Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Globe slams Bump, endorses libertarian candidate for auditor

 I've lived long enough to see the Globe endorsing a Libertarian to State office. I almost dropped my coffee cup when I saw the piece in the Globe. Finally, a qualified Libertarian candidate gets recognized as a serious contender for State Auditor. Danial Fishman has good track record and would be the right replacement for Suzane Bump who has ignored the State Police OT scandal. His biggest and most important statement to date: Why would you elect a Republican or Democrat to audit Republicans or Democrats". I couldn't agree more. Daniel Fishman has my vote.  
From MassLive:
In an editorial, the Globe takes the rare step of endorsing a candidate outside the two major parties, announcing it is backing Libertarian candidate Daniel Fishman over Democratic incumbent Suzanne Bump for state auditor. The Globe minces no words in its criticism of Bump, saying she’s politicized the office and completely missed the “rampant payroll abuse at the State Police.”

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Pittsburgh synagogue massacre over the weekend

To my Hebrew readers...I say my sorrow for the the families of those who were killed and wounded by the nut case who violated your synagogue makes me sick.  While the authorities dig into this madman's background, it's clear he's just not mentally impaired, but just filled with hate towards our fellow Americans who are Jewish.  No words can begin to explain his actions but it's clear, we have a problem in this country. Aside from antisemitism, the AR 15 debate is in full view. In my mind, no amount of praying will stop this carnage and the only partial solution is to stop allowing the sale of AR type assault rifles. Could he have shot that many people with a hand gun is not in my wheelhouse to know, but over and over again we see the results of people hell bent on killing other people getting their hands on assault style assault rifles.

recycled plastics for road surfaces

Until about a year ago, few people had reason to wonder where the plastic they tossed into the recycling bin ended up. It was being made into new bottles, bags, straws, and beach balls, right?
Wrong: Almost half of it was shipped to China. Then, China announced last year that it didn’t want to buy the stuff anymore.
So, what should we do with all that plastic choking the world’s landfills? Why not recycle it and use it to build roads?

Bound together with plastic polymers, the asphalt will be cheaper and last longer than conventional pavement, according to independent experts.
One European firm already is combining plastic pellets with hot-mix asphalt to resurface roadways. A US company says that once it finds financial backing, its product ‘‘could be deployed within six months’’ with a process that combines asphalt milled from the road’s surface with plastic urethane.
Mixing recycled plastic into asphalt is more common in India and Pakistan than in the United States.
‘‘Every country is going to come up with ways to reuse this recycled plastic,’’ said Sahadat Hossain, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. ‘‘I work with Africa and developing countries. Everywhere you go, they’re building new roads — hundreds of miles of them. We could put a lot of this [plastic] material to use.’’
And an ambitious Dutch company envisions 100-percent-recycled plastic roads built in sectional panels that can be popped into place like Lego blocks. So far, though, its biggest project has been the test of a 98-foot bike path in a city about 60 miles west of Amsterdam.

Friday, October 26, 2018

two youngsters are after Bob DeLeo with Public Policy Questions.

WINTHROP — Robert A. DeLeo may be Mr. Speaker on Beacon Hill. But here in this pretty seaside town, he’s just “Bobby,” the affable, cigar-chomping state representative since 1991.
He doesn’t have an opponent this year — he rarely does — and yet the powerful leader could face an embarrassing rebuke on Nov. 6.
Two recent MIT graduates who have never lived in the district but are concerned about what they see as DeLeo’s thwarting of major climate change legislation, gathered signatures from hundreds of his constituents to put some pointed nonbinding measures before residents of Winthrop and the part of Revere he represents.
One ballot question implicitly takes aim at DeLeo for successfully pressing: to erase the term limits for his speakership in 2015; to hike his own total yearly pay by about 50 percent in 2017; and for presiding over a Legislature where lawmakers and their aides routinely become lobbyists.
“Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would repeal the $45,000 increase in annual compensation for the speaker of the House of Representatives . . . prohibit elected officials and their senior staff from engaging in any lobbying activity for five years once they leave office; and enact a rule that no member shall hold, for more than eight consecutive years, the office of speaker of the House of Representatives?”
The other is focused on environmental legislation that has not become law.
“He, as speaker of the House, has been blocking the passage of climate legislation,” said Daniel Mascoop, a 24-year-old transportation planner and engineer, and coauthor of the nonbinding questions. “Being from Massachusetts, I think the state can do a lot to lead [nationally] especially with climate change,” the Roslindale native said.
“But we need leadership to actually pass the bills,” he said, referring to top lawmakers.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The best buys at the grocery stores

If you can watch the report from channel 5.  We've been Whole Foods fans since they opened, but since being acquired by Amazon, they don't carry the same products as they used to.
Market Basket has never impressed me, aside from the owner who stood by his employees a few years ago when infighting happened. But those who look for some savings may have to look at Market Basket.


