Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wind Turbine By-Law update

This long and winding road is perhaps coming to an end. The intelligent people on the Planning Board have cleaned up and defined zoning issues for wind turbines. I must congratulate Sue, Andrea and Tom for revising this by-law in making it more wind friendly. As it stands now, the revised by-law which I would support, is not making Tom O'Neil, and a few of the other anti-wind turbine zealots happy. As of the last meeting I attended, ( a member of the board actually said, "we have to ban all wind turbines from Framingham") there was talk about pulling Article 25 from the warrant and bringing it back in the fall. They all thought the article would not be heard this week at Town Meeting, and had scheduled a meeting for May 11th.... so if it were to come up tonight, in it's revised state, I would ask for your support on this. It's not perfect, but it's miles ahead and less restrictive to the home owner than the original.

If the Zoning people don't like or accept the revised Article 25, I'm not sure if it will come to the floor tonight. Keep an eye out for Town Meeting tonight on local access to see how this unfolds.

The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good news.... sort of. Our property taxes will go down by a few bucks in 2010, the bad news, our property values will decrease in value by 11 to 14% according to the Towns CFO.

The good news, Pike Chief LeBovidge resigns, the bad news, next in command will fair not much better in getting the needed reforms enacted and tolls will probably go up to those outrageous numbers we heard about months ago in a month or so.

The bad news, Tax revenues fell even more in April, 35% less than last year, 456 million less. This means the legislature may raid the entire rainy day fund just to get us even this year by July 1. The good news, Senator Spilka said there will be layoffs and all agencies will have to tighten their belts. She may now be getting it,or does she. One Senator has proposed transportation and other reforms could help bridge the gap, but Senator Spilka has said, "the gap is far to big to close through that route alone". The Ugly.... Towns will not be getting the local aid they thought they were getting.

More bad news comes from a 14 member State House panel put together to look for new sources of revenue. Which may be bad news for those who buy satellite TV, which will be taxed at the new proposed sales tax oc 6.25%. They also suggest allowing cities to double the lodging tax to a max of 8%, raising the meals tax to an additional 2 to 5% and lifting the property tax exemption on telecommunication poles. And the hits keep coming, they propose increasing the inspection fee, now at $29, by $6, to pay for police recruit training and state police training.

The good news, Senate President Murray left for Ireland for a week last night. The bad news is the fiscal and moral crises we are in will have to wait for her to get back. The ugly truth is, we are in deep trouble and the State House is scrambling to come up with answers. And while we all wonder what the Deval is doing, we learn today, Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield) said an amendment targeting Patrick’s Seventy-First Fund as part of the Senate’s ethics reforms is gaining support.

“The governor said he was going to change the way business was being done on Beacon Hill, but he’s been masterful at taking advantage of loopholes and circumventing the law to make a mockery of our campaign finance system,” said Tisei.

The fund, named because Patrick is the 71st governor, raises money for the governor and the state Democratic party, allowing contributors to give a maximum $5,500 - 11 times the limit for typical campaign accounts per year.

Much of the money sent to the state party is then used to pay off Patrick’s campaign bills. Tisei’s amendment would limit donations to $3,500 annually.

Tisei plans to file other amendments aimed at highlighting Patrick’s ethical missteps, including:

Banning former state employees who have begun collecting their pensions from being re-hired, such as Transportation Secretary James Aloisi.

Reversing a 2007 law written by Patrick allowing Governor’s Council members to appear as attorneys in front of judges they might have confirmed.

And as we all know, all of the Republican Party amendments have gotten no where and I'll bet, this one goes down in flames. And while no one from either party has suggested this, unless the salaries are cut deeply for our elected officials, none of us will ever buy into more tax increases.