Thursday, August 14, 2014

How bad is it when I agree with Bumpkin?

How bad is it when I agree with Bumpkin?
Bumpkin nailed it on the police station issue. You want it? Dump the Quinn Bill. Or keep the Quinn Bill and rely on flaggers.
You go anywhere else in the United States and cops are stunned with the largesse that is tossed their way in Massachusetts. You will get paid details, but for road work? Looking in a hole? Gabbing on your cell phone? Last I looked the state was using flaggers. At least they said they were. Try and find one.
IMHO town workers that were not associated with the fire or police department went negative on a new cop shop. Think a clerk gets a 25% boost for attending and passing the rigor presented at Anna Maria College – a noted cop shop gimmie mill.
And how bad is it when I have to agree with Jim Thomas?
Thomas nailed it on the editorial in the Gazette recently supporting our current archaic town meeting system.
Mischief is afoot in downtown Middleboro with the destruction of hanging plants. I guess having a downtown police station really is not a deterrent to crime? Goodbye to Charlie and six excellent years of leadership.
The search for a new police chief is all in-house. That certainly culls the herd of potential candidates.
The flow of children to Massachusetts has opened up the heart of Deval Patrick who has found housing for them. How about housing for our children and their parents living in motels? Or for those described in a recent tent city article in the Enterprise? Yeah, Deval, “It’s for the children!”
Finally, at least on the surface, Patrick has relented. What goes on under the sheets is another story.
According to this Thomas Jefferson character “A nation without borders is not a nation.” Wonder if the executive and legislative branches are aware of that statement? Why has it become so chic for the left to support Palestinians? Strange group.
The Beacon Hill Civic Association is an example of the preservationist Nazi’s at their finest. The association is fighting the implementation of handicap accessible sidewalks since it would destroy “The character of the neighborhood.”
How is that casino coming along?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Down The Yellow Brick Road To A Failed Police Station

The power of the Good Old Boys was firmly rejected by the Hoi Polli that comprise the base of Middleboro. The local paper had numerous letters of support for the project by former Selectmen, support of the current board, former Town Manager support, a “packed” study committee, the boards of town government, and topped it all off with a Mike Maddigan column on the value of the Peirce Store.
The collective resumes of those with perceived influence in town affairs was solidly rejected. A repudiation of the Good Old Boys? Seems to be.
One certainly respects the collective service of those with that extensive resume, but buy their opinion? On the fire truck? Wrong! Ambulance contract? Wrong! Casino? Wrong! Simple fact is just because you are versed and articulate on the process does not mean you are right or can design a convincing argument.
The linkage to the Peirce Store simply had negative traction. Jim Thomas nailed it with “militant preservationist.” Far too many simply viewed the linkage as a poorly veiled attempt to save a potential money pit. This is the proverbial tossing money down a rabbit hole.
I also get the impression that the subtle attempt to negatively portray every option just didn’t sell. The ones who count – voters – simply felt that the committee, despite ten (that’s 10!) arduous years of study and data compilation ignored other possibilities. You would hear the same locations repeated Ad nauseam and the same reasons to reject it – again, Ad nauseam. Folks just didn’t buy it.
The highest paid list of town employees has numerous members of the police department listed. Resentment? Possibly. A good weekend of details can make your monthly mortgage payment. Resentment? IMO an affirmative.
Taxes. Why should I vote for a tax increase? This, likewise, was a key ingredient, but in down times the CPA passed. Might me more to it than just taxes.
When you listen to those with similar opinions you become insular to the negative. Complacency sets in. You really need to do the ground work and I just didn’t see it with this project. A lot of preaching to the choir.
At one meeting with the public there appeared to be some hostile resentment towards those in “The Cheap Seats” having the audacity to raise legitimate concerns. That will not win any favorable points. Some of the reasoning was from the theater of the absurd.
It will never be cheaper!
Fiscal Nostradamus’ on the loose. Guess what? You said that in 2007 you would be wrong! 2009? Wrong! 2011? Wrong!
Then the safety issue as we await disaster at the police station.
This was the same bogus argument used for a fire truck. Another guess what? You are dealing with volatile situations. That is what all that Anna Maria training is all about. If officers can’t handle the job it is a leadership issue. I doubt you will hear that excuse at a Super Max or even Carver.