Here are the top five stores in the price category, along with the total cost of the test groceries, according to Consumers' Checkbook:
  1. Market Basket - $164
  2. Walmart / Trader Joe's - $166
  3. Hannaford - $182
  4. Target - $184
  5. Wegmans - $194

Monday, October 22, 2018

Environmental police chief canned for spying on staff and fixing tickets

I think Baker has seen the light with the firing of the head of the Environmental Cops. What's even more interesting maybe more revelations from terminated James McGinn about the what the leadership knows. Could there be more embarrassment fro Baker?

From Mass Live

In yet another police-related embarrassment for Gov. Charlie Baker, the state’s top environmental cop and Baker’s former campaign driver, James McGinn, was fired on Friday (of course it had to be a Friday) after an internal review found he was spying on staff and fixing traffic tickers. The Globe’s Danny McDonald and MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius have the details (with MassLive having the full internal report).
As for the spying, we’re talking about the hiring of an actual private detective and installing unauthorized surveillance cameras to snoop on one officer in particular “in order to determine if the officer was reporting for duty in accordance with his time records.” In other words, McGinn appears to have suspected that he had his very own State Police-like no-work problem.
The Herald’s Howie Carr is all over the story: “McGinn’s lawyer said the firing was ‘politically motivated,’ as if the hiring wasn’t as well. But the most interesting thing the lawyer said was that his client, the hack ex-statie, now plans to expose ‘significant misconduct on the part of those holding supervisory responsibilities above him.’ You don’t say, Colonel? Anybody we know? I guess you could say, the head of the clam patrol doesn’t plan to clam up.”

Friday, October 19, 2018

Finally wind turbines off our coast

I was a supporter of Cape Wind back in the day... I would have seen the turbines from my beach as the size of my thumb but the wealthy made sure it wouldn't happen there. And of coarse the cost per kilowatt was way over the top and the utility companies balked at the price. But now, with advances in turbine technology, the price point as Baker said last week in the debate makes them feasible. I hope in the next few years we see hundreds of them of the coast and we lead the country in wind energy. 

From Mass Live:

Feds to auction off more areas along Mass. coastline for wind farms
From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Nearly 400,000 acres of the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area will be up for grabs in December, as the Trump administration holds its next offshore wind auction, officials announced this week.  U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke revealed Wednesday that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will auction off 388,569 acres located on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Massachusetts on Dec. 13.”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Governors debate

I watched the debate last night on GBH and was pleased to hear what Gonzalez said about the State Police scandal. Baker I think now realizes it's a major point. For the record, I'm not for either of them as of now, but Gonzalez held his own. The fact that Baker continues to think this is not a major point is clearly not what most voters think. When Baker said the records that they wanted to be destroyed had nothing to do with the investigations, I almost fell off the chair. How in the world could he believe that? While Baker may be the most popular Governor in the country, he loses credibility when he defends the actions that he has taken to clean up the mess.. I will agree with him when he says 2 thousand staties are not all bad, but the percentage of them who are self entitled is growing and that's where he must take a stand. Sure.. prosecute 46 of them, but to hire an XState Police commander to investigate is flat out wrong. Nothing good comes from cops investigating cops.
On pubic transportation, Gonzalez has pie in the sky aspirations that are not realistic. Taxing the wealthy and taking money from our colleges to fund improvements in public transportation is not the answer imo. Granted Baker and Beacon Hill have spent more money on public transportation but it's not enough to replace railroad ties and add a commuter rial line in Somerville. Open road tolling (93, Rt3, 95 495 and 128 is certainly a way to create a funding source that is immediate. Getting rid of Keyolis and bringing back it to be controlled by the State  is not the answer either. It didn't work in the past, it won't be any different now.
It really does show how the 2 party system has and continues to fail us. And if Gozalez gets to be Governor, just think back when all branches of Government here were controlled by one party.  Little got done under Patrick. The same problems were ignored back then as well. Baker has 20 million in his check book, Gonzalez has a fraction of that to spend. Lobbyists from both sides will spend big here and then there's the Trump factor which Baker has ignored to this point but will endorse Deihl against Warren.

