Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ted Kennedy and his Senate seat

Ted is looking for the Commonwealth of Mass to change a law, allowing Deval to pick an interim Senator if Ted were to pass on or not be able to work. The law was changed by a few years ago, preventing then Mitt Romney to pick as successor to John Kerry if he had been elected president. The rub here is that the person appointed to Ted's seat would NOT run for his seat.

This all boils down to the Health Care Reform that Ted has pushed for years and could go down to one or two votes in the Senate in the coming weeks or months. The one party ruling elite will do their best to keep their choke hold on our State.

Let's see how Deval, DeLeo, Murray handles this.

Woodstock at 40

As tears rolled down my face when Country Joe McDonald read the names of the servicemen killed in Vietnam, both Desert Storms, Iraq and Afghanistan from the Bethel area, I knew Woodstock 69 was more than a music festival, it was an anti war protest. It was one very somber moment as the crowd fell silent. After all, 40 years ago, we were in the midst of assassinations, riots, the draft, civil rights and trying to stop a war.

Bethel Woods is a place of peace and I recommend anyone who lived through those days go there. The fields of green grass go on and on. The place is brand new and it immaculate. Even the cops were friendly. It was not like any outdoor concert I've ever gone to. Pre senior and senior citizens along with a splattering of young people came to see who is left from the original 69 Woodstock. It did remind me of those who we have lost since then. The replacement singers, guitar players, bass players did a marvelous job recreating the sounds, but I wondered what Hendrix, Joplin, etc would sound like today.

It was a long show, started at 5PM and went to 1:30AM. The 17,000 stayed for most of the show, with the lawn people leaving earlier. We were 13 rows back from the stage and could reach out and touch the performers. The sound is perfect and the seats are padded as we waited for one of my drumming idols, Levon Helms from the Band. Battling throat cancer, his new band, made up of a brass section, multi guitars, keyboardist and his daughter as a singer, gave me the shivers. He didn't sing and looked thin, but can still bang with clarity and precession.

I feel fortunate to have lived to this point and hope I can live to see Woodstock at 50. But I do hope, perhaps my grandchildren will have their own Woodstock someday and come together as one group of like minded individuals who want change for the better.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Deval forces another hack hire to the RMV

From the Herald:

Eddie Jenkins, just hired July 6 as the RMV’s new director of enforcement services for $80,000 a year. He’s the first RMV employee to have this job title, although there used to be a “deputy registrar for enforcement services,” and she was making $120,000 a year.

Her job went unfilled for more than a year, but then came Eddie. The job needed a man, and the man needed a job.

You may remember Jenkins, a lawyer from Roxbury, for his unsuccessful runs for political office in Boston. Before he got picked up on waivers by the RMV last month he was the chairman of the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. His name was dropped by ex-Sen. Dianne Wilkerson when she was soliciting bribes from a wired-up businessman for a city liquor license.

On one memorable day last fall, feds arrived at Jenkins’ ABCC office with a subpoena, only to discover that State Treasurer Tim Cahill already had placed him on paid administrative leave over another problem - what the papers called a “possible diversion of state reimbursement money.”

Jenkins was cleared of any wrongdoing in the first case - the Treasury had placed the money into his account directly, rather than paying a law firm he’d been using in a State Ethics Commission probe in which he was, yes, cleared. And Jenkins is clean on the Wilkerson case, although he was one of her campaign donors.

He resigned from his $110,703.28-a-year ABCC job May 8. In other words, he’s taking a big pay cut at the RMV, but any port in a storm, as they say. According to a dime-dropper, the RMV “was told it was a ‘must-hire’ from the governor.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

68,000 troops in Afghanistan and counting

With all the troubles we face here, nothing compares to the war and what our troops face in an ungodly ugly place. The Russians had over 100,000 troops there and couldn't get the job done. Now... with the slow process of pulling troops out of Iraq, I wonder how many of our children will be forced to re-up for extended tours. Brass is now asking for more specialized troops.

Suicide rates are over the top for our troops, the severely wounded and mentally scared are coming home to foreclosures and no jobs, and one out of 3 homeless Americans are Vets from various wars who are left to fend for themselves.

Will there be any time, in our life time, that war is not waged?

Health Care Reform

In the past few weeks, we have seen and read more mis information about the Health Care Reform proposals, seen the alleged outrage, fights, screaming matches and shout downs at public meetings. Not since the Vietnam War protests have I seen such anger and hostility directed at the Feds.

I've not read the 1100 pages of proposals nor will I. But one startling fact that has come from all this is: every 12 hours, 100 million dollars in fraud happens, and until they figure out how to stop it, any health care reform will be useless to us all. Congress has appropriated 100 million dollars to fight this fraud in the Health Care Reform package, but may be not enough to stop this plague on our health care system.

My sense is that we are in the trillions of dollars in fraud every year and if the fraud would stop or lessened dramatically, health care costs would go down. To many healthy people are gaming the system while our Veterans, elderly and the poor go without.

Who is watching the Parol Board?

Under the category of unbelievable, from the Herald.

Donald Giancioppo, the Parole Board’s executive director, authorized more than $12,000 alone on T-shirts and pins for all 200-plus employees, along with “recognition coins” and a catered lunch for an annual event recognizing the Parole Officers of the Year.

The board’s spending binge in June, just before the new fiscal year began, came as state revenues plummeted. Fiscal watchdogs have been warning that the commonwealth will be strapped for cash for the next two years.

