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



Sunday, May 31, 2009

Per Pupil Cost

According to the Massachusetts DOE site, per pupil expenditures in Middleborough were:

$10,160

Friday, May 29, 2009

Governor's Online Community Forum

At the Community Forums I attended, the audience was impressive with their questions, comment and suggestions. Those unable to attend who wish to make themselves heard might be interested in the following:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Department
Office of Governor Deval L. Patrick

GOVERNOR PATRICK LAUNCHES ONLINE COMMUNITY FORUM


Invites citizens to continue conversation about reform and revenue with the Administration and each other

BOSTON – Thursday, May 28, 2009 – Governor Deval Patrick today launched an online community forum, inviting citizens to continue the conversation started during the administration’s series of statewide community forums about the choices and priorities facing the Commonwealth in the current economic climate.
Available at
www.mass.gov/forum, the forum presents the public with a unique opportunity to share their ideas about the state’s budget challenges as well as the transportation, pension and ethics reform proposals currently being debated on Beacon Hill . Over the next two weeks, Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Murray and senior administration officials will be online at various times, reading suggestions, answering questions and contributing to the dialogue.

“We need the collective wisdom of all the people in the Commonwealth to tackle the budget challenges and reform opportunities facing us at this critical moment,” said Governor Patrick. “This online forum allows us to continue the conversation we started during the community forums and capture those great ideas – your ideas – that will help get us through to a better tomorrow.”

Governor Patrick has selected UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack to serve as the forum’s “Citizen Moderator.” Chancellor MacCormack will work with the Governor’s Office to help facilitate the online conversation and ensure all ideas are heard. At the conclusion of the discussion, Chancellor MacCormack will select from forum participants to assemble a Citizen Task Force. The Task Force will be responsible for compiling ideas, insights and recommendations shared throughout the forum and presenting a report to the Governor.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to participate in a meaningful dialogue about the future of our Commonwealth,’’ Chancellor MacCormack said. “My primary responsibility as moderator will be to ensure that everyone with a big idea has a voice, and that we work together to help solve some of the major challenges facing the Commonwealth. I look forward to hearing everyone’s ideas.”

In addition to the more than 30 community forums the Governor and members of his administration held throughout the month of May, he kicked off a series of summer town hall meetings in Dennis on Tuesday. The meetings are open to the public, giving residents a chance to talk directly to Governor Patrick about issues they care about most, including the economy, the state’s budget challenges, and the Governor’s efforts to push for reforms on Beacon Hill . For a full schedule and more information, visit
www.mass.gov/governor/townhall.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"I was desperate at the time from this gambling,"

Of the crime, the ... chief federal prosecutor in Erie, did not seem surprised by Husted's crime. In fact ... said he expects there will be more gambling-related criminal cases turning up in federal and county courts.


Another Nightmarish Story of Gambling Addiction Has Hopeful Ending

Chinese Drywall

In April 2009, CapeCodOnline reported on the toxic effects of imported drywall that was causing illnesses from the out gassing of chemicals used in Chinese drywall. Even after testing, the cause remains unclear. What does seem clear is that there are no manufacturing standards for drywall, a commonly used building material. Questions of Coal Ash being used are particularly troubling.

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The drywall furor is the latest in a series of scares over potentially toxic imports from China. In 2007, Chinese authorities ratcheted up inspections and tightened restrictions on exports after manufacturers were found to have exported tainted cough syrup, a toxic pet food ingredient and toys decorated with lead paint.

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And let's not forget the Chinese Fur Farms . Did anyone notice that the imported winter clothing from China has "fur" or "leather" trim or is made from "fur" or "leather" and the origin is never labelled?
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Scientists hope to understand the problem by studying the chemicals in the board. Drywall consists of wide, flat boards used to cover walls. It is often made from gypsum, a common mineral that can be mined or manufactured from the byproducts of coal-fired power plants.
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The federal government does not regulate the chemical ingredients of imported drywall.
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Chinese Drywall Problem Far Reaching reports on the chemical components --
According to the Associated Press, the fact that it was made with fly ash - a waste product of coal burning - could provide a clue. The process of “scrubbing” the smokestack emissions creates calcium sulfate, or gypsum, which can then used to make drywall. In the U.S., drywall is also made from fly ash, but the material is taken from the smokestack, where it is scrubbed. This produces a cleaner product. But in China, the fly ash may have been obtained before it made its way to the smokestack. according to the Associated Press, this creates a “less refined” product.
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The Chinese samples contained traces of strontium sulfide while the American sample did not. Strontium sulfide is a gray powder that emits a hydrogen sulfide, or “rotten eggs,” odor when exposed to moist air. The three Chinese samples also contained higher levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and carbon disulfide than the American drywall. All of these compounds are potentially toxic, and carbon disulfide in liquid form is extremely flammable.

Chinese Drywall, Behind the Smell: Uncommonly High Sulfur Levels
Homeowner Problems With Chinese-Made Drywall Spread
Chinese drywall: What to look for



Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reform? Where is it?

November 2008, Massachusetts voters supported a ballot question to eliminate greyhound racing in the state, effectively closing Wonderland Greyhound Racetrack in Revere and the Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park. The vote was supported statewide by 55% of voters.
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Senator Pacheco (D, Taunton) introduced legislation --
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The plan would have allowed the tracks to add 2,500 slot machines each, which could have brought in new revenue to help cities and towns offset cuts to local aid.

"You have a local aid vote before you right now," said Senator Marc Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat and chief proponent of the proposal. "Here it is."
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Insert Big sigh!
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This isn't simple!

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Kudos to the Senate that at least wisdom prevailed .......... for now!
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Rosenberg has .... said it would take at least 12 months from the time a law was signed before the state would start reaping any revenue from slot machines.

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Rosenberg's words seem to convey that there is no reason for haste and last minute efforts to push through legislation. That also means, predatory gambling is no solution to this year's budget crisis.
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Legislators, including Senator Pacheco need to listen.
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At the Governor's Forum on Monday, which Senator Pacheco attended, voters offered suggestions.
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Senator, I think you may not have heard some of what was said because your mind is already made up.
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When I spoke up, I explained that Twin River in Rhode Island had defaulted and is on the verge of bankruptcy. Some speculate that it is a ploy on their part to increase hours and reduce their tax commitment, but that's not my place to speculate. (They are the investors who have a contract with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to develop a Mega Casino in Middleboro.)
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The State of Indiana, in an effort to save their dead race tracks, supported slot machines at the tracks and then bailed out the racinos.
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Some might say Time For A Natural Death.
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Senator, you indicated that the problem with Twin River was the economic downturn.
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Is Raynham somehow immune from that downturn?
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Senator, It's time for legislators to do the difficult work of reinventing government, streamlining the process, eliminating duplication and overlap and correcting the mistakes. It's not time to toss out flawed solutions, like Fool's Gold.
Keep up on BMG

Baby Buffalo Flees On Broken Leg

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If anything explains why Earthjustice sues, it is this new video clip showing a baby bison with a broken leg fleeing helicopters and mounted riders. The tragic scene took place in mid-May 2009 on Horse Butte peninsula outside of Yellowstone National Park, as federal and state agents drove park buffalo off spring pastures because of perceived conflict with livestock.