One supporter used the “I’m one of the highest taxpayers in town” for justification. Huh? What?
It’s the SMALL taxpayers that are of concern. You know, the ones that can’t write it off as a business expense. Can’t cut hours, benefits, raise prices or raise rents. If anything that type of convoluted thinking would change my mind from yea to nay.
Even Jim Thomas, publicly the harshest critic, supports a new station. Just not this one. I believe this may well be the prevalent attitude.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Town Meeting - another yawn

I have posted on my position on Town Meetings several times so why stop now? Nothing like a revisit, especially after the latest Middleboro sojourn into that antiquated system that has long since passed its shelf life.
TM is a special delight for a few who view it with “Betty Davis Eyes” the way I view the opening of the baseball season. This is their one time to shine and dazzle us with their parliamentary knowledge, oratorical skills and comic interludes. For the uninitiated it is a tedious and boring task at hand to watch a collation of Ms. and Mr. Bluster’s ramble on while the “normal” look for sharp objects to end their misery.
My first exposure in our quaint community was when I first located to Middleboro and observed the house clearing out after their project of note was voted upon. I had witnessed the exercise in previous communities that had the privilege of me locating within their borders. All too often an item would be placed on the warrant, another cute term, and be, eventually debated and voted upon. This usually means racking up as many friends, relatives and those lolling about the Central to show up and vote favorably on your item and promptly leave the house. The finest example of special interest in America!
Debate is central to the system. Fine. Everyone has a chance to speak, but, unfortunately, many do not wish to participate at that level. This can be out of sheer fear or not willing to make a fool of themselves like far too many grandstanding participants do. Then comes the vote.
This is where I most assuredly leave the reservation. Why should the vote be public? Nothing in our General Laws about it. And the beauty is some communities actually – now get this - have moved into the 21st century! You do it electronically! Chelmsford was the first in Massachusetts and many communities have committee’s to study how to actually accomplish this.
Options Technologies and Pagett Communications are two companies that provide equipment for TM’s. You simply get a tablet upon entering the meeting and that is how you vote. When you leave the equipment is returned. There are various options on the tablet and, knowing Middleboro, I am sure – on a temporary basis only – a tech savvy seven year old will have to accompany each adult to “help” them. Good luck with that.
Seems this town is willing to squander CPA monies on a variety of public expenses and now, just maybe, they will actually fund this little adventure in having a ballot where an individual will not be singled out. Worth looking into. I understand the cost is somewhere in the range of $25,000 or about 1/40th of a new fire truck.
Of course, use of electronics does exist in even this humble backwater. A quick text to notify one that their moment has arrived so they may scuttle forward. Yes, it does happen. What would be the major roadblocks?
The local gentry so embedded in the past would be the most significant stumbling block. Change, to some, is an evil thing to be cast outward, ignored or generally scoffed at. I imagine there are many who still cling to the hope that this “internet thing” is just a fad. Some communities measure change in increments of months and some in increments of decades.
So as other communities drift forward and embrace technology there will stand Middleboro. Alone- and debating the merits of a swearing by-law.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Politics/Good Old Boys/Downtown Middleboro

The Republicans, a party on the Massachusetts endangered species list, are making waves on Beacon Hill for the Patrick administration to be accountable for information regarding the failed Health Connector web site. The cost for this latest administration boondoggle is somewhere in the range of 500M and counting. I have taught dogs to roll over and that is exactly what the fraudulent and self-proclaimed “Party of The People,” otherwise known as Democrats have done.
You closely examine three states in particular that are overwhelming one party – Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Michigan and the level of patronage, overbearing taxes, excessive welfare handouts and decades of mis-management become uncontested. All three are Democrat strongholds. Connect the dots.
I am truly amazed at the lack of determination by the national media to hold Elizabeth Warren’s toes to the verbal flames after her use of a faux Native American background to move up into the very visible public limelight. That she used the race card to her advantage is one issue, but who, without a fraudulent race card to play, lost out to Warren in advancement? Warren can cure cancer, balance the budget and give us all internal life and I have more respect for a cockroach I find skittering around my domicile.
