Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Maybe I'll Join Hal In Oregon?

Boston is a city with a shade over 42 square miles and narrow streets that allow parking year round. There are – quite naturally – certain restrictions regarding permit parking for neighborhoods. When a snow storm is anticipated a snow emergency is declared and that means the streets must be cleared of vehicles. You leave it and you will lose it at $50 a day and towing charges.
In Middleboro, we have a ridiculous ban starting November First. The absurdity and pure silliness that gives a solid insight into that antiquated mindset of a town that has some leadership on the food chain that is clueless. Just apply the snow emergency concept and let people park as they normally do. Of course, from the home of “Silly String” one would expect no less.
Under no circumstances will I vote for a new police station and it has nothing to do with need – that is a moot question since the need exists. This is a pure family support since I now have children who have located in Middleboro and simply will not accept the additional taxes. I can certainly fiscally support it, but family first. But a few other issues have grabbed my attention.
With the first attempt a few years back Town Meeting overwhelmingly voted for it only to have reality hit home and watch the station go down in ballot flames. A thinly disguised attempts by radical preservationist failed miserably. Now the latest resurrected proposal has their own PAC! I give this a 50/50 chance. Maybe even a 60/40 to pass?
My questions regarding the latest station is why Lakeville’s proposal for a station is considerably more cost effective than Middleboro? The square foot Lakeville figure is approximately $500 per square foot, according to published reports. Middleboro’s projected cost is significantly higher per square foot. Maybe Middleboro should have hired those in Lakeville to do a study instead of our own committee?
Police station costs for similar communities are lower than what Middleboro is proposing. The research is simple to find online. I imagine the committee that did all the “research” would, no doubt, go into an auto dealership and pay MSRP and probably ADM (Additional Dealer Markup) if that was tacked on.
Middleboro absolutely had to have a new fire truck at a projected cost of about one million dollars. Lakeville purchased our old clunker, refurbished it and now it has been in operation ever since. Amazing how the community with the lowest median income of any town in the county has a prime rib budget while the wealthiest in the county has a 73% beef budget. Again, why Lakeville?
If the latest police station proposal goes south the next most viable option is what I see elsewhere around the nation – modular units. Seen a lot of these and they come in all types of configurations to meet any need from administrative to lock-up.
The real silent message in the last vote was one of resentment. Police make a bundle of money. The Enterprise often highlights public salaries and the police in the towns that they publish dominate the figures. Jealousy or not that exists and I have personally heard it first hand and that includes other town employees. Dump the ultimate public safety gimmie – The Quinn Bill – and you can have a station with no taxpayer cost.
The next item down the taxation road is a potential new high school. I fully expect when all the public input is shifted through and all the various studies are done the decision will be to construct a new school. No doubt the supporters will use the unethical “For the children” approach and maybe even attempt to use the fallacy (I have seen elsewhere) that an improved plant improves test scores. I am sure if we have a new high school the Ivy League schools will be recruiting in town.
Fantasy sports – which I admittedly could care less about participating in – now rakes in billions and – quite naturally – that means the potential of tax dollars. Nationwide the move is afoot to regulate and tax. One of the key elements that has been mentioned is that there was the possibility that a game was “rigged.” How so?
The reasoning is that one clever employee used proprietary information to play on a competing site and won $300,000. The major sites use similar methods and algorithms. Nasty and certainly open to legal and ethical concerns. But, wait! Turns out the lottery has had similar questionable internal scams in various states that have reaped millions. I may not “trust” business, but I trust the government even less.
The dreary eight-year sentence of what the “free stuff” crowd put in office is slowly coming to its disastrous conclusion. An empty suit of epic proportions will rely on left-leaning historians to somehow put a gloss on failure. Even the failures of the incompetent 43 make the current administration appear like the “JV Team.”
Selectman Knowlton is obviously unfamiliar with the restaurant business by his recent request to have the latest resurrection of restaurant failure on route 28 shrink bar size. Thankfully, David Fisher say an adamant and resounding “no” to this suggestion. That is not the trend in casual dining and that would certainly hinder the dynamics of food and beverage (booze) mix that impacts the bottom line.