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Earthjustice is in court to secure the bison's right to these grasslands where they historically lived.
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Montana state officials are currently chasing newborn buffalo and their mothers from their breeding grounds outside Yellowstone ... injuring and potentially killing vulnerable calves.

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Earthjustice: Bison

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Are they listening? The Governor is #3

My conclusion is that reading the media comments and the pundits and the blogs, they don't have the crystal ball that magically bestows wisdom.
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As with much of what transpired on a local Middleboro scale, it's the voters, those every day recipients of much needed services who truly know what needs to be accomplished, but no one has listened to them.
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The "economic downturn," or whatever we call it today, is going to get much worse in the Bay State before it gets better.
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Casinos, racinos and slot parlors will not bail us out, so let's stop pretending and being dishonest about that one.
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It's time to seize the opportunity and give serious consideration to the quagmire of agencies, programs and vast cobwebs of government that have been created around us.
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Let's start with the tough stuff like education and human services.
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Government and bureaucracies need to be reshaped and reinvented and streamlined.
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Delay as you choose.
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It will happen of necessity, with or without you.
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It's time!

Are they listening? The Governor is #2

Step back and consider the definitions.
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We have institutional bureaucracies that don't want to surrender authority, autonomy or personnel, even though they, if they were honest, recognize the problems.
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We have legislators who don't want anyone mad at them, much less an organized union. And many don't want to admit that they helped create the "mess."
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And we have the Beacon Hill Republicans who are becoming more like a bad comedy routine with each passing day, repeating the same losing rhetoric:
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Taxes = Evil
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Well, guess what guys? Voters have finally figured out that's what got us here and they're unwilling to throw grandma or the special needs child or the handicapped adult under that train.
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The phony propaganda about job losses doesn't fly either because it was used in the past and the sky didn't fall as Republicans predicted.
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We risked an end of world calamity by raising the minimum wage.
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Note to self: Call the Republicans and tell them it didn't happen! Don't forget to mention that it would be nice to have a viable 2ND party in the state but they seem hell bent on destroying what little is left.
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Attend one of the forums and watch the people who promise to buy 'junk food' or 'alcohol' if the sales tax exemptions are lifted. No one is going to drive to NH to buy Twinkies!

Are they listening? The Governor is

Attending the Governor's Forum in Franklin, the Governor's approach was to seek ideas, after explaining that we are in deep, deep doo doo.
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After the Governor offered his few words, essentially explaining that when you think you've got a real mess, there are opportunities to be found. There are creative solutions that Bay State residents have to offer.
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The Governor was listening!
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Maybe I should have taken notes, but allow a few of my recollections--
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One woman pointed out that the school system has a "nurse" who deals with the school children that is partially reimbursed on the Cherry Sheet. The school system also has a public health clinic that is reimbursed at a higher percentage through another program that is pretty much a duplication of the school nurse.
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Have we heard the teachers' union or school administrators protesting this?
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Another school administrator pointed out that to file for Medicaid reimbursement, the form changes each year, the instructions confusing, the reimbursement goes to the school, the program or into general government. She also indicated that some administrators have given up filing the forms.
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The Governor was familiar with the problem and addressed it at length.
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When the subject of cuts for programs for the disabled was discussed, one mother said 'cut the supervisors, but leave the case workers.'
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Similar sentiments were echoed during the Taunton Forum when someone said those with higher seniority should be the ones who were cut leaving the lower paid "workers."
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As the Governor rightly pointed out, now is the time to determine what we expect of government, what services we're willing to sacrifice and what we're willing to step up to the plate and support increased taxes to provide.
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But that's not all.
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Now is the time to redefine government, streamline the way services are delivered and come up with creative solutions.
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When it comes to services for children, the disabled and the elderly, services that I have yet to hear someone propose cutting, there are a dizzying array of agencies, bureaucracies, programs, employees, funding sources, regulations that provide those services.
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And just as we recognize that someone has been omitted, we create another program, service, agency and mechanism to cover that need.
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This is what the Speaker of the House DeLeo had to say about Transportation Reform
:

On transportation reform, the House voted to eliminate the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the so-called "23 and out" pension policy at the MBTA. It also voted to place MBTA employees into the GIC for health insurance purposes so that real savings can be realized.
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One of the people present at the Governor's Forum in Franklin spoke at length about "Transportation" and the necessary reforms. He made sense.
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The Governor listened.
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The Speaker has not listened!
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Middleboro wins case, tax cut on Soule Farm

The real estate tax issue of the Soule Homestead property in Plympton rears its ugly head repeatedly and still seems to have failed to reach a satisfactory resolution.
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An examination of the classification of municipal land owned by other towns might provide greater insight were town officials to investigate.
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Middleboro isn't inventing the wheel with this one.
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Brockton Enterprise

Middleboro wins case, tax cut on Soule Farm
By Eileen Reece
Enterprise correspondent
Posted May 19, 2009 @ 11:26 PM
MIDDLEBORO —
The town has won an appeal before the Plympton Board of Assessors that reduces its tax payment on 25 acres of the Soule Farm that is in Plympton.


Barbara Erickson, Middleboro’s assessor-appraiser, said the Plympton Board of Assessors agreed to reduce the assessed value from $407,400 to $301,900. The reduction will mean a savings of $1,335.63 for fiscal year 2009.

Erickson said the value was reduced based on information she provided following a review of its sales analysis, land charts and Department of Environmental Protection wetland maps.

Casinos are not the answer

In case you missed it, the following comments were published by friend and Middleboro resident, Frank Dunphy. When I spoke to the Governor, I raised the issue of considering the source of the information when discussing Predatory Gambling.
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The Patriot Ledger
Posted May 19, 2009 @ 05:00 AM
MIDDLEBORO —


Senate President Therese Murray recently reiterated her pro-stance on expanded gambling, by throwing out the old “we need to re-coup the $900 million that’s going to Conn. and Rhode Island”.

This number was Gov. Deval Patrick’s last year, and has been used by every casino supporter and media outlet since.

These and similar numbers are from only one source: Clyde Barrows, director of policy analysis at UMass/Dartmouth. Mr. Barrows has been doing the work of the casino industry on the the taxpayer’s dime for quite some time.

After attending two of his presentations, I couldn’t help but wonder why was there no mention of the costs associated with expanded gambling.

