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 cafĂ© 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.