Why we have a ballot question Q1 Nurse/Patient ratios

As many of our readers know, Ballot Question are an expensive and somewhat divisive and controversial way to fix something. They mainly stem from residents who want to change something in our lives that they feel is wrong or unjust. Many of these same regular people try their best to bring their ideas and proposals to our State Legislature. It's no different with Q1, the staffing of nurses per patient. The MWDN and the State House News did a nice job explaining to the readers how far back the question of nurse staffing goes in this state. Just like so many other public policy questions that have been ignored by the legislature, decrim of cannabis, medical use of cannabis, legalization of cannabis, tax roll back, legalized gambling, toll equity, dying with dignity, etc etc.
The Speaker of the House Bob Deleo has said he is unsure if he supports Q1. But some history here: In 2006 the same question, "to formulate a set of standards and limits" he voted for as House Ways and Means Chair. In 2008 Deleo voted for a proposal that "instructs the DPH to establish limits and nurse staffing levels in hospitals". And in the past few years the Legislature had the opportunity to to do something about the nurse per patient issue but did not.
When enough people decide that they had enough of the Beacon Hill bullshit they head for the ballot box. It's the only tool we have as citizens to get something done, fix something or stop or start something. Beacon Hill is awash with deep pocket lobbyists, major corporations and self serving elected officials who are afraid of their own shadows. They refuse to act on behalf of a certain group and the only option nurses have is to put a question on the ballot. Millions of dollars are being spent to defeat this Q1. One more reason the believe the hospital industry has to much money laying around and could have hired more nurse long ago. Does anyone really think the nurses have no position here.. are they just lying about nurse patient ratios as it pertains to patient safety? Are they all in it for more money? More union member's? more traffic congestion at Longwood getting more nurses employed there?
My answer is no.. there's no underlying nefarious reason put forward by the nurses. They see every day what we don't, unless we are in one of the hospitals. They know what is going on and tried to fix it. And I'm with the thought of better care for patients and reasonable nurse patient limits. And if Beacon Hill had acted way way back, this question would have never appeared on our ballot.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Loring Arena and the contractor delays.

If my memory serves me... Town Meeting debated this subject to death... lots of personal stories were heard about how Loring was so much in need of a rehab.  And like many other projects we have taken on, there's always some issue with the contractors. I wonder if the same will hold true for the new Fuller school project. Question: Are the workers to blame or the architects/engineers? Is there enough professional oversight, is it a non union or union thing? Are we asking for to much when we approve of these major projects to have them done right the first time?

From the MWDN:

City officials say construction errors and poor workmanship by subcontractors is to blame for delays in the grand reopening of Loring Arena, which is in the final stages of a roughly $6 million renovation and expansion project.
The facility — which serves as home ice to skaters and school hockey teams — remains partially closed to the public as crews continue work on the project, which began in summer 2017.
While the rink is open, crews are still finishing a new addition in the front of the building, which will offer locker rooms, additional seats for spectators and an elevator, making the facility fully handicap accessible.
City officials say they’re putting pressure on general contractor Lupachino/Salvatore to finish the work, which was due to be substantially complete by mid-August, with a Sept. 1 end date.
“It has been a challenging project working with the contractor trying to get this project completed,” said Thatcher Kezer, the city’s chief operating officer.
Kezer said delays arose within the last few months as the city’s facilities director, Jim Paolini, and inspectional services staff reviewed individual components of the project and raised concerns about the quality of the work.
“Jim’s posture is to make sure we’re getting our money’s worth for this project,” he said. “And so there were a number of just basic construction project issues where things are done and our folks, our building inspectors and Jim go in and look at the work and require certain parts to be redone.”
In an interview Friday, Paolini said he rejected several construction list items that were submitted by the contractor for final approval because they didn’t meet state building codes or the proper specifications.
“The city is not accepting inferior work, and I’m making the contractor accountable,” Paolini said. “If he installs something that’s not to specifications, or not to Mass. code or Mass. standards, then it’s getting rejected.”

