audit and assessment of the town’s information technology services.

The unanimous vote came after HUB Technical offered to perform the task for $10,200 to $11,700, depending on the number of servers in the town’s network.

The committee will ask for money for the audit from the Peirce Trustees, which oversee the will of Thomas S. Peirce who left money to the town.

Before the vote, Finance Committee Vice Chairman Joseph Thomas said he contacted the towns of East Bridgewater, Bourne and Chatham, all of which had employed HUB Technical, and they all reported they were happy with Hub Technical and had saved a substantial amount of money.

HUB Tech has contracts with up to 150 Massachusetts towns for IT support.

Currently, the town’s IT Department has a proposed budget for the fiscal year starting in July of $316,000, including a $84,326 salary for Director Roger Brunelle Sr.

It is estimated the contract with HUB Tech would be nearly half the town’s IT budget.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Local Aid Cuts

DLS released the following:
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House Ways and Means Committee (HWM) released their version of the FY2010 budget.
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The Division of Local Services has posted updated local aid estimates based on the HWM budget recommendations to the Division of Local Services’ web site at the link below: DOR
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Like the Governor’s budget proposal (House 1), section 3 of the HWM budget consolidates the Additional Assistance and Lottery line items into Unrestricted General Government Aid.

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The HWM FY2010 budget proposal reduces this line item by $425.6 million or 32.37 percent from original FY2009 levels. This represents a 25 percent reduction to the post 9C Additional Assistance and Lottery amounts.
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HWM budget recommendations also reduce Regional School Transportation from $61.3 million in FY2009 to $30.5 million in FY2010, and eliminate the state reimbursement for the Police Career Incentive program. *

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HWM estimates do not reflect the Governor’s proposed changes to the methodology used to calculate Charter School assessments and reimbursements. Charter school assessments and reimbursements are calculated in the same manner as they were in FY2009.

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Please note that Charter School and School Choice assessments may change significantly when updated to reflect spring enrollment data and final tuition rates.

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To review additional information about how the estimates were determined and what may cause them to change in the future, click on the link at the bottom for an index of the FY2010 programs and links to individual explanations.

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* On a separate Middleboro note, Wayne Perkins negotiated a contract that provides, should state reimbursement for this program be reduced or eliminated, Middleboro will pick up the entire tab. The cost is separated in the Annual Town Report. It's worth having your own copy.
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On Pages 296-297, the following payments for "Career Incentives" are listed for the Police Department only (the Fire Department is listed separately and not covered by state reimbursement, rounded to the nearest whole dollar):
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$17,085
$22,449
$12,816
$16,839
$12,631
$10,105
$12,631
$22,449
$12,631
$5,035
$7,822
$10,105
$10,104
$15,715
$5,052
$10,105
$10,105
$6,736
$6,752
$28,647
$12,631
$10,105
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Widespread criticism is voiced on MMA.
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You might also want to review: Free energy-saving seminars are under way
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Since the Middleboro Board of Selectmen is still mired in the unresolved problems of managing that legacy of "unresolved problems," they haven't noticed the issue as other towns have. There might be surrounding towns offering the presentation.
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Guess who's not paying their taxes?

This article was so provocative, I had to pass it along --
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The following index ran in this week's Facing South e-newsletter. If you're not receiving that yet but would like to, please fill out the "Newsletter" form on the upper-right side of this page. (We won't share your e-mail address with anyone.) To go to the original sources, click on the hot-linked figures.

TVA Forced To Clean Up

It looks like TVA, the owners of coal ash ponds that are seeping contaminants into drinking water and streams including the major sludge overflow that caused the December 22nd spill in Harriman, Tennessee, may, finally, be forced to clean up its Dirty Coal act.
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Southern Studies reports --
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The Tennessee Valley Authority is facing mounting demands to leave behind its dirty energy past and become a clean energy leader.
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Last week, a federal judge denied the federal utility's appeal for more time to install pollution controls on coal-fired power plants that are dirtying North Carolina's air, the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times reports. U.S. District Court Judge Lacy Thornburg decided against giving TVA more time to address emissions from four coal-fired power plants within 100 miles of North Carolina.
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The current Republican TVA Board has four opening that President Obama will fill shortly and appearances are that his appointments will be more environmentally responsible.
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This speaks volumes about our need to discard nuclear from consideration and get on with the task of powering our nation with renewables --
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Back in the 1970s, TVA had planned to build two reactors at the plant -- Bellefonte 1 and 2 -- but ditched the plans after spending some $4 billion.

