Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time for Framingham to adopt Secure Communties

From the Globe..Boston Police Chief Davis:

The goal of the controversial program, called Secure Communities, is to identify dangerous criminals and turn them over to the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for eventual deportation.

But Davis said his staff reviewed the list of people caught through the program over the past two years and determined that all of those turned over to immigration officials met the goal of removing gang members and other criminals from the streets.

“We’ve looked into each and every one of the cases, and we’re satisfied that the promise we made to the community still stands,’’ said Davis yesterday in his first interview on the matter. “We’ve made clear that if ICE begins to deport people who are simply being picked up for traffic violations and overstaying their visas, then we’re not going to participate in the program.’’

But others say it is crucial for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to collaborate with one another to fight gangs, crime, and terrorism.

“I think it’s a really good idea,’’ said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which favors stricter controls on immigration. “I can’t think of any good reason to be opposed to it.’’

Davis said that the Secure Communities program is different from Romney’s program, which sought to have state troopers actively enforce immigration law. He said Boston police do not seek out immigrants and only hand over those whom federal officials request.

Boston piloted the program starting in September 2006, two months before Davis became commissioner, as a way to ensure that they were properly identifying everyone who was taken into custody.

The fledgling program was publicized at that time as a pilot designed to catch suspects wanted for serious immigration violations.

Since then, anyone who is arrested, including native-born Americans, has been checked through criminal and immigration databases. Federal immigration officials are automatically notified if someone is wanted for immigration violations, and it is up to federal officials to pick them up.

In 2008, the pilot morphed into a national program called Secure Communities, which now exists in 617 jurisdictions across the United States.

The Obama administration hopes to take it nationwide by 2013. Boston is the only one enrolled in Massachusetts.

Bruce Chadbourne, director of ICE’s enforcement and removal operations in New England, said Secure Communities follows a national mandate for better coordination among all law enforcement officials.

“It’s basically a one-stop shopping process where you run one check and it’s run through all these databases and you get the information back so you know exactly who you’re dealing with,’’ he said.

Boston is “not expected to enforce immigration laws,’’ he said. “That’s our responsibility. We’re communicating, as all law enforcement — federal, state and local — should be doing. And if we don’t, shame on us.’’

Since the program began in 2008, Boston police have turned over 526 people to ICE, including 180 violent offenders, such as murderers; 77 other people who had committed a felony, such as property crime; and 23 with misdemeanor convictions, including minor drug offenses. Another 246 were arrested for immigration violations. By July 31, a total of 230 had been deported from the United States.

Framingham should strongly consider getting back to this program.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cannabis Public Policy Questions on this years ballot.

This year marks the 10th year that Public Policy Questions will be asked in certain districts. Tax and Regulate and Medical Marijuana will be seen by a large diverse group of voters in this State. And if you think no one cares or even see's whats going on, keep this in mind, The Teamsters have organized medical marijuana growers in Oakland California. (Wall Street Journal) About 40 employee's of a company have joined Teamsters Local 40. You know it's coming when the unions get involved.

Legalization Question I: Shall the state representative/senator from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate the taxation, cultivation, and sale of marijuana to adults?

FIRST MIDDLESEX AND NORFOLK SENATE - Question 4 in Newton, Brookline, except Precinct 5 where it will be Question 7 and Question 4 in Wellesley, precincts A and C to E, inclusive.
Incumbent CYNTHIA STONE CREEM faces no challenger in the November 2 election.

Seventh Essex - Question 4 in Salem. Incumbent JOHN D. KEENAN (D).

Eighth Essex - Question 4 in the two precincts in East Lynn, Marblehead and Swampscott.

Third Middlesex - Question 4 in Bolton, Maynard and Stow; Question 5 in Hudson.

Thirteenth Norfolk - Question 4 in Dover, precincts 1 and 2 of Medfield and Needham.

Legalization Question II: Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol?

Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket - Question 4 in Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and West Tisbury and Question 5 in Falmouth's precincts 1, 2, 5 and 6, and Gosnold.
Incumbent TIMOTHY R. MADDEN is running without opposition.