With a little research I found that Mr. Barrows was hired last November by (Las Vegas based) Olympia Group to try and sell the idea of a casino in Oxford County, Maine (which was voted down).

In the fall of 2006 his group received $20,000 from the R.I. Building Trades Council, who backed an unsuccessful casino referendum there.

In 1999 it was the Visions Group, looking to build a casino in Salisbury.

Forget the numbers. Predatory gambling is not the answer to shore up deficits.

We should be looking to build our future on our strengths and not on our weaknesses.

FRANK DUNPHY
Director, Casino Facts Committee
Middleboro




Check out BMG for additional info.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Are They Hiding?

When I addressed my questions to the Governor during his Community Forum, I explained to him how "undemocratic" the process in Middleboro had been.
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Casino opponents, or even those who were undecided but wanted to ask questions, were gaveled to silence by our very own Gavel Queen, recognized far and wide for her gavel wielding abilities.
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Doesn't anyone wonder what it is that they're hiding?
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Doesn't anyone wonder why they don't want questions asked?
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Doesn't anyone wonder why they don't want a discussion of the facts?
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Doesn't anyone wonder?
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What are they hiding?

Ms. Wildly Profitable Bad Business!

So, I was just thinking about this business that I run that is wildly profitable, but bad from every conceivable perspective.
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I want to grow my wildly profitable business to be even more wildly profitable. How do I proceed?
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Someone suggested that I need to form a "Not Really So Bad" non-profit organization that discredits the dissent, buys a few phony studies, schmoozes with legislators, maybe wines and dines them, some generous campaign contributions wherever possible legally, maybe buys a few prominent politicians who accept the contributions until it becomes publicly unacceptable to do so.
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This "Not Really So Bad" organization, of necessity, has to create the victim as the villain.
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Ah, yes! It worked for tobacco! ....for many wildly profitable years.
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GETTING INSIDE CONGRESS
American Gaming Association Executives
Judy L. Patterson – Senior VP and Executive Director

Helped create National Center for Responsible Gaming, an independent,
nonprofit organization, founded by the American Gaming Association, uses
gambling industry funds to support industry sponsored research primarily
focused on
shifting the blame for gambling addiction onto problem and
pathological gamblers, while keeping the industry exempt from responsibility;
helped create Global Gaming Expo (G2E); works with consultants,
academic institutions and state gaming associations to develop independent
studies of gaming issues.

Previously served as special assistant to the president of the American Bar
Association, director Public Liaison Office; D.C. Coalition Against Drugs
and Violence; graduate of Wichita State University (1974), Georgetown
University Law Center, (1985), master’s degree in education from Boston
University (1975).
[“American Gaming Association online,
.
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And then I wait until the Bay State is totally desperate and publicly proclaiming as much! Just like lambs to the slaughter!
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Now that was easy, wasn't it?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Triple Crown of Cruelty