Cruz and Rubio have made some headlines for the Republicans in their own quixotic search for a viable “minority” candidate. In this case the ever shifting Hispanic vote is the key target. Cruz, in particular, has the blessings on the Tea Party – or is it not a party? Strange group that managed to get off a message of fiduciary sensibilities and into the political melting pot of the far right
At one time the Republicans were the party that attracted the burgeoning Black political forces in this country. Blacks have now shifted from “The Party of Lincoln” to the “Party of Free Stuff.” That comment, no doubt, is considered “racist” by that cesspool of PC loonies that have so infiltrated the Democrats and, to avoid negativity, have pronounced themselves, in extraordinary hubris fashion – “Progressives.”
Middleboro continues to shift in the political winds as more and more folks have ventured further south seeking cheaper home prices. My wife – The Lovely Cynthia – and I were such folks over forty years ago. The house we looked at in Hingham was $58,000 and the same one in Middleboro -exactly the same – came in at $29,500. But back to politics.
George Wallace – a true and unreconstructed racist – made his first New England campaign stop in Middleboro. I know since I was there to see the little troll in person. Ross Perot carried Middleboro. Even Romney did. There is significant southern connections to Middleboro from migration patterns that occurred a hundred or so years ago. Those and a smattering of Yankee types cry out “Self-reliant conservatives.” That is changing.
Politically Middleboro is a non-participatory community. A Little League baseball game will attract a higher turnout than a town meeting. IMO the town still has a well-entrenched “Good old boy” network that, depending on point of view, is either a blessing or a disaster. Nothing wrong with experienced hands at the tiller as long as the first mate (John Q) keeps a watching eye
In Middleboro the GOB (Good Old Boys) are not a mirror image of the state of city brand. Few of the GOB’s will be in that well known area of “Hacks,” that breed that is totally and 100% depended upon the legacy of patronage. In Middleboro, and a surprising number of similar communities, the GOB’s actually are employed in the DPS (Dreaded Private Sector) which gives them a unique vantage point where institutional entitlement is removed from the equation.
What I have noticed about the GOB factor is sometimes entry – do they have a Skull and Crossbones type ceremony? – is having a long bloodline locally. A real generational thing where my great-grandpappe knew your great grandpappe, similar to what separated the nouveau rich from the long entrenched money class back about 100 years ago. Since, from my experience here and elsewhere, some GOB’s consider themselves local royalty, maybe a better comparison would be newly minted European faux royalty versus the thousand year old brand.
No matter what I certainly have no entry status nor would I ever desire it. I will keep my paternalistic instincts to family.
I have often viewed Middleboro as a cultural desert. In the past the occasional bright light has surfaced such as “That’s Entertainment” and a local theater group. Now even that little piece of Hooterville that my non-Middleboro friends poke me about is disappearing. Alley Theater has brought high quality entertainment to the masses – if the masses care to reach out. Few towns have such a venue.
What has caught my ever critical attention is, to me, the still somewhat floundering downtown area. Middleboro has no real strip mall blight to speak of. No Old Colony Place. That should result in a more prosperous downtown. Why is that missing?
One of the key factors downtown is accessibility. Seems that a healthy 500 foot walk is out of the question for most. I actually will go to the post office and stroll downtown to the Bank Building – will it be the Bakery Building? From there I will cross the street and continue up to Benny’s. There are a few stores with resale items and/or antiques that will get my attention. A café for a late morning snack. It isn’t much, but it has improved and has what I never really used in life – P-O-T-E-N-T-I-A-L.
What is the factor for supporting downtown?
The feel good attempts such as Crazy Days or Daze or whatever are synthetic. They may bring in the occasional out of town drifter, but I don’t see it. What I do see is personal purchasing commitment. Can a small business downtown get my business? If it is just price they will not – except for the chain store Benny’s. However comes that word commitment.
Am I willing to spend a few dollars more? If a local can sell it to me for $10 I feel more comfortable buying it that wandering north or south (wasting time and fuel) to get the same item for $8.99. If I need a quick lunch is it the Flatiron or Milano? Certainly as viable an option as going to the pick a chain sprawl on route 44 in Taunton. Even Boston Tavern is a better option.
So, to my insular mind, buying local has a point since the business is invariable operated by a local who will employ a local (hopefully). But that parking!
Now Somerville is under executive order of the mayor not to have cops lock up illegals. Amazing!