Fisher is one who has a very positive track record in this business niche and is willing to invest the money to totally revamp “360” or “Shooters” into a viable business that has a respectable reputation and actually where families can go. No doubt his vision of a new concept is to transition back to Richards’s days, but with better ambience.
The Bumpkin was rather mild on town attorney Dan Murray in a recent column. Insert a LOL in there. That a simple decision is now going on three months means it has been either neglected or Mr. Murray has realized his original missive on recreation had no basis in common sense, facts or Weston Will interpretation.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Cheers

Why would a supposedly sane and reasonable/rational person even consider voting for Donald Trump? Trump personifies what politics has deteriorated to in the United States. One can assign as many negatives to Trump as possible and still be coming up sparse on the ledger. But back to the main premise of why? Simply two words – Hillary Clinton.
The illustrious ledger of lies from the Clinton camp certainly is a legacy that will haunt her run for the presidency, but the faithful will do what they do best and ignore the obvious. I would certainly love to post a litany of her ability to dance around various faux pas, but there would be a logjam on servers around the globe inundated with anecdotal and non-anecdotal examples and the precious internet will come tumbling down.
The local angst over the rotary or is it now “The Rotary” continues to inspire our state government – most notably the Department of Transportation – to ingeniously devise ever newer methods of delay. In the meantime commons fixes such as dedicated lanes within the rotary – a common practice elsewhere – are ignored, so that entering and exiting resembles a demolition derby.
Dan Murray is simply painful to watch. The parsing of words at a snail’s pace and the disorganization of notes when going before the BOS makes me wish to start cutting myself again. At a recent meeting the Chair – Allin Frawley – even tried to push Murray along since time is of the essence. Maybe it is a deliberate ruse to accumulate billing hours?
The process to be appointed to a town board is now gone from pathetic to ridiculous. I imagine the vetting of a Syrian refugee is a less ponderous task. What next in this convoluted process? A stool sample? DNA? NSA background check? Most positions are relatively benign – yet they now appear to be in the same league as a SCOTUS appointment.
The Oliver House will drain valuable resources from elsewhere and that is a given that has already reared its ugly fiscal head – and they have just scratched the surface of the money drain this old wreck will present. Bridgewater got stuck with their dilapidated money pit that is now a memorial to inept CPA expenditures and Oliver House will soon follow.
Trash collection is now a pleasure since it is a single stream for recyclables and trash is in a barrel that can actually accommodate most households. The truck method appears to be efficient and painless to the containers. The landfill is still available for a fee ($25) and I have used it many times for hazardous waste.
Why Common Core in Massachusetts? Makes zero sense and the only reason I can figure out is a left over from the Patrick Administration. Massachusetts is the most successful state in nationwide testing. English, science and math we are consistently in first place. In international science and math exams, Massachusetts would be in the top five if we were an independent nation. So we roll over and adopt this? Huh?
What ever happened to that cross that caused such an inflamed discussion a few years ago?
On the recent Gazette “Best Of” list I did not see any mention of the best restaurant in the Lakeville/Middleboro area – Lily’s at LeBaron Hills. An outstanding menu, drinks and meals that can be half size. My only complaint – since that is my nature – is that no alcoholic beverages are not refillable.
What is it with the ghost craze? There is absolutely zero scientific evidence to support such silliness yet it manages to have some traction. But, then again, Peter Popoff bilked his acolytes for 25 Million last year selling “blessings” and some type of bottled water that had magical powers. The water was supposedly from a well near Chernobyl.
The downtown area of Middleboro apparently takes a step forward and two steps backwards with some new closings. An antique shop has shuttered and Cool Moose is gone. Meanwhile, a consignment shop has moved into downtown and from what I have been able to determine a new nail salon has not opened recently. Adam Bond’s bench, however, is fast becoming a local gathering point.
The kerfuffle over the 360 restaurant is now meaningless as it has done a 180 and followed Shooter’s into the town history books. The concept was very similar to Shooter’s which had a rather tainted reputation as a bikers bar. That image remained with the 360 and the few vehicles I observed were usually bikes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BOS and Weston Committee

A theme it has become to me regarding the outdated practice of Town Meeting or TM in a community of 23,000 and counting. As I have stated on many occasions TM represents the “Purest form of special interest.”