First Franklin - Questionn 4 in Belchetown's precincts A and D, Chesterfield, Conway, Deerfield, Goshen, Huntington, Leverett, Montague, New Salem, Pelham, Shutesbury, Wendell, Williamsburg, and Worthington; Question 5 in Sunderland and Whately.
Incumbent STEPHEN KULIK is running without opposition.

Third Hampshire - Question 4 in Amherst and Question 5 in Granby.
Incumbent ELLEN STORY will face Republican DANIEL M. SANDELL and unenrolled in any party DANIEL E. MELICK on November 2.

Thirteenth Middlesex - Question 5 in Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland.
Incumbent THOMAS P. CONNOLY is runing without opposition.

The above represents approximately seven and one- half (7.5%) percent of the residents of the state!

Medical Question I:
Shall the state representative from this district be intructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow patients with their doctor's written recommendation, or such patient's registered caregiver, to possess and grow marijuana for the patient's medical use.
Second Plymouth - Question 5 in precincts 1, 2 and 3, of Bourne, Carver and Wareham.
Incumbent Susan Williams Gifford (R) vs. DAVID A. SMITH (D)

Third Plymouth - Question 4 in Cohasset and Question 5 in Hingham, Hull, and precinct 3 of Scituate. Incumbent Garrett Bradley (D) v. Carlton Alan Chambers (I) and Tim Finnerty (R).

Fifteenth Suffolk - Question 6 in Jamaica Plain/Mission Hill.
Incumbent Jeffrey Sanchez, chair of the Public Health Committee which is sitting on the medical bill is running unopposed on November 2 .

Medical Question II:

Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that that would allow patients with their doctor's written recommendation, to possess, grow, and purchase marijuana for medical use.

Second Bristol - Question 4 in Wds. 1,2,4,5,6, & Pct. A, Wd. 3 of Attleboro.
Incumbent Democrat BILL BOWLES faces Republican George T. Ross and unenrolled in any party JAMES S. CONNOLLY on November 2.

Fourteenth Bristol - Question 4 in Attleboro' precinct B of ward 3, Mansfield's precincts 2 and 5, North Attleborough and Norton's precinct 2.
Incumbent Republican ELIZABETH A. POIRIER is unopposed.

First Hampden - Question 4 in Holland, Sturbridge, Wales, Ware's precincts B and C, and Warren; Question 5 in Palmer.
Incumbent Republican TODD M. SMOLA is unopposed.

Ninth Norflok - Question 4 in Pcts. 3 & 4 of Medfield, Pct. 1 of Millis Norfolk, Plainville, Pct. 5 of Walpole and Wrentham.
Republican Daniel B. Winslow v. Democrat STANLEY J. NACEWICZ.

Thirteenth Worcester - Question 5 in Paxton and Worcester's Ward 1, precincts 1, 2, 3 and 4, all of ward 9, and precinct 3 of ward 10.
JOHN J. MAHONEY vs. Ronal C. Madnick (I), Bruce R. Card (I), and Paul J. Franco (R) in the General Election on November 2.

Eighteenth Worcester - Question 4 in Bellingham, Blackstone, Millville, and Pcts. 1, 2, & 4 of Uxbridge and Pcts. 1 & 2 of Sutton.
Incumbent Democrat JENNIFER M. CALLAHAN (D) faces Republican RYAN C. FATTMAN on November 2, 2010

Human Trafficking in Fraimgham?

Adrian Walker from the Globe wrote a piece the other day, "Temptation's rough path" sept 25th. Evidently a city councilor sitting at the Back Bay MBTA was approached by a pimp, looking to recruit her. The pimp, named Coffee, promised not to beat her and she could make 5k a week. Shocking as that was to read, the city councilor asked a bunch of questions to this well dressed pimp. The most shocking statement he made to her was that he trolled Framingham, among other cities, for his workers. While this may not shock some in Town, it certainly gets my attention and while a bill to ban human trafficking has been stalled on Beacon Hill, dozens, maybe hundreds of young people are being asked to become slaves to a pimp.

