Saturday, December 19, 2015

Goveremnt Access TV... when will they get it right?

For those who pay any attention to Gov Access TV you have seen more non-government meetings on your TV than you have seen actual government meetings. Even after Town Meeting sent a clear and concise message to the BOS, Town Manager and whomever is in charge of government access TV, that viewers will see only televised government meetings on government access TV. You've seen boxing, lectures from the Blummer Room, musical acts and useless and pointless interviews with useless and pointless interviewers. We still don't see all the meetings that are being recorded on demand. We still don't see the meetings recorded in the correct category on demand. City or Town, it does not matter what form of government will have or propose, the lack of accountability with the Town leadership is shameful. And is indeed, one reason residents continue to have little faith in all of them to do the right thing when instructed to do so by Town Meeting..

350 Irving Strret... oversight is still lacking

What is it about this property that causes so much angst among it's neighbors? Why do neighbors have to police this property? Are the owners and renters really that stupid. They know that we are all watching, yet mulch piles are larger than permitted at Landscape Depot. What will lit take for the powers that be, make all of the parties involved at 350, maintain reasonable adherence to the rules. When I see neighbors come before the BOS, over and over again complaining about possible health threats to their lives, one has to wonder what hold do the renters have over the Town's administration. Any other part of Town would not tolerate such lack of respect for the neighbors.

They Bully... we let them

In an effort to call attention to the recent events that took place last week regarding the resignation of Judy Grove from the Skate Park Committee. I will try not to make derogatory remarks towards those who have bullied Judy from the skate park committee, but the facts remain, fellow skate park committee members, insulted, degraded and bullied the one member that has stood tall for the kids in our community and has worked tirelessly for years for the skate park. 
We no longer tolerate bullying in our schools and we should no longer tolerate bullying from our elected officials or Town employee’s and certainly not fellow committee members. Judy, a senior citizen, Town Meeting member, who serves on many committees’ and community activist. Judy has been the skate board park champion since the beginning and was voted by Town Meeting to serve on the Advisory board last year. But unfortunately, The Chair of the Advisory Committee, who happens to be a known bully selectman, along with the past director of Park and Rec, who happens to be the assistant Town Manger now along with a Town meeting member who suffers from napoleon syndrome went too far, played games in the election process guaranteeing Judy would not be elected to the board, insulted her integrity and belittled her decade long work on behalf of the kids in Town.

Date:  December 3, 2015

At Spring Town Meeting in 2015 I was the Sponsor of a Citizen’s Petition - Article 26 “Capital Authorization for Framingham Skatepark Building Project.”  Before Town Meeting I was approached by members of the Finance and Capital Budget Committees who offered me a “Motion to Replace the Skate Park Article 26 Motion”.  I was told that this would vastly improve my efforts to build a skatepark.  This new motion created an 11 member Skatepark Advisory Committee (SAC).

I was told that 3 of the members on this committee would be from the stakeholders – Sponsor, Skateboarder and Parent of Skateboarder.  At the Spring 2015 Town Meeting there was a nearly unanimous vote in favor of the Article and a resolution that as Sponsor, I be on this Committee.   I believed that this would assure the best possible outcome for building our skatepark.

However, there have been a number of serious, unacceptable problems with the Skatepark Advisory Committee:

Selection of Skatepark Advisory Committee members:
1.     The Parks Commission advertised the three stakeholder positions in the Boston Globe and during their meeting on June 3, 2015 they voted for them by secret ballot.  I objected to this and eventually filed a complaint with the MA Attorney General’s office who confirmed that they had broken the Open Meeting Law. This incurred legal expenses for the Town and created a sense of distrust among the stakeholders.
2.     Despite the resolution that as sponsor of the Article I be on this committee, I received an e-mail the day before this meeting stating that I needed to apply for the position.  I was not assured this was just a formality and was required to give reasons for being selected.
3.     For the Skateboard parent position, the Parks Commission chose a person who had never been to a skatepark meeting, did not have a child who skateboarded and whose application was a 4 sentence e-mail instead of Kelly Lopez, mother of skateboarder, Sam, and a dedicated member of the Framingham Skatepark Committee, who sent a detailed application letter, spoke at a BOS meeting, attended the Capital Budget Meeting and also had a comprehensive letter printed as part of the background material for Article 26 in the Warrant book.  Sam and Kelly faithfully attend our meetings.  Another excellent choice would have been Heather Bachman, the first parent who joined our committee.  Heather also spoke at a BOS meeting and faithfully attends our meetings with her son, Jayden.
4.     After the secret ballot, we were told by the Chair of the Parks Commission "You can leave now.  We are finished with the appointments.” After we left, the Commission proceeded to choose their two members based on seniority while the only member of the Commission who ever expressed support for our skateboarders, Phil Reitz, was not considered.  As a middle school teacher, Phil knows many of the skateboarders including James and attended our Skate Jam in November 2014.
5.     Dan Rao, a member of the Capital Budget Committee expressed his support of the skatepark when I first brought it up at Town Meeting.  He was denied a seat in favor of Michael Cannon with the reason given that Cannon asked first.  (See e-mail date 6/6/15).  Mr. Cannon had never expressed support for the skatepark.

The SAC membership should have been made up of individuals because they had a sincere interest in building a skatepark and not for political reasons which seems to have been the case.

Awarding of Design Contract to High Bidder
1.     Despite unanimous agreement (See report “SAC Minutes September 24, 2015”) that both Spohn Ranch and Pillar Design Studios would build a good skatepark for Framingham, the contract was given to the high bidder.
2.     At the November 5th meeting I was the only member with a written report and the only member who addressed the cost (See “General Comparison of Skatepark Proposals”) but no one on the committee including the representative of Capital Budget and Finance chose to discuss cost even though the difference was significant.
3.     When asked to justify this decision by Mr. Lloyd and others no answer was given.
4.     On November 9th I sent another financial report (See “Negotiation of Contract with Pillar Design Studios”).
5.     This creates concern for the future.  The Design Fee is a small amount ($25,000) compared to the potential cost of building the skatepark ($350,000) and this estimate is now in the hands of the high bidder.

Bullying by a Member of the Skatepark Advisory Committee
1.     For over a year I have been bullied by a member of SAC.
2.     This bullying has occurred at Town Meeting, before, during and after SAC meetings, and on the telephone.
3.     This bullying has been witnessed by my husband and several Town Meeting Members.
4.     I have confronted this person in the presence of witnesses and it has not stopped.
5.     I have also spoken about it to members of this committee who are unable to intervene.
6.     I am no longer able to tolerate it and it is this is the main reason I have decided to resign from the Skatepark Advisory Committee.