Although the current Massachusetts discussion about bailing out race tracks has mostly surrounded the recent ballot question that outlaws greyhound racing, ignored is horse racing.
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Since it's something I've never watched and is fading in interest among the population, I've mostly ignored it.
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Recently, I found the following articles that make me wonder why the Commonwealth would seek to preserve the tracks --
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The Triple Crown of Cruelty
posted by:
Heather Moore
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Another Kentucky Derby week has ended in tragedy. Two young horses, Raspberry Kiss and Dr. Rap, were involved in a collision; Raspberry Kiss broke her hip and had to be euthanized. Soon after, Stormalogy, the projected American Turf winner, fractured his leg and was euthanized. On race day, Derby favorite, I Want Revenge, was found with an injured ankle and was scratched from the race. Projected winner Friesan Fire had part of his hoof ripped off right after the race began; yet was raced for the entire course anyway, bleeding all the way. (Not surprisingly, Friesan Fire was ridden by Gabriel Saez, the same jockey who unmercilessly whipped Eight Belles until she crossed the finish line and collapsed in last year's Derby.)
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One would think that after all the injuries and deaths that have occurred in the Derby— and in horseracing in general—horse trainers, owners, and jockeys would finally hang up their reigns and admit that the so-called sport is unsporting. Instead, they're heading to the next leg of the Triple Crown: The Preakness, which takes place this weekend in Maryland. After that, they'll travel to New York for the Belmont Stakes.
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Growing up in Baltimore, about 20 minutes from Pimlico Race Track, where the Preakness is run, I was surrounded by race-day celebrations and festivities every year. Back then, it seemed like harmless fun. But horse racing is anything but harmless. Most horses used by the racing industry are raced too young, too often, and on hard surfaces that practically guarantee breakdowns.
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Veterinarians routinely give injured and ailing horses drugs like Lasix (which controls bleeding in the lungs), phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory), and cortiscosteroids (for pain and inflammation) in order to keep them racing for as long as possible. While legal, these drugs can also mask pain or make a horse run faster. Eventually, the horses succumb to the pain, often collapsing right on the racetrack. While the horse racing industry has made some basic reforms since Eight Belles died— and steroids have been banned in the Triple Crown states—the use of drugs to keep ill and injured horses on the track is still legal.
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An executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has also said that there "could be thousands" of illegal drugs used in the horse racing industry. Rick Dutrow Jr., the trainer of Big Brown, the horse who won the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, has been fined every year since 2000 for a horse doping situation. In 2003, one of his horses tested positive for an illegal analgesic. Although Dutrow has been suspended various times, ranging from 14 to 60 days, he is still allowed to compete, for some reason. I suspect it's because the horse racing industry doesn't really care about animal welfare—it cares about attracting crowds and turning huge profits. Drugs, injuries, and death are just "business as usual."
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The owner of a filly who suffered a heart attack and died mid-race at Pimlico said of the horse's death, "I guess that's part of the game." The sentiment was echoed by a general manager of Virginia's Colonial Downs, where five horses died within eight days in 2007. “We're upset when it happens,” he said, “but it's just part of the racing game.”
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In a commentary on the industry, a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News remarked, “It is not something they talk about much in their advertising, but horses die in this sport all the time—every day, every single day.” But unlike Eight Belles and Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby champion, who was euthanized after shattering his leg in the Preakness, these horses seldom make headlines. Their battered bodies are simply hidden from public view; often shipped to slaughter.
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PETA recently erected a headstone at Churchill Downs race track (where the Kentucky Derby is held) to represent the 12,000 “racehorses" who are sent to slaughter every year. PETA also placed 263 headstones to represent the known horses who have died on the track since last year's Kentucky Derby, one headstone for the approximately 832 other horses who have died but whose names are not known, and a special memorial to Eight Belles. (For details, see here.)
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One unnecessary death is unacceptable. More than 13,000 a year is absolutely outrageous. I cannot fathom why fans still support the Triple Crown and other horse races. In baseball, the Triple Crown is awarded to a batter who leads the league in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average. Unlike the Triple Crown in horse racing, this feat is achieved without whips or drugs (ostensibly) and the player voluntarily participates in the sport. That is how all sports should be.
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If thousands and thousands of baseball or football players died every year, there would be a deafening outcry. We must not remain silent about all the horses who've suffered and died during the Triple Crown and other horse races every year. People can help stop horse racing—and horse slaughter—by refusing to patronize horse races, working to ensure that racing regulations are reformed and enforced, lobbying against the construction of new tracks, and educating others about the tragic lives that the horses lead. To learn more, read PETA’s factsheet on horse racing.
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It's time for the Triple Crown to take place in baseball only.
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Read more: animal welfare
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The Horseracing Industry: Drugs, Deception and Death
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They weigh at least 1,000 pounds, they have legs that are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and they’re forced to run around dirt tracks at speeds of more than 30 miles per hour while carrying people on their backs.(1)
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Racehorses are the victims of a multibillion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end in slaughterhouses. A New York Daily News reporter remarked, “The thoroughbred race horse is a genetic mistake. It runs too fast, its frame is too large, and its legs are far too small. As long as mankind demands that it run at high speeds under stressful conditions, horses will die at racetracks.”(2)
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The Starting GateRacehorses can cost millions of dollars and are often purchased by syndicates, which may be composed of thousands of members.(3,4)
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There are also trainers, handlers, veterinarians, and jockeys involved, so a horse is rarely able to develop any kind of bond with one person or with other horses. Racehorses travel from country to country, state to state, and racetrack to racetrack, so few horses are able to call one place “home.” Most do not end up in the well-publicized races but are instead trucked, shipped, or flown to the thousands of other races that take place all over the country every year.
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Racing to the Grave
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Horses begin training or are already racing when their skeletal systems are still growing and are unprepared to handle the pressures of running on a hard track at high speeds.(5)
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Improved medical treatment and technological advancements have done little to remedy the plight of the racehorse. One study on injuries at racetracks concluded that one horse in every 22 races suffered an injury that prevented him or her from finishing a race, while another estimates that 800 thoroughbreds die each year in North America because of injuries.(6)
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Strained tendons or hairline fractures can be tough for veterinarians to diagnose, and the damage may go from minor to irreversible at the next race or workout. Horses do not handle surgery well, as they tend to be disoriented when coming out of anesthesia, and they may fight casts or slings, possibly causing further injury. Many are euthanized in order to save the owners further veterinary fees and other expenses on horses who can’t race again.
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Given the huge investment that owning a horse requires, reported one Kentucky newspaper, “simply sending one to pasture, injured or not, is not an option all owners are willing to consider.”(7)
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Care for a single racehorse can cost as much as $50,000 per year.(8)
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When popular racehorse Barbaro suffered a shattered ankle at the beginning of the 2006 Preakness, his owners spared no expense for his medical needs, but as The New York Times reported, “[M]any in the business have noted that had Barbaro not been the winner of the Kentucky Derby, he might have been destroyed after being injured.”(9)
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Compare Barbaro’s story to that of Magic Man, who stepped into an uneven section of a track and broke both front legs during a race at Saratoga Race Course. His owner had bought him for $900,000, yet the horse hadn’t earned any money yet and—unproven on the track—wasn’t worth much as a stud, so he was euthanized.(10)
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Eight Belles suffered a similar fate when she broke both her front ankles after crossing the finish line in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.(11)
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Joseph Dirico, the owner of a filly who suffered a heart attack and died mid-race at Pimlico only days after the Preakness, said of her death, “I guess that’s part of the game.”(12)
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That sentiment was echoed by the general manager of Virginia’s Colonial Downs, where five horses died within eight days.(13)
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“We're upset when it happens,” he said, “but it's just part of the racing game."(14)
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At least six horses died at the track the year before.(15)
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Drugs and Deception“Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,” commented one reporter.(16)
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Many racehorses become addicted to drugs when their trainers and even veterinarians give them drugs to keep them on the track when they shouldn’t be racing.
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There are trainers pumping horses full of illegal drugs every day,” says a former Churchill Downs public relations director.(17)
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“With so much money on the line, people will do anything to make their horses run faster.” Which drugs are legal varies from state to state, with Kentucky holding the reputation as the most lenient state.(18)
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The New York Sun explained that because “thoroughbreds are bred for flashy speed and to look good in the sales ring … the animal itself has become more fragile” and that “to keep the horses going,” they’re all given Lasix (which controls bleeding in the lungs), phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory), and cortiscosteroids (for pain and inflammation).(19)
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Those drugs, although legal, can also mask pain or make a horse run faster. Labs cannot detect all the illegal drugs out there, of which there “could be thousands,” says the executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.(20)
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Morphine, which can keep a horse from feeling any pain from an injury, was suspected in the case of Be My Royal, who won a race while limping.(21)
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Rick Dutrow, the trainer of 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, openly admits to giving his horses Winstrol, a steroid that is illegal for equine use in 10 states, although not in the three that host the Triple Crown. Before it was banned in Pennsylvania, nearly 1,000 horses were tested for steroids and more than 60 percent tested positive. Big Brown’s veterinarian concedes that “without steroids, they’d lose some horses that can’t keep up the pace and race every three weeks or every month.”(22)
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Even the ‘Winners’ LoseFew racehorses are retired to pastures for pampering and visits from caring individuals.
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An insurance scandal cost the life of Alydar, who came in second in all three races of the 1978 Triple Crown and fathered many fast horses. After being retired from racing in order to serve as a stud at a Kentucky farm, Alydar was originally believed to have shattered his leg by kicking a stall door and was euthanized when he wasn’t able to maintain a splint.(24)
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Ten years later, an FBI investigation revealed that his leg was deliberately broken when it was tied by a rope to a pickup truck.(25)
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Ferdinand, a Derby winner and Horse of the Year in 1987, was retired to Claiborne Farms and then changed hands at least twice before being “disposed of” in Japan; a reporter covering the story concluded, “No one can say for sure when and where Ferdinand met his end, but it would seem clear he met it in a slaughterhouse.”(26)
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Exceller, a million-dollar racehorse who was inducted into the National Racing Museum’s Hall of Fame, was killed at a Swedish slaughterhouse.(27)
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Although there are currently no equine slaughterhouses in the U.S., there is still a multimillion-dollar horsemeat export industry that sends tens of thousands of horses every year to Canada, Mexico, and Japan for slaughter.(28,29)
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One Colorado State University study found that of 1,348 horses sent to slaughter, 58 were known to be former racehorses.(30)
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Most horses who are sent to those facilities are forced to endure days of transport in cramped trailers.(31)
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Usually, there is no access to water or food, and injuries are common: A University of California, Davis, study of 306 horses destined for slaughter found that 60 of them sustained injuries during transport.(32)
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While veterinarians recommend that horses be offloaded for food and water every four hours while traveling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows horses to be shipped for 28 hours without a break.(33)
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Horses are subject to the same method of slaughter as cows, but since horses are generally not accustomed to being herded, they tend to thrash about in order to avoid the pneumatic gun that is supposed to render them unconscious before their throats are cut.(34)
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What You Can Do
In a commentary on the racing industry, a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News remarked, “It is not something they talk about much in their advertising, but horses die in this sport all the time—every day, every single day.”(35)
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Help phase out this exploitative “sport”: Refuse to patronize existing tracks, work to ensure that racing regulations are reformed and enforced, lobby against the construction of new tracks, and educate your friends and family members about the tragic lives that racehorses lead.
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References
1) Ted Miller, “Six Recent Horse Deaths at Emerald Downs Spark Concern,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer 8 May 2001.
2) Bill Finley, “Sadly, No Way to Stop Deaths,” New York Daily News 10 Jun. 1993.
3) Sherry Ross, “Fans Are Buying In,” Daily News 1 Jun. 2003.
4) “The Odds Are You’ll Lose: Owning a Racehorse,” Financial Times 1 Feb. 2003.
5) Glenn Robertson Smith, “Why Racehorses Are Cracking Up,” The Age (Australia) 15 Nov. 2002.
6) Miller.
7) Tim Reynolds, “Technology Can’t Prevent Horse Injuries,” The Lexington Herald-Leader 30 Aug. 2001.
8) Andrew Beyer, “A Beyer’s Guide for Racehorses,” The Washington Post 3 Jun. 2003.
9) William C. Rhoden, “An Unknown Filly Dies, and the Crowd Just Shrugs,” The New York Times 25 May 2006.
10) Rhoden.
11) Associated Press, “Runner-Up Eight Belles Breaks Front Ankles, Euthanized on Track,” 3 May 2008.
12) Reynolds.
13) John Packett, “Track Trauma: Sesamoid Bone Injuries Are Common and a Leading Cause of Death at Colonial Downs,” Richmond Times-Dispatch 19 Jul. 2007.
14) John Packett, “Four Horses Die in Five Days at Downs,” Richmond Times-Dispatch 8 Jul. 2007.
15) Packett, “Four Horses Die in Five Days at Downs.”
16) John Scheinman, “Horses, Drugs Are Racing’s Daily Double; No Uniform Policy in Industry,” The Washington Post 27 Apr. 2003.
17) Alex Straus, “Dark Horses,” Maxim May 2002.
18) Janet Patton, “HBPA Proposes Uniform Policy on Drugs in Racing; Horsemen’s Group Targets Maze of State Rules,” The Lexington Herald-Leader 17 Oct. 2001.
19) Max Watman, “So Far, So Good for Barbaro,” The New York Sun 21 May 2006.
20) Scheinman.
21) Peat Bee, “Cut the Poppycock and Treat Drugs With Horse Sense,” The Guardian 13 Jan. 2003.
22) Bill Finley, “In Horse Racing, Test of Beefed-Up Champions,” The New York Times 2 Jun. 2008.
23) “Trainer, Vet Charged in Trotter’s Death,” Associated Press, 22 Apr. 2001.
24) Straus.
25) Skip Hollandsworth, “The Killing of Alydar,” Texas Monthly Jun. 2001.
26) Straus.
27) Barbara Bayer, “1986 Kentucky Derby Winner Ferdinand Believed to Have Been Slaughtered in Japan,” The Blood-Horse Magazine 26 Jul. 2003.
28) Allen G. Breed, “And What of the Spent Racehorse?” Associated Press, 25 Nov. 1999.
29) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Horsemeat Slaughtered/Prod Animals (Head),” 2006.
30) Gerard Shields, “Landrieu Bill Backs Horses. Senate Bill Would Ban Consumption Slaughter,” The Advocate 9 Jul. 2007.
31) K. McGee et al., “Characterizations of Horses at Auctions and in Slaughter Plants,” Colorado State University Department of Animal Sciences, 2001.
32) Todd J. Gillman, “Judge Won’t Stop Slaughterhouses; Appeal Weighed,” The Dallas Morning News 14 Mar. 2006.
33) C.L. Stull, “Responses of Horses to Trailer Design, Duration, and Floor Area During Commercial Transportation to Slaughter,” Journal of Animal Science 77 (1999): 2925-33.
34) Josh Harkinson, “Horse Flesh: Texas Struggles With What to Do with Its Overabundance of Equus caballus While Europeans Wait With Open Mouths,” Houston Press 13 Apr. 2006.
35) Kris Axtman, “Horse-Meat Sales Stir Texas Controversy,” Christian Science Monitor 28 Apr. 2003.
36) Rich Hofmann, “Racing Brings Up the Rear in Safety,” Philadelphia Daily News 23 May 2006.
http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=65
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Maybe it's time to allow the race tracks to die a quiet and reasonable death without pretending we need their business.