Now that Craigs List has been shut down for prostitution, perhaps the Framingham Police department will set up real stings to catch real criminals dealing in human trafficking.They shouldn't need a ban to stop this kind of crime in Framingham.

Shame on those who have stood in the way of protecting our residents from predators.

Is it time for a part time Legislature?

From the Herald:

The Massachusetts Legislature - one of only nine full-time bodies in the nation - is basically a part-time gig for more than half of the state’s 200 lawmakers, who hold down demanding, time-consuming jobs outside the State House, many as private attorneys and business owners.

The Bay State Legislature also shuts down for months at a time as lawmakers stump for re-election or higher office. Meanwhile, legislators take twice as long as their part-time counterparts in other states to do the people’s business, while sticking taxpayers with double the tab for travel, office redecoration and salaries, a Herald review found.

Vacations also are frequent and plentiful. In addition to all national holidays and the oft-ridiculed Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill holidays, lawmakers have the same vacation schedule as schoolchildren. That means weeklong breaks every February and April and empty halls during the summer after the state budget is complete.

“In effect the Legislature is already doing part-time work - the only difference is they are getting paid for the full 12 months,” said David Tuerk of the Beacon Hill Institute.

Among the lawmakers with busy outside interests:
# Senator/undertaker Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), who raked in $96,074 as a lawmaker and also pocketed more than $100,000 running R.J. Ross Funeral Home.
# Representative/theater owner Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham), who earns up to $100,000 operating the independent Dedham Community Theater, on top of his $68,561 state salary;
# Representative/greasy-spoon operator Robert Fennell (D-Lynn), who raked in $68,561 as a lawmaker but also slings hash browns and pancakes as the owner of Capitol Diner in Lynn.
# Senator/defense attorney Steven Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), who earns $95,719 as Senate Ways and Means chairman, also takes in up to $100,000 a year running his own general law practice.
# Click here to view the payroll for the House of Representatives and State Senate.

Watchdogs say that more time spent in session doesn’t always mean better laws, and argue that Beacon Hill pols need tighter deadlines because they procrastinate until the last minute.

A classic example came this year when lawmakers scrambled to finish a bill legalizing casinos and slot parlors by July 31st - holding a rare formal session on a Saturday and working past midnight.

The casino bill never passed.

“The problem with a full-time Legislature is you have too much time. People operate on deadlines,” said Patrick E. Bauer, speaker of the House in Indiana, which holds sessions only four months a year.

Part-time legislators in Indiana cost their taxpayers only $24 million in salaries and operating expenses even though they craft a similar budget and serve about the same number of people. By comparison, Bay State taxpayers shelled out $51 million this year to pay for and maintain their full-time lawmakers.

The next time you hear one of the party loyalist say we need a full time legislature...know that we don't.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another way to cut the State Budget

Something I totally agree with and will make this part of my commitment to the voters of Framingham... dissolve county government.

From the Herald:
Bay State taxpayers are shelling out more than $80 million for antiquated shadow governments in five counties, with some fiefdoms so inefficient that the bureaucrats want to fire themselves.

“Why are we doing this?” said Anthony T. O’Brien, chairman of the Plymouth County Commissioners, in an interview with the Herald. “It’s inefficient, bureaucratic and wasteful.”

Eight county government bureaucracies - including Suffolk and the most populous, Middlesex - already have been dissolved, their functions taken over by the state. But five remain - Dukes, Plymouth, Bristol, Norfolk and Barnstable - and their budgets come in at $80 million combined.

The environmental police continue as a separate agency even as state police ranks have been reduced by 200 troopers and urban departments statewide struggle to keep up with rising crime.

Of the department’s 75 officers, six made more than $100,000 in 2009, topped by Lt. Michael Scibelli, son of late state Rep. Anthony Scibeli (D-Springfield), who raked in $115,000.