In one example, Paolini said work was delayed by more than one week as crews tore up and rebuilt a concrete sidewalk outside the rink that did not meet federal accessibility standards. Paolini said the material used was inferior, and the sidewalk was installed at too steep a grade, requiring the contractor to purchase new steel rebar and materials and redo it.
The city is now waiting for the contractor to fix a variety of punch list items, Paolini said, from painting and cleaning to repairing metal siding on the sidewalk that was damaged by a jackhammer.
“At this point ... the stage of construction we’re at shouldn’t be where we are,” Paolini said. “We should be a little further along. As we continue to identify stuff that has not met the bid specifications, it’s a process to get the [subcontractors] back to correct” it.
Framingham built the Edward F. Loring Arena at 165 Fountain St. in 1963 to honor Framingham High School’s 1961 state championship hockey team.
Town Meeting members voted in 2015 to spend $5.66 million for an overhaul, which is intended to improve handicapped accessibility, better separate boys’ and girls’ dressing rooms and correct other deficiencies in the more-than-50-year-old skating arena.
Residents then increased the budget for the project to about $6 million in 2016 after proposals from contractors came back higher than expected.
Of seven contractors who bid on the project, the lowest proposal came from Lupachino/Salvatore, a Bloomfield, Connecticut company, which offered to complete the renovations for $5.63 million.
Work began last summer with demolition of the front of the building. A new addition that took its place includes locker rooms, concessions, skate shop offices, community rooms, a small conference room and a second-floor viewing area.
The skating season typically lasts from late August through April or May. The city put temporary measures in place last winter to allow teams to continue using the rink while construction was underway.
The rink opened for the fall hockey season once again in September, though teams are still limited to using the back looker rooms, and the addition remains closed.
“We have to go through the punch list items and make sure that everything is in order before we can open it up to the public,” said James Snyder, director of parks, recreation and cultural affairs.
While construction is behind, Paolini said costs have not exceeded the original budget. The city also has some leverage to control finances, such as filing a claim with the company that holds a construction bond on the project — an amount of money the contractor was required to post before it could proceed with the work.
Filing a claim could trigger the bond-holder to take over management of the project, ensuring the city isn’t on the hook for additional expenses, Paolini said.
“I’ve made it clear one way or the other the city is going to get what they paid for,” Paolini said.

Friday, October 12, 2018

How Framingham stacks up to other cities and Towns as safe places to live

Patch published this today.


Framingham is number 102. All of the places before us who are much smaller than us in terms of population. But it does speak volumes about of City.. we are a safe place to live and work. Not as safe as Wayland... but who cares.
Have a looksee.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fuller and what is not reimbursed from the MSBA

Last night's finance sub committee meeting is up and ready for viewing. It may be not of interest to some but it should be of interest to every tax payer in Town. The entire presentation is worth viewing, but the nitty gritty starts at 45.56. You will see how much of the project is not being reimbursed by the MSBA. The big tickets items for me are the auditorium at 5.8 million and the contingency costs of 3 million. It would take 131 million to repair Fuller as it stands now and in December there will be a special vote on this project. No numbers of costs will be on the ballot, it's just to ask the voters if the City can exempt the project from the tax levy. The appropriation will be 98 million for 20 years and add to your taxes about 101 dollars a year. There is no question in my mind that Fuller has to be replaced with a new school. Rehabbing that old building makes no sense at all. But the auditorium at 5.8 million should be scrutinized. Why not incorporate the gym and auditorium? Why such a high costs for the contingency? We are getting 62% out of a max of 80% in eligible costs. So our part of this is 58.8 million with us using 8 million of our stabilization fund. I also wonder why some of the open space would not be gardens and why we can't get solar panels on the roof. Rossi and Grove just seem confused.
So the bottom line is, for taxpayers next year is that school will raise our taxes by 100 bucks, water and sewer rates will add another few bucks and the new assessment will add another 300 bucks or so. Without cutting operational expenses we will continue to tax the hell out of many in Town who can't afford it.