Looks like the full court press is on for a new cop shop. The local boards have all fallen in line and the local paper has been running letters from those who either consider themselves "local players" or hope to be. All that blather is enough to almost convince me of a no vote.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Living In The Domain Of The Looney Left

Seems political parties are nothing more than social clubs for ideologues.
Some of my predictions come true. When the new firehouse was constructed, you know, the one that later had problems, I felt a new cop house would soon be in the works. Viola!
The probation excuses usually center around the classic line: “Writing letters of recommendation is what I often have to do for constituents.” What they really meant to say is “After I check the donor list.”
The unions and tax fattened pols are getting out all the PR possible on the gas tax ballot issue. A new “study” claims repairing bridges will cost 12.2B. I wonder what happened to all the money through the years that was supposed to be directed towards that very issue.
Tying the gas tax to CPI is just ludicrous. Now no putting your legislative slot in the cross-hairs over a tax vote, and what better way to circumvent the process than to have it bypass public debate. It will become a forever tax so reminiscent of John Volpe and the “temporary” 3% sales tax.
There is absolutely no doubt to this observer that Deval Patrick is the worse governor I have ever witnessed in this state. Chub Peabody is FDR compared to Patrick.
Do police have a right to privacy when doing a public function? Can I film them spending an inordinate amount of detail time on their phones, looking into a hole or in conversation with the real workers? A case has recently surfaced (again) where someone recorded their own arrest. That is now (again) a legal issue for the courts to decide. Courts – the place where common sense falls victim to arcane legal histories.
The latest money grab is presented by the TSA. There is enough anecdotal – as the flawed Gov. Patrick would say – evidence showing a level of incompetency that would get you the gate real quick in the DPS (Dreaded Private Sector). Now comes “expedited lines.”
The TSA has had “expedited” lines at Fortress Logan for a few years. You get selected at random, either in person or via your ticket, to go through the security checkpoint with liquids, gels, belt, shoe and laptop. I have, since I appear so harmless, been selected several times. Now several airlines are involved in the program and the TSA is rolling it out for the masses – if you wish to pay $85. I guess that security charge on our tickets does not cover being expedited.
The Cumberland Farms on South Main Street will be a plus for the travelers who bounce off the highway. Hopefully, Cumby’s will continue to use Prime downtown and by Dave’s Diner as the competition to determine prices. That should drive down the price per gallon by fifteen cents and even more with their gas card tie-in
I have not found one agency or reputable scientific organization worldwide that disputes global warming or climate change.
What is difficult on the most sophisticated of word processors is homonyms. Sometimes they are caught and other times they are knot. Oh…it just caught it…not! Thank you, Bill Gates!
I still find proof reading difficult. The human mind has a natural tendency to read the incorrect correctly. Been show on many tests. Part of the higher complex thought patterns in our brains. I do believe that thought pattern is missing from registered Republicans and Democrats.
he Red Sox, as I write this, have managed to go above the .500 mark. Amazing when you consider how dysfunctional the offense has been.
Recently had the opportunity to go to North Brookfield, Massachusetts. This is a quaint community at about the half-way point between Worcester and Springfield with a population a shade under 5,000. Very few open store fronts, a vibrant downtown section and some nice building reuse. Could be a model for other towns. They have managed to eliminate most of the kitsch store fronts that Middleboro has far too many of.
Looking at Middleboro’s store fronts in selected areas if they delay long enough – say fifty years – they will be retro. Problem solved!
The next great wave of immigration influx has begun and this one from Somalia.
Nothing will be more enjoyable than the dysfunctional Republicans taking the Senate this coming season and locking Elizabeth Warren into some political closet where she certainly belongs. Another shining example of why Massachusetts is laughed at.
Millennium Place is the newest tower being constructed in Boston and right on Washington Street next to the old Filene’s. This area had become condo tower central as they have proliferated from Chinatown to the Theater District and into Downtown Crossing. Many are sold out before they are topped out. Who buys them? Six hundred square feet go for a thousand a square foot and condo fees.
A friend I know in Washington state lives in a community where the “Looney Left” has taken root. Now “friend” wishes to build a windmill and the PC crowd has put the kibosh on it. They have totally infiltrated various local boards and, despite their “green” pronouncements, consider the windmill “unsightly.” Friend has no neighbors within a quarter mile.