Many officers, records show, are regular political donors.

And while this old growth tree huger believes strongly in defending our environment from abuse, it's painfully clear, The Environmental Police agency is not worth it's budget. Incorporate them into the State Police and make them earn their pay.

Vets from 2001 to 2009 take notice

If you know of any Veteran who served between Sept 2001 to Sept 2009, they are entitled to Stop Loss back pay. There's 185,000 vets who haven't taken advantage of pay that is owed to them. Please go to www.defense.gov/stoploss and register for the back pay.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Democray from the bottom up, McKenna challanges Coakley

Secretary of State William F. Galvin confirmed yesterday that James P. McKenna, 49, a write-in candidate from Central Massachusetts received more than 10,000 votes in Tuesday’s primary, enabling him to qualify for a spot on the ballot in the general election. The Millbury lawyer is only the second politician since the 1970s to vault onto the ballot as a statewide write-in candidate.

Although the battle is a steep one for the political unknown, McKenna’s foray into the race seems to have upended Coakley’s political assumptions for a second time this year. When she was thought to be running unopposed, Coakley agreed to a participate in a public finance campaign that will cap her campaign spending at $625,000. This could leave her vulnerable to an onslaught of advertising if outside groups weigh in on her campaign, as they did in the US Senate race.

Give credit to Mr. McKenna for trying to compete and give voters a choice in Novemeber. Sticker campaigns do work and it's great to see the passion of a candidate who really wants the job.

king of patronage’’ in Western Mass has to testify

From the Globe:

The state’s high court yesterday rejected a bid by state Representative Thomas M. Petrolati to avoid answering questions about his efforts to place friends, relatives, and political supporters in state probation jobs.

Just two days after hearing arguments, the Supreme Judicial Court denied Petrolati’s effort to block a subpoena from the independent counsel investigating allegedly corrupt hiring practices within the agency, ruling that his testimony is “plainly within the scope of the administrative inquiry ordered by this court.’’

Petrolati, the third-ranking member of the House of Representatives, must now appear before the independent counsel, Paul Ware, who said he will seek to schedule his testimony within three weeks. Petrolati must either answer Ware’s questions under oath or refuse by asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Petrolati’s wife, a former aide, the husband of a current aide, and more than 90 of his financial backers were hired or promoted while O’Brien headed the agency. Petrolati has refused requests for interviews, but in written responses denied having undue influence over the agency and said he recommends only people who are qualified.

Reason number 3 to vote out all who support this way of life on Beacon Hill.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Few voters say yes to Chris, no to Pam

It took only 3500 or so voters to narrowly decide who will face me in the Nov election. Chris received 1883 votes and Pam received 1647... but a win is a win. I congratulate Chris on his victory, but the numbers do show a deep division in the Democratic party here in Framingham. Even with the huge union support Pam had, 31 unions contributed to her run, the more left in the party felt Pam was out of touch with the more middle ground D's.

At least now, an intelligent debate hopefully can happen between myself and Chris. And that's all I could have hoped for. Letting the voters decide whether sending another D to the dysfunctional State House whose party is mostly responsible for all the corruption, fraud, patronage and ineffectiveness or someone who will represent all the voters of Framingham in an open and honest way, demanding an ethical government that gets things done.

Since most voters are independent in Framingham now, perhaps the other 30,000 voters who didn't vote last night will see a clear difference between Chris and I and vote thier collective concience. Not since 2002, when I got 25% of the votes against Debbie Blummer, have the voters had a real choice in the election. Democracy from the bottom up.

Let the games begin.

Friday, September 10, 2010

No surprise, Discrimination case upheld by Judge

From the Globe:

A federal judge yesterday refused to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit against Framingham officials, ruling there was enough evidence for a jury to find that the town unlawfully manipulated zoning laws and created delays in a bid to prevent a group home for recovering drug addicts and their families from relocating within the town and expanding.