At the BOS weekly stroll into the bizarre, mundane, humorous and problematic came the Weston Town Forest Committee on the agenda. The purpose of which was to bring forth to one and all the latest “opinion” by Middleboro’s own William J. Fallon or by his more common moniker – “The Great Mouthpiece.” More on “Billy Flynn” later.
John Knowlton, apparently, is under the assumption that TM is the end all for local decision making – and he is not alone. As the discussed moved forward, backwards and sidewards the local television audience was blessed with the appearance of Neil Rosenthal, who is usually described as a local businessman and former Selectman.
Pomposity is certainly well embedded into the framework of Neil (and other "Town Father's) as his main objective of removing himself from his home was to get another 15 minutes of local fame by dope slapping Bumpkin and to a lesser extent the Chair of the WTF or Weston Town Forrest Committee. Mr. Rosenthal is one of the handful of locals that look forward to TM as I do for the discounted rib eye at the local supermarkets. Another exercise for demonstrating the mastery of the rules of order and stepping forward to sound out on what apparently is some ire at the Bumpkin. Yawn!
In this instance, both Knowlton and Rosenthal missed the point. Missed is a rather understated term since this was tantamount to me shooting at a target at the local Rod & Gun Club and having the bullet land in North Dakota.
Both gentleman (I wish someone would apply the term to me) failed to realize that at TM both supported the recently failed police station or militant preservationist proposal. How did it go at TM? Well, it was similar to Tom Brady and the Patriots offense facing the Sisters of The Poor for 60 minutes. But there is more to it. On step two the real hoi polloi of Middleboro showed up and firmly euthanasiaed this puppy – if there is such an exotic use of the term or the word.
What really frosts me is the attempt by Neil to “school” our Chair. Yes – I am a board member of the committee. This was 100% uncalled for since Mr. Rosenthal was examining through a prism without any understanding. Stick to Bumpkin since that is a very large and well deserved target.
But back to the outside looking in. Our Chair was left without direction. The previous Chair had vacated the committee thanks to some type of internal strife that I still do not quite have my gossipy little paws around. Paperwork was about as easy to locate as former IRS Director Lerner’s emails. The archives for the committee simply are spotty at best.
Thankfully, our Chair was able to respond in a matter so school was out on that issue with Mr. Rosenthal getting an F on research and another F on manners. And since I have no manners I recognize them when violated.
Dan Murray had a rather interesting was of traversing from point A to point B on his interpretation of the whole dust-up and subsequent review of just how the Weston Will should and could be viewed. I will give – as much as it troubles me – to give Bumpkin his props on that. Bumpkin pointed out the one item that Murray has mastered and that being that nothing is more consistent than inconsistency for Billy Flynn.
I do not speak for the committee since I am one voice among many. Our Chair is the conduit for what will be the more public and official face. I do have opinions and will question to just what extent will Murray’s decision will be used as a framework for what the WTF group?
Disc Golf is a leisurely game or a sport that is relatively low impact. Passive? I doubt that, but it is active. Is Weston going to be limited to passive recreation only? If so that means my occasional trail run will be verboten. And horseback riding – a true trail destroyer – may be in the same category.
In a recent Bumpkin column he alluded to me and to a tip of the iceberg of research I had done on this subject. Numerous park managers were contacted for their input on the ecology issues, wild life impacts, tree damage and on and on. There is minimal impact.
Murray’s latest “decision” will (hopefully) not stop any subsequent chances for being the first Middleboro resident appointed to the SCOTUS, but it needs some clarification and some parameters so that the WTF and our overseers – the BOS – do not get bogged down in the occasional poorly thought out decisions that can be made.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Casino and other stuff

The casino issue continues on - much like a feline with nine lives or a vampire that cannot be killed. The latest in this lengthy saga is that Taunton will finally get a Native American/Indian/Indigenous People casino that will be a remarkable 500M addition to a city that is essentially dead in the water.