Governor's Community Forums

Below is the Governor's PowerPoint presentation on the budget. There's a great deal of information contained in the presentation that requires thoughtful discussion, suggestions and careful consideration.
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Listening to yesterday's discussion, there are meaningful ideas available.
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Forum Presentation

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Governor's Forum in Franklin

We attended the Governor's Forum in Franklin, held at their beautiful Council on Aging building today. My companion was particularly impressed with the chocolate chip cookies! I guess I need to contact the Governor's staff to ascertain the source.
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I was impressed at the seminars and trips that were offered by the COA. One of the seminars being promoted was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Westwood/Walpole, called "Greening Your Lifestyle" with a synopsis of "Learn how to decrease your use of energy in your home and in your house of worship" and included workshops: Home Safe Home: Safer Alternatives to Household Chemicals; Water Conservation at Home; Green Your Lifestyle; Art Activity for Kids: Responsible for the Earth; Deeper Home Energy Reduction; The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in the Green Revolution; Solar Energy (Roof Panels & Photo-voltaics); Hosting Home Energy Parties & Carbon Neutral Buildings.
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It made me sad to realize that Middleboro G&E is so far behind the curve that they're only now discussing the supply side of the energy equation and not promoting the importance of reducing the demand side of the energy equation.
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But I digress!
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The turnout for the Governor's Forum was impressive. The crowd offered articulate comments and positive solutions about streamlining certain services, as well as updating the Ch. 70 formula for school funding.
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There was almost unanimous consensus about 1. overhauling the pension abuse by the few to restore public trust, 2. a graduated, progressive income tax, as has been suggested elsewhere 3. unanimous support for the Governor's insistence that "reforms" need to precede new revenues.
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I had the pleasure of sitting at a table with parents of Special Needs Adult Children who were living at home, but will loose services on July 1st.
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One woman explained that both she and her husband work and want to keep their son at home, but on July 1st, his day program and his transportation will be eliminated. That means that one of them needs to stop working to stay at home with him. She questioned if that made fiscal sense.
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The other couple have an adult daughter whose services will also end, but their daughter requires additional physical assistance since she is wheelchair bound. They need a chairlift for their garage and were initially told that MassHealth would pay for it, but then were told it wouldn't.
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Now maybe you're thinking "So what?"
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These are the people we used to warehouse in institutions.
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When we became enlightened, it became less expensive to provide support services to this special community within the community and this special community flourished and progressed. Some held jobs, run their own personal errands and function independently. They have friends among their peers, have parties, dances, sleepovers and do just the same things the rest of us enjoy. Many participate in the Special Olympics programs that are offered. And it has become a win-win with taxpayers saving money and this special community enjoying better lives as a result.
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The last comment of the evening commended the Governor for his casino proposal. Surely, that couldn't be the last word!
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The legislature has undefined predatory gambling on its fall agenda to close the budget gap.
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If we want to discuss closing the budget gaps with Treasurer Cahill's slot parlors that doesn't create jobs and the Treasurer's revenue/expense projections are illusory.
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There is no state in the nation with lower taxes than Massachusetts that has gambling. 49 of 50 states are in recession. Gambling isn't the solution to new revenues.
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It was disappointing that GIC legislation wasn't mentioned, but time ran out.
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We are faced with tough times and tough choices, and it was clear listening to tonight's crowd, we'll survive it by listening to each other.