In a sharply worded 100-page ruling, US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock wrote that the evidence, if established at trial, may show that Framingham officials “through abusive communications and improper efforts to manipulate the municipal permitting process, unlawfully violated the detailed legal constraints fashioned to assure that prejudice within a community not impede access to housing and related programs for those suffering from recognized disabilities such as alcoholism and addiction.’’

He said there was evidence that selectmen, Planning Board and Town Meeting members, and the town may have violated the federal Fair Housing Act in their efforts to prevent the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, one of the area’s largest nonprofit antipoverty agencies, from expanding a residential treatment program, beginning in 2005.

He found that there was evidence the town may also have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Rehabilitation Act, and that five officials may have defamed the council and its clients.

He rejected the town’s claims that the case should be dismissed because officials were motivated by concern for the financial burden placed on the town by social service agencies and tax exempt institutions.

He ruled that the nonprofit agency is entitled to take the case to trial, however, he strongly urged both sides to try to resolve the case and avoid more costly litigation.

In its lawsuit, filed three years ago, the council claimed town officials and a handful of residents engaged in a coordinated effort to rid Framingham of its disabled population and described the agency’s clients online and elsewhere as “problem people,’’ “charity cases,’’ “human waste,’’ and “dregs of society.’’

But Woodlock said town officials would still be liable if a jury determines they intentionally discriminated against the council’s clients.

The suit said Framingham tried to pressure nonprofit groups, which are exempt from paying taxes, to donate money to the town under a program that was purported to be voluntary.

In his ruling, Woodlock said one Planning Board member, Susan Bernstein, made several requests to the council for payments to the town, even though such requests were impermissible as part of the site plan review.

“Her comments could have led [the council] to believe that it would have to abandon the Sage House relocation if it did not make payoffs to the town thereby constituting an interference with FHA-protected rights,’’ Woodlock wrote.

The judge dismissed all of the claims against Alexis Silver, the town’s human services coordinator, but ruled that the case will go forward against 11 officials, including selectmen Dennis Giombetti, A. Ginger Esty, and Jason A. Smith; Planning Board members Bernstein, Carol Spack, and Andrea Carr-Evans; former Planning Board member Ann Welles; and Town Meeting members Peter C.S. Adams, Steven Orr, and Cynthia Laurora; and former Town Meeting member Laurie Lee.

At very least, if this issue cannot be resolved and the Town is found guilty of discrimination, those who are named as defendants should resign their positions. SMOC certainly could substantiate damage and the penalties could be in the millions. This along with the other possible liabilities in health care costs could bankrupt the Town.

The only option left is a settlement deal between SMOC and the officials, but after all this, I wonder if it can happen. Framingham was absolutely wrong in their attempts at stopping SMOC from expanding. Like it or not...SMOC is here to stay.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chris and Pam... and the quiz

For those who care about such things, Rep Richardson and Chris Walsh answered partisan questions in front of a mostly partisan crowd last night at the library. To no one's surprise, every question asked was a great question, according to Pam and she did hold the party line in her answers. Chris did his best to respond and he does have differences and would make a good rep for this Town. A few in the crowd did shake their heads, to say no, to a few of Pam's answers and when she said Beacon Hill is a democracy, I almost threw up... it may be to her.. but it's democracy from the top down and not they way the founding fathers had intended. One 60 minute quiz is all the voters will get to see who they elect next Tuesday.

I asked Richardson in person last week to come on the show, this Monday night, with Chris. She said she'd get back to me. I have sent her 3 e mails since, all unopened. I decided today, it's fruitless to get her in front of a live audience.

When you hear her say, she does her job well and represents us all, keep this in mind. A bill that I authored and submitted to her last year, under the constitutional right of a citizens petition, I recently found out that she did NOT do her job in getting this bill to the committee, thus, no bill number was assigned... virtually killing it until next year. To Senator Spilka's credit, she did her job and introduced to bill on the senate floor and it was referred to the agriculture and economic development committee. And in a strange turn of events, I found out that Rep Sannacandro signed on to a bill (the very same time I had given the bill to Richardson) that would help kill my bill. He too has not even opened my e mail.