The plan is to place it on route 140 and that is, no doubt, a former Indian/Native American/Indigenous People trail that has some type of historical significance.
Cedric Cromwell - not to be confused with Oliver Cromwell - is the tribal spokesperson or is it leader? I’m sure there is a term somewhere to describe his skill set among this faux tribe. Anyways, Cromwell spoke at a love fest in Taunton recently with assorted pols in attendance to describe the wonders of it all.
Cromwell dismissed or minimized any potential lawsuits that will certainly hover around this latest resurrected effort by the faux tribe. They have claimed ancestral home over just about any open space in North America in an attempt to cash in. I’m sure Cromwell would even claim the Wamps are a lost tribe of Israel to get the coin.
One item of contention is Brockton. The citizens of Brockton are in favor (barely) of a casino. This will be at the site of the Brockton-Middleborough Agricultural Fair - or Brockton Fair Grounds.
Brockton actually makes Taunton resemble Manchester By The Sea. If you need cash just swept up shell casings after a night of random havoc in the former Shoe City and the scrap will make a mortgage payment.
I for one will miss the fair. Where else can I witness obese women in spandex outfits accompanied by their toothless and well tattooed biker “significant others.” Just the thrill of watching the assorted grifters that come into Brockton for the festival will be missed. Once this fair was actually a splendid event with freak shows, Kelly the Candyman, strip shows and rides that in this day and age would not pass inspection even if GM and VW were involved.
The fairgrounds - like most of Brockton - is now a seedy dump and that is being insulting to dumps everywhere. The casino is supposed to negate the morass Brockton has embraced and that is a pipe (not peace type) dream. Just let the city die its death with a few remaining enclaves of normalcy while those with any fiscal resources and sanity take flight.
The solution to this quagmire is to simply have Taunton and Brockton have their destination casinos. Forget the saturation as that has already happened. Let both build and both fail - which they will - and have someplace besides downtown Middleboro will haVE a passel of empty storefronts
Meanwhile Middleboro will examine the possibility of extracting cash from the “tribe” for long ago agreements. Good luck with that as the “tribe” would have difficulty finding two wooden nickels to rub together.
The latest in a list of proposed expenditures is a new or renovated high school. The current one is a bit shy of what standards are supposed to be for such an edifice. Science labs are outdated and mechanical and structural issues exist. That is just the beginning of all the needed high school infrastructure and, of course, I am sure the committee that is investigating this will show all the necessary data that will link a new building to improved student performance.
The drama continues with the BOS taking various pot shots - both public and private - at each other.
The Middleboro ladder truck cost one million dollars and I propose that now be the new unit of cost measurement for the town. If a new school cots 40M then the cost is 40 ladder trucks
The Red Sox have finished a miserable season with back-to-back last places seasons. The additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval clearly show it is not how much money you spent, but how you spend it.

Friday, September 18, 2015

BOS to Tom Brady and other stuff

The Board of Selectmen or is it Select-persons? I dunno since in this day and age incorrect labeling can get the ire up of the PC crowd. Anyways, there appears to be some friction on the board that is becoming a bit clear by body language, tone of voice, facial expressions and so on. I imagine that passes for my own scientific evaluation.
The BOS also seems to have a certain "lone wolf" persona among their members.
The Town Manager seemed like a cool customer until the last meeting when I noticed a few stumbles with some pointed questions regarding a social media policy.
Social media is a battleground as those of us who participated in what passed for debate during the casino saga will attest. So the fine line is being delineated over just how to determine between that nasty First Amendment and personal responsibility as a town employee. As one who eschews such arbitrary control I am all for post whatever you want as long as it is not a town operated web site. If you wish to make profound statements or, instead, sound like a clone of Donald Trump, then just suffer the fact you will (hopefully) be ostracized.
The next issue to surface to deplete our pocketbooks is a new or refurbished high school. To quote one committee member evolved in evaluation "Ours minds are open" - and I paraphrase. This is similar to the very first go around with the police station when that committee rejected just about anything that surfaced since certain members had "Barney Google Eyes" attempting to stuff a bloated historic (hysteric?) adventure down our throats.