The Least Among Us

Budgets, whether state or national, are moral documents that reveal our priorities.
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More than ever, the Massachusetts Budget represents legislators who are unwilling to make unpopular decisions, stand up to powerful unions, address pension abuse and eliminate hacks.
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Instead, they have scrapped programs that affect the "least among us," the disabled.
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The Arc offered the following --
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More than $200 million of devastating cuts pending in Senate Ask your Senator to co-sponsor disability amendments
More than 23,000 adults and children with disabilities and their families are slated to LOSE crucial services. These cuts will be devastating (see below).

Please use our Action Center to ask your Senator to co-sponsor and support these vital amendments. Please personalize the email to your Senator and if you can, follow up with a phone call to reinforce.

IF THE LATEST BUDGET GOES THROUGH, THIS IS WHAT TO EXPECT:
8,000 getting Day Habilitation services... CUT
2,600 adults getting Day/Employment services... CUT
11,000 families getting Family Support and Respite services... CUT
500 people getting essential transportation services... CUT
Thousands of adults getting Dental Health services... CUT
624 students graduating from school and needing Turning 22 services... CUT
And this is only a partial list.


All told, there will be a $243 million shortfall, leaving thousands of individuals and families stranded with nobody to help them, no place to go during the day, and nowhere to turn for a safety net.

Time For A Natural Death

Raynham Town Meeting voters will have an opportunity to vote on an article to ask the state to extend the ban on greyhound racing until January 2012 - a two year extension. If approved, the measure would require approval by the legislature and the governor.
Voters statewide voted to ban greyhound racing by a margin of 55 percent.
What is curious is the every fluctuating figures about employment at the Raynham dog track.
Recently, Mr. Carney was quoted in the Brockton Enterprise as stating --
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Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park owner George Carney said he’s in a race against the clock to save the 600 part- and full-time jobs at the track.
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In the Boston Globe last year, Mr. Carney said --
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If the ban on dog racing wins approval, Carney says, it could eliminate 6,000 to 8,000 jobs at the two tracks.
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Indiana bailed out its race tracks with predatory slot machines and then had to bail out the racinos -- Indiana Racinos.
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It's time to allow race tracks to die a natural death from lack of interest.
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MBPC: Senate WM 2010 Budget Overview

MBPC offered the following [click on link to read the article in its entirety] --

Friday, May 15, 2009
Overview
As the Senate prepares for its budget debate, a central question will be whether to approve a budget that relies primarily on spending cuts to close the state’s $5 billion budget gap, or whether to adopt a budget plan that includes tax increases as well as spending cuts. The budget proposal from the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) includes close to $3 billion in spending cuts, reliance on about $1.5 billion in temporary federal stimulus aid, close to $400 million drawn from reserves, and more than $200 million in new fees. This Budget Monitor describes the spending reductions proposed by the SWM budget by program area, and the services that would be reduced or eliminated as a result of those cuts.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Slots are not the simple solution

The current economic recession has led some to believe the solutions are simple when they're not.
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Beacon Hill looks like deer in the headlights, immobilized with inaction or the arrogance of one party rule. The Senate President hears only Cha-Ching and not the hard work involved in correcting long standing problems that might actually move the state forward.
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Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh offered --

First up, that lamentable Democratic gift to the public-employee unions known as the Pacheco law, which effectively ended the state's ability to contract with private firms for services they can deliver more efficiently than state workers. Although Senator Pacheco, the measure's proud papa, denies it, I have it on good authority that his signature "accomplishment" was thought up and written by lobbyists, then given to him to file. The Legislature passed it over a gubernatorial veto back in 1993, bringing the portcullis crashing down on Bill Weld's efforts to reap public savings by tapping the private sector.

Ever since, repealing Pacheco has been a reform that dare not speak its name. Not among Democrats, anyway.

But this year, Senate Republicans, who estimate the state could save $150 million to $300 million a year by aggressively contracting out, plan to try.

"If people are really serious about saving taxpayer dollars and making government more efficient, then we have to look at sacred cows like the Pacheco law," says Senate minority leader Richard Tisei.

Amen.

This is the same Senator "But For" Pacheco who experienced an ethical lapse when he attempted to prevent the Regional Casino Task Force from holding its public meeting in Carver.

Middleboro's Town Meeting Warrant contains an article to provide for Town Retirees, not recognized as a "bargaining unit," with health insurance benefits identical to those provided when they retired. Estimated cost? $200,000.

The state also needs to grant cities and towns either the unrestricted authority to join the state's Group Insurance Commission or GIC-like ability to design their own health-insurance offerings. Currently, every change in local health-insurance plans has to be bargained with the local unions.
"There are a lot of communities that can't get the unions to agree even to increase a $5 co-payment for a doctor's visit," reports Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
The GIC, by contrast, sets co-pays and deductibles and other insurance plan features without having to bargain the changes. If the ability of municipalities to join the GIC weren't subject to a union veto or if they had similar plan-design power, the savings would be large.

This from Kathleen Norbut --

I hope you have an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of spring in your life. We are surrounded by leaves that are growing and creating the annual canopy that I love.

My appreciation to all who are posting and offering ideas and opinions on revenues, Democratic principles, economic and environmental challenges and the current budget.