Friend also noted solar panels. Turns out the community has some rather restrictive measures on that wonderful (I have them) green initiative. They can only be on the roof, point away from the street and comply with a measurement formula based on the square footage of the roof.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

BOS, Baseball, Electronic Media and Kindle

I recently had the opportunity to serve on a town commission. I had every intention of doing so and had done diligent research based on my own checklist of strengths and weakness as applied to the position. My initial time invested over a period of a few days was substantial, but it is what the position and the town most deservedly is entitled. I have been on many boards over the years and have resented those who contribute about as much as a bag of rocks.
I greatly appreciate the fact the town manager sought me out and had the confidence I would be a valuable addition. And, of course, meeting with the BOS and their extended kindness is also much appreciated. Then, I turned down a position I had tentatively accepted. Why? Simply put - baseball.
If you examine the sidebar of this worthless blog you will note an extensive list of baseball links. I have used most of them at one time or another, they are just a fraction of what is available. In Middleboro the term “Good old boy network” is bandied about. That exists in baseball sites just as it does in about every other field. You make connections. You establish friendships. In some instances others seek out and respect your opinions. In my case it was the opportunity to be a content editor, style editor or, in reality, just a nexus for distribution of real time information, with a smattering of help desk mentality tossed into the blender labeled “Job Description.” The real driver is simply “Fantasy baseball,” of which I have never participated. Those that do are serious, or can be serious, “seamheads.” The compensation is negligible and the hours are minimal. You are certainly not alone and, as I have now found out, capable of flexibility trade-offs.
I have a running partner who works, on occasion, from home. One sister spends about half her working hours in front of a screen. When I escaped the DPS (Dreaded Private Sector) the rumblings of a mobile office was just surfacing. With information distribution it is simple not necessary to hop into a vehicle and go on an expressway to get you in the 150/90 range for blood pressure.
With me it is time. I love retirement. The freedom of the choice of the day being DD or Honey Dew is exhilarating. I have a box set up, my own compartmentalize zone that says twenty hours per week for my commitments. I even excused myself from the board of the Middleborough Historical Association over the fact that something would have to go. I am a volunteer advocate for parents needing one to go to battle, and a battle it is, with school systems. I limit that significantly. The infringement of that self-proclaimed twenty hours would be, once again, significant. That’s something that would have to go would not be the baseball hours. That was the deal breaker tossed into my decision making process once again. Couple that with other volunteer work and I would be faced with a “Hey, I’m retired!” situation
I currently write for a baseball site. I do it for the enjoyment as do all of us at that and many other sites. There is no compensation unless you decide to be an editor, which I have adamantly refused to do. That would, in my opinion, commit me to writing about things I simply do not care to write about. I am not willing to toss away my independence. I may get less “reads” and “hits.” but I’m not in it for the numbers.
The Boston Globe at one time had an online baseball chat site that I helped monitor. I established friendships from that long closed site. One such connection will be here to attend the Boston and Cincinnati Red series with me. On Comcast I also was responsible for content on their baseball posting board. Translated, that means if someone does something stupid you edit or delete it. In the three years I did that I never had to lock out a poster. The political site would do that daily. I have also been editing on Wikipedia for years. Whenever I see incorrect information on baseball I edit. Anyone can do it. Hundreds of thousands participate from all walks of life. Go to Wiki and the information for participation is readily available.
I also started or better stated, participated in the start-up of several baseball, meaning Red Sox, web sites. Two still exist and I occasionally post, but the traffic is quite light. On each site advertising has been refused. Then there was the anti-casino site, which I monitored. Creating a site is relatively simple and creating the frameworks for this blog actually took about fifteen minutes. Trust me, there is no heavy lifting.
The rapid advancement in electronic media is startling. Just the proliferation of those sites on my sidebar. This is actually big business. Fantasy sports are incredible in scope. In many fantasy league draft day is a holiday from work. It is for one of my sons and a brother-in-law. They still spend hours going over information on football and baseball. The secret is traffic. I have posted articles, not this blog, of course, with twenty comments that had five-hundred page reads and articles with no comments that had thousands of reads. The reads generate the income. That’s why Facebook stock went up the other day. Ad revenues. Some of those sidebar sites started out in someone’s basement with one computer and now have staff in the hundreds, including many that are now professionals receiving a significant compensation package. Nothing new with that - the American dream fulfilled.