Regarding education in Middleboro I am sure the latest Superintendent - is that position in Middleboro similar to a monarchy where titles are forwarded? OK...back to point. I am sure the moles that crunch the numbers in the school system will provide us with mountains of documentation to support the fact that a new building will mean rising test scores. Is there a correlation someone that shows such?
The highlight of downtown renovation over the last few years can be summarized with two projects. The first is the hanging of potted plants and the second is a spiffy new bench erected in front of a relocated law office. The bench provides a terrific view of empty store fronts.
The downtown area needs some personal attention with one of my pet peeves. On a visit to said bench I bent my aged back down on several occasions to remove weeds from the sidewalk. I am sure a visit to Benny's for a 32 ounce sprayer of Round-Up would do the job. Of course, Round-Up is a product of "Big Chem" (Monsanto) who are behind all the "evils" of GMO - so doing such a task may cause repercussions. But, anyways, if anyone who walks the walkways reaches down and plucks a weed they will soon disappear.
I hate the Patriots. Hate is a strong word, but quite appropriate in sports. Their fans remind me of Yankee fans only even more arrogant and disillusioned. However, the recent issue regarding deflating footballs seemed like 100% NFL overkill. There is no doubt something was up, but this calls for a fine and not DEFCON 1. The NFL looked like - to be as least caustic as possible - dopes. Their lawyers were buffoons and the Commish comes across as the village idiot.
Now the negotiations have been completed and Middleboro will have a dope den. Of course, it is a medical dispensary to make us all feel better. From my perspective I would have all drugs legal. And I mean ALL drugs. Cocaine, weed, heroin, prescription pills and just about anything else. Where I draw the line is in accountability and personal responsibility - drive or do something stupid that impacts others and off to a prison that would make a citizen of Turkey fearful.
One of the more amusing handouts in contracts is with the school system and substitute teachers. If you are a former teacher in Middleboro you are compensated at $100 a day and if you are a former teacher from elsewhere it is $80 a day. I imagine this is a reward for all those spectacular MCAS scores achieved through the years.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Police Staion to weed - and everything in between

A cell phone ban at BOS meetings! How dare they! Is there anything more insulting than attempting to have a conversation with someone who is spending far more time enraptured by their attachment to whatever nonsense is being texted to them? That is exactly what is being done when the members carry their little electronic toy into a meeting.
Selectman McKinnon had the good sense to bring the issue up and to actually do the walk to match the talk and keep his cell phone out of meetings. However, the rest of the BOS apparently managed to do a song and dance routine that would be the envy of Gene Kelly in avoiding the prospect of life without connection – at least for a few hours.
Recently had to call the G & E about some of my wife’s – The Lovely Cynthia – precious trees overhanging some wires in front of our palatial estate. Within a few hours they were down, did a quick assessment and said their tree service folks would have us on their list. OK – a list from a government or quasi agency – expect the problem resolved by the next ice age.
Well, in a few days Barnes Tree Service showed up and cut they did. Cut way back. Beautiful job and a better clean-up. Quick response and professionalism all around. My gas/electric bill will be slightly less painful after that.
The bargaining goes one over a weed shop in Middleboro. Forget the “medical” part as it is a roundabout way of getting a joint without getting your ticket punched by the local gendarmes. Now the BOS will attempt to squeeze a few more bucks out of a local entrepreneur who wishes to open up a dispensary and didn’t we see that back in the day with a casino?
Anyways, I’m all for 100% legalization of all drugs. No incremental BS – manage, tax, maintain, regulate and punish like a DUI if a user does something silly like driving down main street on Krazy Days. So, maybe Middleboro can bag (one ounce or less) this business to add to our collection of Highpoint and McLean’s? Oh….and if the BOS is in negotiation be very careful if Mr. Shaw offers you any brownies
Krazy Days or is it Daze? Well, whatever, was rather impressive this year. Spreading like Bumpkins waist line. Plenty of options, free stuff, specials and an enthusiastic crowd. Hey – I have enough pens to last be to the next millennium. But there is one complaint.