I continue to support the Governor's Municipal Partnership proposals including closing the telecom tax loopholes immediately. The room and restaurant tax will not impact the small community where I live, but I support the proposal for other communities to have options. Local government is hobbled by state and federal mandates including Prop. 2 1/2. I was informed yesterday that the Ch. 70 cuts proposed by the Governor for the current budget year greatly exceed the town's saving (Free Cash). If stimulus funds are not received in a timely fashion during this quarter to fill the Ch 70 cuts, the town will not be able to meet it's financial obligations. This is very serious.

I support a moderate gas tax increase and a moderate sales tax increase (.5-1.0%).

It is extremely frustrating to me that at this desperate time in our history we see the Legislature and Governor at odds over the process of revenue reconstruction. Surely we need reform before asking people to pay more taxes. The sluggishness of the Legislature is really not about deliberation, it is about decades of denial and protection of cronyism and abuse. I have been an observer for some time, the Liege has failed to make necessary decisions.

I live in a rural community abutting a potential casino site. I am a Health Educator, Domestic Violence activist and concerned citizen regarding air, water, food/agriculture and open space. I could care less is someone wants to spend their money at a casino, dog track or lottery ticket. However, as a concerned citizen and taxpayer, I have conducted countless hours of research on the above topic. It has been framed as economic development. It is economic development for the owners, investors and some ancillary parties including politicians who benefit from campaign contributions. It is not economic development for the region. It is motor vehicle congestion, air pollution, increased DUI and burdens upon municipal services, including overburdened education and public safety departments. It is severe negative impact on a region's environment. I did not develop my position in a vacuum or simply from a NIMBY framework. I have researched the impacts of expanded gambling on youth long before the current proposals came along. I have buried young people who died in car crashes and counseled young people in very serious trouble with gambling. My position evolved over 18 years of study.

As a former Selectman in a rural moderate income community, I am painfully aware of the need for more revenue to stop the erosion of services in our community and the state. We want to advance, yet I have spent the last decade watching a quickening backward slide emerge. Finding quick solutions that promise revenues but create additional burdens is foolhardy.

We need leadership that will stand with local government and citizens to thoughtfully and strategically match revenue proposals with policy, principles and long term vision. I would like to urge all activists to call upon the Liege and the Administration to swallow their collective pride, sit-down and present budget proposals to the people that are sound and sustainable.

I strongly support Governor Patrick's position to eliminate the current egregious pension abuses as well as blocking future abuse.

Kathleen Norbut
DSC memberMonson

Beacon Hill needs to get its act together, make the difficult decisions and stop following House Speaker "Racino" DeLeo, Senate President "Money" Murray, Treasurer "Slot Parlor" Cahill, and Senator "But For" Pacheco, down the "Yellow Brick Road."

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gambling and Crime

Of necessity, we need an open and public discussion of the problems and costs associated with expanded predatory gambling in the Bay State that goes beyond an immediate solution to this year's budget woes.
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The following raises other issues we need to consider --
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Gambling and Crime

By Tom Larkin

“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they cannot see the problem”

G. K. Chesterton


Phillip Markoff, the accused Craigslist murderer, as well as former State Senator Diane Wilkerson, were known to gamble frequently at Foxwoods Resort. Committing crimes to acquire gambling money is one characteristic of problem gamblers.

The Massachusetts FY-2010 state budget may be $550 million dollars short. Expanded gambling proposals are widely supported by political leaders, newspaper editors, labor unions and the general public.

Projected benefits include increased economic activity, jobs, licensing fees, annual casino taxes and recapturing about $900,000 lost out of state. What’s not to like?

One projected cost is increased crime. Increases in poverty, recidivism, bankruptcy, fraud, suicides, child neglect, child abuse, job inefficiency, youth gambling and addictions of all kinds are other costs. In one independent study, costs outweighed benefits by 3 to 1. (Grinols-2004) No independent cost-benefit analysis has been presented by proponents.

Measuring social costs is complicated. While 2/3rds of active gamblers are engaged in harmless entertainment, they do not lose much. Most gambling losses (about 80%) come from the 20% of the gamblers who are poor, less educated, minorities and people with a wide range of mental health and addiction problems. The evidence is controversial, but credible. Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran stated, “There is no question, where gambling is introduced, there is an increase in crime.”

Comparing data from casino states with non-casino states, from 1977 to 1996, Grinols, Mustard and Hunt-Dilley (2002) concluded, by the 5th year, casino states had greater increases in rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft and that from 3% to 30% could be attributed to casinos.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission (1999) estimated about 1 out of 3 active gamblers have some level of mild, moderate to severe gambling problem. The cost of problem gamblers to society has been estimated to be from $10,000 to $50,000 a year. The number of problem gamblers increases significantly within a 50 mile radius of a new casino.

There are significantly more problem gamblers arrested (30%) compared to arrests among non-gamblers (7%). About 40% of the incarcerated (and formerly incarcerated) are estimated to have gambling problems. The annual number of police calls jumped over 400% within 5 years after the opening of the Foxwoods Resort Casino. After 4 years, Atlantic City’s major crimes tripled.

Recidivism is related to relapse. Alcohol and other drugs are estimated to be involved in 60% to 70% of arrests. In a 15 state 2002 study by the US Justice Department, over 2/3rds of released prisoners were re-arrested within 3 years. The recidivism rate drops to about 1 out of 3 among those who abstain. About 50% of problem gamblers also have alcohol problems. About 30% of people with alcohol and drug problems also have some level of gambling problem. The Pew Center recently reported that the number of people on probation, incarcerated and on parole in the US had tripled since 1982 to 7.3 million, 1 in every 32 citizens…. Advocating for programs to reduce recidivism while simultaneously advocating for expanding legalized gambling is incongruous.

The very complexity of the relationship between gambling and crime (and other social costs) demands an open, vigorous debate before legalized gambling is expanded in Massachusetts. That debate has not taken place yet. Why?

(Tom Larkin is a psychologist and facilitator for SMART Recovery, a self help program available at the Billerica House of Corrections, MCI Concord, MCI Shirley and in the community.)


April 25, 2009

Local "Things To Do"

With the progression into summer and thoughts of sticking closer to home, these sites provide an array of things to do --
Mass Audubon's site is filled with an abundance of information and activities for this time of year and provides South Shore Journal with great local photos.
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Soule Homestead is a local gem, filled with educational opportunities for children and adults and Summer Concerts.
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The Middleborough Library offers a great assortment of programs for all ages.