When I was a youngster we had exactly one TV channel in 1950. That was it. Today there appears to be thousands. Just examine your cable directory. There are channels covering just about any area of interest. Local cable shows are everywhere. We even have a local one on wrestling.
Anyone can do a podcast. I won’t go into the details, but I have appeared on them. You have a computer or a telephone and now you are a radio star. For baseball they are all over the place. Most are just simple affairs that are recorded and released. Some are more complicated. I have been on some that do live streaming of chat during a contest. Same as a real time posting board. Others are edited and released at specific times. Then you have YouTube. Record it and post it.
I could list some of my favorite baseball writers. Did you know Zane Grey wrote extensively on baseball? So I will leave the name list with Mr. Grey. What I have read electronically is amateur works that are every bit, in my opinion, as some of the most skilled sports writers today. Sites such as the one I write for are gateways for those wishing experience and getting a nice line on a resume. We actually have an editor who is in high school. This brings me to my Kindle.
I love science fiction. Amazon is quite an outlet, among others, for those who do not get their work published via mainstream houses. I have found SF works that are as entertaining and some writers with a Nebula or a Hugo Award attached to their credentials. The online publication offers an incredible outlet for some talented people who would otherwise be unknown. Several I follow diligently awaiting their next publication. Some have flowed into the mainstream thanks to their exposure via electronics.
What electronic media has managed is accessible for everyone. The frustrated writer, poet, movie producer, actor and just about anyone else has an outlet. Create it and post it. Just look at how things go viral on the internet. And this is just the beginning.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

There are idiots everywhere, and sometimes we elect them

Enterprise article sites fast rising real estate taxes. A major contributor? Debt exclusion.
Two hundred sixty one ballots cast. Yes, I was one.
The Brewster contract has been issued for another three years. Despite the machinations of some that has worked out rather well.
The G & E had the greatest number of town employees on the highest paid list. A week later an article in the paper mentions G & E rates will increase.
Massport is proposing a raise in parking fees of $2-$3 depending upon lot used. They raised the fees in 2012 for the same amount and with the same reasoning. The added “expenses” and to - and they are serious - To encourage people to use alternative transportation.
And, this just in! Guess what? Massport payroll has hit 100M - well above budget. Not me. I can’t connect the dots between rising fees and rising payroll.
Massachusetts has been handing out jobs to those that have been guests of the Commonwealth. I have no problem with giving a hand-up (or out) to someone who has paid their debt to society, but to place an embezzler into a position of handling money? Then again, maybe they will be more responsible than or elected representatives?
Mark Pacheco (D- Probation) now is on the bully pulpit for a 50M statewide tree planting project. The last gem Pacheco planted on the unwary was the famed Pacheco Law. No doubt this project, questionable at best, will have a similar outcome on our personal bottom line.
A proposed 1.1B casino at Suffolk Downs had run into some permitting issues. Seems the brainiacs at the Massachusetts Historic Commission have decided that thirty former horse barns are now “historic.” Famed sports entrepreneur, Bill Veeck, once wrote a book “Thirty Tons A Day” describing his experience of operating Suffolk Downs. I know where that thirty tons should be dumped. So now the project may be delayed and further delayed over what can be easily corrected by a CAT D3C XL.
What the Hysterical Commission failed to even remotely comprehend is that they are dealing with some interesting folks from Eastie who look forward to this project. You may remember some of those orange shirts a few years back at a TM. I know as I fully remember a load of trash being dumped near my anti casino sign.
If the Commission really wishes to run interference for horse barns there is a viable option. A few days a week I go right by the Middleborough-Brockton Agricultural Fair grounds in Brockton. Plenty of barns still remain.
Taunton State Hospital has some magnificent buildings that date back to 1854. They are a wreck. Some have burned and most are in desperate need of repair. Where is the Massachusetts Historic Commission on that situation? Oh…right….I forgot. There are two standards in this state: One standard applies to state owned property and the rest to everyone else.
The Middleboro ZBA got it right when they mentioned parking and fuel depot for the new cop shop. But, to me, the most significant comment was the building should be a museum and I agree. The MHA should have had that building years ago.