Giancioppo, who responded to the Herald in a written statement, had second thoughts about the spending, but said the navy blue T-shirts and pin giveaways were part of an annual event honoring hardworking parole officers.

“Upon reflection, recognizing the current economic situation, the expenditures for this year’s Parole Officer Week most likely should not have been made and we will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to reduce costs while improving operations,” he said.

The spending included:

$8,199 on embroidered T-shirts for all staffers, averaging out to about $38 per shirt;

$3,300 on pins etched with the words “Excellence; Dedication; and Professionalism,” and recognition coins reading, “Committed to excellence, professionalism, and integrity”;

$13,000 on 11 new desks, 18 office chairs and 21 stackable chairs; and

$10,315 on eight new computers, 11 new printers and two BlackBerrys.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Winners and loosers

Concerts on the Green, August

August 7- Tom Nutile (big band)
August 14-Infractions- you will love this popular cover band
August 21 Wayne Potash- family fun, bring all the kids.
August 28- Lincoln County Band (country & western at its best)

MBTA Chief Grabauskas has resigned under pressure, but his going away package is 327,000. Who among us can leave a job with that kind of bonus?

The Town of Ayer will pay 3.1 million in wrongful conviction. In his lawsuit in 2006 Dennis Maher who spent 19 years in prison, accuses cops of improper eye witness identification, fudging chronologies and failing to check out his alibi. The lead detective from Lowell, who is now the top cop in Boston, Commish Davis says he regrets the wrong man went to prison, but felt he did his job as a detective.

In the DiMasi federal case, the judge has been asked to disqualify his attorney Tom Kiley.

Cash for clunkers gets funded... buy now if you can.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A little Justice?

Four former managers for Aggregate Industries, the company that supplied 135,000 trucks loads of concrete to the Big Dig have been convicted of conspiring to defraud the government by delivering substandard concrete. The justice, they had to pay 42 million to settle the criminal charges and 8 million in criminal fines. 27 million will go to Big Dig maintenance.

Although this same company has received 4.2 million of stimulus money top repave Rte 2

GE is paying 50 million dollars in civil penalties for cooking their books and making the company look good for investors.

4 people, including a former police chief are being indicted for lying about taking courses to become certified as EMT's. 5 Hamilton police officers and 4 Danvers police officers face server disciplinary action including paying back 5,000, accept an unpaid suspension of 30 8 hour shifts and agree to work without pay for 30 eight hour shifts.

Our friends who are suing the Mass Pike over tolls released some interesting figures. Only 46% of the 632,000 that use local portions of Rte 93, 90 and the Callahan Tunnel pay tolls. If the plaintiffs (us) win this part of the law suite, the State would either raise taxes, impose tolls on Rte 93 or require the Mass Pike to sell some real estate. The lawsiute contends that 58& of pike tolls go to the Big Dig debt.

Lastly, the drug giant Wyeth in newly discovered court documents has admitted that they paid ghost writers to write supportive on line articles backing hormone therapies, draft them and get doctors to add their names to the piece. Wyeth faces 8,400 lawsuit's from women who claim the companies hormone drugs have caused them to develop illnesses.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Local cops and the Bank Bonus programs.

If you were shocked over the salaries of some of our local cops last week, you weren't alone. The same for the 9 banks who got bail out billions and have paid 5,000 employee's 1 million each in bonuses. Citi Group along gave out 5.33 billion in bonuses in 2008.

The institution are justifying the bonuses by saying no one can do that sort of work at that level and without them, they couldn't be as profitable. They also are afraid of the competition hiring their top performers.

The analogy here is found in Framingham, where cops who work details make over 150,000 a year. The locals claim that they have no reason to apologize for these salaries, and make the point, that if the general public work many hours they are considered working hard. They also claim that now that the Quinn Bill is not fully funded and cops are not compensated for getting more education, good cops will leave for other parts of the country where they will make more money. The unbridled arrogant of law enforcement and it's entitlement attitude has never been so blatant and I submit, will be part of our bankruptcy someday.

Law enforcement, like the big banks continue to enjoy the benefits of political power, threats and intimidation in justifying their pay, while most non union rank and file workers in most all industries can work till they drop and never see that type of money, no matter how long and hard they work.

Cash for Clunkers... the new name political donations

OK... car sales are up... if you had invested 10k with Ford just a few months ago, you would have made 80K. While 1 billion was spent in less than a week, congress approves another 2 billion in funding. The problem... that money is supposed to go to renewable energy research, (In the interest of full dis closer) which is my paycheck. I love the idea but Obama is doing something no President has done before, take budgeted money from an account already promised. Lets see how the Senate handles this in the coming days.

On a lighter note, couldn't we use the same formula to get rid of the clunky, inefficient, money wasting politicians who pollute the air with noxious fumes?

BPA in the news... Mass sends out a warning

Parents, GParents, nursing mothers, little children, pregnant women... and just about anyone who cares about their health and their relatives should heed this warning. That wonderful chemical brought to you by greed and profit is and has been proven to be bad for humans, but especially little kids. I won't bore you on the peer reviewed facts, but it's really common sense. Any plastic bottle with the number 7 or the letters PC next to the recycle sign should be recycled. And no heating of baby food in anything with the number 7 on it. Baby bottles, and clear plastic containers, formula, etc ,etc, etc... look at the packaging to determine if it is labeled with 7 or PC..... it's worth your time to keep this crap out of your bodies.

Why Mass has not completely banned this stuff like Conn did is connected to the heavy lobbyists pressure from the chemical society. I wonder how many of those creeps keep those bottles from their families.