Earth Day April 22nd

In celebration of Earth Day, maybe each of us could do something good for the planet.
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As time permits, I'll post some ideas about reducing energy costs, reducing trash or even planting trees.
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In the meantime, this article about Gainesville, Florida in Southern Studies defines what a municipal utility can accomplish with a change of mindset --
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When the municipal utility in Gainesville, Fla. began holding public meetings to discuss how to provide for its future energy needs, one man in the audience kept getting up to talk about the solar boom in Germany -- a country that gets about as much sunshine as Juneau, Alaska. Eventually Ed Regan, the man in charge of strategic planning for Gainesville Regional Utilities, decided he had to travel to Germany to see for himself what was going on.
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Why is the renewable energy market in Gainesville booming while it's collapsing elsewhere in the country? The answer boils down to policy. In early February, the city became the first in the nation to adopt a "feed-in tariff" -- a clunky and un-descriptive name for a bold incentive to foster renewable energy. Under this system, the local power company is required to buy renewable energy from independent producers, no matter how small, at rates slightly higher than the average cost of production. This means anyone with a cluster of solar cells on their roof can sell the power they produce at a profit. The costs of the program are passed on to ratepayers, who see a small rise in their electric bills (in Gainesville the annual increase is capped at 1 percent). While rate hikes are seldom popular, the community has rallied behind this policy, because unlike big power plant construction -- the costs of which are also passed on to the public -- everyone has the opportunity to profit, either by investing themselves or by tapping into the groundswell of economic activity the incentive creates.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Misses The Point!

In March 2009, IT Director Roger Brunelle presented information about the plans to improve audio in the Selectmen's Meeting Room of the Town Hall. The IT Director, who seemed to have recently spent an inordinate amount of time researching solutions, has stymied previous attempts to improve or upgrade the PTWS (Pathetic Town Web Site).
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Residents who have complained for years of poor audio when attending selectmen’s meetings will find the volume turned up this summer after renovations are completed to the selectmen’s meeting room at Town Hall.
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This entire endeavor sorely misses the point!
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Millions of dollars were spent on Historical Town Hall renovations that created a too small Selectmen's Meeting Room, vast under-utilized auditorium space that is costly to heat yet rented at $50, for 12 town employees.
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Enter Mr. Brunelle with his wondrous proposal to add acoustical insulation that we would hope is not comparable to the Rhode Island Station nightclub insulation.
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Mr. Brunelle can't provide cost estimates and has missed the point. This is the same Mr. Brunelle: Middleboro's IT Department
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The Selectmen's Meeting Room is used by many other Town Departments and Committees. Should Mr. Brunelle move forward with his glorious plans, the BOS meetings might then be audible, but what of other users of that room? What of their access to equipment locked in a closet? Mr. Brunelle would have you believe that 'it won't cost the town anything because it's coming out of the cable fund,' but in fact, it's money that could be spent elsewhere.
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On Monday, April 13, 2009, the Selectmen's Meeting attracted an overflow crowd that were unable to be accommodated in the Meeting Room.
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With a vast Auditorium at its command, did the Middleboro BOS have the common decency to reconvene in the Auditorium that would have enabled the public to be seated? No!
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The overflow crowd stood in the hall, unable to hear the proceedings.
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Mrs. Duphily spoke in tribute of Victor Sylvia, raised funds for a scholarship in his name and proposed a garden in his memory.
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If Mrs. Duphily knew Victor Sylvia, she would have railed, as he would have about the failure to accommodate the overflow crowd with a vast auditorium located above the Selectmen's Meeting Room. Maybe she was too impressed with the admiration expressed by her "friends," the Town's proposed business partners, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Can't be bought with cheap gifts, huh?
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There were many Town issues upon which Vic and I disagreed, but the intent of the Open Meeting Law we shared.
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This is not the first BOS meeting to attract an overflow crowd and they are mostly predictable. Are we to expect more of the same shabby treatment of the public by a BOS that fails to utilize available space?
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Isn't it time something were done about the issue? In Victor's memory, I would hope so.
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