Senator Kennedy's NIMBY Legacy

For eight years, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), along with other wealthy Cape Cod NIMBY residents have stymied the development of an offshore wind project called Cape Wind.
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Cape Wind will generate enough electricity to power 400,000 American households Mark Rodgers from Cape Wind, the firm which will build the offshore wind farm, stated that they are in negotiations with Vestas and Siemens on a gigantic contract for about six billion Danish kroner (about one billion US dollars). The 130 wind turbines will generate enough electricity to power 400,000 American households, and can deliver 75% of the electricity requirement on Cape Cod. This is big, even by American standards. cct
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How Denmark reacted to Oil threat
1973: Oil Crisis: Denmark depends on foreign oil for 90% of its electricity.
To remedy, Denmark institutes rapid development of wind energy to solve their oil crisis.
1985: Denmark bans nuclear power.
1991: First offshore wind farm built in Denmark.1995: Denmark bans new coal power plants.
1997: Denmark achieves total energy independence.
2004: With 6 offshore wind farms, Denmark can generate 32% of all domestic electricity from wind.
2005: Denmark begins the doubling of its two world's largest offshore wind farms, Horns Rev and Nysted.
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As the Senator writes his legacy, it should include his support for renewable energy projects particularly Cape Wind which enjoys widespread support, as cct pointed out.
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For many, the Senator's legacy will include his short sighted opposition to a project that would obstruct his view.

Dept. of Revenue, Division of Local Services

From DLS/DOR --

Local boards of assessors will find the fiscal year 2010 telephone and telegraph company central valuations pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 59, Section 39 on the our website on May 15, 2009. Also included will be a memorandum to assessors about the FY2010 valuation as well as the valuation table used, the new growth numbers, a list of company billing addresses and a list of filing companies that were not centrally valued.
For the informaton above, click on link below to the Division of Local Services' website.

LINK

Thursday, May 14, 2009

DLS: SWM Local Aid Estimates

From DLS/DOR --

On May 13, 2009 the Senate Ways and Means Committee (SWM) released their version of the FY2010 budget. The Division of Local Services has posted updated local aid estimates based on the SWM budget recommendations to the Division of Local Services’ web site at the link below:
LINK
Similar the Governor’s budget proposal (House 1) and House budget, section 3 of the SWM budget consolidates the Additional Assistance and Lottery line items into Unrestricted General Government Aid. The SWM FY2010 budget proposal reduces this line item by $483.6 million or 36.82 percent from original FY2009 levels. This represents a 30 percent reduction to the post 9C Additional Assistance and Lottery amounts.
SWM budget recommendations also reduce Chapter 70 by $79.0 million or 2 percent from the original FY2009 level, 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.

Charter School assessments and reimbursements reflect a change in methodology where facilities payments and first year reimbursements of new charter school costs will be paid directly to the charter schools and not reflected in assessments and reimbursements. This is the same approach that was used to calculate the assessments and reimbursement for House 1. For more information, please see:
http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy10h1/prnt10/exec10/pbudbrief3.htm.
Please note that Charter School and School Choice assessments may change significantly when updated to reflect spring enrollment data and final tuition rates.
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.

FY09 Chapter 70 Reductions and Federal Stimulas Replacement

From DLS/DOR --

Please read the link to the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education web site regarding reporting and other requirements associated with the recent reduction of Chapter 70 funds that are being replaced by Federal Stimulas Grants.
http://finance1.doe.mass.edu/chapter70/SFSF09.html

Department of Revenue

From DLS/DOR:


This is to inform you that the 2009 list of Corporations Subject to Taxation in Massachusetts, issued pursuant to G.L. c. 58, § 2, was published on our Internet website (http://dorapps.dor.state.ma.us/corpbook/home/home.asp) on May 14, 2009. We publish this list solely on the Internet to facilitate keyword and community based searches.

The Corporations Subject to Taxation in Massachusetts listing contains business entities registered to do business in Massachusetts as of January 1, 2009, including corporations that were granted “manufacturing” status or whose manufacturing status was revoked. The financial institutions and insurance companies are listed separately under their own section headings because they are taxed differently from business corporations. Corporations included in these lists that are not classified as manufacturing have been listed based solely on registrations or returns they filed; such inclusion does not indicate DOR’s approval of any applications for classification or other review and determination of their corporate status.

Every effort is made to include all manufacturing (M) and revocation (R) decisions made by the Massachusetts ’ Department of Revenue’s Manufacturing Unit in this listing. However, some decisions occur after the listing release and are retroactive to January 1 of the current year. It is the policy of DOR to notify assessors of the subsequent decisions by letter. For informational purposes, a separate compilation of subsequent manufacturing and revocation decisions applicable in the current calendar year will be posted (updated) on our website throughout the year until the next list is issued. Assessors should periodically check the website for these updates.

FAQs: Personal Property

From DLS/DOR --

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions on Personal Property, which have been updated to reflect 2008 legislation and recent cases. -
LINK

Racism?

During the Mashpee Wampanoag casino process in Middleboro, the Convicted Felon Tribal Leader, Glenn Marshall freely and easily tossed out the label of "Racism" in a carefully scripted speech to avoid answering the difficult questions about the casino's potential impacts.
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Casino supporters, without considering the questions that were asked and the discussion that was stifled as a consequence, readily accepted the term to avoid questioning facts.
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For those who rally around the term and express concerns about the issue of racism in our great land, it would seem that they would be particularly concerned about Environmental Justice.
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What exactly is "environmental justice"? This is how the EPA's Office of Environmental Justice defines it:
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
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ISS reports --
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The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun shipping toxic coal ash from the massive spill that occurred last December at its Kingston power plant in east Tennessee's Roane County to landfills in the neighboring states of Georgia and Alabama as part of a test to determine a final resting place for the waste.The counties where the ash is going have large black populations and high poverty rates, raising questions about environmental justice.
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Located in western Georgia's Piedmont, Taylor County is an agricultural area where almost 41% of the population is African-American and more than 24% of residents live in poverty, according to census data. By comparison, the state is 30% black with 14.3% of its residents in poverty. In recent years, Taylor County gained notoriety as one of the last communities in the South to still hold racially segregated high-school proms.
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Part of the historic "Black Belt," Alabama's Perry County is 69% African-American with more than 32% of its residents living in poverty, making it one of the poorest counties in the state, which is 26.5% black with 16.6% of its residents in poverty.
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Researchers have found that solid waste landfills tend to be located disproportionately in communities of color and low-wealth communities. For example, a recent study in North Carolina found that the odds of a solid waste facility were 2.8 times greater for communities with where 50% or more residents are people of color compared to those where less than 10% of residents are people of color. It also found that communities with lower housing values were more likely to have landfills.
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Pennsylvania refused to accept TVA's waste.
TVA hasn't decided where it will send the rest of the ash. Limited dredging of some 3 million cubic yards in the river has just begun. The ash is 30 feet deep in some places.
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As part of our national ENERGY dialogue, should we consider the legacy of Mountaintop Removal, Coal Ash, and Dirty Coal ?
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One look at TVA's CEO Tom Kilgore just tells us we should trust him to do the right thing! [insert sarcasm emoticon]
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