The SJC weighs in on tainted drug convictions

In a sweeping ruling, the state’s highest court Thursday ordered the dismissal of thousands of drug convictions that were based on drug tests conducted at a state lab in Amherst, a ruling that was based on misconduct by a state chemist at the lab and two former assistant attorney generals.
The Supreme Judicial Court ordered the dismissals for every case that involved methampethamines during the nine years former state chemist Sonja Farak worked at the lab, as well as for every case involving drug evidence processed by anyone at the Amherst lab between Jan. 1, 2009, and Jan. 18. 2013, when she was fired.
Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Frank M. Gaziano said that Farak’s tampering with evidence samples to feed her drug habit and the subsequent failure by two former assistant attorney generals to share what they learned about Farak’s violations together warranted a fierce response by the the SJC, the ethical guardian of the state’ criminal justice system.
“We conclude that Farak’s widespread evidence tampering has compromised the integrity of thousands of drug convictions apart from those that the Commonwealth has agreed should be vacated and dismissed,’’ Justice Frank Gaziano wrote for the court. “Her misconduct, compounded by prosecutorial misconduct, requires that this court exercise its superintendence authority and vacate and dismiss all criminal convictions tainted by governmental wrongdoing.”
Gaziano added: “While dismissal with prejudice “is a remedy of last resort,” it is necessary in these circumstances.”
Between Farak and another former state chemist who tampered with drug samples at a different lab, Annie Dookhan, state prosecutors have had to throw out tens of thousands of convictions at the request of the defense bar, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Committee on Public Counsel Services.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

This is just to much... who will clean this mess up?

State PD Tried To Destroy Records Amid Payroll Scandal: Report

The revelations come to light as some 46 MA State Troopers are being investigated for falsifying overtime pay records.

By Jenna Fisher, Patch Staff | | Updated
State PD Tried To Destroy Records Amid Payroll Scandal: Report
BOSTON — On several occasions the Massachusetts State Police Department has attempted to destroy boxes of payroll, attendance, and personnel documents that go back decades amid ongoing investigations into overtime and payroll fraud, Commonwealth Magazine reported first.
The state police asked a state document retention board three times this year for its approval to destroy the records, including once in March, just days after the Globe reported that payroll records for an entire 140-trooper unit were hidden for years.
Commonwealth Magazine reported the Police essentially requested to destroy 115 boxes of the only copy of the records. And in March 12 of those boxes contained payroll files for detail and roster assignments involving the Troop division at Logan Airport that's currently under scrutiny.
The Records Conservation Board tabled each State Police request, citing the records' potential involvement in ongoing investigations, according to documents provided by the board.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement the records were not for anything that was currently the subject of investigation.
The revelations come to light as some 46 State Troopers are being investigated for falsifying overtime pay records. Three have already pleaded guilty.
Read the full Commonwealth Magazine report here: State Police Sought To Destroy Records
Read the full Boston Globe report here: State Police Tried To Destroy Payroll Records

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From Propublica... Super PACS and the hidden money.

 I've written about this at every election cycle. I know our readers are aware of this, but it helps to remind everyone, our democracy is being stolen from us by big money. We're all guilty in some ways, we give money to candidates that we think would be better than the other candidate, but in fact, there's really not that much that separates one from another when it comes to campaign donations. Each side will prostitute themselves for a few million or so. Leaving us peeon's in the fog not seeing who is behind the Super PACS.


The Hidden Money Funding the Midterms
Strategies that let super PACs delay revealing their donors until after the election are gaining popularity among both Democrats and Republicans.
by Derek Willis, ProPublica, and Maggie Severns, Politico
This story was co-published with Politico.
Allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used a blind spot in campaign finance laws to undercut a candidate from their own party this year — and their fingerprints remained hidden until the primary was already over.
Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited sums of money in elections, are supposed to regularly disclose their funders. But in the case of Mountain Families PAC, Republicans managed to spend $1.3 million against Don Blankenship, a mustachioed former coal baron who was a wild-card candidate for a must-win West Virginia Senate seat, in May without revealing who was supplying the cash.
Find More Super PACs Hiding Money Before the Midterms
See the 63 super PACs this election cycle that have managed to spend money to influence races and postpone telling voters who funded them on FEC Itemizer.
The move worked like this: Start a new super PAC after a deadline for reporting donors and expenses, then raise and spend money before the next report is due. Timed right, a super PAC might get a month or more undercover before being required to reveal its donors. And if a super PAC launches right before the election, voters won’t know who’s funding it until after they go to the polls.
The strategy — which is legal — is proving increasingly popular among Democrats and Republicans. The amount of super PAC spending during the 2016 congressional primaries in which the first donor disclosure occurred after the primary election totaled $9 million. That figure increased to $15.6 million during the 2018 congressional primaries and special elections.