Friday, September 3, 2010

5th graders as class monitors? bussing and level funding

From what I'm told, some 5th graders are being asked... or conned into being lunch room monitors for kindergartners at lunch time. The reason...budget cut backs I was told. Let's hope that there's no medical emergency, child choking or food allergy reaction for a 5th grader to help on, because I feel very sure, they would not know what to do.

From the front lines of the school yards, I'm told, kids are forced to walk in the streets because there are no places to park and drop your kids, parents are forced to park on the edge of the road, no sidewalks to walk on anyway, parents are parking a half a mile away to walk there kids to school and as I was told at a recent meeting, kids who are told to walk on the aqueduct are safe from arrest as the no trespassing signs up for years and years, were only meant for cars.... I'm sure some of you have driven on the aqueduct before. Not that many years ago, a local cop told me I can't walk on the aqueduct.

There's a group in Town, headed by Herb Chasen... Fram Save or Schools... the mission statement is a noble one, inform residents of the positive impact schools have on property vales and ask local officials to level fund future school budgets, find sources of addition revenue and cost savings. No one can argue the benefit of great schools and their effect on a Town or City. There is a on line petition one can sign and a few of us are collecting signatures for a hard copy or ask your local PTO person.


The Wilkerson fall out... think money in bra, the sag in confidence continues

For our usual readers of this post, in 2008 when Senator Wilkerson was filmed stuffing a wad of green backs in her shirt, I wrote than that when the trial begins, more revelations will come out on a host of usual suspects.

From the Globe: A top executive of the developer behind the failed $800 million Columbus Center project in Boston was charged yesterday in federal court with illegally funneling $12,000 in campaign contributions to four Massachusetts congressmen.

Federal prosecutors said that Martin Raffol, 54, executive vice president of the residential arm of WinnCompanies, engaged in a scheme to conceal money the company donated in an attempt to win support from congressmen in a position to help its projects.

Raffol is accused of persuading WinnCompanies contractors to give donations to the congressmen and then secretly reimbursing those firms, which hid the true source of the money. Federal law prohibits companies from directly donating to political candidates. Raffol was also charged with witness tampering in allegedly telling one WinnCompanies vendor to lie to authorities if questioned.

Prosecutors did not charge WinnCompanies or any of its other executives. Prosecutors also said there was no evidence the congressmen knew of Raffol’s reimbursement scheme.

In addition to the $12,000 to the four congressman — Representatives Barney Frank of Newton, Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston, Michael E. Capuano of Somerville, and William D. Delahunt of Quincy — prosecutors said Raffol illegally directed more than $30,000 in contributions to candidates running for state and local offices in Massachusetts.

The charges against Raffol are related only to the contributions to federal officeholders.

The kicker in all this is.. .who are the Massachusetts elected officails who took the illegal money and why aren't we hearing about them?

Federal officials declined to identify the state and local politicians who received $30,000 in illegal contributions, but said it included candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, the Legislature, district attorney, mayor of Boston, and Boston City Council.

SJC... Cape Wind can blow onto the Cape

From the Globe: In a divided decision, the States highest court ruled that Cape Wind can start this year by building this countries and States first wind farm. One more review by the Department of Public Utilities over the contract and just watch and see how many tradesman will be hired and the economic benefit that project will have for the Cape and Islands.

Tax evaders.... running for elected office

Lt Governor Tim Murray, Sate Auditor candidate Guy Glodis and Governor candidate Tim Cahill have not paid required taxes on investment income earned on their campaign accounts. In response to the Globes inquiries, Cahill was good for 15,000.00, Glodis 2,568.00 and in Murray's case, he was delinquent in 2007 and 2008 and is trying to figure out how much he owes.

I wonder how many of our readers could skip paying taxes at all, or for a few years. The huge campaign war chests these party loyalists build over the years, reap big profit and in turn, is mostly taxed when used.

I wonder, if the Globe didn't pick up on this, would the evaders have to pay at all?