Step right up to that train ride. My daughter and 3 and a half-year-old granddaughter took a $6 and three minute ride. This should be front and center on any local rip-off columns. Take a hint and dump this “ride” or get the price more in line with value.
Adam Bond was recently on FB with a whine – he actually whines more than moi – to express frustration over hiring local for a planned expansion. I imagine Adam is building a no smoking section to the office? But I hear him loud and clear and actually will give him some well-deserved kudo’s for going local.
Another police station override attempt is in the wind. Will this one have a weight room? Better call it an exercise room since a quick glance shows many an office has a “weight” issue. So what will be the cost per square foot? What frills will be needed? Place to cash those detail checks? Maybe kiss the Quinn Bill goodbye?
What the Police Station Building Committee is totally lost on is just who they are reaching out to impress or convince. My daughter has a condo mortgage, condo fees, car payments, works two jobs, is going to nursing school and is acquiring debt. She will see the salaries and say “why?” I can’t afford it. That, my friends, is why this puppy will be defeated without a strong and convincing argument. Folks like that should have been recruited by the committee, they will not join since they are (1) not embedded in the elite town structure and (2) actually are two damn busy surviving.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Local "Turmoil" and other selected garbage

The Board of Selectmen apparently have a division amongst themselves according to published reports and assorted gossip mongers – never would I be a gossip monger. From what I have been able to ascertain the latest focal point has something to do with the Tourism Committee.
I observed via my overcharged cable package the last few meetings. In fact I watch most meetings – usually with sharp objects well out of reach. I have no idea about any “divisions,” unless this relates to math and the BOS is collectively deficient in that specific area.
In fact with my quite limited intellect I was not quite able to get a handle on exactly what the Tourism Committee was pondering at the meeting. Of course my constant dereliction of media driven attendance was hampered by the nasty male habit of switching channels. What can I say? I like TMZ!
I watch the meetings weekly or bi-weekly depending upon scheduling and notice that collectively the BOS appears a relatively passive group in their interactions. Is there some type of verbal conflagration that takes place in the parking lot or at the Central?
So, just maybe, I should be more careful when reading stories in The Gazette that discuss this issue and the Committee. The story itself made me wonder exactly what is going on with the Tourism Committee. Some type of internal strife? And that results in a connect the dots to the BOS?
So, I shall remain confused until it is explained – and very, very slowly, to me.
I had the opportunity to go down Precinct Street recently to go for a trail run on the now vacant casino area – no, I was not searching for turkey feathers. The street had taken a significant hit during the winter and the usual collection of potholes had grown to where those in the International Space Station could view them. No more. The DPW has repaved – nice job.
And speaking of renovation – our picturesque landfill (dump) with Mount Garbage growing to the clouds has also been revamped. The place was a dump (sorry), but has now been organized with multiple stations to toss everything from yard waste to wood, metal and plastic. I’m not sure if it is a collaborative effort between Waste Management and Middleboro, but it is a huge improvement
A new school superintendent has been hired and Middleboro now has what amounts to a family oligarchy for that position.
The downtown of Middleboro is again rather bleak with two buildings at a prime location empty – at least on the observable ground floor. The bank building and Maria’s should be anchor stores for the downtown and now collect dust. Too bad.
What is a fascination of whacking a hanging flower pot? My assumption is these are probably youths in their late teens who had some type of life altering experience with a piƱata at a birthday party. No doubt they failed and missed out on assorted trinkets, so anything hanging – with no ability to defend itself – is a likely target.
I really would like to move or at least have a winter residence other than Massachusetts. But one place is certainly not on my list – Kansas. Why did Dorothy ever want to return? I make a yearly trip to the area that is totally dependent upon the Red Sox schedule to play in Kansas City, Mo. and stay across the Mighty Mo” in Kansas.
The heat and humidity makes Florida seem artic. The thundershowers would put a monsoon in South East Asia to shame. The landscape is depressing. The big business is prisons as the Feds have several – as do prions for profit – in the Leavenworth area. I am sure the lifers look out and say: “Escape to that?”
The SCOTUS went 2 for 2 in my book with the reaffirmation of Obamacare and the decision on Gay marriage.